I Found My Heart in
By SX Meagher
On the way back to their apartment, Anna Lisa said, “Can I talk you into going to church with me in the morning, honey?”
Mia started to cough, then it became apparent that she was choking. She pulled over and Jordan slapped her on the back. “Whew!” She leaned her head back and said, “You almost killed me.”
“I’ll go if you don’t want to, Mia,” Jordan said, her expression a mixture of bafflement and concern.
Laughing, Mia said, “My mother hasn’t been to church since I was born!” She turned and stared at Anna Lisa, who was sitting placidly in the back seat. “What’s going on?”
Her mother shrugged her shoulders. “I was moping around the house a few weeks ago and had the urge to go. It’d been a while …”
“A while! You stopped going before you got married!”
“Like I said,” Anna Lisa continued, looking at Jordan, “It had been a while, but I remembered how much I used to enjoy going to church. I decided it was silly to let a little argument keep me from doing something I liked.”
Jordan cast a nervous glance at her partner. “Uhm … sounds good to me.”
“You went to Mass?” Mia asked again.
Anna Lisa laughed. “Of course not! The Catholic Church could hand out gold bouillon instead of communion and I wouldn’t step foot into one of those dumps! I went to a nice Unitarian Universalist church. I don’t know much about it, but it doesn’t even seem Christian. They don’t mention God.”
“Oh. Well, I guess I don’t have to call in an exorcist,” Mia chuckled. “I’ll go with you if you’re sure I don’t have to confess my sins or anything.”
“I’ll go, too,” Jordan repeated.
“No way! That’s the last thing you want to do on Sunday morning. That’s your only day to sleep in.”
“I don’t mind. Really.”
“I’ll go, Mom, but Jordan’s gonna stay home and sleep.”
“How about breakfast?” Anna Lisa said to Jordan. “We can come get you after church.”
“Great. That’ll be great,” Jordan said.
Anna Lisa chuckled. “Now Mia just has to get out the phone book and figure out where the nearest least Catholic church is!”
Mia spent a little time on the Internet, searching for a church and easy-to-follow directions. She and Jordan were lying in bed, and she scooted closer when Jordan started stroking her back, languidly letting her hand drift across her skin. “About done?” Jordan asked.
Turning to look at her, Mia saw not desire in the clear blue eyes, but utter fatigue. She nodded and saved the page of directions so she could take another look at it in the morning. Quickly shutting down her computer, Mia set it on the floor and shifted so she and Jordan were face to face. She extended her arms, and Jordan slid into them, resting her head on Mia’s breast. “Very tired,” Jordan said, her voice soft and slow.
“Go to sleep, baby. You’ve had a long day.” She could tell Jordan was fighting to stay awake, so Mia started to massage her back—a surefire knockout recipe. “Close those pretty eyes and listen to my heart beat.”
Jordan started to breathe heavily, but her body jerked roughly just a minute later. “Are you okay?” she asked, her voice sounding anxious to Mia’s trained ears.
“Sure. Sure I am. There’s nothing to worry about, Jordy. Just close your eyes and sleep.”
“But …” Jordan extricated herself from the embrace and looked into Mia’s eyes. “Are you sure? I know today was hard for you. Don’t feel like you have to keep things to yourself. If you’re upset, we can talk about it.”
Mia gazed at her, finding her stomach doing a flip when she looked into her lover’s eyes. Jordan was so sincere, so concerned for her that it nearly made her light-headed. “Today was tough,” she admitted, “but it was good, too. Seeing my mom made me feel her love again.” She pulled Jordan down and kissed her. “I’ve missed her and my dad so much that it’s too much for me to … I don’t know … I guess … take it all in. You know?”
“Yeah.” Jordan kissed her, moving her lips slowly and softly all across Mia’s face. “I know, honey.”
“It’s gonna take me a little while to think about everything she said and how we interacted. But that isn’t bad. It’s gonna be good in the long run.” Mia looked into Jordan’s eyes and was touched to see so much empathy in them. She knew that Jordan didn’t really have any idea how it felt to have such a strong pull towards and aversion to her mother, but Jordan knew her well enough to be able to experience it second-hand. She pressed her lips to her partner’s. “Sleep now. We’ll talk tomorrow.”
“Sure?” In seconds, Jordan was snuggling against Mia again, getting into her favorite sleep position.
Mia kissed her golden hair. “Positive. I want you to sleep for at least ten hours. You’ve got to let this beautiful body repair itself.” She rubbed her hand along Jordan’s flank, feeling her ribs and hip bone right under the skin. “You don’t have much fuel in this pretty tank.”
“Mmm.” Jordan sighed and snuggled closer, a contented smile on her face. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Jordy.” Mia kissed her forehead, smiling when she could feel Jordan’s body twitch in various places. Her hand was resting on Mia’s belly, and her fingers flicked involuntarily before settling down. “I love you,” Mia whispered, feeling her heart swell in her chest.
When a quiet but determined knock roused Ryan from a deep sleep, it took her a few moments to get her bearings. The room was so dark that she assumed it was the middle of the night, but something wasn’t right. She recalled that they had fallen asleep after making love, but no one should be in their house knocking on their bedroom door. And she couldn’t figure out how someone was knocking loud enough on their front door for her to hear it so clearly. Her heart was pounding when she pulled away from Jamie and got to her feet, walking directly into the wall that shouldn’t have been there. “Fuck!” More from shock than pain, she grabbed her head and fell back onto the bed.
“What’s wrong?” Jamie’s arms were around her, hands moving over her body, trying to figure out what part of Ryan’s body had made the loud thud.
“I ran into the wall.” Ryan sat there for a second, then asked, “Where in the hell are we?”
“Damned if I know. It’s the middle of the night!” Naked, Ryan felt along the wall, finally finding the door. She opened it a crack and saw Jackie standing there, fully dressed and looking concerned. “What …?” Ryan blinked, shook her head. “What time is it?”
“Time to go,” Jackie said. “It’s ten o’clock. I wanted to come by earlier, but you kinda gave me the impression you wanted me to keep my nose outta your business.”
“Fuck,” she muttered. “We were asleep …” She shot a malignant glare at the heavy drapes that they had drawn to prevent the bright lights outside their window from keeping them awake. Which was also why neither of them had seen or sensed the sun rising. Ryan hadn’t set her watch alarm, and neither of them had thought to call the front desk for a wakeup call. “I guess I do want you to wake me up, but only when I really need you to. Got that?”
“Clear as mud. We’re leaving right now. Can you make it?”
“Shit no!” Ryan opened the door another few inches, letting Jackie see her. Her hair was sticking up and she was clearly not dressed.
“I’ll tell Coach you’re gonna get there on your own. Good luck,” she added, chuckling as she turned and jogged away.
