I Found My Heart In San Francisco

Book 13 Monogamy

By: S X Meagher


Part 20

The next morning, Catherine called her daughter just as Jamie was walking in the door from golf practice. "Hi, Mom," the younger woman said, her mood bright and cheerful.

"What’s on the agenda for today, honey? I’m coming to Berkeley for a haircut, and I thought you might be able to have lunch with me."

"Well, I could, but I won’t be available until about 2. I’m playing golf at 10 o’clock."

"Oh, that’s all right. I’m sure I’ll see you at some point this weekend."

"Hey, why don’t you come with? It would be a good excuse to take a nice walk, and we’d have lots of time to chat."

"Would that be fun for you, honey? I don’t want to interfere with your concentration."

"I’d really like for you to come, Mom. Most of my teammates don’t speak in complete sentences, and I don’t have a soul to chatter with. That’s why I play better when we’re allowed to have caddies – I’ve got someone to talk to."

"Well, I don’t think I can carry that big bag of yours, but I’m very good at chattering. What time should I be there?"

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jamie was standing in the parking lot of the golf course when her mother pulled up. The younger woman marveled that her mother looked more like a golfer than anyone on the course, but that she’d probably never swung a club. Catherine merely had the perfect outfit for any endeavor – and she looked particularly lovely in her gold turtleneck, Kelly green, cable knit, cardigan, and navy blue, pleated slacks. To Jamie’s amazement, her mother was pulling a pair of golf shoes from the trunk of her car when the younger woman approached. "You own spikes?"

"Sure." She laced them up, and stood tall, smiling when she and Jamie were the same height. "I might wear these more often. I like being as tall as you are, for a change."

"You know, one of the most exciting days of my life was when I looked in a mirror and saw that I was as tall as you. Why is that such an accomplishment for a kid?"

"I’m not sure," Catherine said. "Maybe it makes you feel like you’re close to being an adult." Smiling at Jamie she said, "I remember how excited you were. But, I had very mixed feelings. It struck me that you were leaving your childhood behind, and I would never have an opportunity to be the mother I wanted to be."

Sliding an arm around her mother’s waist, Jamie said, "Just shows how things can change if you give them a chance. You’re the mom I’ve always wanted."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Tilden didn’t allow spectators on the course, nor did they allow caddies; but the combined charm of the Evans women prevailed, and soon Catherine watched as Jamie and the three juniors teed off. Things had normalized a little with Juliet, but the senior managed to always be in the other foursome during these little outings.

Play was slow on this particular Friday – likely because the morning was warm and dry – and the weather report for the weekend was a poor one. It looked like everyone who could get away had headed out to the always-crowded public course to beat the predicted rain.

During their first substantial break, Jamie and Catherine sat on a bench on the third tee, waiting for the two groups in front of them to tee off. "Wanna hear a tale of intrigue, revenge, odd alliances and restitution?" the younger woman asked.

"Well, it sounds like a Victorian novel, but knowing how exciting your life can be, I’m going to guess it’s a factual tale."

"You know me too well, Mom," Jamie said, smiling brightly. "My beloved partner plays a starring role in this one, and I think you’ll be surprised by her accomplice."

"Do tell," Catherine said, settling down to hear the saga.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Fifteen minutes later, Catherine sat staring at her daughter. "You can’t be serious, Jamie. That detestable woman could not have received that kind of money for sharing your and Ryan’s struggles with the newspapers."

"Oh, yes, she could," Jamie assured her. "They pay pretty well, as a matter of fact. But thanks to Ryan’s agile mind, Cassie wasn’t able to keep one dime of her ill-gotten gains. I told Ryan I was miffed that I didn’t get to see the look on Cassie’s face when she realized she’d have to give all of the money away – but my mental image is so colorful that I doubt the reality could have been as good."

"And this was all because of a computer game of some sort?"

"Well, that was the kicker, but Daddy was very helpful. He helped Ryan track down the money, and that was what allowed her to go to Coach Hayes and get Janet thrown off the team."

"I hate to think that Ryan has the same kind of devious mind that your father was blessed with – but I suppose it comes in handy occasionally."

"Mmm … Ryan’s not devious. She’s just very logical and thorough. She can’t stand to have things fail to make sense – so she stayed at it until she was sure that she understood where all of the pieces in the puzzle fit."

