I Found My Heart in San Francisco
Book 6: Fidelity
By S X Meagher
Mother and daughter got an early start on their shopping expedition, at least in Catherines view of the world. At eleven a.m. they entered the first of a string of small, elegant boutiques in the ultra-chic shopping district of Newport.
Since the family dressed rather formally for dinner, Catherine had already decided that Jamie needed at least five new outfits. Reluctantly, the younger woman agreed, insisting that she be allowed to pay for at least some of the items. Catherine agreed, and they reached a compromise. Since Jamie knew that she would rarely, if ever, wear the relatively dressy outfits that her mother wanted to buy, Catherine decided she would pay for the more formal clothes and Jamie could buy anything that she would wear in her normal activities. That settled, they forged a trail through the exquisite little shops, charge cards a-blazing.
"I cant believe that Im even saying this, but Im about shopped out!" Catherine admitted when they stopped for a bite of lunch. "We marched through these stores like Sherman taking Atlanta."
"We did do a bit of damage," Jamie agreed, mentally shuddering at the amount of money they had just spent. "Im afraid Im going to have a hard time of it when I get home."
"Maybe shed go easy on you if you brought her something nice," Catherine advised, smiling conspiratorially. "She has such a perfect body for clothes, with those long legs."
"Well, I did have something in mind, but its a little intimate. Ryan says I shouldnt rub your nose in the physical side of our relationship," she said, testing the waters.
"You dont have to worry about my being shocked. I was a child of the 70s, you know. Granted, it was the late 70s, and I was a Stanford sorority girl, but it still counts!"
Gauging her mothers sincerity, Jamie asked, "So you wont faint if I buy her some sexy underwear?"
"Ha! Im made of tougher stuff than that, Dear. As a matter of fact, I know just the place."
Moments after their lunch was finished, they were enveloped in a sea of silk and satin and lace. Catherine had chosen a very small, very exclusive, and very expensive lingerie shop. Most of the items were imported and all were of the finest natural fabrics, each item beautifully displayed and artfully lit with tiny halogen spots.
When the dangerously thin salesclerk approached, Jamie told her that she was looking for a gift for someone.
"Ah," she acknowledged with a heavy French accent. "A nightgown or robe perhaps?"
"No," she replied. "I was thinking of a thong or some tiny bikinis."
"Ooo, an intimate gift. For your lover perhaps?" She rolled her rs with a sexy trill, and Jamie noticed that her dark brown eyes lit up with interest.
"Perhaps," Jamie replied with a glint in her eye, feeling like she was back home in San Francisco. Normally, such an obvious question about her sexuality would stun, or at least offend her, but this womans attitude was so challenging that all of her spunk rose to the occasion.
She was escorted to a neat display of tiny little thongs and even smaller bikinis, the saleswoman draping herself casually against the table, watching Jamie through the cloud of cigarette smoke in which she was enshrouded. Jamie looked through the selections for a few moments, occasionally asking Catherine her opinion. "Is this your lover?" the woman asked conversationally, gesturing idly with her elegant hand.
"No," Jamie said with a shocked look, as Catherine chuckled mildly. "This is my mother!"
The woman scrunched her face and added a bored shrug, ignoring the outrage on her customers face. "What size does your lover take?"
"Definitely large," Jamie decided, holding up a pair that would obviously be too small. "Maybe even extra large."
The salesgirl assumed a knowing look, smiling slyly. "Ah, your lover is a man, no?"
"No!" Jamie snapped, ready to pop the woman for her insolence. "She is definitely a woman. Shes just a large woman. She wears size eight in panties."
"All of our things are European sized," she stated, the censure in her tone making it clear that this should be obvious. "How much does she weigh?"
"About 180," she replied.
"Ah, she is a very large woman," the clerk said with a contemplative nod. "Perhaps you do not want to see so much of her, no? We have some things to cover her up, to spare your eyes."
Jamie pursed her lips together so hard that they turned white. Grabbing her wallet, she extracted the picture of Ryan posing with her temporary tattoo. Holding it up to the woman she asked petulantly, "Do you think this should be covered up?"
The woman gazed at the picture for a moment, her dark eyes taking in the entire image. Gracing Jamie with a seductive, slightly envious smile, she said, "I think something tiny and very easily removed, perhaps in black?"
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"This is by far the best I have felt all day," Jamie said appreciatively from beneath her mud mask.
After the demands of an afternoon of shopping, Catherine decided that they needed to rejuvenate their spirits, so they gratefully treated themselves to a visit at an elegant little day spa near the harbor. Long sessions in the herbal scented steam and the sauna, hour-long massages, and another round in the sauna had them sufficiently prepared for a full-body clay masque.
As Jamie relaxed on the towel-draped chaise, she had to admit that the pampering felt terrific. The masseuse was not as talented as Ryan, but her lover clearly had an advantage. Having spent hours memorizing every square inch of your client with both your hands and your mouth had to be a big help, she thought lazily. After the clay dried, her attendant led her into a shower where she was scrubbed from head to toe with a stiff loofah brush. When she was finished, her skin glowed and tingled, and she noticed that she felt calmer and more relaxed than she had since she left California.
Catherine was lying on one of the nicely padded chaise lounges in the spa area when Jamie joined her. She looked half asleep, but as soon as Jamie sat down, she spoke up. "Shouldnt it be illegal to feel this relaxed?" she mumbled.
"Ive got to thank you again for this, Mom," she said. "I havent been to a spa in a few weeks. And even though Ryan gives great massages, theres something fabulous about the whole package."
"Im glad youre enjoying yourself, Dear. Are you sure youre quite relaxed?"
"Yes. Deliciously so," she murmured.
Catherine rolled onto her side, gazing at her daughter directly as she said, "We need to have a little talk about your father, Jamie."
Her stomach flipped a bit at the mere suggestion, but Jamie steeled herself and agreed. "Sure. What do you want to talk about?" She assumed that her father had complained to her mother about their argument on Saturday at the golf club. Jamie shook her head in dismay about that little incident. She had such high hopes that spending the day with him might ease the tension that had built up between them, but the opposite had occurred. They'd fought about Ryan, as usual, and both had said things that were impossible to retract.
