I Found My Heart In San Francisco
Book 13 Monogamy
By: S X Meagher
Daniella Ericsson considered her address book for a moment, then muttered to herself as she searched the living room for her reading glasses. Once she found the half-frames that she hated as much as cellulite, she peered at the book again and dialed the unfamiliar number.
"Jordan?" she said as the familiar voice answered. "Its Mom, honey. I wanted to discuss this Olympic situation with you."
"Ahh this isnt Jordan," the woman said. "If you hold on, I can get her for you, though."
"Oh, well, thats fine. Please do."
She waited for the few minutes it took for the woman to locate Jordan and call her to the phone, finding her temper growing shorter as she waited. "Hello," the slightly more familiar voice said.
"Jordan, Im calling from Los Angeles. When you know its me, Id appreciate it if youd hurry to the phone."
"I was going to the bathroom, Mom," she sighed, not usually the type to reveal personal matters like this, but already exasperated even though they had only been speaking for moments. "Its awfully cold here, and it takes me a minute to get bundled up again."
"Right," she said, not hearing the reply. "Im calling about this ticket offer, Jordan."
"Yes," she said, impatiently. "The offer from the Olympic Committee to purchase tickets to the Opening Ceremonies for the parents of all of the athletes."
"Oh," she said softly, having hoped that the Committee would leave it to the athlete to inform her parents of the offer. "Yes, Im familiar with it."
"Well, what does this include? It only mentions the tickets. Surely they dont expect us to pay for our own plane tickets and hotels!"
She cleared her throat, knowing shed be getting a lecture momentarily. "Thats exactly what they expect, Mom. They only offer the tickets to the Opening Ceremonies because theyre so hard to get. To do just that is gonna cost them over three million dollars."
"Well, in that case, I dont see how we can come. That would cost an exorbitant amount, Jordan."
"I realize that, Mom," she said, trying to keep at least a note of regret in her voice. "In a way, its a shame the games are so far away, even though it will be fascinating to see Australia."
"I suppose Ill have to watch it on television," Daniella said. "Gunnar will be so disappointed."
"Well, Ill take plenty of pictures and show him the next time we all get together," Jordan said, rolling her eyes as she played along with the family fable. "It wont be the same without you two there."
"Your father isnt going, is he?"
The question hung out there in space. Jordan knew that the chances were good that her mother would never find out the truth, but she also knew that her life would be hell if she was caught in a lie. "Uhm hes still thinking about it." This was a bold-faced lie. Jorgen Ericsson had promised his daughter that he would attend the competition as soon as she told him she had made the team. As a matter of fact, she already had his flight and hotel information. Regrettably, Candy was going too, but she would at least keep Jorgen entertained.
"Jordan," her mother said, in a tone that indicated her limited patience was at its terminus. "Is he going, or not?"
"I think so," she said, hoping that her mother would not rise to the bait.
Alas, Daniella immediately said, "Well, we might have to investigate this a little more." Jordan felt her heart sink, knowing that no good could come of this development. Her parents had not been in the same room since her high school graduation, and she still had occasional nightmares about that little get-together. "This will break my budget for the whole summer, but I hate to think of you going all that way and not having your family there for you."
Uh-huh. And if you didnt think Dad would be there, it would be fine with you if I were all alone. A small smile crossed her face as she considered one guest whose presence she was most happily looking forward to. They can do whatever they want. They can fight to the death, for all I care. Ill have Mia with me, and nothing else matters.
As her mother droned on, Jordan spent a moment letting herself savor the thought of looking up into the stands to see Mias sweet face. As the reassuring images flitted through her brain, she was struck by the thought of how it would be when her family met her lover. If shell agree to meet them as my lover, she considered. She might just want to act like shes a friend from school. A wave of unfathomable sadness washed over her as her mothers words continued on. For some reason it was suddenly desperately vital that Mia not only acknowledge, but be proud of their relationship if not in all situations, then at least when she met Jordans family.
"Jordan Jordan! Have you heard a word I said?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, sure I did," she said, feeling sick to her stomach.
