I Found My Heart In San Francisco

Book 13 Monogamy

By: S X Meagher


Part 22 (conclusion)

Taking the pizza box with her, Jamie started to search through the apartment, finally finding her partner in the most unlikely of places – a bedroom. Ryan was sitting on the bed, with her arm around another woman, speaking softly and soothingly to her. The pair was facing the door, and when Jamie poked her head in, Ryan dropped her arm and gave her a stunned, nervous smile. "Hi! Uhm … I was uhm … kinda looking for you."

"Did you think I was under the bed?" Jamie asked, her voice in its usual, conversational tone.

Ryan’s smile grew even tighter, and she jumped off the bed. "Uhm … Mandy, this is my partner, Jamie. Jamie, this is my friend, Mandy."

"Pleased to meet you," Jamie said, extending her hand.

Mandy shook it, then got up in an ungainly fashion. As she did, Jamie noted that she was pregnant. The blonde must have been staring at the woman’s belly, for Mandy patted it and said, "6 months. Seems longer."

Jamie stared at the woman as she walked away, then turned to her partner and raised an eyebrow. "You’d better not have had anything to do with that, Ryan O’Flaherty."

"Am I in trouble?" Ryan asked, swallowing audibly.

"That depends on if you’re the father of that baby," Jamie said, giving her partner’s hair an affectionate ruffle.

"Close the door and come over here, honey," Ryan said.

"Are you holding court in here? I haven’t seen you in a while." Jamie closed the door and walked back over to the bed, holding the pizza box open for her lover.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Ryan murmured as she grabbed a piece of pizza and took a big bite. After swallowing, she said, "No, I’m not holding court. Mandy grabbed me a few minutes after I saw Sara and Ally, and we’ve been talking ever since. She’s having some problems, and she thought I might be able to help."

"Do tell," Jamie said, leaning over to take a bite off Ryan’s slice.

"Well, the details aren’t important, but the person she was relying on to be her Lamaze coach backed out on her. She thought I might be able to step in."

Rolling her eyes, Jamie gave her a resigned sigh, and asked, "When do you start?"

"Not for a while," Ryan said, stifling a smile. "Not until you’re pregnant."

"What?" Jamie gave her a puzzled look and asked, "You turned down a friend who asked you for a favor? You?"

"Yep. Me," Ryan said, nodding. "I thought about it while she was telling me what had happened, and I decided that helping a woman give birth is too intimate a thing to do with someone other than you. I want the first newborn I ever hold to be ours," she said, putting her pizza down and giving Jamie a tender hug. "It’s too precious an experience to share with Mandy."

"Oh, Ryan, that’s so sweet," Jamie sighed, giving her partner a kiss. Smoothing the hair back off her face, Jamie gave her a concerned look and asked, "Was it hard to say no?"

"Yeah, it was," Ryan said. "I don’t have a lot of practice in refusing favors. But Mandy’s got some issues that I can’t afford to get involved in. I don’t think I’d be able to walk away after the baby was born – I think I’d feel like I had to keep an eye on her – and I can’t afford to share my time like that." She gave Jamie another kiss, this one longer and filled with emotion. "I have to concentrate on you."

"Thank you," Jamie said softly, lying down on the bed and tugging Ryan down with her. "I know it must have been hard to turn down someone in need, but I would have been very jealous if you’d said yes." She kissed Ryan tenderly, and added, "But I can certainly understand why she asked you. You’d be a wonderful birth coach."

"We’ll have to see about that, won’t we?" Ryan asked, kissing the tip of Jamie’s nose.

The door opened, and a pair of women stood in the doorway, one of them peering into the darkness and saying, "Is that you, Rock?"

"Sure is."

"You gonna be long?"

"All my life," Ryan said, kissing Jamie softly. "But you can have the room."

* * * * * * * * * * *

On the way through the apartment, they stopped repeatedly, with Ryan kissing each of her friends on the mouth, then dutifully introducing Jamie. "Uhm … you don’t mind the kissing thing, do you, honey?" Ryan asked when they had a moment alone.

"Have you always kissed these people when you see them?"

"Yeah. Sure. Always."

"Then why should you stop because you’re in love? I think it would be odd and a little awkward to try to avoid a kiss – it’s like I own your lips or something."

"Well, ya do," Ryan said, wrinkling up her nose.

"Okay, then I give your lips permission to kiss any of your old friends. But don’t go out of your way to kiss people if it hasn’t already been established, ‘kay?"

"It’s a deal." They stood in the living room, just a few yards from Sara and Ally, who were talking – rather than kissing. "I guess we have to go say hello, huh?"

"You don’t have to do anything, honey. We can go down to the second floor if you want to."

"No, no, that’s not necessary." She was looking around nervously, and spotted someone who caught her attention. "I have to go say hello to Marcus, an old workout buddy from the gym. I haven’t seen him in over a year. Wanna come?"

Jamie looked over at a rather short man, who obviously spent all of his time working out. He was wearing a tank top and shorts, and his ample muscles were revealed upon every bit of exposed skin. He also had rather intricate tribal tattoos on his biceps, and down the backs of his arms, ending in cuffs at his wrists. "Mmm … I think I’ll go talk to Sara and Ally. Marcus looks like too much of a gym rat for me."

"You might be surprised," Ryan said in a singsong fashion.

"I’ll come get you if I start missing you," Jamie decided. "Go talk about pumping iron with your buff friend."

"Okay. Love you." Ryan kissed her, lingering a bit, then running the tip of her tongue all over the outline of Jamie’s lips, making the blonde giggle and rub her mouth against Ryan’s shirt. "Just want to make sure everyone knows you’re taken," she murmured, adding one more serious kiss to be certain.

"Brat!" Jamie swatted her on the butt and sent her on her way, chuckling to herself when she approached Sara and Ally. "Hey, guys, what’s going on?"

"Not much," Ally said. "Did you ever find Ryan?"

"Yeah, but she got waylaid again. She knows so many people!"

"She does," Ally agreed. "And I bet every one of them wants to ask her about the carjacking."

Jamie blinked at her, then shook her head. "That didn’t even dawn on me! Damn, I must be getting better when that’s not the first thing I think of when we run into someone we know."

"Are you both getting better, Jamie?" Sara asked.

"Yeah, we are. It’s gonna take a long while to be completely over it, but it doesn’t interfere in our daily lives much anymore. It still pops up every once in a while, of course – usually when you least expect it."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jordan sat against the wall, with Mia sitting between her spread legs and leaning against her chest. "I can’t imagine how hurt you must be," the blonde said, bending repeatedly to kiss the crown of her lover’s head.

