I Found My Heart in San Francisco
Book 9: Intentions
By S X Meagher
When Jamie woke at eight o'clock, there was a note lying on Ryan's pillow. Your hugs felt great, but I'm wide awake. I'm going to drag Jordan out of bed and take her with me for a run. Stay in bed as long as you like-If you're still sleeping when I get back I might join you for a snuggle. I love you-R
Oh-oh, Ryan thought when she left their room and saw that Jordan's light was still on. Poking her head in, she saw that the room had not been slept in, and she began to wonder if her friend had left with Mia.
Just to make sure they hadn't been locked out or something, Ryan decided to swing by the pool. To her surprise, she was greeted by the sight of the twosome cuddling on a chaise, kissing so intently that they didn't even hear her approach.
She sat down on a facing chaise and regarded the pair, waiting until one of Jordan's blue eyes rotated in her direction. The blonde slowly disentangled herself from Mia's mouth and waved at Ryan. "It's nice out here," she said dully, looking like she'd been hit between the eyes with something heavy.
The pair had covered themselves with several of the large bath sheets that were stored in the pool house, and Ryan wondered aloud why they hadn't gone inside the spacious building to warm up.
Mia shrugged amiably, repeating, "It's nice out here."
"So I hear," Ryan smiled. "Well, I'll leave you to it. Marta will be in the kitchen soon, so if you don't want to put on a show, you might want to adjourn to Jordan's room."
"There's two rooms on the second floor of the pool house if we wanted to do that," Mia said absently. "We like to be outside."
"We were just saying good-bye," Jordan revealed. "I know Mia wants to spend the weekend with her family. Good thing you didn't tell them you were coming," she said as she gazed fondly at the curly-haired woman. "They'd be sending out the hounds by now."
The brunette smiled up at Jordan. "They're not very excitable," she said easily. "But I should let you go running if you need to. Don't want to interfere with your training."
"How does keeping her up all night fit in with that?" Ryan asked, a little miffed at Jordan for pulling another all-nighter on the eve of a game.
"That's not Mia's fault," Jordan said, immediately coming to her defense. "She can't help it if she's an absolutely fascinating conversationalist." She was grinning shyly at the curly-haired woman, and Ryan had to force herself not to roll her eyes.
"Yeah, you looked like you were heavily involved in …conversation."
Jordan tossed off the towels, hopping to her feet in one graceful move. "Can I go with, Sport? I'd like to get my blood moving, have a little breakfast, then hit the sack for the rest of the day."
"Sounds like a perfect training regimen for game day," Ryan smirked. "Sure…I'll wait for you. Do you have any shorts in your gym bag?"
"Yeah. I've got a spare pair. Be right back," she said, addressing only Mia, who gave her a beaming grin in return.
As Jordan jogged off, Mia looked up at Ryan and gave her a warm hug. "I'm so glad that you decided to play volleyball."
"Jordan's pretty special, isn't she?" Ryan asked reflectively.
"Yeah," Mia said patting Ryan on her nylon-clad butt. "So are you, for that matter. Is everybody on your team extra-special?"
"Come to the game tonight and find out," Ryan said. "You could actually come to this one on time and see some of the action." Ryan, of course, had noticed exactly how late in the game Mia had arrived, even though Jordan had not.
"Eh…not unless Jordan invites me. I don't want to chase her…I don't think she'd like that."
"I'm not really sure," Ryan mused. "You're the first person I've seen her with, so I don't know her likes and dislikes."
"Hmm…that doesn't make any sense, but at least I don't have to fight anybody off," Mia smiled.
Jordan ran back into the group, hopping in place to warm up her long legs. "Ready, Boomer?"
"I've been ready for 15 minutes, Pal. Let's go before the Hillsborough police sic the dogs on us."
Jordan smiled down at Mia and gave her an incredibly gentle kiss, barely allowing their lips to brush against each other. "See ya. I had a great time last night."
"Bye," Mia said softly, lacing her fingers with Jordan's and giving her hand a squeeze.
Well, I guess she's not coming to the game tonight, Ryan thought, giving Mia a puzzled shrug as Jordan turned and started to jog down the springy grass that led to the street.
They had already broken a sweat by the time they started chatting with each other. "Nice neighborhood," Jordan smirked as they passed some of the most expensive real estate in the entire Bay Area.
"Yeah. I don't think there's a very high percentage of food-stamp recipients around here," Ryan agreed.
"Is Mia this well off?" Jordan asked.
"I don't really know. This social stratum is so far above mine that it's impossible for me to judge. I've never been to her house, either. I know that her dad and Jamie's dad met at Stanford, and that they went to law school together, but other than that…"
"She's pretty cool, isn't she?" Jordan asked, getting a dreamy look on her face.
"Yeah. I like Mia a lot. She's been a great friend for Jamie, too. When Jamie was going through some tough times last year, Mia was the only one who was always supportive of her. For that alone, she's way up there on my list."
"She's so soft and cuddly," Jordan smiled, looking just a little embarrassed. "It's kinda weird to snuggle with someone so much smaller, you know?"
Ryan shot her a look and asked, "Have you generally been with women as big as you are? Where in the heck do you find them? Amazons 'R Us?"