Catherine sat up a bit and braced her head on her open palm. She was covered in a pale pink sheet, and her skin glowed so brightly that it almost matched the color of the wrap. "I spoke to him this morning, Jamie. Hes hes very upset, and Im afraid the tension between the two of you is going to fracture your relationship. I know thats not something that you want, Dear."
"No, of course its not, Mother." Just as I suspected, he wants to cause the problem and then let her try to placate me. Well, its not going to work this time, Daddy. This is between you and me!
"I just want to be sure that you have some understanding of his position, Dear," Catherine said soothingly.
"Umm, I think I do," Jamie reminded her. "I think it goes something like Drop Ryan and everything will be fine. Oh, and if you could manage to be straight again, that would be nice, too."
Visibly grimacing, Catherine frowned and offered, "I was afraid that might be your view. But I think its inaccurate, Jamie. Do you mind if I give you my opinion?"
"Not at all," she replied with a wan smile. "Especially since you asked first. Im a little tired of having Daddy trying to force his opinion on me."
Catherine gave her a small smile in return and conceded, "Our styles are a bit different, I admit, but I honestly think that we both want whats best for you. I think its been very, very difficult for him to have you grow up so much in the last year."
"Last year?" Jamie repeated wonderingly. "What do you mean by last year?"
"The past year has been when youve really matured, Jamie," she said thoughtfully. "Doesnt it feel that way to you?"
She lay back with the chaise in the fully reclined position, and after a moment she laced her fingers behind her head and lifted it a bit to make eye contact with her mother. "I I suppose I know what you mean. It was just a year ago that Jack and I got engaged."
"Oh, no," Catherine disagreed. "Thats not what I meant, Honey. I think you started acting like an adult when you broke up with Jack."
"Well, he broke up with me, to be accurate."
"And if you had not been turning into your own person, hed still be with you," Catherine said quietly.
Now Jamie sat up completely and stared at her mother. "What do you mean?"
"Honey, even though 20 years separate them, Jack and your father could be twins! When you first started going out with him, it honestly felt like déjà vu to me. I look at him and see the same earnest young law student that courted me so diligently."
"I didnt know that," Jamie said quietly. "I mean, its obvious that they are alike in some ways, but I didnt know their similarities were so striking to you."
"Oh yes," Catherine assured her. "And both of them treated you in exactly the same way. They both love you, and they want the best for you, but neither of them wants you to make decisions on your own. Theyre both very confident, controlling men, and both of them believe that they know whats best for you. When you started to make your own decisions and break with their view of you, they both tried their best to get you back under their control, but youve really stuck up for yourself. And that is the most mature thing Ive ever seen you do, Honey. Following your own heart is what is making you an adult," she declared.
"Th Thanks, Mother," she said with a nearly vacant look on her face. She was frankly stunned that her mother had so much insight into her relationship with Jack, and was enormously pleased that she would see her decisions as the result of mature thought rather than childish insolence.
"Youre welcome, Dear. I really do think youve been terribly mature through this whole process, but I want to ask you to consider something that will require significantly more maturity than youve already shown."
"Whats that?" she asked, leery of her mothers preamble.
"I want you to try to put aside your anger and reach out to your father. Im truly afraid that if you cant take that step, it might be a very long time before you have a relationship with him." The fiercely determined look in those brown eyes told Jamie that this was something her mother had given a lot of thought to, but she didnt like the suggestion one little bit.
"Shouldnt he be the one to reach out to me, Mother?" she asked quietly. "Hes the one who keeps escalating the issue."
The older woman nodded slowly. "I wish he was mature enough to do that, Honey. But I dont think he is."
Jamie looked at her very curiously and queried, "Mature enough?"
"Yes. I dont believe hes mature enough," she replied confidently. "Hes just childish enough to let his animosity fester until it destroys him."
"You really believe he would give up the chance to have a relationship with me?" the younger woman asked, feeling a little sick at the thought.
"Let me put it this way, Honey," Catherine soothed, "he believes hes doing the right thing. He honestly doesnt see this as an attempt to make you into the image he has of you. Hes certain that Ryan has some sort of unnatural hold over you. And hes just as certain that shes as interested in your money as she is in you."
"Thats very complimentary," she snapped with a bitter edge to her voice.
"Honey," Catherine cajoled, "please try to step back and see this from his perspective."
Jamie gave her an even look, and tilted her head just a bit to urge her mother to continue.
"Lets look at the history here, Honey. The first time he spends any time at all with Ryan is the day you tell him youre in love with her. He immediately finds out that shes living with you, and that youre planning on supporting her. She tells him that youre going to send her to medical school or some other graduate program and that youll be supporting her the whole while. She doesnt have any money of her own, she doesnt even own a car! And then he finds out that youve bought her a nice Lexus. You take her to meet your trust officer, and he fans the flames by telling your father that hes certain Ryan is trying to steal from you!"
"I didnt know that," she grumbled. "I mean, I know that Tuck told him we were there, but "
"Thats when he really went off the deep end, Honey. I know that there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this, but your fathers very cynical about people and their motivations. He truly does think that money is a prime motivator for most people, and you must admit that it looks as though Ryan is calling the shots!"
"But shes not!" she cried.
"I know that, Honey," she soothed. " I can see how you have to force her to take anything, but your father doesnt see that since he doesnt see you two together like I have."
"Whose fault is that?" she snapped, once again losing control.
"Its his, of course. But he truly believes that he can force you to come to your senses if he treats you this way, Honey. He doesnt want to have this distance between youits eating him alive! I dont think Ive ever seen him so lost, Dear."
Jamie flopped down on the chaise dramatically and draped her arm over her eyes. "What can I do?" she asked, slowly. "I wont stop seeing Ryan, and thats final!"
"I would never even suggest that," Catherine soothed. "All I ask is that you try to keep a dialogue open. I dont think you should give in to his demands, Honey. He has to realize that you are a woman now, and the only way hell see that is if he can spend some time with you."
"You mean go hang out with him?"
"That would be nice, but I dont know if thats the answer. I thought you might actually agree to some family therapy."
"All of us?"
"Well, it wouldnt work to have Ryan there, at least not at first. But I think the three of us could use some outside help to get through this rough patch."
The younger woman sat up and gazed at her mother for a few moments as she considered the alternatives. "Im willing to try," she replied softly. "I love him enough to try."
