I Found My Heart in San Francisco


Book 1: Awakenings


By: S X Meagher


Disclaimers: See Chapter 1


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


Chapter 10


Thanksgiving break was coming up in only 2 days. The break was only Thursday and Friday but Jamie planned on spending the time at her parents' home, mainly because she couldn't think of a valid reason not to. She and Jack would spend Thanksgiving afternoon with her family and then have a light supper with Jack's family.


The break was a great time for Jamie to catch up on all of her reading for her classes as well. Staying on top of her reading was getting more difficult with all of her training, so she really needed at least 2 days of uninterrupted concentration. She had devised a training schedule that emphasized bike riding in lieu of weight training for the week, since she had decided not to go into Berkeley on Friday for her training session since the trip would take up most of the early evening. Ryan was more than willing to meet her at the gym, but Jamie thought it was important to not make any plans to go to Berkeley in case her parents or Jack wanted to occupy her time.


She did, however, make plans with Ryan to go on a long ride on Friday morning. She knew that Jack would study during the day and since she was staying with her parents he wouldn't even need to know she was going. They decided to meet at a big regional park that had a lot of attractive bike paths, mainly because she just didn't think it was a good idea to have Ryan meet her family yet.


On Thanksgiving morning she and her father sat in the sunny library as they enjoyed a cup of coffee. "I've been worried about you a little bit Honey. Did everything work out between you and Jack?"


"Yeah, Daddy, we talked it out the next day," she affirmed. She did not think it wise to involve her parents in the details of her relationship with Jack, but she appreciated her father's interest.


"I got the impression that things had been difficult for a while, Honey. Do you want to talk about it?"


"No, not really. I think we're just going through a phase. He doesn't like some of the changes I've been making but I really think he'll get used to my being a little more independent."


"I must admit that I was concerned when Jack mentioned that your new friend was a lesbian," he stated thoughtfully. Jamie felt her hackles start to rise as she looked at him carefully, hoping he would drop the matter. When she didn't respond he persisted, "Well?"


"Well what, Daddy?" she asked blankly.


"Why are you spending your time with her, Jamie? That hardly seems appropriate for a young woman like you," he stated.


"What do you mean by 'a young woman like me'?" she asked. "Ryan is a perfectly lovely young woman also."


"But Jamie, you're a young woman who's engaged to be married. Don't you think it's wiser to spend your time cultivating friendships that can carry over into your married life? You two need to build some relationships with other couples," he explained.


"Ryan is my friend. I enjoy her company, Daddy. The fact that she is a lesbian is an inconsequential element of our relationship. I think it would be nice to have some friends who were in a couple but since we never leave Jack's apartment, that's a little hard to do."


"Well, Jack certainly didn't seem to think that it was inconsequential and as he made clear, neither does Cassie." He paused for a moment as he regarded her carefully. "Is your new friend more important than Jack's feelings?"


"Yes, she is Daddy. If his feelings are based on preconceived, stereotypical notions of what a lesbian is." She looked at him sadly, "I really thought you were more open minded than this."


"I am profoundly open minded Jamie. And I do not like being referred to as otherwise," he said with a good deal of pique.


"Then why do you assume that Jack and Cassie's opinions are more valid than mine?" she replied logically. "I'm the one who knows Ryan. They have spent less than 10 minutes with her."


"I'm not implying that their opinions are more valid, Jamie. I am saying that I don't feel it's appropriate for you to spend an inordinate amount of time with someone like that. You've known Jack for 3 years and Cassie for 7. They know you very well, Honey. Why would they feel the way they do if there wasn't something about this woman that was of some concern?"


"I truly believe that they have let their prejudice take over. Jack admitted that he's jealous of her because he assumes she'll try to get me into bed!" she said with an exasperated look.


"And why do you assume she won't?" he asked with his own look of frustration.


"Well at least it's nice to know you're not narrow minded," she said as she deposited her coffee cup on the table and stormed out.


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


Dinner was a very tense affair. Not even Reverend Evans could add much spark to the occasion. He realized that something was seriously wrong between his son and his granddaughter but he did not have the opportunity to speak with Jamie alone to determine what it was.


Before Jamie left he embraced her and said into her ear, "Call me tomorrow." She pulled back after kissing his cheek and quietly agreed.


On the drive to the Townsends Jack finally asked the obvious question. "What's going on between you and your father? You two were shooting daggers at each other all day."