Jordan just shrugged, choosing not to answer the question.
Something about her attitude changed, though, and Ryan decided to follow up. "What kind of women do you normally go for, Jordan?"
"I don't know," she said, staring straight ahead.
The lanky blonde gave Ryan an embarrassed look and said, "I don't go for any kinda woman. Women go for me."
"Huh? What do you mean by that?"
"I've uh…never approached a woman. I've…been approached a couple of times, but that's been a while."
Ryan saw the chagrined look on her friend's face and said, "Does it bother you to talk about this?"
"Yeah…but I should. I'm a little confused."
"What's up, Pal? I thought you were gayish."
"Yeah…emphasis on the 'ish'," Jordan admitted.
"Ohh…I got the impression that you'd been with more women than men," Ryan said tentatively.
"Nope. Same number, as a matter of fact. Two each."
Ryan nearly tripped when she heard this news. "You've only been with four people?" It wasn't that the number was so shocking. It was that Jordan had given Ryan such strong vibes-and had indicated that she was a player just like Ryan had been.
"Yeah." She was blushing fiercely now, and she mumbled, "Kinda sad, huh?"
"No. There's nothing sad about being picky, Jordan. I just had the impression that you um…got around."
"That's what gets around," Jordan admitted, an embarrassed grimace on her face. "The impression."
Ryan shook her head, trying to reconcile this information with the full-court press Jordan had put on her. "So, what about the women you have been with?"
"What about 'em?"
"Were you in relationships, or was it more casual than that?"
Jordan laughed, a bitter note in the sound. "Oh, they were a lot more casual than that." They ran on in silence for so long that Ryan was sure Jordan had decided not to answer, but she finally started to speak again. "The first one was at a volleyball camp when I was a junior in high school. She talked me into going for a walk one night, and before I knew it, we were rolling around on a tennis court. After a good deal of convincing I went up to her room with her, but I freaked and wouldn't even talk to her after that. Creeped me out," she said with a shiver.
"I take it that you didn't really do anything," Ryan said carefully.
"No," Jordan admitted. "I ran out before we could. We kissed a lot, though." She gave Ryan a look. "It was enough."
"What was your other experience?" Ryan asked, almost afraid to know.
"It was the next Christmas-a holiday all-star tournament for some of the club teams from the L.A. area. One of the college players who was working at the camp invited me to her room. We had a nice chat about the school she went to-I thought she was trying to recruit me," she said, a mortified look on her face. "She was."
"God, Jordan, did she force you…"
"No, no, nothing like that. We kissed for a long time, but when she put her hand under my shirt I pulled away from her and ran. I think I ran around the UCLA campus half the night. My legs were so sore the next day I could barely jump an inch."
"So you've never really…been with a woman?" Ryan said, still unable to process the information.
"I've never been naked with one-no." She gave Ryan a sad look and added, "I sure have wanted to, though." She shook her head a little, trying to remove the sweat that dripped into her eyes. "I…dream about women."
Ryan was completely charmed by the guileless way that her friend made this statement. It sounded romantic-almost quaint, and once again she realized that it did not fit with her image of who Jordan was. "Not to state the obvious, Jordan, but I don't think you'd have too much trouble getting lucky if that's what you want. What's up?"
She shrugged, loosening her shoulders as she did so. "I don't know…it's seemed too dangerous, you know?"
"Nope. Not a clue." Ryan truly didn't have any idea what her friend was talking about, and it showed on her face.
"Volleyball comes first, Ryan. I don't have time for all of the turmoil that this would cause."
"Hey, I love volleyball too," Ryan reminded her. "And I think I'm pretty focused. Being loved makes life easier, Jordan. Really."
"Ehh…maybe it does. But you can't tell me that coming out is easy. I don't want to be in the closet if I fall for somebody, Ryan. That's not me. I don't know if it's cool to be gay if you're on the Olympic team, and I'm not gonna hurt my chances by having anybody know about me. I've got the rest of my life ahead of me-there's no rush."
"Okay. That makes sense-intellectually, that is. But why were you flirting your ass off with me? You were giving off some unequivocal vibes, pal."
She blushed furiously, and stared straight ahead, unable to make eye contact with her friend. "I don't know." She was obviously mortified to be called on her conduct, and Ryan tried to give her permission to back off if it bothered her too much.
"That's okay," the dark woman said. "Forget about it."
"No," Jordan said firmly. "This is important. It's been getting too strong to resist, Ryan," she said, a pained look on her face. "It's started to interfere with my concentration." She looked at her friend and said, "I can't afford to have my concentration ruined, Ryan. This year is critical!"
"Okay," the brunette said. "You started feeling like what…like you wanted to go farther than you had before?"
"Yeah. I think I convinced myself that if I could just let a little steam off I could get back to business. I…I heard you were a lot of fun, and I thought you'd be a good place to start because you understand about focus and stuff. It was pretty obvious that you weren't into commitment-at least, that's what I'd heard."
"Ohh," Ryan said, the light going on. "You thought I'd be safe-just a little playing around-no big deal."
"Yeah," she said, still blushing. "I don't want anything permanent, but sometimes it just hurts 'cause I want it so bad." She finally turned and gazed at Ryan with pained eyes. "Do you know what I mean?"
