All That Matters

 

by

 

S X Meagher

 

 

Chapter 13

 

A few days after returning from Chicago, Kylie sat down on the edge of the bed and gently scratched between Blair's shoulder blades. When she got no response, she leaned over and kissed all across the expanse of pale skin, smiling when she recalled the decadent number of kisses they'd shared the night before. But still Blair didn't flinch, and the doctor started to run her short fingernails down her lover's flank, her efforts finally met with a giggle. "I thought if I held out long enough, you'd turn me over so we could get busy," the blonde said, her voice low and sexy.

"You have quite an appetite," Kylie said, "and I'd love to pick up where we left off, but duty calls. Sorry to wake you, but I forgot to tell you, I'm going to stop for a drink after work. I'll be home a little late."

Blair rolled over onto her back and took Kylie's hand. "Steppin' out on me already?"

"Nope. I'm meeting with a guy who practices family law. He agreed to give us some advice if I bought him a drink."

"Gosh, he must be a great attorney," Blair said. "Is his office in the bar?"

"Funny girl," Kylie said, giving her a little tickle. "He's got a great reputation, and he does a lot of work with gay and lesbian couples. We're having a drink because we know each other a little bit, and we wanted to catch up, too."

"How do you know this guy?"

"He's on the board of GLBT Equality. I did a little volunteer work for them last year."

"GLBT. GLBT. Hmm … gay, lesbian, black … no, that can't be it. I can't guess," she said, giving up quicker than she normally did.

"Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered," the doctor said. "You're a member now, so you should learn the initials of your peer group."

"I'll put it on my business card," Blair said, sticking her tongue out at her partner. "What'd you do for this guy?"

"Nothing for the guy, but I did some surgery on one of Equality’s members. A guy had gone to India for a sex change, and he had some complications. He couldn't afford to go back to India, so I fixed him up."

Blair's eyes opened wide. "What'd you have to do?"

"It's too early, honey. Trust me. I'll tell you later if you really want to know."

The blonde pursed her lips and shook her head. "No, thanks. If it's gross now, it'll be gross later. But I'm proud of you for helping out — whatever you did."

"Thank you," Kylie said. "It was nice to be able to do it. I'll call you when I'm on my way home."

"I love you," Blair said, patting her partner on the cheek, then letting her hand slide down her body and rest on her ass. She palmed her butt, then gave it a squeeze. "You look pretty today," she said, obvious sexual interest coloring her voice.

"Thanks." Kylie bent and kissed her, lingering a little longer than she should have. She crossed her eyes as she sat up. "Gotta go, or gotta be very, very late."

 

G

 

Kylie walked into the nautically decorated bar at one of the oceanfront hotels in Santa Monica and spotted Dave Robbins immediately. The large, redheaded man stuck out in a crowd, and he stood when she approached his table. "Kylie, good to see you again."

"You, too, Dave," she said as they shook hands. "How've you been?"

"Good. Nothing to complain about. Well, other than the fact that my lover's been out of town for three weeks."

"Ooo, that's a long time. Is he due back soon?"

"Yeah. Tomorrow. You'd think that I'd like a little break after nine years, but I'm counting the minutes."

"I have a new perspective on being in love," Kylie said, smiling. "So I completely understand that counting the minutes thing. Since I last saw you, I've not only fallen in love, we're going to have a baby in December."

"Congratulations, Kylie! That's great to hear! Tell me about her."

"Her name's Blair, and she sells real estate here in Santa Monica. She's a wonderful woman, but she comes with a few unique issues, and that's what prompted me to call you," Kylie said. "She got pregnant through anonymous donor insemination."

"Okay," he said, nodding. "Is there a problem?"

"Yeah. She was married at the time, and they performed the insemination through a doctor. Her ex-husband signed the consent form."

"Oh." He made a face and scrubbed at his chin with his fist. "And … you want to keep him on the hook or off the hook?"

"Off would be very, very nice," Kylie said. "He has no interest in the baby. I'd love to be able to adopt, but I know I don't have a chance if he doesn't want out."

"Hmm … you're right. It won't be easy if he doesn't want to terminate his rights. Honestly, I don't think you'd have any chance at all."

She nodded. "That's what I thought. He's being an ass about our getting together, but I figure he might be reasonable and cooperate with us if he can make sure he's off the hook for child support."

"Yeah, yeah," he said absently. He was drawing designs in the condensation on his glass, and after a moment he looked at Kylie and said, "Are you familiar with the new step-parent adoption provision in the family law code?"

"No. Never heard of it."

"Well, if the ex wants out, you're not gonna have a problem. The legislature passed a law allowing same-sex partners to legally be considered stepparents. You'd have all the rights and obligations of a natural parent."

"Are you kidding? We don't have to do that crazy second parent adoption thing that people have been doing for the last few years?"

"No, thank God. The legislature really stepped up to the plate on this one. So, if your partner's ex-husband agrees to terminate his parental rights, you shouldn't have any problem being approved."

Kylie sat back in her chair and smiled at the attorney. "I had no idea that could happen." Her smile grew, and she said, "Having the baby be mine legally is exactly what we both want. This is great, great news, Dave."

"It's been great for a lot of families," he agreed.

"So all we have to do is get Blair's ex to agree." She sighed and said, "Knowing him, he'll put up a fight to be spiteful. He's been a real ass."

"If you want me to represent you, I'd be happy to get involved. I'm very good at pointing out all of the detriments of being a non-custodial father."

Kylie nodded. "I'll have to talk with Blair first to make sure she thinks we should do this, and if she does, I think it would be best if she talked to him. She seems to know how to deal with him — most of the time."

Dave shook her hand and gave her a big smile. "I hope it works out, Kylie. I'm very happy for you and your partner. You're gonna be a great mom."

Kylie clapped him on the back and gave him a bright smile. "Thanks, Dave. I'm sure gonna try. Now how about that drink I promised you?" She signaled the bartender. “What are you having, buddy?”

 

G

 

As soon as Kylie got home, she shared her news with Blair. "That's fantastic, honey!" the blonde said. "I thought this would be a very long, drawn out deal."

"It doesn't seem like it will be," Kylie said. "As long as David agrees to terminate his rights, that is. Do you want to talk to him, or should Dave take a crack?"

"I'll talk to him. He wouldn't like it if a stranger approached him first. Give me a few days to come up with my strategy. I need to decide if I should get Sadie on my side first, or if that would make things worse."

"I'm sure you'll come up with a plan," Kylie said. "You're very persuasive. Heck, you made me fall in love with you, and I was sure I didn't have a chance!"

 

G

 

After dinner, the pair sat in the living room to read and listen to music. Kylie noticed that she hadn't heard much from her partner, and she lowered her book only to find a pair of eyes staring at her. "Yikes! It's kinda creepy to see you looking at me like that. Am I in trouble?"

"Hardly." Blair grasped Kylie's toes and tugged on them. "I was thinking about religion."

Kylie put her book in her lap and gave Blair a speculative look. "Religion, huh? Like what's the meaning of life, why am I here kinda thing?"

"No, more like whether we should have Mackenzie baptized or …" She made a face and said, "Circumcised."

"Oh." Kylie looked at her for a moment and said, "I decided I want a girl."

"Kylie, we can't ignore the issue. What do you think we should do?"

She sat perfectly still for a few moments, then met Blair's eyes. "If it means a lot to you, I won't protest if you want to have him circumcised and raise him as a Jew. But if that's what you want, we have to get involved, too. I don't want him to be the only Jew in the family."

"You'd convert?" Blair asked, her eyes wide.

"Sure. I think we'd have to, honey. It'd be positively weird to tell him he was Jewish but nobody else in the family was. Heck, even your father doesn't claim his Jewish heritage. Mackenzie'll think he's a modern day Abraham."

Blair shook her head. "I'm not committed enough to have us both convert. I guess I'd like to incorporate some of the holidays into our lives, but that's about it. I really enjoyed having Passover with my grandmother. And I'd like to have Passover for us."

"We could do that," Kylie agreed, "but I don't think it's fair to cut off a piece of Mackenzie's body so he feels Jewish. That's a big sacrifice, and he doesn't get a vote."

"Are you against circumcision?"

"Yeah. Very much so." The doctor was wearing her most serious expression — the one she sported when she felt strongly about something.

"I haven't really given this a lot of thought," Blair admitted. "But won't he look different from the other boys?"

"Not really," Kylie said. "It's not done routinely anymore, and of the boys born at my hospital, only about thirty percent are circumcised by doctors. I'm sure there are more done at home in a bris, but I'd bet no more than fifty percent of the boys are circumcised now. Of course that's in Southern California. I'm sure there are parts of the country where it's still routine."

"But you're against it."

"Yes. I already said that. I think it's unnecessary, and I don't like to perform unnecessary surgery — on anyone. There are risks with any surgery, and I don't want our son to be put at risk when he doesn't have to be."

"Yeah, but there are benefits, too, aren't there? I've heard circumcised men never get cancer of the penis," Blair said, making a face. "That's one place I'm sure he doesn't want to have cancer."

"That's true," Kylie agreed. "And if we removed his testicles, he wouldn't get testicular cancer, either. That sucks, too."

Blair raised her eyebrows and looked at her partner's expression carefully. "I'm surprised that you feel so strongly about this. And given that you do, why didn't you say something sooner?"

Kylie leaned back against the sofa and let her head drop for a few moments. "I'm sorry. I should have told you how I felt. This is an emotional trigger for me." She looked up at her partner. "When I was in my last year of residency, I assisted on a penile reconstruction for a two week old baby."

"My God," Blair cried. "What happened?"

"The kid got a nasty infection from his circumcision. I won't go into detail, but they tried everything they could, and they weren't able to halt the infection. We had to remove a lot of tissue, and even though we saved his life, he was absolutely mutilated. I think about that little guy every once in a while and wonder how he's dealing with it." She took a breath, and Blair could see that she was struggling with her emotions. "Shit happens, and you can't prevent every freak accident. Nobody knows that better than I do,but I can't imagine how his parents feel. They thought they were having a little skin snipped off …" She reached up and wiped her eyes, then said, "There's no such thing as minor surgery, baby. I don't wanna do anything invasive or permanent to Mackenzie that we don't have to do. It's his body and if he wants to have his penis circumcised, he can do it when he's older and can make his own choices."

Blair scooted down and put her arm around her partner. "Okay. No circumcision. Besides, it's not like he's gonna have a daddy to compare himself to."

"None of my nephews are circumcised," Kylie said, "so he'll look like his cousins. That should be good enough."

"I don't think he'll see his cousins' penises," Blair said, laughing softly, "but if he does, he'll be one of the guys."

They cuddled together on the sofa for a few minutes, neither of them speaking. But there was a discomfort between them that Blair finally mentioned. "I have one of these moments every couple of days," she said.

"What moments?"

"The 'I'm in complete control of another person's life' moments. It always scares the crap out of me."

Kylie laughed soundlessly, her chest bouncing against her partner. "We're not in complete control, but it's close — especially on things like circumcision. It's pretty awesome, isn't it?"

"That's one way to think of it. Sometimes I feel like I'll wet myself it scares me so much."

Kylie patted her gently, then kissed her head. "We'll make mistakes, honey. Lots of them. We'll do things that screw him up a little bit. Every parent does. And no matter how good a job we do, he'll resent us for some things. Every kid does."

"I'm still mad that I couldn't get my driver's license until I was eighteen," Blair said, laughing.

"Wow, that's harsh!"

"Well, we didn't have a car at the time, and my school didn't offer driver's ed. My parents didn't want to pay a private company to teach me since there wasn't a car to drive. It made sense, but I was the only one of my friends who didn't have a license. I hated it."

"I hated never getting a new book," Kylie said. "I longed for a brand new book without a dog-eared page or a pencil mark. I was so jealous of the older kids 'cause they always got new clothes and books."

"Damn, were your parents on that strict a budget?"

"Not really. But they didn't believe in wasting money. If there were clothes that fit me, I was gonna wear 'em. And someone had already bought every book I needed for school. It wasn't a big deal, but it always made me feel like I wasn't special enough to get something new."

"Ooo … you're my special girl," Blair said, hugging her tight. “You're finally the first in line for new stuff. And I love wearing your clothes."

"I noticed that you had one of my shirts on today," Kylie said. "Did you wear that to work?"

"Yeah. It felt great! I wore some black leggings with it. I thought it looked kinda cool."

"You did look nice. A little more casual than usual, but I think you should dress as casually as you can get away with."

