All That Matters

 

by

 

S X Meagher

 

 

Chapter 8

 

“Glad to be going home?” Kylie asked once they were airborne on Sunday afternoon.

“Yeah. I had a great time, but it’ll be nice to have a little time to relax and reconnect with the doggies before we have to go to work tomorrow.”

"Yeah, I need some time to unwind. Being with my family is always emotionally draining. And I never get enough sleep when I'm there. There's always someone coming in to wake me up early or cuddle with me."

"That's because everyone loves Aunt Kylie." Blair tucked her hand under Kylie's arm and gave her a rough squeeze. "You're too cute for your own good."

"That's always been a cross I've had to bear," the doctor said, looking stoic.

“You bear it well," Blair teased. "So, how would you rate our trip? I got the impression that some of your siblings thought our living arrangement was a little odd. Is it a little too California for them?"

"Maybe a little," Kylie admitted, "but they didn't pry or anything. They tend to keep their comments to themselves, which suits me just fine."

"I got the feeling that your brothers were the most puzzled ones. I don't think most men can understand why you'd share a house with someone you weren't sleeping with — unless you needed the rent money, that is."

“Yeah,” Kylie nodded, shifting uncomfortably when she thought of her mother’s comments.

“Well, it doesn’t matter to me what people think. You don’t care, either, do you?”

“No, of course not. I’ve been a little concerned about that for you, though. I know people at your office will gossip about you when they find out you’ve left your husband and moved in with a woman.”

“I don’t give a damn about what people say, Kylie. All that matters is that this is the right situation for me. I love living with you, and I know you’ll be a wonderful person to help me raise Mackenzie.”

With a furrow settling between her eyebrows, Kylie asked, “Will that be enough, Blair? Will you be happy living with me long term?”

“Yes, I will,” she said emphatically. “I mean, when I look at the big picture, I have to admit that I hope my sex life isn’t over at age thirty-five. But if it is, I think I’ll be able to live with that. What about you?”

“I hope mine’s not over at forty,” Kylie said, smiling gently.

“No, I want to know if my being at your home is gonna make you hold back. Remember, you promised me that you’d try to find a partner. That's still something that you have to do, Kylie. You can't let Mackenzie and me take away your possibilities.”

Kylie forced herself to smile, but she was only able to manage a weak one. “I promise I’ll try to assure that the best years of my sex life are ahead of me.”

 

ĄG

 

When they got home, Nick was lying out in the sun, both dogs sharing his chaise. “Mommies are home!” Kylie called out. Eight little feet came running, and Kylie and Blair spent a long time petting the dogs while Nick regaled the humans with tales of the dogs exploits over the past few days.

“Stay for dinner, Nick?" Kylie asked. "I’ll make your favorite.”

“If you really want me to,” he said, "but if you're both tired, I can just take off."

Blair said, “We’d love you to stay, but I desperately need a nap. You don't mind, do you?”

“Go right ahead,” Kylie urged. “I’ll tell Nick all about the symphony.”

“See you in a little while. Who wants to go with?” Blair asked.            

Both dogs followed her down the hall, with Kylie shaking her head as she watched them go. “She’s stolen my dogs from me, you know. I’m gonna have to steal her baby’s affections just to pay her back.”

“Tell me about the trip," Nick said. "I wanna hear everything.”

They were outside for nearly an hour, chatting companionably. Nick was so attuned to her, though, that he finally asked, “What’s troubling you, Kylie? I know something is.”

She was poised to sidestep his question, but she decided that she needed to vent a little. “I had a talk with my mom yesterday, and it's really been on my mind. She asked me if I was prepared for how I’d feel if Blair remarried.”

“Remarried? She’s not even divorced! Is she seeing someone seriously?”

“God, no!” Kylie said. “But my mom sees how close we’ve become, and she’s worried about me. I never thought I’d get the ‘straight girls will break your heart’ lecture from my mom, but that’s essentially what she said.”

“Oh. Well, how would you feel?” he asked, having wondered the same thing.

“Shitty,” she admitted. “Damn, Nick, I don’t know what I want. I think I can be happy with just Blair and the baby in my life, but we clearly don’t have any long-term commitment to each other. I’d feel like hell if I spent the next five years raising the baby with her, only to have her leave me for some guy. Even though we’re not lovers, it'd feel like being dumped.”

“I can see that,” he said. “But what are your options?”

She looked contemplative and said, "Damned if I know."

 

ĄG

 

On Tuesday, Kylie and Julie had dinner together, spending most of the time talking about Julie's sister who had unsuccessfully been trying to get pregnant. Julie picked Kylie's brain, trying to come up with enough information to direct her sister to the proper care. Kylie had a nice enough time, but it was a little like being at the office. She had surgery scheduled for early the next morning, so they had to part by 10:00, leaving both of them feeling like they hadn't had much time together. "You know, I'd really like to have a full day with you," Julie said. "Are you busy on Saturday?"

"No, I don't think I have anything planned," Kylie said. "What would you like to do?"

"Nothing," Julie said. "I want to know more about you, Kylie. Right now I know that I like you, but that's about it."

"You're right," Kylie said. "As a matter of fact, you read my mind. I think we need some quantity time. Saturday it is. Let's have breakfast together and hang out until we're sick of each other."

Julie grasped the fabric of Kylie's light jacket and pulled the doctor close. She kissed her hungrily, not letting go until Kylie's knees were weak. "That might be a while. Pack a bag," she whispered.

 

ĄG

 

Blair came home from work on Friday evening, feeling like she'd been up for twenty-four hours. She'd had a morning meeting, then shown a couple around the Westside, taking them to see seven houses. After spending a little time at her office catching up on paperwork, she met with a new client for dinner, nearly nodding off during dessert. Kylie was at home, and she walked into the living room with the dogs to greet her friend. "Tough day?" she asked, when Blair dropped her briefcase from a height of two feet.

"Day? This was only one day?"

"Yep. I saw you this morning."

"Can you just point me in the direction of my room?" Blair asked. "I'm sure I could find it on my own, but it might take me awhile since my eyes will be closed."

"Come on, pal," Kylie said. She put her arm around her and kissed her on the forehead. "Time for good little real estate agents to go to bed."

They walked into the room together, and Kylie helped her out of her dress, reversing the process she'd gone through that morning to put Blair into the outfit. The blonde put her arms under her breasts and pushed them up a little, saying, "The straps of this bra dig into my shoulders so much that sometimes my arms feel numb."

"Maybe you've got it adjusted too tight," Kylie said. "Let me take a look."

Blair hesitated for a split second, then realized that Kylie was the last person she should be shy with. She faced her and watched the usual look of intense concentration settle onto the doctor's fine features. Kylie lifted one strap, giving it a good tug, then did the same to the other. "I think this is way too tight," she said. "You have grooves in your skin where the straps dig in. That's not good." She adjusted each strap until it was considerably looser, then stood back. "How does that feel?"

Shaking her shoulders, Blair smiled and said, "It feels better on my shoulders, but I'm gonna bounce around more. I've been trying to keep them reigned in."

"Breasts are supposed to move when you walk," Kylie said. "It's a fact of life for you full-figured women."

Pinching her on the arm, Blair laughed at her friend's outraged expression. "Don't call me full-figured, or there'll be more where that came from."

"So touchy," Kylie said, smiling warmly. "Go put your pajamas on, and I'll give you a nice backrub."

"There's no such thing as an unpleasant backrub," Blair decided. She took her pajamas into the bathroom and emerged a few minutes later, finding Kylie and both dogs waiting for her.

"They want to help, but they hate to get massage oil on their paws," Kylie said. "Big babies."

"You two stay up by my head," Blair instructed. "Your other mommy has work to do." She lay face down, propped up by the mounds of pillows Kylie had already put in place for her.

Kylie warmed the oil in her hands and started to work on Blair's lower back — always a sore spot. She used her thumbs and the heels of her hands to probe the tight muscles, drawing groans of pleasure from Blair. After a long while, Blair asked, "Could you go a little higher? I'm stiff between my shoulder blades tonight. Probably from being at my office for too long."

"Sure." Kylie's hands were oily, so she asked Blair to assist. "Will you pull your top up or take it off?"

Blair looked at what she was wearing and decided that she didn't want to risk getting oil on her new pajamas. She whisked off the top and lay back down, waiting for Kylie's gentle hands.

The doctor worked on the rest of her back and shoulders with such expert care that Blair refused to fall asleep. Kylie worked on her for a long time and was a little surprised when Blair was still grunting with the pressure. The doctor put her warm hand on the small of her friend's back and asked, "Anything else? You're usually asleep by now."

Blair propped herself up on her elbows and pointed to the muscles at the top of her chest. "These little monsters are giving me fits. Would you mind doing them, too?"

"No, of course not." Kylie had to help her friend roll over, and it was quite a production. Pillows had to be adjusted several times, and some body parts had to be moved by hand. Blair was a bit like a beetle that had rolled onto its back. She wasn't going anywhere without a little help.

When Kylie had her properly positioned, she ran her fingertips from the base of Blair's ear down to her elbow. "I bet you get sore here, too," she said. "Your heavier breasts pull on these tendons."

"Yeah. I guess I'm used to them hurting all of the time, but these muscles just started aching today." She put her hand on the sore muscles that lay just above her clavicle.

"Hmm … I wonder why?" Kylie pressed on them lightly with her fingers, and Blair winced. "Are they that sore?"

"Yeah. They’re really tight."

"Let me start higher up and work my way down. I'll work on your shoulders and arms for a while, then get to your pectorals."

"You're the boss." Blair had placed her pajama top over her breasts to allow for a little modesty, but it was clear that the garment was going to be in the way.

"Want me to get a towel from the bathroom?" Kylie asked.

"You can if you want to, but I don't really care. It doesn't bother you, does it?"

Kylie smiled impishly. "Nope. I've seen 'em before, you know. Remember the 'blue' night?"

"How could I forget?" Blair took her top and tossed it to the floor. "Why should I have secrets now?"

Kylie took a quick look and said, "They've really filled out. I think you've gained half of your weight in your breasts."

"I assume you're kidding, but that's what it feels like. Wearing a bra puts stress on nearly every muscle in my upper body and back."

"I know; it's no fun," Kylie said. "I'll try to loosen you up." She started working again, and Blair soon felt the taut muscles start to relax. Kylie had such a knowledgeable touch that she managed to work the proper muscles in the proper order — making the spasms disappear as if by magic.

She worked down Blair's arms, making the blonde giggle when she touched the inside of her elbow — always one of Blair's more sensitive areas. The doctor went back up the arm, soothing the muscles once again, then she moved to the pectorals. Blair wasn't sure when the sensation began, but she slowly became aware of a warm tingling in her breast. It was a sensation she'd never had before she was pregnant, but it had started not long after she was inseminated. She'd felt it frequently, but this was the first time she'd noticed it during a massage. She almost mentioned it, but it continued to grow until she realized it wasn't just a twitching nerve. It was the insistent sign of sexual arousal.

Holy crap! Kylie's fingers are inches from my breast, and I'm throbbing like I think I'm gonna get lucky!