Jamie leaned against Ryan’s body as the door closed. “Nice way to wake up,” she murmured. “I think a fire drill would have been more fun.”
“Well, at least we can stop for breakfast on the way,” Ryan said. “If I don’t get something to eat, there’s gonna be trouble.”
They hugged briefly, then Ryan felt around for the bathroom door. “Is it a good idea to make rooms this dark? What if there had been a fire?”
“That’s why they call them blackout drapes. You start to shower and I’ll get some clothes out for you. We can be out of here in no time.”
“Screw it,” Ryan said, taking Jamie’s hand and pulling her into the bathroom. “I’m just as fucked if I’m ten minutes or a half hour late. I’m sure we both need showers.”
“Only if we plan on interacting with humans.” Jamie giggled, looking at their images in the mirror. “Dogs would be chasing our cab if we didn’t shower.”
Her scowl fading, Ryan put her arms around her partner and hugged her. When they parted, she plucked at a hank of Jamie’s hair that was sticking up in an odd direction. “I don’t think I wanna know what’s in your hair. It’s stiff.”
“Let’s assume it’s gel, okay? I don’t think I’ll ever be as comfortable being covered with bodily fluids as you are. I think they’re pretty gross.”
Ryan kissed Jamie’s forehead. “Yours aren’t, but you can’t change what you like and dislike. Let’s go wash ’em off.”
“Are you sure we have time for breakfast?”
“We’re taking time. I’m gonna have to clean the locker room after the game, so I’ll need some energy.”
“Yep.” Ryan started the water, waiting for it to warm to the proper temperature before she stepped inside. “So we’re gonna take a cab and have it stop at some kinda drive-through. I screwed up by not setting my watch, but I’m not gonna punish myself all day long.” She gave her partner a small smile. “Life’s too short.”
“Ooo … that’s my good girl!”
After the remarkably un-churchlike service, Mia called
“’Kay. Ask away.”
“Are you really happy?”
Her mother’s eyes were boring into her, and Mia felt exposed and vulnerable. She surprised herself when she started to cry quietly. “I’m happier with Jordan than I ever thought I could be,” she said, sniffling. “But it’s hard being here. I’m not busy enough, and I don’t have much interest in getting out and doing things by myself.”
“You’ve never been much of an explorer,” Anna Lisa said, taking her daughter’s hand. “You need people.”
“Yeah.” Mia nodded. “I’m not a loner. And Jordan doesn’t get home most nights until 6:00. She needs to be asleep by 9:00, so we don’t have much time together. It seems like we just eat dinner and go to sleep an hour later.”
Anna Lisa’s eyes sharpened. “Then why stay here? What’s in this for you, Mia?”
Swallowing the urge to snap, Mia gathered her thoughts and asked, “Don’t you remember what it was like to fall in love? Or didn’t loving Dad make you feel like you’d do anything for him?”
Sighing heavily, Anna Lisa sat back and gazed at her daughter reflectively. “Oh, I did. I would have stood in front of a train if he’d asked me to.” She leaned forward and said earnestly, “But at the same time, he wouldn’t have asked me to do anything that made me unhappy. My happiness was as important to him as his was to me. Is that … true with Jordan?”
“Of course it is!” Irritated and hurt, Mia said, “She never asked me to come here! Hell, she tried so hard to talk me out of it that she really hurt my feelings. I have to reassure her every day that I’m keeping busy and enjoying myself.”
“Even when you’re not.”
“Especially when I’m not! She watches me with those big, blue eyes, just trying to find the smallest sign that I’m wavering.”
“Damn it, Mia! Why don’t you just admit this isn’t working and come home?”
“Because,” she said, taking a moment to breathe, “she needs me. That’s all that matters. I watch over her and make sure she eats enough.”
“She’s skin and bones! Her veins are so prominent I could see her pulse beating! She’s a gorgeous woman, but she’s so pale and gaunt, the poor thing looks like she’s starving!”
“I know, damn it!” Mia started to cry again. “She won’t budge from what her trainer tells her. She let you put oil in that dressing yesterday, but she’ll never let me do that. I refuse to lie to her, so I do what she asks me to.”
“So your biggest reason to be here isn’t a valid one, right?”
“No! I do watch over her! I make sure she’s in bed early, and I make her sleep late on Sunday. And I’m always there when she needs to talk.”
“When would she go to bed if you weren’t here?” Anna Lisa asked. “Would she stay up late and watch TV?”
Mia laughed. “Of course not! She’d probably go to bed even earlier. She forces herself to stay up to talk or …” She just barely stopped herself from revealing that they frequently missed Jordan’s ideal bedtime because they were making love. Mia shook her head. “No. She wouldn’t stay up late.”
Anna Lisa’s gaze pierced Mia. “Then why are you here?”
“Because I love her, God damn it! I need to be with her. I need to hold her and sleep with her. Feeling her body against mine is the highlight of every day. Damn it, don’t you remember?”
Slowly, Anna Lisa nodded. “Of course I do.” She held Mia’s hand, looking at her with sympathy. “But is that enough?”
“Yes.” Mia wiped at her chilled tears. “It has to be.”
After brunch, the threesome went back to the apartment and
Anna Lisa put her hands on her daughter’s shoulders, holding her still while she gazed into her eyes. “Is there any way I can talk you into coming home with me?”
Mia shook her head. “No, I can’t do that, Mom. I need to work things out here. I won’t leave just because everything isn’t perfect.”
“There’s a difference between perfect and …” Anna Lisa bit her lip, letting the rest of her thought die quietly. “I’d love it if you came home.”
“I will,” Mia said. “I don’t know when, but I’ll come home. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Anna Lisa put her arms out and hugged Mia roughly. “I wish I could make you do what I want.”
Gently, Mia ran her hand across her mother’s back. “I wish you could be happy that I’m doing what I think is right. You raised me to decide what I need and make sure I get it.”
Pulling away, Anna Lisa looked at Mia and found herself unable to hide her smile. “Why did you only listen to the things that you could use to drive me crazy?”
“Only the good stuff stuck,” Mia said. She pressed her face against her mother’s neck and held on to her until she was sure she wouldn’t cry. “You’d better go. You don’t wanna be late.” Turning her head, she called, “Jordy!”
In seconds, Jordan was standing next to her with her arm around Mia’s waist. “Getting ready to leave?”
“Yes. I’ve got to allow time to return my rental car.” She extended her hand and when Jordan took it, she pulled her close. “Be good to my baby,” she whispered fiercely, her hand digging into the skin on Jordan’s neck. “She’s not as strong as she seems.”
When she released her hold, Jordan pulled away, nodding at Anna Lisa. “I will,” she said, her gaze unblinking.
“Don’t threaten her, Mom!”
