I Found My Heart in San Francisco

 

Book 1: Awakenings

 

By: S X Meagher


 

Disclaimers: None needed, since this is an Uber story. The characters in this story come from my imagination and belong to the author. But if anyone in the legal department of MCA/Universal is looking for similarities between this story and a certain syndicated show, rest assured that no monetary gain will result from its publication. However, if anyone would like to offer me a hefty advance, please disclaim the disclaimer.

 

Sex/Love: I never have and I never will disclaim either love or sex. I'm overly fond of both but if you aren't, look elsewhere. I should mention that a few graphic depictions of sex between members of the opposite sex are included but my characters quickly come to their senses and abandon their attempts to be heterosexual.

 

Graphic Language: My characters occasionally curse like they have Tourette's syndrome. I've tried to make them sound like real humans and sometimes you just have to say 'what the f--k?', and they use the actual terms for all of the organs of the body, including the fun parts.

 

Continuing Story/Serial Warning: This is the first story of a looooong series. A new book will be published every other month until I run out of ideas or my girlfriend confiscates my laptop. I'm naming each of the books sequentially for the letters of the alphabet. If you can think of a hot story title that begins with Z, please let me know (I'm not really that far along yet).

 

Feedback: I'm consumed by self-criticism; therefore only positive feedback will be read. If you enjoyed the story please stroke my fragile ego, if not, flush it from your memory bank and move on. You can email me at sx_meagher@mindspring.com

 

Acknowledgments: Primarily to my lover/proofreader/editor/publicist Carrie. Without her support, enthusiastic praise, and tireless patience this book would not exist and I doubt that I would, either.

I was inspired to create this work by the plethora of talented writers in the Xenaverse. I've read hundreds of stories but the following writers have been particularly inspiring (in alpha order):

NeNe Adams; Sharon Bowers; Vivian Darkbloom; DJWP; Melissa Good; L.N. James; Journs; Katrina; B.L. Miller; Tonya Muir; C. Paradee; Penumbra; Della Street, and SwordnQuill.

 

Chapter 1

 

She grabbed the first shirt that caught her eye. In a casual move she slipped it on over the tank top she wore. The small blonde shop owner noticed that she did not look in a mirror to determine her satisfaction with the garment. It seemed as though she had an internal mirror to gauge her appearance. She stood for a moment or two until a look of pleasure overtook her handsome face. The shop owner met her glance as she made her way toward her beautiful customer.

 

"Is there something I can help you with?" she asked, hoping to engage this woman in at least a conversation.

 

"Yeah, I think I'll take this shirt," she indicated, passing her strong hands down her torso. "Do you think it suits me?" she asked with a twinkle in her clear blue eyes.

 

"It definitely suits you, but then, so would just about anything I sell," the golden haired woman replied, openly admiring the statuesque woman.

 

"That's the nicest compliment I've had all day," she drawled as a smile twitched her lips.

 

"It's only 11:00 o'clock," she playfully responded. "I'll bet that you'll have more than you can handle by nightfall."

 

Wow, she really wants to play. Well, I'm always up for a game...let's see how far she'll go.

 

"Would you like to spend some of the day with me to help me fight off all of the compliments being hurled my way?" she asked with a wolfish grin.

 

"I would," the shop owner stated hesitantly, as she darted a glance around the store, "but I don't have any other help today, and I'm open till nine tonight."

 

"Hmm, that is late," the dark haired customer agreed with a regretful shake of her head. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows knit together for a moment and then her features broke into a sly grin. "How do you stop for lunch or a break?" she asked smoothly.

 

"When business is slow I can just lock up for a little while." She blushed a bit as the implications of this thought and the knowing grin of her pursuer hit her.

 

"I haven't seen another soul come in since I've been here," the dark woman said with a gaze that locked on green eyes.

 

"I'm not sure I would have noticed if someone had," she replied, feeling just a little weak in the knees. She was astonished at her open flirting with this woman. This was generally not something that she did, but something about this woman called to her and she was unable to control the responses coming from her mouth or her body.

 

"If you were to take a little break to nibble on something where would you go?" blue eyes darkening with open desire.

 

Her dry mouth squeaked out, "I have a little office with a couch in the back of the store," and she felt her hand point weakly at a door in the rear of the building.

 

"I'll be right back," soothed the stranger, as she made her way with confident strides to the front of the store. She glanced at the door and spotted a sign that mimicked a clock that read 'Will Return In' with little blue plastic clock hands. She moved the hands to noon, turned the sign around and slapped the bolt on the door in place. She was back at the small woman's side before the shop owner could take a step in either direction. The dark woman gently clasped her small hand in her own powerful one and guided her to the office.

 

In less than the beat of a heart, she found herself sprawled against the worn dark leather of her couch, responding with ferocity to the caresses of her beautiful customer. The intensity of the touch and the powerful aura that radiated from this woman were truly overwhelming. She felt completely powerless to slow the pace or collect her scattered thoughts. She knew that this was very much unlike her, but she had no desire to stop the relentless assault to her senses. There was a fire within this woman and she needed to dive into the conflagration.

 

She felt her clothing being gently removed...first her deep red French cut t-shirt, then her short black skirt. Both were tossed casually to the floor. She shivered a little at the coolness of the leather on her bare skin. The strong hands moved over her body rubbing her breasts through the lace of her bra. Then they slowly glided over her grinding hips to caress her curves through her silky panties. Those practiced hands then removed even these barriers to those fierce blue eyes and warm wet lips.

 

Those lips descended on the small woman with a burning fire that ratcheted her desire up several notches. She craved more contact. She wrapped her fingers in the onyx tresses and ground the woman's mouth to her breasts, arching into the sensation. Reluctantly, she released her grasp when she felt the head sliding down her abdomen. She raised her legs and slid them around the powerful shoulders that paused above her for just a moment. She looked beseechingly at those clear blue eyes and uttered the only word that would tumble from her lips, "Please." She was met with a wide smile and a look of quiet pleasure from those beautiful orbs. The dark head dipped and tasted her passion, which flowed from her like lava, burning in its intensity. She gasped and tried to vocalize her pleasure, but was unable to utter more than a low growl. That tortured sound was met by an even lower growl that sounded like the contented murmurings of a panther over its kill.

 

She thrust her hips at the mouth that covered her, watching with half-closed eyes as the dark head moved slowly between her legs. Long, blissful moments passed as she allowed herself to be completely consumed. But after too short a time she felt herself go rigid for a split second as she teetered on the edge of climax. One firm, wet kiss and she plummeted over, completely unable to hold back any longer. She grunted out her pleasure as she grabbed the dark head and pressed it against herself firmly. Finally she felt the mouth slowly still. She rested for a moment and then felt delicate kisses begin to tenderly remove the traces of her passion. Her legs relaxed and she was finally able to speak. "That was wonderful," she languidly enthused to the dark head still nestled between her legs. The head tilted up and rested on her abdomen, smiling at her with twinkling eyes.

 

"You did seem to enjoy it," the dancing beautiful blue eyes responded with a chuckle.

 

"Let me return the favor," the small woman huskily responded as she reached up to unbutton the new shirt.

 

"I wish we had time, but it's almost noon," the dark woman said with obvious regret. "The buying public is probably lined up outside your door. Remember, I did promise to only keep you for a little nibble."

 

"There are plenty of other clothing stores on Telegraph Avenue," the golden haired woman responded lazily from her still blissful languor.

 

"Yes, but none of the others have the great customer service that you offer," the dark woman teased. She was rising from the floor and straightening her clothing as she responded.

 

"Are you really leaving?" the small woman said with genuine surprise. "But...don't you...I want to please you too," she begged.

 

"You already did," said the smiling blue eyes. "I am glad I decided to buy this shirt, however," she indicated the rumpled garment with the wet marks gracing the placket. "The ah...design might not appeal to all of your customers," she stated with a quirky grin that lit up her face. "Although I think it will become one of my favorites," she added with a twinkle in those clear blue eyes. "Which reminds me, what do I owe you?"

 

"I should pay you for that little lunch break," she said sheepishly. "Please consider it a small thank you gift."

 

"Okay, but next time I'll try not to damage the merchandise before I've paid for it," she said with another twinkle.

 

"Will there be a next time?" the honey haired woman asked tentatively.

 

She was met with a confident leer, "Count on it." Then the tall woman turned and started for the exit, giving her one last dazzling grin as she paused at the door, and was gone.

 

The small woman straightened her clothing and made herself as presentable as possible. She floated dreamily out of the office and walked behind the counter. Resting neatly on the glass surface were two twenty-dollar bills and a note that read, "Thanks for the nibble. You made my day."