"I think so," Ryan said. "I know what it's like to have that desire, Jordan. It's pretty hard to say no to it forever."
"I know!" she cried, wiping her face with the back of her hand. "It was so hard to lie on that chaise with Mia and not…touch her." She blinked at Ryan for a second and added, "I think she wanted me to."
Oh, Lord! Knowing Mia, she wanted to do a lot more than just touch! "I've gotta tell you, Jordan, you sure don't act like a woman who hasn't done this before. Does Mia know?"
"Huh-uh," she said, shaking her head somberly. "It's easy for me to act like I'm teasing or playing around, but I'm scared shitless to really do anything, Ryan."
"What do you want to happen with Mia? Do you want to have sex with her?"
"God yes! I've been dreaming about her every night since we met. I go to sleep thinking about how her lips felt, and I wake up wishing that I was holding her."
"How did you get up the nerve to kiss her for the first time?" Ryan asked. "Wasn't that a really big step for you?"
"Well, it woulda been if I'd done anything," she said with a grimace. "We had the best time that night, just talking. There was a part of me that felt so attracted to her-I really wished that I had the guts to kiss her. When she wanted to get something to drink, I sat down on a chair in your kitchen. She brought over a big glass of juice and asked if I wanted some. I said, 'Sure,' and she brought the glass up to my lips. She was leaning over to make sure that she didn't spill." Jordan gave Ryan a puzzled look and said, "I still don't know why I didn't take the damned glass out of her hand."
"I have an idea, but go on," Ryan smiled.
"So she's leaning over me, and when she takes the glass away, there was a little juice on the side of my mouth. She gave me this look," Jordan shivered all over as she recalled the scene, "then she leaned over a little more and said, 'You dripped.' I looked up at her with what had to be the stupidest look in the history of the world, and she leaned over and kissed it off of me." Jordan blinked, still obviously puzzled by the encounter. "Next thing I know, she's sitting on my lap, and we're kissing like I've never kissed anyone before. My God! If you hadn't come down right then, I don't know what would have happened!"
"Again, I've got an idea…"
"I'm scared, Ryan," Jordan said softly. "I really don't know what to do, and I don't want this to be a big deal." She looked up at Ryan with a look of total confusion. "Are you absolutely sure that she's not a lesbian?"
"No, I'm not sure of that for anyone-except myself, of course," she joked. "I know Mia's had a long-time boyfriend, and I know she really likes guys. I'd never seen her with a girl before, Jordan, so this is all new for me. I think you need to ask her."
"Oh, that'll go over well. Um…Mia, I'd really like to have sex with you 'cause I think I'm gay, but I don't know what in the hell I'm doing, and I think you do. Being near you makes me ache, but I wanna make sure that you're not gay, 'cause I don't want you to fall in love with me or anything, 'cause I like volleyball more than you." She gave Ryan a droll look and said, "Smooth enough line?"
"I could make a few suggestions to spruce it up a little if you want," Ryan offered, smiling warmly at her flustered friend.
Ryan gave her a little snort of a laugh and said, "You remind me of my brother Brendan sometimes. He speaks in shorthand, too." Jordan gave her a smirk and she continued, "You could tell Mia the whole truth. Tell her that you're trying to figure your sexuality out, but that you aren't in the market for a relationship. She might be willing to help you get to the answers, Jordan."
"Maybe," she said, nodding. "I just don't want to blow it with her, Ryan. Whether or not I sleep with her, I really like her. She makes me feel like a different person. Do you know what I mean?"
Ryan shot her a smile and said, "Jamie makes me feel like I'm the best person that I can be. She makes me feel powerful…like I could do anything as long as she's with me."
Jordan laughed and said, "It's just the opposite for me. Mia makes me feel soft and gentle. I've never had so much desire for someone-and then wanted to touch them so softly. I always thought I'd feel passionate and kinda frantic, but it's not like that at all! I just want to hold her and stroke her body with my hands and my..." She shook her head roughly, censoring herself, obviously feeling that she had been too revealing. "I feel like I'm going nuts!"
"Did you ever feel this way about guys, Jordan? Were you ever in love?"
"No. Not even a little," she said dismissively, shaking her head the whole time.
"Did you have boyfriends? Or did you just sleep with guys you knew casually?"
"Um…" she gulped noticeably. "I'm pretty sure I didn't say I slept with either of the guys I was close to. We did a lot," she said, wide-eyed, "but we didn't actually do everything. I went out with a guy from the soccer team last year, and we almost did but…" she grimaced as she concluded, "I chickened out."
Oh boy! Mia's got her work cut out for her here!
Ryan was in the shower when it hit her. Jordan wasn't flirting with me because she thought I'd play with her. She didn't even start flirting until she knew that I was with Jamie-that we were living together. She thought I was safe to flirt with because she knew I wouldn't reciprocate. Come to think of it, those guys she was flirting with at the bar that night were with other women. She shook her head as the picture became clearer. She's obviously scared out of her wits to be with anyone who's available…and Mia is certainly available at the moment. This could get interesting!