"Maybe we can all start over, Jamie," the older woman said wistfully. "I mean, I know Ive done a poor job at being a proper mother, but maybe we can learn how to be friends."
She looked so fragile, yet hopeful, that Jamie felt her heart go out to her. Reaching out to grasp her hand, she slowly said, "I dont think thats a good idea, Mother."
Feeling the flinch through their linked hands, Catherine looked at her daughter with wide eyes. "I I thought that we "
"I have all of the friends that I need," Jamie said decisively, "but I only have one mother. I wouldnt change that for the world."
The luminous smile that lit up her mothers face brought a tear to Jamies eye. "Thank you, Sweetheart," Catherine whispered, pools of tears forming in her eyes. "Thank you."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After they returned from shopping, Catherine enticed Jamie to sit outside with her and enjoy the late afternoon sun. Both Louise and Patsy were already on the patio, well protected by large umbrellas that the servants moved as the sun shifted. The wives of the Dunlop men of Catherines generation joined them presently, and Jamie spent a few minutes reacquainting herself with them. Since she had spent some time with Carolyn already she focused on Claire, Johns wife, and Sara, married to Skip. All three women were around the same age, early 40s, and all bore the distinctive look of the very wealthy. Beautifully maintained hair and skin, elegant, perfectly tailored clothing, and tasteful but hugely expensive jewelry.
Louise and Patsy had been at the pool for quite a while, and the drinks were flowing incessantly. Taking one look at the obvious inebriation of the women in attendance, Jamie pulled the waiter aside before she sat down and told him to serve her just sparkling water with a twist. She had learned long ago that when she was with people who drank a lot, it was better for all concerned if she acted as though she were joining in the fun. That way, they didnt spend time trying to cajole her into joining them. It seemed that gin and tonic was todays libation of choice, and her beverage was visually identical.
After a while, she got up to locate a bathroom, finding one in the pool house. As she was returning, she stopped by the little outdoor bar where a young man was working away on the latest round of drinks. "Hi," she said as he looked up in surprise.
"Wh--wh--what can I get for you, Miss?" he stammered, obviously uncomfortable at having one of the guests in his work area.
"Whats your name?" she asked, in her normal friendly manner.
"Please call me Jamie," she requested with a smile.
"Oh, no Miss. Id lose my job if I did that."
"Okay, Daniel, I dont want to get you into trouble. But when youre on duty, could you do me a favor?"
"Whatever the drink of the hour might be, please give me what everyone else is having but omit the liquor."
"Really, Miss? Omit it completely?" His brow furrowed as he tried to process her odd request.
"Yes, please. I dont want to go home with a drinking problem," she clarified with a smile.
A look of relief settled on his face as he realized that she was genuinely confiding in him. "Pardon me for saying so, Miss, but youll be the only one without one."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
After a while, when conversation lagged, Patsy directed her attention to Jamie and said, "We were ever so sorry to learn that youd called off your engagement, Jamie. What was the young mans name again?"
"Jack," she answered, saying as little as possible about the entire relationship.
"Thats right. Jack." Though Jamies terse reply should have signaled her preference to not talk about her former fiancé, her great-aunt looked pensive for a moment, obviously unwilling to let the topic drop. "How old are you now, Dear?"
"Im 21," she said.
"21 21. Thats a very lovely age." Her speech was a trifle thick from the afternoons refreshments, but she didnt seem totally drunk. "Now that its just us girls, why dont you tell us whos replaced this boy. Youre far too good a catch to remain single for long."
Oh-oh. Time to make a decision. This ones gonna be hard to get out of without telling the truth, or lying outright.
"Yes, Jamie," Carolyn said. "Youre the only female member of the family that we can live through vicariously. Tell us what a young, single woman does for fun in San Francisco."
Oh boy I could tell you stories She looked briefly at her mother, seeing the lines of tension in her face, and tried her best to get out of the situation without revealing her relationship with Ryan. "I really dont have much to say. Ive not dated any other guys since Jack and I broke up."
"How long has it been?" Patsy asked, blinking slowly.
"He called off the engagement in February," she said, feeling no need to be entirely forthcoming about their attempts at reconciliation.
This caused all of the women present to laugh, save for Catherine, of course. "Oh, Jamie," Louise said, "Tell the truth! A man would never break up with a Dunlop woman if she didnt give him good cause! Now who was it?" Her face was alight with mischievous delight, and it was all Jamie could do not to tell her to get a life.
"Who was what?" she asked, knowing full well what her great-aunt was hinting at.
"Who did you leave him for?" Louise asked, as though that was the only logical explanation possible. "Dont try to fool us, Jamie."
"Im not," she lied. "I swear that Ive not been out with a man since the day we broke up. I need some time before Im willing to get into another relationship." Now she was lying, something she'd sworn she was not going to do. But the look of relief on her mothers face made it all worth it.
Their fun thwarted, the older women made some noises about understanding how difficult a breakup could be, then moved on to other topics, much to Jamies relief.
Dinner was to be served at eight, and as it grew near to six, Jamie excused herself to take a nap and freshen up. After an all too brief sleep, she got up and took a shower. She was just finishing her preparations when there was a quiet knock on the door.
Jamie responded with an invitation to enter, and Catherine opened the door and poked her head in. "May I come in?" she asked.
"Sure. Im just about ready. Does this look okay?"
Catherine gave her a thorough appraisal. The shell and slim-fitting pants showed off every muscle in her trim body, and the flattering colors of the gold and yellow print highlighted her hair and her tanned skin. "You look absolutely marvelous," she said honestly. "Do you have a sweater? It gets chilly in the dining room once the sun sets."
"Yes, I have a matching sweater," she replied, then took the gold silk garment off a hanger and draped it around her shoulders.
Her mother walked over to her and gave her a tender hug, rubbing her back gently as she let her go. "Jamie, I asked you to do something that I know you were uncomfortable with. I know youre proud of Ryan, and I assume that you would have been forthright about your relationship. I know that you held back this afternoon only because I asked you to. That shows a great deal of respect for me and my feelings, and I want you to know that I appreciate it very, very much."
"Im happy to go as slowly as you need to, Mom. I just need to know that youre trying."
Catherine pursed her lips together as she held back her tears. "I dont think youve ever called me Mom before," she said in a shaking voice.