 

* * * * * * * * * * * *

 

I hope I didn't make a mistake in taking this class. I'm just afraid I'll stick out like a sore thumb. And what I should wear? I really don't want to look too straight...hmm

 

"Ohh, that feels really good sweetheart," Jamie murmured into Jack's ear. But as soon as the words left her lips she regretted her statement. In his defense, Jack was nothing if not receptive to instructions. Regrettably, he took them a bit too seriously. He seemed to reason that if something felt good, he should continue to do it until he was bodily forced to stop.

 

"That's a little too much, Jack." Jamie did her best to keep the edge out of her voice. She sighed deeply and reflected that she was absolutely sure that she did not have instructions printed on her stomach but Jack acted as though he was following some kind of script. He was tender and sweet and very attentive. But he had no spontaneity...no intuitive sense of how to please her.

 

He went back to his usual routine and Jamie fell back into her reverie. I can always drop the damn class if I feel too uncomfortable. It's really no big deal.

 

Jack was close now and she whispered words of love into his ear to hasten his climax. She loved his ears...they were perfectly shaped and had just a light covering of downy blonde hair on them. When he was excited they glowed with an attractive blush that Jamie found irresistible.

 

He threw his head back as his eyes became glassy and unfocused. He spent his release into her as she rubbed his back and murmured into his pink ear. After a moment as his breathing slowed he looked at her with concern in his deep blue eyes, "You didn't finish, did you?"

 

"That's okay, Honey, you can get me twice tomorrow," she said with a sweet smile. "You look so tired, Love, put your head down here," she said as she patted her chest. He looked as though he wanted to argue, but she was gently tracing patterns on his back and he quickly lost his will to insist. He rested his sandy blonde head on her breast and was asleep in moments.

 

She regarded his attractive tanned face with loving eyes. I am so lucky to have him, she thought. He tries so hard to please me. Not many men would be so concerned with my pleasure. I just wish I knew how to explain how I like to be touched. She lightly ran her fingers through the damp hair covering his forehead. I just wish I could relax about the whole thing, she thought. I'm only 20 years old and they say most women don't hit their sexual peak until they're in their 40's. Jack shifted a bit and nestled his head into her neck. Well, that thought really helped, she groused. I'll just wait 20 years to feel hot.

 

Jack had turned 24 just the week before, the same day he had gone back to Stanford for his third year of law school. Their relationship had reached this stage of intimacy quite recently. Jamie's friends had teasingly called her the "last attractive virgin in California," for the past 4 years. But when Jamie made up her mind about something, it was tough to change it. She had decided when she was 15 that she would not have intercourse with a man she did not love.

 

She steadfastly stuck to that resolve even when her hormones were on full alert. It had surprised her and shocked her friends that a guy like Jack had continued to date her for 2 years. But Jack, like Jamie, knew what he wanted and would sacrifice to get it. He was very happy when she relented at the beginning of the summer and they had consummated their love. They had spent a lot of time together during the past 3 months but Jamie continued to stay with her parents to avoid any questions about their relationship. It had been hard on Jack to see her for just a few hours a day, but he coped with the inconvenience like he did so many things.

 

They were both looking forward to the start of Jamie's fall semester at Berkeley as a way to have more quality time together. They had made plans for her to come down to Palo Alto every Friday night to spend the weekend, and Jamie hoped these times together would give her some indication of what married life would be like.

 

As she cradled Jack's head on her chest she reflected over the last 2 years of their relationship. When they met Jamie had just graduated from The Oaks, a private academy on the Peninsula. Much to her parents' displeasure, she was going to attend the University of California at Berkeley. Both of her parents were Stanford alum's and they were very much invested in having their only child attend their alma mater. But Jamie wanted to see a different side of the Bay Area. She knew that Stanford would be like continuing in high school. They same type of rich, smart kids. The same type of parties, although now in a fraternity house. She wanted to see the grittier, more vibrant side of the city that Hillsborough insulated her from.

 

Jamie was taken with Jack from the onset. He was working as a summer associate at her father's law firm just getting ready for his first year of law school. She still remembered the night her father had brought him home for dinner. She took one look at the tall, well built young man and knew that her sparkling eyes were sending a clear message. Over dinner he responded with a matching level of interest and by the next weekend they went on their first date. He was tall, and well built with broad sloping shoulders and a runner's lean frame. He had a strong face with a perennial deep tan and his deep blue eyes were framed by pale blonde lashes. His hair was thick and straight, colored a nice shade of ash blonde that lightened a bit in the summer. He wore it parted on the side and relatively short in the back. There was usually a thick shock of it hanging just a little bit in his eyes. It gave him a cute, boyish look that Jamie loved from the start.

 

He was such a welcome change from the boys she had known in high school. He was mature, and confident and very interested in her. But unlike her high school dates he did not seem only interested in her for sex. He wanted to build a relationship.

 

As she watched Jack sleep in her arms she felt a fierce well of emotion build up inside of her. I'll try to be what you need, Jack. But I need you to be patient with me while I figure some things out.

 

 


 

Sunday morning dawned bright and clear. Jamie was up early, as was her custom. When Jack made his way into the small kitchen she was sitting at the counter drinking a large latte' and reading the New York Times.

 

"Hi, sleepyhead," she teased as their eyes met.

 

"Wow, I didn't realize how tired I was," he said sheepishly. "It's past 8! I never sleep that late." As he shuffled over to her she opened her arms and enveloped him in a big hug. "Maybe Dr. Jamie's sleeping potion was too strong for you," she murmured.

 

He grinned down at her as he replied, "That reminds me, I need to give you a double dose of that potion today."

 

"Okay, Doc, but at the moment I would like to get you into clothes, not out of them. Remember you promised we could go to church today."

 

"Oh, right," he said as he remembered their plan. "Let me take a quick shower and we can get going. Did you want to hit the 9:00 or the 11:00 o'clock service?"

 

"I thought 9 o'clock and then maybe we can play a round with Daddy if he's available," she said.

 

"Sounds good, Sweetie," he said over his shoulder as he walked into the bathroom. "Why don't you give him a buzz?"

 

The day was shaping up well. Her father happily agreed to play golf, but since her mother had just returned from her month long vacation to visit her family in Newport she wanted to come along and have brunch beforehand. Gosh, I can't believe I completely forgot that she was back this week, Jamie thought. I really should have called her on the day she came back.

 


 

They settled into a pew near the front of the small, Episcopal Church on the outskirts of Nob Hill. As the choir began the opening hymn they turned slightly to watch the procession. As the acolytes, the verger and the choir filed past Jamie made eye contact with a gray haired elegant looking priest. She wrinkled up her nose a bit and winked at him. He gave her a fond smile and winked back.

 

Charles Sloan Evans had been an Episcopal priest for nearly 40 years. He and his wife had reared a son and a 2 daughters. The eldest being Jamie's father. Jamie had always known where her father got his sense of humor and his generally easy going nature. But as much as she loved her father, her grandfather was Jamie's ideal of what a man should be. He was kind, warm, empathetic and very funny. Jamie spent many an hour in his study just talking about life. He seemed to understand her in a way that she doubted anyone else ever would. Her grandmother had died before Jamie was born, but her grandfather never seemed lonely. He was very dedicated to his calling and genuinely loved helping people through the trying times of their lives. Jamie knew that her grandfather was a bit disappointed in his only son. Rev. Evans felt that his son had not found his true soul mate and he was dismayed at the lack of time that he spent with his family. He felt that Jim had been lured by the money and power that his wife's family promised. But Jim had produced this most perfect of granddaughters and for that he was eternally grateful.

 

After the reading of the gospel, Rev. Evans climbed to the pulpit. His deep, clear voice warmed Jamie's heart. Few things made her happier than hearing her grandfather impart his wisdom on his congregation. His sermon spoke of love, one of his favorite themes. Jamie could not imagine attending a church where the message was sin and retribution. But even though his message was usually happy, her grandfather had a way of making even difficult topics seem uplifting and hopeful.

 

He spoke of love being God's greatest gift to man and the most visible sign of His presence among us. Through love for another, humans acknowledged this gift of love from God and expressed it in concrete form. In no other way could we feel His love for us as completely. This manifestation was a gift to be cherished-not taken frivolously. Through the loving pairing of two people God dwells among them.

 

Jamie was thoughtful through the rest of the service. Is that how I feel?" she thought. Do my feelings for Jack reflect that peak experience? Is this the height of my expression of God's love?

 

As they filed out of the church, hand in hand, Jack turned to Jamie and said, "Wasn't that a great sermon?"

 

"Yes," agreed Jamie, "it really gave me something to think about."

 

"Your grandfather just expressed exactly how I feel about you Jamie," he said with a beautiful smile on his face. Jamie felt her heart break at the look of love on Jack's face.

 

She pasted a similar smile on her own face and said, "I'm very happy that you told me that Jack." She stretched on her tiptoes as she reached up with tears in her eyes and gave him a chaste kiss. He beamed down at her and remarked, "We are two lucky people, Jamie."

 

"We are that, Jack," she agreed with a tear in her eyes.