Anna Lisa wrapped her arms around her daughter. “I wouldn’t threaten her. I save that for you.” She swatted Mia sharply on the butt and kissed her cheek simultaneously. “Be good.” Her voice was a little shaky, and she headed for the door without another word.
That evening, Mia watched a reality show about college students, the sound down low so it didn’t disturb Jordan, who was asleep. One of the women was struggling with her decision to stay at her college rather than move across the country to be with her boyfriend. She’d been admitted to the new school, but transferring would set her back just enough credits to preclude her graduating on time. Mia had been watching the woman’s story unfold for several weeks, and had found herself rooting for her to make the move. Tonight, she wasn’t so sure. She shifted just enough to be able to wrap her arms around Jordan, who lay heavily against her body. Jordan moved in her sleep, clutching Mia to herself like a teddy-bear. Mia used the remote to turn off the TV, then tried to relax enough to sleep. But Jordan’s body had gotten so lean that various bones poked at her when they held each other tightly. She didn’t want to move away, since nothing calmed her as much as holding her lover, so she did her best to ignore the discomfort and empty her mind. But her mother’s words kept coming back to her, tormenting her. Were these few hours of sleep worth what she was giving up to be here? How could she ever judge that?
The alarm went off about fifteen minutes after Mia fell asleep. Or perhaps it just seemed that way because she couldn’t force her eyes open. Jordan didn’t try to wake her, she just went about her normal morning routine—moving like a cat, barely making a sound. Unclear as to how much time had passed since she’d heard the alarm, Mia felt a pair of soft lips brush across her cheek, waking her. “What time is it?”
Jordan didn’t need to look at her watch. “5:30. I’m heading out now.”
Eyes opening wider, Mia asked, “I missed breakfast?”
Jordan smiled at her, giving her such a love-filled look that Mia’s heart melted a little. “There’s plenty of granola left. It’ll still be there when you get up. Only a lunatic gets up this early when she doesn’t have to.”
Mia put her hands behind
“Uhm … that’s not my mouth,” Jordan deadpanned, laughing when Mia nuzzled between her thighs. “I’m getting a cramp, honey.”
Mia let her go and Jordan straightened out. “You’d think all of the exercises we do would prepare me for almost anything.” She squatted down next to the mattress and tenderly applied several kisses to Mia’s lips. “Better?”
Her eyes were bright and clear and she looked like she’d been up for hours. “Always.” Mia draped an arm around her neck and pulled her close, kissing her again. “Everything’s better when you kiss me.”
“Gotta go.” Jordan ran her hand through Mia’s hair, fluffing her soft curls. “Sleep in. You’re obviously tired.”
Yawning and stretching, Mia nodded. “Being with my mom was draining. I didn’t sleep well, either. She wired me up.”
“You’re in a good spot to unwind. Have a good day.” Smoothly, Jordan got to her feet and waved. “See you around 6:00.”
Mia waved back, then grabbed Jordan’s pillow and cradled it to her chest. “Still smells like you,” she said, then closed her eyes and was asleep before the athletes left the apartment.
A “thunk” woke Mia, and she blindly reached for the alarm clock, amazed to see that it was after 9:00. She lay still for a moment, decided that the noise hadn’t been anything to worry about and went back to sleep. On and off all morning she woke briefly, considered what she’d planned for the day, then went back to sleep. It wasn’t until noon that her body demanded she get up. Stomach rumbling from hunger, bladder full, she stopped in the bath, scowling at her pale, grumpy image.
Seeing that the only things in the house were granola and various forms of protein powders didn’t help her mood, but she couldn’t summon the energy to get dressed to go to the store. She sat at the kitchen table, stabbing innocent bits of granola with her spoon, her mouth curled into such a sour expression it was almost hard to get the spoon into it.
After breakfast, she settled on the floor and started reading a book for her humanities class. But her attention wandered constantly, returning again and again to her conversation with her mother. Why was she living like this? Was she really helping Jordan? She fought the heaviness of her eyelids for what seemed like hours, then slowly gave in, sleeping on the floor until a burst of bright light hit her. Her hand went to her eyes, shielding them.
“Are you all right?”
Jordan was kneeling next to her, and Mia couldn’t resist her body’s demand to wrap her arms around her lover and hold on as tightly as she could. “Fine,” she mumbled.
Jordan’s hand began to stroke her hair, slowly scratching her scalp. “What’s wrong, honey?”
Mia released her hold and made her mouth curl into a weak smile. Sitting up, she said, “I guess I didn’t know how tired I was.” She got her feet under herself and stood, feeling a little woozy. “I’ve got to get to the store!”
Jordan was looking at her with concern. “We can go out. You don’t look like you’re in the mood to cook.”
Mia gave her a quick kiss. “I’m fine! Damn, I’ve been napping all day. I need to go out just to get my blood moving!”
“Fine. Let me shower and we’ll walk down to the restaurant at the end of the street.”
“I’m fine! Really!” Mia was putting every watt of power she could generate into her smile, but it was clear Jordan wasn’t buying it.
“That’s great. No better time to go out to dinner. We can have a meal without our roommates salivating over our stuff.”
Blowing out a breath, Mia nodded. “Can we shower together?”
Jordan’s expression was between a smirk and a smile. “If we can fit.”
They did fit, but maneuvering enough to get clean was a challenge. Mia finished first and got out to let Jordan wash her hair. She dashed across the hallway just as the front door opened and their roommates returned for the night. Mia closed the bedroom door, unreasonably angry at their arrival.
After getting dressed she went back to the bathroom to offer to help Jordan blow-dry her hair. Mia paused at the door, thinking Jordan must have a radio on. But she realized they didn’t have a radio in the bathroom and tentatively opened the door. Jill was leaning on the sink, arms crossed over her chest, chatting with Jordan, who was still in the shower drying off. The shower curtain was open, and a flicker of jealousy flared in Mia at Jill being allowed to view Jordan’s body so blatantly. It crossed her mind to throw the door open hard enough to send Jill into the shower with Jordan, but she controlled her temper as best she could. “Hi,” she said, trying not to look as angry as she was.
“Hey,” Jill said. “We were just chatting about the team.”
“Mmm. Jordan, do you want help drying your hair?”
“No, I can handle it. Besides,” she said, grinning, “it’s getting crowded in here.”
“I can help,” Jill said, looking at Jordan. “It’s a bitch to dry long hair, isn’t it? Mia, you’ve got it easy with your cute little curls. You probably don’t even have to comb it, do you?”
“Never have,” she said, backing out of the room and closing the door behind her.
As she went back to their room she heard Jill ask, “She pissed off?” Prudently, Mia dove for the door, not wanting to hear Jordan say something that would make her even angrier.