"However she did it, I’m immensely grateful to her. It would have stuck in my craw to think of Cassie living it up on $100,000 – received at your and Ryan’s expense. I have such a hard time understanding how someone can derive pleasure from causing someone else pain."

"I’ll never understand Cassie," Jamie said. "She’s pure evil. There’s a sadistic streak in that woman that’s been there since she was a kid. I remember her making fun of other kids for having the wrong clothes or the wrong shoes when we were in first grade. I’ve decided that she’s Satan’s child."

"No, she’s not Satan’s child," Catherine said, a furrow forming between her brows. "But she’s close."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Catherine hadn’t been home for five minutes when she found herself completely unable to resist the urge to call Laura Martin. The women had run into each other on at least a dozen occasions since Jamie and Cassie’s original falling out – but neither had mentioned the incident. Laura and Catherine were no longer friends – neither had called the other since Cassie moved out of Jamie’s house – but they were unfailingly civil to one another when they were in public.

Not even sure of what she was trying to accomplish, Catherine dialed the long-familiar number and swallowed hard when Laura picked up. "Hello, Laura, it’s Catherine."

"Catherine … Evans?" the woman asked.

Knowing that Laura was being intentionally obtuse, Catherine played it straight. "Yes, it’s Catherine Evans. I have a question for you."

"Really? What could you possibly have to ask me?"

"I’d like to know whether or not you’re aware of the fact that Cassie was the person who sold those nasty stories about Jamie to the tabloids?"

"Well, of course, I didn’t read those stories, Catherine, but from what I heard, the more interesting elements were about Jamie’s … whatever do you call that woman, anyway?"

"I call her the best thing that ever happened to our family, Laura. Her name is Ryan, and she’s Jamie’s partner."

"How quaint," Laura said, laughing softly. "When can we expect a wedding?"

"It’s in August," Catherine replied, her voice full of pride, "but don’t expect an invitation.

"Oh, Catherine, you could always put a positive gloss on anything. That must be nice for you."

Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, Catherine said, "Yes, my life is going well, Laura. But again, that’s not why I called. I called because I’d like to know if Cassie struck this evil deal on her own – or if you assisted her."

"Look, Catherine, I understand that Jamie’s behavior in the past year has been abysmal – no matter how much you try to dissemble – but it’s ridiculous to assume that Cassie has turned out as poorly as your own child has."

Swallowing a livid retort, Catherine said, "I have no interest in debating which of our children has turned out better, Laura. I think the answer is obvious to anyone who looks at the situation with any level of objectivity. My question is whether you knew of Cassie’s actions."

"Cassie didn’t do any such thing, Catherine, and I know that for a fact. My daughter would never consort with the types of people who run those disgusting magazines."

"She may not consort with them – but that didn’t stop her from accepting two large bank drafts from them."

"Nonsense! How bad has your drinking gotten, Catherine? Are you often delusional?"

"I think we’ve gone about as far as we’re going to go here, Laura. I’ll fax you copies of the bank drafts. Bye, now."

With a satisfied smile, Catherine called her daughter, asking Jamie to send her the copies as soon as she had a moment.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Just before Ryan was due home, the phone rang, and Jamie dashed to pick up. "Hello?"

"Hi, Jamie, it’s Jordan."

"Hey! How’re you doin’?"

"I’m all right. Is Mia home?"

"No, she left for Hillsborough right after her last class. You can call her on her cell, though."

"No, actually, I only wanted to make sure you guys were going to be around. I decided to come to town for the weekend in case she needs me."

"Oh, what a good girlfriend you are," Jamie said, smiling. "Well, we were going to go to Noe, but we can easily change our plans. When are you coming in?"

"My plane’s supposed to get in at 7. So, I should get to your house by 8:30 or so. Are you sure you don’t mind? I hate to have you change your plans."

Jamie laughed and said, "No, we don’t mind, you goof. And if you honestly think Ryan would let you take a cab, you don’t know her very well. We’ll come pick you up, and then we’ll go out to dinner. And don’t bother arguing with me, Jordan, I’m just as bull-headed as Ryan is."

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Hi, Mom, I’m home," Mia called out when she entered the family home.

"Come in here and give me a kiss," Anna Lisa replied from the kitchen. "I’m making your favorite dinner."

"Chicken and dumplings?"