 

Jack enthusiastically shook Rev. Evans hand as they exited the church. Jamie gave her grandfather a big hug that was returned with gusto. "You hit another home run, Poppa," she teased.

 

"Well, when I have such an attentive audience it inspires me to swing for the fences," he agreed. After a few minutes of banter, the couple excused themselves and made their way to the Club for brunch.

 

The Olympic Club was the scene of the majority of Jamie's Sundays since she was a small child. Her parents dutifully took her to church and Sunday school but when she was old enough to drive herself, they began to find excuses for the religious part of the day. But both of her parents loved to while away the afternoon at the Club. Her father played golf while her mother chatted with her friends or sometimes played tennis. They nearly always enjoyed brunch together as a family, though. As they sat at their table overlooking the 18th green Jamie regarded them all with an appraising eye. This is exactly where I will be in 20 years, she thought. Jack and I will be with our children at a table just like this one. We will be eating the same food from the same china. Some of the waiters will still be here. We will be having the same topical conversation with the other members about our golf games and our families and our busy lives. He and I will love each other but we will not share much other than the children. His real love will be his career. Is this what I want? But if not, what do I want?

 

She was jolted from her musings by the crisply uniformed waiter saying, "Miss Jamie, what would you like to drink?"

 

"Oh, I'm sorry Harold, lemonade would be great, thank you."

 

"Jamie, you seem a thousand miles away this morning," said Jack. "Is anything wrong?"

 

"No, of course not," she replied lightly. "I'm just thinking about school starting tomorrow. I guess I'm just preoccupied."

 

"Do you have your pencils sharpened and a new Star Wars lunchbox?" he teased.

 

"I was partial to Malibu Barbie myself," she retorted.

 

"I'm sure this will be a great year for you," he reassured her as he squeezed her hand. "And for us," he added with a confident grin.

 


 

Jamie made her way back to the home she shared with her roommates. She plodded along the 101 in her yellow Porsche Boxster fighting the heavy traffic. Why does every living soul have to leave the City for the weekend?" she mused. She hoped that her good friend Mia would be home. She really enjoyed spending time with her old high school buddy. Maybe she will be able to help me out of this funk, Jamie thought. But I guess I need to be sure what it is about, before anyone can help me get out of it. She just felt so---restless. Yes, she was restless...but for what? She truly did not know. She just felt unsettled. She really thought that her engagement to Jack would settle her feelings. She had thought that once this part of her life was secured, she would feel more at peace. In reality, it had made things more uncomfortable. But no matter how much thought she devoted to the problem she did not know how to rectify it. There was nothing wrong with Jack, of that she was sure. Nine tenths of the women in America would give their right arm to be with a man like him, she thought. The problem seemed to be with her. There was just something missing. There was a feeling of peace that she craved but just could not conjure up when they were together. But if she was honest with herself the peaceful feeling was not something that she experienced very often, with Jack or alone. Oh, well, I'm only 20 years old. Maybe I'm supposed to feel unsettled, she thought as she drove on through the night.

 


 

When Jamie announced her decision to attend Berkeley her parents had very reluctantly agreed, with the proviso that she not live on campus. They wanted her in an atmosphere closer to that of a real home and they were helped in this quest by some of Jamie's classmates. Mia Christopher was the daughter of Adam and Anna Lisa Christopher. Adam was a partner at another prestigious law firm in San Francisco and a Stanford classmate of Jamie's father, Jim. The families were cordial to one another but the girls mothers were not particularly close. Anna Lisa was a fiery first generation American whose family hailed from Italy, but Jamie's mother Catherine was from a very old very wealthy W.A.S.P. lineage. The women liked one another well enough but they were far too different to feel really comfortable with one another.

Another prep school classmate, Cassie Martin also enrolled at Cal. The situation with Cassie was just the opposite from Mia. Jamie's mother and Cassie's mother, Laura were very good friends, but their husbands had never hit it off. Likewise, Jamie liked Cassie well enough but she had never felt particularly close to Cassie, nor had she ever truly trusted her. But their mother's close relationship forced the girls together frequently and Jamie did not feel strongly enough to fight the situation so she went along and made the best of it.

 

All 3 sets of parents agreed that if the girls were to attend Cal it would be best if they lived together in a suitable home. So the three mothers got together and swept through Berkeley like a tsunami. They interviewed real estate agents and found an acceptable house within walking distance of campus. It was a large craftsman style bungalow, built in the early 1920's. It had originally contained 3 bedrooms and one bath but through the years additions had enhanced the original layout to create more generous bedrooms and add 1 1/2 baths. All of the bedrooms and two baths were on the 2nd floor. The first floor contained a very large, airy kitchen with a powder room and a door to a small, shaded back yard, a formal dining room, a spacious parlor and a small oak paneled library. The house was truly beautiful with its generous deep front porch, original leaded glass windows and beautifully restored redwood moldings throughout. Jamie loved the house from the moment she saw it, which was lucky since neither she nor her friends were consulted on the decision. Catherine Evans had made the actual purchase of the house since she could make a purchase of that size without even noticing the dent in her bank balance. The others paid a reasonable amount of rent, and all shared utilities.

 

The girls' mothers had furnished the home in a very attractive, if not luxurious style. Jamie's mother had purchased all of the kitchen utensils since the other girls had no interest in cooking. Jamie put her hours of observing their family cook, Marta, to good use in cooking for herself and anyone else who was willing to help clean up afterward.

 

They got along well all through freshman year. But during that summer both Cassie and Mia obtained steady boyfriends. Mia's new love Jason went to UCLA, but Cassie's boyfriend Chris went to Cal. This changed the dynamic between the women and upset the balance they had created. While they did not really argue, Jamie and Mia began to grow more distant from Cassie and spend less and less time together. Even though Jack was just down the freeway at Stanford the fact that she did not often see him during the week allowed Jamie and Mia to still spend quite a bit of time together. Jamie had always liked Mia, but during this past year they had grown particularly close. Neither of them had a sister and they had begun to share the intimate secrets of their lives, creating a deep bond. Mia liked Jack and constantly teased Jamie about him. Jamie also liked Mia's boyfriend Jason, but she saw very little of him because he was in L.A. and did not often come to the Bay Area for visits.

 

As Jamie pulled up to the drive she saw that Mia's car was at home. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that Cassie's car was absent. In a way it was silly for them to have 3 cars in Berkeley. They did not drive to school or use the cars much, but they came in handy for driving to the Peninsula for the occasional weekend at home.

 

"Hey Mia, are you here?" Jamie asked hopefully.

 

"Yeah, I'm upstairs," came the reply.

 

"You want anything from the kitchen?" Jamie shouted back up the stairs.

 

"Yeah, bring me a diet anything," Mia shouted back.

 

After making her brief stop in the kitchen Jamie lugged her overnight bag and two diet Sprites up the wide oak staircase. Mia was lying on her bed, her room a total mess as usual. She was inattentively watching television with a CD playing in the background. She stood in the doorway and watched her friend for a moment, looking at her usually sunny, slightly cherubic face that was now resting in a bored grimace. "Couldn't decide?" Jamie asked, pointing at the TV and the CD player in sequence.

 

"I'm bored," Mia moaned, shaking her curly mid-length medium brown hair. "I'm so glad you're home early James," she said as her dark brown eyes twinkled up at her friend. Jamie smiled at the nickname that Mia had bestowed on her during high school. Mia stretched languidly, pulling her 5'4" frame to its full length. Her friend's body resembled her own in both size and weight. Both women were quite thin, almost painfully so at times, but there was a sturdy athleticism lurking within both that had never really been tapped.

 

"I'm glad I'm back too, I missed you, buddy."

 

"You did? Why?" Mia asked suspiciously. "Did the perfect couple have a fight?"

 

"No, of course not. You know we don't fight. I just wanted to spend some time with you and get some girl talk in," Jamie admitted a little shyly.

 

"What's up James? You do look a little down," Mia agreed.

 

"I don't know, Mia. That's my problem. I just feel restless, like I want something to happen, but I don't know what."

 

"Are things any better between the sheets with old Jack?" Mia asked with a devilish grin.

 

"Mia, don't tease me," Jamie said with a hint of irritation in her voice. She knew she should not be irritable with Mia, but she was a little unhappy about her sex life and she really didn't like discussing it. She would never have broached the topic with Mia at all, but her friend had been sexually active since 16 and was very open and cavalier about the topic. This generally relaxed Jamie enough so that she could talk about it, something they had been doing more and more of lately.

 

"Hey, James, I didn't mean to offend you. Are you okay?" she asked with real concern in her voice.

 

"Yeah, I'm sorry Mia. Things aren't any better and I'm getting kind of frustrated," she finally admitted.

 

"You know, Jamie, I didn't start really enjoying sex for 3 years after I started. And it's only been since Jason that I really love it."