Jamie slid her arms around her waist and gave her a squeeze. "You just seem a lot more like a mom lately," she admitted. "It just feels right to me. Do you mind?"
Catherine shook her head rapidly as she buried her head in Jamies neck for a much longer hug. "Im deeply, deeply honored," she said softly.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
During the pre-dinner cocktail hour, Jamie made it a point to spend a few minutes with her young cousins. She had barely had the opportunity to say a word to either Julia or Stephanie, so she sought them out as soon as they entered the room with their parents.
Neither young woman looked thrilled to be in attendance, which didnt surprise Jamie in the least. Being sent to Newport for a whole month at 14 and 16 to be cooped up with your much older relatives would seem like banishment and was not something that most kids would look forward to. Except Ryan, she mused. Shed love to spend a month in Ireland with her grandparents and all of her other relatives.
Stephanie was sitting on a leather club chair when Jamie approached. She looked up with a modicum of interest and asked, "Hey, Jamie, would you slide over to the bar and get me a drink?"
"Sure," Jamie replied, thinking it odd that Stephanie wouldnt ask one of the waiters, but willing to do it for her nevertheless. "Do you want a Coke?"
"Hardly," she scoffed, giving her older cousin an odd look. "I can get a Coke from the server. I want a gin and 7-up," she declared, "preferably Tanqueray," and looked away, obviously waiting for Jamie to deliver the drink forthwith.
"Unless youve been doing some time travel, youre about five years too early with that request," Jamie informed her with a patient smile. "Im happy to get you anything non-alcoholic, Stephanie, but I wont help get you drunk. I know its hard to be here, but thats not the answer."
Julia was standing nearby and Jamie detected the interested gaze as well as the hidden smile. "Fine, dont bother," Stephanie said, her voice bored and unemotional. "Ill get it myself." She rose and strolled across the floor, leaning against the bar and beginning to flirt with the young man mixing the drinks.
"That was funny," Julia said, making eye contact with Jamie.
"What was?" Jamie asked, unsure of how much the younger girl had heard.
"Not many people say no to her. Its funny to watch."
Ahh perhaps it wasnt such a bad thing to be an only child, Jamie mused, watching Julias dark eyes dart from Jamie to her sister. "Shell talk him into giving her whatever she wants," Julia predicted. "Guys love her."
Jamie turned to regard the older of the two young woman. She was quite pretty, although reed thin. She stood about 54", and Jamie figured that she weighed no more than 95 pounds, she herself having been that low before Ryan got hold of her and started getting some real food into her body. Stephanies chestnut brown hair had just a hint of a wave in it, settling attractively around her shoulders. She looked older than 16 at first glance, but Jamie realized that was mostly because of her world-weary attitude rather than her actual features. She looks bored, Jamie thought. And not just with this crowd. She looks like shes bored with life. That thought immediately caused Jamie to think of her beloved partner and the unlimited zest she had for life. Now that I think of it, I think thats the thing that attracted me to her the most. Shes so thankful for every day that shes given. She sighed heavily, sitting down in the chair Stephanie had vacated, and spent the rest of the cocktail hour conversing with her youngest cousin while trying to keep her mind from focusing only on Ryan.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The drawn-out affair that was dinner was winding down at last when Catherine stood and said to Jamie, "I must turn in. Today was a terribly long day. Honey, would you walk me upstairs?"
"Sure mother," she said agreeably. "Im tired also."
They said goodnight to everyone and had just crested the stairs when Catherine confessed, "I couldnt stand to sit there another minute, listening to the men talk about race cars. Will you join me for a nightcap?"
Jamie smiled over at her mother, charmed by her honesty. "Sure. What would you like?"
"I have a bar in my room. Ill get a bottle of something and meet you in the garden. Its too nice a night to be cooped up inside. Meet me by the gazebo in ten minutes."
Jamie descended the back stairs, checking her watch as she went. It was 9:30, and she and Ryan had decided to play it by ear for their evening call. She decided to page her when she was back in her room for the night, and if Ryan wasnt available, she could call Jamie from the pay phone when she could free up the time. Guessing that an hour or so would be plenty of time to have a drink with her mother, Jamie assumed she would be back in her room in time to catch Ryan just after her dinner.
As she waited in the gazebo, she thought about what the bartender, Daniel, had said earlier. Her mother had been drinking gin all afternoon, then she'd had at least two cocktails before dinner, and Jamie had counted three wine courses. Jamie had nursed each glass of wine, discreetly refusing the near-constant attempts of the waiters to refill her glass. Even so, she felt a little tipsy as she sat in the pleasant stillness waiting for her mother. I cant imagine how Id feel if Id had as much as Mother has. Does she drink like this all of the time? Maybe Cassie was right when she called her an alcoholic. Well, she reasoned, maybe well get the chance to talk about how much she drinks. But its probably best to approach her when I know shes sober. And thats not tonight.
Catherine arrived moments later, carrying a bottle of cognac and two small brandy snifters. Even as a young child, Jamie had been able to drink a small glass of the intensely flavored amber liquid, and though she didnt drink it often, she still had a fondness for it. They both settled into the padded white wicker chairs, with Catherine gently running a hand over the graceful curve of an arm. "My grandmother bought these chairs when I was just a little girl," she recollected. "Theyve held up remarkably well, havent they?"
"Theyre wonderful," Jamie agreed, a flash of memory startling her. "I remember sitting on Grandfathers lap in one of these chairs. Wow, I can see it like it was yesterday."
A heavy sigh escaped from Catherines lips as she thought of her father holding the young Jamie. "He was quite a gardener, you know. Every evening after dinner hed bring you out here and show you some of his favorite roses. Then youd sit on his lap while he smoked his evening cigar."
Jamie shook her head while emitting a soft laugh. "I wonder if thats why I like cigars so much." She didnt add that she didnt much care for them on Ryans breath the day after, since she thought that was a bit too much information for her mother.
"Your father picked up the habit from my father, you know. Ive been surrounded by cigar smoke since I was born."
"I didnt know that," Jamie mused.
Catherine laughed as she suggested, "Thats one very big plus about loving a woman, Jamie. You wont have to deal with those nasty cigars."
"Umm-hmm," she murmured noncommittally, keeping her thoughts on the matter to herself.