"Do you have a new favorite that I don’t know about?" Anna Lisa asked. When Mia entered the kitchen, her mother was busily rolling out dough with a well-worn rolling pin, and she looked up from her work to give her daughter a warm, welcoming smile. "I don’t know how you manage it, Mia, but I swear you’re prettier every time I see you."

"You’re not so bad yourself," the younger woman teased, giving her mother a kiss. She picked up a triangle of the dough and popped it into her mouth.

"I’ll never understand how you can eat raw dough," Anna Lisa said, laughing.

"I prefer raw pie dough, but any kind will do," Mia said. "I must have a vitamin deficiency."

"You certainly look healthy enough," Anna Lisa said. She gave her child her usual visual scrutiny and added, "But you look like something’s bothering you. What is it?"

"Gee, Mom, can I take my coat off before you start to grill me?" She shrugged out of her jacket, then went to the refrigerator. "Got any Diet Coke?"

"Yes, I bought some this morning. Now, get your Coke and tell me what’s going on with you. Are you having trouble with this mystery boyfriend?"

Sighing, Mia reached into the refrigerator and took a can of Coke, then walked back over to her mother. She jumped up onto the counter and said, "I don’t have a mystery boyfriend, Mom."

"He might not be a mystery to you, but he is to me," the older woman said, her feelings still bruised from her daughter’s reticence to speak of her relationship.

"Well, that’s why I came down this weekend," Mia said, opening her soda and taking a long gulp. "We’ve settled all of the things that were going on, and like I promised, I want to tell you everything."

Anna Lisa put the rolling pin down, then dusted her hands off. She looked at Mia for a long moment, her dark eyes penetrating the younger woman’s defenses. "Something isn’t right here, Mia. You don’t look happy." Approaching her child, Anna Lisa stood between Mia’s knees and placed her hand on her cheek. "Are you pregnant, sweetheart? Is that it?"

"No! There’s no chance of that, Mom. Trust me."

"There’s always a chance," Anna Lisa insisted. "Birth control isn’t always effective."

"I’m well aware of that, Mom," Mia replied, thinking of her close call with Conor. "But I assure you that I’m not pregnant."

"Then what is it?"

"Uhm …" Mia cleared her throat and tried to get it out, but found herself struggling. "Uhm … you’ve always told me that I could tell you anything, right?"

"Yes, of course. You can tell me anything, Mia."

"I’ve always assumed that meant that you’d listen to me and not judge me before you heard me out, right?"

"For the love of God, what is it?" Anna Lisa cried, grasping her child by the shoulders and holding on a little too tight.

"It’s not that big a deal, Mom," Mia said, wincing as she pried her mother’s hands from her body. "I think you’re probably going to be a little upset by my choice of partner."

"Is he a drug dealer? A child molester? What?"

"He’s … not a he. He’s a she, Mom. I’m in love with a woman."

Anna Lisa’s face froze in surprise and she took a step backwards, stumbling a little as she did. Grabbing onto the counter, she shook her head violently, then said, "You’re what?"

Mia looked her right in the eye and said, "I’m in love with a woman. I love her with all my heart, Mom."

"You can’t be serious!" the older woman cried.

"I’m deadly serious," Mia said, her expression reflecting her feelings. "I’m serious enough to tell you the truth – even though I know this will upset you."

"Upset? Upset? You’ve never seen upset!"

"Mom, please don’t yell at me," Mia begged. "You said we could discuss this."

"What is there to discuss? My only daughter comes home to tell me she’s a lesbian? What can you say to that?"

Swallowing, Mia decided to tell the whole truth. "I didn’t say that I was a lesbian. I guess I’m bisexual, because I’m still attracted to men. But I love Jordan, Mom, and she’s the person I want to be with – she means everything to me."

"You’re in love with a woman, but you’re not a lesbian." Anna Lisa said this slowly, giving her daughter a look that bespoke her incredulity.

"What I call myself doesn’t matter," Mia insisted. "What’s important is that I’ve found the person I love. Why does it have to be such a big deal that she’s a woman?"

"I knew I shouldn’t have let you live with that girl," Anna Lisa said, fuming. "With that alcoholic mother and that cheating father, she couldn’t possibly be a good influence on you. She’s obviously convinced you that this is a perfectly acceptable choice. Well, it’s not!"

"Mom, Jamie had nothing to do with this! You can’t convince someone to sleep with a woman if she doesn’t want to!"