"That’s it exactly," Mia said. "I’m not angry anymore – I’m deeply, deeply hurt. You know," she said thoughtfully, "it isn’t even the fact that they don’t approve. What hurts is that they’d made up their minds last night. They were fucking with me today. That feels like such a betrayal."

"I know it does," Jordan soothed. "I’d feel the same way."

"It’s like they knew I’d be pissed, and they wanted to have a nice day – so they acted like they were interested in you, and how I feel about you, and how we came to love each other. But they didn’t give a crap," she said bitterly. "They just wanted to get through the day in peace. That sucks so bad!" She took another swig off her bottle of tequila, no longer bothering to use a cup or bite the lime.

"They probably didn’t want to hurt you. Maybe they wanted to work up to it, but it took ‘em all day. I think they really do love you, honey."

"Maybe they do, Jordy, but they have to learn to love me as an adult. I’m not their little girl any more – they can’t tell me who I’m allowed to play with."

"Give ‘em time, baby, they’ll probably come around."

"They’ll have plenty of time," the curly haired woman said. "They can reconsider while I’m in Colorado."

"Uhm … when are you coming to Colorado?" Jordan asked, completely puzzled.

"Tomorrow. I’m going with you."

"Mia! Are you serious? What about school?" Jordan’s face was lit up with excitement, her expression alone reassuring Mia in ways that words never could.

"What’s the rush? You and I can finish at the same time. It’s not a big deal."

"Oh, but, honey," Jordan said, "you’ve only got two more months of class. Don’t you want to graduate with your friends?"

"Sure, I want to graduate and be done with it all, but I want to be with you a hundred times more than I want to graduate. I can’t wait any more, Jordy. And now that my parents know, there’s no reason to be apart any longer. We’ll both finish our last semester at some point – then I’ll graduate with my best girl."

"Damn," Jordan said, wrapping her arms tightly around her. "Is it really that easy? Can you just decide to quit school and come to Colorado with me?"

"Yes, it’s that easy. The hard part is trying to figure out how I’ll support myself. I told my parents I’d drive my car uninsured, but I’d never do that. So, I’ll have to have the money for the car and food and a little entertainment. And I want to make sure I’m home when you’re home – so I have to get a day job. How will your roommates feel about having me around?"

"Huh?" Jordan shook her head. "Damn, I’ve got so many thoughts racing through my brain, I can hardly concentrate."

"I asked about your roommates," Mia repeated. "Will they mind having me move in?"

"Doesn’t matter if they do or not, ‘cause we won’t be there long. I want to be alone with you, Mia, not have three other women hanging around all of the time. We’ll get our own place."

"Jordy! How will we afford that? You said that apartments are very expensive."

"They are, but our relationship is worth too much to fool around with, Mia. Living in a dorm-like setting isn’t right for us."

"Oh, Jordan, I feel like I’m forcing you to do things you’re not ready to do. Are you sure you want me to come?"

"Turn around and look at me," Jordan said. Mia shifted around so that she was facing her lover, and she gazed into her clear, blue eyes. "I love you with all of my heart," she said. "And I want you as close to me as I can get you – 24 hours a day. I want to wake up holding you, I want to kiss your sweet lips when I get home at night, and I want to go to sleep cuddled up so close to you that you’ll feel like you’re covered with a Jordan blanket. Nothing on this earth would make me happier than to have you live with me – in our own apartment."

"But how will we pay for it?" Mia asked.

"I’ve got money," Jordan said. "I’ve been forcing myself to live on the stipend I get from USA Volleyball, and putting every dime of my modeling income into savings. But having you with me is worth more than having money in the bank. We can easily live for at least two years on my savings, and I’m only too happy to spend it."

"But, Jordan, that’s your money for graduate school! You can’t spend that!"

"Yes, I can," she said, her eyes blazing with determination. "I’m not merely looking out for myself anymore, Mia. My decisions have to include what’s best for you and for us. This is what’s best for us right now. Graduate school will take care of itself when the time comes. We need a place of our own, we need to keep your car insured; and we need to get health insurance for you. I’m not going to worry about what will happen if you break a leg skiing."

"You sound like my dad," Mia said, chuckling softly.

"That’s because I love you, and I want to protect you," Jordan said, bending to kiss her partner. "You’re the most wonderful part of my life, Mia."

"I love you, too, Jordy," she sighed. "Two hours ago I was as depressed as I’ve ever been, and now I feel like everything will be all right." Hugging her partner fiercely, she asked, "How do you work that kind of magic?"

"Love," Jordan whispered. "The secret is love."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Jamie went into the kitchen to fish out a beer, but when she took a look at how deep the ice water was, she thought better of it and started to leave the room. "Hey, good looking," Ryan said, filling the doorway by grabbing the top molding and stretching.

"Hi. I was gonna get a beer, but I don’t want to get frostbite."

"Let me assist," Ryan said, pushing off from the door and making for the tub. She looked inside, shook her head and muttered, "Heathens." Looking around the kitchen, she spied a large, aluminum pot and started to bail the icy water from the container, not stopping until she reached ice and beer. Sticking her long arm into the tall tub, she extracted two of their beers and handed one to her partner with a flourish.

"My hero," Jamie said, batting her eyes.

"Hey, gotta make sure I get my date at least half drunk if I wanna get lucky," Ryan teased.

"I think I’d better stick close to you for the rest of the night," Jamie said, smiling up at her. "I didn’t mind letting you hang with Marcus, but he’s practically the only guy here. You’ve probably had your way with everybody else at the party. I don’t want to find you in the bedroom again."

"Fooled you. Had my way with Marcus, too," Ryan said, adding a randy wink. She started to leave the kitchen, but found that a hand reaching out to grab her waistband slowed her progress.

"Hold on there, stud. You’d better be joking."

Ryan turned to find a very stern look on her partner’s face. "Uhm … yeah, I’m joking," she said.

Jamie slapped her soundly on the rump, muttering, "I can never tell whether you’re joking or not."

"Well, I’m only partially joking," Ryan admitted. "I didn’t have my way with him, but we did make out at a party once. I didn’t want to go any further, though, so we stopped at that."

"What? You made out with a guy?"

Giving her a curious look, Ryan asked, "Why does that bother you?"

Rolling her eyes in frustration, Jamie said, "Because, you’ve specifically told me that you’ve never been attracted to a guy, you’ve never fooled around with a guy, and that you’ve never even been on a date with a guy. Now, which is it, Ryan?"

"Wow," Ryan said, her brow furrowed, "you’re really upset about this, aren’t you."

Looking embarrassed, Jamie nodded. "Yeah, I am."

"Let’s go for a little walk," Ryan said. "I don’t want to discuss this in here."

