I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 6: Fidelity

By S X Meagher






Part 13

As they drove along on the way to the airport Ryan chatted excitedly with her young companion. "Do you know where we’re going, Munchkin? We’re going to get Jamie! Yes, Jamie! Do you miss her as much as I do?"

Caitlin caught Ryan’s excitement and shrieked so loudly as she banged away on her car seat that Ryan feared her eardrums would burst. How stupid am I? I’m alone with the baby in the back seat, and I’m intentionally trying to whip her into a frenzy! The little girl could just reach the door panel with her foot and she kicked it for all she was worth during the 30-minute drive, her stamina simultaneously pleasing and vexing her cousin. Ryan had nothing to offer as an alternative, so the banging continued unabated for long miles. Okay, first lesson of parenthood, Ryan thought, Never get in a car alone with a child. That should be easy enough to accomplish, she thought wryly.

When they arrived at the airport it was just 12:30, giving her at least 30 minutes to get to the gate. She checked Caitlin’s diaper and gave her a quick change just to make sure she was fresh smelling for her beloved Jamie. Grabbing a biscotto for a snack, they made their way to the terminal.

After sailing through security they were still 20 minutes early, so Ryan decided to spend the time freshening up. Ducking into a gift shop, she bought a travel toothbrush, managing to keep Caitlin’s grasping hands from snagging any of the brightly colored items near the cash register. The restroom was equipped with a wide, sturdy, pullout changing table, and Ryan sat the baby on the surface while she brushed her teeth. Of course, Caitlin begged to get into the act, so as soon as Ryan finished with her own, they spent ten minutes brushing Caitlin’s mostly illusory choppers. When they were finished, the toothpaste covered her round face more than her teeth, but she'd had a very good time, so both of the cousins were happy. Giving the babe a kiss on her minty fresh cheek, Ryan pulled out her comb and tried to create some order with the flyaway strands of white-blonde hair. She finally wet her hands and slicked down every recalcitrant piece, giving the baby a wet but neat look. After carefully combing her own hair to remove all of the tangles that Caitlin had so meticulously put in it, they were ready to go.

A bored voice was announcing the flight's arrival just as they walked into the waiting area and they went over to the window to watch the huge 767 roll up to the gate. Ryan was so nervous that she babbled constantly to the baby, explaining that Jamie and her mommy were on the plane, but Caitlin was much more interested in slapping her own reflection in the window and screaming at the top of her lungs.

When the gate attendant opened the double doors, Ryan jumped into the air a few times to see over the assembled crowd. Her heart was racing and it nearly exploded in her chest when she spotted Jamie’s blonde head bobbing down the jet-way. There were only three people in front of her, and Ryan briefly wondered how many people her lover had knocked over to get out so quickly, but when those bright green eyes locked onto hers like a pair of heat-seeking guided missiles, every other thought evaporated.

Every other person faded away as the small but determined woman pushed through the crowd, the widest grin imaginable on her face. Ryan gave her a megawatt smile in return, and as the baby caught sight of Jamie she started to shriek, jumping wildly in Ryan’s arms. Jamie trotted the 20 feet or so that separated them, opening her arms to Caitlin, who was leaning so far forward in Ryan’s arms that she was on the verge of falling. Her little arms were stretched as far as they could go and she grunted loudly in frustration, trying to reach Jamie.

Caitlin’s shrieks of joy could be heard throughout the entire terminal when her wish was finally granted and she was enveloped in Jamie’s warm embrace. The taller blonde swung her around in a little circle, then raised her to her face and kissed her cheeks, as she allowed the baby to bestow her patented open-mouthed kiss/sucks.

Ryan was struggling with her desire to elbow the baby out of the way, but she somehow managed to control herself. She was almost startled to look up and see Catherine standing beside her partner, a look of sheer delight on the older woman’s face. "My God, Jamie, she looks just like you!" she exclaimed.

Turning to her mother, Jamie gave her a pleading look and asked, "Would you hold her for a minute? If I don’t kiss Ryan in the next two seconds I’m gonna spontaneously combust!"

It was hard to tell who looked more shocked by that statement, but an impartial judge would likely have awarded the prize to Catherine. Her big brown eyes grew very round and she took an involuntary step back. Her arms had dropped to her sides, and she looked like she had been asked to hold a pipe bomb, but she rallied for her daughter and extended both hands tentatively.

The look on her face was nearly comical, but she did her best to accept the equally hesitant bundle. Pausing a second to make sure Caitlin would tolerate the handoff, Jamie turned back to her partner and launched herself right into her arms, causing Ryan to let out a startled "ooof" when their bodies impacted.

Shimmering green eyes looked up into Ryan’s as Jamie begged, "Kiss me like you missed me."

Her wish was immediately granted as Ryan tossed her inhibitions aside, dipping her head as she slid her arms tightly around her lover’s torso, lifting her slightly off her feet. Ryan’s eyes fluttered closed as she paused for just a breath, her lips mere millimeters from their goal. As much as she needed to kiss her partner, she needed to feel her breath on her cheek and her solid warmth in her arms. The sensations were so overpowering that her knees nearly buckled, but she focused and placed her lips against Jamie’s, tasting her sweetness, feeling the heat of her skin, and reveling in the reassuring familiarity of their bodies pressed tightly together.

As the kiss progressed, Ryan could feel her brain give up all volitional control of her body. A distant voice told her that they were in a very public place and that Jamie’s mother was standing nearby, but she could not force her very happy body to give up one second of this delicious gift. The blood was pounding in her veins, and she could feel it rushing to her head as a wave of dizziness descended over her. Lowering her partner to the ground, Ryan tried to pull back but Jamie held her tight, refusing to give up an inch of her possession.

Ryan finally pulled her head away to take a breath, but Jamie grasped her face with both hands and held it tightly while she kissed all over her mouth and chin with delicate little butterfly kisses, the sensations too compelling to stop.

Warm hands caressed her back, reassuring Jamie with their soft touch. Finally releasing Ryan, Jamie dropped her forehead, where it rested upon Ryan’s as they took in a deep collective breath.

