I Found My Heart In San Francisco
Book 13 Monogamy
By: S X Meagher
Early the next morning, Ryan paced in front of the Oakland office building, waiting for the therapist to open the office door. She had staked out a spot as far as possible from the door giving herself the ability to spot Ellen when the therapist went inside. From her previous visit, she knew that the lobby was open, but she didnt have any interest in making small talk with the other women, so she paced and drank her coffee, trying not to look as nervous as she was.
She nearly spit a mouthful of latte when a quiet voice right behind her said, "Hi, Ryan."
Whirling, she stared, wide-eyed, at Barb, the police officer who had accidentally shot and killed her partner. "How did you get behind me?" she asked, her heart racing. "I can always hear when someone approaches."
"Im a cop or I was a cop," the woman said, looking towards the door of the building. "The lobbys open, you know."
"Yeah, I know," Ryan said, not making a move to go there.
Ryan nodded, saying nothing.
"I was, too. Still am, sometimes. Every Monday and Thursday morning, I have to give myself a pep talk to make myself come here again."
"I only come because I dont want to disappoint my lover. I know she wants me to get over my anger and my guilt, and I want her to know Im doing all I can to work through this."
"I promise this will get easier," the police officer said. She took a long look at Ryan and said, "If youre anything like me, having strangers know about your demons is really painful."
Ryan nodded again, her hands shoved into the rear pockets of her jeans. "It sucks."
"The most encouraging thing I can tell you is that over time, these women wont be strangers any more. Theyll be your friends."
"Ive got all the friends I need," Ryan said, giving Barb a half-smile. "Im only looking for someone who can help pull me out of this funk."
"I think youre at the right place, Ryan. It might take a while, but I think we can be more help than you might imagine."
"Ellens here," Ryan said, twitching her head towards the door. "Lets go spill our guts."
Barb laughed softly, saying, "You remind me more of a cop than a student at Berkeley. Arent you supposed to be into that touchy-feely stuff?"
"My dads a firefighter," the brunette said. "We dont go in for touchy-feely much."
"No wonder I liked you immediately," Barb said. "My dad was a firefighter, too. What house is your dad with?"
The pair walked towards the building, talking about the fire department, and laughing in surprise at the large number of people they both knew. As they got to the office door, Ryan took a breath, feeling significantly lighter than she had mere minutes earlier.
* * * * * * * * * * *
When Jordan reached Mia that evening she was uncharacteristically lethargic. "Hi."
"Whats up, Jordy?" Mia bubbled. "How was practice?"
"It was okay. Hey, I got a call from my agent tonight and shes got another ad for Ralph Lauren lined up for me."
"Thats great! Are you gonna take it?"
"Yeah, I guess I have to," she said, obviously not enthusiastic with the prospect.
"Whats up? You dont sound like yourself."
Jordan yawned loudly, unable to stop herself. "Im so tired," she said. "I had a great time with you this weekend, but Im paying for it today. I felt like I had lead shoes on at practice." She chuckled softly, but Mia knew her well enough to recognize that Jordan was not a whiner, and would only mention it if she was remarkably tired.
"Jordy, if youre complaining about it, it must be bothering you a lot. Now whats going on?"
"I guess its hard for me to get used to the pace," she said. "Even though Ive played the sport for years, Ive never focused on it to the exclusion of everything else, ya know?"
"Im not sure I do. Tell me what you mean."
Jordan sighed and said, "We practice twice a day, for two hours at a time. There isnt a moment that were not flying around the gym like lunatics, either. Its very high intensity stuff. Then, I have to weight train three times a week, and I work on my jumping twice a week. We also run three days a week; and in this thin air, thats tough to get used to. I need my weekend to veg," she said quietly. "I wish I didnt have to, but I cant keep up if I dont sleep for most of the weekend."
Fighting the hurt that her lovers words caused, Mia said, "I understand. We wont schedule any more weekend trips. I dont want you to wear yourself down."
"No, thats not it," Jordan insisted. "I get such a boost from seeing you that its worth the fatigue. Its the modeling thats worrying me. This shoot is in LA, and its three full days. Thats good money, but Ill be sitting or standing around most of the time while they adjust lights and fuss with my hair. Its truly mind numbing. God, I wish I didnt have to do it!"
"Jordan," Mia soothed. "You dont have to do it. Its only money. Dont let that be the only factor you consider."