They went outside, and strolled up and down in front of the building, taking sips of their beers to cool off from the overheated apartment. "I’ve never lied to you about my sexual history, Jamie. I’d never do that. But, I am puzzled about why it doesn’t seem to bother you that I’ve had sex with at least 10 women here, but you’re pissed off to think that I kissed Marcus."

Scowling, Jamie took another pull on her beer and tried to explain herself. "This sounds stupid, but something about you kissing a guy is kinda … gross."

"Gross? You’ve kissed your fair share of guys. Was that gross?"

"No, it’s not that guys are gross – but your kissing one is."

"I need a little more to go on," Ryan said, scratching her head, "’cause that makes no sense."

"Look," Jamie said, "it’s like this. Expressing your sexuality with women is natural for you. That’s who you are. But the thought of you making out with a guy at a party seems – perverted. It’s like you did it because you needed someone to kiss, and he was the closest one around. There’s something about it that doesn’t sound like you, Ryan, and that’s what bothers me. I have an image of you as this super-lesbian; and to hear you say that it’s ‘any port in a storm’ seems kinda sick. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I’m really bothered by it." She crossed her arms over her stomach, and said, "This is the first thing I’ve ever heard of you doing that bothers me. It seems … immoral."

Ryan took a sip of her beer and gave her partner a slow smile. "I guess I can understand that. And, no, it doesn’t hurt my feelings to have you say that. Like I said, I’ve never lied to you about my sexual history. I’ve never kissed a man."

"But you said …"

"Marcus wasn’t a man when I kissed him … or her."


"Marcus was Marcia when we first met," Ryan said, smiling when Jamie’s eyes grew round. "She was kinda cute, and I liked her when I met her, but there was something funny about kissing her. It sounds funny now, but she gave off male vibes, and I couldn’t get into it."

"Male vibes?" Jamie asked, still trying to get her mind around this information.

"Yeah. She was more aggressive than I like a woman to be."

"You liked Ally," Jamie reminded her dryly, lifting one eyebrow.

"Ally wasn’t aggressive," Ryan said. "To me, there’s a difference between being aggressive and being dominant. Ally was definitely dominant, but in a very slow, gentle way. Ally makes you want to submit to her," she said thoughtfully, her mouth unconsciously easing into a smile. "Marcia was just plain aggressive. I didn’t like that at all."

"But you stayed friends with her?"

"Oh, yeah, I like him a lot. Now that he’s more comfortable with his sexuality, he seems much more laid back. I don’t want to test my theory," she said, chuckling, "but I bet he’s not as aggressive now that he’s had the surgery. I think he had some trouble coming to terms with who he was back then."

Jamie’s eyes grew even wider as she asked, "He had the surgery? He’s … a … real guy now?"

"As close as medicine can make him," Ryan said. "He’s still genetically a woman – still has the double X chromosome, but he had a double mastectomy a couple of years ago, and about 6 months ago he had the bottom half done."

Gritting her teeth, Jamie crossed her arms over her breasts. "Jesus, I can’t imagine choosing to have my favorite erogenous zone removed. That’s a man with convictions!"

"Having the mastectomy is one thing, but risking losing feeling down below is a hell of a lot bigger commitment in my book. Nobody’s messing with my girl thang."

Jamie chuckled; giving her partner’s girl parts a pinch. "I like ‘em as much as you do, baby."

"I rather doubt that," Ryan said, barking out a laugh.

With a thoughtful look, Jamie said, "Damn, I can’t get my mind off that surgery. I wonder what his … thing … looks like."

"His thing?" Ryan asked, chuckling. "For someone who’s been well acquainted with ‘things,’ it’s rather odd that you can’t even use the word."

"Penis," the blonde said, sticking out her tongue. "I can say penis. Happy?"

Tweaking her lover’s nose, Ryan said, "Delirious. I uhm … can arrange for a peek. Do ya really wanna see?"


"He said he’d show me, but I said I didn’t have enough knowledge of the equipment to give him an opinion. You could help him out, though."

"Help him out?"

"Yeah, he’s kinda weirded out about showing it to a woman in a sexual setting. I think he wants to be reassured that it doesn’t look freaky."

"Why do all of your friends feel comfortable asking you to do the most intimate things with them?" Jamie asked, her pique showing.

Ryan slid her arms around her partner’s waist and looked down into her eyes. "Don’t you feel comfortable asking me to do intimate things with you?" she asked, her voice sexy and low.

"Yes, Ryan," Jamie said, unable to hide a smile.

"I guess I give off the right vibes," Ryan said. "But, don’t worry, cupcake, I refuse all intimate invitations, unless they’re issued by you."

"Let’s go back in," Jamie said, taking Ryan’s hand. "In only two hours, you’ve been asked to help someone have a baby, and check out a new penis. I can’t wait to see what’s next. Let’s hit the second floor and see what kinda trouble you can get into."

"Have I ever told you what a good sport you are?" Ryan asked.

"Yes, you have, but I don’t mind hearing it again."

* * * * * * * * * * *

After a tour of the second floor, and meeting more people than she could ever hope to remember, Jamie led her partner back upstairs. "I don’t want Mia and Jordan to sneak away before I see them," she said. "Mia threatened to get drunk, and I want to make sure Jordan didn’t join her."

"Jordan never gets drunk," Ryan said.

"No, but neither did Juliet before Mia got her hands on her," the blonde said, chuckling.

When they got back upstairs, Ryan briefly said hello to Ally and Sara, giving the brunette a quick kiss on the cheek; while presenting Ally with her lips. "Be right back," she said, before she even sat down. "I want to see how Mia’s doing."

Jamie sat down on the couch next to Sara, while Ryan went over to the corner. Crouching down next to the pair, Ryan said, "Jamie told me about how it went. I’m very sorry, buddy."

"It sucked," Mia said, nodding. "I was betrayed by my family tonight, Ryan. I never thought that would happen."

Reaching for her, Ryan sank to her knees and wrapped Mia in a firm hug. "We’re behind you. Whatever you need – whenever you need it. We won’t let you down. We’re your family, too."

Sniffling, Mia said, "I love you, Ryan."

"I love you, too. Now, I know how hurt you are, but don’t forget that things will change over time. Your parents will eventually come around. Look at how nice Jamie’s dad is to me now. If he could change that much, I’m sure your parents can, too."

"I know," she said quietly. "Someday we’ll all get along. But we’re a long way from that now."

Jordan unwrapped her long legs from around Mia and said, "I’m gonna go make a pit stop and then get a beer. Want one, Ryan?"

"Uhm … sure," she nodded. "I guess we’re walking home, so I can indulge."