They sat for a few minutes in silence, sipping cognac, while they took in the evening sounds. The garden was alive with crickets, small birds and even a nightingale. Lulled by the rhythmic chirping of the multitude of crickets, Jamie was nearly asleep before she knew it. Taking a few deep breaths she concentrated on the myriad of scents that surrounded her. The oceans tang was still noticeable, even with the profusion of trees and flowers, each giving off its own distinctive scent. There were close to 1,000 rose bushes in the expansive gardens, many of them species roses, some of them from the time the house was built. Jamie was particularly fond of the ones that emitted a sensual hint of myrrh, and she let her mind wander to how delightful that scent would be on Ryan.
"Mom," she began, the unfamiliar term feeling a little odd as it rolled off her tongue. "I know Ive said this before, but I want to thank you again for your support. I cant tell you how much harder it would be for me to handle if both you and Daddy were opposed to my relationship."
"Im not opposed, Jamie," she said, and for the first time, Jamie detected a hesitancy in her comment.
"That sounded pretty equivocal," the younger woman said with a touch of concern.
Catherine sighed, taking a long sip of her drink. "I ahh I dont know if this is really the time to bring this up," she said.
"Why not? I really like that were being honest with each other, Mom. Tell me what youre thinking."
"Its a little hard to put into words, Dear. Theres just something "
"What, Mom? This is important. Please, dont worry about hurting my feelings. "I want to know how you really feel about this."
"All right," she conceded, taking in a deep breath. "Ive told you before that it concerns me that youve had so little experience with love."
"Yes," Jamie acknowledged, "you have. And Ive told you that Ryan surpasses all of my requirements."
"Yes, you have, Dear." Taking in another breath, she tried a different tactic to make her point. "Would you consider Jack to be a very passionate man, Jamie?"
"Uhh " she gaped, never having foreseen this avenue of questioning. "He was passionate about a few things, but no, in general, Id say he was much more logical and deliberate than passionate."
"Umm-hmm," Catherine mused, "thats as I expected. He seemed like a very nice young man, and in many ways I would expect him to make a good husband. But I always thought you were making a mistake to settle for such a logical choice, Jamie."
"Okay but Jacks quite out of the picture now, Mother."
"I realize that, Dear," she agreed. "But it seems to me that youve applied the same logical thought process to choosing Ryan. Now that might be exactly how you want your life to go, Jamie, but I cant help but think that one day youll regret never having been intimate with a man who is truly passionate. I just dont want you to miss out on that experience."
Jamie tried to look calm but her mind was racing. I really, really, really dont want to hear about my parents being in bed together. And of all the things Id say my father is, passionate is not one of them. I guess you just cant tell from the outside.
"I dont have any intention of missing out on passion, Mother. I have a very fulfilling relationship with Ryan. I have all of the passion that Ill ever need." And all that I can handle.
"But Honey," she explained, "it just cant be like that with a woman. I see how you are with each other, Dear. Ive been with you several times and, while she seems sweet and thoughtful and very caring, I just dont see how she could fulfill you like a man could. Its been on my mind since I saw Ryan say goodbye to you at the airport on Saturday night. I just dont see any passion between you two, and it occurs to me that perhaps you just dont know what youre missing."
This line of questioning was starting to piss Jamie off. She knew that her mother was well-intentioned, but it annoyed her to think that she would assume that women couldnt be wild together. "I have no way to prove that youre wrong, Mother, but I can assure you that Im more than satisfied." She spoke with more asperity than she had intended, and her mother immediately tried to explain further.
"Jamie, dont be upset with me," she urged, "but when I saw her kiss you, it just looked so...friendly. Not that thats a bad thing, of course, but if thats all you ever know Im afraid that youll regret it in the future."
Talk about a plan backfiring. "Mother, we try to act discreet in public, and were both sensitive to your discomfort with our physical affection. Just before we reached the waiting room I pulled her off into another concourse, and the kisses we gave each other were far more friendly than the one we gave each other in front of you."
"I can tell this is bothering you, Jamie," she said slowly. "I think Ive offended you."
Taking in a deep breath of her own, Jamie reminded herself to allow her mother to make her point without jumping down her throat. She knew that her mother was trying to make what she assumed was a helpful suggestion, and she wanted to hear her out. "Its okay, Mother," she assured her. "Just because I dont agree with your point, doesnt mean I dont want to hear it. Please go on."
"I swear Im not trying to think for you, Jamie, or make your choices for you. Im just trying to recall what it was like to be your age. Goodness! Your father and I would have made a spectacle of ourselves in that terminal if I was leaving for a week."
"Well, to be honest, its a little different for us. We have to be more discreet than you and Daddy did. Its no fun to be stared at and get dirty looks for being loving towards one another."
Catherine nodded slowly, lost in her own reverie, and letting the loss of her own passion wash over her. She knew that what she and Jim had left was just a tiny glimmer of the fire that once burned between them, and she assumed that if Jamie and Ryan started out with merely a friendly feeling it would all be extinguished quickly. "I dont think we could have controlled ourselves if every eye in the airport was on us, Jamie. Its impossible to be rational when a passionate man takes you in his arms and just overwhelms you with his power and his drive and the force of his need." She sighed deeply, then recalled herself to the point she was making. "A woman cant possibly do that for you, Jamie. I dont doubt that she makes you feel very cared for and nurtured. And Im sure that she loves you and pleases you sexually. But dont ignore the lure of the force and the intensity that a man could bring to you. Its just something that Id hate for you to miss, Jamie. Every woman should be swept off her feet at least once in her life."
Shes already swept me off my feet, and right into bed, more times than I can count. "Okay, Mom," Jamie laughed. "Ryan said that I shouldnt be too forthcoming about our relationship, and I agreed with her, but youve got some goofy notions that I just have to address."
"Goofy?" she asked, with a raised eyebrow. "I dont recall the last time someone said that I was goofy."
Patting her gently on the thigh, Jamie nodded slowly. "Your ideas are just plain goofy, and Im gonna set you straight as it were."
"Well, well, well, do continue, Dear." Catherine cocked her head slightly, her twinkling eyes encouraging Jamie to proceed.