"A day without panty hose is a glorious day," Blair agreed. "Hey, do you mind if we get back to the religion thing?"

"No. Go ahead."

"What would you think of putting Sadie in charge of Mackenzie's religious upbringing?"

"Sadie? In charge?"

"Well, not in charge. That was a bad choice of words. But she's very involved in her church, and I know it would mean a lot to her. Since neither of us has strong feelings about organized religion, I thought Mackenzie could get a taste of it from her and bond with her at the same time. It might be nice to have a set weekly time with his grandmother."

"And you think it's important for him to have a religion?"

"Mmm … I don't think it's vital, but it'll give him something to rebel against later," she laughed.

Kylie gave Blair a halfhearted nod. "I guess that's okay."

"But …? I know there's something you're not saying."

"Well, I kinda wanted to have him baptized in the Episcopal Church. It would mean a lot to my mom."

"But you don't wanna take him to church on a regular basis, do you?"

"No, not really. I was willing to go to a temple if you wanted Mackenzie to have a Jewish identity, but if he's baptized as a Christian, he'll be like all of his cousins."

"Then let's do it," Blair said. "We can take him to Chicago and have a big christening party. My family can come, too. It'll be fun!"

"So … we'd have him baptized twice?"

"Sure. What can it hurt? We won't tell Sadie we did it, of course."

"But Mackenzie will eventually be able to speak, Blair. He might spill the beans."

"He won't remember! He'll be a month old!"

"No, no, I meant that he'll tell my mom that he goes to church with Sadie."

"Oh! Yeah, that'll happen, but your mom isn't insane. She'll think it's nice that he goes to church — she won't care that it's Armenian Orthodox, will she?"

"No, I guess not. She thinks the world is easier for a kid to understand if he has a religious upbringing. I don’t think she cares what faith it is, though."

"Something's still wrong," Blair said. "I see a little line here." She ran her thumb down the crease between Kylie's eyes.

The doctor nodded, looking contemplative. "How much do we know about this religion? I don't want Mackenzie to grow up thinking his moms are gonna go to hell for being gay."

"I'm not gay," Blair said, giving Kylie a hot, wet kiss. She was nearly cross-eyed when she pulled away, adding, "I'm a straight woman who happens to be in love with another woman. That doesn't make me gay. I can still go to heaven."

Kylie grabbed her and pinned her to the seat of the sofa, looking down at her with fire in her eyes. "You're gonna be good and gay by the time I'm through with you." She kissed Blair for a long time, thrilling at the taste and the feel of her soft, wet lips.

"I'll go wherever you go," the blonde agreed after catching her breath. "You're nice."

Kylie sat up and pulled her partner up with her. "I was serious about the religion," she said. "I don't want him raised in some repressive atmosphere."

"I don't either, honey. But it won't hurt him to go with Sadie until he's in grade school. We'll pay close attention and ask him what he learns every week. If it sounds like he's getting a bad message — we'll put an end to it."

"You think it'll be that easy?"

"Yeah, I do. I've made it clear to Sadie that she's not allowed to ever make a negative comment about homosexuality. She knows I'll follow through."

"Okay. We can start him off with the Orthodox Church and see what happens. If it's not working, he can be a nice non-church-going Episcopalian — like all of his cousins."

"Sounds good to me."

Kylie squeezed her partner's hand and said, "One more decision made on Mackenzie's behalf. I hope he never finds out that we made two major decisions for him in the space of twenty minutes — with almost no deliberation!"

"I won't tell if you don't," Blair said, crossing her heart with her finger.

 

G

 

The following Friday, Kylie was having lunch at her desk when the intercom buzzed. "Dr. Mackenzie, there's a man here to see you."

"I'm not seeing any salesmen today, Christy. They have to make appointments like everyone else."

"I don't think he's a salesman. He said his name is David Spencer, and he's … well, I think you'd better see him."

"Great," she grumbled. "I'll come get him."

Kylie pushed her salad aside and put her shoes back on. Before she walked out of the office, she grabbed her crisply starched lab coat and shrugged into it. When she opened the waiting room door, she found David staring at her, his face blotchy and mottled from anger. He spoke loudly, gesturing at Christy. "Does the receptionist have orders to keep all of your girlfriend's husbands away from you?"

Not saying a word, Kylie held the door open and waited for him to enter the corridor. Thankfully it was empty, so no patient heard David's running commentary. "When you steal someone's wife, the least you can do is face him like a man."

Doctor Greene stuck his head out of his office before Kylie and David passed, and he gave Kylie a questioning look. She shook her head and waved him off, then walked into her own office and closed the door after David entered.

He didn't say anything, but she could see his eyes widen when he saw the size of the layout. Kylie was actually a little embarrassed by the size of her office, but today she was glad she had it. When her practice had moved to its present location, the doctors had drawn straws and she'd won, something that the others still held over her head.

The practice was located in a modern office building that was a few floors higher than any of the surrounding buildings. She had a corner office with six windows, three of them giving her an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean.

The room was lined with modern, stainless steel bookcases, and there was a glass conference table with four chrome and gray leather chairs surrounding it. Her massive desk and Aeron chair barely took up a quarter of the room, leaving plenty of space for a full-sized gray leather couch — upon which she'd spent many a night napping while monitoring patients in the nearby hospital.

She pulled a conference chair out for David, after standing nice and close to him so he could see that she was several inches taller than he was. She didn't normally play games like this, but she thought David might be the kind of guy who would be intimidated by them, and she wanted every possible tool at her disposal. "You know where Blair and I live," she said calmly. "And I believe she told you she'd be glad to talk to you about her personal life. What makes you show up at my office?"

"I wanna know when you started fucking her," he spat, his eyes glowing like embers. "Was she still living with me?"

Kylie leaned back in her seat and gazed at him until he met her eyes. "I don't know what kind of person would talk about her partner behind her back, but I'm not one of them. I don't have a relationship with you, David. There isn't a reason in the world for you to ask me a question about your former wife. Unless you're afraid of her, that is." She spoke calmly and quietly, acting as if she were perfectly at ease.

He slapped at the table with his bare hand, making it ring when it vibrated against the chrome base. Kylie struggled to continue looking calm, but she was rattled by his obviously explosive temper. She wiped her clammy hands on her lab coat and kept them under the table so he wouldn't see them shake. "You're the one who stole her from me! You're the one I have a problem with."

"Fine. It doesn't matter whom you're angry with. I'm still not going to talk about Blair behind her back. That's not the kind of relationship we have. You're welcome to come to our house and discuss anything that's on your mind. We'll both be there, and I'm sure we can sort this all out."

"I don't want to come to your fucking house!" he said, glaring at her with a venomous expression. "I don't wanna see my wife shacked up with the dyke who stole her from me!"

"David, I didn't steal your wife. Blair isn't the kind of woman who could have been stolen, even if I'd tried." Kylie's mind was racing, and suddenly, she had an idea that came to her like a gift. She gave David as big a smile as she could and said, "You're gonna have to learn how to get along with me if you want to have a hand in raising this baby. If you and Blair share custody, we'll probably see each other every week. Maybe more."

"There's no way in hell I'll ever get along with you! You're out of your fucking mind if you think I'm gonna want to be involved in this! You two are gonna have that baby so screwed up, there's nothing I could do to fix him!"

"I certainly don't think we're gonna screw him up," Kylie said, "but Blair and I are going to raise him according to our values. He'll be around a lot of gay people, and we'll teach him that he shouldn't judge people by their sexual orientation."

"He'll be ashamed of you two," David said, glaring at her. "Poor little bastard."

"Not if we raise him right," Kylie said, trying to control her temper. "Even though I'll be with him most of the time, you're the baby's father, and you'll have some influence. We both thought it would be nice if you could take him most weekends. We really haven't had much time alone — just as lovers, I mean. The baby's going to need an awful lot of attention, and we won't have much time to lie in bed on the weekends like we do now."

David's eyes were about to burst from his head, and his face was so red that Kylie thought she might have to perform CPR. The thought flashed through her mind that he might pick up a bookend and bash her brains in, but she soldiered on, knowing this might be her only chance to really get to him.

"We know that most of the day-to-day duties will be ours, but fair's fair. I'm not gonna have to pay one cent for his care, but you're on the hook for fifty percent. You should get to visit him on a regular basis. We want him to grow up believing that a man can be a good parent, too. If you care for him for two full days a week, he'll think of you as a real parent, not just the guy his mommy was married to when she got pregnant." She forced herself to laugh, and even though it sounded artificial to her ear, it got David's attention. "It's gonna be hard to explain all this to the baby, but someday he'll understand that you weren't able to get his mommy pregnant. I'm sure he'd rather know his birth father, but I think he'll bond with you if you spend a lot of quality time with him."

He stared at her, his hands gripping the edge of the table. He was holding onto it so tightly that she was afraid it might break off in his hands. He finally spoke, and each word was thrown at her like a dagger. "I don't want anything to do with you or that damned baby!"

She blinked at him, trying to act like she was surprised. "But … what about the weekends? We were really counting on you."

He stood so quickly that his chair fell back onto the floor with a loud bang and the glass tabletop rose a few inches and slammed back onto the base. David leaned over the table, his face inches from Kylie. She knew she was shaking, but she tried with all her might to look as calm as she possibly could. "I don't ever want to see him! You two dykes can bleed me dry, but you can't make me be a father!"

"Are you serious? I mean, I know he's not really your son, but your name will be on the birth certificate. He's legally yours, if nothing else."

"If I had my way, that kid would never know about me."

"Huh. That really surprises me after all you went through to have him." Kylie paused for a second, acting as though she'd just thought of something. "You know, if you really feel that way, you can terminate your rights. I don't think you should, but you can if you really want to." Her heart was beating so loudly that she was sure he could hear it.

"I've already checked with my lawyer," he said. "I'm stuck. You two can stick it to me until the kid's eighteen. You'll probably run the bill up to spite me."

She scowled at him. "Hey, we're both busy women. We’ll need a live-in nanny, and they aren't cheap."

"You fucking bitch," he sneered.

She leaned back in her chair and held her hands up. "Don't bitch at me. You're the one who wanted to have a baby, and now you're on the hook. You make a lot of money, and it costs a lot of money to raise a baby. Hell, one of the pre-schools we've looked at is $1000 a week." She made a gesture of futility. "I don't think it's necessary to send him to a school with on-staff psychologists and movement specialists, but he should learn a lot with three teachers for every ten two-year-olds." Laughing wryly, Kylie said, "Blair wants to make sure he gets into any Ivy League school, and you've gotta get on track early in the game."

His voice was low and even, but the slight twitch in his eyebrow showed he was ready to snap. "If I could get away with it, I'd spend every dime I had to have a hit put on you."

"Temper, temper," she said, smirking at him even though she was afraid she'd wet her pants. "You don't have to get all dramatic about this. If you hate me so much, you ought to give up and get out of the way. There's a thing called step-parent adoption where I could take your place as the baby's parent. Check with your lawyer. That might be a way to get you off the hook — completely. Jesus, we don't want you around if you're gonna be an asshole about it."

His right eyebrow lifted. "Off the hook … including child support?"

"Yeah. I don't know much about it, but if you don't wanna be involved, you shouldn't be. Like you said, the baby's gonna have enough things to deal with. It'd screw him up worse to know that you wanted to have me killed."

He stared at her for a moment, looking like he wanted to get the job over with right then. She didn't get up, mostly because she was sure her knees were too weak to hold her. "I'll talk to my lawyer." He paused for a second, gave her a look filled with disdain, uttered a short, bitter laugh, then walked out.

She managed to get up and watch him leave, standing in her doorway for a second, knowing that Jonathan Greene would pop out of his office as soon as he heard the outer door close. Her prediction was correct, and Jon walked down the hallway. "What in the hell was that all about?"

Kylie gave him a half-smile. "One of the side effects of falling in love with a woman going through a divorce. I don't think he'll be back." She pushed off her doorjamb and said, "I'd better go talk with Christy. She's probably a little freaked out."

"What did he say to her?"

"Nothing too bad. He asked if she had orders to keep all of my lovers' husbands out of the office."

"Does she?" Jon called out to Kylie's back, earning a discreet obscene gesture from the departing doctor.

 

G

 

"Hi, sweetheart!" Blair called out. Kylie slid the door open and watched her lover performing some lazy kicks in the pool. She was holding herself up by her elbows and had obviously already done her laps.

"Look at those pink cheeks!" Kylie said. "You're really been working, haven't you?"