As Jordan walked away, Ryan cuddled Mia to her side. "How ya you doing? I heard you were planning on getting hammered."

"Yeah, I’m half hammered. I was shaking so badly when I got here that I looked like I’d been in the freezer." She rested her head on Ryan’s shoulder and sighed deeply. Lifting her free hand, Ryan started to run her fingers through Mia’s curls, soothing her. "Mmm … that makes me sleepy. Can I take a nap while Jordy’s gone?"

"Of course. My shoulder’s always available, buddy." She continued to stroke Mia’s hair, quickly realizing that the brunette was breathing heavily already.

I think half-hammered might be an under exaggeration. Looking up, Ryan caught Jamie’s eye and gave her a wink. Sitting quietly, holding Mia in a loose embrace, Ryan allowed herself the rare pleasure of sitting back and watching her partner interact with people. She loved watching how open and genuine she was; how she brought a spark to every conversation, making both Sara and Ally laugh repeatedly.

Turning her attention to Ally, Ryan watched as Sara said something to her, the brunette stroking her thigh as she spoke. With her mouth twitching into a slow smile, Ally nodded, her eyes crinkling up as they did when she was particularly happy.

That’s what it is, Ryan thought, trying to figure out what was different about her friend. She’s happy. Being in a relationship is really working for her. She watched for another few moments, finally correcting herself. Being with Sara is really working for her. I’ve never seen her look so completely comfortable and relaxed.

Sara put an arm around Ally’s shoulders and tugged her down in front of her, kissing the back of her neck while the larger woman giggled like a child. Damn! After 6 years I wouldn’t have had the nerve to push her around like that! Watching carefully, she once again amended her thought. Ally wouldn’t have wanted me to push her around like that. That’s the difference. She’s let her guard down with Sara. Damn, I wonder why she never felt comfortable being that way with me? Ryan sat pondering her question for a few minutes, watching the two women play gently with each other. Suddenly, it dawned on her. She didn’t let you in because she didn’t feel the same way about you. You slept with her for 6 years and you were no closer at the end than you were after the first few months. And here’s Sara, only knowing her since Thanksgivingtreating her like she’s her own personal dolland Ally’s loving it. Something has clicked between these two that never clicked with youit wasn’t right, Ryan, and you know it. You were sex partners – just sex partners.

She smiled at the animated blonde who had captured both her body and her soul. Thank God it didn’t work out, she thought, shaking her head. As much as I was attracted to Ally, and as much fun as we had in bed, we never had the kind of chemistry that Jamie and I have. There’s not a doubt in my mind that Jamie’s the perfect match for every part of menot just my libido.

Just as she was considering this thought, Jordan returned, bearing a pair of beers. "Here ya go, Boomer," she said.

"Thanks. Here’s your girl back," Ryan said, kissing Mia’s head. "She’s been thoroughly cuddled, and she’s sound asleep. Now, don’t rile her up again." She untangled herself from Mia’s embrace and smiled when the curly-haired woman immediately cuddled up to Jordan in the same way. "You guys are gonna stay with us tonight, right?"

"Yeah, I think we will," Jordan said. "Especially if you’ll make us breakfast."

"It’s a deal," Ryan said. She started back to her partner, but was once again waylaid. One of the birthday girls stopped her and dragged her over to the opposite corner of the room to say hello to a few old friends. Ryan went along willingly, and spent a few minutes chatting with the women. The birthday girl, Shay, was feeling no pain, and she launched into a long, pointless story that Ryan was completely unable to follow.

As usual, when her attention wasn’t otherwise required, Ryan gazed at her partner, thoroughly enjoying the way she was interacting with Sara and Ally. How lucky am I? I can bring her to a party full of ex-lovers, former sex partners, a trans-sexual, a woman who wants me to be her Lamaze coach, and God knows what elseand she’s unflappable. She honestly looks like she’s enjoying herself, she marveled. What a perfect match she is.

And speaking of perfect matches, she thought wryly. Who would have guessed that Ally would be the one to bring the old Sara back? She watched her friend flirt and play with Ally, while seamlessly carrying on a civilized conversation with Jamie. She’s grown into such a woman, she thought fondly, so different from the girl I fell in love with. But, there’s a familiar lightness to her nowthat was completely absent when we met again this fall. It’s like being with Ally lets her be the woman she’s become; while reclaiming some of her girlish playfulness. She seems like Ally’s equal. She shook her head again, as she was forced to admit, We were never really equals. She always looked to me for validation, for approvalI don’t see that with Ally. She seems to trust herself more now. Sparing another fond glance at her old friend, she thought, I truly hope it works out for both of themthey both deserve to be who they really are.

Looking at Jamie again, she considered, That’s what life is all about. Striving to be who you areno matter how painful the journey sometimes is. I can be myself with JamieI don’t have to be someone for Sara to look up to, or for Ally to control and drive mad in bed. We don’t have roleswe’re just ourselves. In good times and badwe’re just our struggling, questing selves. Damn, that feels good.

Okay, she said to herself, so, what are you doing standing all the way over here, listening to someone who barely knows you’re here. Giving a tiny wave to the more sober people, Ryan walked over to her partner, and asked, "Anyone need anything while I’m up?"

"I need something," Ally said, "let me go with you and see if any of the water I brought is still here."

"Oh, water tends to last," Ryan said, laughing. "It’s the beer that disappears. Jamie?"


"Be right back," the dark woman promised.

The pair made their way into the kitchen, and Ryan performed her bailing task again, since Ally couldn’t find any of her water in the first tub. The water was all gone, so Ally helped herself to a Pepsi. "I hate this stuff, but Sara likes it," she said, smiling at Ryan. "One of us might as well be happy."

"Speaking of happy," Ryan said, giving her friend a gentle punch in the shoulder, "you look positively blissful, bud."

Grinning shyly, Ally said, "I’m in love, Ryan, and it feels fantastic. Really fantastic."

"You look like you’re in love," Ryan said. She wrapped one arm around Ally’s shoulders, and gave her a rough hug. "I assume Sara feels the same?"

"Uhm … well … to be honest, I haven’t told her yet. But, I think she does. She acts like she loves me," she admitted.

"That’s the important part," Ryan said. "Words are easy – it’s the actions that count."

"Things have gone a lot quicker than either of us had planned, but it feels right, Ryan. It’s all falling into place."

"I’m very, very happy for you both," Ryan said. "I mean that, Ally."

Looking down at the floor and shifting her weight, the larger woman said, "I was a little concerned when you seemed to be avoiding us earlier. Are you sure you’re okay with this?"