 

"Really?" Jamie asked, rather astounded.

 

"Well," she admitted as she tossed her head. "There were parts that I always liked but I didn't really like intercourse until Jason."

 

"But that's what is so frustrating, Mia. Before we actually had sex it was great with Jack. We would kiss and touch each other for hours. I felt so close to him. I would go home some nights and just feel like I was on fire. But since we started to, well, you know," she blushed, "it feels so mechanical."

 

"James I hate to break this to you but you are experiencing what every woman goes through when you go from teasing a guy to really doing it," she laughed.

 

"I don't know what you mean."

 

"When a guy can't go all the way he has to spend all of his time doing what he thinks you want. For most women that means kissing and holding each other and touching each other. He keeps doing that until you figure, 'This guy will really know how to make love to me.' You finally give in and then he has all the cards. He finally gets to do what he wants and it's payback time, baby! As little foreplay as possible, check for moisture content and then it's time for the main event!"

 

Jamie looked at her with a completely shocked expression on her face.

 

"That look on your face says I've hit the penis on the head," Mia teased.

 

"But Mia, why would women ever want to make love if that's all it was?" Jamie practically cried in frustration.

 

"Well, girlfriend, that's not all it ever is. If you find a guy who really loves to make love, it's all that and then some," she said encouragingly.

 

"But Mia, Jack tries soooo hard. It really bothers him if I don't come. He attacks me like a legal brief. He believes if he works harder and smarter it'll be great. I've tried to get him to relax. I have even considered faking an orgasm, but he watches me so closely I know he would know I was faking and that would really hurt him."

 

"Have you tried to, ah, lend him a hand, so to speak?" Mia asked with a playful tone.

 

"Yes," Jamie said as she blushed again. "But he seems to regard that as a failure on his part. I've tried to tell him that I'm just helping a little, but it's hardly worth it when I see the hurt look on his face."

 

"I feel for you, hon," Mia said. "I have engaged in more bad sex acts than I can count, but it must be hard when it's with a man you love."

 

"That's what really scares me, Mia. I'm going to spend the rest of my life with Jack. If we don't enjoy sex now, I have no reason to believe it will be better in the future. Honestly Mia, at times I just hope he comes to bed and doesn't want to do it," she said sadly. "I mean, shouldn't we just be tearing each others clothes off this early in our relationship?"

 

"Well, I would think so, judging from my limited experience in doing it with guys I love," she agreed. "But don't worry so much, James. You have a great relationship and Jack is a fantastic guy. Maybe he's right and more hard work will help everything to work out," she said hopefully.

 

"Yeah, you're probably right," agreed Jamie. "I mean we have only been doing it for 3 months. Maybe we just have to get used to each other a little bit more. Thanks for talking this over with me, Mia. You're the only one I trust enough to talk about this with."

 

"You're welcome, sweetie. I hope you know you can tell me anything."

 

As Jamie got ready for bed she thought over what Mia had said. Well, I've got the rest of my life to work on this; I guess I don't have to be in that much of a hurry. Mia's right. There is no reason to think this will not all work out in the end. I mean, I do have the rest of my life to make some progress on this.

 

 


 

As the class settled noisily into their seats, Professor Linda Levy scanned their faces. Not bad, she thought. At least there are 3 men.

 

"May I have your attention, please?" 20 mildly expectant faces gazed at her. "Welcome to Psychology 197-The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience. My name is Linda Levy. I'd like to get some housekeeping matters out of the way and then I'll give you an overview of the class. If we have time I would like each of you to introduce yourselves. I should warn you though, that this class is very interactive. If you're looking for a quiet place where you can sleep in the back row for 3 hours a week, you've come to the wrong place!"

 

Jamie closely regarded the professor. She was a small woman, about Jamie's height-5'4" or so. She was fit and trim and wore chinos with an attractive print silk blouse in shades of tan and brown. She had a warm smile and lively twinkling eyes. Her wavy chin length hair was parted on the side, and there was a sprinkling of gray in it. Jamie guessed her to be somewhere in her 40's although she had to admit that she was not terribly good at guessing ages.

 

Linda walked from row to row and handed out 3x5 cards. "I would like you to give me a little personal information on these cards," she stated. A number of giggles hit some of the women. "It's not necessary to give me that information unless you think it is relevant," she replied with a laugh of her own. "I suppose we should tackle that little issue right away," she said as she perched on the end of the large wooden desk situated at the front of the room.

 

"I am now, and I have always been a practicing lesbian," she said with another twinkle in her eyes. "However, lesbianism is not a pre-req for this course. I'm sure that will relieve you guys," she said as she pointed at the 3 men sitting near one another. "This class deals with the psychological issues that may be encountered by a group of people who have in many ways been marginalized by society. We will be undertaking this survey with the eyes of scholars-...not participants. This is not a 'How to be a lesbian' course. You do not need to declare your sexual orientation to the rest of the class. The class usually turns out to be predominantly lesbian, but I not only welcome heterosexuals, I really encourage straight people to take the class. It is the people who are not part of the peer group who can have the biggest impact on changing societal perceptions," she stated with conviction.

 

Jamie was relieved by this little explanation. I think I'm going to like this, she thought rather happily.

 

Linda continued, "On the cards I would like you to give me your names, phone numbers and a general idea of when you are available to do outside projects. I want to pair up class members based on their time availability to make it easier for everyone."

 

The class worked on their cards for a few minutes as Linda watched. Well, they look a little less nervous now. This looks like it might be a good group.

 

Jamie worked on her card-neatly writing her relevant information on the white rectangle. She indicated her home number and just to be thorough she included Jack's number with the words 'fiancés home number'. Well, it doesn't hurt to get that out of the way right from the start, she thought

 

Linda looked quickly at the cards as they were turned in. Oh, that's cute, she said to herself as she saw Jamie's card. It always amazes me how people get those little tidbits of information in, she thought wryly as she noted that Jamie had somehow mentioned that she possessed a fiancé. She tried to match people's availability and was pleased that she was able to do so fairly easily. "Okay people, I'm going to write down partner names on the board. After we do our introductions you'll be able to find each other."

 

She strode to the board and began to write the 10 pairs. Jamie saw her name go up on the board next to that of Ryan O'Flaherty. Oh, great, she moaned to herself, I take a class in lesbianism and I get paired up with a guy. Well, at least he won't assume he can hit on me, she thought hopefully. Unless he's the type who thinks lesbians are hot, she thought suspiciously. God, Jamie, get a grip! Yesterday you were afraid of the women and today you're disappointed that you're with a man!

 

Linda returned to her perch on the front corner of the desk. "Okay, let's get to work." She launched into a rather lengthy speech on how the course was developed, how long she had been teaching it, and how it fit into the curriculum for psych majors.

 

Jamie was pleased with the way the course was organized. This could really be interesting, she thought. I know so little about lesbians-and that's a liability in San Francisco. That's like living in L.A. And not knowing anything about the beach!

 

Linda looked at her watch and noted with surprise that the 70 minutes was just about up. "I apologize for going on so long," she said. "If you don't mind you can try to find each other after class to meet your partner. I'll see you all on Wednesday morning and we can discuss some of the class projects."

 

Well, at least I have it easy, thought Jamie...there are only 3 guys. She approached the first and tentatively asked, "Are you Ryan?"

 

"Nope," he replied, "I'm Todd." The other two men were Demitrius and Mike. Jamie was at a loss. The rest of the class seemed to be more successful and were all busily exchanging info. As people began to drift away Jamie noticed one lone figure sitting quietly. She was idly twirling a ring on the surface of her desk and did not seem to be in any hurry to find her partner.

 

Jamie approached her from the back and asked, "Are you Ryan?" with a hint of exasperation in her voice.

 

The dark head turned and she was nonplussed to see the most dazzling white smile she thought she had ever encountered. "Well, if I wasn't before, I am now," the beautiful woman answered with a little tease in her voice as a terribly sexy grin lit up her face.

 

Jamie blushed all the way to the roots of her blonde hair. The woman unfolded herself from the desk that was obviously too small for her long frame. She extended her hand and Jamie mindlessly parroted her. "I'm Ryan O'Flaherty," she said, flashing that smile again. Jamie knew that it was her turn to speak, but for some strange reason she felt unable to. "And you are..." Ryan cast a quick look over at the chalkboard, "Jamie Evans?"

 

"Oh, right, I mean yes, I'm Jamie Evans," she heard her voice automatically respond.

 

"It's good to meet you, Jamie Evans," Ryan stated rather gravely.

 

Jamie knew that she should stop staring but she was unable to control herself. Ryan was probably the most beautiful woman she had even seen. She stood over 6 feet tall, with a sturdy but lean, muscular build. There was something very feminine about her body that the muscle paradoxically seemed to accentuate. Jamie guessed her jet-black hair was quite long even though it was pulled back in a ponytail and partially hidden under a backwards-black knit-driving cap. She wore a tight blinding white thick cotton T-shirt that hugged each of her ample curves and over that a black and maroon paisley vest. This topped a pair of well-faded 501's that looked like they were created specifically for her long legs. A pair of shiny cordovan penny loafers worn without socks completed her ensemble.