When Catherine came down at nine o'clock, all three young women were relaxing at the kitchen table, sharing stories with Marta about life in Berkeley. The cook hopped up immediately when Catherine appeared, but Catherine placed a hand on her shoulder and urged her back into her seat. "I'll just have coffee, Marta. Relax for a change."
Marta rolled her eyes at Jamie and complained, "This is the first work I've done in two weeks! I don't get to cook anything but toast!"
"Well, you'll be happy tonight," Catherine promised. "Ryan's family is coming for dinner."
"Wonderful!" she enthused. "How many people, Ryan?"
"I'm not sure yet, but I'll call my father and ask for a head count. Probably 15 or so."
"Ohh, that is a good number. I'll start right now!" she said happily as she hopped up and grabbed her keys. "I'm off to the market," she proclaimed as she headed for the door.
"You've made her happier than you'll ever know," Catherine said as she sat down and picked at remnants of the now cold breakfast.
Ryan stood and scooped the platters away from Catherine as she declared, "I'm making you a decent breakfast, and then we're going to have your first weight training class!"
"We are?" she gulped, looking up at the young woman with wide eyes.
"Yep. No arguments," she said menacingly as she leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.
"Does she always get her way?" Catherine asked Jamie with a smirk.
"Ha!" Ryan scoffed. "I don't think I've won an argument since August 24, 1998!"
After force-feeding Catherine some fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, and a bagel, they all went up to put on workout clothes. Jamie lent Jordan some nylon shorts and a tank top and she had to laugh at her after she put them on. "We wear the same size, but we sure don't wear them the same way," she laughed as she surveyed Jordan's long, lean frame.
Ryan slipped on a black sleeveless unitard with short legs and a low neck that immediately had Jamie salivating. "I've never seen you wear this," she mused as she pulled at the skintight fabric.
"I think I've worn it when I've been with you, but I always wear a T-shirt over it so it just looks like shorts."
"Don't wear the T-shirt today," she begged. "I want to see those muscles rippling."
"Um, Jamie?" Ryan reminded her. "Your mom will be in the gym too. Can you avoid trying to lure me into what we did the last time we worked out in private?"
"I promise I will not ravish you while Mother is there," she said sincerely. "But when I get you alone, all bets are off!"
"I do have to play a match tonight, Honey. You don't want to drain all of the lifeblood from my poor body."
"When do you have to be there?"
"We don't have to practice since we played last night. So I don't have to be there until around 3:30."
"Excellent. I'll have time to drain you and fill you back up again," she said with a gleam in her eye.
"I think I need a nap already," Ryan moaned.
After they were all dressed, Ryan asked, "Where is your weight room? I don't think I've seen it."
"Well, it's not as extensive as the one in Pebble Beach. It's located on the second floor of the pool house. That way you can just hop in the sauna or the spa after you work out."
Jordan interrupted to say, "I don't mean to offend you, but why on earth do you guys want to live in Noe Valley? I'd never move away from home if I had a setup this sweet!"
"Ryan loves Noe Valley, I love Ryan, and that's the bottom line," Jamie said firmly, giving her lover a pat on the cheek.
When they reached the pool house, Jordan started to pepper Catherine with questions about the design. As they drifted away to discuss some detail, Ryan leaned back against the wall and asked, "Do you want to live in Noe only because I do?"
"Umm, I guess so. After all, I had never been there before I met you, and I doubt that I would have ever gone there on my own. I was planning on living down here after I married Jack--so I guess the answer is yes, I want to live in Noe mainly because it's important to you."
Ryan blew out a breath and sighed heavily. "I guess I thought you liked the neighborhood," she said softly, a little pout forming on her lips.
"I do, Sweetheart! I've grown to love it! It really feels like home to me now. But that's not what you asked me. I grew up here, Babe, and I would have been happy to live here for the rest of my life. It's comfortable and familiar, and I must admit that I like the weather better. But this is just a place to me, Ryan. Noe Valley is much more than that to you, and it is tremendously important to me to make sure you have the things that make you feel happy and secure. I can move to Noe Valley and be perfectly content, but you couldn't do the same down here. It's an obvious choice, Baby."
"But I should be able to be as flexible as you are," she murmured, still pouting.
"You are terribly flexible, Sweetness, but this isn't an area that you need to compromise on. I want to live in Noe."
"But the weather really is nicer down here, and we could never have any real outside space. We'll never be able to have a pool or …"
"My parents have all of this stuff, Honey. It's a half-hour trip. No big deal. And since we're going to have to bring the kids down to see Granny and Gramps all the time, I think it will be nice to have a very different environment for them. Lord knows what will happen with my parents, but one of them will probably wind up living here. Hopefully we'll have a relationship with both of them by then."
Ryan gave her a quick look to confirm that such talk might have made Jamie a little sad. Seeing the dimming of the normal sparkle in her eyes, she deftly changed the subject. "I don't think Granny will be the name of choice for your mother. You'll have to come up with something a lot more elegant."
"Good point. We'll have to work on it. Now are we settled on our living situation?"
"I suppose," she said as she nodded briefly. "You know, most people would agree with Jordan. It does look nuts to leave this life to live in my crummy little neighborhood."
Eyes blazing, Jamie said, "Don't you dare talk about our home like that! It amazes me that you could even say that, Ryan! There is nothing crummy about Noe Valley!"