"WANT TO!" Anna Lisa yelled. "You admit that this is something you want to do! Well, you can change your mind right back, young lady. If you can want it, then you can stop wanting it just as easily!"

"Will you listen to yourself? You can’t order me to stop loving someone!"

"I most certainly can!" Anna Lisa said, her voice rising over her daughter’s.

Mia jumped down from the counter, standing toe to toe with her mother. "You can’t have it both ways, Mom. Either you have a rational discussion with me, or I hide things from you. I will not tell you something that means so much to me, only to have you treat me like a two-year-old!"

"You’re acting like a two-year-old! You see someone else do something, and you have to jump right in and do it yourself! This isn’t who you are, Mia! You’re not like Jamie and her …"

"Lover," Mia growled. "Ryan’s her lover. Jordan’s my lover. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me from loving her. Nothing!"

Grabbing her jacket, Mia stormed outside, heading up the curvy, narrow road, determined to keep walking until she felt calm enough to start round two of the encounter.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It was fully dark, and the cars barreling around the curvy streets would have frightened Mia if she hadn’t been so angry. But she was so steamed that all she could think of was exactly how to tell her mother off when she returned to the house. She was so engrossed in her plans that she failed to see the British racing green Jaguar slow, and then pull into the driveway in front of her. "Mia!" her father called out.

Looking up, the young woman approached the car tentatively. "Are you armed?"

"Get in, you lunatic," Adam said, chuckling softly.

Mia did so, leaning against the door, in case her father took a swing at her. "Do you curse the day I was born? Or is that only mom’s wish?"

"Oh, honey, she didn’t say that, did she?"

"No," Mia admitted, "but, it was implied."

Adam put his hand on his daughter’s knee and gave it a squeeze. "You know her temper gets the best of her, honey, but she loves you very, very much. You caught her by surprise with this one." He smiled and added, "You caught me, too."

"What were my options, Dad?" she asked. "It’s not like I could have worked up to this slowly. I mean, I guess I could have started dating effeminate men, but that probably wouldn’t have given you a good enough clue."

"No, I don’t think there’s a baby step for this kind of thing. I’m sorry that Mom hurt your feelings so badly. Would you like to go have some coffee or a drink and let her calm down a little?"

"A drink," Mia decided. "A nice, stiff drink."

* * * * * * * * * * *

They found a nearby restaurant with a comfortable bar, and father and daughter sat next to one another, sipping at their drinks for a few minutes before either one spoke. "Are you disappointed in me, Dad?" the young woman finally asked.

"No, Mia," he said softly. "You’ve never disappointed me, baby." She raised an eyebrow and he smiled. "Okay, I’ve been disappointed a few times, but only when you’ve done something that’s dangerous or harmful. This isn’t one of those kinds of things."

"What kind of thing is it, Dad?"

"Well," he said, "I’ve always thought you’d find a nice guy and settle down. It never dawned on me that you might see a different future for yourself. It’s gonna take some time to get used to this."

"But … you’ll try?" she asked tentatively.

"Of course I will," Adam said. "I love you, Mia, and I’d never let something like this make me stop loving you." He put his arm around her and gave her a squeeze. "You haven’t been the easiest child in the world to raise, honey, but I wouldn’t trade you for anything. We’ll get through this, but we have to weather the storm first."

Finishing her drink with one big gulp, Mia stood and said, "We might as well head into the tempest, Dad. I think it’s gonna be a rough night."

* * * * * * * * * * *

The pair went into the house through the back door, and Mia shook her head when she saw the uncooked dumplings lying in a congealed mass in the sink. "I guess a bisexual doesn’t get to have her favorite dinner."

Adam put his arm around her shoulders and said, "Do you think it’s a good idea to let her have a knife in her hands? Count your blessings."

Walking into the living room together, Anna Lisa fixed the pair with a withering glare. "Did you walk to San Mateo?"

"No, but I could have," Mia said. "We went out for a drink to give both of us time to calm down a little. I don’t want us to keep yelling at each other."

"Fine," Anna Lisa said. "Come sit down by me and tell me how this happened."

Giving her a puzzled look, Mia sat down and said, "You want me to explain how I fell in love?"

"No," Anna Lisa said. "I want you to explain how you got into the position to fall in love."