As her brain started to exert some control, Ryan lifted her head to see Catherine standing at the window, pointing things out to a very interested Caitlin. The baby was munching on Catherine’s heavy gold pendant, and both females looked very content to be in each other’s company.

Ryan grasped Jamie’s hand and walked the short distance, giving Catherine a broad smile.

She was unsure of how to greet the older woman, extending first a hand, then leaning forward a little for a kiss. Catherine sensed her uncertainty, smiling at Jamie as she handed the baby back. Placing a hand on Ryan’s shoulder she gently pulled her forward, kissing both of her cheeks. As the taller woman stood, Catherine took out a handkerchief and removed her daughter’s lip-gloss from Ryan’s face. "Never put on a fresh coat of lipstick before you greet your beloved, Jamie," she teased. "Haven’t you read the manual?"

"I wouldn’t complain if she threw a can of paint on me," Ryan said truthfully, a dazed yet blissful expression on her face.

"That’s rather obvious, Ryan," the older woman said fondly. "You look rather stunned, Dear, are you feeling all right?"

Ryan just nodded, her eyes blinking slowly as she tried to regain control of all of her faculties.

Jamie had snuggled up under Ryan’s chin, resting her head against the strong chest as Ryan draped her arm around her back, settling her hand on her waist. Ryan’s head dropped until her chin rested on her lover’s head, and she closed her eyes tightly as she took in her familiar sweet scent. "This is the best I’ve felt in a week," the dark-haired woman murmured as Catherine chuckled at the display.

The baby was itching to get back to Jamie as well as join in the hug, so Catherine handed her over, smiling at the little tableau. Jamie snuggled her up tight between their bodies and the happy little baby gurgled and smiled, feeling very content and well loved.

"I’m going to let you three get home now," Catherine said. "You don’t have to wait with me, Honey. I’ll just grab a limo from the luggage area."

The thought of her mother-in-law fending for herself snapped Ryan out of her reverie. "No!" she said forcefully. "We’ll take you home."

"There’s no need, Ryan, a limo is the most convenient thing."

"That might be, Catherine, but you’re family. I’d never hear the end of it if my father knew I didn’t drive you home."

"But Ryan," she began, but Ryan cut her off decisively.

"I assure you, the lecture I'd get would take longer than the time it takes to drive you, Catherine."

"All right, dear," she said, patting Ryan’s cheek. "But it’s really not necessary."

"Humor her, Mother," Jamie advised. "The O’Flahertys have strange ways. I’ve learned it’s best not to argue." She giggled wildly as Ryan gave her a hard little pinch on her waist.

They walked down the concourse together, Jamie chattering away in her animated style. Catherine noticed that Ryan hardly said a word, but she knew that when Jamie was excited it was hard to get a turn. Ryan certainly did not look like she minded, however, the blissful smile on her face giving ample evidence of her euphoria. The baby was babbling away as she rode on Ryan’s left hip and Jamie was latched onto her right arm, talking a blue streak while she gestured with her free hand. Ryan turned her attention to each blonde in order, apparently keeping track of both conversations simultaneously.

The younger women were so oblivious that they walked along at their own pace, leaving Catherine to follow a few feet behind. Gazing at the threesome as they moved along, Catherine was struck by how tremendously happy her daughter seemed. Jamie had always been mature for her age, but in the last few years she had developed a certain weightiness to her personality that had caused Catherine some concern. She hadn’t seemed like a 19- or 20-year-old girl, and Catherine had noticed that she seemed older and more cautious than her friends. But with Ryan she seemed bubbly and light, much more like she had been as a child. It wasn’t that she seemed any less mature--in fact, she seemed more reasoned and confident than ever--but she was more playful now, and obviously much more affectionate.

One of Catherine’s main worries about Jamie’s engagement to Jack was how careful they seemed around each other. They were sweet together, and he was always very attentive, but they never looked like there was much intensity between them. Obviously, Catherine did not expect her daughter to behave in a scandalous manner, but she never sensed an underlying sexual tension between Jamie and Jack.

With Ryan, however, the tension was so thick you could see it. The energy was just crackling off Jamie as they young women walked down the corridor together. And even though Ryan was much quieter, and more controlled, some of the looks she gave Jamie truly radiated desire.

Catherine was happy to have the young women take her home, but she truly hated to impose. It was clear that Jamie wanted to get her hands on Ryan as soon as possible, and she hated to delay that any longer than necessary. But Ryan was obviously a determined young woman, and Catherine realized that when Ryan said she was taking you home, you might as well get in the car.

As they approached the baggage area, Ryan offered to go fetch the car and bring it up to the curb. Catherine could see the longing in Jamie’s eyes to join her, so she generously offered, "You go with her, Jamie, and I’ll have a skycap bring my bags out."

"Are you sure?" Jamie asked hopefully, sparing a glance at Ryan to see if she approved.

"Of course, Dear. Now you two get going." Ryan grinned at her partner, clearly happy to get her alone for a minute, but Catherine realized that they would have a pretty big distraction if the baby accompanied them. Steeling her nerves, she made an offer that amazed both the young women and herself. "Why don’t you leave the baby with me, Ryan, I think you might need both hands to defend yourself," she added with a chuckle.

Jamie blinked in surprise, but her brow furrowed as she said, "I don’t think she’d like Ryan leaving her, Mom. They’re practically attached at the hip."

"Don’t be so sure, Honey," Ryan corrected her, her eyebrows waggling. "I have a secret weapon. She handed Caitlin to Catherine and extracted the biscotto from her pocket. The little green eyes lit up in delight as the little girl reached for the cookie. Ryan guided them over to a chair by dangling the cookie in front of the lunging baby while Catherine got her settled in her lap. The older woman looked quite unsure of her capabilities, but Caitlin didn’t seem to notice, having eyes only for her favorite cookie. When they looked comfortable, Ryan handed the highly desired object over. "Are you sure you don’t mind?" Ryan asked Catherine as she watched the little teeth immediately begin sawing away. "She’ll get crumbs all over you."

"I’d really enjoy it," she admitted, a faint blush stealing up her cheeks. "It’s almost like having Jamie’s babyhood back."

"Okay," Ryan whispered, as she slowly backed away, watching Caitlin’s reaction to her departure. As quietly as possible she added, "We’ll be back in a few."