"Yeah, I have," Blair said. "The feeling of being in the pool is so damned nice. This is the only time of the day that I feel light. I don't quite feel like my old self, but it's a close as I get. Thanks again for persuading me to start swimming, honey."

"I'm glad you enjoy it," Kylie said. "Are you gonna stay in for a while?"

"Yeah. I thought I'd float around a little. It feels too good to get out."

"Uhm … I have something to talk to you about. Want me to wait?"

"Not with that look on your face I don't," Blair said, her brow furrowed. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong. Really," Kylie said. She kicked off her shoes, then slid her hands up under her dress and took her nylons off. She paused a minute, then stripped the rest of the way, saying, "Why am I gonna sit here in a dress when that pool looks so good?" She walked over and got in, jumping around until her body acclimated to the temperature. "It looked warmer from out there," she complained.

"Come here and I'll warm you up."

Blair put her arms around her, and Kylie tried to gain as much skin contact as possible. "That's better. You're a little heater, aren't ya?"

"I didn't use to be, but I'm a baby-making factory now. The furnace is always on. Now tell me what's on your mind."

"David came to my office today."

Blair didn't say a thing. She pulled away and stared at Kylie, her mouth slightly open.

"Yeah. It's wasn't a pleasant surprise for me, either."

"Why didn't you call me?" The tone Blair used was a little louder than it needed to be, and Kylie could almost see her blood pressure rising.

"I didn't call you because it didn't occur to me," the doctor said.

"David is my problem, Kylie," she said, her voice still loud. "He's my soon-to-be-ex-husband, and I want to be the one to deal with him. I wouldn't dream of talking to Stacey behind your back."

Kylie stared at her partner for a minute, then said. "Okay. What would you do if Stacey showed up at your office and started asking where the woman was who stole her spouse? Would you close your office door and dial my number? Or would you get your ass out to the receptionist before any of your clients heard her?" Kylie's voice rose with each word, and by the time she was finished, she was yelling at nearly full voice.

"Oh, Jesus, Kylie," Blair said, her eyes tightly closed. "I'm so sorry he did that. I'm so sorry, honey." She put her arms around Kylie's chilled body and hugged her tight. "You don't deserve to be treated like that."

"No, I don't," Kylie said, her voice soft and slow, "but that's the situation I was presented with. I had to act — right then."

"I'm sorry I made you angry," Blair said. "Of course you didn't have time to call me."

Kylie pulled away and swept some of the wet hair from Blair's face. "Even if I'd had time, I wouldn't have called you."

"What? Damn it, why won't you listen to me? I want to be the one to deal with David. He's my problem, Kylie. Mine!"

"No, he's not." Kylie was giving her partner her most intractable expression, which puzzled Blair completely.

"How can you say that? I was married to him, I'm the one who got pregnant with him. This has nothing to do with you."

"What part of the word 'partner' don't you understand?" Kylie asked, her eyes burning with intensity. "You tell me you love me and want to share everything with me. That means everything, Blair. The good and the bad. David's behavior effects our family— all of us. This isn't about you alone!"

"Kylie, I do love you, and I do want to share my life with you. But you can't expect to get into the middle of my relationship with David! There are parts of our lives we have to keep separate! I don't tell you how to operate on people, and you don't tell me how to sell real estate. This is exactly the same! My relationship — my problem. Now, if he ever contacts you again, I want you to refuse to talk to him. Send him to me. Do you understand?"

Staring at her for a second, the doctor said, "Yeah. I think I can comprehend a sentence or two. Especially when they’re delivered in such a condescending tone." She stood closer to her partner and said, "Here's a message back. If David shows up at my office again, I'll handle it exactly like I did today. Do you understand?"

"Jesus Christ! Why are you being such a jerk about this?"

Kylie turned and hoisted herself out of the pool. She stood up and gave Blair a look the blonde had never seen from her. "Thanks for the support, partner. I'm very glad you had that revelation in Chicago. If this is how you let me in, I've gotta admit, it was warmer when I was outside." She walked into the house, her naked body dripping as she padded across the stone deck.

Blair watched her walk away, stunned by her words and her demeanor. She wanted to chase after her and have it out, but something stopped her. She'd never seen Kylie so angry, and she thought she'd better calm down before they had a massive fight. She sank down into the water and started to swim again, hoping that the water would clear her mind and let her replay their very unpleasant encounter.

Half an hour later, Blair wrapped herself in a bath sheet and ran for the house. This was the part of swimming she hated, but she had to admit that it got her blood pumping. It was only about sixty-eight degrees, but after the pool, it felt like jumping into a snow bank. She walked through the house, listening for any sign of Kylie, but the only sound was the eight little feet scampering along with her. "Kylie?" she called out.

When she got no reply she went to their room and found a note. "Dear Blair, I need some time alone, so I'm going to a movie to cool down. I'll be home by ten. Love, Kylie."

"Jesus!" she said to the dogs. "I hate it when someone walks out on an argument!"

They looked up at her, but had little to offer in reply.

 

G

 

Kylie got home earlier than she'd predicted. At 9:20 she walked into the house and found Blair in the kitchen, writing something on a notepad. "Hi," the doctor said, her voice quiet.

Blair looked up and said, "I hate to have someone walk out on me. It makes me feel like I'm being punished."

Kylie nodded. "I'm sorry. But I was very angry, and I didn't want to stay here and let it escalate. I didn't feel like I was in control, and I hate that feeling."

"So, no 'I promise I won't leave during a fight, Blair?'"

She shook her head. "No, I can't promise that. I'll try not to, but I can't promise."

"What's gotten into you?" Blair asked. "I've never seen you so … I don't even know what to call it."

Kylie walked over to her and asked, "What are you writing?"

Blair tapped the paper with her pen. "We have to discuss this. There are things that we have to keep separate. I'm making a list. I know you might not agree, but I need to keep some of my autonomy."

Kylie took the paper and shook her head. "So … you want to keep our finances separate, you want me to make all the decisions about the house, you want to make all the decisions about your career and you want me to make the decisions about my career. You want to have our prior relationships stay separate, and you want to pay the majority of Mackenzie's expenses." She gazed at it for another minute, then put it down on the counter. "Here's my list. I want to merge our money into one account. I want to pay for everything, including our son's expenses, out of that money. I want to put the house into joint tenancy. I will never make a major decision about my career without consulting you first. And, while I don't want you to seek out my former lovers to chat about me, if you ever run into one of them, you are free to say whatever comes to mind. I trust you, Blair, and I know you wouldn't ever betray my confidences." She turned and walked down the hall, heading for bed.

"Kylie!" Blair called after her. "Stop running from me!"

"Then stop hurting my feelings!" she yelled, whirling and facing her partner. "You've been treating me like shit all night, and I'm sick of it!"

Blair had been walking after her, but she stopped on a dime. Her hand went to her throat and she gasped, "I've been treating you like shit?"

"Yes!" She was trying to control her emotions, but she couldn't do it any longer. Kylie broke down and started to cry like Blair had never seen her. She turned and held onto the wall for support as she made her way to their room, then fell face-first onto the bed.

"Sweetheart, baby, tell me what I did to hurt you so badly." Blair was beside herself with worry, completely puzzled by Kylie's behavior.

"I had a horrible time with David, and you didn't even ask me what happened! You just got pissed that I talked to him even after I told you I didn't have any choice!"

"Kylie, you told me you'd do it again. It was like you were trying to pick a fight." She started stroking her lover's back, wincing in sympathy when she felt how hot and wet it was.

"I had him in a position to get him to make some concessions about our son," she said. "Our son! Or do you get to make all of the decisions about Mackenzie, too? I guess that only makes sense, since you want to pay all of his expenses."

"No, no," she said, trying to explain herself. "I only wanted to pay for him because you pay for the house. It seemed fair to me."

Kylie rolled over and sat up. She grasped Blair by the shoulders and said, "A relationship isn't about being fair! I call you my partner, but you're not my business partner! You're my spouse!"

"I know that, honey, I know that," Blair said, trying to soothe her lover with her voice.

"No, you don't! You say you understand, but you don't. You were more concerned about keeping David on your side of the ledger than you were with hearing how hard today was for me. He frightened me and made me look like a fool in my own office! Don't you even care?"

"Oh, fuck," Blair murmured, closing her eyes. "Of course I care." She put her arms around Kylie and said, "Please tell me what happened."

"No. I'm too upset."

"Kylie, please don't shut me out like this. Please, honey."

The doctor pulled back a bit, wiping her cheeks. She looked at Blair. "I want to know if you really want to be my spouse. I'm not interested in having you as a business partner I have sex with. That won't work for me."

Blair looked stunned. "Of course I want to be your spouse! How can you even ask that?"

"Because of that fucking list!" Kylie said, more hot tears spilling down her cheeks. "We’re not going to re-create the kind of relationship you had with David. If that's what you want, you've come to the wrong place. If your autonomy is worth more than our merger— we've got big problems, and we'd better solve them before Mackenzie's born."

"But … you're asking me to do things I've never done in my whole life," Blair said, her voice shaking. "Why is it so important to you?"

"Because it shows our commitment to each other. It shows that we don't keep score. We share. What's mine is yours and what's yours is mine. If I couldn't work, you'd support me. And the same is true for you."

"Of course I'd support you, Kylie. I can't believe that's even a question!"

"It is a question. It's one thing to support me, and another thing to have me have to ask you for money. Spouses shouldn't have to do that!"

"What about money we've saved? Do you want your name on my investments?"

"Yes," Kylie said, her blue eyes unblinking, "and I want your name on mine."

"But … what if things don't … work out?" Blair said, wincing on the last words.

Kylie stared at her for another few moments, then said, "You're either in or you're out. You can't have one hand in a marriage and the other one preparing for divorce. You have to jump in. It's the only way." She took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. "I know this frightens you, but it's the only way it'll work. You have to trust me — totally."

Blair's eyes closed, and she started to cry, finally leaning against Kylie for support. "It's so scary," she mumbled. "It doesn't make any sense to me to trust someone that much. You could hurt me so badly."

"Love doesn't make sense," Kylie said. "It's completely irrational! It's trusting someone with your most valuable secrets, your most personal thoughts, your entire future! I know it's scary, baby. It scares me, too. But I truly believe that we have to lose our selves and form a new entity — our marriage."

Blair looked up at her, tears still filling her eyes. "Is this why people are so nervous on their wedding days?"

"Yeah. The ones with half a brain, that is," Kylie said, managing a small smile. "Most people assume they'll walk away if things don't work out, but that's not me, Blair. I can't be that way. This will work out. We'll make it work. I commit every part of myself to having a happy marriage with you. For better or worse isn't a stock phrase for me."

Blair sucked in a breath and closed her eyes, looking like she was about to cry. She didn't speak for a few minutes, but Kylie didn't say a word. She let her partner think. "It was for me. When I got married, I was scared to death, but that was mostly because I was afraid things would change a lot between us. I thought David would start trying to exert his will over me, and I knew I couldn't live like that. I would have left him if he'd done that. No question."

"Sweetheart, I have no intention of exerting my will over you. I don't want to own you. I want to become one with you. There's a very big difference there."

"Is there?"

"Yes, yes, a merger takes all of the burdens and joys and spreads them around between the partners. It doesn't make one person the managing partner. We'll be completely equal. You'll still retain your free will, Blair. I mean, if you want to change firms, and I don’t think you should, you still have the final choice. I want to be informed and allowed to offer my opinion."

"I can't tell you how big a change this will be for me, Kylie." Blair shivered. "A couple of weeks ago, you said that it was okay if we didn't promise the till death do us part stuff."

"I was fooling myself," Kylie said. "I realized that today. I thought I could take it as long as you acted like you wanted to love me for the rest of your life. But I can't. I need to have you make a commitment. I need that, Blair. I'm sorry that I didn't know it until now, but I need it."

Blair held her head in her hands, her eyes closed tightly. "I have to think. I need some time alone."

Kylie held her hands up. "Go ahead. Let me know when you decide." She got up and went into the den, leaving Blair alone to think.

It was after midnight when Kylie walked back into the bedroom. Blair was nowhere to be found, so the doctor used her failsafe locating device. "Nicky! Nora!" The dogs came running from the other end of the house, and Kylie muttered to herself as she walked to the guest room. The door was open, but she still knocked before she entered. Blair was lying on her side, her knees drawn up in a semblance of the fetal position. "When you said you needed some time alone, it didn't dawn on me that you meant this alone," Kylie said, more dismayed than she was letting on.