"It has to be, Mia," she said. "Its gonna cost a load to buy business class plane tickets for my mother and grandmother and brother "
"Youre paying for all of them?"
"Well, yeah," she said defensively. "Gunnars gonna pay for their hotel, but I have to pay for the air fare, and his and Grandmoms tickets to the opening ceremonies. Then, Ill have to pay for all three of them to go to whatever other events theyre interested in. And believe me, if Gunnar doesnt come through, Ill have to pay for the hotel, as well."
"Jordan, you dont have to do that. If you want to, thats one thing, but you dont have to."
"But, I said I would," she said quietly. "I have to, Mia. You dont know "
Realizing that she was pushing her friend too far, Mia backed off. "Im sorry. Youre right. I dont know what its like for you. But that doesnt stop me from worrying about you."
"Ill be okay," she said. "Im gonna grab a bite and go to bed. Im thrashed."
Looking at her watch, Mia saw that it was only 7:30 in Colorado Springs. "Please take care of yourself. You cant afford to get sick."
"Dont I know it. Ive got to make an impression on the coaches. The last thing I want is to be an alternate on the damned team! Ive got to start kicking ass!"
Pausing a moment, Mia asked, "When do you have to go to LA?"
"Thursday night," Jordan said through another massive yawn. "I got permission to miss practice on Friday."
Making a snap decision, Mia said, "Im going to drive down to be with you. I want to make sure youre eating right, and that youre in bed early every night."
Jordan paused for a beat, unable to wipe the smile from her face. "I have to go to bed early to sleep. Thats not what were best at. Dont you remember seeing the dawn on Saturday and Sunday?"
"Holding you while you sleep is the second most pleasurable thing we do in bed. Ill take that over sleeping alone any time."
"If youre sure," Jordan said, her voice taking on a hint of her normal sparkle.
"Im positive," Mia insisted. "Im your support team."
* * * * * * * * * * *
The next morning, the ringing phone woke her earlier than she would have liked, but Mia stumbled to her feet and croaked out a hello.
"Oh-oh," her brothers amused voice replied. "Someone was still in bed."
"Thats okay, Peter," she yawned. "Whats up?"
"I had an idea, Mia, and I thought you could investigate it a little."
"Shoot," she said, struggling to wake up, since Peters ideas were usually very sound.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Mia headed down to Palo Alto that afternoon and spent quite a while speaking with a sympathetic woman in the Admissions Office of the law school. When she was satisfied with her answers, she headed north for Hillsborough.
Anna Lisa was shocked, but very pleased, to see her daughter stroll into the kitchen. "Mia! What a nice surprise! Is everything all right?"
"Yep," she said, snitching a carrot from the salad her mother was making. "Its the four a.m. phone calls from the lock-up that you have to worry about. An in-person appearance is usually good news."
Her mother gave her a playful swat on the seat and said, "So, tell me some good news."
"Is Dad home?"
"Yes, hes upstairs changing."
"Is that Mias voice?" Adam called out as he descended the stairs.
"Sure is," she replied, going to meet him for a hug and a kiss.
"What a nice surprise! Are you staying for dinner?"
"Of course. I even brought one of my books. I thought Id hang out with you guys this evening." Adam and Anna Lisa exchanged puzzled glances that Mia caught. "I miss you both. Is that okay?"
"Of course it is, honey, but you havent been around much lately. Is everything all right?"
"Yes, Dad, everything is fine. As a matter of fact, Im in the neighborhood because I spoke with the people in the Admissions Office at the law school, and theyve agreed to let me defer my admission for a year."
"What does that mean?" Anna Lisa asked.
"It means that Ill enroll in 2001 instead of this fall. Ill still go Im merely going to wait a year."
"Does this decision make your boyfriend happy?" Anna Lisa asked, guessing that the unknown boyfriend was directing Mias decisions.
She looked at her mother for a few moments, then said, "I havent discussed this with anyone but you. You know, you might not see it, but Ive grown up a lot in the last year. I think I need another year before I can throw myself into law school. My brains tired!"
"How about coming down to the firm and clerking for a year?" Adam asked hopefully.
Peter had warned her about this potential development, and she had a ready answer. "No, as tempting as that sounds, Id like to do something different something that Ill never be able to do once Im in the working world."
"Like?" Anna Lisa asked suspiciously.
"Im not sure yet," Mia said. Especially since Peter just gave me this delayed admission idea this morning! "I might do some volunteer work," she suggested, hoping that her father would bite the hook.