 

Jamie realized that she was still gripping Ryan's hand and immediately dropped it as though it was burning her. Ryan just continued to smile at her and Jamie found that it was very difficult to meet her penetrating gaze. When she finally forced herself to do so she was again shocked to discover the most dazzling pair of ice blue eyes that one could imagine. Jesus, she thought as she tore herself away from that intense gaze, how does one woman get this many perfect parts?

 

"Uh, Jamie did you want to exchange phone numbers, or arrange to meet, or something?" Ryan asked gently, stooping down at bit and moving her head around as she tried to make eye contact with her new partner.

 

"Oh, sure, yeah, that's good, um phone numbers...good," Jamie began to curse herself for her inarticulate ramblings. I'm an English major! she shouted at herself in exasperation.

 

With Ryan providing most of the leadership they finally exchanged their personal info. Ryan took down Jamie's number in a neat black organizer that Jamie noticed had a very busy schedule meticulously filled out. "When is the best time for you to get together?" Ryan asked.

 

"Well, I don't have a job and my bo.." Jamie caught herself and decided that she did not want this woman to know about Jack. "My time is pretty open," she finally stated without elaboration.

 

"Great. I'm pretty swamped, but weekday afternoons and weekend mornings are my best times," Ryan said. "My schedule is really kind of unpredictable, but I'm sure we'll be able to get together," she smiled that impossibly dazzling smile again and Jamie felt her brain once again begin to freeze.

 

"Where do you live?" Ryan asked with a small chuckle, as she unsuccessfully tried to hide a knowing grin.

 

Oh God, oh god! Jamie screamed to herself, she knows! She began to blush again and finally began to stutter, "Umm...I...ahh...."

 

But Ryan graciously took pity on her and removed her piercing gaze. She looked down at her organizer and tried again. "Do you live in Berkeley?" she asked casually.

 

"Yeah," Jamie breathed out in relief. "Really close to campus."

 

"Oh, that's good," Ryan said. "I live over in the Noe Valley, but I'm sure we could meet here. You don't have a car do you?"

 

"Car?" Jamie said as though this were the first time she had ever heard the word,

 

"Yeah, you know, a big metal object with wheels, let's you go places that your feet can't take you," Ryan said, as she mimicked holding a steering wheel.

 

"Oh, yes I do! I do have a car!" Jamie was outrageously pleased with herself for being able to get a complete sentence out without stuttering. She decided against all reason that she liked being teased by Ryan and began to loosen up a little bit.

 

"That's great," Ryan said. "I've got a bike but some people don't like riding on them," she added. Jamie dully wondered where on Ryan's bicycle she would ride, but banished that thought as Ryan once again extended her hand.

 

"I guess I'll see you on Wednesday then, okay?" those crystal clear blue eyes locked on hers again. Jamie felt her hand being engulfed by the much larger one and then gently shaken and felt her head bob a bit in response. Ryan dipped her head to make eye contact and winked playfully as she broke into another grin and turned gracefully to stride from the room.

 

Jamie felt herself slide limply into a desk. She dropped her head to the cool wooden surface and sat in puzzled confusion for a moment. Finally she lifted her head and asked herself in a befuddled haze, What in the hell was that all about?!

 


 

That night after a quickly prepared dinner of salads and soup Jamie and Mia sat cross-legged on Jamie's king sized bed. The room was spotless, as always. Mia did not understand Jamie's fixation on order, but she had to admit that it was really nice to be able to easily find things that she wanted to borrow. The room was generously sized and had a view of the small back yard. It was the biggest bedroom and it made sense that Jamie should have it since her mother had purchased the house. There was a deep eave over the back of the house and it kept the room cool in the summer, even without air conditioning. Because the room was at the right rear corner of the home there were windows on two sides that allowed for a great breeze most of the time. The room was decorated in bright shades of yellow with lots of white painted trim and a splash or two of marine blue. It gave the room a clean, almost nautical feel and the near constant breeze enhanced that feeling. There were two doors, one, to the wide hallway and another that opened to the tiled bath that Jamie shared with Cassie.

 

The only common wall was the one that bordered the bath. Jamie liked the sense of privacy that the layout provided her. Even though Jack had only stayed overnight once so far, it reassured her that her roommates could not hear any activity that might occur. Since Cassie spent most of her time with her boyfriend at his North Berkeley apartment Jamie had gotten used to the privacy and secretly regretted the nights that Cassie did sleep in the house.

 

"Just back up a minute there, Honeybunch," Mia commanded.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

"You, of all people, are taking a class called the 'Psychology of the Lesbian Experience?' Uh, Jamie, is there something you want to tell me?" Mia asked with a somber look on her face.

 

"Mia, you don't have to be a lesbian to take the stupid class," Jamie said with a bit of exasperation.

 

"No, Jamie, I mean, are you switching to psychology as a major?" Mia asked with a face full of sweet innocence. "Why would you jump to the conclusion that I think you're a lesbian?" again the innocent look. "That's a very odd reaction, Jamie," she said soberly.

 

"Very funny, Mia. You really should consider a career in comedy."

 

"No, really, James. Why would you take that class? I've never known you to be overly interested in our more androgynous sisters," she said with a glint in her eye.

 

"I'm not interested, per se, Mia. I needed an easy 3 hour class. I've not taken any other soft science so far and this one meets early in the morning, which is my favorite time of day. There is no final, just a bunch of special projects that I have to do with a partner. I only have to write two short papers, and I can use all the easy classes I can get this fall."

 

"Just how special are these projects?" Mia asked with a leer.

 

"Well, one is to participate in a bondage scene at a lesbian S and M club, and the other is to make a multi-media collage about cunnilingus."

 

Jamie was interrupted by Mia spitting a mouthful of Diet Coke all over her sleep shirt.

 

"Mia!" she shouted as she jumped from the bed, trying to hold the Coke onto her shirt to keep it from dripping onto the spotless carpet.

 

She scampered into the bathroom and emerged moments later to retrieve another oversized t-shirt from her dresser.

 

"Serves you right, Jamie. Don't make me laugh when I've got a mouthful of Coke. You know I have very little control over my reflexes," Mia told her righteously.

 

"Well, it was worth it to get you like that," Jamie admitted. "Normally I'm the brunt of jokes around here."

 

"Hey, did you say you have to do these projects with a partner?" Mia asked as Jamie resettled herself on the bed.

 

"Yeah, we got assigned partners today," Jamie replied casually.

 

"What's she like, James? Did she bring her big rig to campus or leave it idling out at one of the truck stops?" It was obvious that this was going to turn into a semester long joke.

 

"Why do you assume it's a woman, Mia, there are men in the class," she said smugly.

 

"Well, maybe you should order up some chromosome tests before you state that so convincingly, Jamie."

 

Jamie glared at her friend as she shook her head. "You know, Mia, as the professor said today, it's people like you and I who can make the biggest impact on getting rid of stereotypes about gay people."

 

"Aw Jamie, you know I'm just kidding. You've gotta admit it is kind of funny though, don't you?"

 

"I guess so," she finally admitted. "And for your information my partner is a woman named Ryan. We talked for a few minutes after class."

 

"Do you think she's gay?" asked Mia in a more respectful tone.

 

"Yeah, I'm sure she is," answered Jamie wryly as she blushed just a bit.

 

"Ohh, scoop, scoop, why are you so sure?" Mia smelled some dirt and Jamie knew she would never let go now.

 

"Well, to be honest I think she flirted with me," Jamie finally admitted.

 

"Jeez, Jamie, what do you expect? You're probably the hottest woman in that class and they can all smell fresh meat. They were probably drawing straws to see who got you!"

 

"Mia, you are being ridiculous! If anyone would be lusted after it would be Ryan," she said with conviction.

 

"Ooo, is she good looking?" Mia inquired

 

"Calling Ryan good looking would be an insult," Jamie stated with finality.

 

"Gee Jamie," she drawled, "maybe it was you who was flirting with her."

 

"That's not funny Mia. It really kind of made me uncomfortable," she stated, although she clearly would not tell Mia just how uncomfortable she had been.

 

"Maybe she wasn't really flirting, maybe she's just friendly," Mia supplied helpfully

 

"No," Jamie snorted. "I've been flirted with enough to know the difference, Mia. It was just like talking to a really good looking guy. You know the type. The guy who is just oozing with self confidence and has a really easy time dropping a line on you."

 

"Well, you know Jamie, you have 3 class meetings to drop it if you really don't like the vibes you're getting."