"Well, will you do it, or not?"
"Uhm sure. Ill do it," she muttered, not caring what she was agreeing to.
"Fine. Ill let you know how much the tickets cost."
"Tickets?" she asked, finally coming to her senses.
"Yes. Ill have Gunnar pay for the hotel, and you can pay for the airfare for the three of us. That seems fair, doesnt it? Now, since we have so far to go, I think well need either first-class or business-class, dont you?"
"Yeah. Sure. Whatever," she mumbled, unable to say no at that point.
"You certainly dont sound very happy about this, Jordan. Is something bothering you?"
"No. Nothings bothering me. Im only wondering how Im going to pay for the tickets since I dont have many opportunities to work here in Colorado."
"I saw that ad for Ralph Lauren," her mother said. "How many days was that shoot?"
"Two," the younger woman said.
"And whats your quote now?"
"So, you made at least $32,000 for that one ad alone. I know the business, honey. Dont try to pull one over on me."
"I know how much Ive made, Mom. But Ive got some expenses coming up that are gonna make it tight."
"Oh, Jordan, youve been so sheltered. You dont know what its like to have to maintain a house this size on the pittance that your father "
Once again Jordan went into her little private world, letting her mothers voice provide the white noise to her musings.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Jamie was dressed and ready to go to their second engagement by seven oclock, with Ryan having fallen behind since Jamie had ordered the brunette out of the bathroom for nearly a half hour. When the smaller woman emerged, Ryan forgave her dawdling, spending several moments gazing at her partner appreciatively. "I was going to compliment you on your dress, but I dont even know what to call that color its what jade?"
"Somewhere around there," Jamie said. "Jade, emerald, malachite."
"It makes your eyes look greener than Ive ever seen them," Ryan sighed as she took in the twin pools of verdant green that blinked up at her. "Once again, it feels marvelous," she added as her hands roamed all over the slightly slick-feeling silk. "Of course, that sensation might not come from the wrapper so much as the filling."
"I dont think Ive ever been called filling," Jamie said. "Yet another new one."
"Ive got a million of em," Ryan said, dashing into the bath so shed be on time.
Minutes later, Ryan slipped her long legs into the new slacks that Jamie had purchased for her in Pebble Beach, then tried to decide on what blouse to wear. "I know I should wear my suit, but Ill be too hot if I have to keep the jacket on," Ryan said, staring at the closet, waiting for it to divulge its secrets.
Jamie came up behind her and gave her bare waist a hug. "I have a couple of suggestions," she said.
Ryan cocked her head and patted her on the hip. "Suggest away."
Going into her side of the closet, Jamie extracted a pair of blouses; one, white with French cuffs, the other a small blue and white check. "I uhm had a couple of blouses made for you, babe. You cant wear nice slacks with your shirt sleeves rolled up."
Ryan smiled gently at her partner and said, "One little decision leads to many more, eh? First it was the suit, then it was shoes, then another pair of slacks. Now its blouses. Oh, I forgot were getting a new house to keep all of my clothes in."
"Funny," Jamie said, tweaking her nose. "Which blouse do you want for tonight?"
"I think Ill take the white one," Ryan said. "Do you have any cufflinks?"
"But of course," Jamie chided her gently. She fastened the links after Ryan had put the blouse on, then stood back and watched her lover contort her body wildly.
"Ive never had a blouse I could do this in," she mused as she extended her elbows and lifted her arms high into the air.
"Uhm why have you wanted to?" Jamie asked, shaking her head at her lovers antics.
"Good point," Ryan conceded. "But if this restaurant needs any wood chopped tonight, Im their woman!" She mimicked the action she would have to make, and nodded, very satisfied that her new blouse allowed her complete freedom of movement.
"I like this collar on you," the blonde said, stepping back to admire the cut. "Its very feminine, but also tailored. Your necklace will look perfect with it." Jamie retrieved her partners jewelry and fastened the necklace, settling it under the collar. Slipping the diamond earrings into her lobes, she stood quietly, letting her eyes roll up and down her lovers body. "We could always order a pizza."