She tried to calm herself down but was wholly unsuccessful. Any way that the doctor's fingers moved stirred her desire until she was consciously trying not to squeeze her legs together. Her clit was swelling noticeably and began to feel hard and tingly. Kylie was working all around her ultra-sensitive breast, and it was all Blair could do not to grab her hand and clamp it onto her flesh. "Am I doing this too hard?" Kylie asked. "Your body feels like it's tensing up."

"No, no, it feels great. I guess I'm just a little ticklish there."

"Here?" Kylie smiled at her, tickling just in front of her armpit.

"Yes, there!" she squealed. She grabbed the doctor's hand and rolled away, taking Kylie with her. Blair was lying on her side with Kylie plastered against her back, her hand wedged between Blair's breasts. The blonde's heart was beating so wildly that she knew her skin must be flushed, and she felt a slight sheen of perspiration cover her body. "I'm very ticklish," she mumbled into the pillows, mortally embarrassed.

"I promise I won't tickle you again," Kylie said softly into her ear. "I was a baaad little doctor."

Blair couldn't keep from laughing at the silly voice her friend had used. "It's okay. But I think I've had enough excitement for one evening. I feel much better, by the way." Much wetter, too!

Kylie rolled off, then helped Blair lie on her back again. "Let me get a warm washcloth and get the oil off you skin," she said, heading for the bathroom.

She was back in a moment, and Blair had to grit her teeth while Kylie's tender touch played over her sensitized skin. "Ooo, that's cold," Blair lied. "Give me my top before I freeze."

Kylie handed it over, then leaned over and gave Blair a soft kiss. "Sleep well, buddy. I hope you feel better tomorrow."

"I will," she said. She grasped Kylie's hand and held it for a few moments, then kissed the back of it. "Thanks," she said. "I appreciate you more than you know."

Kylie gave her a fond smile, then left, turning off the light as she went. Blair turned onto her side and cuddled up to her body pillow, trying to sort out her feelings. That could have happened with anyone, she reasoned. My breasts are so sensitive that they'd probably tingle if a complete stranger touched them. She fidgeted and shifted her weight, trying to find a comfortable spot. But she wasn't able to stop her vulva from making its needs known. Look, she said, addressing the body part directly, you're not allowed to get all hot and bothered from a simple massage. Life is complicated enough without masturbating every time someone touches me. The tongue lashing did no good at all, and her vulva kept twitching.

Blair rolled onto the other side and threw her leg up onto the pillow. Oh, all right, but just a quick one. She slid her hand down and started to touch herself, her mind nearly blank. She often fantasized about a particular sensation or a person whom she thought was hot, but tonight, she just let her tingling body have its way. She was so swollen and sensitive that it didn't take long to drive herself to a tension-relieving orgasm, and seconds later she was sound asleep.

 

ĄG

 

On Saturday, Kylie walked into the kitchen while she was still towel drying her hair. "Hi," she said when she spotted Blair at the breakfast bar. "Didn't know you were up."

"Yeah. I've got an appointment at 9:00. I'll probably only be gone for an hour or so. How about you?"

"I'm having breakfast with Julie, then we're gonna hang out. Do you mind if we come back here at some point?"

Blair stuck her finger out and signaled for Kylie to approach. When the doctor was right in front of her, Blair leaned over so they were nose to nose, then grasped Kylie's ear lobe. "This is your house. You don't have to ask my permission to do anything in it or with it. Is that clear?"

"Yes," Kylie said. She crossed her eyes, mostly to drive Blair crazy, laughing when her ploy seemed to succeed.

"Didn't your mother tell you not to do that?"

"Yep." She walked over to the refrigerator and took out a bottle of juice. "Even though I don't have to ask permission, I think it's only polite to."

"I don't mind, Kylie. I swear," she said, even though she was lying a little bit. She had had several long talks with herself about her jealous feelings concerning Julie, and she had been fairly successful in talking some sense into herself. But she still felt a twinge when Kylie made a date with the woman. Unable to contain her curiosity, she cocked her head and asked, "How's it going, anyway? You haven't talked about Julie much."

"Mmm … I still don't know her well enough to know if this can go anywhere. I guess I just don't have much to say yet."

"Well, have fun and please, please feel free to use your own damn house any old way you want."

"I'll try," the doctor said, "but my natural politeness will probably rear its ugly head again."

 

ĄG

 

Blair spent most of the afternoon lying by the pool, and by six o'clock the dogs seemed restless. She forced herself to get dressed, then she put them in the car to take them to a big dog park in Encino that she and Kylie had been meaning to go to. "We'll go check this place out and see if it's worth it for Mama Kylie to come with us, okay?"

The dogs were all in favor of a trip, and the trio set off on their adventure.

By the time they reached the gate, Kylie and Julie were starting to pull into the driveway. Blair lowered her window. "Hey, we're going to the dog park."

Kylie put on a pout. "I wanted to go with you guys!"

"Hi, Julie," Blair said, waving. "We'll do a little investigation and see if we like it. We'll take you next time, if you're good."

"I never get to go anywhere," Kylie said, lower lip sticking out.

"Kylie, please don't act like yourself in front of Julie. You have to keep up your 'normal' front for at least a month."

"I think I know she's a little off," Julie called out.

"You have no idea," Blair said, smiling at the outraged expression on Kylie's face. "Bye now." She waved and raised the window while trying to calm the dogs down. They hated to have their people apart, but it was much worse when they saw one of them actually leave. That was an affront to the pack, and they had no idea how to convey the egregiousness of this insult to their humans except by barking out their dismay.

 

ĄG

 

Blair wanted to give her roommate some time alone, so she was determined to stay at the park until it was time to close. The pups immediately set off to meet every other dog in the enclosure, and they were pretty successful in their mutual quest. They ran themselves silly, going from dog to dog, spending just a few seconds with each one. Blair walked around the five acre space, chatting with other owners while keeping an eye on her charges.

The dogs ran up to an Italian greyhound who jumped into a woman's arms to avoid the wild-looking terriers. Blair rushed up to her to assure her that they were only exuberant, and another woman walked over at the same time. Seeing a pregnant sister, Blair smiled at both women and said, "They're very nice dogs; they're just enthusiastic."

The woman holding the greyhound said, "Oh, don't worry about Piccolo. He's afraid of the wind when it blows a leaf around."

"Sometimes I wish mine would show a little bit of fear. They'd chase a cheetah if there were one in Brentwood."

"Maybe they think there's safety in numbers," the pregnant woman said. She was less pregnant than Blair and was able to crouch down and pet Nicky and Nora. "Oh, they're sweet," she said. "What are their names?"

"Nicky and Nora," Blair said. "Nicky has on the black collar, and Nora's is brown."

"I assume they're brother and sister," the woman said, her face now being enthusiastically licked.

"Yeah. They don't know it, but they're gonna have another member of the family soon. I don't know how they're gonna feel about that."

"I know what you mean," the other pregnant woman said. She started to get up, and her friend immediately placed her hand on the woman's back, letting her know she was there to help her if she needed it. She stood without difficulty and said, "I know Piccolo is going to be freaked out when the baby's born. He might hide under the bed for a few months."

"I'm worried that mine will be sitting on the baby's chest, waiting for him to get up and play."

"Oh, you know you're having a boy? We don't know yet," the woman said.

"Well, I don't know for sure, but he seems like a boy, so that's what I've decided he is," Blair laughed. "I don't think my vote counts, but I've got a fifty-fifty chance at being right. When are you due?"

"Not until March. How about you?"

"Around Christmas. We're hoping he's not born too close to the holiday. I think kids hate that."

"Is this your first?"

"Yeah. Yours?"

"Uh-huh."

"That's nice to hear. Whenever I meet a woman who's had one or two, she's always ready to tell me how horrific her labor and delivery was. I swear I'm not gonna do that after my baby's born, but I probably will," she laughed.

"I avoid women with kids," the other woman said. "I'll talk to a pregnant woman, but only if she's alone."

Blair squeezed the woman's arm and gave her a big smile. "That's a good idea. I think I'll adopt it. See you around," she said. "I've got to keep a close eye on my babies."

She walked away, thinking, She seemed like a nice woman. She's lucky to have a friend to walk around with. God knows it's easy to get into an awkward position you can't get out of — especially when you try to squat down. She thought about the day she had to yell for Kylie when she squatted down to give the dogs water and couldn't get back up. Kylie ran into the kitchen and thought Blair had thrown out her back, but it was just the weight of her belly that had thrown off her equilibrium. She could probably have gotten up, but she knew there was a slight chance of falling, and she would never take that chance when Kylie was around.

During her walks around the park, she passed the women with the Italian greyhound another couple of times, but the dogs were no longer interested in Piccolo. They knew he was a mama's boy and not up to their roughhousing, so they acted like he didn't exist. "Snots," Blair whispered to them after they'd ignored the little dog for the second time.

It was nearly dark when Blair tried to herd her pair to the gate. They weren't ready to leave yet, and she cursed herself for not having an able-bodied person help her with their leashes before it got dark. Deciding to see if they'd follow her if she got out of their comfort range, she walked all the way to the gate and stood there, hoping they'd come. It was too dark to see where they were, and she was terrified that she'd have to call Kylie and have her drive all the way to Encino with a flashlight to find them. Luckily, the two women were just leaving, and the non-pregnant one walked over to her. "Do you need some help?"

"Yes," Blair said, exasperated. "My dogs have never been in a park this big, and they're not ready to leave. I thought I could freak 'em out by walking away, but now I can't see them."

"They probably can't see you, either," the woman said. "Give 'em a call."

Blair faced the open field and gave a yell. "Nicky! Nora!" In a flash, the pair came running, appearing out of the gloaming with their eyes wide and tongues hanging out. They leapt on Blair, whining and crying, obviously very distressed at having been left behind. "Oh, God," she said, "who feels like an asshole?" She raised her hand, and the woman laughed at her.

"Let me help you with their leashes," the woman said. "I know it's hard to bend over."

"You're a lifesaver," Blair said. "I couldn't go home without them."

"Your … husband is attached to 'em, huh?"

"No, my … roommate and I … uhm … share them." She looked at the woman and said, "Our relationship is kinda hard to explain."

The woman laughed and said, "That's why we moved to California when Annette got pregnant. Same sex parents don't go over big in our home town."

"Oh …" Blair said, nodding. "My roommate's a lesbian, and she tells me that it's pretty easy to be out here in L.A."

The woman gave her a slightly puzzled look and said, "Yeah, that's what we're finding." She handed Blair the leashes and gave her a little wave. "Good luck with your baby. Maybe we'll see you here this summer."

"That'd be nice," Blair said. "Our babies could play while our dogs ignore each other."

"See you." The woman went out the gate and trotted over to her car where her partner waited for her.

Blair watched them drive off, then made her way across the parking lot to her own car. She got the dogs into their crate, and after a few seconds, they settled down and fell asleep. But Blair's mind was very active. Boy, they didn't seem like lesbians. I really couldn't tell! I wonder what in the hell that woman thought about me when I started blathering on about sharing the dogs with my roommate and how our relationship was hard to explain. She thought about that for a minute and finally decided that the woman had probably assumed she and Kylie were lovers. She laughed softly, No, even though I sometimes get wet when she touches me, we're just friends — who love each other dearly and are going to raise a child and two dogs together. I wonder where that category fits on the census form?