"I think thats a fine idea," he said. "Id be more than happy to support you while you did that, Mia."
YES! "Okay, Dad, Ill check out the opportunities, and see if theres something I can do for a year thatll be rewarding."
He tucked his arm around her and gave her a gentle hug. "Youre turning into a fine young woman, Mia. Were lucky to have you."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Late the next night, after a long discussion with the cousins, and more beer than she should have drunk, Ryan suppressed a yawn as she followed her partner up to bed, switching off the lights as they moved through the house.
"That went better than I had hoped," Jamie said, falling onto the bed.
"Me, too," Ryan said. "It was so nice to see Frank and Niall walk out together with their arms around each others shoulders. If Franks excited about the concept, everyone else will be, too."
"Im glad they decided to think about it over the weekend," Jamie said as she walked into the bathroom to begin brushing her teeth. "I didnt want them to jump into the plan too quickly. Better to make sure they all agree."
"I think itll work," Ryan said. "And I want you to know how grateful I am that youve worked so hard to make this happen. Theres no better way to show me that you love both me and my family."
"Right on both counts," Jamie said. "And thanks for letting me drive home. I guess Id better get used to being the designated driver when were with the boys, huh?"
"Not a bad thought," Ryan said, smiling slowly. "But, I dont normally drink this much on a school night. I kept looking at you, and thinking about being away from you for 5 days. I kept drinking so I didnt start crying."
"Ive been trying not to think of it," Jamie said. "I didnt used to mind your being away for a few days but now "
"Yeah, thats it. I feel like my mental health is dependent on having you near, honey. Im a little freaked about leaving."
"This should be the last time this happens," Jamie reminded her. "Its bad luck that my first spring tournament starts on Sunday. I would have gone with you even for a couple of days, but I cant miss class tomorrow."
"Thats all right," Ryan said. "I need to get some of my confidence back. Being alone and surviving is good practice."
"Youll survive," Jamie whispered, pressing her lips against the edge of Ryans ear. "You have me in your heart, baby. Ill watch over you every moment."
"Will you hold me tight tonight, Jamers? I need to feel your arms around me."
Quickly, Jamie stood and undressed, then she undressed her partner as well, looking into Ryans eyes with total understanding. "Come on, love," she urged, pulling back the covers. She scooted up higher than normal, and patted her chest. Ryan gratefully lay alongside her and placed her head just above Jamies soft breast.
"I dont want to leave you," Ryan murmured, and Jamie felt her partners warm tears roll down her skin.
"I dont want you to leave, baby. But, well both be fine. Im only a phone call away any time of the day or night. Promise me youll call if youre feeling scared or lonely."
"I promise," Ryan said, sniffling softly.
"Come on, now, sweetheart. Youve got to get up early to go to your group."
"Oh, great! I get to sit in a room with a bunch of strangers when Im feeling this bruised. Now I feel better."
* * * * * * * * * * *
At 3 a.m., Mia woke to feel a shivering body slide into bed next to her. "Hey, whats wrong?" she mumbled, trying to clear her mind.
"Nightmare," Jamie said, her teeth chattering noisily.
"Why are you so cold, honey?"
"Not cold scared."
"Oh, come here," Mia said, wrapping her arms around her friend. "Cuddle up tight, James, its gonna be all right."
"Im worried about her, and about me," Jamie muttered. "Were gonna be apart for 5 days, and she wont have anyone to watch over her."
"She has friends, James. Isnt Jackie her roommate?"
"Yeah, but shes a jock roommate. Im sure Ryan would never tell Jackie about her fears. My baby is a long, long way from normal, Mia, and Im worried that being all alone will hurt her progress."
"Cant you go with her for the first couple of days? I know your golf thing is on Sunday "
"No, I cant. Ive got a full day of class tomorrow, and I have a test in the afternoon. The last flights at 5:30, and Id never make it." She fell back against the pillow and said, "I thought it would be okay, but Ryan seemed very fragile tonight. Damn! I should have prepared for this. I could go on Friday morning, and come back on Saturday night."
"But that would only give you one night together, hon. Thats a hell of a trip for one night."
"I know, and thats why I didnt do it. But, isnt one night better than none? I was being selfish," Jamie muttered. "I hate to spend the better part of two days flying to New Mexico, when I have so much homework to catch up on. The flight takes at least 5 hours, with a stopover in Phoenix, and I know I wouldnt get any work done on the plane. I was honestly looking forward to having a couple of days alone." She shook her head, wiping at a few tears. "I wasnt thinking of her."