She grabbed Jamie’s hand and the pair ran down the wide hallway, then crossed the street and rode the elevator up to the third floor of the garage. Not a word had been spoken on the whole jaunt, but they held hands so tightly that their fingers were beginning to grow numb. They nearly sprinted for the car, and as Ryan hit the remote, the doors unlocked and Jamie grabbed the rear door and opened it wide.

Beaming a lecherous smile, Ryan slid across the leather seating, and waited for Jamie to join her. To her surprise, the smaller woman hopped in, closed the door and maneuvered herself onto Ryan’s lap, her back resting against the far door.

As Jamie settled her weight against her lover’s body, she slowly lowered her head, closed her eyes and parted her lips, welcoming Ryan’s long awaited touch. Tenderly, and with aching slowness, the dark woman brushed her lips against Jamie’s waiting mouth, astounded at the softness and warmth of the lips she had spent every night dreaming about. Jamie moaned against her mouth, needing more–much more. She raised her hands and grasped Ryan’s head and began to kiss her deeply, sliding her tongue into her mouth as Ryan let out a soft moan. Their breath merged as their hearts began to race, the warmth growing in their chests as their bodies molded into each other. Jamie’s caresses became more insistent and more fevered, and within a minute they were panting softly as they sought deeper and firmer contact.

Ryan was quickly losing her ability to reason as Jamie wrapped her arms even tighter around her body, pressing her warm, soft breasts against her. Her senses warred with each other–her body begged for surrender, while her brain urged reason. With a grunt of effort, she gritted her teeth and pulled her head away from Jamie’s ravenous mouth. "Honey," she panted, "we have to stop!"

Jamie’s eyes were already wild with desire, but they grew wider as Ryan’s words registered. "Stop?! I can’t stop," she growled as she slipped her hand behind Ryan’s neck and pulled her to her waiting mouth once again.

Ryan used all of her strength to grasp her ravenous partner by the shoulders and push her away firmly. "Your mother! Caitlin!" was all she could choke out.

That seemed to reach Jamie’s cerebellum. She dropped her head back and tried to control her breathing as she released her vise-like grip on Ryan. Then she shook her head to clear it as she slid her arms around her neck for one last lingering kiss. She smiled at her sweetly as they broke apart and leaned over to whisper in her ear. Blinking slowly, the dark woman shook her head to clear it, murmuring, "You expect me to drive while I’m thinking about that? Cruel, Jamie. Absolutely cruel!"

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

After they had straightened their clothes as much as possible, they drove like hell to get to the baggage area. A happy Catherine, a giggling Caitlin, and a disgruntled skycap all stood on the sidewalk waiting for the Lexus to pull up. To Ryan’s experienced eye, it was obvious that baby-holding was not something that Catherine did frequently, but the baby didn’t look like she minded one bit. Once again she had her chubby little hand wrapped around the gold chain that Catherine wore, yanking for all she was worth.

Sparing a quick glance in the rear-view mirror to check her appearance, Ryan’s fears were confirmed. She and her partner looked exactly like what they had been doing, but she assumed that Catherine knew what to expect when she sent them off. Still, she struggled to keep her shirt collar closed when she noticed that her neck sported a clear set of teeth marks.

Ryan hopped out after she hit the remote for the rear lift gate. "I’m sorry that took us so long," she apologized when she caught Catherine’s eye.

"Don’t be silly," Catherine assured her. "You were only gone a few moments."

The skycap looked at her like she was crazy, but his attitude improved radically when Catherine handed him a 50-dollar bill. "Thank you for waiting with me," she said politely, adding a genuine smile.

"Anytime, ma’am," he replied, his mood brightening appreciably. "I’ve gotta say, that’s one good-looking baby you have there. She looks just like you."

Catherine was beaming as she got in the rear seat with the baby. "That’s the nicest compliment I’ve had all day," she informed Jamie as she settled in. "He thought Caitlin was mine."

"Gee, Mom, you could easily have a baby Caitlin’s age. You’re only 41."

"I suppose I could," she admitted, "but I think my calling is as a grandmother. I think I’ll be much better at that role."

Ryan opened the opposite rear door and wrestled Caitlin into her car seat, ignoring her pathetic entreaties to be allowed to stay on Catherine’s lap. Her new best friend silenced her when she slipped the heavy gold rope from her neck and handed it to the baby, allowing her to whap Ryan on the head with it several times. "Ah…sorry, Ryan," Catherine blushed as Ryan bobbed and weaved. "I should have waited until you were finished."

"No problem," she smiled, happy that Catherine was being such a good sport. "Did everything go okay while you waited?"

"Just fine, Ryan. She’s such a sweet baby, I can’t imagine her giving anyone a bit of trouble."

"Oh, she has her moments," Ryan assured Jamie’s mother, rolling her eyes dramatically. "But generally she’s incredibly happy."

Ryan finished securing her cousin, then hopped back into the driver’s seat. "How did your last day go?" she asked, casting a quick glance into the mirror to make eye contact with Catherine. "Did everyone else leave yesterday?"

"Sara took Trey and Stephanie to New York this morning. She’s flying with them to Italy to check them into the treatment center." Catherine shook her head slowly. "There but for the grace of God, go I." She shuddered visibly, enormously glad that she was not the one consigned to chaperone the pair. "Adam and Carolyn left yesterday afternoon. I got the impression that Skip, John, Claire, and JC were planning on staying for the rest of the month."

Ryan had almost no idea what she was talking about, but she knew that Jamie would fill her in later. "JC wasn’t very happy about that when I spoke to him this morning," Jamie related. "He said it’s much harder to suck up to his grandfather when Trey isn’t around. Apparently, he gives a better impression when compared to his cousin."

Ryan gave her partner a half smile, unsure of what her reaction should be. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I try to compete with my cousins for my grandparents’ favor, she thought. Of course, my grandparents are about 1,000 pounds away from being on the dole, but I can’t imagine feeling that way even if we were wealthy. I think these kids just don’t have any moral fiber! Looking at Catherine in the rear view mirror, Ryan said, "I’m sorry your vacation was so stressful for you both."

"Thank you, Dear. But to be honest, I had a wonderful time."