 

ĄG

 

Kylie and Julie had dinner at the house, and after cleaning the kitchen, they went into the den to relax. They'd had a very busy day, visiting a few art galleries and going for a long walk by the beach, and both of them were tired. Julie sat very close to Kylie and leaned against her, sighing audibly. "I'm beat."

"Mmm … me too."

"Maybe we should take a nap," Julie suggested. She put her arms around Kylie and pushed her to the seat of the sofa, smiling at the surprised look on the doctor's face. "Sleepy?"

"Umm … no, not really," Kylie said. She smiled at Julie, charmed by the woman's direct approach. "How about you?"

"No, I like lying down, but I don't think I want to sleep. Hmm … what can we do … we're lying down and don't want to sleep. I know!" She gave Kylie a sexy smile and pressed their lips together. They kissed for a few moments, with Kylie shifting around to get comfortable. Without breaking the kiss, Julie managed to get her legs on the sofa, then pulled at Kylie's until they were pressed tightly together. The doctor felt herself give in to the glorious feel of being held and kissed.

God, I've missed this, Kylie's muddled brain managed to think. Having a woman hold me and kiss me like she wants me is one of the most wonderful feelings on earth. The kisses rained down on her unceasingly, and soon she and Julie were grappling on the sofa, hands roaming everywhere at once.

Julie got the taller woman on her back and started to unbutton her blouse. Kylie just looked up at her, watching her work with an almost abstract interest. As soon as the blouse was open, Julie gave Kylie a sexy leer and grasped a breast, giving it a healthy squeeze. Kylie wrapped her arms around the redhead's neck and held her tight while kissing her thoroughly.

 

ĄG

 

Blair almost had to carry the dogs into the house, but they finally jumped out of the crate on their own. She always put a leash on them for even the shortest trip, and this was no exception. When they walked in the front door, all she heard was the stereo. She was about to call out a warning, but she decided to take a quick look in the den first. Keeping the dogs on their leads, she walked into the living room, just able to peer through the kitchen to see the sofa. When she didn't see anyone, she went into the kitchen, assuming Kylie and Julie were outside. It wasn't until she opened the refrigerator that she glanced into the den and saw Kylie being manhandled by a very determined redhead. She nearly screamed, making just enough of a cry to reach Kylie's ears. The doctor's eyes shifted, and she met Blair's startled gaze. Her own eyes grew large, but all she was able to do was hold up one hand in a "sorry about this" gesture. Blair tried to smile, gave her a quick wave, and spirited the dogs off to her bedroom.

"Jesus! Did you two see that?" she asked when they were closed in the room. "You're too young to see that kind of thing! I'm too young to see that kind of thing! Jesus!" She got ready for bed, muttering to herself the entire time. The dogs were not nearly as traumatized as she, and they quickly took their places on the bed, beginning to snooze lightly.

She got in and spent a good ten minutes tossing and turning, feeling embarrassed, a little pissed off and a lot turned on. Annoyed with her libido for firing in Kylie's direction, she refused to give in to its insistent desires. Finally, she drifted off into a troubled sleep.

During the middle of the night, she began having one of her vivid sex dreams and partially woke up in the middle of it. She gave in to the feeling and began to touch herself, forgetting her earlier pique. Sighing, she felt the tingles start immediately, and it began to feel like an extension of the dream. This feels so good. But I desperately miss kissing and touching someone to turn him on. Damn, that’s the best part of sex. The slow seduction — feeling like you want to rip his clothes off, but taking it slow and making him work for it to make it last. Feeling his hands slip under your shirt to unfasten your bra. “Mmm … yeah,” she said aloud when the sensations started to build. The way his hands feel when they caress your breasts for the first time. Damn, that must feel fantastic! To have that creamy, white flesh just spilling over your hands and feel her heart beating when you squeeze them just enough to make her squirm.

Shifting her hips, she started to tug on her breast, trying to imagine the sensation. Mmm … to hold those nice, full breasts while her tongue’s in my mouth. I’d suck on it while I flicked at her nipples with my thumbs, making them hard. “God, yes,” she gasped, pushing hard against her hand. Like a speeding train, her orgasm hit her, forcing the breath from her lungs. Both dogs ran to her and began licking her face, concerned by her vocalizations.

“Not really what I was looking for, guys,” she said sleepily. She got her pillow into position and cuddled up to it, murmuring in satisfaction. Nothing, but nothing, feels as good as having a warm body curl up against you after you come. Mmm … she’d stroke my body, soothing me to sleep, while she kissed my neck and shoulders. Ooo, and those warm breasts would press against my back. Damn, it wouldn’t take too much of that to make me forget about sleep. I’d turn over and grind myself against her, feeling every one of those womanly curves mold against my body. Mmm … once I started to kiss her again, I wouldn’t be able to resist. We’d be at it for hours, just moving against one another, our sweat making us glide against each other until I’d move down and taste her. God, I bet she tastes divine! Oh, yeah, I bet she does … just divine …

 

ĄG

 

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! Why wasn't I more careful? I don't want Blair to see me rolling around on the sofa like I'm in heat! Shit! Julie was still kissing her passionately, and her hands were roaming all over Kylie's body. But the doctor felt more like she was being frisked than made love to, and she found herself unable to think of anything but Blair.

Julie lifted her head and asked, "Are you okay? You seem … distracted."

"I'm sorry," Kylie said. "Blair came home a couple of minutes ago and saw us. It … I guess it freaked me out a little. Kinda like having your parents catch you necking."

Julie pushed her hair out of her eyes and looked at Kylie for a few moments. "Seems like you're not in the mood any more."

Kylie gave her an apologetic smile and said, "I guess I'm not. Maybe it's not a good idea to be here when Blair's home. I mean, it's her house, too."

"Yeah," Julie said, giving the doctor a curious look. "I guess it is."

"Why don't we spend the day at your place tomorrow?" Kylie suggested. "Then we won't have any interruptions."

"All right," Julie said, but Kylie could see that she was uncomfortable. She crawled over Kylie and got to her feet. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

Kylie got up and put her arms around the redhead. "Hey, I'm sorry for the way this turned out. Tomorrow will be better."

Julie gave her a half-smile and said, "I hope so, Kylie. I really hope so."

 

ĄG

 

After driving Julie home, Kylie went to her room and closed the door — a rarity for her. The dogs liked to go from room to room during the night, spending a little time with each woman, but Kylie knew she needed a good release, and she didn't want to be disturbed. She got into bed, incredibly turned on and frustrated. She started to satisfy her need with the help of electricity. The vibrator thrummed against her vulva while her mind replayed scenes from the evening’s activities. Oh, that was good when she pushed me down and climbed on top of me, she remembered. When she grabbed my breast, I almost went off like a rocket! I guess that’s what two years of abstinence can do to a woman.

Spreading her legs wider, she eased off on the pressure, trying to make it last. Boy, I would’ve loved to have sex tonight, but I can't let my clit make my decisions. She started to fantasize, picturing the type of body that most appealed to her, imagining her mouth latched onto a ripe, full, breast, her cheeks straining to suck all of the tender flesh in.

She dropped the vibrator to the bed and started to touch herself with her hand, easing her fingers into her wetness. “Nice,” she purred.

Moving down the fantasy body, she kissed the round, womanly hips, continuing to explore as she reached the generous cheeks of her ass. Kissing up and down the shapely legs, she turned the woman over and noticed a patch of blonde hair. Looking up, she saw Blair’s desire-infused face and almost cried out. “No, not Blair! Not Blair.” But her body was determined to fantasize about Blair, and it flew into orgasm, stunning her with the intensity of the feelings. “Oh, my God,” she moaned, “not Blair.”

 

ĄG

 

After composing herself, Kylie disgustedly tossed the vibrator to the floor, where it made a surprisingly loud thump.

The noise startled the dogs, and they both woke, running to Kylie's room to investigate. When they saw the closed door, they ran back to Blair and leapt into bed with her, staring at her to tell her about the strange noise. Blair had been sound asleep, but their restlessness woke her. “Oh, no,” she groaned. “I was having the nicest dream.” Swinging her legs off the bed, she decided she might as well get up and pee, since there was no sense in wasting a wake-up call. Getting back into bed, she sighed, Okay, where was I? I was moments from orgasm, that’s where I was, she chuckled to herself. Let’s see, someone was just about to go down on me. Yeah, that’s it. Kylie had just settled down between my legs, and … KYLIE!

Shooting into a sitting position so quickly that her head spun, Blair’s hand flew to her chest, trying to stop her pounding heart from breaking through her chest wall. Kylie? Oh, fuck! Now I’m fantasizing about her? I have never fantasized about a woman!

She got to her feet and started to pace, with Nicky and Nora watching her for a moment before tiring of the view and letting their heads drop to the mattress. Okay, you need to analyze this. She’s a very beautiful woman, and she's sexy as hell when she wants to be, but she’s been that way since the day you met her. What’s different?

Continuing to pace, she tried to think the issue through. The first thing you should do is put this into perspective. Just because you fantasize about her, doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do anything about it. You had that racy dream about the kid who used to cut your grass, and you’d stick your arm under the mower before you’d touch a sixteen-year-old boy! Fantasy does not equal reality.

Her heart started to calm down, and she continued to go over the dilemma in her mind. She’s sexy, you’re horny, and you saw her practically having sex on the couch. How could you avoid having sexual thoughts! You’re only human. It was a very sexually charged situation, and you'd have to be the straightest woman in the world to ignore her allure. This is no big deal.

Deciding that she’d given the matter as much thought as it deserved, she climbed back into bed and snuggled into her pillow. Hey! she sat up and ran her hands through her hair. This isn’t like fantasizing about a kid. That’s morally wrong! But there’s nothing wrong with thinking about Kylie like that. You're a very open-minded woman and just because you haven't slept with another woman, doesn't mean that you won't.

Hmm … could I have sex with Kylie? She scooted around until she was resting against the headboard. Well, I don't know why I couldn't. I mean, I love her deeply, I'm planning on living with her for the indefinite future, I like her better than anyone I know, my parents like her and her family likes me. Why wouldn't I want to sleep with her?

I can't think of a better person to be in love with. She's the kindest, sweetest, funniest, most clever person I've ever met, and she's so moral and kind. Yes, ideally, she’d be a man, but that can’t mean all that much in the scheme of things, can it? All the experts say that sexual orientation is on a continuum. I know I'm not gay, but I'm not straight as an arrow, either. If I were, I wouldn't always have gotten hot when David and I watched movies with two women having sex. And I wouldn't have gotten aroused when she rubbed my chest, either, she forced herself to admit. I've had plenty of massages, and I've never gotten aroused during them. There's definitely something about Kylie. Some … magnetism that's pulling me toward her.

She got up and started to walk around the room again, letting her hand gently trail over familiar objects as she moved. But why now? That's the question. She thought as she paced, and finally, it became clear. It's the damned slippery slope that the televangelists are always yapping about! I hate to admit it, but they're right!