Mia was sitting on the unmade bed, watching the network news. “No rush. That place is never crowded.”
Rushing around the room, Jordan was ready in world-class time. “Let’s go,” she said, extending a hand to pull Mia to her feet. They walked down the hall, with Jordan sticking her head into each of the other rooms, telling their roommates that they were going out. By the time they hit the outdoor stairwell, Mia felt her rage beginning to rise, and she knew she wouldn’t be able to control it if it managed to escape. She concentrated on swallowing her anger, attempting to do so by responding to Jordan’s comments with the fewest words possible.
By the time they’d been seated and had ordered, neither woman was speaking. Jordan looked intensely uncomfortable, but Mia couldn’t focus on her. She was far too busy trying to keep a lid on the volcano she knew was building in her gut. Head down, she ate the chef’s salad she’d ordered, automatically depositing the things she didn’t like onto
The break had given Mia time to calm down, and she took Jordan’s hand on the walk home. “I know this is … kinda out of the blue,” she said, “but we’ve got to come up with a plan to get our own place.”
Jordan came to an abrupt halt. “What? Since when?” Her face fell and she rushed to explain, “I’m naked around the other girls all of the time! It doesn’t mean a thing. Really!”
Mia shook her head and started to walk, with Jordan’s long gait allowing her to catch up quickly. “It’s not because Jill was in the bathroom with you,” Mia said, “even though I don’t like it. It’s the fact that we don’t have any privacy.”
“We have our own room …”
Mia turned to glare at her, and Jordan’s mouth shut quickly. “We live out in the middle of nowhere, Jordy. We don’t hang out with our roommates or even talk to them much.”
“We could if you wanted to,” Jordan jumped in. “I’m just sick of ’em after being with them all day.”
“No!” Without warning, Mia stopped and Jordan barreled into her. Mia didn’t react to the crash, even though she skidded on the macadam. She balled her hands into fists and spoke through gritted teeth. “I don’t want to be friends with them. I … don’t … like … them!”
Jordan’s jaw dropped. “What? Why?”
“Makela and Ekaterina don’t give me the time of day, and I’d have trouble understanding them if they did! Toni comes in the door and gets on the phone with her husband. And I don’t like Jill because she wants to fuck you!”
“She … but … it’s not …” Jordan stopped speaking and stared at the ground. “I’m only interested in you. Isn’t that what matters?”
“Fuck!” Mia’s voice was so loud that windows would have vibrated if any had been nearby. She bent at the waist, hands on her knees, panting softly. After a few moments, she stood and faced Jordan. Her voice was calm by the time she spoke. “Of course that’s what matters. But she … irritates me. They all irritate me, honey. And it’s not because they’re assholes. They’re keeping me from being alone with you.”
Jordan let out a heavy sigh and shoved her hands into the pockets of her jeans. Twitching her head to signal Mia, she began to walk. It took her a while to speak again, and when she did her voice was low and soft. “This pisses me off.”
Mia’s heart started to pound in her chest. She reached for Jordan’s arm, and was immensely relieved when her lover didn’t pull away. “Why? What did I do?”
Slowly, Jordan’s head turned and her eyes were hooded when she gazed at her partner. “I’ve asked you ten times a day if you’re happy. I don’t like to be lied to.”
Feeling sick, the words rushed out of Mia’s mouth. She was nearly frantic, on the verge of tears. “I didn’t want to make things hard for you. I wanted to just lay low and try to get comfortable before I started making demands.”
“Demands? Is that what it’s called when you tell me how you feel about something? What kinda relationship is that?” Jordan faced Mia again, her expression filled with hurt. “Who are you using as a model, my parents?”
Desperately, Mia grabbed her lover’s arm and pulled her to a stop. She flung her arms around her and held her tightly. “No, no, I’m … I’m trying my best. I wanna support you, not make things harder. It’s just getting to me.”
“What’s getting to you? Having roommates?”
Mia pulled away and looked into Jordan’s eyes. “No. It’s more than that. It’s where we live; it’s how we live, it’s how little there is to do out here.” Jordan’s open expression seemed to slam closed. Her eyes took on a coldness Mia had rarely seen, and it frightened her to the core.
“That’s everything except me. Are you sure I’m not on the list, too?”
“No! God, no! You’re everything to me, Jordy! I’ve left my home, my friends, my family, my school to be with you!”
“You’ve been telling me that everything’s great: you like where we live, you don’t mind our roommates, you don’t mind my schedule. Why wouldn’t I wonder if you’re sick of me, too?”
Mia could feel the fear leaving her body, immediately replaced by anger. “Look! You either believe I love you or you don’t. There isn’t one more thing I can do to prove it to you.” She closed her eyes and felt her hands ball into fists. Holding them next to her reddening face, she shouted, “God damn it, Jordan! I’d give you a kidney if you needed it. I’d probably give you both of ’em! How can you say something like that to me? How can you doubt my love?”
Jordan’s nostrils flared and she stood a little straighter. “Because I’m not very good at figuring out which of your statements are lies. Before tonight, I thought you liked being here. Now I find out the only thing you like is me. It’s … hard for me to know you’ve been lying. I thought I could trust you.”
“You can! I’ve always told you the truth about everything important.”
“It’s important that you’ve been here for three weeks and have been unhappy the entire time. That’s damned important to me; that’s why I’ve asked you about how you feel a couple of hundred times.” Her eyes narrowed and she spoke even more softly. “I could tell that you weren’t happy, that’s why I kept asking. It sucks, Mia. It sucks a lot that you continued to lie even when I begged you to tell me the truth.”
“Damn it, Jordan! Give me a fucking break! I’m trying to fit into your life, a life that I’m on the very edge of! I didn’t want to come here and start complaining about everything. My whole reason for being here is to help you … support you.”
Clearly puzzled, Jordan asked, “Help me what?”
“Help you with anything you need! That’s what partners do!”
Jordan shook her head, her jaw clenched tightly. “Not my partner. My partner’s here because she wants to be here. She’s not here to nurse me.”
“I love being with you,” Mia said, stunned at her lover’s reaction. “I was so unhappy when you were gone.”
“And now you’re unhappy here.”
“Not when you’re home! That makes it all worth while!”
“Only until you lose it and tell me how you really feel. Then you want to move, or kick the other girls out, or … I don’t even know what you want!”
Mia’s lower lip quivered and her voice cracked. “That’s because you haven’t let me tell you.”
Her voice was still cool when Jordan said, “I’m sorry. Tell me what you want.”
“I want us to have our own apartment. I want it to be closer to the center of town so I can walk places when you’re gone.”
Jordan stared at her, her eyes cold and unblinking. “That’ll make you happy?”
“I … I’m not sure, but I think it will. Having our own place’ll let us be ourselves. That’ll help.”