The blonde nodded. "Don't be mad. But I can't think when I'm with you. This is a very big decision for me, and if you're next to me, I won't be able to concentrate."

Kylie gave her a dubious look and said, "Since when do I have that kind of effect on you?"

Blair looked at her for a long time, finally asking, "You really don't know, do you?"

"Know what?"

"How you affect me. How the whole world seems like a wonderful place when we're together. How everything — even the toughest thing — seems like it's possible when you're by my side." She reached out and took Kylie's hand, squeezing it to her breast as she closed her eyes tightly. "How very much I love you."

Kylie sat down on the bed, her weight making Blair roll towards her. She ran her hand through the silky blonde hair and said, "I guess I don't know."

"It's true," the smaller woman said. "It's all true. Your presence is so powerful that I can't think clearly. Things that I know are gonna be difficult don't look like that big a deal when you're here."

Kylie cupped her cheek and let her thumb caress the soft skin. "And that makes you feel like you need to sleep in the guest room? Doesn't that seem a little silly?"

"Silly?" Blair sat up on one elbow and scowled. "Are you making fun of me?"

"No, not at all. But listen to what you're saying. I want you to make a commitment to me, but you need time to think. You have to be alone to do this because when you're with me, you're too happy to be properly pessimistic and see the dark side of being together.” She tilted her chin and narrowed her eyes. "Doesn't that seem a little silly?"

"No." Blair lay back down and put her arms around herself. "I have to think of the dark side. That's how I am."

Kylie put her hand on Blair's hip, then slowly lowered it until she could feel the baby. He was quiet, but after a few moments, he moved and she patted him tenderly. "You don't have to be that way," Kylie said. "You can let yourself look at the bright side. You can let that unnaturally optimistic way you see the world when we're together become natural, baby. I know this sounds childishly simplistic, but I believe it with all my heart. All that matters is that we love each other. I know there are a thousand things that could go wrong, but if we truly love each other, things will turn out all right."

Blair rolled onto her back and gazed into Kylie's eyes. They looked very dark in the lamplight, and she couldn't see the fleck of various colors that made them so vibrant in brighter light. But they still conveyed a boundless love that she knew she was completely powerless over. "That's all that matters? Are you sure?"

"I'm positive. Only our love matters."

Blair took in a massive breath and blew it out. She tossed her feet off the side of the bed and stood up. She walked around and stood by Kylie, then held out her hand. "Let's go to bed. We've got a lot to do tomorrow."

"Like what?"

"Go to the bank and open a joint account, find out how to add each other's names to our investment accounts. You know, stuff like that."

"Sounds like fun," Kylie said. She stood and put her arm around Blair's shoulders, and they walked down the hall together, heading to bed.

 

G

 

The next morning, Kylie opened one eye, glared at the incipient sunrise, and closed it again. She put her hand out to reestablish contact with Blair and blinked when a wide-awake voice asked, "You awake?"

"Ahh … technically." Kylie's voice was low and thick with sleep, and her eyes closed again. She waited a moment, then opened her eyes a crack, hoping that Blair's would be closed. But the green eyes were staring at her, and her partner's face was somber. "What's wrong, honey?" The doctor rose up on one elbow and put her hand on Blair's cheek. "Everything all right?"

"Tell me what David said."

Her stare didn't waver, and Kylie resigned herself to the fact that they wouldn't be sleeping in. She rolled onto her back, then sat up and put a couple of pillows behind herself. "Why do you want to know?"

Blair's brows drew closer together. "What do you mean? Why wouldn't I want to know?"

"Because all it'll do is make you angry."

"Kylie, don't think for me. I'm giving up an awful lot of my autonomy to make this relationship work, but I can't go that far."

Kylie looked at the fatigue evident in her partner's eyes and saw that her lips were drawn together tightly. "Having second thoughts?" she asked, her voice gentle.

"Second thoughts about what?"

"About merging our finances," the doctor said. "You don't look like you slept well last night, and I thought our talk might have been on your mind."

"I asked a simple question about David, Kylie. You don't have to look for an ulterior motive."

"I'm not, I'm not." She reached out and put her arm around Blair, pulling the slightly reluctant woman close. After placing a few tender kisses on her brow and cheek, she said, "Are you a little grouchy this morning?"

"A little," Blair admitted, shocking Kylie by so readily acknowledging her mood.

"You look exhausted," the brunette said. She started to rub her lover's side, smiling to herself when Blair sighed and draped her leg over Kylie's thighs. Increasing the pressure, Kylie started to bear down on all of the usual sore spots, her actions met with pleasured purrs. When she could tell that Blair was starting to relax, she slipped out of bed and walked over to get behind her lover. Now she could reach her always-stiff lower back, and her touch was greeted with quiet appreciation. In a few minutes, Blair was still, and her breathing became heavy and regular. Kylie lay down behind her and molded their bodies together, sure that things would look brighter once her partner was a little more rested.

 

G

 

It was nine o'clock before Blair stirred again, and she forced herself out of bed immediately, heading for the bathroom. When Kylie heard the sound of teeth being brushed, she got up and joined her lover, sharing a wry smile with her over their morning habit. As soon as they were finished, Kylie guided Blair back to bed and went to let the impatient dogs out. A few minutes later, she was back, bearing a glass of orange juice.

"I was lying here wishing for a glass of orange juice to appear," Blair said. "To have it delivered by a gorgeous, naked woman is quite a bonus."

Kylie handed her the juice and slid in next to her. "I was walking around with a glass of juice, looking for a gorgeous, naked woman to hand it to. Quite a coincidence, huh?"

Blair put her hand on her belly and laughed. "I know that's a defensive compliment, but I'll take it anyway."

"Defensive?"

"Yeah. You're not dumb enough to tell me I look like a beached whale, Doc."

"And you're not looking at the world through my eyes, poopsie, so don't tell me who's gorgeous."

"Kylie, I know you love me, but by now, even you have to admit the truth. I'm gonna have a baby in a month, and my stretch marks have stretch marks."

"You're a beautiful woman, Blair, and your poor self-image isn't gonna change my mind. So give it a rest." She took the half-empty glass and put it on the bedside table. "Now come cuddle with me a little while."

"Here we come," the blonde said, inching towards her partner, a half-smile on her face.

Once Kylie had her arms tucked around her, she kissed her golden hair a few times, loving how the scent of Blair's shampoo lingered. "Now that we're starting our day over, can I ask my question again?"

"Sure."

"Did last night's talk upset you?"

Blair managed to stop herself from automatically saying no, a habit she was trying hard to break. "It did upset me," she said, "and I was up all night thinking of … stuff."

"Stuff? What kinda stuff?"

"Things that I want," she said, her voice sounding small and unsure. "Things that'd make this easier for me."

"Tell me. What'll make this easier?"

"Are you willing to compromise?" Blair asked. "Last night I got the impression that I had to give in or lose you, and there's no way in hell I'm gonna let you go." She looked at her lover, and the doctor saw the fear in her eyes.

"Oh, baby, I never meant that." Kylie held her tight, stroking her back and kissing her head. "I didn't ever mean for it to sound like I was giving you an ultimatum. I wasn't!"

"Sure sounded like it. Sounded exactly like it."

"I was upset," Kylie said. "I told you what I wanted. No, no," she amended. "I told you what I needed, but I don't need it all at once."

"Huh?"

Kylie pulled back and looked her partner in the eyes. "I need for us to merge, but you don't have to dive in if it's too much for you right now. What I need to know is whether you want to merge with me. If you’ll agree to try to be closer than you've been before."

Blair gave her a suspicious look. "That's really all you want?"

"Yeah. I want to have our lives, including our finances, merged. That's what I need to feel that this is a permanent relationship. But I'm a very patient person, honey. All I need to know is that you're willing to take some steps. Whatever you’re comfortable with right now is enough."

The blonde lay on her back, and in a few moments, she started to cry, silent tears skittering down her temples into her hair.

"What's wrong?" Kylie asked, hovering over her. "Why are you crying?"

"I was afraid," Blair said. "I need you so much that I'd do anything to make you stay with me. Even stuff that scares the shit out of me."

"Oh, Blair." Kylie lay down and buried her face in her partner's hair, stroking and kissing and caressing her until the tears stopped. "I'd never let you go. If you can't give in a little on the finances, we'll look at it again when you’re ready. Last night I felt like you weren’t willing to even try to make me comfortable. That really hurt." She lifted her head and felt the ache in her heart from the sadness in her partner's eyes. "We hurt each other last night, and I’m sorry for that, but things had been building up and I had a meltdown.” Kylie kissed Blair tenderly, feeling the trembling of her partner’s lips. “I’ll never stop loving you. I promise you that. We're a family."

"Promise?"

Blair's whole body was shaking, and Kylie wished she could have a second chance to start the previous day all over again. "I swear," she said softly. "I swear."

The dogs ran back into the room, their feet a little wet and their breath smelling like fresh kibble. Seeing that Blair had been crying, they flanked her and licked at her eyes, furiously trying to erase the traces of her tears. The blonde began to laugh as the dogs’ soft tongues tickled her face. She pulled her knees up as much as she could and tried to fend them off, begging Kylie for help.

But the doctor merely watched the dogs for a moment, then scooted down and wedged in next to Nicky, swiping her warm, pink tongue across Blair's mouth, happy to hear her laughter again.

Finally, the captive pushed all three of her comforters away and sat up, gasping for breath. "I'm gonna have to start locking myself into the bathroom when I want to cry," she said, giving them an impotent scowl.

"We'll chew the door down, won't we, guys?" Kylie asked her compatriots, roughly tousling their coats while they panted their happiness.

Blair leaned over and kissed her lover, lingering for a long time. "I love you," she whispered. "I love you too much."

"Nah," Kylie said, full of confidence. "You love me exactly the right amount. You’re not used to it yet, but it’s the right amount. And we can skip our errands today. We'll think about this some more and see what we can agree on. The bank will still be there when we’re ready."

"No, no, I want to open a joint account," Blair said. "I can do that."

"Really? You sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure." Blair looked at her partner for a minute and said, "I wanna give you what you want, and I know it'll be good for me to share. When I was thinking last night, I decided that I'm ready to share things from now on if we can keep the things we’ve accumulated separate."

Kylie cocked her head. "Why not the stuff we already have?"

"'Cause I need to have my own money, babe. I'll always need it. I want money for when I want to buy myself something silly or when I want to give you a present. I want money that only I'm responsible for. I've built my investments through the years, and I want to manage them my way — without compromise."

Kylie gave her a lazy grin and asked, "Sick of compromise already?"

"A little," Blair said, looking embarrassed. "Only kids don't have to share much, ya know."

"No, I don't know," Kylie said, laughing, "but I can imagine that's true."

"Are you okay with that?"

"Sure. I'm easy," Kylie said, giving her lover a racy grin.

Blair gave her nose a tweak. "Let's settle this, then we can see how easy you are."

"That's motivation to come to an agreement," Kylie said, wrapping both of her arms around her partner and nuzzling her face against her breasts. "Can we stay in bed all day?"

"I might be convinced, but we have to spend some of the day napping. I can't keep up with you anymore, love."

"I love a good nap, too," Kylie said. "What else do we have to settle?"

"Well, we'll have to talk to an attorney about how to do all of this, but I thought I could match your down payment on the house and use it to pay down your mortgage — that way we'd both have the same equity invested."

"You'd do that?" Kylie looked both pleased and surprised.

"Yeah, of course. It doesn't make sense to merge our finances if we don't equalize the equity."

"Can you afford that?"

"Yeah. With the market in trouble and interest rates so low, I'd rather have my money invested in a home. If we hadn't moved in together, I would have bought a condo. I've got money set aside for a house."

"Great! Do you have a good attorney we can talk to about doing all of this?"

"Of course. I could populate a small city with the names in my PDA."

Kylie gave her a smile filled with love. "Our business affairs are officially tabled until we talk to an attorney. But our love affair's going strong."

 

G

 

After Kylie served breakfast in bed, she and Blair managed to spend the rest of the afternoon in a horizontal position. They napped and kissed and napped some more, the emotion of the night before having worn them out. Blair woke at one point and found Kylie wide awake and staring at the ceiling. "What's going on in that pretty head?" the blonde asked. She touched Kylie's face, slowly running her finger over her features.

"I was thinking about David. Wondering what's going on with him."

"I'm wondering when you're gonna tell me what happened yesterday. Now seems like a good time."