She paced around the room, letting herself think about the slow progression of their relationship. Neither of us was very physical when we met, but after I got pregnant, Kylie started to touch me more. I liked it, and it made me feel like she was excited about the baby, so I didn't give it a second thought. But when we moved in together — things started to progress. She touched me a lot more often, and pretty soon we were kissing each other on the head or cheek when we'd come home or leave. And not long after that, we started kissing each other on the lips. Not big, wet smooches, but they were definitely loving, caring kisses.

Walking slowly, she recalled when the next barrier was broken. Having her go with me to doctor's appointments and for my ultrasound was a big jump. A very big jump. That's when I started to think of her as my partner. And that's continued until now. I treat her, and she treats me, just like those women at the park — but we don't have sex! That seems like a raw deal — for both of us.

Blair lay down again, rested her head against the headboard and let her imagination go. Thinking of how Kylie’s eyes gleamed when she talked about sex and her mouth quirked into that adorable grin. Considering how attractive her body was and how nice it felt when Kylie held her close. She let her mind wander to her breasts and tried to imagine what they’d feel like when she held them in her hands or put one of the nipples into her mouth. I’ve never even seen her breasts! she recalled. She’s practically seen my cervix, and I’ve never seen her undressed! Well, there’s one way to remedy that, she decided. Ooo … but would she be interested in me … like that? Now her inner voice answered unequivocally. Yes, Blair, she would. You know it, and you’ve known it ever since your mother put the idea into your head. She loves you, and she’d love to be your lover.

Look, she reasoned, you love her, and that's just a stone's throw from being in love with her. Yes, you've never made love to anyone who didn’t have a penis, but that shouldn't automatically stop you from thinking about being her lover.Damn! It'd be worth being her lover if all you ever did was kiss each other. Ooo … I bet she’s a fantastic kisser. No news flash there, she reminded herself, she was kissing Julie's lips off!

For the third time, she got to her feet and started to pace. She was kissing Julie like mad, and knowing Kylie, she wouldn't do that if she didn't have feelings for her. Damn! If she can make a life with Julie or another women, I have to let her … no, I have to encourage her! If she can find love with a woman who knows she’s a lesbian, that would be so much safer for her. I'd be like a science experiment for her, but Julie’s a sure thing. It’s completely unfair to expect her to turn down a chance to be with Julie on nothing more solid than the fact that I've started to have sexual feelings for her. It sounds incredibly lame now that I think about it. She'd probably laugh at me if I even suggested it. It’s ridiculous to even consider.

She got back into bed and punched her pillow a few times, making Nora grumble a protest. You can’t have everything, Blair. Having her as a friend is all you’re going to get, so get over yourself!

 

ĄG

 

Waking up in an incredibly bad mood, Blair stumbled into the shower, lambasting herself for agreeing to meet Walter at the ridiculous hour of 8:00 on a Sunday morning. They were trying to get a house dressed for a broker’s open house on Tuesday and had very limited time since the homeowner couldn’t get his things into storage before Saturday.

She put on her chinos, one of the stretchy, horizontal stripe, knit T-shirts that Kylie had bought for her, then pulled her hair back into a haphazard, short ponytail which stuck out through the opening at the back of her baseball cap. Wearing no makeup, she looked like a pregnant teenager. Her belly was very prominent in the tight T-shirt, a look she was still trying to grow comfortable with. Oh, well, Kylie assures me that I look cute like this, and she swore she’d never lie to me.

Walking down the hall, she saw that Kylie’s door was closed. Oh, goody! Julie's here! Forcing herself to refrain from kicking the door, she quickly fed the dogs and kissed them goodbye, instructing, “Be nice to the other lady in there. She might be your new step-mother. We have to like her as much as Mama Kylie likes her, get it?"

 

ĄG

 

Walter saw to it that Blair didn’t have to do any lifting or carrying, but that necessitated her staying at his warehouse storage space for most of the day, instructing the crew he’d hired on which pieces went and which stayed. The space was hot and dusty, and she had little to do between pick-ups other than walk to the mini-mart for water, which she drank by the quart, and to use their bathroom. By the end of the day, she was tired and grimy and felt like she weighed a ton. All of the water she’d taken in made her feel bloated and heavy, and for the first time, she felt like she was waddling more than walking. She’d spent most of her free time kicking herself for her dreadful timing in just now realizing that she was sexually interested to Kylie. If I had done this a few weeks ago, she wouldn't be interested in Julie!

 

ĄG

 

Blair pulled into the driveway at 4:00 and spent a few moments trying to appear like she was in a good mood. She had a smile pasted on her face when she walked into the house, but her smile fell when she got to the den. Kylie was lying on the sofa, her arm draped over her face, and Blair was certain that she was crying.

"Kylie?" she asked, walking over to stand by her side. "Are you okay?"

"No," the doctor mumbled. "I had a really bad day. Can I have some time alone?"

Stung, Blair tried to keep the hurt from her voice. "Sure, honey. I'll go outside and play with the dogs for a while. Come on, guys, let's give Mama Kylie some time to herself."

She made it outdoors without crying, but as soon as she was away from the door she felt the tears start to flow. Damn, I hate this constant crying! It's the worst part of pregnancy so far. I've cried more in the last few months than I have in my entire life!

The dogs were used to her rather frequent bouts of crying, but they'd never seen Kylie cry. Neither of them wanted to be outside without her, and Blair didn't either. She was about to suggest that they sit on their haunches and scratch on the door and look pathetic, but Kylie saved her the humiliation by coming outside a few minutes later.

"Hi," she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. "I'm sorry for being so antisocial."

Blair walked over to her and put her hand on Kylie's side. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"

"Yeah." She nodded, looking glum. "I went over to Julie's and told her that I didn't think we should go out anymore."

"What? Kylie, why?" Her heart started to beat, hoping with all of her might that Kylie would say it was because she was falling for Blair.

The doctor shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "I don't know. Lots of reasons." She scratched her head and looked everywhere but into Blair's eyes. "I need something to eat. How about you? You probably haven't had a good meal today."

Blair gripped Kylie's arm and held on. "Hey, you're clearly upset. You don't need to tell me what's bothering you, but don't just blow it off. You're entitled to be upset once in a while, too."

"I …uhm … I really don't wanna talk about it. I think I'll make dinner."

"Let me." Blair put her arm around Kylie's waist and walked into the house with her. "I'd love to make dinner for you for a change. You go sit down and put your feet up. No matter what happened, you're obviously upset. So let me take care of you this time, okay?"

Kylie gave her a hesitant smile, then nodded and spent a moment looking at her. "You look like you've been playing in a dirt pile. What've you been doing?"

"Oh, I had to help Walter get a house ready for Tuesday."

Kylie grasped her shoulders. "Were you lifting anything?"

"No, no, I was the one who sat at the storage room and told the movers what to do. It was hot and dirty, but I didn't do any work."

"You must be exhausted," Kylie said. "Let me take care of you."

Blair was exhausted, and she craved a shower, but she held firm. "I'm fine. And I'm going to cook dinner for you. So go relax before I have to wrestle you onto that couch."

A smile settled on Kylie's face and stayed there. "All right. I'll put some music on and relax a little."

"It's a deal. Would you like me to make you a drink? A little Scotch on the rocks?"

Now Kylie nodded more decisively. "That'd be nice. Just a little, though."

"You've got it. One mini Scotch coming up."

Blair made dinner and insisted on cleaning up afterwards. By the time she went back into the den, Kylie had finished reading the Sunday paper and was once again lying on the couch. She started to get up, but Blair touched her shoulder. "Stay there." Kylie was halfway up, and Blair sat down next to her, then urged her to put her head in her lap. "You know," she said, looking down into Kylie's bright blue eyes, "you pamper the hell out of me, Doctor Mackenzie, but I never return the favor. Tonight you look like you need a nice head rub. Any objection?"

Kylie gave her a warm smile, her eyes lingering on Blair's for a moment. "Do I look stupid?"

"Nope. You look bright and quick and a little sad tonight. So just relax and let me try to make you feel better."

"Okay." She gave Blair a bigger smile and said, "I haven't had a head rub in years. Have at it."

Blair started to gently and lightly slip her fingers through Kylie's curls, being careful not to make any tangles. Occasionally the doctor made a small sound expressing her pleasure, but other than that, she was completely silent. Her eyes were closed, letting Blair observe her in a way she'd never been able to do.

Her skin was almost completely unlined, a fact that didn't surprise Blair now that she'd met Kylie's parents. Even though they were in their 70's, they looked a decade or more younger. Her parents also had a good bit of dark hair left, giving Kylie a good prognosis for retaining her black hair for some time to come. Very good genes these Mackenzies have, Blair mused.

Her dark brows were a little irregular, with a hint of a scar in the middle of the left one. I guess you can't grow up with that many brothers and sisters and not have a few battle scars. Long, dark eyelashes were sinfully thick, a trait that Blair had always envied. Her lovely eyes were hidden, but Blair knew them well, and gladly sacrificed looking into them for this chance to study the doctor.

Kylie's lips were among her best features, Blair decided. They were well-formed, and each lip was nearly the same fullness. Kylie wore lipstick, but the color she chose was so close to her natural shade that all it served to do was highlight her mouth's natural beauty and give it a very attractive sheen.

The doctor's jaw was square, squarer than one would think would suit a woman. But it worked perfectly for her, giving her face a substantial strength that was quite impressive.

Kylie's lips parted, and Blair thought she was going to say something, but a quiet snore came out instead, making the smaller woman smile. Poor thing had a very tough day, she thought. I'm glad I was able to comfort her a little bit. But it was so strange to have her refuse to talk about what was bothering her. I hope that Julie didn't hurt her … but it sounded like Kylie told Julie she didn't want to see her any more. Obviously, it wasn't about me, or she would have said something. I guess I'll just have to wait and see if she wants to talk about it later. All I know is that Julie must have been devastated. No sane woman would let Kylie get away.

She gazed down at the sleeping woman, and a jolt of panic hit her. My God, what if Kylie doesn't really want a partner! She might think she does and say she does, but if she really did, she'd have one by now! Hell, she'd have women lined up taking numbers if she made herself available. Maybe it is her. Damn! She's only been out with Julie four or five times, and she's already broken up with her. She barely gave Amanda a chance. Maybe her words and her actions just don't match. She put her hand on Kylie's forehead and lightly rubbed the soft skin. What's going on inside that head, Doctor Mackenzie? Do you want to be loved or not?

 

ĄG

 

Kylie got home late on Monday, and she'd barely made it into the kitchen before Blair could tell she was in a bad mood. "Hi," the doctor said, her usual joie de vivre completely missing. "Did you eat yet?"

"No, I was waiting for you. I thought I'd make some penne with fresh tomatoes and sautéed vegetables. There was a farmer's market in Brentwood today, and I was lured in by the smell of the popcorn someone was cooking in a big kettle. While I was there I decided to atone for having popcorn for lunch by having veggies for dinner."

"All right," Kylie said, not commenting on the rest of Blair's story. "Need help?"