"You did?" Ryan asked in amazement, thinking that the events Jamie described would have ruined the trip for the entire family.

"Yes, I did. I actually feel quite guilty about it, but I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I think I learned more about my daughter in the last week than I had learned in the previous 21 years," she said softly, "and I can’t tell you how pleased I am with the young woman she has become."

"You shouldn’t feel guilty about that," Jamie insisted. "We did have a good time together, but you were also really helpful to Claire and Sara."

Catherine nodded, acknowledging Jamie’s point. "I think it made me feel guilty to see how poorly my cousins’ children have turned out, given that I didn’t perform any better as a parent than they did."

Ryan saw the sad look in her eyes and tried to lighten the mood. She shot Catherine a big grin as she heartily agreed with her assessment of Jamie, "She is extraordinary, isn’t she?"

Jamie reached over and squeezed her knee affectionately. "Enough, you two! You’re embarrassing me."

Ryan gave her a smile that was filled with love as she reminded her, "Don’t be embarrassed about being special, Jamie. You should take pride in who you are."

Jamie returned her smile, blushing a little as she said softly, "I do, Ryan." From her vantage point of the back seat, Catherine couldn’t help but watch the interplay between the young lovers. Whenever traffic slowed to a stop, Ryan would reach over and touch Jamie’s leg or grasp her hand. For her part, Jamie was touching some part of her partner on the whole ride. They didn’t speak a lot, but they gave each other loving, longing looks every time they had the opportunity. Catherine noticed that even though Ryan’s voice was calm, her hands shook a little as she held the wheel. She knew from their disheveled appearances that they had done more than steal a few kisses in the parking lot, and she wondered if they would be able to make it home safely. Ryan seemed more distracted than was probably safe, and she worried that also having to watch the baby would make it worse. Jamie was clearly not making matters easy for the brunette, squeezing her thigh and trailing her hand up her leg in a fashion that was obviously more stimulating than comforting.

By the time they reached the house, Ryan’s jaw was set in a tight grimace and her hands were gripping the wheel painfully hard. Her manners took precedence over her desires, and she hopped out quickly to unload the bags, then nearly dropped the heaviest one on her foot when she was hit in the face by the notion of what she way about to do. Am I abso-fucking-lutely insane?? Jim orders me to stay away from Jamie, and I not only flaunt his order, I bring his wife home from the airport! Jesus! I hope he doesn’t pull a gun!

Catherine came around to the back of the car and Ryan stuttered, "I…I…I’ll just take your bags up to the door. I’m sure you want to spend some time with Jim." There was a definite look of panic in her clear blue eyes, and Catherine immediately grew suspicious. She didn’t think it wise to question Ryan at this point, but when she told her, "Jim’s out of town until next weekend," the young woman immediately relaxed. Hmm…I think my husband has been up to something. Ryan is usually not nervous like this. I wonder if I can track the little rat down and find out what happened.

Ryan was just running the last of the bags up to the door, anxious to get back into the car and head home, but Caitlin had begun to fuss the last few miles and now she let out a yell that made her needs quite clear. Ryan realized that the baby was hungry since she really had not eaten much all day. The last thing Ryan wanted to do was take her out of the car and feed her, but she realized that the second rule of childrearing was ‘don’t let your sexual frustration get to the point that you neglect your child,’ so she asked Catherine, "Do you mind if I bring her in to feed her?"

"Of course not, Dear," she said quickly. Her estimation of Ryan’s good qualities rose another notch as she realized that she was making sure the baby’s needs were satisfied before her own.

Caitlin was only interested in Catherine at this point, so the older woman carried her into the house, calling out for one of the servants as she entered. Turning to stare at Jamie, she looked chagrined as she said, "Everyone’s gone. I forgot that the entire staff has the month of August off, since I’m always gone."

The look on the older woman’s face was a cross between puzzlement and panic, and Ryan briefly wondered if she even knew how to make coffee in the morning. Oh well, she can afford to eat all of her meals at restaurants, or she could always hire a substitute cook for the month.

"Are you okay with this, Mom?" Jamie asked, her concern evident. "This is a big house to be alone in."

Catherine snapped out of her reverie and assured her daughter, "Oh, of course, Honey. I just forgot that everyone was gone. I’ll be fine."

Nodding suspiciously, Jamie led the way into the kitchen to get the baby set up. Ryan had seen very little of the house on her ill-fated visit, and she looked around the kitchen with obvious interest. "Wow, this is a beautiful room, Catherine."

Catherine gazed around the kitchen, trying to see it through Ryan’s eyes. She had decorated the entire house in keeping with the style of the exterior, so the home was done in a French provincial style, a little bit more formal than the house in Pebble Beach, but not too stuffy. The kitchen was beautifully decorated, and even though it contained every modern appliance, it could have been lifted from a country estate in Provence.

Jamie took a bottle of breast milk and heated it up by running it under warm water while Ryan sorted through the baby food jars to pick one that Caitlin might be interested in. She put it in a bowl that Catherine provided, and Jamie quickly heated it up.

A rustic, farmhouse-style table stood next to the semi-circular banquet under a massive window, and Ryan sat down with the baby on her lap. Jamie brought the dish over and they took turns trying to get some of the food into her. Caitlin was becoming proficient at feeding herself with her own little spoon, but Ryan wanted to make their stop as quick as possible, so they took over. Caitlin was much more interested in taking food from Jamie today, probably because Ryan was serving as the mother substitute, so after a while Ryan just sat back and let Jamie take over.

Catherine sat across the heavy oak table and watched her daughter with amazement. "Where did you learn how to handle a baby so efficiently?" she asked, looking slightly envious.

Jamie blushed a little as she replied, "I guess from Ryan." She gazed up at her lover with deep affection as she added, "I don’t know how I’d be with a difficult baby. Caitlin’s such a dream that it’s easy to make her happy."

"Did you help raise younger siblings?" Catherine asked Ryan, remembering that there were a number of children in her family.

"No, I’m the baby in the whole clan in America."

"Ahh…I recall that you mentioned that," Catherine said.