"Heres the deal, Mom. You seem to think that having a penis is a corollary to having passion. Not true. To be honest, not having one can be a very good thing. Ryan is always, and I do mean always, ready to perform. She never has been, and she never will be, impotent. She will never ejaculate prematurely. She will never go limp just when I need her the most."
Catherine didnt say a word in response to Jamies little soliloquy. Her wide eyes indicated that she was a little shocked by her daughters directness, but Jamie honestly felt that the only way to allay her mothers concerns was to be brutally honest.
"Now Im not saying that penises cant be fun. Ill admit there was something kinda nice about being face to face while you shared the same pleasurable sensations. And Im sure that being with a man who really knows how to use his penis would also be great. But not having a penis between us is not a problem, believe me."
"I believe you, Dear," Catherine said, still a little wide-eyed. "I just assumed "
"I think I know what you assumed, Mother. And I could give you a run-down on all of the ways Ryan can fill my needs. But I think that might be more information than you really want."
Catherines rapidly nodding head assured Jamie that she had learned plenty.
"You also seem to think that a woman cant be wildly intense and powerful in bed. Also not true," she declared. "Have you ever seriously looked at Ryans body?"
"Well, umm, yes, she has a lovely body," Catherine said. "Very tall, with that trim waist, very much like a model."
Jamie laughed out loud at that assessment. Then it dawned on her why her mother thought this. "Youve never seen her in anything that showed off her body, have you?"
Catherine shook her head. "No, Ive not seen her in a dress, if thats what you mean."
"Oh no, thats not what I mean at all, Mother. Did you hear me tell the sales clerk that Ryan weighs about 180 pounds?"
"180?! No, I didnt," she gaped. "How is that possible?"
"Thats possible because about forty pounds of that 180 is pure, hard, sexy muscle," Jamie declared. "Hard earned, well-used muscle. And if you want to feel well loved, let me tell you, nothing is sexier than having her pick me up like I dont weigh a thing and hold me in those big, strong arms. When she does that, I run my hands down her back and feel those bands of hard power that lie just under that smooth skin, and I want to swoon!"
Jamie was so wrapped up in her vision that she didnt even glance up when Catherine leaned her head back and let the remainder of her brandy roll down her throat in a single gulp.
Still intent on giving her mother an accurate picture of their relationship, she continued. "You know, you also dont have to be a man to have a powerful sex drive, Mother. We make love almost every day, often twice a day, and Ive never failed to have an orgasm with her. Never! Actually, I usually have two, and quite often three in an evening. She can be so tender, and sweet, and gentle that it breaks my heart to look into those gorgeous blue eyes. But two minutes later, those eyes can be glittering with need, and my pulse starts to race."
The younger woman swallowed slowly, her vivid imagination allowing her to perfectly recreate the mental impression of her partners desire filled eyes. She was almost in a fog of memory, and she continued to speak, almost oblivious of her mothers presence. "She can get me so turned on that I feel like Ill die if I dont get release, but she knows just how much I can take. Ill never know how she does it, but she manages to take me just to the edge of my capacitynever beyond."
She shook her head slowly, remembering the fevered lovemaking they had engaged in just before she departed. "Ive asked her to do things to me that I never would have asked a man to do, and Ive done things to her that I would have never considered doing with Jack. Its almost amazing how unencumbered I feel with her, but I think its because she knows how I feel, because shes a woman, too."
Slowly swallowing a mouth-warming sip of cognac, Jamie leaned her head back against the wicker chair, her eyes fluttering closed in memory. "When she makes love to me she concentrates on me fully. Shes not concerned about herself--only me. I feel so loved and so special and so unbelievably precious that I feel sorry for the women who cant experience what its like to be loved by her. I know you mean well, Mother, but dont even think that were lacking in passion. Ive felt it, Ive given it, and Im going to continue to feel it and lavish it on Ryan for the rest of our lives!"
Catherine leaned her head back and tilted her glass once more, surprised to find it empty. She slowly poured more of the liquor into her own, and then tipped the bottle into Jamies nearly empty glass. After a few minutes of dead silence she started to giggle. She laughed harder and harder until she was bent at the waist trying to catch her breath. After a very long while she finally gasped out, "Would you consider lending her to me for my birthday?"
Jamie joined her mother as they dissolved into fits of laughter. Tears were rolling down their faces, and they didnt even try to collect themselves. They laughed harder and longer than they ever had together. Finally, sides aching, they sat back in their chairs and giggled a few more times. Catherine looked at her and asked with a straight face, "Three in one night?"
"Well, four is the current record," Jamie informed her, trying to be accurate. "Three is the norm."
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Jamie stumbled over the threshold of her door as she unsuccessfully tried to enter her room quietly. She and her mother had emptied their glasses several more times as they sat in the cool night air, talking about love and life. It had been a tremendous amount of funprobably the most fun they had ever had together, but she was paying the price now. Her head was spinning as she tried to remove her clothes, and she had to sit down several times to hold the room in one place. But once she got her clothes off, and slid in between the cool, soft sheets, she started to feel that familiar tingle that came from thinking about and talking about Ryan, especially in such intimate terms.
She found her phone and punched in Ryans pager number, putting in her cell number when prompted. In just a few minutes, her cell phone rang, and she drawled in her sexiest voice, "Hi, Love."
"Hi, yourself," Ryan replied, a little surprised by Jamies tone. "I was beginning to worry about you. Its almost midnight there."
"Is it really?" she asked. "I just went outside with mother for a little drink. How could bat thee?" she slurred as she mixed her words up.
"How many 'little drinks' did you have?" Ryan asked in an indulgent tone, realizing that her partner was well over the legal blood alcohol limit in most states.
"I guess a couple," she said. "I think."
"Well, you sound like you need some sleep," Ryan said. "Do you want to hang up now?"
"No, no, I really dont, Honey. I miss you, and I need to hear your voice. Will you help me get to sleep?"
"Sure, do you want me to sing to you? I found that my cell phone works tonight for some reason, so Im in my room."
"Uh-uh," Jamie insisted, "I want the other kind of sleep aid," she said with a seductive growl.
"Oh my!" Ryan laughed. "Well, you know me. Im willing to give it a try."
"You are such a good sport, Ryan OFlaherty. Have I told you that I love you today?"
"Not nearly enough," Ryan admitted. "Its hard not talking to you all day."