"No. Why don't you go change and then sit in the yard with the dogs? You look like you could use a little time to relax."

Kylie nodded, then walked away, going to her room.

Boy, she's grouchy tonight! That's so unlike her. This thing with Julie must really be bugging her. She walked over to the doorway and watched Kylie enter her room. God knows it's bugging me!

They ate in front of the television, which was a little odd for them. But Kylie suggested it, and Blair was determined to pamper the doctor, so she readily agreed. They had the usual weeknight game shows on, and for a change, Kylie didn't shout out ridiculous answers to the questions. She stared at the screen, very little emotion registering.

Blair got up to collect their dishes, and Kylie didn't even offer to help clean up. She picked up the paper and started to read it, seemingly engrossed in current events.

When Blair walked back into the den, she turned on the stereo and looked through the CD's. She chose Bach's "Goldberg Variations" — Glen Gould's later recording — and one of Kylie's favorites. When the music began, Blair picked up a magazine and sat down on the end of the sofa. The doctor had her back against the arm of the couch, and her feet rested on the middle cushion. After a while, Blair reached over and tugged on a foot, pulling it until it was resting in her lap. Kylie lowered the paper and arched an eyebrow. Blair smiled at her and said, "I have an overwhelming desire to give you a foot rub. Can I?"

The first hint of a smile lifted the corner of Kylie's mouth. "You know I can't say no to you. Go ahead if you must."

"I must," the determined blonde said. The omnipresent bottle of moisture lotion was on the side table next to her, and Blair started to rub the aloe-scented cream into Kylie's foot. She wasn't sure if her efforts were appreciated until she noticed that a page hadn't been turned for quite some time. Finally, Kylie dropped the paper to the floor and stretched out, putting both of her feet onto Blair's lap. She sighed heavily and said, "I had one of the shittiest days I can remember. This is just what I needed."

"Tell me what happened?"

"No, I'd rather not go through it again. Suffice it to say that it sucked on every level. I wish I hadn't gotten out of bed."

"Okay, you don't have to talk. Relax and put your head back. Foot rubs can relieve every kind of stress." Kylie did as she was told, and after a few minutes she closed her eyes. Not long after that, she was asleep, not even waking when both dogs climbed onto her stomach and thighs. Damn, I hate it when she won't tell me what's bothering her! Now I'm worried that something horrible happened in surgery. Why can't she give me a little synopsis so I don't have to think about it?

Even though Kylie was asleep, Blair continued to rub her feet and legs, thinking about how helpless she felt. Dear God, it must have been horrible for Kylie when I first moved in. I was so shut down! I wouldn't tell her anything that was going on in my head, even though she was clearly worried about me. What an asshole I was!

She looked at the peaceful face, so lovely in slumber. I don't know if I'll be able to change, Kylie, but I swear I'll try to be more communicative when things are bothering me. Feeling like this really sucks!

 

ĄG

 

On Tuesday Blair had a dinner meeting and she didn't get home until a little after ten o'clock, Kylie's bedtime. The doctor was in good spirits, and seemed like her old self when she said hello. "Have a good night?"

"Yeah. How about you?"

"Nothing special. We missed you, though. The dogs have been asking after you for an hour."

Blair picked up both dogs and cuddled them for a few minutes. "I missed you, too," she cooed. Looking at Kylie she asked, "You seem like you're in a much better space today. Feeling better?"

"Yeah. I feel fine. Sorry I've been cranky."

"Hey, no problem. I'm still the cranky queen. You've got a long, long way to go to wrest my crown from me."

"I have my moments, too."

"Yeah, I guess you do," Blair agreed. "So …" She put the dogs down and walked over to the sofa. "Feel like talking about what's been bothering you?"

Smiling, Kylie shook her head. "Not really."

"I thought it might be what happened with Julie," Blair said, unwilling to give up without a fight.

Kylie stood and stretched. "Yeah, sure, that's part of it." She bent over and kissed Blair on the head. "I'm feeling like myself again. Don't worry about me."

"Well, I'm not exactly worried. I just thought you liked to talk about things that were troubling you."

"Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. This time I don't." She rubbed each dog's head and said, "I've gotta go to bed, guys. Mama Blair will take over now." She gave Blair the same head rub and said, "I'm glad you're home. See you tomorrow."

"G'night, Kylie," the blonde said, turning to watch her soft-spoken roommate walk away.

Blair sat in the quiet room, trying to figure out what was going on. She desperately wanted to tell Kylie that she'd discovered she had sexual feelings for her, but she didn't want to do it if the doctor was still smarting over her break-up with Julie. Not knowing what was going on in Kylie's mind was driving her nuts, but she knew she had to bide her time until the opportunity presented itself.

 

ĄG

 

Even though Kylie acted largely like her old self the rest of the week, Blair could detect a distance that she was sure had not been there before. Kylie was being a little glib, acting more like she had when they'd first met. It wasn't a dramatic enough change for Blair to comment on it, but she was sure that something was different, and she didn't know how to figure out what had caused the change or how to reestablish the easy familiarity that they had managed to build.

 

ĄG

 

On Thursday afternoon, Blair showed a house to a couple in Malibu. She didn't normally go that far north, but the people she was working with were only interested in having a house on the water, and there were very few properties in Santa Monica and the Palisades that met their criteria.

The couple drove their own car to the house, since they were heading up to Santa Barbara after they met. Luckily, they loved the house she showed them, and she thought the odds were good that they'd make an offer after they'd had some time to think about it.

Because of their immediate response to the place, they hadn't spent nearly as much time at the house as she'd budgeted. So, finding herself near the ocean with an hour to spare, she decided to go to one of her favorite quiet places. L.A. wasn't a haven for quiet unless one went up into the mountains, but her little sanctuary was only a couple of miles from Santa Monica and was nearly at the ocean.

She pulled into the parking lot of the Self-Realization Fellowship Temple, turned off her car and sat quietly for a few minutes, letting the small stresses of her day float away. When she felt peaceful, she got out of her car and walked to the entrance of the temple grounds.

The site was fairly large, about ten acres, and the focal point was a lovely, natural, spring-fed lake. It was the only natural lake she'd ever been to in Los Angeles, and being near it gave her the sense of peace which she occasionally craved. The past week had been so unsettling for her that she had a nearly physical need to commune with her inner self, and the temple seemed the perfect place. She'd never been so sure of something she wanted yet unable to move forward, and it was beginning to make her anxious.

She found a nice, shaded bench and sat down to think. While her eyes followed a pair of snow-white swans, her mind roiled with conflicting thoughts about Kylie. She knew in her heart that Kylie had very deep feelings for her, and there wasn't a doubt in her mind that the doctor wanted to be intimately involved in raising Mackenzie. But these outward signs of merger only served to confuse her.

Kylie has to wonder what I want from this relationship, but she's never asked. Maybe she doesn’t want to analyze it too much, or maybe she’s afraid of what I’ll say.Is she afraid? It's impossible to tell. I can’t tell where Julie fits into this, and it doesn't make sense that Kylie won't talk about her! Why won’t she talk? Is she embarrassed about something? Did she get dumped? Wait a minute, she thought. If she’d been dumped she would have told me! I’m her best friend, and she wouldn’t be ashamed to admit that Julie didn’t care for her. That’s not like Kylie. The only reason that makes sense is that I’m involved in some way. But what way?

Blair got up and walked around the gardens, finding them rather sparse now that it was fall. A few crape myrtle trees were still colored with their pastel pinks and purples, but everything else was nearly spent. Maybe I have to look at this from Julie’s viewpoint. How would I feel if I dated a great guy who had a roommate he did everything with? The guys owned dogs together, and they were planning to jointly raise a baby that one of the guys was adopting. She started to laugh out loud, causing a man walking by to sneak a quick look at her. God, I've never heard of anything so ridiculous! I'd be sure the guy was gay and was using me as a beard. Well, Julie knows Kylie's gay, but maybe she didn’t like where I fit into the puzzle. She started to smile, feeling lighter on her feet than she usually did. Maybe Julie told her that she wouldn't go out with her as long as Kylie had such a close relationship with me.

Finding another spot to sit, Blair stared out at the lake for quite a while, then gazed at the architecture of the temple that rose up in the hills above the lake and gardens. That makes perfect sense. It would make Kylie feel like she hadn't been totally honest with Julie, and it would make her unable to talk to me about it. Perfect, perfect sense.

She was smiling at the thought of having figured out the problem, but simply finding the answer didn't get her anywhere. She had to find a way to get Kylie to talk about it, and that was proving difficult to do. Come on, Blair, she reminded herself, you spend your days talking people into doing things they're ambivalent about! You can handle one recalcitrant doctor! All I have to do is have an evening alone with her. The little drama hound is going out with Nick again tonight.

 

ĄG

 

When she got home the next evening, Blair decided she had to put her plan on hold for a while. She’d had a rotten day, and she wasn’t in the mood to talk to Kylie or anyone else at that moment. Maybe I’ll feel better in a while, she thought. Kylie came home shortly after Blair had gone into her room. The doctor assumed she was changing, so she knocked lightly on her door and walked in when she heard a reply. "Hi. Hungry?"

"Not really. I had a sandwich when I got home. I didn't get lunch." She sat up and tried to smile, creating a reasonable facsimile. “I’m gonna rest for a few minutes, then I’ll be out, okay?”

Kylie ventured further into the room. "Are you all right? You look … mmm … sad or down."

Blair wanted to beg for her privacy — just for a while, but she remembered her promise to be more open with her feelings. So she forced herself to talk about what had happened. "Really wanna know?"

"Of course I do."

"Come sit down then. But don't look at me. I don't want to see your face when I tell you what a baby I am."

Kylie gave her a warm smile and sat on the edge of the bed. "I'll look out the window, okay?"

"Okay." Blair took in a breath and said, "There's a guy at work who's only been with the firm a year or so. He knows I'm a good seller, and he knows the managers like me. He's one of those idiots who thinks that women gobble up compliments like there's no tomorrow."

"Ugh," Kylie said, making a face. "What's this guy’s name?"

"Mike. Mike Alexander."

"Got it. So, what happened with old Mike?"

"Well, he's always flirted with me whenever he gets the chance. I don't know what he thinks it'll get him, but he's really obnoxious about it. He comments on my clothes, and he always notices when I've gotten a hair cut."

"Maybe he really likes you," Kylie suggested.

"No, it's not that. He does it to any woman he thinks he can get something from. He's new to the business, and he'd really like to work with me — that's the only reason he's interested."

"Okay, I get the picture. So what happened?"

"Nothing!" Blair said, looking like she was on the verge of tears. "I was alone with him in the break room today, and he treated me exactly like he treats the guys whose coattails he wants to latch onto. He was entirely professional. No comments about my body or my clothes or my hair. He didn't tell me that he knew I was coming into the room because his heart started to beat faster or anything!"

Blair was staring at Kylie, waiting for her to commiserate, but the doctor was sure she had missed an important point. "Uhm … isn't that good? Don't you want to be treated professionally?"

"No! I mean, yes, but not by him!"