Ryan looked down at her shoes as she admitted with an embarrassed shrug, "I get kind of insecure when I'm down here. I guess I still think about your father telling me that you could never be happy with our lifestyle. And this all is so far from my experience that it boggles my mind a little bit."
"This is just stuff, Honey. Stuff can never replace family. Never!"
"You're right. I'm sorry that I'm a little insecure." She was gazing intently at her shoes, embarrassed to be caught in such a vulnerable moment.
"I get insecure too. Quite often, if my memory serves me well. It's our job to help each other through it."
When Jordan and Catherine had finished their tour of the first floor, they all trooped upstairs to hit the iron. Jamie's assessment of the space had been absolutely right on. It was not anywhere near as complete a gym as the gorgeous layout in Pebble Beach, but it had been very well designed to include equipment for working every muscle. In lieu of separate machines for most of the muscle groups, there was a large multi-function set up that contained weights and pulleys that could be configured to perform an almost endless variety of exercises. There was also a treadmill, an elliptical cross trainer for cardiovascular training, and an exercise bike. Against the wall rested a graduated set of hand weights and a set of bar bells.
"Excellent setup, Catherine. You have everything that we could possibly need," Ryan proclaimed. Jordan wanted to work on her back and her abs, mostly to stay loose, so she walked over to the free weights to begin her program. Jamie was going to do her regular workout, but she wanted to watch Ryan start with her mother, so she pulled up a weight bench and sat down to observe. "Okay," Ryan began, "let's start with what you want to get out of a weight training program."
"Umm, I'm not sure," Catherine admitted. "I suppose I want to fight gravity and the clock," she said with a laugh.
Ryan nodded thoughtfully. "Weight training is one of the best ways to attack both of those. But let's talk about your overall fitness first. What do you currently do for exercise?"
"Not much," she conceded. "I walk on the treadmill a couple of times a week, but I'm not very consistent with it. It just bores me to death, so I'm not very motivated."
"I don't blame you," Ryan agreed. "I couldn't use a treadmill either. It's too much like a hamster on a wheel for me."
"Don't forget your tennis, Mom," Jamie piped up.
"Oh, I don't," Catherine allowed, "but to be honest, it's not a tremendous workout."
"Only 'cause you're so much better than your competition," Jamie scoffed. Looking up at Ryan she informed her, "Mom is one of those really accurate baseline players. She has great court savvy, and she gets to every ball that's hit anywhere near her. She's a lot better than her friends, and she barely breaks a sweat-even though her opponent is gasping for air!"
"Oh, it's not that bad, Honey," Catherine scoffed, even though she knew it was.
"Hmm…" Ryan said. "You really should get some aerobic exercise at least three days a week. You could play with a better caliber player at your club…"
"No, I'm not interested in that," Catherine admitted. "I like to play just to be social."
"How about walking in the neighborhood? It's so lovely down here that the walk could be enjoyable. And your pool is long enough to get a good workout if you could tolerate doing laps."
"No, I'm not a swimmer."
"How about a bike?" Jamie suggested. "It's much more interesting for me to ride than walk. I feel like I'm really getting somewhere on my bike."
"Hmm, I haven't ridden a bike since I was at Stanford," Catherine said. "I enjoyed it then, but don't you think I'm a little old for that?"
"Not at all!" Ryan assured her. "Gosh, there were a couple of people in their 70s on the AIDS Ride with us."
"I might like that," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "It could remind me of my youth."
"That's why I do most of the things I do," Ryan grinned.
"Let's go get you a bike while the urge is still fresh," Jamie suggested.
"Really? So soon?" Catherine gasped.
"No time like the present," Ryan reminded her.
"Okay," Catherine said, "as soon as we're through here, we'll go shopping."
"Works for me," Ryan said. "I'd like to start with a few exercises to get you started, but I don't want to overwhelm you. Over time we'll add to these to keep you interested, but first we need to build a base. So I'll show you exercises for your shoulders, chest, arms, back, legs, and abs."
"Okay, let's go," Catherine agreed.
Ryan led her through the most basic of exercises for each of her major muscle groups. Catherine was substantially weaker than Ryan would have guessed, but given that she did no work around the house and didn't stress herself at tennis, that was not too surprising. She could only manage ten or fifteen pounds on most of the exercises, but Ryan assured her that she would progress quickly if she kept at it. Ryan urged her to do each exercise ten times but to do only one set at the beginning--as she got stronger she would increase the sets until she could do three, and then they would start to increase the weight on the machine.
Catherine seemed to like the process, and she agreed that she would work out three days a week and that she would give Ryan weekly calls to report on her progress.
When they were done, Catherine was quite tired and her muscles were already beginning to stiffen up. Ryan wanted to suggest a massage, but since she wasn't sure how Jamie or Catherine would feel about it, she held her tongue.
"Oh, my, I'm going to feel this in the morning," Catherine said as she sat on a bench and watched Jamie work.
Without missing a beat, Jamie suggested, "Let Ryan give you a massage, Mom. You'll feel tons better."
Catherine looked at her a little hesitantly but Ryan assured her, "I'm happy to work on you if you feel comfortable."