By this time, Caitlin had eaten all of the solid food she was interested in, but she definitely wanted her bottle. Jamie put her on her lap and scooted over next to Ryan. When Ryan slid her arm around Jamie’s shoulders, Caitlin sprawled across both of them as she leaned back against Jamie’s breasts to drink her milk. Jamie leaned her head against Ryan’s chest and sighed contentedly. "I’m going to have to work hard to get some weight back on you, Sweetheart," she said as she tried to find a cushy spot. "You’re just skin and bones. I can’t believe you lost so much in one week!"

"I probably lost four or five pounds," she admitted sheepishly, guessing it was more like ten. "It was hard to adjust to the meal schedule. It seemed like we were practicing when I was hungry."

The baby started to kick her leg reflexively against Ryan’s thigh so she quickly moved her free hand down to cushion the blows. Catherine gazed at the scene with rapt fascination. Jamie looked so blissfully happy in the intimate setting that it was almost embarrassing to watch, but neither woman seemed self-conscious about her presence so she stayed right where she was.

About halfway through, the baby stopped for a break. She looked interested in moving around, so Catherine stood up and extended her hands as she requested, "Let me walk her around the house for a few minutes to burn off some energy."

Jamie handed her over and snuggled closer to Ryan. "Are you sure you don’t mind?"

"Of course not, Dear. I really enjoy holding the little angel. It’s been years since I’ve been around a baby." After she had her settled on the floor, they started to walk around the huge kitchen. Catherine delicately asked, "Will you two have any time alone this week?"

"Martin’s watching her tomorrow isn’t he, Honey?" Jamie asked.

"Ahh, no," Ryan said grimacing a little. "I got mixed up on his schedule. He’s off on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this week, which doesn’t do us a bit of good. I’m afraid we’re on our own."

Jamie looked more than a little disappointed but she rallied quickly. "That’s okay, Honey. We’ll have a little time alone when she naps. Where will she sleep, anyway?"

"Uhh…with us?" Ryan answered, knowing that was not the answer Jamie expected.

"Oh," she blinked slowly, seeing her plans for romance evaporate before her eyes. "I guess I assumed she might stay in Rory’s room."

"No, we’d never hear her if she cried. It’s not fair to get Conor involved in this, so I think we need to keep her close."

"Oh…well, I guess that’s only fair," she said, wishing they had planned this out better.

Catherine shot a worried glance at the young women, seeing the disappointment in her daughter’s eyes. The baby quickly led her from the room, making a mad dash for the dining room with Catherine right on her heels.

"I’m sorry, Baby," Ryan murmured, her breath warm against the top of Jamie’s head. "I could ask Aunt Maeve to watch her if you want to just ditch the idea."

"No, no, that’s not what I want," Jamie admitted. "I’m looking forward to this, too. I just need a little time alone with you, Love. It’s been too long," she added needlessly, looking up into Ryan’s understanding eyes.

"It certainly has," the dark-haired woman replied, dipping her head as her eyes closed, taking in the sweet warmth of Jamie’s lips.

Caitlin was busy examining the intricately carved legs of the dining table, and only by scrambling under the table after her was Catherine able to stop her from examining the table leg with her small, but surprisingly sharp teeth. She lifted her into her arms and impulsively tossed her into the air, making her squeal with delight. Well, that was unique, she thought to herself. I’m quite sure I never did that to Jamie…but Caitlin certainly seemed to enjoy it. She was careful not to jar the baby too much, remembering that it was dangerous to be too rough with an infant. Just for fun, she did it again, nearly squealing with delight right along with Caitlin. Wanting to share her happiness with her cousin, Caitlin made a beeline for the kitchen as soon as Catherine put her back onto the floor. Catherine was right behind her, laughing helplessly, but she stopped short when she caught sight of the torrid make-out session going on.

Ryan had turned in her seat and had Jamie pressed back against the banquet. She wasn’t exactly straddling her, but she was close. Jamie’s hands were laced into her hair, holding her tight as they kissed and rubbed against each other passionately, small moans escaping from both women, who were oblivious to Catherine’s presence.

More empathetic than embarrassed, Catherine cleared her throat and smiled when Ryan sat up abruptly, banging into the table when she did so. The embarrassed young woman tried to straighten her hair, while Jamie just looked flustered.

"Jamie, where are your manners?" her mother chided. "This is Ryan’s second visit, and she still hasn’t had a proper tour of the house."

The younger woman blinked slowly, thinking that her mother was either very slow-witted or was trying to ignore their clearly inappropriate behavior.

"Go on, Dear," she continued. "Take her on a little tour while I walk the baby around the grounds. I don’t think Ryan has ever seen your room, has she?" she added innocently, meeting Ryan’s understanding gaze.

"It’s okay, Catherine," Ryan assured her, exceedingly grateful for her mother-in-law’s thoughtfulness. "We’ll survive."

"Is there anyone at home today, Ryan?" the older woman persisted.

"I doubt it. My father’s at work, and my brother’s helping our cousin lay a brick driveway."

"Niall?" Jamie asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Who else?" Ryan shrugged.

"Well, I’m here, and I’d love to spend some alone time with this little charmer. I’m quite sure I can keep her entertained for the rest of the evening."

Jamie’s eyes shot open, utterly stunned by the offer. "But, Mom," she began, but her mother confidently cut her off.

"It’s been a while, Jamie, but I do have some experience with infants. Elizabeth did get a day off, you know." From the look on her face, it was clear that this was important to Catherine, so Jamie gave her partner a quick glance, pleased when Ryan nodded agreeably.

Giving Catherine a bemused smirk, Ryan stood and extended her hand to Jamie. She pulled her to her feet, then walked over to Catherine. She bent down a little and impulsively gave her a kiss on the cheek as she said, "Thanks for being so understanding, Catherine. It really has been a long week."

Catherine patted her cheek and said, "Now get going, and don’t rush back. Caitlin and I can entertain ourselves quite well."

Ryan stopped at the kitchen phone to call her house and let Conor know she wouldn’t be home for a while. No sooner had she hung up than a pretty blonde was tugging at her arm.

"Let’s go, Baby," she begged.

Ryan smiled down at her and joked, "I really do want to see the rest of the house, where do you want to start the tour?"