"Hey, hey, youre always thinking of her," Mia insisted. "You need to think of yourself, too, James. Its not a sin to want some time to catch up on things."
"Fuck! What am I gonna do? Ill be worried about her all weekend if I dont go for at least one day."
"Look, let me call Jordan in the morning and tell her Im going to go to New Mexico, instead. I can stay for the whole weekend. Its what Jordan would want, James. Im sure of it."
"Oh, Mia, I cant let you do that. Jordan needs you right now, and you need to see her."
"Yeah, we do, but neither of us is traumatized like you two are. Id be happy to do it, James. Ryan means so much to me."
Jamie slipped her arms around her friend and cried softly, letting Mia gently run her fingers through her hair. "I love you, Mia. Youre the best friend Ive ever had."
"I love you, too, James, and so does Jordan. Ill call her in the morning and tell her of the change of plans."
Jamie sat up and straightened her hair. "No, you dont have to do that, baby. Youve given me an idea that I think can work. Thanks so much." She leaned forward and kissed her friend tenderly on the lips. "Thanks for being my friend."
"Thats one job that has no down-sides, James. Its always a pleasure."
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Damn, Jordan," Mia gaped after the bellman left them in their spacious room in the Bel Air Hotel on Thursday night, "this is living large!"
"Yeah," she said, "I actually havent traveled for many jobs, and I wasnt sure what to expect. This is pretty sweet."
"Im starved," Mia said, peeking into the mini-bar. "Can I raid the bar?"
"You can, but why dont we go down to the pool and have an early dinner? They serve until five."
"Cool. I wish it were warm enough to swim."
"No such luck. We used to start swimming in April or May, just like the rest of the country. You get an occasional 90 degree day, but its still usually 50 at night not warm enough for the pool to retain any heat."
Mia grasped her hand as they exited the room and headed towards the pool. "Its hard for me to picture you growing up down here." Cocking her head slightly, she said, "Maybe its because you dont talk about it much. Its like your life started when you got to Berkeley."
With a half-smile, Jordan tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder and said, "In a way it did. My bad memories about growing up are as plentiful as the good ones. I guess I try to erase them all."
"Would you show me around a little?" Mia asked tentatively. "Id like to see the house where you grew up, where you went to school stuff like that."
"Okay. We can do that. I can have the limo drive us by my mothers home but Im not going in." She lapsed into pensive silence while they walked, not speaking again until they were seated at a nice table right on the edge of the pool deck. Mia scooted her chair out from under the large, buff-colored market umbrella so the late-afternoon sun could warm her. Looking around, she asked in a quiet voice, "Isnt that Steven Spielberg?" pointing discreetly at the next table.
Jordan sighed and said, "Yeah, as a matter of fact it is. Thats Jeffrey Katzenberg with him. Id better go say hello. Want to come?"
Mia stared at her, nonplussed, sure that Jordan was toying with her. When she didnt answer, the blonde shrugged and pushed her chair back. She approached the two men with her confident, smooth gait, looking like she was completely used to rubbing elbows with the power brokers of Hollywood.
Gaping openly, Mia watched in amazement as Jordan conversed cordially for a few minutes then tilted her head in Mias direction and said goodbye. Both men stood and kissed her cheek, offering a little wave to Mia when Jordan sat back down.
It took the stunned woman a moment
to collect herself enough to ask, "You know them?"
"Yeah. I told you that my dads in development at Paramount. Hes worked with both of them Steven more so than Jeffrey, since Jeffrey was with Disney doing animated features for so many years. Ive been to Stevens house on a couple of occasions I actually like the house he and Amy Irving had better than the one he lives in now." She was being remarkably casual about the whole thing, and Mia struggled to take it all in.
"I guess Ive never thought of you as being a Hollywood kid," she finally said.
"Well, Im not really. Youve got to be in the biz to know my dad. His connections are more to producers and directors than to actors. We were just another family who makes a living in Hollywood rather anonymously."
Their server arrived, and after Mia ordered a chicken Caesar salad, Jordan asked for something not on the menu, much to Mias surprise. "Id like a vegetable salad," she said. "Blanched or steamed, no oil, no butter. Green or yellow vegetables only. No carrots or cauliflower."
"Would you like a dressing for that?" he asked.