"Yes, I think I do. I've…um…never had a massage from someone I know, but I think I'd be fine."
"She's the best, Catherine," Jordan piped up.
"And you know my feelings on the matter," Jamie added.
"Okay, Ryan, work your magic," Catherine gamely replied.
As befitted the home that had everything, there was a massage room right off the main weight room. A professional table was set up, and Ryan noted that the room looked as if it were used frequently. "I have a massage here every week," Catherine offered, "but my masseuse doesn't come until Wednesday."
"That's good to know. Over time we can make Wednesday be your hard training day. I'll just step out while you get undressed," she said. "Call me when you're ready." She walked out of the room and dashed over to Jamie for a good luck kiss. "I'm more nervous than I was when I took my final exam in massage school," she admitted. "It's gonna be weird to see your mom naked."
"Just think of it as a preview of coming attractions," Jamie said as she gave her a playful pinch on the butt.
Jordan piped up, "I'd take that attraction right now-much less in twenty years. Your mom is a hottie, Jamie."
You'd better stick to a little safer game, Ryan thought to herself. Jim Evans would shoot you dead if you touched his wife. Speaking of which-I'm going to touch his wife! Yikes!
Ryan ran back just as Catherine called for her. The older woman was lying face down on the table with a pale blue sheet loosely wrapped around her body. Ryan felt her stomach clench as she entered the room. She was actually more nervous than she had ever been about giving a massage, and she wracked her brain to come up with some relaxation techniques for herself. "Would you like some music?" she offered, knowing that her voice betrayed her anxiety.
"That would be nice. There are a number of CD's in the cabinet there," Catherine indicated. Ryan opened the door and found a lot of new age instrumentals, but one disc caught her eye.
"Cool," she muttered to herself as she pulled out Joanie Madden's "Song of the Irish Whistle."
"Pardon, Dear?" Catherine asked.
"Oh," Ryan said as she popped the disc in the very snazzy Bang & Olufsen CD player, "I was just commenting on this CD. This is my instrument, you know."
As the strains of the Celtic harp wafted through the air Catherine turned and looked at her carefully. "This one?"
"No, I play the whistle." Several bars later the ethereal tones of the whistle began. "That one right there," Ryan indicated.
"What a beautiful instrument," Catherine said. "Do you play often?"
"No, as a matter of fact, I don't think I've touched it since I've been with Jamie. I used to express myself through my music, but I just don't have the need anymore. I should get in the habit again. I can't afford to get too rusty if I want to keep it up."
"Jamie would love to hear you play, Ryan. I guarantee you'd have an appreciative audience."
"Good point," Ryan said, much more relaxed now that the calming whistle was trilling in the background. "I'll pull it out as soon as we get home." She approached the table and tried her best to get into her professional mode. "What type of massage are you used to?"
"The person I have now just does traditional Swedish massage, but I love Shiatsu also. Why don't you do whatever you're comfortable with."
I'd be comfortable making a run for it, Ryan thought as her stomach gripped again. She grabbed a bottle of lightly scented massage oil and warmed it in her hands for a few moments as she tried to decide where to start.
She delayed so long that Catherine finally turned onto her back and caught Ryan's wide-eyed gaze. "Are you as nervous as I am?" she asked, a smile brightening her face.
"More," Ryan gulped, feeling better almost immediately just to have the issue out in the open.
"Do you want to just skip it, Dear? I don't want to make you nervous."
"No, no, this is no big deal, Catherine. I'm a professional-I just have to calm my mind for a minute."
"For what it's worth, Ryan, even though I'm a little uncomfortable, I trust you completely." She gave her a warm, open smile, and Ryan felt the rest of her anxiety ease.
Returning the smile, Ryan said, "Let's start some place nice and safe." She stood on the left side of the table and took Catherine's arm in her hands and began to work the massage oil into her flesh. "Let me know how firm a touch you like," she advised.
"I'm tougher than I look, Ryan," she laughed. "I like a lot of pressure."
Hmm, there's a family trait, she thought as she started to work on her mother-in-law's arms.
"I think I'd be more comfortable on my stomach," Catherine said, and Ryan helped her arrange the sheet after she had turned over. Getting back to business, she pulled both arms above Catherine's head as she dug into the muscles with her thumbs. "Perfect," Catherine hissed out in a pleasure-filled moan. "Just perfect."
Oh, God ! Ryan cried inwardly as she realized that Jamie moaned just like her mother did. I've got to get my mind on business! She used every centering technique that she knew, but the only thing that worked was when she reminded herself that Catherine trusted her implicitly. She knows I'm very sexual, she knows I sleep with her daughter, and she knows that her husband would kill both of us if he saw me massaging her. And yet, she trusts herself to be this vulnerable with me. I can't repay that trust by letting my mind wander all over the place. She's not my lover's naked mother. She's a woman who is putting her trust in my hands, and I have to respect that in the same spirit that it's offered.
Once her little pep talk was finished she switched her mind off rather easily and concentrated like she always did. She was soon able to focus only on the tips of her fingers and the individual muscles that her fingers glided over.