Her mind came up with a dozen answers, all of them lewd, so Mia forced herself to answer seriously. "Jordan played on Ryan’s volleyball team …"

"I knew that woman was involved," Anna Lisa snapped.

"Do you want me to talk, or do you want to assume whatever you want, Mom?"

"Talk! Who’s stopping you?"

Rolling her eyes, Mia continued. "Jordan came over to the house every once in a while, and one night we went out together – just the two of us."

"Why did you do that? If I met a lesbian, I’d never agree to spend the evening with her!"

"Well, aren’t you the most open-minded person in the world." Mia’s arms were crossed over her chest, and she took in a few deep breaths. "That was the night I learned that Jordan was gay, but that certainly wasn’t going to stop me from going out for the evening with her."

"So you admit you accepted a date from a lesbian?"

"I didn’t think of it as a date," she said thoughtfully. "At first, that is. But we had a wonderful evening together, and we stayed out until dawn, just talking. As the night went on, it became clear that we were … attracted to each other, and when we came back to the house I … I kissed her."

"You … kissed … her," Anna Lisa said.

"Yeah, that’s right. I kissed her. I was very attracted to her, Mom, and she looked so pretty, sitting there in the kitchen, with the morning light hitting her hair. I had to kiss her."

Anna Lisa dropped her head into her hands, muttering, "Then what?"

"You really want to hear this?" the younger woman asked.

"Yes. I want to know how this happened," Anna Lisa insisted.

Mia looked to her father for help, but he just shrugged his shoulders, so she continued, "Jordan’s painfully shy, so we took it very slow. We saw each other once or twice a week, until she started making up reasons to come home with Ryan at night. Soon we started spending our evenings together – talking and kissing – like you do with anyone you’re starting to get to know."

Shaking her head, Anna Lisa blinked repeatedly, then asked, "Why did you want to kiss her? She’s a woman!"

"I was attracted to her, Mom, it’s as simple as that. I kissed her for the same reason I’ve kissed every boy I’ve ever dated – I did it because I was very attracted to her and I wanted to touch her."

"Go on," Anna Lisa growled.

"Fine," Mia said, deciding to give her mother exactly what she was asking for. "I got tired of waiting for her to make the first move, so one night I convinced her to let me give her a massage. She agreed, and I finally relaxed her enough that she could accept my touch. We made love that night, Mom." The young woman shrugged her shoulders and said, "As soon as I touched her, I knew I loved her. It’s magical to be with her."

Anna Lisa scowled at her. "What are you saying? That she has you under some kind of spell?"

"We’re not in the Old Country, Mom. She didn’t put the evil eye on me. Jesus!"

"This doesn’t make any sense, Mia! Why would you want to touch a woman – like that? What on earth has gotten into you?"

Mia looked at her father and asked, "Does any of this amaze you, Dad? I mean, come on, look at my history!"

Adam looked at his daughter for a moment, then said, "No, I suppose this isn’t a great shock. You’ve always been one to try something new."

"Fine! So you tried it," Anna Lisa said, brushing her hands together in a dismissive gesture. "Now, you’re finished with it!"

"No, I’m not," Mia said firmly. "This wasn’t the first time I’ve been with a woman. This is not out of the ordinary for me."

"What? You’re lying! You’re only saying that to make this sound more normal."

"I am not! I’ve been sleeping with men since I was 16, and with women since I was 17."

"How can you say that?" the older woman cried. "I know that’s not true!"

"I had sex with Melissa Johnston right upstairs in my room – for almost a year. Every time she stayed over here, or I stayed at her house, we had sex. She fell in love with me, Mom, and if I hadn’t been so afraid of your reaction, I might have let myself fall in love with her, too."

"You were going steady then! I was so worried about you getting pregnant by Mark! Now you tell me you were only putting on a front so you could be with Melissa?"

Mia looked down, feeling guiltier about her two-timing Mark than she ever had over anything she’d ever done. "No, I wasn’t putting on a front. I was sleeping with Mark while I was sleeping with Melissa."

"Adam! Do you believe this?" Anna Lisa demanded.

"Why would Mia lie about this?" he asked. "This is obviously something that she’s been dealing with for quite a while."

"You had sex with a girl … right in my house?" Anna Lisa cried.

"Yep. Sure did. I had sex with Mark here, too, just for the record. When you and Dad were going to be out for the night, Melissa and Trey would have sex in Peter’s room, while Mark and I would be in my room. After the boys would leave, we’d make love, and it was always – always better with Melissa."