She gave him a thoughtful look as she debated how much to tell him. Finally deciding that it was better to know she asked, "Did you talk to him about our problems?"


He shot her a perturbed glance as he replied, "No, Jamie, I have not. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed to admit how little you respect my opinions."


"Pull the car over, Jack," she said in a tone that did not allow for discussion. He pulled over onto a lovely tree lined street on the outskirts of Hillsborough. He killed the engine and rolled down his window to let some of the crisp fall air into the tension filled car. He turned as much as he could in the little import and faced Jamie with a look of quiet resignation on his face.


"Yes?" he asked wearily.


"It's obvious that both you and Daddy are unhappy with the changes that I've been making," she said slowly. "But even though I love both of you very much neither of you are going to control me." She took a deep breath as she continued. "We can have a good life together Jack, but it has to be a life where both of us get to be who we really are."


He sat in silence for a few minutes; his shoulders still a little slumped. Finally, he took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "Look, Jamie. I know you're used to getting everything you want. I know you've been terribly spoiled both with material things and by always having things done your way." He ignored her look of outrage and blithely continued. "But that's part of you and I'm willing to accept that most of the time. But you've got to learn that there are some things that you're going to have to give in on. It can't be me who has to give in all of the time," he explained as patiently as he could.


She was silent for a long time as she dropped her head back against the vinyl seat. Shaking her head slowly she asked in a voice filled with sorrow, "Is that really how you think of me? As a spoiled little rich girl who gets everything she demands?"


"Well, yes," he said confidently. "I feel like I'm supposed to make the sacrifices in our relationship and I've got to admit that I'm growing a little tired of it."


Her anger had been bubbling up throughout his explanation and when he finished she felt the words begin to fly from her mouth. "What sacrifices have you made, Jack? I'm dying to hear them," she said bitterly. "Tell me about how you have to leave your house in rush hour traffic every Friday night. Tell me how you no sooner arrive than you have to start dinner, alone, while I sit in the living room and read. Tell me how you feel when I barely comment on what you've made. Tell me how you do the dishes alone while I continue to read. Tell me about how you sit in the living room and watch me study every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tell me about how you feel when the only time I pay attention to you is when we have sex. Tell me how you lie in bed and get so frus..." She yanked herself back from the abyss just before she told him exactly how unhappy she was with their sex life. The tension in the car was so thick that it was nearly visible, but she was afraid to look at him. Long minutes passed before he finally spoke.


"I didn't realize you were so miserable," he got out as a tear escaped down his face.


"I'm not miserable!" she said fervently. "I'm not!" She lifted her hand to his face and softly stroked his cheek. "I'm not," she whispered as the tears started to slide down her own cheeks. "Are you miserable, Jack?" she asked softly.


"No," he said shakily through his tears. "But I was so much happier before. You seemed happy too," he said. "Now you just seem tense around me. I know you're not happy, Jamie and it's driving me crazy!" he choked out as he began to sob. She continued to stroke his cheek and run her fingers through his hair for a long time. As he got control of his voice he added, "I know you don't like what we do in bed. But I just don't know how to please you. I swear I've never had this problem with any other woman. I just don't know what to do," he moaned.


"It's okay, Jack. I swear I'm not unhappy with you. It's just that I'm changing and growing up a little bit. I love to come down here on the weekends, and I love to cook for you. But when you give me such a hard time about what I do when we're not together it just drives me insane! I think that's why it's been hard for me in bed," she admitted. "I need to feel totally connected with you to be able to enjoy sex. When we have this ongoing tension I just can't relax. But that's all it is, Honey, I'm sure of it."


He looked over at her with an expression that was equal parts fear and trust. The sadness in his sweet blue eyes nearly broke her heart. "Honey, can we get out for a moment?" she finally asked.


He looked a little suspicious but he complied, coming around to stand on the sidewalk next to the car. She got out and stood right next to him as she put her arms around his waist. He slid his arms around her back and held her close for a long time. He bent his head to smell her hair and breathe in her reassuring scent as he felt some of the tension ebbing away. Jamie felt the same way and she looked up into his eyes and said, "I feel so good when you hold me. It just feels so right to be close to you."


He squeezed her tightly as he felt the emotion well up in his chest. "I'll try harder, Jamie. I swear I will."