"You know," Ryan said, climbing up onto a bare space she created on the counter, "I’ve been having some trouble getting used to it. But seeing you both tonight has helped me turn the corner. You seem right for each other, Ally. You both seem happier than I’ve seen either of you. Since I love you both and want you to be happy, I think it’s time for me to let go. I honestly think I can do that now."

Standing between Ryan’s spread legs, Ally tucked her arms around her waist and held her to her chest. "Don’t let go completely, sugar. I want to have you in my life for a good, long time."

"I do, too," Ryan murmured into Ally’s shirt. "I was sitting over there with Mia, looking at the 3 of you, and you looked like you were having such a good time. I want to start doing things together." Pulling back, she asked, "Would you like that?"

"Yeah, we both would," Ally said. "We wanted to go out dancing the other night, and we both thought it would be fun to ask you and Jamie. But we weren’t sure you’d be up for it …"

"I am," Ryan said, "and Jamie likes you both. I’d really like to get together more often."

"I think we need to hang out with some other committed couples," Ally said. "Sara doesn’t know any lesbian couples, and most of my friends are terminally single, so you and Jamie are our role models."

Ryan laughed softly, saying, "Those are some big shoes to fill, pal."

"You’ve got big feet," Ally teased. "And I should know. I’ve nibbled on those tasty toes many times."

"Yes, you have," Ryan said, chuckling. "And you were darned good at it."

Ally looked at her for a long minute, stroking Ryan’s cheek with the tips of her fingers. "That’s not enough, is it?"

"No," Ryan said softly. "It’s not nearly enough. I used to think it was."

"So did I," Ally said, giving Ryan a wistful nod. "You know, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think it would have been different between you and me if we’d been friends before we became lovers. I got into the same old patterns with you that I always fell into, and I never had the nerve to try to change them. Going slow with Sara has made a very big difference."

"I don’t think either of us was mature enough to go slow back then, Ally. I know I wasn’t."

"Yeah," she said, smiling. "I was newly sober, and the last thing I could have done is been truly vulnerable. I’m finally ready to let someone know me deep inside. And boy, that makes all the difference."

"It does. So, why don’t we get back to those women we love," Ryan said, smiling warmly at her friend.

"A fine idea." Wrapping an arm around Ryan’s neck, Ally gave her a hug. "Who would have thought that the two of us would both fall in love within a year?"

"Not me," Ryan said, laughing softly. "But I’m sure glad we did."

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Hey," Ryan said, sinking to the floor beside her partner.

"My beer had better not be warm," Jamie said, taking the frosty brew from Ryan. "Are you avoiding me, sweet cheeks? Every time you leave, you’re gone for a half hour."

"Never," Ryan said, giving her a kiss. "As a matter of fact, I plan on being within an inch or two of you for the rest of the evening."

Seeing the slightly hazy look in the pale, blue eyes, Jamie kissed her partner gently and asked, "Are you a little tipsy?"

Holding her thumb and index finger an inch apart, Ryan nodded, giving Jamie a slightly goofy grin. "It’s hot in here," she said. "I have to keep drinking to stay cool."

"Shoulda worn your shorts," the blonde teased. "You’re way overdressed."

"I thought jeans and a knit shirt was about right for a 45 degree night," Ryan said, shaking her head. "I should put all of my long pants away until spring."

"You," Jamie said, tapping her partner’s nose, "are a goofball."

"Yeah, but I’m your goofball, and you’re stuck with me." Ryan tucked her arms around her lover and pulled her close. Several slow, sexy kisses later, Ryan let a sweet, languid smile settle on her lips.

"I think you’re more than a little tipsy. How many beers have you had, baby? I can’t even smell pizza on your breath. You’re all hops and malt and barley."

With her mouth forming a little pout, Ryan asked, "Bad?"

"No, not at all. I just need to drink a little more to keep up."

Nuzzling her nose into her partner’s neck, Ryan murmured, "You’re such a good egg."

Jamie took a little nibble on a nearby earlobe. "Do you know that you lapse into your Irish accent when you’re a little drunk?"

"I don’t!" Ryan declared, sounding like a lass straight out of County Mayo.

"Oh, but you do," Jamie said, her own accent sounding much more English than Irish.

With a slightly lopsided grin, Ryan asked, "Do ya like it, then?"

"Umm-hmm … very sexy."

"Well, not to brag, but we do have a certain charm with the ladies." She pulled back and focused her attention on Jamie’s clothing. "Have I told ya how juicy ya look tonight, love?"


"Pretty," Ryan said. "I don’t know what you call this little design on your jeans, but it’s adorable. And the shirt looks so nice with them. It’s almost a hippie look – very sixties."

Looking down at herself, Jamie said, "Yeah, I guess it is. The design is called batik, by the way. It’s an Indian look, and that was pretty popular in the sixties. I bought it because I like the eyelet design down at the hem."

"I like this part," Ryan said, tracing the deep v of collarless shirt with the tip of her finger. "Just another inch and I could reach your bra."

"Go ahead," Jamie said, giggling softly. "I think I’m the only woman here who hasn’t been felt up yet. I’m feeling like a real wallflower."

"Told ya my friends are a little wild," Ryan said. "And they get a lot wilder when they’re drunk."

"This is very frat partyish," Jamie decided. "I went to a few Stanford frat parties with Mia when we were in high school, and I was more than a little shocked."

"Are you shocked tonight?" Ryan asked, her finger dipping a little lower into Jamie’s cleavage.

The blonde took her partner’s hand and pushed it further into the v of the blouse. "Not really," she purred, smiling at Ryan’s wide eyes. "I’m a big girl, now."

"Mmm … here’s one part that’s exactly the right size," Ryan insisted, raking a fingernail along each crescent-shaped curve below Jamie’s breasts. "Perfect."

"When you say that with your little accent, it sounds like paerfect," Jamie said. "It’s terribly cute."

"Give us a kiss, then, will ya?"

"With pleasure, my wild, Irish rose."

"You can search everywhere, but none can compare …" Ryan sang softly before she took her partner in her arms and kissed her passionately. Before she knew what had happened, Jamie was lying on the floor, her ravenous partner greedily consuming her.

The hosts of the party had declared that the third floor was now the dance floor, and the pair barely avoided being hit with a couch as the guests busily moved all of the furniture to the walls to make some room. "Uhm … honey … we’re about to get trampled."

"No matter," Ryan said, sucking lustily on Jamie’s tender neck.

"Yes, honey, it matters. We’re lying on the dance floor."

"They can go around."

Pushing against Ryan’s chest with both hands, the blonde managed to extricate herself from her partner’s feverish embrace. "Up. Now." Jamie got to her knees, then stood and offered Ryan a hand. "You need to cool off, hot stuff. Let’s go outside for a bit."

"Huh-unh," Ryan said. "Let’s dance."