 

"I know, Mia. I don't think she meant anything by it. She just seems like the kind of woman who feels really comfortable in her own skin. And when I tell her I'm straight I'm sure she'll stop."

 

"What! You didn't tell her that you're straight?" Mia exclaimed.

 

"No, it didn't come up, but I'm sure it will when we meet on Wednesday. Don't worry, I'll make it clear that I have a really big boyfriend right down the freeway who I think could beat her up."

 

"Well, I'm sure that will be very reassuring to Jack," Mia said with a grin. "By the way, what does he think about you taking this class? I know Jason would want me to bring a cute one home for him to play with."

 

"Uh, we haven't really discussed my class schedule, you know how busy he is this year Mia, what with law review and everything."

 

"Uh huh, I see," said Mia suspiciously.

 

"Knock it off, will you? I'm sure we will discuss my schedule and then I'll tell him," she stated flatly. "It's really no big deal." Is it?

 


 

Splash!! "Not yet...wait.... wait.... okay, fetch!" Ryan watched the curly haired black dog gambol through the surf, boldly ducking his strong head under the water as a small wave hit the shore. She closely observed him as he paddled his way out to the large stick that she had thrown and grabbed it with his soft mouth.

 

He made his way back through the waves and galloped up next to her. Waiting until he was right next to her, of course, before he violently shook his coat. "Lucky for you I could use a little cooling off, Duffy boy," she laughed. They had been running on the beach since just after dawn. This was Ryan's favorite time of the day. She loved the smell of the ocean, loved to hear the gulls crying overhead, and especially loved spending time with Duffy in his true element. There was nothing her dog loved more than swimming and frolicking on the beach. "You know Duff, I sometimes think I'm more like you than I am human," she said aloud. Duffy looked at her with a silently understanding gaze. Her father often told her when she was young that Ryan was part puppy. She loved the freedom of running, and she was not above dropping her shoes and jumping into the surf after Duffy. But today she had to be in Berkeley for an early class and she did not have time to get the sand out of her hair before she had to leave.

 

"Speaking of which, Duff, I'm gonna have to give you a bath before Da will let you back in the house. I'll make you a deal, buddy, if you stay outside this morning I'll come home before work and give you a nice bath, how's that?" Duffy again gave her his agreeable look. He was a fairly big dog, about 25 inches at the shoulder. He weighed in at around 75 pounds and most of that was muscle. His mother was an elegant black standard poodle who had an unplanned liaison with a randy black Labrador. The poodle owners' loss however, was definitely Ryan's gain. The owner of the pups was one of Ryan's clients. She tricked Ryan into a ride home one day and it took all of two minutes before she was in love with the curly black male.

 

Martin O'Flaherty was not very happy about the addition to the family, but within a week he was the pride and joy of the whole clan. Duffy was really the perfect dog. He did not shed, he loved to run and exercise, but he could tolerate being ignored for a full day if required. He almost never barked in the house, but outdoors he signaled the arrival of every person, dog or truck. He loved to be with Ryan but would gladly spend the day with anyone who had the time. Ryan secretly thought that her father was really the one most in love with Duffy. Not that that was a surprise. Martin was a very big softie-although he liked to play the tough dad role.

 

Ryan considered her day...8 o'clock psych class; 10 o'clock bio lab; lunch; 1 o'clock anatomy; work from 4 until 9. "Well, it's the start of another fun year, Duff."

 

Psych class sounds like it's going to be fun at least. It's nice to take a class where you get to interact with humans. Living humans, she added as an afterthought as she considered her anatomy class. She thought about her psych partner, Jamie. She really was cute with that little blush she got when I teased her. But God! she thought with a laugh. She sure did seem nervous around me. I wonder what that was all about. It's hard to tell if she was really interested or really nervous. I guess it could be that I'm gay but if that bothered her why would she take a class about lesbians? I'm pretty sure she's straight, but you never know...Now Ryan, you know you shouldn't feed or taunt the straight girls, she reminded herself with a little laugh. Actually she had nothing against trying to change the minds of straight women. It just seemed like an awful lot of trouble when you lived in San Francisco. Ryan was nothing if not pragmatic, and it seemed a waste of her valuable time given all of the eligible, willing women she encountered. And now it was so common for straight women to approach her for a brief tryst that she could maintain a steady diet of them if she so chose. Things really have changed in the last few years, she thought. It's kind of nice to be the current fad. She assumed that lesbianism would die out as a hip thing to do in a few years, but she was more than willing to ride the wave while it lasted.

 

"Let's go Duff...I'll race you to the car!" She hoped they were home by the time her father noticed that his truck was missing or else it would be both a car wash and a dog wash this afternoon.

 


 

Jamie arrived at her psych class about 5 minutes early. She secretly hoped that Ryan would be there early too, and they could chat for a few minutes. Relax Jamie, it's a long semester. Initially she was pleased, but her pleasure turned quickly to pique when she saw Ryan. Her long lithe body was casually slumped in a small desk looking up at another student, female of course, leaning over her. The look on her face was one of passive bemusement. The woman flirting with her was pretty cute, too, Jamie thought. About 5'6", dark skin, with coal black hair pulled back into a braid. Ryan watched the woman with polite interest. After a few more moments, Professor Levy made her way into the room. Jamie saw Ryan take her felt tipped pen and write a phone number right on the palm of the woman's hand. The recipient of this little gift looked extremely pleased and a bit smug as she made her way back to her desk. Ryan slowly turned her gaze to the left and made eye contact with Jamie. Her face broke in to that damned grin again and Jamie could not help but smile back with the same intensity, completely forgetting her pique.

 

As Ryan turned back to look at the professor, Jamie studied her critically. Today her outfit was quite a bit more casual than Monday's ensemble had been. Faded denim overalls covered a form fitting red tank top. Red high top basketball shoes, and a red Nike cap, backwards again, completed her look. Ryan's black hair was pulled into another ponytail and peeked out of the bottom of the bill of her cap. Jamie looked at her own clothes with a smirk. A mint green sleeveless sweater covered by a matching long sleeved cardigan topped tight stretch Capri chinos. A new pair of delicate black leather sandals graced her feet. We certainly don't look like we're going to the same event, Jamie thought wryly.

 

She was angry with Ryan for spending her time flirting with another woman even though she knew she was being completely irrational. I wanted to use that time to arrange to get together for these projects, Jamie thought righteously. Right Jamie, she chided herself. It's the second class meeting and you don't even know what the projects are. This is really urgent.

 

The professor called them to attention during her musings. She shook her head a bit and tried to focus.

 

"Good morning everyone. I trust you were all able to meet up with your partners on Monday. Sorry that I went a bit long and was not able to arrange those meetings in a more organized fashion. Let's make up for that by starting out with introductions."

 

She continued, "I would like each of you to spend a few minutes describing yourself. You can talk about anything that you think is important. Remember, this does not have to be a coming out party, but if you want to discuss your sexual orientation I would like you to feel comfortable to. Why don't we start with you?" she pointed at a young man sitting near the door.

 

He blushed a bit, but did as he was asked. "I'm Scott Williams. I'm a senior psych major. I plan on going to graduate school next year and hopefully I will one day become a psychologist. I was interested in this class because I want to be comfortable working with disparate groups of people. I am straight but not narrow," he said with a grin.

 

He's really cute, thought Jamie. I wonder if I should say I'm a psych major, too. That's at least a reasonable explanation for taking this course.

 

The students continued in order. The woman Ryan had been flirting with introduced herself as Chitra Chuisapor . She was a psych major also and she also dropped the "L" bomb. Jamie paid very close attention as she noticed that every person disclosed his or her sexual preference. Oh, I don't want to do this, she thought nervously as her turn loomed near.

 

Ryan took her turn next. "Hi, I'm Ryan O'Flaherty," she announced with that smile again. "I'm a junior biology major and this is my first semester at Cal. I'm interested in this class because I have not done much reading on the lesbian experience and I think there is a lot to learn. I have done a lot of fieldwork, however," she added with one waggling eyebrow.

 

That comment brought a laugh from the professor and the rest of the class.

 

Jamie had listened raptly while Ryan spoke. Does she have an accent? It doesn't sound strong and I only notice it on certain words, she thought. I'll have to ask her, she thought as she happily considered conversing with Ryan again.

 

Jamie was interested to hear 4 women declare that they could not claim a sexual orientation. Each of them had a variation on the statement that they were open to a wide variety of experiences and did not like to feel limited by a label. Hmmm, that's interesting. It must feel strange not to feel one way or the other. I wonder if they're really gay, but don't want to be thought of that way. I can't blame them, she thought. That must really be a difficult life.

 

Finally it was Jamie's turn. "Hi, I'm Jamie Evans," she began nervously.

I'm a junior English major. I'm engaged to a guy who is a 3rd year at Stanford law school." She shot a glance at Ryan hoping to see surprise, but was greeting with a calm, encouraging gaze. "I don't have a particular reason for taking the class other than the fact that I have not taken any other psych classes and it fit my schedule really well," she admitted sheepishly.