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


The evening spent with the Townsends was thankfully more jovial than the tension filled afternoon at the Evanses. Jack came from a fairly large extended family and a raft of aunts, uncles, cousins and their children were in attendance. Jamie spent some time playing with the assorted children and that lifted her spirits substantially. She took a little break to go into the kitchen and offer to help. She noted that every adult woman was in the kitchen chatting about their kids and their husbands. The conversation was fairly interesting, but it just seemed a bit alien to her. After her offer of help was rebuffed she went into the living room to watch a bit of the Dallas-Philadelphia game on TV. She paid close attention to the conversation and noted that not one man mentioned his spouse or his kids. They talked exclusively about the game, politics and their jobs. Are we really so different? How can we ever expect to get along for 50 years if we just aren't interested in the same things?


She was not really included in the conversation and she realized that Jack didn't even seem that happy to have her in with the men. Even though she knew more about football than half of them, she felt like her comments wouldn't be appreciated so she eventually went back to play with the kids.


It's odd how I feel so out of place here. When I'm at the O'Flaherty's I never feel like a woman, I just feel like me. The boys treat me like one of them, not like I'm different. But here it feels like there are two different camps and I'm not in either one. The women don't accept me because I'm not a mother yet and the men never will. Where do I belong?


Jack's cousin Stephanie had a 6 month old boy named Ethan that Jamie was drawn to. She whisked him away and carried him around the house as she spoke into his ear. Stephanie was at least 10 years older, but she was the cousin closest in age to Jamie. "You can get one of these for yourself," she teased as she came up from behind.


"Not for a long while," Jamie said confidently. "I'm sure I won't have a child before I'm 30." She had not noticed, but Jack was standing next to Stephanie and as Jamie turned she caught the shadow that passed over his face. Now what did I do?


"So you want to keep her all to yourself for a while, huh Jack?" Stephanie asked playfully.


"Jamie's the boss," he said with a thin smile as he turned to head back to the safety of the football game.


Well that answers that question, she thought disgustedly. They left her alone with the baby and her thoughts immediately turned to her friend, I wonder if Ryan has commandeered Caitlin by now, she thought wistfully. I'd give anything to be with the O'Flaherty's today. I wonder if Jack will mind if I spend all of the holidays with Ryan after we're married? she thought with a disgusted sigh.


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


After Jack dropped Jamie off at her parents home the next morning she spent a long time getting ready for her bike ride. The park was a good 10 miles away, but she decided to ride there just so she could leave earlier. As she came downstairs her mother regarded her with alarm. "Where are you going in that outfit?" she said as she stared at the skin tight black shorts and the equally snug emerald green jersey.


"I'm going on a bike ride, Mother," she replied airily as she continued down the stairs.


Her mother continued to stare at her, so Jamie did not even stop to get a bottle of water. She nearly jogged to the front door and grabbed her bike from the open garage and took off. Ahhh, freedom.


When she finally met up with Ryan she was already a bit tired. She told her friend the bare outline of the conversation with her father, but she elaborated on the two dinners that she had endured and included the low points of her argument with Jack. Ryan listened carefully, but could not really offer much solace.


Ryan had of course had a lively Thanksgiving. "It was exactly like the party for my birthday except we had cranberry sauce and dressing but no cake. I stole Caitlin right at the start and I didn't have to give her up all day," she gleefully related. "You should hurry up and get married so I can play with your kids," she teased.


As soon as those words hit her ears Jamie was struck by a bolt of panic. She realized with perfect acuity that Ryan would not be a part of her future. Jack would never allow Ryan to attend their family dinners and carry their children around the house. Her father would never warmly welcome Ryan into his home. Marrying Jack would necessarily destroy her friendship with Ryan.


"Jamie, what's wrong?" Ryan asked in alarm as she got a look at her friend's face.


"I think I have a cramp in my thigh," she said as she stopped her bike and hopped off. Ryan did the same and bent down to examine the affected part. While Ryan was bent over Jamie did her best to compose her face. She was absolutely not going to share this revelation with her friend. Ryan began to knead the muscles in her thigh while she gazed up at Jamie's face. After a moment she asked, "Is it better now?"


"Much," Jamie replied as she forced a smile. She gazed at her as she worked on the leg for another minute. I can't lose you Ryan. I am not going to let them take your friendship from me. No matter what!


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


After they had ridden for a good 10 miles Jamie pled exhaustion so they found a nice grove of trees and sat at a picnic table to rest. Ryan gave her a sly smile as she patted the top of the concrete table and instructed, "Come on. You know you want it."