"No. Plain, please. And an iced tea."
Mia pondered her order for a moment as the waiter scribbled a note. Jordan was usually the type who would gratefully take whatever was placed in front of her. In their time together, Mia had never seen her put much thought into what she ate, as long as it filled her up not always an easy task. She must have looked a little puzzled, because Jordan gave her a shrug and said, "My belly has to be flat for the shoot."
Mia had seen every delicious inch of Jordans body, and the perfectly smooth abdomen she loved didnt have a spare cell. "Honey, youre practically concave as it is," she reminded her.
"Yeah. Its the practically part that Im worried about. This is an ad for Polo sportswear. Ill be showing a lot of skin."
"Ooo, Im glad I came," Mia said. "The more the merrier."
"Mark my words," Jordan said, nodding to the server as he placed their drinks on the table, "theres nothing less sexy than a photo shoot."
"Well see about that," Mia said. "Youve never had my perspective."
* * * * * * * * * * *
During their late lunch, Jordan was much quieter than normal, finally compelling Mia to ask what was on her mind. "I think Id better let my dad know Im here," she said. "Do you mind if I try to find some time to see him?"
Mia took notice of the "I" and tried to hide her hurt. "Of course not. You do what you have to do."
When the server brought their meals, Jordan asked for a phone, which was delivered immediately. She dialed the number by heart, spent a few minutes trying to get past his secretary, then was put through. "Hi, Dad, its Jordan," she said. "Im in LA for the weekend, and I thought you might have a few minutes to get together."
"What are you doing here? Arent they keeping you busy enough in Colorado?"
"Oh, yeah, Im busy, but I got a shoot for Ralph Lauren, and I couldnt turn it down. Ill be working all day, but its an outdoor set, so Ill have my evenings free."
Mia didnt like the sound of Jordan offering up one of their precious evenings, but she tried to concentrate on her salad, rather than her growing pique.
"Hmm this isnt the best weekend for me, honey," he said, and Jordan could hear him flipping through his omnipresent calendar. "I have a premiere to go to tonight, and were having a dinner party tomorrow night. I promised Candy that Id reserve all day for her on Saturday. We see so little of each other. Damn," he mumbled, "this is two times in a row that I cant swing it. Im really sorry about that, Jor."
"Thats okay, Dad. Im gonna be wiped anyway."
Even though Mia didnt like to be ignored, she was even more insulted by the fact that Jordans dad wouldnt go out of his way to see her. She knew that she couldnt say what was on her mind, since Jordan was unable to see her father in a less-than-positive light, but it incensed her nonetheless.
"I think your mothers in town," Jorgen Ericsson said. "Maybe you could drop by and see her."
"Well, that wasnt on my to do list," she said. "You know we dont have much in common, Dad."
"Count your blessings," he said. "I uhm hoped you might go to bat for me a little bit."
"What do you need?" she asked, straightening in her chair.
"Well, since youre out of school now, I was going to try to petition the court to reduce the total amount I pay her. For Christs sake, Jordan, do you know that woman gets $8,000 a month in alimony and $3,000 a month for your support?"
She knew full well what her mother received on a monthly basis, and she kept to herself the fact that she hadnt seen a penny of it since she left for Berkeley.
"How can I help, Dad?"
"Im not sure you can, but I want to propose that she receive no more than $5,000 a month. Its going to be a fight, of course, and Id appreciate anything you can do to ease the way."
She rolled her eyes, already able to picture the pathetic moaning she would be subjected to. "Ill think about it, and see what I can do, Dad. I uhm cant make any promises, though."
"Thats fine, honey. No promises needed. I know youll come through for me you always do."
A wan smile lit her face as she wracked her brain to think of a way to reach her mother. "Do my best. See you next time Im in town, Dad."
"How about a little notice next time? My calendar for June is almost filled and its only February."
"Will do. See you."
She placed the receiver down, and picked up her fork, lackadaisically picking at her salad. "He wants me to go pave the way so my mother doesnt stroke out when he tries to cut her alimony."
Mia had gathered as much from Jordans side of the conversation. She held her tongue, since the only thing she could think of was how cruel it was to place your child in the middle of money arguments. "You gonna do it?" she asked gently.
Placing the fork down, Jordan cocked her head and said, "I have to. Hes counting on me."
Counting to ten, Mia wondered why the words "have to" were always mentioned when either of Jordans parents was discussed. "Want me to go with you?" she asked.