“What if it doesn’t?” Jordan asked, her expression stony.
“Then we’ll figure out something else. Jesus! I can’t be sure what’ll work!”
“And I can’t be sure you’ll tell me the truth.”
“Damn it, will you get over that?”
“I can’t,” she said. “Trust means everything to me, and to have you selfishly keep secrets—”
“Selfishly?” Her voice rising, Mia demanded, “I moved to the middle of nowhere, spend all day alone, live with people I barely know in a piece of shit apartment … to spend three hours a day with you. And you have the nerve to tell me I’m being selfish?”
“Yeah.” Jordan’s face was a mask. “That’s exactly what I’m saying. When you’re unhappy and you lie to me about it … you’re not thinking of our relationship. You might think you are, but you’re not.”
Defeated, Mia closed her eyes. “Fine. I did this all out of a hidden need to live in a dump and act like I love you. Now that you’ve found me out, I guess I’ll go home.”
Jordan turned and started to walk again. “Maybe that’s something you should consider,” she said quietly, the words barely reaching Mia’s ears.
It took about fifteen minutes to finish the walk to the apartment, and Mia’s head was spinning the entire time. She wasn’t sure what she’d done to make Jordan so angry and cold, but she knew it was bad. They’d never had a significant fight, and her lack of experience with Jordan’s temper had her fumbling for a response. They reached the apartment without another word having been said. Mia couldn’t make herself go into their room and endure more of the silent treatment, so when Jordan headed for the steps, she continued to walk.
“Where are you going?” Jordan asked coolly when she noticed Mia wasn’t behind her.
“For a walk. If I’m gonna be ignored, I’d rather be alone.”
Jordan’s expression turned even chillier. She continued up the stairs and went into the apartment without sparing another look at Mia.
Stunned and heartsick, Mia started walking, her only goal to be away from Jordan. She felt so alone and unprotected that she briefly considered getting into her car and driving to
She froze when she heard footsteps behind her, then realized the person was running, not creeping up on her. It took just a few moments for her to recognize the soft cadence of her lover’s footfalls and that almost brought a smile to her face. She’d just started to turn when Jordan grasped her shoulder and turned her, enfolding her in a crushing embrace.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered, her breath coming in quick gasps. “I’m so sorry.”
Mia returned the hug, but with less fervor than Jordan. “It’s okay. I said some shitty things. I don’t blame you for being mad.”
“I’m not mad. I’m really not.”
Pulling back, Mia looked up at her lover. “Then what are you?”
Jordan shook her head, her long, blonde hair sliding over her shoulders to rest on her red fleece jacket. “I … I don’t know. But I can’t stand to have things like this between us. Can we go home?”
Mia rested her cheek on Jordan’s chest. “I’m home when I’m with you. It’s you that matters to me … not where we are. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for hurting you.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Jordan kissed the crown of her head, hugging her tightly. “You had a hard day. I think having your mom here was tough on you.”
“A little,” Mia admitted. She nuzzled against
“Okay. Wanna walk some more?”
“Yeah.” Mia took Jordan’s hand and they continued walking away from the apartment. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was unhappy. That was stupid.”
“You’re never stupid. And you’re never selfish. You were trying to be supportive. I was stupid not to see that.”
“S’okay. I hurt your feelings.”
“Ehh … I’m not sure what happened. I just went off. Doesn’t happen very often.”
“I know,” Mia said. “First time I’ve ever seen you get angry.” She looked up at Jordan until their eyes met. “I don’t wanna see it very often.”
“You won’t.” Jordan kissed her head again. “You won’t. I’m on edge this week, and it felt like you were pressing me to do something that isn’t a good idea right now.”
“Yeah. They’re gonna cut two more this week. There’s a chance we’ll be going home this weekend … so it seemed ridiculous to think of renting an apartment.”
Mia stopped and twirled, putting her hand on Jordan’s breastbone. “Why didn’t you tell me that?”
“That you’re worried about getting cut.”
Looking down at the ground, Jordan made a face like a child being scolded. “I dunno. Makes it too real, I guess.”
“Are you really worried?”
They made eye contact and Mia could see the anxiety in her lover’s eyes. “Yeah. There are too many outside hitters. We’ve got five, and they’ll take four at the most. So … one of us has to go before the final roster’s set. Two of the girls are untouchable … so that leaves three of us to fight for one or two spots.”
Mia took her hand and tugged on Jordan to start them walking again. “How do you think you compare to the other two?”
“We’re … different,” she said thoughtfully. “I’m better offensively than either of the others, but Rachel is a much better server and Lina is a little bit better at defense than Rachel or I are.” She shrugged. “It depends on what the coaches are looking for.”
“Aren’t they looking for offense? Isn’t that what wins games?”
“Sure. But the veterans are both excellent offensively and have a lot of experience in international play. They might want the subs to be better defensively in the event of a tight match. It’s impossible to tell.”
“So you and Rachel and Lina are all new?”
“Yeah. Rachel is only a freshman, so she’d be a great choice. She could get some experience this year and really know what she’s doing in 2004.”
Mia put her arm around Jordan’s shoulder. “I can see why you’re worried.” Giving her a squeeze that made her gasp, she added, “But I can’t see why you didn’t tell me about this. You can’t expect me to tell you everything that’s bothering me when you won’t tell me when you’re afraid of getting cut!”
“I know,” Jordan said, sounding contrite.
“I know they’re gonna keep you,” Mia said. “You’re too fantastic to even consider cutting. So I’m gonna look for an apartment.”
Jordan sighed. “Fine.”
“Come on, honey. You’ll make it! You’re a total stud!”
Barely smiling, Jordan looked at her watch. “It’s just about time for bed. Let’s head home.” She draped her arm around Mia’s shoulders and they walked back toward the apartment, each silently mulling over the weeks to come.
Jamie got home a little late on Monday night, barely beating Ryan home. She was looking over some menus from their favorite take-out places when Ryan walked into the kitchen.
“Hi.” Ryan bent and kissed her head. “Just get home from therapy, or not in the mood to cook?”
Jamie put her arm around Ryan’s hips and hugged her. “The former. Right before my time was up, I asked Anna about making a referral for you. She spent a good fifteen minutes of her own time telling me why she wouldn’t.” She smiled up at Ryan. “She must love me since she gave me a freebie.”
“Why wouldn’t she make a referral?” Ryan was frowning as she walked to the refrigerator and pulled out a container of yogurt. “It’s not hard.” She grabbed a spoon and pulled out a chair, straddling it backwards, as was her habit.
Jamie watched her meticulously arrange the fruit throughout the container. “She said she didn’t think she was the best person to make a referral for you.”
“Who is? The Yellow Pages?”