She hopped up without a second invitation as Ryan removed her shoes so her feet would not slide on the slick painted surface. Those strong hands started at her feet and worked slowly up her leg. By the time she reached her groin Jamie was tingling with sensation. It took her a second but the realization quickly hit her that this was nothing less than pure sexual arousal. She shook her head and reassured herself that it was not odd to become aroused when anyone touched you in such an intimate way. But she knew she had to put a stop to this quickly. "Could you concentrate on my calf where I had the cramp?" she asked in order to keep those hands away from her crotch.


"Umm, the cramp was up here," she said as she trailed her fingers along the inside of her thigh, mere inches from her throbbing vulva.


"Oh, right. Well, I must have a new one because my calf is sore now," she lied weakly.


Ryan set to work on the illusory cramp and after a few minutes Jamie called a halt to the entire endeavor. "Thanks," she said as she sat up and started to put her shoes back on.


"But I didn't get to the sore spot," she complained.


No, and we'll get arrested if you do, she thought wryly. "Feels fine," she said even though she knew she would feel much better if she let her continue.


Ryan hopped up on the table and sat next to her. "You seem awfully tense. Are things really going that badly for you?"


"Yeah, they really are," she admitted sadly. "I just don't know what to do about Jack."


"Are you sure you still want to see me as much? I just feel so guilty that I seem to be the cause of your problems."


"No, Ryan," she reassured her forcefully. "You are most definitely not the cause of our problems. We have lots more issues than who I see. Just last night we had another fight about sex."


"Ahh, wanna talk about it?" she asked hesitantly.


"I don't want to make you uncomfortable," Jamie replied, hoping that Ryan would insist.


"I'm not uncomfortable talking about sex, Jamie. You've heard me at the talk line. I just don't want to pry where I don't belong. I don't want to embarrass you."


"So you'd really be okay if I wanted to talk about something really personal?"


"Yep. I guarantee you won't shock me. Remember that I have the most hours logged at the Talk Line," she teased.


"I know, I know, but you never talk about really personal things so I guess I feel like you must not want to."


"No, that's not it at all. I just haven't had many issues come up that have been bothering me. I've been sexually involved with women since I was 17 remember. I've had a lot of time to work out my issues."


"Is it hard for everyone to work out their issues as a couple?" she asked thoughtfully.


"I've never been with anyone for an extended period where some issues didn't arise," Ryan admitted. "I mean, how could they not? You're never more open and naked emotionally than you are with your sexual partner. All of your dormant issues come bubbling up to the surface when you expose yourself like that."


"I guess that does make sense," she admitted. "I just don't know how to get anywhere on my issue."


"Tell me about it," Ryan said firmly.


"Well, I know I've hinted that we don't get along great sexually."


Ryan nodded her assent, maintaining her neutral glance.


"Well last night I decided that I was tired of being frustrated. So I got a little more aggressive. I asked him to please me first."


"Is that the first time you've done that?"


"Yeah, it is," she admitted with a blush. "I usually just let him do his thing and hope for the best."


"Go on," Ryan urged.


"I thought it went well. He got me there pretty easily when I gave him a few extra pointers," she said as her blush deepened. "But when he actually entered me he just didn't seem very excited. He finally finished, but it took him forever! Normally he just likes to go to sleep but I asked him what the problem was and he was tired enough that he didn't censor himself. He said he didn't enjoy sex as much when I was satisfied first because I wasn't as responsive. He said I move more and act more excited before I've had an orgasm."


Ryan nodded, trying to remain impassive even though she was beginning to get angry with Jack.


"So the bottom line is that he'd rather I was frustrated so he can have a better orgasm!"


Ryan guessed it was her turn so she jumped in. "What about pleasing you after he has an orgasm?"


"No, I don't think so. I'm usually too sensitive right afterward and his hand just causes too much friction. He tries, but either his fingers are too big or he just doesn't know how to be gentle enough. I get all tense and that just makes him do it harder which is the worst response."


"I've got another suggestion," she said quickly. "What about touching yourself while he's inside? I know the equipment isn't the same but when a woman has her fingers inside me I have to have some stimulation on my clitoris to reach orgasm."


Jamie wasn't sure why but the thought of Ryan on her back with a woman's fingers in her was enough to make her pass out. And just hearing her say 'my clitoris' made her pulse throb. She fought with herself to stay focused on her issues with Jack but the image kept flying through her mind. "I guess I can try that too," she finally agreed. "But I don't really enjoy the penetration all that much so I'm not sure I could get there."