"I don't get it. I'm sorry that I'm not catching on, but I don't understand."

"Kylie, he didn't do it because he doesn't think of me as a woman anymore! Don't you see?"

Kylie gaped at her for a moment, then said, "No, that can't be it. No way!"

"Yes, that is it. And I've been noticing it more and more, but I've tried to shrug it off. None of the guys treat me like a woman anymore. They treat me like a … like a … mom!"

"Oh, sweetie." Kylie scooted over and tucked her arms around her friend. "You are gonna be a mom. That's not such a bad thing, is it?"

"I'm not gonna be their mom!" she insisted. "They treat me like a matronly old aunt, Kylie. I'm only thirty-five, but guys act like I'm geriatric!"

"And this really bothers you?" Kylie asked, still a little puzzled.

"Yes! I told you it was stupid and that I was a big baby, but it does bother me. I don't feel sexy or attractive anymore. I guess it'd be different if I were with a guy who continued to tell me and show me that he was into me, but now …"

"Aww … I guess that does make a difference, doesn't it?"

"Yeah. I feel like this sexless creature all of a sudden, and it sucks!"

“Look, I can’t say for sure what Mike was thinking or feeling. But I do know how you look, and I know that you’re not just pretty, you’re incredibly beautiful. I mean that with every bit of my heart.”

“You’re prejudiced,” she grumbled.

“Yeah, I am. I’m prejudiced in favor of luscious-looking strawberry blondes with pale green eyes. Guilty as charged.”

“I’m not luscious-looking,” she scoffed. “No one has ever called me luscious.”

“You know, just because you’ve dated people who haven’t appreciated your beauty doesn’t mean it’s not there. I’m an impartial observer, and I swear you’re the prettiest woman I’ve ever held in my arms.”

Blair gave her friend a swat on the back. "Liar. I'm nice looking — in the right light — if you've had a couple of drinks, but that's it."

Kylie gave her a half-smile and said, "Look, buddy, you can't tell me who is and who isn't pretty. It's subjective. There's something about you that I find very appealing."

"You do … really?" Blair's heart started to race a little, and she tried to give Kylie her best smile. But the doctor was still holding back. There was something almost sisterly — a certain distance and impartiality — about the way she was complimenting her that was driving the blonde crazy.

“I see a lot of pregnant women on any given day. I don’t ever deal with them professionally, but I have colleagues who do genetic testing and things like that, so they’re around the office all the time. Now, I find most pregnant women attractive,there’s something about them that works for me, but I’d honestly say that you’re in the top five percent of the women I see.”

Suddenly, she knew this was the perfect opportunity to get Kylie to talk. She gathered her courage and broke the silence to ask, “Would you do me a big favor?”

“Anything.”

“Would you tell me why you find me attractive?"

The doctor cleared her throat and nodded. “Are you sure you want me to do that? I mean, I will, but it might be embarrassing.”

“Yes. You won’t embarrass me.”

“Okay, you're the boss." She sat up straight and looked at Blair for a moment, her eyes roaming from her head to her feet. Her lips were pursed, and she looked like she was contemplating a work of art. Finally, she smiled and said, "I'd say that part of what I find attractive is your hair. It's gotten prettier and prettier. It’s a lot fuller than it was before, and it has a lot of body to it. It’s grown so fast, too. I’d say it’s grown four inches since you’ve been pregnant. It looks great.”

“Thanks,” Blair smiled. “This is fun.”

“There’s more,” Kylie assured her, warming to her subject. “Your eyes sparkle a lot of the time. There’s actually a scientific reason for that, but I ignore it and let them catch my eye. Very appealing.”

“Thank you again.”

“Your lips are a little fuller … almost pouty. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’d had a little collagen injected.” Kylie playfully touched the tip of Blair’s lower lip with her finger. “They’re slightly darker, too — very luscious.”

“There’s that word again,” Blair teased.

“Well, they are. Just being scientific.” She shifted a little and said, “Here’s where I start to feel uncomfortable.” Letting her eyes linger for a moment on Blair’s chest, she said, “I don’t want you to think I walk around all day leering at you.”

“I don’t think that, Kylie. Believe me, I don't." I wish I did, but I don't.

“Okay,” the doctor said. “Over the last couple of months, your breasts have become absolutely perfect in my book. They’re substantially fuller, and they sway a little bit when you walk.” Grinning impishly, she added, “I love that. And, by the way, I love the way I can see your cleavage in that V-neck sweater I bought for you.”

“So that’s why you bought that!”

“Hey, might as well get some personal benefit from keeping you clothed.”

Blair had to force herself to pay attention to what the doctor was saying, and less to the way her lips moved when she said it. She'd never noticed how adorable the tip of Kylie's tongue was, but now she was staring at her mouth, hoping it would come out again when she said another word that began with "th."

Kylie met Blair's eyes, and she said, “Being a breast woman, I’m sure I devote more attention to that area than most.”

“Got it," Blair said, nodding.

“I also like a good tush, and you’ve added just enough weight to get a nice curve there. Really, really nice,” she said emphatically.

“Okay,” Blair said. "Good to know."

“Now, I admit you’ve lost your trim little waist, but you’ve added a little volume around your hips. That still gives you a good curve there, and that’s important to me. I’m all in favor of curves.”

“Anything else?” Blair asked, feeling that she had to kiss Kylie or leave the house.

“Mmm … nothing specific. I’d say that the overall effect I get from you is one of lushness and ripeness. You look like a juicy peach with that adorable blush you have on your cheeks.”

“Well! This is all quite … revealing,” Blair said. Her head was spinning, but she didn't want it to stop.

Kylie looked down and mumbled, “I told you I was embarrassed to tell you everything I’d noticed.”

Blair lifted her chin with her fingertips and asked, “Do you want to know how I feel when you talk about my body?”

“Uhm … sure. I’d like to know.”

Leaning close, Blair kept her face mere inches from Kylie’s. “I feel attractive and desirable, like I don’t have anything to be ashamed of. I feel like a very beautiful woman.”

“You are,” Kylie said softly, her breath warm against Blair’s cheek.

Reaching out, Blair pushed some of the tumbled curls back from Kylie’s face so that she could see her eyes. Hesitantly, with more shyness than she’d felt in her adult life, she asked, “Do you find me desirable?”

The dark head began to nod, and Kylie said in her most enthusiastic and confident tone, “Absolutely. Very, very much so. I thought you were a very attractive woman the first time I saw you, Blair, and you've grown more attractive since you've been pregnant."

Blair's heart fell, and she knew she was going to cry. Kylie's words were so soothing, so comforting, but her eyes weren't sparkling the way they did when she was genuinely excited about something. Blair believed her words, she was certain that Kylie wasn't just soothing her ego — but it was almost as if her father or mother were telling her how attractive they found her. She wasn't only not getting a hint of a sexual vibe from her friend, there seemed to be an emotional distance that Kylie was intentionally trying to create. Something was off, Blair was sure of it. But she didn’t know what it was. "Thanks, pal," she said, trying to look happy. "I could probably manage a little bit of dinner. If nothing else, I'll keep you company. How's that?"

"Excellent. Dinner for three. You, me and Mackenzie." She gave Blair a big smile and reached over to pat her friend's tummy.

 

ĄG

 

On Saturday night, Kylie and Nick had tickets to a play, but he asked if Kylie would mind if he took a date instead. She wasn't set on seeing the production, so she gladly let him have her seat. Blair called her friend on the way home, and when she learned that Kylie wasn't going out, she stopped at the video store to pick out a couple of DVD's. When she got home, she walked into the den and dropped her selections on the table. "Your pick. Drama or action."

"What's this?" Kylie asked, looking up at her.

"Your date got cancelled, so you should at least get to see something kinda special."

"Aww … you're awfully thoughtful, Blair."

The blonde smiled back at her friend. "I'm learning from the master."

After dinner they settled down to watch one of the movies. Kylie didn't know much about either, so she flipped a coin, and they watched the drama. It was a tear-jerker, a much sadder film than Blair would have chosen if she'd known the plot. But it was a well-made movie, and it touched her deeply. It told the story of a love never fulfilled, of lovers who longed for each other all their lives, and Blair could hardly fail to notice the parallels between the film and her relationship with Kylie.

Blair dabbed at her eyes with a tissue and was surprised to hear Kylie sniffling, too. "Why did I rent such a sad movie?" she asked. "I wanted to have fun tonight."

"It was sad," Kylie said, her voice breaking a little. "So damned sad." She kept crying with a few tears spilling out every couple of moments, but she was obviously very upset.

"Hey," Blair said. She scooted next to her and put an arm around her shoulders. "You seem really upset. What is it?"

"Nothing," Kylie said. "It's nothing."

Blair couldn't bear to let the wall that had built up between them stand. She gathered her courage and said, "Kylie, something is wrong … between us."

"Huh?" Confused, watery blue eyes looked at her.

"Something is … different between us. Ever since you broke up with Julie, you've been acting different. I'm not sure what it is, but it's definitely not my imagination."

Kylie looked like she was going to speak, but she obviously changed her mind. "It's nothing, Blair. I … don't want to talk about it."

"Is it me? Did I do something to upset you or hurt you? Are you having second thoughts about living with me?"

"No, no, don't be silly. How could you have done anything? This is between Julie and me."

"But if it's not about me, why are you treating me differently? I swear there's a barrier between us that wasn't there before."

The brunette looked like she wanted to leave the room, but she stayed right where she was. Blair could see the inner struggle she was going through, could tell that Kylie wanted to talk but was fighting against something. "It's not you. I swear, it's not you," she said. "It's … something that Julie made me aware of, and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to deal with it. It's my problem, Blair, not yours."

Blair felt tears sting her eyes. "It is my problem if it affects you, Kylie." She put both of her arms around her and hugged her close, feeling a little reassurance when Kylie hugged her back. "I love you so much that I feel your pain when you're hurt. It's so hard when I don't know what's bothering you."

"I'm so sorry," Kylie said. "I swear I didn't know this was on your mind."

"It is, it has been, and it's gonna be until you're acting like your old self. I can't bear to have a distance between us," she said.

Kylie pulled back just enough to be able to focus. "There isn't much distance now," she said. She gave Blair her usual crooked smile, but her eyes looked so sad that the smaller woman couldn't stand it.

"Why are you sad?" she asked, gently stroking her cheeks with the tips of her fingers. "Please, please tell me."

"It's … it's nothing bad," she said. "I'm trying to deal with some hard realities. There are some things I'm never gonna get, and I have to face up to that."

Blair gazed deeply into her eyes and said, "Tell me, Kylie. Tell me what you want. I'll do anything I can to help you get it."

"Oh, Blair," she said. She dropped her head onto her friend's shoulder and cried softly. "I wish I could ask you for what I need. I wish I could."

Blair put her hands on the sides of Kylie's head and lifted it. She stared into her eyes for almost a minute. The energy between them was crackling, with both women desperate but unwilling to speak. Finally, Blair summoned the courage and said, "I might regret this, but I'm going to ask you for what I need." She held onto Kylie's head and pulled it towards her, seeing the blue eyes widen as she was drawn closer. Blair closed her eyes and pressed her lips against Kylie's, hearing her friend let out a startled mew. She held her tight, and almost immediately, Kylie's arms wrapped around her and they kissed again. Longer and deeper and sweeter than before. Blair pulled back and looked into the fathomless depths of Kylie's eyes and kissed her once more, opening her mouth to Kylie's tentatively probing tongue.