Jordan had picked up her fork and was angrily spearing each defenseless vegetable in turn, oblivious to Mias question.
* * * * * * * * * * *
On Thursday afternoon, the softball team was lounging around the gate at the America West terminal, killing time until they were allowed to board. They were finally called, and the group got in line. As usual, Ryan stayed right where she was, her intrinsic hatred of waiting in line compelling her to be the last one to board every flight.
When the last person was nearly at the door, she stood and slung her carryon over her shoulder. She was about at the door when the person behind her tapped her on the shoulder. "Hey, good lookin, wanna sit next to me?"
Whirling around, Ryans eyes bugged out when she saw her brother, Rory, grinning at her. "What are you doing here?"
"Ive never been to New Mexico, and this seemed like the ideal weekend to go. I havent been to any of your games yet, you know."
She tossed her arms around him, hugging him so tightly that he could barely move. "Oh, Rory, youre the sweetest guy in the world." Pulling back, she gave him a fond smile and said, "You dont have to do this, though. I know Jamies worried about me, but Ill be all right."
"I know you will, sis, but I want to go. I didnt have a thing planned for the weekend, and this will give me a chance to spend some time with my favorite sister."
Shaking her head, Ryan hugged him again, saying, "Lets go, favorite brother. The flight attendant is giving us the evil eye."
* * * * * * * * * * *
As soon as her test was over, Jamie called her mother. "Hey, Mom, how would you like a guest for a few nights?"
"Oh, honey, you dont have to call to ask that. Nothing would make me happier than to see you. Has Ryan left for her trip?"
"Yeah," the younger woman said. "I miss her already. You dont mind me sitting around and moping all night, do you?"
"You come right down here, sweetheart. Well have a nice dinner, and then you can get on the phone and talk to Ryan all evening."
"Sounds great, Mom. Ill be there within an hour or two."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Marta pulled out all of the stops, making her famous arroz con pollo, one of Jamies favorites. The Evans women then went out to the spa to relax and chat. Catherine gave her daughter a warm smile and asked, "Youve been here for over an hour and havent called Ryan once. Are you two having a tiff?"
"No, not at all. Ryans plane didnt leave until late afternoon, and she has a layover in Phoenix. She could call when she gets to El Paso, but I told her to wait until she arrived in Las Cruces so we could talk longer."
"How do you think shell handle being away, honey?"
Jamie got an impish smile on her face and said, "I meddled a tiny bit. She was very anxious and sad last night, so I got on the phone and called around until I found someone to go with her. Rory was only too happy to fill in for me." She chuckled and said, "I was prepared to start hitting the cousins, but luckily, I didnt have to."
"You, young lady, are a very, very good partner. I dont know where you got your skills, but Im very glad that you have them."
The younger woman was about to reply when her cell phone rang. Jamie hopped out of the spa and reached for the little phone, hitting the talk button. "Hello?"
"Do you know who I love more than anyone on earth?" a deep, sexy, voice asked.
"Mmm with a voice like that, I hope the answer is me," Jamie said, giggling.
"Oh, its you all right. I love you with all of my heart and soul, Jamie Dunlop Smith Evans. The day I met you was the luckiest day of my whole life."
"Aww youre making me blush."
"Well, you made me cry, so were even. Seeing Rory at the gate was about the nicest surprise Ive ever had. Thank you, Jamie. Thank you for loving me so much."
"I do love you, Ryan, and I couldnt bear to have you be alone for 5 days. Rory was actually excited about going, too. I didnt have to coerce him."
"Yeah, he loves to travel, and hes never been to New Mexico. Hes going to rent a car and drive around tomorrow. Hes pretty jazzed."
"Did you get any comments from your teammates, honey? I know how they like to tease you."
"No, surprisingly, I didnt. I dont think they believed he was my brother, to tell you the truth. I think theyre worried that Im cheating on you," she said, chuckling softly.
"Oh, God! What will they think when you share a room?"
There was a short silence, then Ryan said, "Uhm Jamie? Im 24-years-old, and Rorys 28. Thats a long time past cuddling in bed together. Im bunking with Jackie, same as usual."
"But what if you wake up and need to talk to someone? Thats why I sent Rory."
"If I wake up and get freaked out, Ill sneak out of my room and go talk to him. He already promised that he wouldnt mind if I woke him. Dont worry, babe. Ive got it covered."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, love. Im a little shaky, but Id be a lot shakier if my teammates knew I brought my brother on road trips, and then slept with him!"