"Damn it, Mia!" The enraged woman paced back and forth in front of the sofa. "How could you do something like that?"

"Mom, you know I’ve always had a … wild streak. I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not very proud of. But loving Jordan isn’t one of them. She’s a wonderful woman, and I’m proud of our love."

"Proud! You’re proud of this!"

"I am," Mia said, standing to glare right back at her mother. "Now, I’m gonna go get something to eat. Since my ‘favorite daughter’ dinner was thrown away, I’m going to go get carry-outs. Dad, do you want anything?"

"I could use a bite," he admitted.

"I assume you’re too angry to even think about eating," Mia said to her mother.

With a withering look, the older woman turned her back and stomped away, heading upstairs.

"Let’s go out for a decent meal," Adam said. "I’ve had enough yelling for one evening."

"That goes double for me," Mia agreed. "Too bad there’s no place around here to get chicken and dumplings," she groused. "I had my mouth set to dig into those babies."

* * * * * * * * * * *

After dinner, Jordan paced across the living room, while Jamie and Ryan tried to get her to relax a little bit. "Mia will be fine, Jordan," Jamie assured her. "Her mom is very volatile, but Mia doesn’t take much abuse. They’re pretty well matched, to be honest."

"I can’t stand the thought of her being yelled at or having her feelings hurt," Jordan said.

"I understand that, but you’ve got to understand how the Christophers’ interact. Mia and her mom are either kissing each other and complimenting the hell out of each other; or they’re yelling their heads off. They’ve always been that way, and they always will be. My guess is that they’re yelling now – and before the night’s over, they’ll be kissing."

"What about her dad?" Jordan asked. "Can she count on him?"

"He’s a funny guy," Jamie said. "He lets Mrs. Christopher run the house and make most of the decisions regarding the kids. In a way, he kinda acts like one of the kids. I think he’ll be on Mia’s side – he usually is – but that still won’t stop her mom from giving her a hard time."

"She’ll call if things get bad, won’t she?" Jordan asked, her face lined with worry.

"No. She’ll storm out of there and come home. She’ll be able to handle this, Jordan. I promise you that she will."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Over dinner, Adam leaned back in his chair and said, "Tell me a little more about this woman, Mia. All I know is her first name."

"Her name’s Jordan Ericsson," Mia said, smiling from the mere recital of her name. "She’s from L.A,. and her dad is a bigwig in development at Paramount. Her parents are divorced, and her mom is a psycho, and she has one older brother. He’s close to Peter’s age – but he’s a loser."

"Doesn’t sound like a very happy family," Adam said.

"No, it’s not a happy family, Dad. Jordan practically raised herself, and if she hadn’t had volleyball to give her some focus, I don’t know what would have happened to her."

"She must be a pretty good player to make Cal’s team," Adam said.

Giving him a proud smile, Mia said, "She’s fabulous, Dad. She’s on the Olympic team. That’s why we can’t be together right now – she’s in Colorado Springs at the Olympic training facility."

"Damn! She must be great!"

"She is," Mia said. "And she works her butt off – she’s very, very disciplined." Cocking her head, she asked, "Wanna see a picture?"


She dug into her wallet and pulled out a photo of the two of them taken in the Bahamas. They were lying together on a chaise on the deck of their villa, and Mia was sound asleep. Jordan had her arms around her waist, cuddling Mia to her chest. The blonde was wide-awake, and when Ryan had come out with the camera, Jordan had dipped her head, closed her eyes, and kissed the top of Mia’s head. Adam gazed at the print for a long time, then looked at his daughter and smiled. "You look like you’re in love."

"I am, Dad," she said earnestly. "For the first time in my life. I want you and Mom to like her – but whether or not you do – I’m going to continue to love her."

"I thought you were in love with Jason, Mia. You said you were at the time."

"I thought I knew what love was, Dad, but I didn’t. I cared for Jason more than I ever had any other guy – and I thought that’s what love was supposed to feel like. But I never felt like Jason was a part of me – I never felt that his needs were as important as mine. I didn’t fully trust him, Dad. But I trust Jordan with my life. I know she’d never hurt me – no matter what."

He looked at the picture again, smiling as he said, "You do know how good looking she is, don’t you?"