Just moments of the exquisite sensation was enough to leave Blair breathless, and she moved her lips a bit, kissing all around Kylie's mouth while she panted softly. Suddenly, Kylie's hands were on her shoulders, pushing her away. The brunette stood and stared at her friend, asking in a loud voice, "What in the hell are we doing?"

Blair grabbed her hand and pulled her back down, gazing at her with an inner sense of peace that she hadn't felt in weeks. "We're kissing, Kylie. We're kissing because we care for each other so much." She put her hand behind Kylie's head and drew her close again. Their lips were only an inch apart, and Blair could see the beautiful pink lips quivering with fear and anticipation. "Let me show you how I feel." She kissed her again, holding Kylie so tight that she was afraid she'd hurt her. But the larger woman looked so frightened that Blair felt she had to hold on to her to keep her from bolting. She slipped her tongue into Kylie's mouth and savored the warmth she found there, letting herself explore and tease.

But once again, Kylie pulled away, staring at Blair with a stunned look on her flushed face. "Why are you doing this? We don't do this, Blair! We're friends!"

Blair stroked her cheek, feeling the heat radiating from it. "We can be more. I want to be more. Don't you?"

"Yes! Of course I want more! That's what's been driving me crazy! But we can't have it. You're not a lesbian!"

"Where are the rules for kissing?" Blair asked. "'Cause I didn't know you had to take an entrance exam. I thought you just kissed the person you cared for."

Kylie looked at her exactly like Nicky and Nora did when asked if they wanted a treat. Her head was cocked at an uncomfortable-looking angle, and she asked, "You love me?"

"Of course I love you. Is this a surprise?" She placed a soft kiss on Kylie's lips, then another and another. "I love you, Kylie." She kissed her again, urging her mouth open and probing the soft, moist skin with her tongue. "I love you."

Wrenching away again, Kylie insisted, "I know you love me, but you can't love me. You're not gay — at all!"

"I'm gay enough to be very, very attracted to you. Isn't that enough?"

This time Kylie wrestled out of her hold and moved away from her so she could think. "No, that's not enough. You can't … I can't … we can't … this isn't right for you, Blair. You're confused or something."

Blair's brows shot up. "Pardon me?" She glared at Kylie, and the doctor knew she'd made a mistake.

"Uhm … that's not what I meant. I … I don't know what I mean, but I know you're not gay!"

"Kylie, you're being ridiculous. I'm a thirty-five year old woman, and I know exactly what I want and what I think. I'm falling in love with you. I know that's not something I'm supposed to do, but it's happening. And don't you dare tell me that I'm confused! I'm pregnant, not delusional!"

"Okay, okay," Kylie said. "You might know what you think, but I'm totally confused here. Up until about ten minutes ago, you were my straight friend. Now you're kissing me …" She gave her a goofy smile and added, "So very, very well. But no matter how well you kiss, this isn't you, or at least it wasn't you before we watched that movie!"

"Do you think that a movie changed my sexual orientation? Who are you, Pat Robertson? A movie can't make a straight woman have sexual feelings for another woman, you big goof!" Blair got up and went to her, wrapping her arms around her waist. She looked up into Kylie's eyes and said, "I've loved you for months, and a couple of weeks ago, I started having sexual feelings for you. It was a surprise to me, too, but it's true. I was only waiting for the right moment to tell you."

Kylie reached up and grabbed the top of her head. "I feel like my cranium's gonna blow! This is too much for me to process all at once. You've gotta go easy on me, Blair, please!"

Blair looked at her, trying to see if she was kidding, but Kylie looked deadly serious. There was a deep furrow between her brows that Blair had never seen, and her jaw was clenched so tight that tendons in her neck stood out. Taking pity on her, Blair moved back, giving Kylie room to breathe. "Okay, you're right. This is a lot to absorb."

"A whole lot," Kylie said. "A whole big lot."

Blair smiled at her, wanting to kiss her again because of the adorable look on her face, but not wanting to upset her. "Do you want to talk about it? Want me to tell you about how my feelings for you have changed?"

"Yes," Kylie said. "I definitely want to hear everything — tomorrow."

"Tomorrow?"

"Yes. Tomorrow. I can't take any more tonight. I swear I'll have an aneurysm if we keep talking."

"Are you being serious?" Blair asked, frankly astonished. "You, of all people, don't want to talk about something this important?"

"I do want to talk about it," Kylie said, looking like she was going to cry or scream, "but this is too much for me to process. I have to have some time to let this sink in. I'm sorry, but that's how I am. This is too important to just react to!"

Blair stepped back another foot, holding up her hands. "Okay, okay," she said, "but I feel like I'm standing out here on a ledge. I told you something that could change my entire life, and you say you can't talk about it. I'm feeling a little exposed, Kylie."

The doctor took a deep breath and gathered her wits as best she could. She moved close to Blair and put her arms around her. "Give me a few hours to calm down." She hugged her tightly and whispered, "You know how much I care for you. Don't worry."

Feeling how Kylie trembled made Blair feel very protective of her. "Hey, it'll be all right," she soothed. "It's just me. You and me."

"I know," Kylie said, her voice shaking, "but this is so overwhelming … I can't even think straight."

Blair looked up at her while stroking her back. "Can we sleep together? I'd feel so much better if we could be close."

"What? No! We don't sleep together!"

"All right," Blair nodded. "I'm sorry I asked."

"Don't make this any harder on me," Kylie said, her eyes showing her fear. "This isn't some little thing, Blair. It's life-changing."

"I know that, Kylie. It's life-changing for both of us. I just thought you were the type to wanna talk about something this big."

"I do! But I have to calm down first. I don't do well under pressure."

Blair gave her a blank look, wanting to remind Kylie that she was a surgeon and worked under incredible pressure every day. But she realized that Kylie didn't consider surgery pressure. She reveled in the demands it put on her. However, she didn't ever seek out emotional risks — and this was a big one. "You're right," Blair said. "I'm sorry for pushing you. We'll talk about it tomorrow, but I have to leave the house at 9:00, so it'll have to be when I get home. Okay?"

"Okay," Kylie said, mollified.

"Can I kiss you goodnight?"

"Uhm … sure."

Kylie presented her cheek and scampered down the hall as soon as Blair delivered the kiss, leaving the smaller woman to look at the dogs and sigh. "Here's a lesson for you two. If I'd been trying to lure a man to bed, we would have had sex — twice — and he would've been asleep by now. A woman wants to do a background check on you before she'll even give you a kiss!"

 

ĄG

 

Blair was gone most of the next day, and she returned home when Kylie was preparing dinner. The dogs ran to greet her, but Kylie stayed at the sink, washing a few dishes. "Hi," she called out.

Blair walked into the kitchen and saw the tense set of the doctor's shoulders. The poor thing. She's probably been stewing over this all day. She went up behind Kylie and slid her arms around her waist, then rubbed her face against her back. "Hi. I missed you."

"I missed you, too," Kylie said. She rested her hands on the rim of the sink, and Blair could feel her body relax a little bit. "Did you have a good day?"

"No. I wanted my clients to stay in their old house so I could be with you." Kylie let out a nervous laugh, and Blair tightened her embrace. "I have to tell you something."

The doctor slid out of Blair's hold and looked at her with a startled, nearly frightened expression. "What?" she asked, her voice a little high.

Blair placed her hand behind Kylie's neck and pulled her down. "Another day's passed, and I'm still falling for you," she said, then kissed her tenderly. "I thought about you all day and couldn't wait to get home so I could kiss you." She kissed her again, reveling in the feel of the larger woman's body when she held her close. "I thought about your lips more times than I can count."

Kylie gave her a pleading look, then stood up straight. "I missed you, too, and I thought about you all day, but you promised we could talk about this. I thought the implication was that you'd stop kissing me until we did."

Blair stepped back and stared at the brunette for a moment. "Does my kissing you bother you that much?"

"Yes, yes, it does. It'll bother me more than you'll ever know if you … stop," she said, looking very vulnerable.

"Oh, Kylie, I'm not gonna stop. You know how much I love you!"

"I know you love me. I don't doubt that a bit. But I don't know that you'll be happy being my lover. I think … I think that you might be …" She looked into Blair's eyes, showing her fear. "Settling."

Blinking slowly, the blonde stared at her friend again. She blew out an audible breath and started to leave the room. "I don't want to snap at you, so I need a few minutes to think of a response to that that isn't profane. I'm gonna go change clothes."

Kylie watched her leave, wincing when she heard the bedroom door slam.

 

ĄG

 

It took Blair about ten minutes to calm down, and Kylie was on pins and needles the whole time. She was sitting outside, sipping a tall glass of what looked to be watered-down Scotch. Blair sat next to her and said, "I don't even like Scotch, but I'd like one now. My nerves are twitching."

Kylie gave her a doe-eyed look and said, "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings. I didn't mean to. Really."

Blair reached over and took her hand. She kissed the back of it and held it over her heart. "Don't apologize. I've obviously been pushing you too hard. I'm not being sensitive enough to the things that are bothering you."

Giving her a charming smile, Kylie said, "No, it's my fault."

"Unh-uh. My fault," Blair said. "I have to recognize how important this is to you and that you're not as sure of me as I am of myself. I promise not to get angry with you again. You're entitled to ask me anything you want."

"Thanks," Kylie said, her expression one of immense relief. "Uhm … do you understand what I was getting at before?"

"Yeah," Blair said, letting out a wry chuckle. "You want to know if I'm using you because I don't think I can get a man."

Horrified, Kylie gasped, "That's not true! That's not what I think! You'd never use me … consciously."

Blair took a playful bite of the doctor's hand. "Ooo … so you think I have pregnancy-induced lesbian tendencies, huh? I have to find a mate to help me raise the baby, and I'm acting on such unconscious primal instinct that I've convinced myself to think you're the one for me."

"Well, that sounds harsh, but it's kinda close to what I was thinking."

"Yeah," Blair nodded. "It does sound harsh. It also doesn't sound like me." She threaded her fingers through Kylie's and rested their linked hands on her thigh. "Let's look at the big picture. I'm perfectly capable of raising Mackenzie on my own. I'm also sure that you'll be a lot of help even if things don't work out between us as lovers. You're just that kind of friend." She squeezed her hand and shook her head, a frown narrowing her eyes. "It feels like I'm playing catch-up here. I think you might understand what's going on with me if I start at the beginning. I'm gonna tell you exactly what my thought process was when I started to have feelings for you. If it sounds like I'm settling, so be it."

She got up and walked over to the lawn, then started to move around in no particular pattern. She walked with her hands linked behind her back, looking like a professor lecturing a small class. "I love you, and I have for some time. But I never considered that I might be or could be in love with you. It should have been obvious, and probably was to everyone we know, but it didn't occur to me because I've never had sexual feelings for a woman."