"Um...what about oral sex after he's finished?"


"You're serious, right? He would rather poke his eye out than do that after intercourse. I offered that suggestion once and he acted like I was insane!"


"Too messy?"


"Yeah. But it's his mess!" she said defensively.


"Remind me to count my blessings again today," she teased. She ducked Jamie's swat as she continued in a more serious vein, "What about mutual oral sex?"


"Umm do you mean...?"


"Yeah. Could you give him a blow job while he goes down on you before you have intercourse?" she asked neutrally.


All of a sudden Jamie regretted having brought this entire topic up. She squirmed on the table top for a moment before she said, "I can't do that."


"You can't do what?" Ryan asked gently, sensing Jamie's growing discomfort.


"I can't give him a blow job," she said as the deep pink flush infused her cheeks. "I don't know why but it makes me sick to my stomach."


Now Ryan was stumped. She felt that oral sex was one of the most glorious experiences ever devised and she had a hard time understanding why Jamie would be so opposed to it. "Have you tried it?" she finally asked.


"Yes. I've tried it," she admitted softly. "But he kept hitting that thing in the back of my throat and I truly almost threw up in his lap."


"Uvula," Ryan helpfully supplied.




"That thing in the back of your throat is your uvula," she said. To herself she thought, Any idiot would know not to shove his dick so far down your throat as to make you gag, but she said, "It sounds like he got a little carried away. Maybe you should try it again but make sure you control how deep he goes. If you stayed on top of him you have a better chance of controlling things."


"I guess I have to try it again," she conceded, but she looked so glum that Ryan felt sorry for her.


"You're going to be with him for a very long time," she reminded her. "You don't have to have all of your sexual issues worked out before you get married but if you close the door to a lot of experiences I'm afraid you'll never try to open the door again."


Jamie pursed her lips and nodded her head slowly. "I know I need to be more open, Ryan. But part of me is just selfish. I know Jack doesn't like to use his mouth on me and I'm unwilling to get over my fears if he isn't willing to do the same. I'm afraid it'll just be me pleasing him without him trying to please me."


"Jamie," she said gently. "Please don't take this as criticism but it puzzles me that you seem to begrudge doing things to please him. I mean, I've never been with a man but if men turned me on I think I'd be playing with their penises all day long. Like when I'm with a woman," she said softly as her voice became gentler and rather sensual. "It's her breasts and her vulva that turn me on. I just can't keep my hands off them," she laughed gently. "Don't you feel that way about his penis?"


Oh God, why did you have to say that! she screamed to herself as her mind locked on the image of Ryan's hands on her breasts. "Um, well...no, I don't think like that about his penis," she admitted. She placed her hands behind herself and leaned back on her locked arms. "I've never thought about it this way, Ryan," she had to admit. "But I don't think of his penis as a toy for both of us to play with. It seems more like the little dictator," she admitted with a wry laugh.




"Our sex life is all about his penis," she revealed. "When he's hard he wants to have intercourse. It's really simple for him. He comes inside me and within a few minutes he's satisfied. But it doesn't work like that for me," she explained. "I mean..." She looked at Ryan for a moment and tried to translate her frustration to fit Ryan's sexual orientation. "Remember those dildoes we saw at 'Good Vibrations?"


"Yes, I have a working knowledge of those," she said with an impish look.


Jamie gave her a playful swat and continued. "How would you like it if you were dating someone for a long while and every time she pulled that dildo out you were supposed to be turned on just by looking at it?"


"Umm...just by looking at it?"


"Yeah. And most mornings you felt it jabbing you in the back and you knew that she just wanted you to turn over so she could put it in you?" Now Jamie was getting into the topic and the words just flew from her lips. "And every time you made any serious romantic gesture the dildo popped up again. If you kissed her with any passion or rubbed your hand on her thigh, the dildo would come out and you'd be on your back with it inside you."


"Umm, no other foreplay?" Ryan asked weakly.


"Sometimes," Jamie admitted. "But the dildo is where all the focus is. Your partner gets almost all of their satisfaction from putting that dildo inside of you, no matter how turned on you are. And once she's thrust it in you enough she pulls it out and looks at you with an expectant smile and asks, 'Did you come?' "


Ryan nodded her head briefly and gave the obvious answer. "I'd take the damn dildo and throw it away," she admitted. "I wouldn't allow her to use sex toys on me if she couldn't be more connected to my body."