Kylie turned and looked at Blair for a long time, with the blonde completely unable to read the look in her eyes. "I don't think it's fair to tell you everything he said, but that's not because I'm trying to protect you."

"What other reason could you have?" Blair asked, her features clouding.

"Look." Kylie sat up and ran her hands through her hair, trying to keep the soft curls from falling into her face. "David was angry when he came to my office. I could see how angry he was, and I decided to make him angrier."

"What?"

"I intentionally tried to make him angrier," Kylie said. "It might sound crazy now, but at the time, it made sense. I'm not sure I did the right thing, but it seemed like I could make him so mad, he wouldn't want to have anything to do with the baby." She pursed her lips together and said, "I guess it worked, 'cause he said he wanted to have me killed."

"He what?"

"He was steaming," Kylie said, "and I kept making it worse. That's why it doesn't seem fair to talk about specifics."

"Okay," Blair said. "I guess it wouldn't help to give me any more ammunition to shoot back at him, anyway. So what's the bottom line?"

"He agreed to do the stepparent adoption. He was so mad, he would have agreed to move to a different planet to get away from me."

Blair blew out a breath while reaching out to touch her lover. She scratched her back for a moment, then said, "What a fucked-up day you had yesterday."

"It was pretty bad," Kylie said. "That's why I was so touchy last night."

"Makes sense. I would've been, too." She was quiet for a minute, then asked, "Do you think he'll really give up his rights to the baby? Or was he only reacting?"

Kylie lay down next to her and ran her hand through her partner's blonde hair while she thought. "I think he’ll give up his rights," she said thoughtfully. "I don't know him at all, so I could be reading him wrong, but he only seemed to care about how much money the baby was gonna cost him. He didn't seem to have any real interest in Mackenzie."

"Or me," Blair said quietly.

"Still hurts, doesn't it?" Kylie said, her voice heavy with empathy.

"Yeah. It still hurts." She turned and faced Kylie, finally giving her a smile. "As screwed up as this year has been, and as hurt as I've been, I'd do it all over again to get you in the bargain. You're my world, sweetheart; no one and nothing can keep us apart."

"C'mere and hug me," Kylie said, her voice choked with tears. "I wanna hold you until I have to go to work on Monday."

"It's a deal," Blair said. "But I wouldn't complain if you got up to make us a little dinner."

"Get out your PDA," Kylie said, smiling. "We're ordering in."

 

G

 

That Sunday, Kylie went out to do some shopping, not returning until mid-afternoon. "Where've you been all day?" Blair asked. "I thought you’d be home in an hour. I almost called you on your cell."

"Oh, I went to the grocery store and the pet store, and I made a little stop at a place on Montana. Nothing major. Did you have lunch?"

"Oh, like I ever miss a meal. Can I make you something?"

"Sure. I'll have whatever's in the fridge. What did you do while I was gone?"

"Oh, I left another dozen messages for David on his answering machine. I know the little weasel won't call me back, but it's fun to know he jumps every time the phone rings."

"Honey, I think you should let it go. If we can get rid of him, I say good riddance."

"I know," she said, giving Kylie a half-lidded smile, "but it's fun to torture him."

"That's why I want to make sure we're together for life," the doctor said. "I don't wanna know how you'd torture me if we broke up."

"It wouldn't be pretty," Blair said, looking very smug.

 

G

 

They went for their afternoon swim, and after rinsing off the chlorine together, Kylie put on a thick Turkish robe and went into the kitchen. She headed back to the bedroom with a chilled split of champagne. "I bought a little wine to celebrate our financial merger," she said. She hadn't brought a glass, and rather than walk back to the kitchen, she opened it and lifted the bottle to her lips. "To us," she said, smiling brightly.

Blair was lying on the bed, and she gazed at her partner for a moment. The taller woman was standing in the middle of the room, her robe open just enough to show a hint of cleavage. Her head was tossed back as she took a healthy swig of wine, and Blair decided that she looked like the very powerful executive of a major company, having an afternoon tryst in an elegant hotel while indulging all of her voracious appetites. “You’re so damned sexy,” Blair murmured.

Walking over to the bed, Kylie slid onto the surface, lying on her side and bracing her head on her hand. “Not trying to be,” she said.

Blair touched the tip of her nose with a manicured fingertip. “That’s why you’re sexy,” she said. “It doesn’t work for me when someone tries.”

“I’ll remember that.”

“You don’t have to. You’re naturally sexy — it oozes out of you.”

“You make lots of things ooze out of me,” Kylie said, leering.

“Doctor Mackenzie, you beast!” Blair laughed and slapped at her lover.

“Sip?” Kylie held the bottle out, and Blair nearly gasped.

“You, of all people, are offering me wine? I can hardly eat a cookie without getting a frown.”

“That’s not true and you know it,” Kylie said. “And a sip or two of wine at this point in your pregnancy won’t hurt you a bit.”

“Really?” Blair asked hesitantly.

“Honey, would I encourage you to do something that could hurt the baby? Get a grip.”

“Ahh … good point. Gimme the bottle.”

Blair took a small sip and let the wine roll around on her tongue for a few moments. “Ooo … I do love champagne.”

Kylie retrieved the bottle and took another drink, then handed it back to Blair. “Last sip for you, partner.”

Closing her eyes, she savored the tiny sip, then scooted next to Kylie and gave her a long kiss. “Mmm … I love the way champagne tastes on your lips.”

“I should have saved some,” Kylie murmured lazily. “We could have discovered if you liked it applied to any other spots.”

“Somebody sounds like she’s in the mood for love,” Blair said.

Before the words were out of her mouth, Kylie was hovering over her, resting on her hands and knees to allow for Blair’s girth, a wickedly sexy grin on her face. “Count on it. I’m gonna call the neighbors to tell them to ignore the moans and cries that they’ll surely hear.”

“Ooo … you know how to make my heart race,” Blair purred, drawing a hand along Kylie’s cheek. “Let me run to the bathroom, and you can make me moan all night long.”

Climbing off, Kylie got to her feet and extended a hand, pulling Blair upright. The smaller woman tucked her arms as far around Kylie’s waist as she could get them and said, “Sorry to break the mood. I promise that I’m much more spontaneous when I’m not pregnant.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “I’ll still be in the mood in a few minutes.” She patted her butt and sent her on her way.

Minutes later, Blair was industriously brushing her teeth when the door swung open, a rakishly grinning Kylie filling the doorway. “Hi.” She walked by Blair and set a glass of water down on the sink, then lowered the lid on the toilet and sat down. “Mind if I watch?”

Blair looked in the mirror and wrinkled her brow slightly. “You can watch me brush my teeth any old time you want to,” she said, then resumed brushing. When she was finished, she rinsed her mouth and started to turn around, but Kylie’s voice stopped her.

“Stay right there,” she said, her tone commanding.

“Stay … here?” Blair looked into the mirror again, trying to figure out what Kylie had in mind.

“Yes,” she said, her voice low and warm. “Stay right there. I like the view.”

Playfully, Blair twitched her butt. “That view?”

“That’s the one. Now take your boxers off so I can see a little more.”

“Really?" Blair asked tentatively. She started to turn around, but Kylie stopped her once again.

“Stay exactly where you are,” she said, a little more firmly this time. “I know what I want to see.”

Blair’s hands went to her waistband and paused there for a moment, then she slipped the boxers off and stepped out of them.

“Nice,” Kylie said. “Now put these on." She held out her hand and Blair grasped a pale peach G-string.

"You've got to be kidding," the blonde said. "You'll retch!"

"I know what I want. And I want you in that. Now."

Kylie had never sounded so confident or sure of herself, and Blair found herself complying with her wishes without further complaint. She stepped into the tiny garment and found that it was actually comfortable as long as she kept it under her belly.

"Nice. Very nice. They make your ass look so voluptuous."

Blair didn't say anything, waiting impatiently for what she knew would be another instruction.

Kylie handed her another piece — a lace push-up bra, the flimsiest she’d ever seen. Her eyes widened, but she set herself to the task. Thankfully, the closure was in the front, and she could exert all of her strength to wrangle her breasts into place and successfully hook the closure. It took her another few moments to adjust herself, but when she was finished, she glanced into the mirror and saw Kylie looking at her with an expression that could only be called feral.

"How does the bra feel?" the brunette asked in a lazy drawl. "Touch your breasts and tell me."

Waiting only a second to comply, Blair lightly ran her fingertips across the material, feeling her nipples start to harden almost immediately. A tiny smile tugged at her lips, and she looked into the mirror, meeting Kylie's eyes. "Feels nice. Soft and sexy."

"Show me how big and full your breasts are," Kylie said. "Put your hands under them and make 'em jiggle."

Her eyebrow twitched, but Blair forced herself to ignore the slight embarrassment she felt at fulfilling this request. She cupped her breasts and squeezed them in her hands, then shook each in turn, watching Kylie's eyes narrow at the sight. Feeling some of the power shift in her favor, Blair leaned over a little and put on a show, dropping her hands and shaking her shoulders, making her breasts dance before the doctor's dazzled eyes.

It was clear that Kylie wanted to regain the upper hand, and she gave a new instruction. "Reach back and caress your ass. Show me how nice all of that soft skin feels against your hands.”

Blair's hands were resting on the sides of the sink, and it took a few moments for her to make herself comply. She was used to taunting men with her breasts, but she'd never caressed her own ass on command. She felt totally exposed and vulnerable, but there was something so sexy about Kylie that she would have put her hand over a burning flame if she'd been asked to. She started to run her hands over her cheeks, occasionally glancing in the mirror to watch the doctor's eyes.

“That’s what I wanted to see,” Kylie purred. “I want to see that you get as much pleasure from touching yourself as I do. It feels hot, doesn’t it?”

“Uh-huh,” Blair murmured, her voice a little shaky. “It feels soft, and smooth and silky under my fingers.” Her hands slid across the flesh, caressing herself tenderly.

“Now do it harder. Grab a handful and give it a squeeze,” Kylie ordered, her voice dropping even lower. “A nice, sharp swat would be nice," she added. "Show me a pink handprint. Come on,” she urged when Blair was slow to respond. “Look at me and do it.”

Tentatively, Blair lifted her gaze to the mirror and met Kylie’s eyes, seeing the fire burning in them. The desire that radiated from her partner emboldened her, and she reached back and slapped herself on the ass, the sting hitting her clit before her backside. She filled her hands with the flesh, squeezing it hard and offering her cheeks up to Kylie's fevered gaze.

“Perfect,” Kylie growled. She shifted a little and spread her legs apart. Blair gave her a sexy smile, knowing that Kylie had to be throbbing as much as she was. A thrill raced through her body when she felt the power shift back to her.

“Go back to those delicious breasts," Kylie said. "Play with them through your bra. Look into my eyes while you touch yourself.”

Locking her eyes onto Kylie’s, Blair caressed herself softly, her breasts so hypersensitive that the slightest touch made her shiver. The lace was soft, but it gave her a little added stimulation when she touched her hardened nipples. Her self-consciousness was gone now that she could see how hot she was making her partner. Kylie’s eyes were half-hooded and as dark as Blair had ever seen them, and after watching the display for a few minutes, she slipped her hand into her robe and started to play with her own breasts. Blair knew exactly what she was doing to herself — knowing that Kylie liked to have her nipples firmly pinched, and her suspicions were confirmed when the doctor let out a sharp gasp and tossed her head back, growling lustily.

"Now take an ice cube out of the glass and rub it against your nipples," Kylie said. Blair looked at her skeptically, but the doctor didn't flinch. "I want you to do that for me," she said softly.

Blair picked up a cube, noticing that her hands were shaking. She got a good hold on it and barely touched her nipple through the bra, her whole body flinching from the sensation. "Come on," Kylie urged. "I wanna see you squirm when you rub those sensitive nipples for me."

Doing it for Kylie made it easy, and Blair barely noticed the cold. All she could see was the fire in Kylie's eyes. All she could feel was the pulsing between her own legs. Moving to the corner of the sink, Blair pressed against the cold marble, needing some kind of pressure against her vulva. Watching her, Kylie nearly leapt from her seat, but she controlled herself — determined to have Blair precisely the way she’d fantasized. “Put your hand between your legs and show me how wet you are,” Kylie said, and Blair rushed to comply. “Don’t stay too long,” she warned when it was clear that Blair was trying to get a little relief. “Just show me.”

With a soft gasp, Blair slid her fingers through her moisture, then held up her shaking hand to the mirror, the warm lights revealing her glistening fingers to Kylie’s satisfied gaze.