"I’ll give you a tour," she growled as she grabbed Ryan’s hand and began to drag her through the house. "Dining room!" she said as though calling out a stop on BART. "Living room!" she barked, not allowing Ryan time to even turn her head. "Foyer! Staircase! Landing! Hallway!" She turned sharply and marched into her room, pulling Ryan around the corner with a firm yank. "Last stop," she said as Ryan looked around.

"Nice room," the dark-haired woman got out before she felt herself being slammed against the door with all 120 pounds of her ravenous lover pressed against her. Jamie began to frantically unbutton Ryan’s blouse while kissing her deeply. This was no small task, requiring both coordination and dexterity, but she performed admirably, tossing the shirt aside as her hands roamed all over the now bare torso. Ryan just submitted to her lover’s obvious need, waiting patiently for further instructions as Jamie continued to ravage her mouth.

Her bra was quickly added to the pile of discarded clothing. Jamie sucked in a deep breath as her hands glided over the soft mounds that had been kept from her for an entire week, her eyes closing as she hefted the warm flesh in her hands. As much as she wanted to continue kissing her lover, the tempting breasts called to her, and she was compelled to answer. She regretfully left Ryan’s warm mouth and focused on the delectable bare breasts, touching and rubbing them with a wild intensity. Her head dropped to suck each aching mound into her warm mouth, lavishing love on each one in turn.

Ryan’s knees were quickly losing their ability to hold her upright, but Jamie had her pinned to the door so firmly that it hardly mattered. She fumbled for Ryan’s belt and roughly unclasped it, unzipping her pants and pushing them down hastily. Ryan sank a little lower down the door but she managed to stay upright mostly due to the weight of Jamie’s torso, which was pressing against her so fiercely that she imagined the wood grain of the door must be imprinted on her back.

My God, she’s as bad as I was when I was seventeen, Ryan laughed to herself, recalling the days when her awakening sexuality made her nearly frantic to touch her bed-partner. Though she sympathized with Jamie’s need, she didn’t agree with the plan of attack, and she felt compelled to voice her dissent.

"Can we slow down a little, Love?" she suggested, breaking Jamie’s concentration.

The smaller woman blinked up at her, not quite understanding her point. "Slow down?" she gaped. "I…I don’t think so."

"Sure we can," Ryan assured her, wrapping her arms around her in a comforting embrace. "Come on, Love, let’s just draw this out a little. Your mother doesn’t mind, and we don’t have anyplace to rush off to. Let’s make the most of our time here."

"I was making the most of it," Jamie argued, slipping a hand into Ryan’s briefs, causing her partner to gasp in a breath when determined fingers touched a warm, wet spot.

"Uh-uh-uh," Ryan chided, removing the hand. "I seem to remember a certain someone telling me that I didn’t have enough patience. Now it’s your turn, Sweetheart." Ryan stepped out of her slacks, leaving them pooled on the floor. "I’m standing here in my shorts, while you’re fully dressed. Let’s equalize that, shall we?"

"Oh, all right," Jamie agreed, playfully rolling her eyes as though she was doing Ryan a huge favor.

"This really might be the last time we can make love until Wednesday," Ryan murmured, as she moved slowly around Jamie’s body, placing delicate kisses on every bit of skin she could reach. "Let’s do it right."

"If we must," the smaller woman moaned, already feeling her control taxed to the limit.

"We must," Ryan breathed. "Trust me."

"I’m putty in your hands, Love. Do with me as you will."

Ryan slid her hands low on Jamie’s back, pulling her against her body. The smaller woman nestled against her, smiling up at her earnest face. "I want to show you just how much I missed you…how I thought of you every minute…how I missed your smell and your touch. I…I have so much to show you." Ryan’s voice cracked a little, the emotion in her heart spilling over. "God, I’ve missed you."

Tears sprang to Jamie’s eyes as she allowed herself to savor the experience of being held by her partner’s gentle hands. She blinked back the tears, thankful that her partner had the presence of mind to curtail her passionate gropings and allow them to satisfy the need that burned brighter than their sexual desire–the elemental need to love and be loved. Burrowing her face into Ryan’s bare chest she whispered, "I missed you more than I thought possible. If I had known how hard it would be…" she trailed off, leaving the wish unstated.

Ryan nodded, knowing that there would be times in the future that they would have to be apart, but hoping those times were very rare and very distant. Right now she wanted nothing more than to merge with her beloved–to share the same blood and sinew and flesh--to be so intimately connected that no force on heaven or earth could separate them.

Her hands drifted to Jamie’s blouse, and she began to unfasten the buttons, needing to feel her partner’s skin against her own. As she pushed the fabric from her lover’s shoulders, her head dropped to sample the tempting expanse of bare skin. She allowed her tongue to dart from her mouth to languidly swipe at the smooth, fresh smelling skin, inhaling the intoxicating scent. "You smell so absolutely delicious," she murmured, interspersing soft kisses with her tastes.

"Mother bought some new perfume for me," Jamie replied, not sure if her lover actually needed feedback to her observations. "Does it suit me?"

"Mmm-hmm," Ryan breathed, inhaling the sweet/spicy scent deep into her lungs. "It reminds me of one time on the AIDS Ride when we camped by a citrus grove. I could smell the orange and lemon blossoms all night long–it was so fantastic that I almost couldn’t sleep."

"That’s good to know," Jamie purred. "The last thing I want is for you to fall asleep."

Her low, sexy chuckle caused the hairs on the back of Ryan’s neck to rise, and the dark-haired woman hastened to assure her, "I’m about as far from sleepy as the human animal can get. I’m most definitely…alert." Her eyes were glimmering with desire, and as Jamie looked deep into those clear blue depths she felt her heart surge with love for the wonderful woman who held her close.

Ryan nestled her face into the crook of Jamie’s neck, her hands moving slowly up the smooth back, tracing the firm, supple muscles hidden under the soft skin. The smaller woman blinked in surprise when suddenly her bra was hanging loosely from her shoulders. How in the world does she do that? she wondered, continually amazed at Ryan’s effortless dexterity.