"You’re steaming hot – in every way. Won’t you get overheated?"

"Not if I strip down a little."

"Uhm … what did you have in mind? I concede that most of the people here have seen you in your undies, but …"

"Just my shirt," Ryan said, wrinkling her nose. "I’ve got a tank top on under it." She tugged off her shirt, then ran her fingers through her hair. "Ready?"

"Mmm … you look fantastic in that," Jamie said, her eyes bright with interest. "Maybe we should find a quiet corner and do what our friends are doing."

Ryan looked around and saw Mia sitting on Jordan’s lap; and Sara in the same position with Ally. Both couples were kissing passionately, and Ryan shrugged her shoulders as she turned back to Jamie. "I’m always up for that, but I’m not the most disciplined woman in the world tonight …"

"Mmm … good point. Let’s dance a little bit and then go home. We can skip the foreplay," she said, giving Ryan a lusty wink.

Winding their way through the crowd, they found a relatively spacious spot near the kitchen, and started to dance. They’d each taken their beers with them, and Ryan continued to take generous sips from hers as they moved to the quick beat of the music. By the time the first slow number came on, both beers were empty, and she tossed them into the recycle bin in the kitchen. At Ryan’s quizzical look, Jamie shook her head, so the brunette grabbed a fresh one for herself.

"Aisling and I used to call a set of slow songs the erection section," Ryan said, pulling her partner so close that Jamie’s thigh slipped between the long legs.

"I can easily give you an erection." Jamie wrapped an arm around her, and took the ice cold beer from Ryan’s hand. With a mischievous grin, she pressed the cold bottle right against the small of Ryan’s bare back, making her jump in surprise. "Damn, that’s cold!" She waited a moment, then said, "But it feels great." While they moved to the slow beat, Jamie ran the cold, sweating bottle across Ryan’s shoulder blades, bronzed skin pebbling from the sensation. "Grrrrr …" Ryan murmured, her hips moving against her partner. "I love it when you tease me."

Moving a few inches away, the blonde took the bottle and slid it across Ryan’s bare belly – the black, cropped, tank top exposing a surfeit of skin. The brunette shivered, and Jamie slowly ran the mouth of the bottle up along each rib, then flicked it against the remarkably rigid nipples. As the taller woman shivered and squirmed, the impish blonde pressed the side of the bottle against first one, and then the other rock hard nub. "Mmm … that had a decidedly frigorific effect."

Blue eyes narrowed, and Ryan’s nostrils flared. "If I had a dictionary, I couldn’t turn the pages ‘cause my hands are shaking so badly. You’re gonna have to give me that one."

"Chilling effect," Jamie said. "Your nipples look like they’ve been in that tub of ice."

Blinking slowly, Ryan promised, "In about two minutes, we’re gonna be back in that bedroom. I’m about to explode."

"Hmm?" Jamie drawled, moving the bottle again and sliding it under Ryan’s hair to chill the back of her neck. "Why’s that?" With a devilish grin, the blonde slipped the bottle into the waistband of Ryan’s jeans, then kept going when her path to bare skin was unencumbered. "Mmm … commando."

"Yeah," the dark woman gasped. "These jeans are a little big and I didn’t want my drawers sticking out of the top."

"Tonight I’m glad they’re loose," Jamie said, pushing the bottle until it started to make a forward turn.


"Like that?" the blonde husked.

"Ye … yeah!" Ryan said, shivering all over. "Just don’t make a mistake and lose it!"

"Ooh … I bet you have a place that I could easily insert this … given how those hips are grinding." She pulled the bottle from the back of the jeans, then immediately slipped it down Ryan’s belly, watching it disappear beneath the faded denim.

Ryan’s eyes grew comically wide while her legs instinctively spread, the bottle sliding down her thigh. "I … I … don’t … I’m not sure …"

Chuckling evilly, Jamie said, "I’m teasing you, baby. You know I’d never risk hurting you."

"I’m not … I’m not tracking very well," Ryan admitted. "I’m half crazy for you tonight, and the drunk part of me wouldn’t mind giving that bottle a try."

"I’m not nearly that drunk," Jamie said. "And no matter how turned on I was, I would never, ever put anything breakable anywhere near your girl parts."

"Thank God I’m marrying a moderate woman," Ryan sighed, resting her head on Jamie’s shoulder as the bottle slid back up her belly.

"I’ve gotta admit that it’s hard to stay grounded tonight. The estrogen is flowing through here like a river," the blonde said, "and there’s enough smoke to get us all stoned."

"I’m stoned on your estrogen. Your pheromones are about to drive me mad."

"Show me," Jamie purred. "Right now."

Suddenly, Ryan fought through her fog to recognize an altitude change. Blinking, she found herself sitting in a chair in a dark corner of the room, with Jamie ensconced upon her lap, kissing her energetically. Fully giving in to the experience, she let her senses open up again and allowed the smaller woman to explore her body to her heart’s content.

The amorous couple touched each other unabashedly, kissing and moving against each other with alacrity. When Jamie’s hands claimed her breasts, Ryan held on for as long as she could, finally pulling away enough to mutter, "Bedroom. Now."

Panting, Jamie sat up and stared at her partner, her eyes glassy with desire. "God! What am I doing?"

"You’re making love to me," Ryan answered thickly, looking perfectly happy with the development. "I just don’t wanna to take my pants off in the living room."

"Oh, lord!" Jamie collapsed against her partner, groaning, "You make me lose my mind!"

"Who needs a mind when you have a perfectly functioning libido? Let’s pull up our socks and claim that bedroom." She patted her partner on the butt, urging her to get moving.

"I don’t think adults make love on top of a bunch of coats at a party," Jamie said, pushing her sweat-dampened hair from her face.

"We can throw the coats on the floor," Ryan suggested, looking hopeful.

"Wouldn’t you rather go home and make love nice and slow and unhurriedly?" Jamie asked, licking all around the pink shell of Ryan’s ear as she spoke. "And then, do it all over again, and again, until we collapse? Doesn’t that sound better?"

"Mmm … that does sound nice," Ryan admitted. "And if we go into that bedroom and let a little pressure off first, I’m all for it."

"Make you a deal," Jamie said, smiling fondly at her over-excited lover, "I’ll call a cab to get us home faster."

Ryan kissed her hungrily, nipping at her bottom lip with lascivious intent. "Charter a helicopter, and you’re on."

"Ooo … I know you’re serious when you’re ready to spend that kind of money."

Slowly, Ryan stretched, taking in a deep, cleansing breath. "You’ve got me talkin’ crazy," she said, smiling. "The thought of spending money snapped me right out of my lust-filled haze."