Suddenly, Kylie was pressed up against Blair’s back, and she drew the wet fingers into her mouth, sucking on them voraciously. Blair leaned heavily against her, groaning when Kylie’s hands took command of her breasts, squeezing them to — and a little past — the point of pain.

Blair flung her free hand around Kylie’s neck, pulling her down. Kylie pulled the thoroughly laved fingers from her mouth, then latched onto Blair’s neck, sucking so hard she made her gasp. “Are you ready for me?” she growled.

“God, yes!” the smaller woman cried.

Kylie stepped back just enough to unfasten her robe and let it drop to the floor. She tucked an arm under her lover's breasts and drew her tightly against her body, making Blair’s eyes fly open when she felt something cool and solid and firm press between her cheeks. Her hand flew behind her and slid up and down her partner’s hip, her fingers finding a smooth rubber strap. “Are you sure you’re ready for me?” Kylie asked again, nipping at Blair’s neck and shoulder as she spoke.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!” She backed up against Kylie, pressing her ass against her.

The doctor grasped her lover's hands and placed them on either side of the wide sink. “Hold on tight,” she growled.

Tilting Blair’s hips, she pulled the G-string aside and slid into her all at once, making the smaller woman cry out in surprise. “Jesus!” she moaned, her head snapping up, eyes wide.

Kylie gave her neck another lusty suck, then asked, "Too big?"

"God, no," Blair said. "Took me by surprise. Good surprise."

Kylie started to move inside her, holding onto her hips tightly. Her lips were pressed against Blair’s neck, and she murmured, “We’ll go nice and slow until you get comfortable.” She pushed gently, filling her with the length of the phallus, then pulled back until only the head remained. “Nice and slow,” she repeated as she slid in and out.

“Ooo … that’s good,” Blair growled in a throaty voice. She reached back and held onto Kylie’s hip, feeling the muscles in her ass contracting as she pushed. “That’s it, baby, nice and slow. Fill me up.”

Kylie started to rotate her hips as she slid in, making the phallus slide against every surface. “Oh, yeah,” the blonde groaned. “Hitting … all my … spots.”

Kylie kept her pace slow and gentle, pistoning in and out, their movements so smooth and rhythmic that it seemed as if they were dancing. After a long while, Blair started to back up against her, their flesh slapping against each other’s. “Harder, baby,” she gasped. “Do it harder.” Her head dropped, and she shook it roughly, feeling as if she’d go mad if Kylie didn’t increase the pressure. “Come on — fuck me hard!”

Holding her tight, Kylie started to snap her hips sharply, making Blair moan with each thrust. “You are so damned sexy,” Kylie panted. “It makes me so hot to watch your breasts bounce when I pump into you.” Her eyes were fixed on the creamy flesh, and she was so mesmerized that she almost lost control.

With great difficulty, Blair lifted her head and stared at Kylie in the mirror, locking her eyes on her. Again, she reached up and laced a hand around her neck, pulling her down against her. “Bite me,” she demanded. “Let me feel your teeth against my skin.” Immediately complying, Kylie raked her teeth hard against the tender skin, marking her neck and shoulder and back while Blair ground hard against her. “Don’t stop, baby,” Blair moaned. “For God’s sake, don’t stop.” She dropped her head again, while she held onto the sink with all of her might. “A little more — give me a little more, Kylie.”

Wrapping an arm around her for stability, Kylie lifted one of Blair’s legs until her knee was resting on the sink. The new angle made Blair gasp, and Kylie slowed her pace, going in as deeply as she could, pressing hard against her ass when she did so. Kylie reached down and grasped her lover's cheeks, pulling them open, varying the angle further still. “Yes!” the smaller woman cried as the phallus entered her deeply. Blair bent at the waist and held onto the sink desperately, grunting with each smooth thrust. “So close — so close!”

Kylie’s arm slid around her hip, and when she reached her vulva, she commanded, “Don't you dare come until I tell you to."

Blair's head lifted, and she stared at the fiery blue eyes in the mirror.

Kylie slowed her pace, moving in and out deeply, but leisurely. "You heard me," she said. "You come when I tell you to." Sucking a tender bit of skin in between her teeth, she tugged firmly, then released it and asked, “Are you ready?”

“God, yes, please, Kylie. Please make me come.” She dropped her head again, and Kylie's eyes feasted on the swaying blonde hair and the full, ripe breasts that bounced with each trust.

Kylie pressed her hips as hard against her partner as she could and held there, then slipped her fingers into Blair’s drenched sex. As soon as she began to manipulate her, she growled, “Come for me!” and Blair did, throwing her head back against Kylie’s shoulder as she cried out lustily.

The larger woman held her tight as wave after wave of sensation washed through her, the pulsing so strong that it took her breath away. Kylie eased her leg back to the ground and held still for a minute, while Blair continued to pant. Then she gently withdrew, causing Blair to let out a startled gasp as she felt her tissues begin to contract. “Hold me tight,” she warned, afraid that her weak knees would betray her.

“I’ve got you,” Kylie soothed. “Don’t worry, baby.” She kissed her tenderly, pressing gently against the same spots she’d marked so forcefully only minutes before.

“I’m okay now,” Blair said, sighing heavily. “I think I’m stable.”

Kylie kept a hand on her, but let her turn around. The blonde leaned against the edge of the sink and shook her head, smiling gently at her partner. “I actually saw stars,” she murmured. “That’s a first.” She reached down and tugged playfully on the bright red phallus that projected from low on Kylie’s abdomen. “You’re still hard. Didn’t you come?”

“Nope,” Kylie said. “I need some help. In the mood?”

“Indeed I am. Carry me wherever you want me, and I’m yours.” She laughed and said, "Who am I kidding? I'm yours if you dropped me on the floor."

“No reflection on your weight, sweetheart, but if I tried to carry you, we’d both wind up in the E.R.”

“Near as I can tell, that’s one of the few things you can’t do,” Blair teased, kissing her gently while she continued to play with her phallus.

“You liked that, didn't ya?” Kylie asked, looking down at her.

“Sure did,” she said. “If it were an inch thicker and a couple of inches longer, it would be the world’s most perfect penis.”

“An inch?” Kylie nodded decisively. “I can do that. I have a blue one that’s about an inch thicker and a little longer. It has ridges up the shaft about every inch, too. They feel great when they pop past your opening.”

Blair blinked up at her. “So, you have more than one of these little guys?”

“Uh-huh,” she said. “I chose this one because it’s small. I wasn’t sure how much fullness you liked, and I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t hit your cervix no matter how hard I pushed.”

“So, this is the beginner model?” Blair teased, aiming a playful slap at it.

“After a fashion,” Kylie said. “It's made for a smaller space.” Blair gave her a slightly puzzled look, and Kylie turned her around and tucked the head between her cheeks, giving her a gentle thrust. “I can accommodate any desire.”

Blair grinned at her in the mirror and said, “Why, Doctor Mackenzie! You’ve led quite the racy life, haven’t you?”

“I have a feeling it’s only gonna get racier with you, sweetheart. I think I’ve met my match!”

 

G

 

“I don’t think this is an approved activity for these chairs,” Kylie commented a few minutes later as they settled into place.

The smaller woman lifted her head and wrinkled her nose at her partner. “I put a towel down before I sat, wise guy. Now put your foot up on this arm,” she said. “You can hold onto the back of the chair for stability.”

“What’s wrong with the bed?” Kylie asked once again.

“New rules,” Blair said, grinning up at her. “If I have to come standing up — so do you.” She trailed her fingertips along the edge of Kylie’s mound. “I love this position. It’s nice to have you so open. I can use my hands for other things.”

She reached behind and held onto Kylie’s ass, pulling her forward. As soon as she started to caress her, the larger woman let out a satisfied moan. “Nice,” she purred. “Very nice.” Blair pulled her even closer and really dove into her, rubbing her entire mouth against Kylie firmly, trying to fill her senses with her essence. “I’m not gonna last long if you keep that up,” the taller woman gasped.

Thinking to herself that Kylie never lasted long, Blair did her best to slow down the pace, but as usual, Kylie dictated her own needs, pressing herself against Blair — and making herself come noisily in a matter of minutes.

“Damn!” she grumbled, trying to catch her breath. “I’ve gotta learn how to slow down!”

Blair got up and maneuvered her to the bed, letting her rest against her body for a while. “Does it bother you to come fast, honey?”

“Mmm … no, not really,” she said. “I don’t know why, but my body needs to be satisfied quickly. I guess I should just accept how I am.”

“I love how you are,” Blair said. “I get the best of both worlds. You’ve got a nice, firm dildo that’s always ready, and I don’t have to stay in an uncomfortable position for very long to make you come. I think you’re perfect.” She kissed her tenderly and spent a few minutes tracing the planes of her face with her fingertips, taking in Kylie’s classically beautiful features. “You sure seemed like you knew your way around that little toy,” Blair said. “Why haven’t we played with one of those before?”

Kylie looked at her for a moment and said, “I’ve been thinking about that ever since that little discussion we had before we went to Chicago. I wanted to use it then, but something stopped me.”

Blair sat up and looked at her lover with a questioning expression. “Really? Do you know why?”

“I've been thinking about that, too," Kylie said.

The blonde pinched her partner's cherry-red nipple, making Kylie squeal and clap her hands over both breasts, pre-empting another tweak. "You're so cute," Blair said. "I think it's adorable that you spend your time thinking about things like this. I love that you save a part of your busy brain for us."

"I spend half of my day thinking about us," the doctor said, laughing. "I have to force myself to concentrate in surgery! I've never had to do that before in my life!"

"You'll get over it," Blair soothed, stroking Kylie's arm while she inched closer to her breast.

The doctor grasped her hand and kissed it. "Don't pinch me again, or I'll get you back double. Remember, every other kid in the family eventually picked on me. I'm well-trained."

"No more pinching," Blair promised, giving her partner a kiss. "I'll behave. Now tell me what you've been thinking about."

"I've been thinking that I'm not letting loose — sexually."

"Really?" Blair blinked slowly. "I think our sex life has been great. Don't you?"

She was starting to look worried, and Kylie took her hands and looked into her eyes. "I love our sex life. But I haven't been showing you everything. Now that I know you're committed to me through thick and thin, I feel more comfortable being myself — all of myself."

Blair gave her a deep, soulful kiss and said, "I love your self. Every bit of it." She stroked Kylie gently for a few minutes, basking in the warmth and the scent of her body. "I'm so glad you showed me more of yourself today. I had a wonderful time."

"I'm sorry I didn't feel comfortable using my toys sooner, babe. But we can keep 'em right in the bedside table. I'll always be ready."

Blair looked at her for a moment, then Kylie's words sank in. "Do you think …? Are you saying …?"

Kylie's eyes went wide. "What?"

"I had fun playing with your toy, but that's not why I loved today."

"It's not?"

"No! I had such a wonderful day because you showed me more of your assertiveness … your forceful personality. That's what was so hot! The toy was fun, but I certainly don't need one all the time. I like your fingers just fine, Doc. You know how to use 'em."

Kylie looked enormously pleased. "Really? You like the way I use my hands?"

Blair dramatically threw herself to the bed and moaned. "I constantly tell you what a talented lover you are! You make me come so easily, it's remarkable! Haven't you been listening?"

"Yeah, yeah."

It was clear that Kylie was embarrassed, and Blair pulled on her to get her to lie next to her. "You're the most incredible lover I've ever had, Kylie Mackenzie, and I'm looking forward to a whole lifetime of being completely and utterly satisfied by you."

"I feel the same way about you," the doctor said while she nuzzled her face into her partner's neck.

Blair tickled the side of her lover's neck, making her giggle. “Would you like it if I used one of your toys on you?”

“Mmm …” Kylie reached down and ran her hand over the bulging belly. “I think you’d need the double extra long to accommodate Mackenzie.”

Blair slapped at her playfully. “I didn’t mean now, you goof. I mean in general. Do you like being on the receiving end?”

Kylie shook her head, then smiled slyly. “No, not really. I'm a giver.”

“Yeah, you're generous to a fault,” Blair said. “Is that the only reason?"

"Mmm … maybe not the only reason," Kylie said.

"I think, and this is a wild guess," Blair said, "it might also be because you need to be in control."

Kylie grinned at her, holding her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. "Maybe a little."

"When I’m back to normal, we can experiment a little. Who knows? You might feel different about my doing it.”