Ryan smiled at her wanton leer and shook her head. "No way. Im not going to have our grandchildren hear the story of how Grandmom got stuck with a pizza on Valentines Day. I know youre the type to regale several generations of OFlaherty/Evans offspring with that story." Her hands settled onto Jamies hips and she added, "Besides, you look too wonderful not to share you with the world a little bit. I cant be that selfish."
Jamie smiled up at her and brushed her cheek with her lips, taking care not to leave any trace of her lipstick. "Thank you," she said, smiling demurely. "Were about ready here. One more little touch. Now, dont have a stroke, but I did have a winter coat made for you." She gulped visibly and reached into her closet, pulling out a beautifully made, lightweight coat.
Raising an eyebrow, Ryan fingered the charcoal gray fabric, finding it deliciously soft and slightly furry. "A winter coat? Ive never had a winter coat that didnt have a big zipper and a lift ticket or two hanging from it."
"A ski jacket doesnt look very good over your nice clothes, honey," Jamie explained logically. As Ryan continued to feel the fabric, the blonde prayed, Please dont ask what its made of please dont ask.
"Will this never end?" Ryan sighed dramatically.
Jamie turned her around and looked into her eyes, relieved to see nothing but gentle teasing in the cool, blue orbs. "Youre not mad, are you?"
Ryan hugged her tight and said, "No. Im not mad at all. I find that I understand your motivations more now that Im serving this same function for Jennie. She thought I was crazy when I gave her seventy-five dollars for a pair of shoes, but I knew shed look like a dork if she had some ten-dollar cardboard-soled shoes on at Sacred Heart. Youre doing the same thing trying to make me look like I fit in with my peers in this case, you and your mom."
"Baby, you class up any room you enter," Jamie said sincerely. "I just like to dress you up a little bit once in a while."
"Im pretty happy about the coat," Ryan said. "I used to have to run from my car to where I was going during the winter and that was if I could borrow a car. Ive been on more than one date where I had to stow my ski jacket somewhere before I went into a nice restaurant."
"Well, I think youre set now," Jamie said, feeling like she had dodged a bullet. If she knew that coat was cashmere shed have a fit!
* * * * * * * * * * *
As the young couple walked down the street to retrieve the car, Martin and Maeve spotted them in the distance. The older couple was on their way to Martins brother Francis house for dinner, and they were too far away to catch the girls attention without shouting which was not Martins style. He squeezed his wifes hand and commented, "Have you ever seen a greater transformation in a shorter time period than the one our Siobhán has undergone?"
"Ahh, she hasnt changed so much, Marty. Shes the same sweet little sprite shes always been."
"I hardly recognize her, sweetheart. Six months ago she was just another hooligan in the pack! I honestly had to sometimes remind myself that she was a girl. Now look at her."
Maeve did as he asked, trying to think of how her niece had looked and behaved before she met Jamie. The girl was wearing a beautiful, double-breasted coat that enhanced her already impressive height, and a pair of well-tailored slacks draped gracefully across her shoes when she walked. "Where did she get that beautiful coat?" Maeve asked. "Ive never seen her in anything but a ski jacket."
"I dont know where she got it, but it looks like it was made for her. I assume Jamie had something to do with it," he said, chuckling softly.
Even though Ryans clothing was crisply tailored and bore very simple lines, the style highlighted every facet of her lushly feminine body. "Shes simply stunning," she sighed. "Shes not a girl any longer, Marty."
"No, shes truly not," he said. "Jamies brought out the woman thats been hiding inside. Shes so much more mature now." He smiled warmly, watching the way she held Jamies hand in her own. "Shes more loving, too. It took long enough, but I think she finally understands that its no accomplishment to merely win a womans body. Claiming her heart is all that matters."
Maeve nodded, feeling tears sting her eyes. "Shes an adult now. Our little Siobhán isnt a child any longer."