 

Well, that went okay, she thought as the next woman began to speak. I hope I wasn't too obvious, talking about Jack like that, but I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression.

 

After all 20 of them had introduced themselves, Linda spoke again. "I'm really glad to meet all of you. I think we'll have a great semester. Now let's discuss our projects. I would like each pair to choose 3 of the following activities. You will need to write a short paper on each of these projects. I need each of you to do your own paper because you will have different reactions to the activity. The activities are as follows:

 

 

"Now, I'll allow you to use the last 15 minutes of class to discuss the activities with your partner. See you all on Friday."

 

Jamie watched Ryan pull her long form from the small desk. She stood at her full height and gracefully began to stretch her back out. Jamie approached her from the side and gave her a small smile.

 

"Were these desks made for a grade school, or what?" Ryan asked as she bent over from the waist and let her fingers tickle the linoleum.

 

"I don't know, they seem just right to me."

 

Ryan looked her over from top to bottom appraising her as if for the first time. "Well, you're about the size I was in grade school, so I've made my point," she said with a laugh.

 

"Hey, don't make fun of the height impaired, "Jamie said with a scowl as she crossed her arms across her chest and tried to look intimidating.

 

"I would not dream of making fun of you, Jamie," those serious blue eyes answered.

 

"Right," Jamie said, with her mouth suddenly a little dry. "So which of these project do you think we should tackle?"

 

"Well," Ryan drawled, "do any of them particularly interest you?"

 

"Um, I guess I could do any of them," Jamie replied. "But since you said you have a busy schedule, maybe you should decide."

 

"Well, we live on different sides of the bay so it might be easier to do the things that would keep us in the east bay most of the time. We could go to a women's bookstore in Oakland, and I know of a good lesbian community organization right here in Berkeley. You're not 21 yet are you?" she asked a little hesitantly.

 

"Is it that obvious?" Jamie whined.

 

"Well, it is a little, but I figured if you were a junior, there was a pretty good chance that you were about 20," she reasoned.

 

Jamie was pleased that Ryan had listened to her so attentively. "You're a junior also," she observed, "but I take it you are past the age of majority."

 

"Quite," Ryan admitted. She was not forthcoming with any more information, but Jamie let it pass as she decided she could grill her later.

 

"So that eliminates going to a bar. What about the film festival?" Jamie asked.

 

"I might be able to squeeze some films in," Ryan said hesitantly. "But as I recall, most of them are at night. I usually work at night, so that might be kind of tough."

 

"That's okay," said Jamie. "There are still 4 other activities that we can do. And lucky for you I am obviously straight, so we can do the 'play gay for a day' thing, " she teased.

 

"Do you think it's...obvious?" asked Ryan as she cocked her head a little and looked at Jamie very dubiously.

 

"Um, err, ah, well, yeah," stammered Jamie in alarm. "Don't you?"

 

"Yeah, it is," Ryan said as she leaned her head back and laughed heartily.

 

"You're teasing me again, Ryan," she said while tapping her foot and narrowing her eyes.

 

"Well, it is kind of fun, Jamie, but I'll stop if it bothers you," she replied sincerely.

 

"No, I'm used to being the butt of jokes. I think it comes with the height thing," she admitted sheepishly.

 

"How about I make it up to you by buying you some coffee later," Ryan offered. "Actually, if you're free we could go to 'Daughters of Sappho' later and get one of our activities out of the way today."

 

"Alright, that would be fun," Jamie agreed. Actually she had planned on going shopping with Cassie later, but she was sure she could put that off until next week.

 

"I've got a lab until 2:00. Could you meet then?" she asked.

 

"Yeah, I can go get my car and pick you up. Where do you want to meet?"

 

"How about right in front of Cafe Roma?"

 

"Okay," Jamie agreed. "See you at 2:00."

 


The morning passed slowly for Jamie. First, a long rather rambling lecture on Wordsworth followed by a slow walk home for lunch. She was pensive during her walk, thinking a jumble of thoughts about her psych class in general and her new partner in particular.

 

She really seems sweet and funny. I hope we can become friends, she mused. She is so different from anyone else that I know. She just seems so self-assured. I wonder what Jack would think of her? For that matter I wonder what Jack will think of this class? I know I should have told him, but he did not directly ask me what I was taking this term. I don't have to tell him everything about my life, do I?

 

Jamie knew that she was trying to convince herself of something. She was really uncertain of what Jack's reaction would be to the class. For that matter she had no idea what he thought of gay people in general since it was not a topic they had ever discussed.

 

Well it's not like there has been a reason to discuss gay people. We don't know any as a couple. And all of the gay people I know are hairdressers or decorators, so that's kind of expected. Of course I would never have guessed that some of those women in the class were gay. For that matter I would never guess that Ryan was either...if she wasn't such a flirt that is! I can't believe she was already hitting on someone from class. Of course, it looked like that woman was doing most of the hitting. Maybe Ryan was just being polite. She actually might be one of those 'all talk, no action types'.

 

After a quick lunch, Jamie settled down in one of the overstuffed chairs in the sunny living room and did some reading for her '20th Century American Women Writers' class. At 1:45 pm she hopped into the Porsche and took off for Cafe Roma. She had removed the convertible top and her short blonde hair blew in the light breeze. She gazed at herself in the rear view mirror appraisingly. Her hair was cut in a relatively short style, about 3 inches long on top, tapering to about an inch at the base of her neck. She had cut her long hair when she was a freshman. Jack was none too happy about that event, but she had grown tired of spending so much time keeping it looking good. Now she could wash it and not even bother to blow it dry if she so chose.

 

Jamie was thin and in relatively good shape. A generous layer of flesh that gave her a youthful appearance covered her muscles. Jack teased her about her baby fat but he really enjoyed being held by that soft yet firm body. Luckily she had never had to work out to maintain her figure. Her activity level and relatively low caloric intake saw to that. She had a good golfer's body, flexible, strong and lean but not overly muscular.

 

As she maneuvered through the crowded streets of Berkeley she hoped to herself that Ryan would be on time. Nothing worse than having to circle around the block in this mess, she thought. Traffic was really snarled in front of her. She could see the sign for Cafe Roma about 11/2 blocks ahead, but her progress was glacial. As she inched closer she thought she could make out Ryan's cap bedecked head. Yeah, that's her. Wait a minute----Ryan was sitting on a short concrete post that protected the sidewalk diners from errant cars. Her overall clad legs were spread wide and between them stood Chitra from class. Her arms were around the taller woman's neck and Ryan's hands loosely encircled her waist. Chitra was bent over slightly with her mouth firmly attached to Ryan's. Her head moved slowly as she thoroughly kissed the tanned face. My God! Jamie thought. They look like they just got out of bed! I hope she's not planning on going with us, she thought angrily. I only have room for two people!

 

As she got close she saw one blue eye open and catch sight of her. Ryan gently tried to remove her date from her death grip on her mouth, but she was obviously having a difficult time of it. Jamie could see the muscles of her arms tense as she firmly pushed Chitra away, giving her another little kiss as a reward. The beaming smile that she gave her was an added bonus. Chitra gave Jamie a little wave, which she returned after forcing a smile onto her face. Ryan opened the passenger side door and settled herself comfortably. She turned and met Jamie's somewhat shocked gaze and gave her a little shoulder shrug along with a delightfully crooked grin.

 

"Ahh, we were just having lunch," she explained helpfully.

 

"You looked like you were lunch," Jamie replied in a mock scolding tone.

 

Ryan actually blushed at that comment. Jamie instantly felt a stab of regret at the sharp tone she had used. But Ryan didn't seem to mind. She lobbed back the banter, "I like to make friends in class, you never know when you need to copy someone's notes."

 

"Were her notes written on her tongue?" Jamie drawled as she cast a wry glance at her project partner.

 

"Um, Jamie, that didn't bother you did it?" Ryan asked a trifle tentatively.

 

"Why would that bother me? You're my partner, not my girlfriend," she replied logically, secretly hoping to draw another blush from those sculpted cheeks.

 

"I know, but I don't know how comfortable you are with the whole lesbian thing. I'm certain that would have bothered some women," Ryan explained.

 

"This is Berkeley, Ryan, you can't walk two feet without tripping over a lesbian!" she said good naturedly.

 

"Good, I'm glad you seem comfortable with it. Now, have you ever been to a lesbian coffeehouse?"

 

"No, can't say that I have. But there is a first time for everything," Jamie opined.

 

They drove the short distance to the small store in Oakland just chatting about things. Ryan was very impressed with the little yellow Boxster that Jamie drove. She seemed to know a lot about cars and asked scads of questions about its engine and handling capabilities. Jamie didn't have answers for most of the questions but that didn't deter Ryan from asking more. She finally gave Ryan a little shake of her head and pulled over. As she got out Ryan looked at her with a puzzled expression.