“Nooo. She reminded me that you have a therapist who knows you. She thinks Ellen is the right person to make a referral. Ellen’s been seeing you for a while and she’d probably have some idea of the type of person you’d click with.”
Jabbing at her yogurt, Ryan grumbled, “I was gonna call and quit. I don’t wanna talk to her again.”
Jamie reached across the table and brushed some dust off Ryan’s arm, then gently stroked it. “Why not, honey?”
“’Cause I’m done. I told you I don’t like going, so why go back?”
“Uhm … because you’re in a group. I’d think you’d say goodbye to the other people in the group. I mean … you’ve shared things with them, right?”
“Not much,” Ryan said, her eyes focused on her rapidly dwindling yogurt.
“Well, it’s rude to call and cancel now. Go tomorrow and tell them that you’re leaving.”
Ryan spooned the last of the yogurt into her mouth and stood up. “I’m gonna call her now, then she can think of a referral for me for tomorrow.” She started to leave but added, “Order something spicy, ’kay?”
“Okay.” Jamie watched her leave, wondering what was going on in that adorably irritating mind.
The phone rang not long after they’d finished dinner and Jamie went into the living room to answer it. “Hello?’
“Hi, Niall.” She smiled at the way he spoke on the phone. It reminded her of roll call more than conversation, but she was used to the odd habits of the O’Flaherty cousins.
“Your ma hooked me up with her real estate guy. You know him?”
“No, I haven’t met him. Have you?”
“No. But I talked to him. He doesn’t do commercial or rental properties, so he turned me over to a guy he works with—Ray something or other. Anyway, I’m gonna go meet with this guy tomorrow and I thought one of you might wanna go with me.”
“Uhm … Ryan’s probably busy, but I can make it as long as it’s in the afternoon.”
“Yeah. Three o’clock. That good?”
“That’s great. Where should I meet you?”
“At the guy’s office. It’s on Castro, just up from the theater.”
“Okay. I’ll be there and I might have Ryan with me.”
“Great. See ya!” He hung up before she could add another word.
She walked upstairs and stood in the doorway, watching Ryan type. Waiting until her partner paused, she said, “Can I interrupt?”
Ryan looked up and smiled. “Never. I mean, you’re never an interruption. What’s up?”
“Niall’s got a meeting with a real estate agent tomorrow at 3:00. I said I’d go with him.”
“Yeah. He knows more about what he wants in a building, but I’m … how can I say this?” She tapped her chin with her finger. “I’m a little more …”
“Polite … civilized … conversational … pretty?”
“Thank you. I was going to say patient.”
“I’m glad you’re going,” Ryan said. “Niall can be a real ass. He’s so abrupt.”
“Yeah, he is, but he’s a good guy. I like him.”
Ryan’s eyes widened. “You’d better! He’s family!”
Ryan showed up right on time for therapy on Tuesday morning, and nodded to all of her companions. Even though it had been quite a few weeks, she always stood alone on the street corner while they waited for Ellen to open the office. She was polite and smiled at everyone, but it had to be clear to the group that she wasn’t really one of them.
Ellen arrived on time and opened the door to the building. She handed Barb the key to the office and said, “Will you open up? I need a minute.”
Barb took the key and the group started to follow, with Ryan trailing behind. Ellen tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I got your message.”
“Right.” Ryan looked down and moved a discarded piece of paper around with her shoe. “Uhm … can you help me?” Glancing up, she caught Ellen’s gaze and held it, uncertainly, for a moment.
“I hope I can. I’ve got a little time after group. Can you stay?”
“Sure. But you could just call me. I hate to take up your time. You can even leave a message if I’m not there.”
“No, I have time.” Ellen smiled at Ryan. “Ready?”
Everyone but Ryan filed out at the end of the session, and she looked longingly after them. Ellen took out her appointment calendar and set it on her lap. “Tell me what you’re thinking, Ryan.”
“Therapy. Are you serious about it?”
“Uhm … yes, I’m serious.”
Ellen gazed at her for a moment. “You don’t seem serious about it. You might be the type of person who needs privacy, but from what I’ve gathered … that’s not really who you are. My guess is that you’re not committed to this.”
“I …” Ryan put her hands on her knees and seemed to gather her thoughts. “I want to feel better. I’m serious about that.”
“And you think you’ll feel better if you find a new therapist?” Ellen’s voice carried no animosity, just gentle concern.
“Maybe. I … I really don’t know. I just know that I hate … this. I feel like I’ve been sentenced to come here.”
Shrugging, Ryan said, “I don’t feel like I have much in common with the other women. Well … maybe Barb. But I don’t feel like I can really let go with the others. I feel like they’d flip if I said what’s really on my mind.”
Ellen leaned forward and looked into Ryan’s eyes. “What is on your mind?”
“It depends,” Ryan said, fidgeting a little. “Sometimes I feel fine. But when something sets me off I can really feel out-of-control. I don’t think the other women can get that.”
“You might be right. Most of them haven’t been through the same type of thing you have. But I still think you can benefit from a group. I think sharing how you feel with someone who knows what you’re going through can help you.”
Ryan nodded. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But this isn’t the right group. It’s just not.”
“How about this?” Ellen looked down at her book. “Would you consider spending an hour with Barb and me? Her trauma’s very close to yours. And I think you’d make each other talk a little more.”
“Uhm … I guess I could try it.”
“No pressure. If you want to see someone else … I’m happy to give you some names. As a matter of fact, I’ve written down three. I called each of them and they have time available.” She handed Ryan the paper.
“Why don’t we try a few sessions?” Ryan said. “It can’t hurt.”
“I don’t want you to feel pressured,” Ellen said. “You can think about it and leave me a message.”
“No, no, I’m good. Let’s do it.”
“I’ll talk to Barb and see if she’s interested. I think she will be.”
Ryan opened her book and wrote a few things. “Here’s my available time. If Barb agrees go ahead and set something up. You can leave me a message.”
Ellen took the sheet and glanced at it. “I think we’ll be able to figure something out. I’ll give you a call.”
Ryan stood up and shook Ellen’s hand. “Thanks. I wasn’t really looking forward to starting with someone new.” She grinned. “I just couldn’t take another day with the whole group.”
“We’ll try something new,” Ellen said. “We both have the same goal. To help you feel more like yourself.”
When Ryan got home from practice, Jamie was still out. She started to make some pasta, unable to wait to see when her partner would arrive. The water was just reaching a boil when Jamie came in the back door, carrying a big, greasy, brown paper bag, redolent with the smell of garlic.
“Combos?” Ryan cried.
“Welcome home, Jamie,” her partner said. “Gosh, I’ve missed you.” She put the bag down and walked over to the stove, turning it off.
Ryan hugged and kissed her quickly. “Combos?”