Ryan stopped when she reached the passenger door of the stately, black BMW sedan and held the door open for Jamie. The smaller woman got in and smiled up at her, then Ryan closed the door and dashed around to the drivers side. She got in and carefully guided the car up the street, catching sight of her father and aunt. Suddenly, they heard her voice over the external speaker, Irish accent firmly in place. "Off to the rub-a-dub-dub again, are ya? Sláinte!"
The couple looked at each other, both rolling their eyes as the car sped by. "Maybe shes got a bit of childhood left in her after all," Maeve said.
* * * * * * * * * * *
"What in the heck is a rub-a-dub-dub?" Jamie asked, giggling along with Ryan, even though she didnt know why she was laughing.
"Oh, thats one of the many, many terms for going to a pub," she said.
"Rub-a-dub-dub " Jamie looked at her and asked, "Is that a reference to the nursery rhyme? I dont get it."
"Nope. Its a form of rhyming slang. Dub rhymes with pub." She gave her partner a thoughtful look and said, "I guess we dont do that here, do we?"
"Come up with little rhymes to refer to certain words. The Irish do it constantly."
"Uhm why?" Jamie asked.
"Dunno. Its just a thing. Da doesnt do it much, but my Uncle Patrick does. Havent you ever heard him?"
"I dont think so," Jamie said. "Give me an example."
"Oh he says dog and bone instead of phone. He sometimes will call one of his kids a current bun "
Jamie started laughing, and in seconds she was slumped down in her seat, holding onto her stomach. "Oh, my God!" she gasped out. "Ive heard him say things like that, but I never knew he was making a rhyme. I thought he was a little goofy!"
Ryan was chuckling along right with her, and she said, "Well, he is a little goofy. But he also rhymes a lot."
"I heard him call one of the boys a current bun and I thought it was a pet name, like my dad calls me cupcake."
"No, no," Ryan said. "Current bun rhymes with son. Like my dad might refer to me as a bottle of water. It rhymes with daughter. Sometimes Uncle Patrick calls me his long term lease, because lease rhymes with niece."
"Odd," Jamie said, shaking her head. "Thats just plain odd."
"So you dont want me to refer to you as my struggle and strife?" she asked ingenuously.
"Im guessing that means wife," Jamie said, her eyes narrowed. "I wouldnt recommend it if you want to get weekly paid."
"Weekly paid weekly paid what rhymes with paid ?" Ryans eyes widened as recognition dawned. "Im very fond of getting paid, sweetheart," she said. "Struggle and strife is hereby stricken from my lexicon."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Sara Andrews stood in front of the apartment building for a moment, then rang the bell, and waited for Ally to buzz her up. As usual, she was nervous, but tonight she was more nervous than usual the thought of celebrating Valentines Day with her friend making her palms sweat.
When she got to the door, it was standing wide-open, and she heard Ally call out, "Come on in. Ive got my hands full."
Sara peeked into the room, and caught sight of the larger woman trying to organize what looked like a fairly complex dinner. "Hi," the attorney said, sticking her head into the room to plant a kiss on Allys cheek.
"Hi, how does Chinese food sound?"
"Great." Sara noted the plethora of white cardboard take-out containers that littered the counter, and smiled at her friend.
Finishing her task of placing all of the dishes on plates, Ally finally looked up, and gave the chestnut-haired woman a warm, appreciative smile. "If I had any idea that lawyers looked like you do, I would have been in law school faster than you can count your briefs."
Sara revealed the surprise that shed been hiding behind her back. "Happy Valentines Day, Ally," she said, presenting her friend with seventeen long-stemmed roses; four pink, four white, four coral, four yellow, and one red; all beautifully arranged in a tall, glass vase.
The tall womans face burst into one of the biggest, brightest smiles that Sara had ever seen. "You brought me roses! No ones ever given me flowers before," she said, obviously delighted. Without even taking the flowers from Saras hand, Ally slid her arms around the smaller womans trim waist and kissed her with such enthusiasm that Sara was breathing hard in moments.
"Glad you like em," she said, pulling back in a daze.
"Theyre fantastic! Truly gorgeous," Ally said, shaking her head in wonder. "I know there must be some significance to the colors and the number, but I cant guess what it might be."