“I’ll try anything once,” Kylie said. “And, yes, you may take that as a challenge. You've had to make some changes for our relationship — I guess I do, too.”

"One thing you don't have to change," Blair said, rubbing low on Kylie's belly, "is your quick recovery time. You come fast, but you can come often. Climb up here and give me another taste."

"Oh, gee, I don't know," Kylie said, already moving into place. "Maybe we should clean the house … oh, yeah," she growled, "just like that. That's the spot, baby."

 

G

 

A week later, Kylie came home nearly bursting with excitement. She went out into the back yard and saw Blair swimming her laps. Rather than disturb her partner, Kylie went into the house and changed into a pair of jeans and a fleece shirt to keep her warm in the early December chill. She was rolling up the sleeves when she walked back out and Blair came up for air. "Hi," the blonde panted, "I've been waiting for you. Aren't you gonna swim tonight?"

"Nope. Not in the mood. Are you about finished?"

"Yeah. I hate the thought of getting out, though. It's kinda cold." She looked longingly at the house, wishing she could pull it closer to the pool by telepathy.

"They said it was fifty-five. That's about normal for this time of year."

"True. But it's not normal to be outside and dripping wet at this time of year." Her face brightened and she asked, "Hey, wanna hear how I humiliated myself today?"

Kylie sat on the pool surround, crossed her legs Indian-style and smiled at her lover. "How could anyone resist that offer?"

Blair dunked herself, slicking her hair back off her forehead in the process. "Here's the sad tale. I was showing a huge old house. Two-story, Spanish. A big, rambling place. There was a bathroom on the first floor, but I snuck off upstairs and used the facilities. I hate to do that when I'm showing a house, but I figure that people would rather I used their bathroom than peed on their floors."

"Sounds reasonable," Kylie said, smiling. "That'd be my first choice."

"So, my clients really liked the place. We went back downstairs, and I could tell they were seriously considering making an offer. But they're the cautious sorts and had to look at every nook and cranny, and there were a lot of crannies," she said. "I followed them along, watching them try every outlet … doing the things that an inspector really knows how to do." She wrinkled up her nose and said, "Clients. Gotta love 'em."

"Where does the humiliation come in?" Kylie asked. "That's the good part."

Blair made a face and stuck her tongue out. "I'm getting there. They poked around for so long that I had to pee again. I was embarrassed, but I did it. I had to," she added emphatically. "I'd had two cups of herbal tea right before I left the office, and that tea had to get out!"

"You don't have to convince me," Kylie said. "I swear you pee your body weight every day!"

"Ha. Ha. Anyway, I excused myself and took care of business. They'd finally seen everything there was to see, and I locked up. Halfway down the front stairs, my pantyhose started to roll off my belly, and by the time I hit the bottom stair, they were stuck right under my ass! They were so tight that I could hardly take a step!"

Kylie fell backwards, laughing so hard that she held onto her sides and rolled back and forth on the ground. "Dear God, why didn't I get to see that?" she moaned. "My life would have been complete!"

"Yeah, well, it wasn't so funny at the time. I couldn't go back into the house again. What was I gonna say? I've gotta pee again? So I walked to my car like I had a stick — a big stick — up my butt, then I had to get into the car and drive them back to my office. Getting my leg into that car was one of the hardest things I've ever done, Kylie! I swear! I had to use both hands to pull my foot up high enough. They must have thought I'd had a stroke!”

Kylie was crying with laughter now, unable to even sit up.

“The husband was standing behind me, and he looked like he wanted to help, but what was he gonna say? 'Do you need help pulling your leg up, Blair?'"

"Oh, for God’s sake, stop! Stop, I’m begging you!” Kylie wheezed, pulling herself up and wiping her face. “I'm sorry for laughing, but that was just priceless."

"Oh, yeah, it was priceless all right. They wanted to make an offer, and I told them I had to run an errand first! What could they have been thinking? Other than I'd lost my mind, of course. So we got to my office, and I didn't even try to get out of the car. I just sat there with the engine idling and told 'em to get out!"

"Did they?" Kylie asked, helpless with laughter again.

"Of course! They stood there looking at me like I was nuts, so I pulled a twenty out of my wallet and told them to go to Marmalade across the street and buy some coffee and something to snack on, since it would take at least an hour to write up the offer. They took the money, and I waved and said I'd be right back."

"Where'd you go?"

"I came home, took off those demonic pantyhose and put on a turtleneck and those black corduroy overalls you bought for me. They must have thought I'd wet myself at the house, but I wasn't even gonna try to offer an explanation at that point. I just acted like I threw clients out of my car every day while I went home to change."

"Good God," Kylie said, "you must have been mortified!"

"Yeah, I was for a while. But then I thought, fuck it! I'm eight months pregnant, and shit happens."

"That's my girl. Besides, people give you a lot of leeway when you're pregnant. You're so cute in those overalls, they were probably blinded by your beauty."

"That's likely. Very likely." Blair grabbed the toe of Kylie's shoe and gave it a hearty tug. "All I know is that I'm not wearing pantyhose until Mackenzie makes his debut."

"I'll buy you some of those sexy, thigh-high stockings that the women in the Victoria's Secret catalog wear. You'd look sexy in those."

"Oh, yeah. Especially with the maternity panties. Woo hoo!"

"Well, I always think you're hot. Even when you don't."

"I'm not hot now," Blair said. "I'm downright cold."

Kylie stood and held out a bath sheet. "Come on out, babe. You're gonna want to hear the message on the answering machine, so make it snappy."

"Message?"

"Yep. He must have called when you were swimming."

"Who's he?"

"Come inside and hear for yourself. All I'm gonna say is that it's good news."

"God knows I love good news," the blonde said. "I'm right behind ya."

Blair was wrapped in both the bath sheet and Kylie's arms when the doctor hit the play button on their answering machine. "Hi, Kylie and Blair. Dave Robbins. I've got good news for you. Mark Roth called me today and said that David is prepared to terminate his parental rights in favor of you, Kylie. Obviously, we can't proceed until the divorce is final and the baby is born, but it looks like this is going to work out just the way you want it to. Give me a call if you need any more information. Congratulations, you two!"

Kylie looked down at her partner, her smile nearly going from ear to ear. "Wasn't that worth coming in for?"

"Oh, Kylie, I can't tell you how happy this makes me." She burrowed into her lover's embrace, crying softly. But this time the tears were made up of pure, unadulterated joy.

 

G

 

A week later, on the 10th of December, Eleanor Schneidhorst arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, surprised to see only Kylie standing at the luggage carousels. "Hi," she said, giving the doctor a hug. "Is Blair in the bathroom?"

"Ah, she's told you about her new hobby. No, I convinced her to stay home. It's easier this way."

"Easier? Is she all right?"

"Oh, sure, she's fine, but I didn't want her to have to walk too far. She's pretty uncomfortable now, Eleanor, and when she's on her feet for too long, everything starts to hurt."

"Oh, my poor little girl," the older woman said. "I bet she can't wait to have this baby."

Kylie laughed, her eyes crinkling up at the corners. "She keeps trying to get me to give her an injection of oxytocin. I don't carry it in my bag, but if I did, I'd get rid of it!"

"Oxytocin?

“Oh. Right. I forget that everyone isn’t expecting a baby. Oxytocin is a hormone they give to stimulate labor.”

“Is she that miserable, honey?"

As was her habit, Kylie took the question seriously and spent a moment considering her reply. "Yeah, she is. She's not sleeping well, and that certainly doesn't help matters. It's impossible for her to find a position that's comfortable, and believe me, we've tried everything." The doctor laughed softly, then shook her head, obviously remembering some of the things they'd tried. "The only place she's truly comfortable is in the pool. I'm sure the baby's gonna come out doing the back stroke."

"You've probably figured this out by now," Eleanor said, lowering her voice into a conspiratorial whisper, "but she's not the kind of girl who suffers in silence."

Kylie laughed and draped her arm around Eleanor's shoulders. "I've been very impressed with how stoic she's been. Honestly, she rarely complains. I can tell how uncomfortable she is, but she hardly ever makes a big deal out of it."

"She must have changed a lot since she was a girl," Eleanor said. "When she was little, the whole building knew when she had a cold."

"She has changed," Kylie said, her smile growing. "She's changed a lot."

 

G

 

Blair walked down the sidewalk to greet the car, waving happily at her mother and Kylie. "Oh, my goodness," Eleanor said. "How big is that baby going to be?"

"Looks like she's got a twenty pound turkey strapped to her, doesn't it?" Kylie asked. "Uhm … I wouldn't say that, if I were you, Eleanor. She's good-natured about it, but it hurts her feelings when people make a big deal out her size."

Eleanor reached over and squeezed Kylie's arm. "I'm glad you're with her, honey. She's a lucky girl."

They opened their doors as Blair approached, her waddle nearly comical. She looked a little like a woman who'd been on a horse a very long time, but Eleanor, wisely, said not a word about her rolling gate. "You look wonderful!" she said, doing her best to get her arms around her daughter.

"Thanks, Mom," the blonde said. "I've missed you and Dad. Being this close to delivering has really made me want my mommy!"

"Aw … you haven't called me mommy since you were in kindergarten," the older woman said. "I forgot how much I loved that name."

"Well, I feel like climbing onto your lap and having you make this all be over," Blair said.

Eleanor put her arm around her daughter, and the threesome started to walk into the house. "Only two more weeks until your due date," she said, trying to sound like that was only minutes.

"My doctor says that most first babies are late," Blair said. "I keep hoping I'm the exception, but I have a feeling I'm not going to be."

"Let's keep a good thought," Eleanor said. "It couldn't hurt."

 

G

 

Later that evening, Blair floated in the pool while her mother sat on a nearby chair and watched her. The older woman was glad her daughter couldn't see her face, since she was unable to keep from smiling when she looked at the pumpkin-sized belly breaking the waterline. After a while, Blair floated over to the edge and stood up. "You're not bored, are you?"

"No, not at all. Being able to sit outdoors in December is such a treat for me that I could sit here all night and not say a word."

"Oh, right," the blonde said. "I've been here so long that I forget not everyone has weather like this all year around."

"Far from it. It was just starting to snow when I reached O'Hare."

"Brrrr! I hope it's warm when we bring the baby to Chicago to be baptized."

"I think it's so nice that you're doing that to make Kylie's mother happy, honey."

"That's partially the reason, but it's also a way to have him officially be a Mackenzie. All of the kids and grandkids have been christened in that church."

"How are things going with that, legally that is?"

"So far, so good. When our divorce decree is final in August, we're going to file for second-parent adoption. As I told you last week, David's attorney says he's ready to waive his rights."

Eleanor blinked and asked, "How long do you have to wait?"

"Until August," Blair said, looking unhappy.

"But that's so long!"

"Don't I know it," Blair grumbled. "There's a year waiting period for the divorce to be final."

"Oh, honey, that's cruel to make you wait so long!"

"Thanks for understanding, Mom. And it is gonna be hard. I keep thinking of all of the reasons that the little snake could use to change his alleged mind, and it worries me to death. But there's nothing I can do about it."

Eleanor was quiet for a moment, and Blair could see the worry expressed on her face. "You're already going over the list, aren't ya?" the younger woman asked.

Trying to make herself smile, Eleanor nodded. "I was thinking about Sadie."

"Yeah. She's the lynchpin in the whole thing. She has a lot of influence with David, and I worry that she could talk him into just about anything. She's supportive of Kylie at this point, but you never know how she'll feel when she sees the baby."

"Honey, I don't want to second-guess you, but are you sure it's wise to keep her involved?"

Blair considered her answer, then nodded. "I am. I realize it's a devil's bargain, but I'd rather try to keep her on our side. She's really angry with David, and she sees how devoted Kylie is — both to me and the baby. If she really cares about the baby, I think she'll stay on our side. And if she doesn't — we're screwed anyway. So I think it's worth the risk."

"I see your point," Eleanor said, "but I wish there were another way."

"So do I, Mom, but I'm the one who made the mistake of marrying a self-absorbed adolescent. I can't blame anyone but myself for not knowing him better before I agreed to get pregnant."

"He doesn't know what he gave up," Eleanor said, giving her daughter a sad smile.

"No, he sure doesn't, and that's the best reason I can think of to divorce him. A guy who would give up a wife who loved him, as well as a baby, just because he wasn't the father, isn't a guy I wanna share a cab with, much less a life."

"I think you've found a woman who loves you very much, honey. Kylie acts like she's the happiest woman on earth. She talked about you and the baby so excitedly on the drive home that I was afraid she'd have an accident."