"Uhm … yeah, that hasn’t escaped my attention. But that’s not her biggest appeal, Dad. I’ll admit that her looks were the first thing I noticed, but it’s her heart that I love." She took out another couple of photos – including one of Jordan in her thong bikini, lying on the beach – striking an intentionally sexy pose. "But, I’ll admit that her body takes my breath away."

Adam looked at them quickly, then handed them back. "Well," he said, giving his daughter a mildly embarrassed smile, "I thought it was bad enough when Peter started bringing girls home – now I have to try to ignore the fact that my daughter is dating a gorgeous woman! I think I’d prefer to see some nice, fully clothed pictures of the two of you, honey."

"Sorry," she said, giggling. "I guess I forget sometimes that you’re a guy."

"Only when your mother’s not around," Adam said, laughing along with his daughter.

* * * * * * * * * * *

When they returned home, Anna Lisa was not much calmer. Adam tried to intercede, and they went upstairs to their room to talk privately for a while. Mia took the opportunity to go into the kitchen and put in a call to Jamie. "Hey," she said, when her friend answered.

"How’s it going?" Jamie asked. "We’re worried about you."

"Well, my mom’s actually a little worse than I thought she’d be. She thinks she can order me to stop loving Jordan." Laughing softly, she added, "She seems to forget that she’s never effectively ordered me to stop doing anything."

"I can attest to that," Jamie said. "Have you spoken to Jordan?"

"Huh-uh. My parents are upstairs and I think they’ll be coming back down any minute. I don’t want to call her until the dust has settled."

"Are you gonna stay overnight?" Jamie asked, honoring Jordan’s wishes that Mia not know she was in town.

"I guess I should," Mia said. "I kinda hate to drop a bomb on them and then take off. My mom might be calmer in the morning, after she’s vented a little."

"Well, call me before you go to bed, okay? I’m worried about you."

"Will do. Wish me luck, James."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Anna Lisa and Adam came back downstairs minutes after Mia hung up. The younger woman was in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen – the remnants of the ill-fated chicken and dumplings making her so grumpy that she had to dispose of them.

Busying herself by making a cup of tea, Anna Lisa spoke in a calm voice. "Your father tells me that your friend is on the Olympic team."

"Yeah, she is," Mia said. "I’m very proud of her."

"How long will she be where she is?"

"She’s in Colorado," Mia said. "That’s been one of the things we’ve been trying to work out. The Olympics are in September, and after that – it’s still up in the air if she’ll stay with the team or come home to Berkeley."

"And if she stays there?" Anna Lisa asked, still using her conversational tone.

"Then I’ll be there with her." Mia turned and looked her mother directly in the eye. "We’ll make the decision together, Mom, based on what’s best for each of us."

"Have you forgotten that you’re going to law school in the fall of 2001?"

"No, of course I haven’t forgotten. That’ll be one of the major things we consider. We won’t do anything rash, Mom."

"You’ve already done something rash, Mia. Something very rash."

"Look. It’s getting late. Do you want me to go home? Or can we talk about this calmly tomorrow?"

"I want you to stay," Anna Lisa said. She walked up to her daughter and hugged her tight. "I love you, Mia, and I always will. I’m upset about this, but I still love you."

"I know, Mom. I don’t ever doubt that you love me. Although, sometimes I think you wish you’d stopped after one child."

Anna Lisa grasped Mia’s chin in her hand and shook it, making her curls fly. "Don’t you ever even think something like that! I thank God every day that he gave me such a wonderful child! And I’ll thank him tonight, Mia – just like always."

"I love you, too, Mom," Mia sighed as she rested her head on her mother’s shoulder. "I hate it when we yell at each other. I’ll make an effort to be calm tomorrow. Will you?"

"Yes, baby, I’ll try," the older woman said. "Sleep well." She kissed Mia and gave her another healthy squeeze, then Adam came over and did the same.

"Do you need anything, honey?" he asked.

"No, I’m gonna head up to bed. Wake me up when you get up, okay?"

"Okay," Adam said, ruffling her hair as he left the room. "See you tomorrow."

As soon as her parents left the room, Mia took her cell phone and dialed Jordan’s apartment, frowning when the answering machine picked up. "Hi, honey. It’s me. Call me when you get home, okay? Love you."

Going up to her room, she got undressed and put on one of Jordan’s Olympic team T-shirts that she’d lifted when they were in Las Vegas. Falling into her bed, she dialed her house, and once again spoke with Jamie. "Hey. What’s going on?"