"Well, I wasnt sure what color would most appeal to you," Sara said. "I didnt want to make a mistake, you know. After all, this is the first time Ive given you flowers. So, I decided to hit all of the major colors."
Ally looked thoughtful, and said, "Hmm Im not sure which one Id pick. I think I like the variety, to be honest."
Smiling brightly, Sara said, "Well, then, I guess I made the right choice."
"Now, how about the number? I dont know a lot about flowers, but I know that 17 isnt the most common choice."
"No, no, its not," Sara said. "I uhm chose 17 because I was 17 when I finally realized I was a lesbian." Ally cocked her head, waiting for Sara to continue. "Even though Ive known I was gay since I was 17, youre the first woman that Ive ever given flowers to the only woman Ive ever felt this way about." She gazed up into Allys eyes, losing herself in the gray depths. "Thats why theres one red rose. Thats the color you give to your sweetheart," she said, smiling shyly. "Will you be my sweetheart, Ally?"
"Yes, I will," Ally said, her voice soft and syrupy smooth. "Id very much like to be your sweetheart." Taking Sara in her arms again, they kissed for a long time, keeping the passion at a low burn. Pulling away, Ally asked, "Would my sweetheart like to eat dinner now? Someone went to a lot of trouble to prepare this. Im not sure who," she said, grinning, "but someone did."
They sat at Allys small table, enjoying the food that the trainer had chosen. Over the weeks theyd been seeing each other, Sara had decided that she liked letting Ally guide her to a greater appreciation of vegetarian dishes, so the larger woman didnt even consider buying anything with meat in it. "How does Chinese work for you without meat?" she asked.
"Good," Sara nodded. "I honestly dont miss meat. In fact, I find myself going meatless at lunch most days. I feel a little sharper at work when I stick with fruit or vegetables."
"Do you think you might switch to full-time veggie?" Ally asked.
"Mmm probably not. I like being able to eat whatever Im served when Im at a business lunch or dinner. And I dont think Ill ever give up my desire for turkey on Thanksgiving. I also have a weakness for hot dogs when I go to a Giants game." Smiling impishly, she said, "Some things are inviolate."
"I have an occasional hamburger myself," Ally said. "I try not to be too rule-bound in any part of my life. Now that Ive quit competitive bodybuilding Im going to try to eat to stay healthy and to feel my best. A little trip to carnivore-land wont hurt me." She gave Sara a small smile and said, "Celebrating Valentines Day is also a sign of my life-style change. Id always made it a rule to not go out with a woman on V-Day. I didnt want anyone to get the wrong idea."
Sara smiled at her and said, "This is a first for me, too."
"I find that so hard to believe," Ally said, shaking her head. "Uhm I know you didnt have any relationships with women, but did you ever have one with a man?"
"Ooo personal question time," Sara said.
"You dont have to answer if you dont want to," Ally said. "Its all in the past, Sara, it doesnt matter."
"No," she said, "it does matter." She took a bite of her pan-fried noodles and said, "I went out with a guy for about 9 months when I was a sophomore in college. It just so happened that we broke up before he had to buy me a Christmas or Valentines present. Smart guy."
"Did you uhm care for him? Were you very close?"
"I guess," Sara said. "His name was Kory, and he was a really great guy. He was a soccer player at Cal, too. We used to go to the mens games, and theyd come to ours thats how we got to know each other."
"What made you date him? Since you uhm knew that you were gay?"
"Im not particularly proud of this, but even though I knew I was primarily attracted to women I thought I might be able to find a guy who I could love. I thought if we had enough other things in common maybe sex wouldnt have to be the biggest thing between us."
Ally gave her a sad smile and said, "I think that could work if the guy didnt think sex was a big deal. But Ive never met a guy like that."
"No," Sara said, laughing softly. "Kory didnt share my feelings on the unimportance of sex in a relationship." She shook her head. "I did so many things that Im ashamed of now, Ally. Kory was a nice guy, but after dating for a few months, he finally got frustrated with me. Id put him off so long that one night he asked if there was something wrong with me. He looked me right in the eye and asked if I was sure I was straight."