* * * * * * * * * * *
After chatting for a long while, Jamie hung up, giggling to herself. "You know, sometimes Im a little goofy."
"Well, I thought Ryan would sleep in Rorys room over the weekend, so he could comfort her if she was upset during the night. It didnt dawn on me how that would look to her teammates. I mean, Ryans odd enough without sleeping with her 28-year-old brother!"
Catherine laughed heartily at that, shaking her head. "Thats more than a little funny, Jamie."
"I dont often think of the boys as boys do you know what I mean? It doesnt occur to me that theyre different from Ryan even though they clearly are."
"Clearly," Catherine agreed. "Ive seen all of them in bathing suits, and the differences are quite stark."
"Youre telling me," Jamie said. "I much prefer the distaff version of the OFlaherty model."
"To each her own," Catherine said, smiling wryly. "If I were 20 years younger, Id make a play for any one of the boys."
"They are a fine bunch," Jamie agreed. Glancing at her watch, she said, "I guess we might as well go to bed. Its getting late, and I want to go on your morning walk with you."
"Oh, thatll be fun!" Catherine emerged from the pool and dried off quickly. When they went inside, she asked, "Do you need anything before bed? Some warm milk, maybe?"
"No." Jamie hesitated for a moment, then summoned the nerve to ask, "Uhm would you rub my head for a few minutes? That really relaxes me."
"Of course!" Catherine beamed a smile at her daughter that made Jamies heart swell with love. Taking her mothers hand, they walked up the stairs together. "Ill go rinse off, and be back in a minute, honey."
Jamie nodded, and did the same. She was lying in bed, waiting patiently, when her mother knocked a few minutes later. "Come on in."
"Hi." Catherine sat down on the edge of the bed and patted her childs back. Jamie was wearing a thin, cropped, cotton tank top, and Catherine slipped her fingers under the material. "When you were a tiny baby, you liked to have your back scratched exactly like this." The older woman ran her short, perfectly manicured nails across Jamies shoulders, then moved down her back, making her daughter giggle.
"I didnt know that," Jamie murmured. "I I didnt think you did things like that when I was little."
Her hand stilling, Catherine said, "Elizabeth didnt like it, because she said it riled you up too much. She believed in putting a baby into her crib and then leaving her to cry herself to sleep. But when I heard her close her door, Id sneak into your room and rub and tickle you until you were sound asleep." She laughed softly and said, "She thought her methods were the most sound in the world, since you never cried when she put you in your crib. Little did she know that I was subverting her rules God only knows what kind of scene it would have created if shed ever caught me."
"How long did you do that?" Jamie asked, amazed that her mother would risk Elizabeths wrath.
There was a long pause, and then Catherine said, "Until you didnt want me to do it any longer."
Jamie flipped over onto her back staring, wide eyed at her mother. "Why wouldnt I want you to do that?"
Catherine wiped at a tear and said, "It was after I went to Europe for two weeks. You never you never seemed to feel the same about me after that. You were very angry that Id left you, sweetheart, and I think you stopped trusting me."
"Oh, Mom." Jamie wrapped her arms around her mother and they both cried for a long while. "Im sorry I hurt you like that."
"Im the one who should be sorry, Jamie. I was so hurt that I pulled back from you. It was honestly the worst time of my life. I felt so unnecessary." Sniffling a little she added, "But, theres never a valid reason to distance yourself from your child. I let my hurt affect our relationship, and thats unforgivable."
"No, its not," Jamie said. "I forgive you, Mom. I swear I do. You did your best with a job you werent prepared for."
"Thats an understatement," Catherine said. "I wasnt mature enough to have a cat, much less a child. But, thats my fault, too. Having unprotected sex was merely one more indication of my immaturity."
"Daddy was in law school, Mom, he should have known better than to risk it."
"I know, honey, but you know how men are. They expect the woman to take care of birth control. I I didnt know the rules."
"Well, even though its been painful for both of us, Im glad you had me when you did. If youd waited until you were older, Id never have met Ryan. And, believe me, shes a once in a lifetime woman."
"I believe you, Jamie. I know youre right for each other."
"Now, lets stop thinking about the tough times, and start creating some good memories." She rolled over onto her belly and put her arms over her head, saying, "Work your magic, Mom. Elizabeth is thousands of miles away."
* * * * * * * * * * *
Continued in Part 16