With a deep sigh, Jamie agreed wholeheartedly. "Its torture, Ryan. It really is. I was talking about you all evening with Mother, and now I just want to hop on a plane and get my little hands all over you."
"Well, I have to say that would be the nicest surprise Ive ever received," Ryan chuckled. "But Id still be stuck in a little room with Jordan. They dont do bed checks, but sharing our private time with her isnt my idea of a good time."
"What is your idea of a good time?" she asked huskily.
Ooh, her engines are really stoked, Ryan thought. I wonder what she and her mother were talking about? Oh well, Ill have to ask that when shes sober. I have a feeling her memory isnt too clear right now. "You know what I like, Baby. And youve never failed to give it to me."
"Ummmmhhh," Jamie murmured, "I love that tone of voice. What are you wearing, Baby? I need a good picture of you."
Ryan glanced down and considered her outfit. After dinner she had put on a pair of Conors old basketball shorts that came almost to her knees. They were so baggy that one or two of her teammates could have gotten in with her, but they were quite comfortable for lounging around in. One of Rorys ribbed undershirts served as her equally ill-fitting top, but she knew that outfit would not be suitable to spark Jamies imagination--so she improvised. "I have on the same underwear that I wore the first time we made love," she murmured. "It reminds me of you, and how wonderful it was to be able to touch every part of your body for the first time."
Jamies mind was so muddled by the cognac, that she didnt ask the obvious questionnamely, why Ryan would wear her sexy undies to volleyball camp.
"That is so romantic," Jamie sighed. "You know just how to make me feel special."
"Thats because you are special," she insisted. "Now help me fill in my mental picture. What do you have on?"
"Nothing but a smile," she purred lazily, languidly rolling over onto her stomach. "Guess where my hand is?"
Ryan immediately realized that she could get to like this game rather quickly. But she was not really in ideal circumstances to let herself get aroused right now. Lying on a tiny bed in a strange room with a grumpy roommate liable to walk in at any moment just didnt provide the type of ambiance she needed to relax enough to get hot. So she tried to stay involved enough to please Jamie, but distant enough to remain lucid. "If its your right hand, I bet its snuggled up some place soft and warm."
"How did you guess that?" Jamie asked in wonder.
"Because every place on your body is soft and warm," Ryan explained, letting her voice drop a little.
"Mmm, youre sweet," she said. "Are you wearing a bra?"
She was, but she saw no reason to let reality intrude. "Uh-uh. Im completely bare under my lacy black tank top."
"I want you to slide your hand inside and gently rub your nipples just like I do," she whispered.
Ryan paused a second and grimaced a bit, not feeling very forthcoming about her inability to follow Jamies requests. But she knew that her very tipsy partner needed a little loving, and since this was the only way she could accommodate her, she continued to play the game. "Okay, Love, ummmm .Im touching them one at a time. Nice and gentle, just like you do. Im using the palm of my hand to just barely brush against them. Mmmm, that feels good," she purred. "Now a little harder aaahhh .yeah. Thats nice," she murmured. "Now Im scratching them a little with my fingernails. You know how much I love when you do that, dont you, Honey?"
"Mmm-hmmm," Jamie murmured, her breath catching a little as Ryan imagined her doing the exact same thing at that very moment. "Theyre getting hard," Ryan continued, sucking in a breath that whistled between her teeth. "Oooh so hard almost painful when I touch them."
"Take your thumb and finger and squeeze them," Jamie purred, hew voice taking on a deep, sexy timber. "I wanna hear that gasp you always make when I give them a good hard squeeze."
Ryan paused again, blinking slowly as a shiver of desire ran down her back. Even though this was exactly how Jamie touched her, she had never put words to her actions, and hearing her partner speak like this was really giving her a rush. Wrapping two of her fingers into her shoulder length hair, Ryan gave a firm yank, letting out a startled gasp as the pain hit her. "Oooh, I like that," she growled. "Mmmm, it hurts when I do it really hard, but it sends tingles straight down to my clit."
"Tell me about the tingles," Jamie breathed.
Ryan didnt really have to imagine the feeling at this point. She had quite a buzz between her legs, and she merely had to describe it, something that was harder to do than she would have guessed. "Mmm feels like pins and needles radiating out from my clit. It throbs a little, too. Yeah but a really good throb, Baby. Mmm, when I press my legs together it throbs a little stronger. Oh yeah, I can feel the blood pulsing between my legs. It tingles more when I squeeze my legs together really hard. Oooo, that feels good." It was taking more concentration than she would have believed to allow her desire to build while at the same time keeping both eyes and ears alert for any sign of Jordan, who was due back at any time.
"Feels good to me too," Jamie sighed, rolling over onto her back and running her right hand up and down her body, languidly stroking every sensitive inch of skin.
Jamies breathing was getting heavy, and Ryan knew just what she was doing to herself. The tingle she was feeling increased dramatically as she imagined how hot Jamie would look, spread out in bed, completely naked and slowly touching herself. Even with her humongous shorts on, she had to shift on the bed and pull the fabric away from her sensitive, swollen skin.
"Can you hold the phone without using your hand?" Jamie asked haltingly.
"Uh-huh," Ryan said immediately, even though she could do no such thing, definitely not wanting Jamie to get sidetracked now.
"Put both hands under your shirt and tease your nipples again."
"All right," Ryan murmured. "Theyre still so hard and so sensitive. Mmm, it feels good to run my nails over them. Now Im holding my entire breast in my hand. Ohhh, it feels so good to give it a good hard squeeze. Mmm, the other one is even more sensitive." She gasped as she sucked in a breath while quickly removing a Band-Aid from a cut she had gotten while scraping against a wall in a drill that morning. "Oooh, theyre so sensitive tonight. You loved them so well on Saturday night, theyre still a little sore."
"Can you take your panties down?"
"Yeah, I really need to. Im just throbbing, Baby. I have to touch myself soon." She gently slid the receiver across her shirt to replicate the sound of fabric being lowered, then said, "My panties are off now, Babe. Lots of bare skin all primed and ready to be touched."
"Slide your fingers into yourself and tell me how it feels," she murmured.
"Mmm, it feels hot and wet and slippery," she said. "So slippery and wet. Just waiting for you to come home and taste me."