"I had a feeling that would do it," Jamie said, giggling. "Now, let’s say goodbye to our friends, collect our roomies, and head home."

"Well, our roomies disappeared down the hall while we were dancing. They either went out the back door, or they had the sense to claim one of the bedrooms. And our friends are about to combust over there. If there’s a spare bedroom, it’s not gonna be available for long."

Twinkling green eyes looking Ryan up and down, then Jamie’s voice dropped into a sexy register as she said, "Let’s head home so I can get you into bed."

"We can’t leave Mia and Jordan, honey. I know Mia’s not able to drive, and God knows what shape Jordan’s in."

"Let’s put a note on Mia’s purse, and take her keys so she can’t drive. I’ll tell her where we hide the spare key to the front door. We only have to say goodbye to Sara and Ally and the rest of your friends."

"If you think I’m gonna interrupt Ally and Sara – you’ve lost your mind!" Ryan said, bursting out in a laugh. "And no one else in this shower of savages will notice we’ve gone."

"Good point," Jamie said. She slid off Ryan’s lap and pulled her to her feet. "I’ll find our coats – you leave the note and get your shirt."


They went about their assigned tasks, and met up at the door. Ryan had put her shirt back on, and as they walked along they both began to chill. Jamie cuddled up to her partner, and Ryan tucked her arm around her waist to share her warmth. "Boy, this is one way to sober up! It must be 30 degrees!"

"Maybe we should have called that cab," Jamie said.

"Nah. I really am a little fluthered, and being outside for a while will sober me up."

"Yeah, thinking about consenting to have a beer bottle inserted in a sensitive spot is about as drunk as I’ve ever seen you," the blonde said, chuckling wryly.

"I swear, it was estrogen poisoning," Ryan said. "It’s impossible to be around all of those writhing bodies and keep your cool."

"Well, I’m plenty cool now, and you must be freezing!"

"No, not yet, but we’ve got another 8 blocks to go. Give me time!"

* * * * * * * * * * *

By the time they reached the house, Ryan was shivering all over, and this time it wasn’t from arousal. "Go on downstairs," she said, teeth chattering. "I’m gonna get something to drink."

Expecting her partner to arrive with a cup of hot tea, Jamie was puzzled to see Ryan gulping down an enormous glass of Gatorade. "You can’t be thirsty!"

"No, of course not," she said, shaking her head. "But if I force some of this down it’ll help me not have a hangover."

"How’s that?"

"Well, drinking as much as I did will make me get up to pee, and every time I do I’ll drink another glass of this. By the time I get up I’ll be hydrated — and since a hangover is usually because of dehydration, I shouldn’t have a problem."

"You’ve got too much experience with this," the blonde said. "Are you sure I’m the one who should watch her drinking?"

"I’m sure I don’t want to spend much more time talking about the issue," Ryan said, stripping out of her clothes. "Remind me of this conversation tomorrow, when I’m completely lucid, okay?"

"Deal. Now hop in bed and I’ll warm you up."

"Mmm … shower first," Ryan decided. "I’m all sweaty, and I definitely need a little lovin’."

"I’ll wait for you," Jamie promised. "Don’t take too long."

After a very quick shower, Ryan dashed across the floor and dove for the covers, crying, "I’m perishing!" She rolled up in a little ball while Jamie rubbed every part of her body vigorously — trying to get her blood moving. "Okay, I’m warm now," Ryan said, as her dark head popped out of the bedding. "I’m also pretty sober," she said.

"Good. I want you to be aware of everything I do to you tonight. I want your senses heightened – not dulled."

"They’re getting there," Ryan decided. She scooted up and sat against the headboard, propping herself up with a couple of pillows. "I uhm … realized a couple of things tonight, babe, and I think I should share them with you. There’s a good chance they wont stick with me," she added, giving her partner a slow smile.

"I’m all ears," the blonde said, cuddling up to her lover’s side. "Well, I’m all ears and sex drive, but the libido can wait for a few. You know I don’t mind simmering a bit."

"That makes one of us," Ryan said, grinning. "Luckily, I’ve cooled down a little, so I can think straight."

"I like that T-shirt you have that says ‘I can’t even think straight.’"

"That is a good one," Ryan agreed. "Did you have a good time tonight?"

"You know, I did. It was very … different … but I liked it. I like feeling like one of the big girls. How about you? Did you have fun?"

"Yeah, very much so," Ryan said, nodding thoughtfully. "I like seeing my old friends and thinking about the past. I almost always learn something from these experiences – it’s very worthwhile for me."

"What did you learn tonight?" Jamie asked.

"Uhm … I guess what struck me tonight was how much I’ve changed in the last year. Before, I would have noticed every woman who came in the door, and within an hour I would have been trying to make a move. But now, I hardly notice anyone in that way, and I don’t get a sexual vibe from anyone but you. Some of them might be sending a vibe my way, but I don’t pick it up anymore. It’s like I have a vibe-shield," she said, chuckling softly.

"You need one," the blonde said, giving her lover a little tickle.

"No, not really," Ryan said. "When I was sitting in the corner with Mia, I couldn’t help watching you. Everything about you attracts me, Jamie. Your body, your personality, your mind, your heart – there are so many layers of attraction that I couldn’t even begin to tell you which is the most powerful. That’s never happened to me before."

The blonde looked into Ryan’s eyes, seeing that the hazy look was nearly gone. She lifted her hand and traced her lover’s strong features with her thumb, making Ryan close her eyes in reaction. "Never?" Jamie asked, a slight hesitation in her voice.

Pulling back, Ryan looked at her, gazing deeply into her eyes. "Never."

"Not even with …"

Ryan bent to kiss her, lingering a good, long while, letting the intensity of their bond flow between them. "Never," she repeated, her eyes bright with conviction. "It’s taken me a while," she said, "longer than I would have liked, but something became clear to me tonight."

Jamie cocked her head in question, and Ryan couldn’t help but give her another kiss, just because of how cute the gesture was.

"Most of the women I’ve been with have appealed to one part of me," she said. "They turned me on because of their bodies, or their senses of humor, or their energetic personalities. I knew that there was nothing else there – it was only sexual chemistry. "But there was more to it with both Sara and Ally," she said, and Jamie nodded in confirmation. "With Sara, I cared for her and loved her as well as a 17-year-old can love. But I was still a child then, Jamie, and part of my attraction to her was childish. It was as real and as important as it could be at the time – but it was immature. I was immature, and so was she. We’re women now, and we’re both able to love as women. I’m ready to put my feelings for her where they belong – with my fondest memories. She’ll always be my first love – but she’ll never be my great love. That place is reserved for you, and you alone."