"What did you say?" Ally asked, looking at the woman with sympathy for the position shed found herself in.
"I didnt say anything," Sara said, looking down at the table. "I took him into my bedroom and had sex with him."
"Dont feel guilty about that, babe. Lots of women arent sure until they experiment a little. Its completely understandable."
"I was sure," Sara said softly. "I slept with someone only so he didnt think I might be a lesbian. I was willing to let someone touch me enter me to avoid being labeled for who I was."
A look of intense pain flashed across Allys features and she shut her eyes briefly, then reached out unseeingly for her friends hand. Without a word, she brought the trembling hand to her lips and kissed it gently. "Its all right," she whispered, her warm breath caressing the skin.
Sara blinked away a few tears, and said, "Its so hard to think back to the things Ive done, the people Ive hurt, the ways Ive hurt myself all by trying to be someone else. I let him have sex with me for almost 6 months, just so he wouldnt think I was gay." She sniffed delicately, wiping another tear from her eye. "I didnt enjoy one moment of it, Ally. I let him use my body I consented to it."
"Youre not doing that any longer," Ally said, her voice hoarse with emotion. "Focus on that." Grasping Saras hand harder, Ally said, "Youre celebrating Valentines Day with a very, very obvious lesbian. Youre playing soccer in a lesbian soccer league. Youre out to your parents. Those are some very big accomplishments, Sara. Dont forget them."
"I wont," she said, producing a watery smile. Responding to the tug on her hand, she got up and slid onto Allys lap. The larger woman engulfed her in a hug and held her tight. "I feel so safe in your arms."
"Weve both done things that were not proud of, baby. Everyone makes mistakes, and Ive made hundreds of them. But none of that matters, now. All that matters is how we treat each other from now on." Fixing Sara with an intent gaze, she said, "I promise Ill always try to treat you like my sweetheart."
"I know you will," Sara said, summoning a smile. She touched Allys soft lips with her finger, plucking at the particularly succulent lower lip. "You know, Im not sure what the Valentines Day drill is. Is there some script we should be following?"
"Hmm Im not sure, either. I guess that means that we get to make up our own agenda." Ally took a few delicate nibbles of Saras ear. "Anything in particular youd like to do?"
"I can think of a couple of things," Sara said, smiling sexily.
"Lets go sit on the sofa and you can tell me whats on your list."
Sara took her partners hand and led her into the living room. Ally snatched a small bag from the kitchen counter and carried it with her, handing it to Sara when they were seated. "I have a little present for you," she said. "I was very, very indecisive, Ill have you know. I didnt want to offend you but I saw this on a model and I could see you in it. It made my teeth ache to think about you in it," she said, grinning wickedly.
"Offend me, huh?" Sara asked, smiling tentatively. "What could you possibly buy me that might offend me?"
"Well, its not that its offensive," Ally said, "but it might be a little premature."
"Ooh " Sara gave her a knowing smile and put her hand in the bag, withdrawing something that was wrapped in red tissue paper. Opening the paper, she found a very sexy, black lace bra and an even sexier matching garter belt. "Oh, my," she said, her voice almost a purr, "its gonna be fun to wear this for an appreciative audience."
"Its not presuming too much, is it?" Ally asked, sounding a little unsure of herself.
"Not in the least. Were definitely going to get to the point where Ill be seriously overdressed in this outfit," Sara said, smiling confidently.
"Oh, thats gonna be nice," Ally said, her wistful smile speaking volumes.
"Until we get there, why dont we spend the evening doing something Ive always wanted to do on Valentines Day?"
"You name it," Ally said.
"I want to sit right here on this sofa and kiss you," Sara said. "Ive always wanted to have a partner who I felt comfortable enough with to be able to kiss for hours on end. I always felt like Id have to have sex if I spent much time kissing a woman. I love that we can cuddle and kiss without having to go further."
"Thats a Valentines wish that Im completely capable of fulfilling," Ally said, looking at Sara with another beaming smile as she pulled her close and got to work.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Continued in Part 11