"Bring your hand up and taste yourself, Baby. Tell me how you taste."
The throbbing in her crotch was certainly not going away, and Ryan tried to figure out how to play the game for real. Maybe I could slip my hand up the leg of these baggy shorts, she mused. I might be able to yank it out if I hear Jordan coming. Biting back a groan, she concentrated on making up something good to keep her partner going. "I taste like sex," she purred. "Hot wet sex. Im hot for you, Baby. All I need is a soft touch from your sweet mouth, and Ill explode."
"God! I want to taste you," Jamie cried, her voice filled with emotion. "I want you more now than I did before, Baby."
"I know," Ryan soothed, feeling exactly the same way. It wasnt that she didnt enjoy touching herselfshe had in fact, spent years perfecting her technique, and it was quite impressive, if she did have to say so herself. But loving Jamie was so much more fulfilling, so much more exciting, that simulating sex just showed how much she was missing. Nonetheless, she knew that Jamie was massively turned on, and she thought that a release would help her sleep, so she tried to focus her partner back on the task at hand. "I want you too, Love. So much so very much." She could hear Jamie sigh heavily and she added, "I can close my eyes and feel your hand on my breast, feel your fingers trailing down over my ribs sliding across my belly to glide over my curls and slip into my wetness." She gasped aloud as the temptation grew to be too much and she snuck her hand up the huge leg of her shorts, touching her pulsing flesh just as she said the words.
"How do my hands feel on your body, Ryan?" Jamie gasped out in a halting voice.
"Ohh, so good, Baby. I can feel your fingers gather a little pool of moisture and slide up and down both sides of my clit. Oooo, so wet and slick." Ryans throat was going dry as she rasped out, "Tell me how youre touching yourself, Baby. I need to see you."
Jamies voice fell into an even deeper register, the low tones sending another set of chills up Ryans back. "Im not touching myself, Love. You are. Your hands are brushing over my nipples. Your hands are gliding down my body. Your sweet, sweet hands are touching me everywhere."
"Mrrrrfff." The involuntary whimper that escaped from Ryans mouth was just the reaction that Jamie was going for, and she let out a satisfied sigh.
"Your fingers are stroking me so gently," the smaller woman breathed, hearing another strangled cry from her partner. "Your hands know me so well, Ryan. They know just how to touch me how to please me."
"Oh, Jamie," Ryan moaned. "You feel so good, so right."
"Im coming inside, Baby." Momentary silence, then Jamie let out a satisfied gasp, slipping a finger inside herself as she imagined doing the same to Ryan.
"Ooo yeah," the dark woman growled, long fingers sliding across slippery skin as her breathing grew ragged. "I need more, Baby. I feel so open and hot. I need you to fill me up."
Just then she heard the phone drop from Jamies grasp and hit the bed. If she strained she could just barely hear her gasping breath. Then a much louder sound crackled through the air. "Oh God, oh God, oh Baby ooooo!"
The sound of her lovers orgasm sent Ryans arousal into overdrive. Just a little more pillow talk from my baby will take me where I need to go, she confidently predicted. "Jamie? Baby?" Several moments passed without a response, and Ryan heard the heavy breathing settle down slowly into the unmistakable sounds of Jamies sound slumber. I guess this is as high as my sweeties gonna take me, Ryan smirked as she blew a kiss into the phone and slipped both hands under her waistband, determined to join her partner in a slightly delayed climax.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Before her left hand was halfway into her roomy shorts, Ryan heard the distinctive sound of a key slipping into the door lock. Oh goody! Jordans home and just in time, too! Gosh, Im so happy shes here! The tension that had developed between them had not abated in the least during the long day, with Jordan managing to remain at least 20 feet away from Ryan through both practices. As soon as dinner was over she'd convinced a few of the underclassmen to accompany her on an ice cream run, the invitation not extending to her roommate.
Since Ryan knew that Jordan was just embarrassed about her nightmare, the distance didnt bother her. She actually wasnt used to much sullen behavior, however, since that type of display would not be tolerated in her own home. The OFlaherty way was to harass whichever family member was in a bad mood until they lightened up or took a swing at their tormentorsboth methods usually proving to be effective at chasing away a bad mood.
As the door opened, Ryan turned onto her side, showing only her back to her roommate. Jordan moved about the room in the dark, gathered her supplies and took off again, ostensibly for the showers. Hmmm, Ryan mused, anxious to scratch her itch. I doubt shes gonna take another shower. Wish Id had the lights on I could see if she just took her toothbrush. Oh well, as soon as I hear her fall asleep, Im gonna take care of business. Im so turned on I ache!
Just a few minutes later, Jordan crept back into the room, and Ryan waited patiently as she heard her get into bed. Come on, Jordan, conk out, will ya? Little Ryans dying down here!
A few minutes passed, but Ryan didnt hear the normal sounds of sleep. Actually, she didnt hear a thing, not even the rustling of sheets. The silence was finally broken when a very soft voice asked, "You asleep?"
With a sigh that was primarily born of frustration, Ryan rolled onto her back and said, "Not really. Whats up?"
Jordan was sitting on the edge of her bed, her hands folded together, her blue eyes looking tentatively at Ryan. Ryan started to repeat her question, but Jordan looked down slightly and tilted her head just an inch. The unasked question hung between them for a long moment, with Ryans horny self debating with her generous, sympathetic self. The generous self won the battle, and she grasped the sheet and pulled it back in invitation, smiling warmly when Jordans childlike grin appeared. The lanky blonde slid into the small bed, staying as close to the edge as possible to give her larger friend as much room as she could.
Jordans right hand rested lightly on her own hip for a minute, then she gave in to her need and grasped Ryans hand, drawing it around her body and tucking it against her chest. A massive sigh escaped her lips, and within seconds she was peacefully asleep.
The same could not be said for Ryan. Being close to Jordan actually made her miss Jamie all the more, and her mind focused on her partner and how slowly the days were passing. This is so weird, she mused. By any measure, Jordan is one gorgeous hunk of woman, but holding her has absolutely quenched my desire. Thats gotta be a first for me. Get horny, go to bed with a beautiful woman, wrap your arms around her, and lose all interest in sex. If there was ever a doubt in my mind that I was in love, it has been resolved tonight!
* * * * * * * * * * *
Continued in Part 6