 

"Come on, Ms. NASCAR, you drive it and answer your own questions," she said as she walked around to the passenger door and opened it. Ryan gave her a dazzling grin, protesting weakly while simultaneously grabbing the windshield and the back of the driver's seat and hoisting herself gracefully over the stick and into the seat.

 

Jamie began to latch the seat belt over her shoulder as Ryan carefully adjusted the rear view mirror. She dropped the belt and leaned over her to point out the somewhat hidden switch by Ryan's left thigh which adjusted the side view mirrors. As she did so she felt her arm brush against Ryan's breasts as she completed her move. A little jolt of electricity shot up her arm as the contact occurred. Yipes! she shouted to herself. Where did that come from? Next time, you better just tell her where things are, Jamie.

 

Ryan settled herself comfortably and smoothly pulled away from the curve. "Oh, wow!" she nearly moaned in delight. "I have never in my life been behind the wheel of anything this delicious." She closed her eyes slightly in pleasure. Finally she turned her head a bit to lock eyes with Jamie. "I can't tell you how pleasurable this is for me," she sighed.

 

Jamie was struck dumb for a moment, but finally got out, "I have never seen anyone enjoy anything quite so thoroughly, Ryan."

 

"I really love cars, as you can tell," she admitted. "But I think I love this car more than any other," she said dreamily. "Do you know what it reminds me of?" she asked with a wiggling eyebrow.

 

"Umm, no, I can't guess what a car would remind you of," Jamie admitted.

 

Ryan closed her eyes slightly as she gave Jamie a very satisfied looking smile. "A woman," she said simply.

 

"My Porsche looks like a woman?" she asked in amazement.

 

"Yep. This car not only has beautiful breasts," Ryan purred. "It has absolutely luscious hips."

 

Well, she is most definitely a lesbian, Jamie thought as she tried to get some moisture back into her mouth. I've never met a straight woman who looked so sexy when she talked about breasts and hips! "I'm not sure I see that," she replied as casually as she could manage.

 

"Really?" Ryan asked with a look of amazement. "Just look at the front fenders! Don't you see that graceful curve? It looks just like a firm young breast. See it?"

 

She had to admit that the fender did have a nice curve, and yes, it could look like a perky young breast. "Okay, I think I see what you mean. Now show me the hips."

 

Ryan had to quickly pull over for that part of the demonstration. "Okay, turn around," she instructed. "See the rear fenders? They remind me of the nice, cushy hips of women in the paintings of the Renaissance. See how they curve so smoothly around to the tail lights?"

 

Once again, Jamie had to admit that Ryan had a point. "Gee, I had no idea I was driving such a woman centered car," she said with a laugh. "My father bought it for me, do you think that's what attracted him? "

 

"Subconsciously, I'm sure of it," Ryan smirked.

 

When they started up again Jamie looked over at Ryan and saw how much she was enjoying the experience of driving the car. "I don't have the heart to deprive you of this much happiness," Jamie teased. "Why don't we just go for a drive up in the hills? What time do you have to be at work, anyway?"

 

"Um, 4 o'clock, but I work over in the City. To get there on BART I need to leave here by 3," she said, while sadly looking at the clock on the dash.

 

"Tell ya what," Jamie offered, "I owe my grandfather a visit (not mentioning that she had seen him 3 days ago). He's right off Nob Hill. Where do you have to go?"

 

"I work near the Castro and that's not very close to Nob Hill," she said.

 

"It's close enough for me. This car eats real estate faster than you can imagine," she teased.

 

"I really don't want to inconvenience you," Ryan said. But Jamie could see the hopeful look in those blue eyes and knew that she would not mind walking to the Castro in order to satisfy it.

 

"It's really no bother, Ryan. I would love to have dinner with my grandfather. I don't see him nearly enough." While she spoke she pulled her tiny Star Tac phone from the glove box and dialed the number she knew by heart.

 

He answered on the 2nd ring. "Hi Poppa, it's Jamie," she told him needlessly. "How would you like me to treat you to dinner at the Tadich Grill tonight?" After he enthusiastically agreed, the two women settled down for their drive.

 

They meandered through the hills of Oakland, looking at the plethora of monstrous new homes that dotted the hillside since the devastating fire that consumed the whole area 6 years earlier.

 

"Wow, I haven't been up here since people started rebuilding," said Jamie.

 

"It's really kind of a mess esthetically," Ryan said, "but that's what happens when people get a big insurance settlement. They build to the lot lines."

 

"You seem to know a lot about this area."

 

"Yeah, I guess I do," she said thoughtfully. "My father is a firefighter in the City. We used to come up here and look around after the fire. Kind of a busman's holiday," she admitted.

 

"Oh, did your father fight this fire?" Jamie inquired

 

"No, he doesn't fight fires any longer. He is the cook for Battalion 13 in the Mission District," Ryan stated with a tinge of pride in her voice.

 

"Wow, I can't imagine cooking for all of those hungry firemen," Jamie said with a laugh.

 

"Firefighters," Ryan corrected.

 

"Oops, sorry," Jamie said.

 

"That's okay. Actually they are all men in his battalion. But the City has quite a number of women in the ranks now."

 

They continued to chat about nothing in particular until Ryan began guiding them down to the highway that would take them to the City. She was a good, careful driver, but she drove as fast as she could, given the conditions. Jamie noticed how she was able to move the car effortlessly through the growing traffic. She found herself sliding sideways in her seat so that she could watch Ryan as she drove. Ryan still had a look of total pleasure on her face. It is really cute how she accepted this little bit of happiness, Jamie mused. She doesn't seem afraid to really let herself go-even with a stranger, she thought. Well, clearly, she doesn't mind letting herself go with strangers after that little demonstration on the street today, she reflected with a slight tinge of disapproval. I wish I could be that free and unconcerned about things though. But I can't believe she was kissing a woman like that right in the middle of a busy street. I wouldn't kiss Jack like that on the street. Actually, I don't kiss Jack like that at home, anymore, she thought with a touch of envy.

 

As they crossed the Bay Bridge leading to San Francisco Jamie let herself relax in her seat and just take in the beautiful view of the City. I feel so peaceful and happy, she thought. She turned to look at Ryan again and was met with another charming smile from that beautiful face. Again she felt a chill roll down her whole body. Jeez, Jamie will you please get a grip! she chastised herself.

 

Since it was only 3:40 Ryan took Market all the way to The Castro. Jamie could tell that she chose the slow route to prolong her test drive. I think she has gotten more pleasure from this car in an hour than I have in 2 years. It's kind of nice to see things through such appreciative eyes.

 

Ryan again offered to go directly to Jamie's grandfather's place and take Muni to her job, but Jamie insisted that she go directly to work. Ryan did not offer any details on her job and Jamie was in too relaxed a mood to do her usual cross-examination so she just relaxed an enjoyed the next few minutes.

 

"So, are you still up for a visit to the coffeehouse this week? Ryan asked as they neared the Castro.

 

"Absolutely," Jamie replied decisively.

 

As they pulled up to a rare empty meter Ryan tugged her organizer out of her black nylon book bag.

 

Jamie noticed that they were parked in front of a Blockbuster Video store. "Is this where you work?" she asked tentatively.

 

"Huh? Oh, no," Ryan replied absently. She pointed vaguely down the street as she continued to peruse her schedule. "I work a little down the street. Okay," she finally said. "I'm free from 10:00 to noon and from 6:00 to 9:00 tomorrow. On Friday my schedule is about the same as today. Are any of those times good for you?"

 

Jamie thought for just a moment before she chose the Thursday from 6-9 PM slot. "Do you want to get dinner before we go, or do they serve food there?" she inquired.

 

"Yeah, dinner would be great. I have to work afterward so that will be the only time I have to eat. I don't think they serve anything substantial enough for me at the coffeehouse, so we should probably go somewhere else for dinner. Do you have any suggestions?"

 

"You start work after 9 p.m.?" she asked in surprise.

 

"Yep. Open all night," she said with a smile.

 

"How much time do you think we need to spend at the coffeehouse?" Jamie inquired, momentarily too fragmented to inquire about Ryan's job.

 

"Well, since we have to write a paper we should probably hang out for a bit, you know look at the books, observe the subjects in their native environment," she teased.

 

"Why don't you come to my house and I'll cook dinner for us. That'll save time," she said helpfully.

 

"Are you always this nice Jamie, or do you just take pity on starving lesbians?"

 

"Well, I'm generally pretty nice. And you certainly don't look like you're starving," she added as she passed a gaze at Ryan's solid form.

 

"You've got me there," she agreed. "I don't miss many meals," she patted her flat stomach. "Let me get your address so I can get to work. My clients hate to be kept waiting."

 

Clients...working late at night... what in the hell does she do?

 


 

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