Catherine was right on the money when she said she liked a firm touch. Ryan gave her everything she had, but the harder the pressure, the more she liked it. She knew that the aggressive massage would help Catherine's stiff muscles, so she was a little more forceful than normal, and before she knew it she was right back at the arms. God, did I hit everything else? I completely lost track of where I was. Just to make sure, she broke the silence by asking, "Any areas bothering you?"
It took a second for Catherine to realize that the voice was addressing her. "No, I don't have a care in the world," she murmured.
Ryan placed her hand on her back and leaned over a bit. "Relax for a while. I'll leave the music on for you."
" 'Kay," she muttered sleepily as Ryan gently closed the door.
Neither of her companions was in the weight room, so Ryan went down to the first floor to look for them. She put her hands on her hips and glared at the two naked blondes as they lounged in the sauna. "Am I the only one that has to work around here?"
"God, Honey, you were gone for over an hour! What were you doing in there?"
"I had to concentrate really hard to ignore the fact that it was your mom, so I didn't pay any attention to time. The only reason I knew it had been a while was because my hands were starting to cramp. She likes it rough, too," she said with a waggling eyebrow at her lover.
"Me too," Jordan reminded her as she held out the bottle of moisture lotion that she had carried into the sauna.
Ryan sighed heavily as she started to strip out of her clothes. "Do all of you only want me for my hands?" she sighed as she accepted the lotion and started to work on Jordan's lower back.
"That's only half of your allure," Jamie assured her. "Your mouth is equally important to me."
"Not to me," Jordan demurred, letting out a gasp as the powerful hands stroked her tired muscles. "I only need your hands."
As soon as Jordan's brief massage was finished, she wrapped herself up in a towel and announced, "I'm going to bed. Wake me up at the last possible minute, will you, Sport?"
"Will do, Sleeping Beauty. Sleep well."
As Jordan left Jamie asked, "How late was Mia here last night?"
"She was still here this morning," Ryan said, smiling a little.
"Oooh, Mia finally had her way with Jordan, huh? Good for her!"
"You're jumping to conclusions. They were lying on a chair by the pool, fully clothed, when I found them. I think they were talking most of the night."
"For someone who doesn't talk much, that Jordan sure is gabby when she's around Mia. What in the heck is up with her, anyway?"
"I don't know, to be honest. Jordan's a pretty complex person-she's not so easy to figure out."
"She'd better not hurt my Mia," Jamie said, her eyes narrowing. "It's obvious that Jordan is a love 'em and leave 'em kinda girl, and I'm afraid that Mia really likes her."
"Don't make too many assumptions about Jordan. As I say, she's more complex than she seems." A lot more complex, Ryan decided. I think Mia would be in well over her head with Jordan.
They padded into the house in their warm-ups, just making the turn for the stairs when Catherine's voice called out from the living room. "Jamie? Ryan? Can I have a word with you both?"
Catherine was also dressed in a nylon warm-up suit--probably one that she wore after playing tennis, Ryan considered. She looked young and relaxed and attractively casual in the simple cocoa brown outfit that emphasized her eyes, and Ryan considered once again what a fabulous catch the lovely woman was. Jim Evans…you are a putz! she thought, not for the first time.
"When your father was here yesterday, he left these envelopes for you both," Catherine said, handing both woman matching buff-colored vellum envelopes.
Ryan and Jamie exchanged glances and Catherine said, "I think they're safe. Too many witnesses for him to put a biological weapon into yours, Ryan."
The tall woman grinned at her with a look of embarrassment. "He continues to disappoint me," she admitted. "I am a little wary of any communication from him."
"You're wise to feel that way, Ryan. He has a tendency to disappoint." She gave Ryan a sad little nod of understanding and waited for the younger women to take a seat.
"I'll go first," Ryan said, ripping open her envelope. A letter and a small plastic card fell out, and she gazed at the card for a long while, her mouth dropping further and further open. It was a credit-card sized piece of plastic with "S. Ryan O'Flaherty" stamped onto it. Below her name it said "Member since September 1999." The top of the card simply read "The Olympic Club."
Wordlessly, she handed it to Jamie and, opening the letter, read it aloud.
Please don't assume that I'm trying to buy your good will with this small gift. The harm that I've tried to cause you could never be ameliorated by so small a token. Instead, please accept this as a small peace offering. I know that Jamie loves Olympic, and I think it would make her happy to play there in the future. Since you are a part of her future, it only seems fitting to include you in that scenario. The membership is yours to do with as you wish. If you don't want it, you can sell it back to the club--the choice is yours. I hold out the hope that one day we can play the course together and enjoy each other's company. I'm certain that I will like you once I get to know you, Ryan, and even though I don't hold out a lot of hope, I pray that the reverse is true, also.
I am truly sorry for the trouble that I have caused you. I have no excuses-none are creditable. I can only try to make it up to you over time, if you will allow me the opportunity.
"Wow." Ryan leaned her head back against the sofa and took in a breath. "He's never predictable, is he?"
"No," Catherine smiled. "That's one of the things that makes him a good lawyer."
Jamie ripped her envelope open and found a matching card embossed with her own name. "Good news, Honey. They're for the same club!"
Ryan laughed, pleased that her lover was keeping her sense of humor. Jamie's letter was a little longer than Ryan's, and she read it in silence, feeling that she needed to keep her relationship with her father somewhat private.