Jamie pulled her partner’s head down and bestowed a kiss that made Ryan offer up a sincere ‘thank you’ to her creator for having been born. The sensations were overpowering, and seemed to assault each of Ryan’s senses in sequence. Jamie’s clean, fresh scent tickled her nose, while her lover’s strong, determined hands ran up and down the muscles in her back. Soft, firm breasts pressed against Ryan’s, her nipples growing hard once again. A warm, wet tongue gently explored every surface of the tall woman’s mouth, Jamie’s sweet breath merging with her own.

"God, I love you," Ryan sighed. "You do more to me with a kiss than any other woman ever has."

Jamie settled back down and looked at Ryan carefully. "Any woman?"

Ryan nodded, looking a little confused.

"What about Ally?"

"Oh." Ryan nodded, and collected her thoughts. "I can see why you’d think that she had that effect on me. Mmm … not to denigrate my relationship with Ally, but I didn’t feel nearly as close to her as I did to Sara. I think my feelings for Ally were mostly gone already."


"Yeah. I think so. I think what’s bothered me lately is having the two of them together. It’s like my feelings for each of them were magnified when I saw them. But, if I’m completely honest, I have to admit that what Ally and I had was barely a relationship. We had fun together in bed, and I liked her a lot, but that’s not enough to build a relationship on. I think my attraction for her was partially because I couldn’t get her," she admitted.

"Huh. I guess that makes sense," Jamie said. "Do you honestly think you’ll feel differently about them from now on? I hate to see you struggling with your discomfort."

"Yeah, I think I will feel better about them. I mean, I didn’t go out of my way to watch them make out, but I didn’t feel like I had to avoid them once I got this settled in my head."

"I think they’re usually pretty well behaved in public," Jamie said. "But Sara has been out of town for a few days, and they had some excess energy to burn off."

"They did a good job," Ryan said, chuckling.

"You’re really okay with it?" Jamie asked once again. "It wasn’t hard to see Ally all over her?"

"Well, I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, but I caught a look when we were dancing." She looked at Jamie and cocked her head. "Wanna hear an embarrassing admission?"

"Sure. Hit me."

"Seeing them together that way has completely ruined Sara’s allure."

"Huh? Why?"

"’Cause the thing that most attracted me to Sara was her purity, her innocence. When I fell in love with her, she’d never been kissed, or touched by another person. She was mine – alone," Ryan said softly. "I fantasized about her for years since then, Jamie, and in my mind, she was always that way – it was like having sex for the first time, every time I dreamt about her."

"That would be compelling," the blonde agreed.

"Well, I don’t fantasize about her any longer – let me make that perfectly clear," she said, smiling softly. "But when I think of her, I think of her as an 18-year-old. I’ve been having a hard time seeing her as the woman she is now. I’ve been locked in the past – and that’s never a good thing."

"But we’ve been with her quite a few times this year, babe. What happened tonight to change your view?"

A slow, warm smile settled on Ryan’s face. "I think I’ve had the fantasy that Ally was the one pushing the relationship along. I think I’ve been feeling protective of Sara – like I subconsciously wanted to guard her innocence, but I didn’t know how. Seeing them together drove me a little crazy, probably because I felt powerless."

"Okay, I think I can understand that. But my question remains, sweetie. What happened tonight?"

"I don’t know if you saw this," Ryan said, "but when we were dancing, Sara climbed onto Ally’s lap, straddling her."

"Oh-oh," Jamie said, her eyes widening. "She didn’t have a stitch on under that cute little kilt she was wearing."

Ryan’s head cocked, and she gave her lover a calm, but questioning look.

"I couldn’t help it!" Jamie insisted. "I was on the floor – at the perfect height! I wasn’t trying to look, but Sara crossed her legs at one point and …" She shrugged, blushing a little.

"Well, that makes the scene even more interesting," Ryan chuckled. "They were making out like mad, and Ally’s hands disappeared under that tiny skirt. Sara’s hips started to twitch, and it looked like they were gonna go for it." She smiled and said, "That’s why I moved over near the wall when we were dancing. There was no way I was going to watch Ally …" She rolled her eyes and said, "The bottom line is that once you’ve been with Ally, you don’t have a pure molecule left in your body. The spell has been broken, baby. Sara’s a woman now – someone else’s woman. I’ve got my own, and I’m very, very happy that things worked out like they did."

"I am, too," Jamie said, leaning in to kiss her again.

"And I’m doubly happy that I have a lover who gives me the space to figure these things out for myself. If you’d forbidden me from seeing either of them, I might have always had a little doubt."

"Huh," Jamie said, thoughtfully. "I guess that might have happened. Luckily for you, I’m not the jealous type."

"I’m lucky in so many ways," Ryan said, sighing deeply and tucking her arms even tighter around her partner. "I think I learned a lot tonight, honey. And one of the biggest lessons is something that I’m just now beginning to understand." She shook her head, her brow furrowing. "I’ve always known that I’d be able to be faithful once I fell in love. Honestly, that’s never been a concern. I know how important it is, and I was brought up believing that being true to your spouse was absolutely vital."

Jamie nodded, knowing that Martin would have made that message come through loud and clear.

"But, I’ve always thought that having to give up sex with other women was a trade-off. Do you know what I mean?"

"Mmm … I’m not sure."

"Well, I knew that being faithful would ensure that I’d get love, and security, and commitment, and intimacy. But I thought I’d miss the variety and the thrill of the chase."

Giving Ryan an adorably hopeful look, Jamie asked, "And that hasn’t been true?"

"No! Not in the least," Ryan insisted. "Monogamy isn’t something that I have to endure in order to have a good relationship. It’s something I freely and lovingly choose. It’s what I want … it’s what I need." She looked down at Jamie and gave her a warm, sexy smile, then reached out and touched her chest with her index finger, letting out a long, slow hiss. "Monogamy is sizzling hot."

The End

Book 14: Nurture


NB. With the posting of Book 13, the series is half complete. I’m going to take a short break to catch my breath and work on a few other projects, then resume the story this summer.

To chat with me and ask questions, get updates as soon as they’re available, and commune with fellow aficionados of the series; consider joining my Yahoo group. The group is, by far, the easiest way for me to handle my mail — and I will continue to read and respond to the postings during my short break. My e-mail address will be changing soon, and I don’t know what the new one will be; so the Yahoo group will be the best way to reach me during my spring hiatus.

Click to subscribe to SX_Meagher


My thanks to Day for all of her efforts and expertise in beta reading the story; and to Dee for taking another look at it after I was unable to stop making changes <s>.

To Carrie, for providing ample evidence that choosing her as my partner was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. I can only hope that I enrich her life as much as she does mine.

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