"Never?" Kylie shouted.

"Shh! We have neighbors. Now, calm down, and we'll get to that little detail later," Blair said. "I have to do this in order."

Kylie gave her a chagrined smile and nodded. "Sorry," she said quietly.

"Okay," Blair said, looking thoughtful. "When you had Julie over to go swimming, I saw the two of you making out by the pool."

"Oh, shit, why do I always get caught?"

"'Cause you're a forty-year-old woman who has a roommate," Blair teased. "Anyway, I couldn't stop myself from watching you, and after a couple of minutes, I realized I was totally turned on."

Kylie brightened. "You were?" Then an eyebrow shot up, and she asked, "Did you say couple of minutes? You watched for a couple of minutes?"

"Yes, hot stuff, I did. I couldn't tear my eyes away. I tried to shrug it off, but I caught myself doing that and made a conscious decision to think about what had happened. I realized that I used to get hot when David and I would watch porn with women having sex with each other. There was always a guy in the scene, too, but I sure didn't mind watching the women do things to each other."

"Sounds promising," Kylie said, giving her a big, bright smile. But her smile faded, and she looked puzzled. "I thought you'd never fantasized about a woman?"

"I haven't," Blair said. "I've gotten turned on watching them make love, but I've never consciously thought about women while I'm having sex."

Kylie's eyes widened. "Sounds like a fine line to me."

"Details, details," Blair said, waving the point away. "So, I realized I was aroused by you, and then it dawned on me that I was ridiculously jealous of Julie. I knew I was being an idiot, but I couldn't stop feeling that she was taking you away from me."

"That's what Julie thought, too," Kylie said, looking guilty.

"Mmm … that was on my list of possible reasons you two broke up," Blair said. "It just hit me the other day, but I had a feeling … especially since you wouldn't talk about it."

"Yeah, she feels pretty used. I feel like a huge asshole."

Blair walked over and sat on the edge of her chair. "You didn't do it on purpose, did you?"

Looking even guiltier, Kylie nodded. "Kinda. I knew I was falling for you, and I wanted to make myself fall in love with someone else so I could keep you in my life without pining away for you."

"Ouch," Blair said. "No wonder she's pissed."

"She has every reason to be, even though I wasn't as diabolical about it as I make it sound. It was mostly subconscious until we got back from Chicago. My mom made me admit that I was in love with you." She snickered and muttered, "Bitch."

Blair couldn't help herself; she had to lean over and give Kylie a kiss. But she made it a quick one to spare the doctor any more anxiety. "So, you knew you were falling for me, huh? That's pretty good news from where I stand."

Kylie gave her an adorably shy smile and nodded. "Yeah, you know I'm crazy about you. You're too perceptive to have missed all of my not-so-subtle signals — the ones I tried like hell not to send out."

"I noticed some of them," Blair admitted, "and I was able to rationalize most of them. But the important thing is that Julie and I were right about you and your feelings. I realized that we were more than friends, and I liked it. I started thinking about it, and I finally decided that it was silly not to let our relationship progress. I know I don't have lesbian street cred, but everyone has to start somewhere, right? You dated guys before you decided you wanted a woman."

"Yeah," Kylie agreed, "but I was seventeen, not thirty-five. You've been putting up a very good front for a lesbian trapped in a marriage, having to perform despicable acts with a …" She put her forearm over her eyes and whispered, "Man!"

"Funny," Blair said, giving her a pinch. She got up and started to walk again, pacing slowly. "I love having sex with men, Kylie. But I'm also a very sexual, very open-minded person. I don't see why I wouldn't love having sex with you. I think you're as sexy as hell, and kissing you has been very, very arousing."

"Wait till I start kissing you," Kylie said, a little of her usual teasing personality starting to emerge. "My lips haven't gotten out of the starting gate."

"I can't wait," Blair said, giving Kylie a look that made the doctor's heart start to beat faster.

Kylie swallowed and tried to get back to the topic. "Are you finished?"

"For the moment," Blair said. "What do you think? Am I delusional?"

Kylie leaned back in her chair, finally relaxing her coiled posture. She linked her hands behind her head and gazed up into the sky for a minute or two with Blair raptly watching her face for a clue to her thoughts. Finally, she looked at her friend and said, "Well, if I had to write this script, I would have preferred you to say that you've always been attracted to women, but David came along before you could act on it. I'd feel much more comfortable about this if you felt you were bisexual. But it doesn't seem like you do."

"Well, maybe a little," Blair said. "On a scale of one to ten, with one being totally straight, I'd say I'm a two or a three. You're the only woman I've ever wanted to kiss — much less do anything more with."

"Hmm … I'm about a nine," Kylie said. "I could have sex with a man, but I'd have to fantasize about a women to be able to enjoy myself." She looked very thoughtful and asked, "The question is, can a three and a nine find happiness together?"

"Twelve's my lucky number," Blair said, beaming a grin.

"Twelve's not anyone's lucky number," Kylie scoffed. "What is it really?"

"Two," she admitted. "But I like twelve a lot. There's a two in it."

Kylie got up and approached Blair. She put her arms around her and asked, "Can we take this slowly? I need to think about it and get all of my questions resolved before I can jump in."

Blair looked up at her, the setting sun forming a golden halo around Kylie's dark hair. "Do you love me?"

"Yes, I do," Kylie said. "I love you very much, and I'd give anything to have this work out. But I'm not gonna do it just because I want it. I have to make sure that you want it, too. I can't risk your changing your mind and breaking my heart, Blair. I can't let that happen."

"I understand. Uhm … what did you think of my thought process? Did it sound like I was settling?"

Kylie shrugged her shoulders. Her brow was a little furrowed, and she seemed very thoughtful when she spoke. "It sounded more logical than emotional, but that's the way you are. I think you added up all of the positive things and decided that this could work. I don't think that's settling, but it's not mad love, either."

Blair shook her head. "I'm not a mad love kinda girl." She put her hands on Kylie's waist and said, "But if you need a mad love kinda girl, you should have one. I'd hate to lose you, but I'd understand — in a decade or so."

Kylie kissed her on the head. "I'm pretty logical about things, too. I think I could live with a logical lover." She hugged her tightly and asked, "You're not logical all the time, are you? I mean, do you get emotional when you're … you know …" She looked charmingly embarrassed, and Blair had to kiss her once again.

"I’m like you are, Kylie. I only have sex with people I love. And I have sex to show my feelings. I promise you'll know how I feel about you when we touch."

Kylie smiled at her and brushed a few strands of hair from her forehead. "I thought that's how you'd be. But before we go any further, I have to know that you've considered all of the negative things about loving me. That's a big deal."

"Oh, Kylie, I know you have a million faults, but I can overlook them for love," the blonde said, giggling at the nonplussed look on the doctor's face.

 

ĄG

 

After dinner they went outside as they often did on a warm evening. "So, start telling me all of the pitfalls of lesbian love," Blair said.

"No, not tonight. I know I'll get all worked up, and I have to go to bed early. I've got a hellacious day in surgery tomorrow, and I've gotta chill a little bit." She gave Blair a half-smile and said, "I was a nervous wreck all day, and I still feel tense."

Blair took the doctor's hand and chafed it tenderly. "You poor thing. I'm sorry I had to work all day, but it couldn't be helped. I should have called you when I had a chance just to see how you were doing."

"That's okay," Kylie said. "I still would have been nervous."

"Tell me what makes you so tense?" Blair asked. "Isn't this what you want?"

Kylie looked at her to make sure she wasn't joking. "Of course this is what I want! How can you even ask that? It's just that I want it so badly that I'm afraid to let myself think it's gonna happen. I'll be devastated if this doesn't work out, Blair."

"Oh, Kylie, don't think like that." She got up and indicated that she wanted Kylie to draw her knees up to make some room. When she did, Blair sat on the foot of the chair and rested her arms on the doctor's knees. She gazed at her for a moment, then said, "Can I tell you what I want — big picture?"

"Sure."

"I want someone to spend my life with. I'm self-sufficient enough to be able to have a very good life alone, but I think I do better when I'm in a committed relationship. I also think it would be better for Mackenzie to have two parents. But even if I weren't pregnant, I'd still be falling for you. I'm not just looking for a co-parent, Kylie. I'm looking for a partner, and I think I've found her in you. So the only reason this won't work out is if you decide you don't want it to. I'm in."

Kylie's entire body was shaking, and Blair wrapped her arms around her legs to try to reassure her. "How can you be so sure?" the doctor asked.

"I know what I want in a lover," she said. "I want someone who's kind and thoughtful and intelligent and funny and cultured and sexy. And now that I'm pregnant, I need someone who wants to have children and wants to co-parent with me. It didn't occur to me that I'd find what I wanted in a woman, but I have. The fact that you're a woman isn't a big deal for me, Kylie. Those other qualities are non-negotiable, but, much to my surprise, the sex of the person isn’t."

"This is … I've …" Kylie shook her head, clearly flustered. "How can you say that? I've never known anyone who just decides that the sex of her partner isn't a big deal. I mean, I know that's true for bisexuals, but I've never heard of anyone figuring out she's bisexual when she's thirty-five years old!"

"Kylie," Blair said, her voice low and soothing, "it's not my fault that I didn't meet you until now. Don't hold that against me. I was married for ten years, and I was happy with my husband. I wasn't exploring my sexuality then. I am now."

"That's part of the problem," Kylie said. "You're not sure you can be happy in a lesbian relationship. You're exploring this, Blair. What if you find out that you can't do it?"

Blair gave her a puzzled look. "What would make me decide that?"

"See? This is what I mean!" She patted Blair and said, "I've gotta get up." As soon as she did, she started pacing. "Now I'm all worked up! I'm trying to relax, and you've got me in a lather."

Blair went to her and put her arms around her. "I'm sorry. You're right. We shouldn't have started talking about this again. I know it's hard for you to take this all in." She hugged her tight and said, "Go get ready for bed, and I'll give you a nice backrub. That'll help you relax."

Kylie gave her a slightly doubtful look, then said, "I'm not sure I trust you to rub my back. The last thing I need is to be all turned on. We'd better stick with a head rub."

"A head rub it is," Blair said, smiling at the brunette. She watched her walk into the house, musing, The supremely confident Doctor Mackenzie is nowhere to be found tonight!

 

ĄG

 

When Kylie was ready, Blair went into her room and lay next to her on the bed. She started to thread her fingers through the doctor's soft curls, speaking to her in a soothing voice. "It's gonna be all right, Kylie. Everything will work out. We're gonna be one small, happy family." She kept up her ministrations until she felt the larger woman's body relax, then slowed down and finally stopped. Kylie was sound asleep, and Blair couldn't resist staying right where she was. She nestled her cheek against Kylie's back, listening to her strong, sure heartbeat and the steady intake of breath. It's gonna be so nice when I can sleep with her, she thought. Just lying here with her calms me down. She noticed that Mackenzie was unusually calm, too, and whispered, "Mama Kylie calms you down too, doesn't she, Mackenzie? All we have to do now is convince her that we're gonna love her as much as she loves us."

 

Continued in Chapter 9

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