"It's a tie in the 'who loves whom more' competition," Blair said. "Most days we call it a draw."

"Is that true, sweetheart? Are you as crazy about her as she is about you?"

Blair looked at her mother for a few moments, then said, "I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but I have a whole new vocabulary for love."

"Vocabulary?"

"Yeah. Take passion. I always thought that passion was a sexual thing. David and I had some very good, very passionate moments. But with Kylie … with Kylie it's not just about sex. Do you know what I mean?"

"No, not really," Eleanor said. "I don't get the connection."

"I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel passionately about Kylie whether or not we're being sexual. I mean, it's not every minute or anything, but I can look at her or think about her and feel so emotional." She wiped a few tears away with the back of her hand. "I have no control, Mom. None. I love her so much, it amazes me. Sometimes it actually takes my breath away. She was outside this morning, playing with the dogs, and when she came in, our eyes met. She gave me this look that showed all of her feelings … all of them! I started crying and went to her and threw my arms around her and cried for the longest time. Sometimes it feels so fantastic that it's too much to bear."

Eleanor was crying by this time, and she smiled through her tears. "You've never said anything that made me happier, honey. That's all I've ever wanted for you."

"Well, you've got it. I'm completely powerless against that woman," Blair said, smiling. "I just hope she never tells me to jump off a cliff, 'cause I'd do it!"

"That part will pass," Eleanor said. "I felt the same way about your father at first, but now I'd need a little convincing."

"I guess that's true," Blair said, smiling at her mother. "But I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of this crazy love period. It's too precious to waste a moment."

"Speaking of the love of your life, where is she? She doesn't think she has to make herself scarce because of me, does she?"

"Oh, no. She's been itching to do some research on the Internet, but she hates to leave me alone. She's in her element when she's in her office, being my cute little nerd, but we're both pretty clingy these days."

"I can understand that," Eleanor said. "Does she work at home often?"

"Oh, this isn't work. Her car failed its emissions test, and she's finally agreed to buy a new one. Her car doesn't even have air bags! So I'm sure she's thinking about getting some sort of armored personnel carrier to protect the baby from safes and grand pianos falling from great heights."

"Sounds like your father. When you were learning to walk, he wanted to buy you a little bicycle helmet to protect your head."

"That'll be Kylie. She's like that with me now, so I can't imagine how she'll be with someone who really is helpless!"

 

G

 

Later that evening, the trio sat in the den with Kylie massaging Blair's belly. "I've been having these Braxton-Hicks contractions for a long time now," she explained to her mother, "but they've gotten a lot worse in the last weeks."

"Are they painful, honey?"

"Mmm … not really painful, but pretty annoying. Everyone tells me that I'll be able to tell the difference between these and the real ones, so the difference must be considerable."

"I wish I could help," Eleanor said, "but I don't have a clue."

"I'm glad you don't," Blair said, smiling. "You’re one mother who doesn't have a horror story to tell me! I'm gonna punch the next person who tells me about being in labor for four days. I don't even ask these women questions! They see me at the grocery store and start asking me all sorts of personal things. I swear, it's like I'm wearing a sign that says 'Ask me about my uterus.'"

"It'll only get worse, honey. When I used to push you around the neighborhood in your stroller, nearly everyone we passed stopped to take a look."

"I'm not taking Mackenzie out of the house until he can talk," Blair said. "If someone wants to know something, he can answer for himself!"

 

G

 

They spent the first weekend decorating the house for Christmas. Even though Blair's due date was December 25th, they'd decided to plan on having a normal Christmas — since it was their first together.

The first stop was a tree lot on Wilshire Boulevard. Kylie was drawn to the biggest trees they had, despite Blair's protest that they'd never be able to get it onto the car. "We deliver for only $15," the energetic young salesman said. "We'll even help you set it up," he added, casting a quick glance at Blair's belly.

The blonde threw her hands up. "Go wild," she told her partner. "Just remember how tall the ceiling is."

When Kylie walked away to pay the man, Eleanor said, “We started out with normal-sized trees, until the third time we had to have a maintenance man come up and cut a few feet off. Your father finally admitted that it was silly to pay $50 for a tree, then another $10 as a tip, or a humiliation fee as he called it.”

Blair nodded. “I have a feeling my beloved’s eyes are bigger than our room, but I don’t care, as long as she’s happy.”

Eleanor smiled at her daughter. “That’s how I felt until the third time in a row, honey. By then, you just want to hit them on the head with the measuring tape!”

 

G

 

When the tree was delivered, it was apparent that Kylie had not recalled the exact dimensions of the room. But after the delivery boy cut off the gangly top branches and a substantial amount of the trunk, the tree finally fit in the stand. Kylie paid and tipped the young man, then stood back and admired the Goliath. "We always had a huge tree when I was growing up, and it doesn't seem like Christmas without one."

"We always had one that sat on our piano," Blair said. "I'm used to a Lilliputian Christmas."

"That's the difference between growing up in the city versus the suburbs," Kylie said, "but since L.A. is one big suburb, we can go big!" She looked at Blair and asked, "Do you have any ornaments?"

"Unh-uh. David had some cool ones from his grandmother, and we always used those. I've got nothing. Where's your box of goodies?"

"I don't have any either," Kylie said. "I couldn't put up a big tree in my condo, so I never bothered. Besides, I always went home for Christmas, so it seemed like a waste of time."

"Well, I guess it's time to start our own family tradition," the blonde said. "Time to head to Pasadena. Are you up for a road trip, Mom?"

"Pasadena? Don’t they sell Christmas ornaments in Santa Monica?"

"Sure they do. But there’s a huge store in Pasadena called Stats. Walter always goes after Christmas to stock up on ribbons and garland and all sorts of things he uses to decorate houses. He'd kill me if he knew I was paying full price, but we don't have much choice. We can buy just enough to get us through this year, then go back after Christmas and load up on the half-priced stuff."

"Yeah, that's just what you'll want to do on the day after Christmas," Kylie laughed. "Go wait in line to buy things on sale when you're nine months pregnant."

Blair nodded and said, "I'll give Walter my credit card and ask him to fix us up for next year. He has better taste than I do, anyway."

 

G

 

By Sunday night, the tree was attractively, if sparsely, decorated, and there were strings of lights surrounding all of the windows on the front of the house. Large, fragrant juniper wreaths hung on the doors, and the essential elements of a crèche that they hoped to add onto were arranged on the mantle. "It looks a little bare with just the baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary up there," Blair said.

"Don't worry, folks," Kylie said to the holy family. "Once everything's on sale, you'll have some animals and some guys bringing you gifts. We'll hook you up."

Eleanor had already gone to bed, and the couple was sitting on the sofa in the den, cuddling before they turned in. Kylie looked at Blair and asked, "Is there anything unique about an Armenian Orthodox crèche? I wanna be authentic."

"Yeah. One of the wise men brings baklava," Blair said, giggling. She patted Kylie's side and said, "It's the same, honey. Oh. Except for one little thing."

"What?"

"Well, the Armenian Church is similar to the other Christian churches, but they celebrate Christmas in January."

"What?"

"You heard me. They celebrate Christmas in January. And Easter's different, too. I think it's a week or two after most people celebrate."

"Blair! That's kind of a big deal!"

"No, it's really not," she said. "David's family celebrated Christmas with everybody else. They acted like December 25th was when Santa Claus came and brought gifts. They just celebrated Jesus' birth in January."

"Jesus' birth is kinda the whole point of Christmas, Blair. I think this is gonna be a problem. Mackenzie's gonna be confused."

Blair gave her partner a look, raising one eyebrow. "Honey, do you really think Christmas is gonna be the thing that confuses him? He'll have an unknown biological father, a legal father who's renounced him, two mommies, two grandmothers and a grandfather who aren't biologically related, and a grandmother and grandfather who are. Dozens of aunts and uncles and cousins who all live far away. He'll be in high school before he figures out who his relatives are!"

"Still …" Kylie said, looking worried. "Maybe this religion thing isn't a good idea."

"Baby, I've told you, if this doesn't work out, we'll stop it. If he doesn't like it, we'll stop it. If he hears things at church that bother him, we'll stop it. Besides," she said, "Sadie will probably lose interest after a year or two, especially if she tries to take him for the entire service."

"Why would she lose interest?"

"'Cause the service is like … I don't know … two, two and a half hours long? Something like that."

"Two and a half hours? What do they do? Read the whole Bible?"

"I'm not sure, honey, I've only been a couple of times, and it's all in Armenian."

"The service is in Armenian?" Kylie's eyes were comically wide.

"Well, yeah, it's the Armenian church. I'm sure the Greek Orthodox Church has services in Greek. What's surprising about that?"

"You're telling me that Sadie's gonna take our baby to a church service that's two and a half hours long and is in Armenian?"

"Yep."

"She won't last a year!" Kylie said, starting to laugh.

"I think she might hold out until he starts to crawl," Blair said, "but by that time, I think she'll have had a bellyful. I think she just wants everyone to know she has a grandchild, babe. It means a lot to her."

Kylie nodded. "I think I'm beginning to understand why you're so calm about this. I should have known you had insider information."

"I always do," Blair said, smiling sweetly.

"One of the many, many, many things I love about you," Kylie said. She wrapped her arm around her lover and cuddled her tightly to her body. "You're the best Christmas present I ever got."

"I hope the best Christmas present we ever get makes an appearance before Armenian Christmas," Blair said, laughing. “'Cause if he doesn't, I'm gonna bribe Monique to induce labor!"

Kylie cuddled her partner close and said, “If anyone can do it, you can, baby.”

Resting her head on her lover’s chest, Blair said, “It’s hard to believe that Mackenzie will be here before we take the tree down.”

“Don’t put it that way,” Kylie said, her voice suddenly a little high. “It’s too scary.”

“It’s starting to hit you, too, huh?”

“Yeah. I’m having really vivid dreams about our bringing him home and not having any idea what to do with him. He cries and cries, and we finally have to call Monique to teach us how to quiet him down. It’s supremely humiliating.”

Blair chuckled, then shook her head. “That’s the difference between being normal and having hundreds of different hormones racing through your bloodstream. My dreams are horrific! There’s always something wrong with him — or me. I had one the other night where they put me in a mental hospital because I was having an hysterical pregnancy! That was a surefire way to get me up to organize the spice rack — again.”

“It’ll all be over soon,” Kylie promised.

Blair looked up at her, surprised to see that she was completely serious. “It all starts when he’s born, honey. This is merely the warm-up act.”

Kylie swallowed and looked at her partner for a moment. “Should we bother to go to bed or start organizing things right now?”

 

G

 

Kylie woke on Monday morning, looked at her sleeping lover and wished she could call in sick. Blair never got up when she did, but there was something about knowing that her partner wasn’t going to work that made her jealous. The blonde stirred and looked up at Kylie. “Getting up already?”

“Yeah. I don’t wanna, but I have to.”

“Oh, are you sad to have to go to work?”

Slightly embarrassed, Kylie nodded. “I feel like I did when the older kids got a school holiday and I didn’t. You’re not planning anything fun today, are you?”

“Mmm … what’s your least favorite museum?”

The doctor thought for a moment, then said, “Probably MOCA. I’m not a huge fan of contemporary art.”

“Good. Then we’ll go to MOCA today.”           

“Yeah, but you’ll go to good places later in the week.”

“Yes, we will, baby, but I won’t tell you about them. How’s that?”

Kylie smiled, then gave Blair a gentle kiss. “I want you to have fun. The whole point of having your mom come this early was to give you someone to pal around with and to keep you occupied. I’ll control my jealousy.”

“I’m very glad she’s here,” Blair said. “I feel safer when my mommy’s close by.”

“And in two weeks, your daddy will be here, too. You’ll be in a little cocoon of love.”

“C’mere,” Blair said, inviting Kylie to come close by making kissing sounds. The doctor leaned over, and they kissed gently for a few minutes. “I’m always in a cocoon of love when I’m with you.”

“I do love you,” Kylie said, the lovesick expression that Blair loved so on her face.

“And I love you. Remember that today, and think about it if you get lonely.”

“You’re nice,” Kylie said with a charming, childlike smile.

“You’re nice, too. Now get in the shower, or your patient isn’t gonna be nice to you. Go on, you little scamp.”

Kylie jumped out of bed, both dogs jumping right behind her. “We love you,” she said one last time as she went into the bathroom with her canine voyeurs.

 

Concluded in Chapter 14

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