“Yes, dear. I was in the neighborhood, so I bought you two combos. I’ll never stop smelling like tomato sauce and garlic, but I did it for love.”
Ryan tore into the bag, unwrapping her favorite treat and getting the food on plates in what seemed like seconds. “Kitchen?” she asked, already putting the plates on the kitchen table.
“Sure.” Jamie washed her hands and grabbed a long strip of paper towels before she sat down.
“Do we have any beer?”
Ryan looked in the refrigerator and said, “Yep.” She took two out and set them on the table.
“You know,” Jamie said after taking a sip, “you and Niall have the same speech patterns sometimes. You treat your words like they’re pretty valuable, too.”
“Huh.” Ryan smiled coyly and took a drink of her beer.
“Stop it!” Jamie pinched her and asked, “Do you want to know about my day?”
Ryan just nodded and dug into her sandwich.
“Brat.” She arranged a napkin in the placket of her blouse, then put another on her lap, hoping that a delay would make Ryan talk. But her partner could wait anyone out. Especially when she had one of her favorite foods in front of her. “We met Andrew, the guy who Mom worked with.”
Another nod from Ryan.
“And I’m glad we’re not going to work with him.”
One raised eyebrow asked why.
“He’s very, very gay. Very classy. I know the boys aren’t anti-gay—”
“Sure they are,” Ryan finally spoke. “They’re just not anti-lesbian.”
Jamie thought about that for a second and saw her partner’s point. “Do you think they make gay jokes and things like that when we’re not around?”
“Of course. You have to expect the worst from the boyos. I’m sure they make all kinds of racial and ethnic jokes too. They just don’t do it in front of me. Or Brendan.”
“Only you two dislike those kinds of jokes?”
“No, I don’t think Rory does, and maybe Colm, but they aren’t the types to complain.”
“But you and Bren do?”
“Yeah. We lecture them, which they really hate.”
“I’d hate it if they said negative things about gay people around me.”
“They won’t. They treat you like a girl. They know girls usually don’t like that stuff.”
“So it’s what they can get away with, huh?”
“I suppose. But they’re no worse than any other group of twenty-something guys.”
“Well, then I’m really glad we’re not working with Andrew. The guy we talked to looked like he could crack walnuts with his bare hands. He wasn’t very tall, but he was built. Looked like a big fire plug.”
“Yep. Had the picture of the wife and kids on his desk.”
“Good. The boys would work with a gay guy, but a cultured, well-dressed gay guy might be too much for them.” She smiled wryly. “Did you see any places?”
“Just pictures. We spent most of the time telling him what we were looking for. That took over an hour.”
“Me,” Jamie said, smiling. “And Niall interrupted.”
“That’s my boy. I knew I could count on him to do the O’Flaherty name proud.”
Mia covered her hand with her own and asked, “What’s that?”
“I said that you should probably think about whether or not you should leave.”
Smiling, Mia said, “Hey … don’t worry about that. I know you didn’t mean it.”
Jordan swallowed noticeably, then seemed to force herself to look into Mia’s eyes. “I think I did mean it.”
“Wha … are you serious? God damn it, Jordan, I said I was sorry!” Mia jumped to her feet. “What do I have to do?”
Jordan was beside her in a moment, trying to get her arms around Mia who was actively pushing her away. “Come on! Let me explain!”
“What? That you don’t want me here?”
Jordan dropped her hands, giving up on the struggle to hold her love. “No! Don’t even think that! I’ve been thinking about everything you said last night. And I’m not sure it makes sense to go on like we’ve been doing.” She reached out and touched Mia’s cheek, leaving it there when it wasn’t pushed away. “Come on. Sit down and let me tell you what I’ve been thinking.”
Obviously angry, Mia nonetheless sat back down and stared at her partner.
“You said a lot of things last night, and I know that some of them are true.”
“Thanks,” Mia snapped. “Good to hear that you don’t assume everything I say is a lie.”
Jordan cupped a hand over Mia’s knee and said, “That’s not what I meant and I think you know that.”
Mia rolled her eyes, but didn’t respond, waiting for Jordan to continue.
“You told me you’re unhappy with our apartment, but I think there’s more to it than that. I don’t think you’re gonna be happy traveling with me, either.”
“I didn’t say that!”
“I know.” Jordan sat quietly, gazing into Mia’s eyes. “It’s … a feeling I have. I know you, and I know how you are. I don’t think you’ll be any happier sitting in a stadium in
“I’m not going to watch TV! I’m going to be with you! That’s what counts.”
Jordan nodded. “That is what counts at this point. I thought … I truly believed that you’d have a good time traveling with us. But that’s just stupid. It’s no fun to be in another country walking around by yourself … unless that’s what you enjoy. You’re not like that.”
“No, I’m not,” Mia agreed. “It’d only be fun if you were with me.”
“So … if you won’t enjoy it and it’ll cost us thousands of dollars … maybe you shouldn’t come.”
“But … don’t you want me?”
“Of course I do. I always want you. That’s never in question, Mia.” She grasped her chin and held her head steady, looking into her eyes. “Never. I’d love for you to be there.”
Mia felt like crying. “Then I’ll go with you!”
Moving her chair back, Jordan patted her thighs, and Mia practically leapt for her. She sat on Jordan’s lap, her face burrowed into her neck. “Shhh,” Jordan murmured, stroking her back. “It’s all right, baby. It’s all right.”
“I wanna be with you,” Mia said, her voice catching. “I wanna take care of you.”
“You take care of me by taking care of yourself. I’m happy when you’re happy. And knowing that you’re just going with me to sleep together isn’t gonna do it.”
Mia lifted her head and gazed into Jordan’s eyes. “But I love sleeping with you. Don’t you love it?”
“Ohh …” Jordan gently soothed the hurt frown Mia wore. “Of course I do. It’s the highlight of my day. But it’s not worth it if I’m worried about you the rest of the day. I need to … I have to concentrate when we’re touring. Each game means a lot … a whole lot. If you’re at home I’ll miss you. But only at night. That’s the only time I have to reflect. The rest of the time I’ll be in my playing zone. And since I fall asleep in minutes … it won’t be that bad.”
“So you don’t want me to go?”
“I want you to go if you want to go. If you’ll enjoy being in
Mia’s chin was still quivering, and her voice was unsteady when she asked, “But don’t you need me to take care of you?”
Jordan hugged her hard and long. “I love to have you take care of me. But you won’t get much chance. The team has to eat together. We have to do all sorts of dumb things like go to visit the Russian team’s practice facility … all that kind of promotional stuff. You can’t go to any of that. All we’ll be able to do is sleep together.” She smiled as her eyes hooded with a touch of embarrassment, making Mia’s heart melt. “And I’ll probably actually want to sleep.”