I've done more terrible things in my life than I am willing to admit, even to myself, but the thing I'll always regret the most was willfully hurting you. I still don't understand what came over me, but I know that I have seriously harmed the most precious thing that I have-our relationship.
The happiest day of my life was the day after you were born, when your mother and I brought you home from the hospital. The hospital was filled with nurses and friends and family, and I didn't have the opportunity to spend a moment alone with you. But as soon as we got home, your mother went to bed to rest and I could get to know you a little bit. I came into your room and sat in the rocker holding you that first night, already so attached to you that I couldn't bear to put you in your cradle. I held you in my arms and cuddled you for most of the night, so filled with joy that I couldn't even think of sleeping. I spoke to you about my hopes and dreams for you, and I promised that I would always be there to take care of you.
I broke that promise, Jamie. I shattered it, all because of my need to control you and every other thing that means anything to me. I don't know how to stop behaving the way that I do, but I promise that I will try. I want you to know that no matter what happens, I will try to fulfill the promise I made to you on a cold clear February night, 21 years ago.
Her father always used a fountain pen for personal letters, and she noticed that some of the letters were smeared, as if a few tears had escaped and fallen onto the paper. Wiping her own eyes with the back of her hand, she continued to read.
Forgive me for launching into lawyer mode, but I have a few matters to take care of, and not much time to do them before I leave for Washington.
I pulled a few strings and convinced the membership committee to waive the normal process for you and Ryan to become junior members at the Club. Your mother's great-grandfather was one of the founding members of Olympic, Jamie, and I think it's time you became a member in your own right.
Even though I arranged and paid for the memberships, they are in your names. You will be responsible for the monthly charges; I will not even be informed of them. I do this only so that you understand that I am trying to give up control over your spending practices, not to avoid the expense myself.
Towards that end, I agree to your request for a discretionary distribution from your trust. I've communicated my wishes, in writing, to Tuck, and he is prepared to follow your instructions whenever and however you wish to proceed.
It would probably be best for you to move your money to a money manager of your own choosing, Honey. Having my firm handle your affairs is probably not a good idea for either of us. I'm sure your mother can suggest someone that she trusts if you need any advice.
I did some research and it appears that you should create a durable power of attorney to give Ryan the right to make decisions for you in case you are incapacitated for any reason. I know that she's the person you trust to make decisions for you now, and a power of attorney will enable her to do that.
Forgive me again if this sounds a little businesslike, Sweetheart. I'm trying to get all of my affairs straightened out before I leave for Washington, and I'll admit to feeling a little overwhelmed.
I'm very much looking forward to having a fresh start for our relationship, Jamie. I hope that by taking care of some of these financial matters, we can put them aside and never have to revisit them.
As I've already told you, I'm feeling adrift with this change in my life. I would be forever grateful if you could come visit me, for even a weekend. I know I'll be busy, but I'll clear my calendar at a moment's notice to see you-- government business be damned. (That was a joke, Honey. Don't tell the President that I said that.)
I am more hopeful than I have been in months about the future of our relationship, Jamie. I promise to do my best to be the father that you deserve.
She leaned against her seat back in nearly the identical pose that Ryan had struck earlier. "Wow indeed," she murmured, unable to make another comment.
Laying in bed late that night, Jamie traced complex patterns on Ryan's belly as she asked, "Did you have as nice a day as I did?"
"Hmm, let's see," Ryan said thoughtfully. "I had a nice run in a lovely neighborhood and a great breakfast, I had a good session training your mom, I gave two pretty awesome massages, I got a cool membership to one of the best golf clubs in the country, we got your mom hooked up with a really nice bike, my team won easily for a change, and then we had a truly stupendous dinner with nearly my whole family and I got to go swimming with Caitlin. I'd say that it would be tough to beat this day, to tell you the truth. How about you?"
"Well, mine wasn't as athletically focused as yours was, but it was very nice. I'm still having a tough time getting my mind around my father's letter, but I feel really good about it."
"Feel free to share anything you want. But if you want to keep it private, that's okay, too."
"Thanks. The biggest thing we'll have to discuss is his decision to let me have my distribution." She snuggled up tight and said, "I think I want to let it stay on the back burner until we have a little more time. I just don't see that we are prepared to deal with the stress of all that money right now."
"Works for me," Ryan said, hoping to hold off on that for as long as possible.
Ryan yawned so widely that Jamie was afraid her jaw would crack. Giving her belly a playful rub she asked, "Tired?"
"I was tired before the game. Now I'm sleepwalking," she admitted through another massive yawn.
"Hey, what happened to your pledge to take one day off a week? I completely forgot you were going to do that."
"I guess I haven't been very successful, huh? The only days off I've had were when I was sick."
"Well, it's only 10:30 now. I want your sweet little butt to stay right in this bed until at least eight o'clock."
"Eight o'clock! I don't think I can sleep that late," Ryan complained.
"Who said anything about sleeping?" she growled. "If you're too tired to perform your marital duties at night, you'll just have to take the early shift."
"I had no idea what I was getting into with you," Ryan murmured as she closed her eyes and snuggled up against Jamie's warm back. "But it's been a very welcome surprise."
Continued in Part Three
Continued in Part Three
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