The large, warm hands trailed down her belly, the strong thumbs caressing the striated muscle in Jamie’s abdomen. With her breath catching at the teasing touch, Jamie allowed her head to drop back, exposing her entire torso to Ryan’s appreciative gaze. "You are so breathtakingly beautiful," Ryan murmured, dipping her head to place a slow, soft kiss on Jamie’s lips. "It’s so wonderful to hold you again." The sincere, vulnerable expression on Ryan’s face caused Jamie’s heart to clench, the emotion threatening to spill out once again.

"Take me to bed, Ryan," she whispered. "I want to feel your body touching mine."

Her desire was immediately fulfilled as Ryan bent and swooped her up into her arms. Jamie’s hands went to the sculpted back, lightly running her fingers over the curves and dips that the effort created. "My God," the smaller woman murmured as she examined the body that she craved. "I swear you’re more muscular than ever." Her hands continued to roam freely, hoping that Ryan would hold her in her arms for a while so she could continue to enjoy the experience.

"No, I don’t think so," Ryan demurred. "I’ve just got a little less flesh covering my muscles. My body fat’s at an all-time low."

"We have to fix that," Jamie worried. "You can’t play your sport if you don’t have some reserves."

"Yes, mom," Ryan teased, gently depositing her partner on the bed. "You can fatten me up as much as you wish."

"I don’t mean to nag, Sweetheart, but I’m worried about you." Ryan was leaning over her partner’s prone body, and Jamie could clearly see the outline of every rib.

The shriek of a happy baby echoed up to the room, and Ryan shot her partner a grin as she moved to the window to investigate. Catherine was chasing the child around on the pristine green lawn, both blondes on their knees. It was hard to tell who was having a better time, since both heads were tossed back in laughter, but Ryan was quite certain that she had never seen her mother-in-law look so absolutely joyful. "Somebody is going to be a very good grandmother," Ryan mused, smiling broadly as she turned back to her partner. "I am so glad that we came back here, Honey. Your mom’s having a ball."

"I’m glad too, Babe. God, I have so much to tell you! Mother was so amazing this entire week…" She shook her head--too many details and impressions to even begin to relate.

"You can tell me everything on the way to Disneyland tomorrow," Ryan smiled. "You’ll have my undivided attention for at least eight hours."

"Ha! If you think that, you don’t know Caitlin very well. We’ll be chattering to her the entire time, Love."

"Nah, she falls asleep just as quickly as you do in a moving car. My bigger task will be to keep you awake."

"Come to bed, Sweetheart." Jamie patted the soft surface next to her. "We’ll have lots of time to talk later."

"You’re my kinda girl," Ryan smiled, shucking her shorts and padding over to the bed naked. "Single minded determination…that’s a wonderful quality in a lover." When she reached her partner, Ryan spent a brief moment efficiently removing Jamie’s slacks and panties. "Oh yeah," she mumbled, enormously pleased by the vision that gazed up at her. "This is how I imagined you every time of thought of you."

Jamie blushed a little and opened her arms, welcoming her lover with a generous hug. "You think of me naked?"

"Uh-huh," Ryan murmured into her neck. "You have the most extraordinary body, and I love that I’m one of the few people privileged to see it."

"You are so good for my ego, Ryan O’Flaherty," she said fondly. "When a woman who could stop traffic tells me I’m beautiful, it really turns my head."

"Your head should constantly be turned," Ryan insisted. "I missed every gorgeous part of you, and I intend to show you just how I feel about you and your stunning body."

Jamie lay back on the bed, her limbs spread out to make every part of herself accessible to her partner. "Feel free to start anywhere you wish, Honey. Anywhere at all."

"I think I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up," Ryan decided after a moment’s thoughtful consideration. Shifting her body to the foot of the bed, she grasped a foot and stared at it pensively. Her finger traced a line from the tip of Jamie’s toe, all along the sensitive arch and back around to the heel. She turned the foot a little, surveying it from all angles, deep in thought. "You have the prettiest feet," she decided, lifting the appendage so that she could place some delicate kisses along the baby-soft arch. "Perfectly manicured toes, soft, smooth skin, such lovely form."

The second foot was lifted and complimented in the same manner, with Jamie holding in a giggle as Ryan’s warm, wet tongue trailed over her arch. At this rate we’ll be here for a week, but I’m not complaining, Jamie thought.

Moving up slowly, Ryan investigated and praised her calves, knees, thighs, buttocks, and the small of her back. Neither the inspection nor the attendant compliments were particularly sexual, but the sensation was decadently sensual. Jamie lay on her back, feeling Ryan slowly travel up her body, experiencing delicious tingles as she progressed.

When Ryan reached her belly, the game took on a more sexual tone, with Ryan lapping long stripes across the skin stretched taut over her quivering abs. "Mmmm, I’m starting to throb," Jamie murmured lazily, her hands loosely tangled in Ryan’s raven tresses.

Ryan continued taking lazy swipes with her tongue, her head nodding slowly as she did so. "It makes my mouth water to do this," she admitted, lifting her head to make eye contact with her partner. "I think about another little part of you that I’m going to explore with my tongue, and it makes me want to rush."

"Don’t let me stop you," Jamie offered, spreading her legs slightly, hoping that her partner would experience the scent of her arousal.

"I’m a pretty methodical person," Ryan decided, trying unsuccessfully to hide a grin. "You know–plan your work, then work your plan."

"I don’t think of you as methodical," Jamie observed. "I think you’re wild and creative and extemporaneous. Liable to scrap your plans at a moment’s notice if the need arises." There was a definite dare in her tone, and Ryan picked up on it immediately. "I think I’m both methodical and extemporaneous," she decided. "Which part of me appeals to you today, Love?"

After just a moment’s thought, Jamie lifted her knees until her feet were flat on the bed. Spreading her legs in an inviting manner, she waited until her partner’s eyes locked onto her most private part to voice her wish. "I want you to be methodical," she whispered. "I want you to methodically investigate every square inch of me…but I want you to start right here." Her fingers dipped between her legs, letting out a satisfied gasp of pleasure as she did so.

"Are you ready for me now?" Ryan asked, a little surprised that her partner was interested in fulfillment so early in the game.