"Not much. How’s it going?"

"About what you’d expect. Things are a little better than they were earlier. I’m gonna go to bed – wait for Jordy to call me back."

"Okay, honey. You let us know if you need anything."

"I need my Jordan," Mia sighed. "I miss her."

"I know she misses you, too, Mia. But you’ll see her soon."

"We haven't made any specific plans about when we'll see each other again, Jamie. I don’t know how long it’ll be."

"Think good thoughts, Mia. It might be sooner than you think."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Hanging up, Jamie smiled at the tall, blonde woman who paced in front of her. "She misses you."

"I miss her, too," Jordan said. "I think I’ll go up to her room and call her."

"We might be in bed when you’re finished," Ryan said. "It’s been a long week."

"No problem. I know my way around," the blonde said, smiling.

"G’night, buddy." Ryan gave her friend a kiss and Jamie followed suit.

"See you guys tomorrow," Jordan said.

As soon as she got to Mia’s room, Jordan dialed the number and lay down on the bed. "Hi, sweetheart," she said when Mia answered.

"Hi. Where were you when I called?"

"Uhm … I was talking with some friends. How are you?"

"I’m all right, but I miss you so much I ache, Jordy. I don’t know why it’s so bad tonight, but I’d give anything to see you."

"Oh, Mia, I miss you, too. I guess it was because I knew you were doing something difficult today – but I wasn’t able to stop thinking about you all day. I got hit right in the face with a ball in practice – I couldn’t concentrate a bit."

"You didn’t get hurt, did you?"

"Nah. It just woke me up a little bit. The teasing I had to take was more painful than being hit with the ball." Her voice grew gentler, and she asked, "Tell me how it’s going."

"Uhm … it’s not great, but it’s also not horrible. Mom’s pretty upset, and she was being fairly irrational earlier, but right before she went to bed she told me she loved me, and that we could try to be calmer tomorrow. It’s been a big shock for her."

"Is your dad okay?"

"He’s handling it better," Mia said, "but I assumed he would. He never gets very upset about things that I do. He was very wild when he was a kid, and I think he understands that I’m a free spirit like he was."

"You are that," Jordan said fondly. "That’s part of what I love about you."

"I feel so unsettled," Mia said. "I know they love me, and I know they want only the best for me – but it’s hard, Jordy. It’s so hard to have to defend myself and my choices and my feelings. It makes me feel … lonely."

"I wish I were with you right now," Jordan said, sighing deeply.

"I do, too. I’d give anything to feel your arms around me. You make me feel so safe and secure and loved. I know you’ll always support me, Jordan." She paused, and Jordan could hear her struggle to maintain her composure. "I wish I felt the same way about my mom." Mia started to cry softly, finally saying, "I hate it when she yells at me. It makes me feel so defensive … like I’m a little kid who doesn’t have any sense."

"She yelled at you?" Jordan asked, trying to control the anger she felt welling up.

"We yell at each other, honey. We always have. I can remember being a tiny little kid, standing in the kitchen and us yelling at each other at full volume. It’s a stupid way to communicate, but it’s what we do."

"You never yell at me," Jordan said. "Do you ever feel like yelling?"

"No, it’s just my mom that gets to me this way. I never yell at my dad, or my brother. She just makes me crazy."

"Damn, you sound so sad," Jordan said. "I wish I could make you feel better."

"I feel better when I talk to you," Mia said. "I can lie here and imagine that you’re holding me."

"I can’t do that," Jordan said. "I miss you more when we talk on the phone." She sighed and said, "I miss you so much that all I think about is when I’ll be able to talk to you – but when I do, it reminds me of how far away you are, and how much I miss holding you and kissing you. I … I never feel settled."

"I know, honey. I know exactly what you mean." Mia sniffed a few times, wiping at her tears. "Let’s go to sleep now. I’m getting more depressed talking about it."

"Oh, baby, I’m sorry if I upset you."

"No, you didn’t upset me, Jordy. The situation upsets me – having you a thousand miles away upsets me. But not you, sweetheart. You’re my girl."

"I’ll always be your girl," Jordan said softly. "Always."

"G’night, Jordy. I’ll try to dream about how wonderful it feels to lie in your arms."

"I love you, Mia. I love you with all my heart."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Continued in Part 21

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