Mia leaned forward and rested her forehead against Jordan’s. “Can we let this go for tonight? I don’t know what’s best. All I know is that I want to be with you … no matter where you are or what you’re doing. You’re what matters.”
“I want that too,” Jordan said. “That’s all I’ve ever wanted. I just didn’t know it until I met you.”
“Damn, you know how to make me smile.” She tilted her chin and pulled Jordan’s lower lip into her mouth. Mia began to suck it gently, then put her arms around her lover and pulled her close.
The front door opened, and all of the roommates entered, with Jill saying, “Hey! No making out in the living room!”
Jordan tightened her hold, making Mia feel like a treasured doll. “We’re not making out. We just like to be as close as possible.”
Jill gestured at the table. “You haven’t even finished eating. Are you gonna feed her?”
“Yep.” Jordan patted Mia on the butt, and when they were both standing she took her hand. “Thanks for the suggestion.” The pair walked down the hall to their room to the titters of their roommates.
Jordan was standing right in front of the door, and Mia put her hands against her shoulders, pinning her against it. “No, it didn’t upset me. I thought it was a good idea. I’m tired of talking. I wanna use my mouth for something more fun.”
Smiling sexily, Jordan bent and picked Mia up, making her squeak in surprise. “Let’s go.” She turned and carefully knelt on the bed, lowering Mia to the mattress. “Since I chose when, you can choose how.”
Mia lay on her back, gazing up at her partner with a thoughtful expression. “I think I’d like … hmm … let’s see …” She put her hand on Jordan’s ass, grasping a handful of muscle that barely moved under her probing. “I like to look down and see your cheeks flexing when you’re …” She grabbed Jordan and pulled her on top of her body, whispering her request into her ear.
Jordan’s eyebrows popped up and down. “We’re never very quiet when we do that. Sure you don’t mind if the roomies hear us?”
“If I get too noisy, just stick something into my mouth. Like your tongue,” she murmured, batting her big, brown eyes.
“Be right back,” Jordan said, getting to her feet and moving quickly. “I’ve gotta put on my supergirl outfit.” She went to one of their plastic bins to get what she needed.
“It’s so cute that you call that your supergirl outfit.”
“Well, most girls don’t have one of these,” Jordan said, rooting through the toys Mia had brought with her. “Thank God.”
“I’m glad you don’t have one very often,” Mia said. “But every once in a while …” She grinned lasciviously.
“I’m glad I can have one when you want one and toss it aside when we’re done. Besides,” she said, finding what she wanted, “I don’t think I’d last very long if I had a real one. You’re too hot for words!”
The next morning,
“Does this make it nicer?” Mia moved up and captured Jordan’s lips while slowly slipping her hand between her legs.
“Unh … yeah. Much nicer.” Jordan lifted her knees to give Mia better access. She pulled Mia’s earlobe into her mouth and nipped at it. “Feels good … very, very good. Ahh!” She gasped when Mia filled her, slipping in and out of her wetness. Their mouths met, and Jordan began to suckle Mia’s tongue. They moved against each other, stroking and caressing as things began to heat up. Jordan managed to get an arm around Mia and she held her tenderly while her fingers found their mark.
Now Mia gasped and smiled through their kiss. “Delicious,” she murmured. “Touch me just like that. All day.”
“I promise,” Jordan said softly, even though she knew they only had a few minutes before she had to get ready for another day on the practice court.
Even though her legs were wobbly, Mia got up and made
Jordan came into the room, a bright smile affixed to her face. “I love having you get up to have breakfast with me,” she said, giving Mia a kiss on the cheek.
Jill leaned against the counter, her smirk now bordering on ostentatious. She leaned forward and patted the top of Jordan’s head, saying, “Not you. Must be Mia.”
Jordan reached up and felt her own head. “What?”
“I was trying to figure out which one of you’d been banging you head into the wall last night. You don’t have a knot up there so it must be Mia.” She laughed at her joke, and slapped Jordan hard on the ass. “You don’t look like a wild woman, Ericsson, but you sure must be. It takes two to make that kinda noise.”
Jordan looked a little embarrassed, but she shrugged off the comment. “Must’ve been next door. I think they’re remodeling.”
Mia’s expression was a complete blank. “Be right back,” she said, patting Jordan on the hip as she passed. “Don’t eat all the granola.”
Jordan watched her go, her brow slightly furrowed. “Did I piss her off?” Jill asked.
“Don’t think so,” Jordan said. “She doesn’t mind being teased.”
“Maybe she didn’t get enough sleep … with the neighbors remodeling.”
“Yeah. That’s probably it,” Jordan said. She sat down and dug into her granola, patiently waiting for Mia to return.
Catherine picked up the phone on Wednesday morning and was mildly surprised to hear her former husband. “Hi, Cat,” Jim said, sounding happy.
“Good morning, Senator. How are things?”
“Good. I’m thinking about going to my
She almost pulled the phone away from her ear to inspect it. “Get together?” she asked.
There was a pause, then he said, “I … thought we were going to stay friends. We’re still parents together.”
“I … of course I want to be friends, Jim. But I suppose I haven’t given much thought to how that would play itself out.”
“Friends see each other and talk, don’t they?” he asked, his good humor ebbing.
“Of course. It’s not that I’m averse to seeing you. You just caught me by surprise.”
He made a gruff little noise that she’d heard thousands of times. She knew it meant he was puzzled as to why he wasn’t getting his way, and she was a little pleased at the thought that she didn’t have to give in to his wishes any longer.
“Maybe another time then.”
“I’d be happy to see you this time, Jim, but I’m not going to be in town.”
“Oh.” A pause. “Really?”
“Mmm-hmm. I’m going to
She started to tell him that was a little personal, but she realized she’d tell a woman friend—and she should reveal as much to him as she would a casual friend. “I’m going to a few galleries and to the spring art show at The Armory.”
“Oh … we did that together a few times.”
“Yes, we did,” she said, thinking that they’d always had a good time in
“Well, I don’t have anything booked in
Now the warning bells went off. She didn’t know what he wanted, but he definitely wanted something. “That’s very thoughtful, Jim, but I’m meeting a friend.”
“A … friend?”
“Mmm-hmm.” She didn’t add another word.
“So … you’re busy all weekend?”
“Yes. I’m going for the art, but also to see my friend.”
“Oh. Uhm … that’s great. I hope you and … your friend have a good time.”
“I’m sure we will. Now make sure you tell me the next time you’re coming to town. I’d like to show you my new house.”
“Right … right. That’d be nice. Have a good time and …well, just have a good time. Bye.”
“Bye, Jim. Take care.” She hung up and sat for a minute, trying to figure out what he wanted. But she couldn’t come up with a thing.
Continued in Part 3
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