"Uh-huh," Jamie whispered. "You almost always wait until I’m nearly mad with desire to touch me. Today I want to enjoy your touch for a very, very long time." Her voice was a seductive purr, and Ryan could feel the blood pounding in her head at the thought of savoring her partner for the better part of the afternoon. "Will you do that for me, Love?"

Unable to speak, her mouth alternately going dry, then flooding with moisture, Ryan’s head nodded slowly as she approached her goal. Jamie’s hands drifted down to open herself to her lover’s touch, but Ryan gently pushed them away. "No, let me," she insisted, her voice slightly husky. "Lie back and let me love you, Jamie."

Grasping a pillow for her head, Jamie did as her lover instructed, settling back into the fluffy goose-down just as Ryan’s mouth made its first contact. "Ooohh," she sighed, feeling the air slowly escape from her lungs. "That’s so nice."

"Mmm-hmm," Ryan murmured, the scent and taste of her lover causing her mouth to tingle with sensation. Pulling back to gaze at the warm, soft folds, Ryan was pleased to see that the usual signs of her lover’s desire were largely absent. Just slightly moist, the skin was its usual shade of deep pink, not the luscious dark rose that it would slowly become. Her scent held the beginnings of the distinctive complexity that it would eventually develop, but the aroma of her favorite soap still predominated, giving her a clean, fresh, slightly spicy flavor.

Ryan snuggled close to her partner, nestling her shoulders into the solid warmth of Jamie’s smooth thighs. A slow smile settled onto her face as she felt a pair of feet rest on her back, then start to move erratically as Jamie began to quiver under her determined ministrations.

Grinning inwardly Ryan mused, Either I’m really good at this, or my sweetie is the most responsive woman I’ve ever been with. Of course, there’s no reason why both statements can’t be true, she decided, taking her compliments where she found them.

She was pleased, and a little surprised by the rapid changes in her partner’s body. As her tongue trailed over every ridge and depression, the flesh plumped and darkened, the musky scent of arousal bursting from every pore.

Jamie’s hips began to twitch, her heels digging into Ryan’s back as she jerked spasmodically. Oh yeah, Ryan smiled, I love to make you move, Baby. I can’t see them, but I bet your little toes are curled up tight.

"Oh, Ryan," Jamie moaned, her fingers twined in the dark hair splayed across her thighs. "God! The things you do to me!"

Another burst of moisture coated Ryan’s tongue, smoothing the path she blazed across the throbbing flesh. Her own toes curled involuntarily as Jamie’s breath came in ragged gasps, fingers tightening in her hair. "That’s sooo good, Baby, oh yessssss."

Slipping a hand under a flexing thigh, Ryan eased a finger, then two, into her partner, her eyes closing in pleasure as she heard the deep sigh welcoming her inside. God, I’ve needed this. I am lost without this woman.

Jamie’s hips started to buck, nearly forcing Ryan away, but she managed to clamp a strong arm across them, holding her in place as the first shudders of her climax hit. The smaller woman cried out loudly, her hips dancing across the bed, Ryan’s grip rendered ineffective by Jamie’s primal need to move.

Slipping from the spasming flesh, Ryan placed a hand on each hip, pressing down firmly to hold her partner in place. Softening her tongue, she laved the throbbing flesh tenderly, determinedly loving Jamie once again, her own need having grown even as she satisfied her partner’s.

Jamie’s body had grown slightly tense and Ryan feared that she would ask her to stop. Somehow, the smaller woman sensed that her lover needed to continue, and she consciously calmed her racing heart and opened herself to being loved.

Now the heady aroma of Jamie’s passion mixed with the copious moisture that continued to flow, the combination intoxicating to Ryan’s overtaxed senses. She loved nothing more on earth than to take her nearly spent lover and revel in her essence–the slickness of her flesh, the moans that continually fell from her lips, the twitching and flexing of her muscular form. The merging of both of their needs satisfied through touching and being touched-, both women equally sated through the experience.

As Ryan’s tongue and lips continued on their quest, her own vulva began to contract and spasm, the sensation causing a shiver to chase up her spine. Her moans, muffled by her partner’s flesh, merged with Jamie’s, both voices rising in pitch as the delicious sensations multiplied and finally crested, with Jamie crying out loudly; while Ryan’s muted whimpers continued for long moments, her delicate nuzzlings never faltering.

Every muscle failed as Jamie lay sprawled out across the bed, her partner’s damp head resting on her quivering thigh. Summoning all of her energy, Jamie’s hand clumsily trailed down Ryan’s face, coming to rest on her throbbing pulse point. "Did you…?" she asked, fairly certain that Ryan’s groans signaled her climax.

"Yep." Looking very pleased with herself, Ryan managed to crawl up next to her lover. "Cool, huh?"

"You’re the coolest," Jamie agreed wholeheartedly. "That’s one talent I didn’t know that you possessed, Buffy."

"That’s my ‘Look Ma, no hands’ trick," she chuckled. "It’s a tough one to pull off, but sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered." Running her hands through her tangled hair, Ryan shivered with the memory of their lovemaking. "I was so turned on that I had to either come or explode. I think I made the wise chose."

"Well I guess so," Jamie teased. "The servants are on holiday. Mother and I are not used to messy clean-ups."

Turning quickly, Ryan caught her partner in a fierce embrace, launching into a wild bout of tickle torture. Their gasping, shaking bodies rubbed against each other, rolling all over the surface of the big bed as they howled with laughter. Ryan’s hand slipped into a very vulnerable spot and Jamie froze, her laughter dying down as an interested look crossed her face. Locking eyes with Ryan, one dark blonde brow twitched in question, Ryan rolling her eyes in mock exasperation. "Oh, all right," she huffed. "Name your poison."

"Your tongue…right here…right now." Falling onto her back again, Jamie spread her thighs, pointing at her well-loved flesh.

Ryan’s eyes grew comically wide, but she shrugged her broad shoulders and scooted down towards the end of the bed. "Think we’ll get out of here before Caitlin’s ready for pre-school?"

"I guarantee that mother will make sure she’s enrolled in the best available," Jamie assured her. "No doubt she’ll be speaking Italian by the time she lays eyes on you again."

"I can live with that," Ryan decided, unable to think of a better way to spend the next two years.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Concluded in Part 14

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