"That's just how I feel sometimes," she admitted. "I don't agree with Lorena Bobbit's tactics but I have empathy for her," she said with a chuckle. "His penis just dictates everything, Ryan. And when he has an orgasm he seems to lose all motivation to continue to please me. I mean, he makes the gesture, but I can tell he wants me to cuddle him and let him go to sleep."


"Gee, Jamie, that really is a tough one," she admitted. "Clearly, the only way to approach this is to tell him what you need and make sure he does it. You're going to have to set the ground rules because it doesn't sound like he understands how to please you."


She blew out a frustrated breath and nodded slowly. "I know that's what I have to do, but I so want him to want to please me. Do you know what I mean?" she asked with a sad and terribly vulnerable expression on her face.


"I know," Ryan soothed as she rubbed her back gently. "But maybe if you told him he would eventually get to know you well enough that he would have some ideas of his own. You're going to be with this one man for the rest of your life, Jamie," she said solemnly. "You can't just hope for the best. I think you need to talk this through. You have to trust that each of you wants the same thing in a relationship or you're in real trouble."


Jamie looked up through half hooded eyes and asked, "You've been in his position; do you enjoy performing oral sex on another woman?"


"I told you about being with Sara," she replied in a matter of fact tone.


At Jamie's nod she continued. "Not long after the 'event' with her I met a woman when I was rollerblading in Golden Gate Park. I was still very fragile and I felt unattractive and totally undesirable. Katie was an intern working at the park through a program that Berkeley runs through their landscape architecture program. She was just 3 years older than I was but that seems like a lot when you're not quite 17. She was taking a break and came over to sit next to me on a bench. We started talking and before I knew it she asked for my phone number. I had never been picked up before and I didn't have a clue what to do so I stuck to the phone like glue until she called. Luckily for everyone in the house it only took her a day!"


Jamie laughed at her friend's self effacing recounting of this youthful encounter.


"She had a little apartment that she shared with two other women not far from Telegraph. I hopped on BART and went over for my first date with a woman. It was a Saturday afternoon in late May as I recall. I was so nervous I practically barfed on the train. I didn't know what I was supposed to do or what she expected of me. For all I knew we would just sit and talk or go to a movie." Ryan's face curled into a smile as she recalled, "She had something a little more intense in mind."


"You must have been terrified!" Jamie cried.


"Yeah, I guess I was. Her roommates each had a job and they were only going to be gone for a couple of hours so we got down to business right away. My hands were shaking so badly that she had to go first," she said with a laugh. "She kissed and touched me until I thought my head would explode," she said with a chuckle, smiling to herself at the memory. "But when she started to move down my body I just about freaked!"


Jamie joined in her laughter, terribly amused by her friend's animated facial gestures. "I was sooo naïve! I knew that girls gave guys head but I had never stopped to think about the converse. But from the first touch of her tongue I was a convert! Wow," she mused dreamily. "I can still feel it." She shook her head and looked over at Jamie, laughing when she caught sight of the look on her face. Her friend was intensely interested in the story at this point. She was sitting right on the edge of the table, hanging on to every word.


"So?" she asked eagerly.




"So what was it like?" she demanded.


Ryan turned serious and regarded her carefully. "Do you really not know, Jamie?"


She shook her head rather violently. "If the half hearted attempts that Jack has made are representative of the act you are very, very easily pleased," she declared.


"Well," Ryan mused. "I'm not sure how to describe it. To be honest even though I still enjoy it a lot it's lost a lot of allure since I practice safe sex all the time. Honestly, that's one of the reasons I'd like a steady girlfriend. I'd like both of us to get tested for STD's and then stay monogamous. I am so sick of barriers!"


Jamie was still staring at her intently, obviously waiting for a response to her earlier question. "Okay!" Ryan laughed at her expression. "I'll do my best. Oral sex with someone you care about is the most intimate touch that you can imagine. I mean, it's using one of your most sensitive organs to give pleasure to them through their most sensitive organ. It's exposing yourself fully to your partner's touch. You're just so vulnerable in that position but the vulnerability is very erotic for me. There's just no greater sign that you love and trust someone than allowing them to touch you in that way, Jamie. It's just such a special touch...I really wish that you could try to experience it for yourself." She caught the questioning look that had not changed and asked, "Didn't I describe it well enough?"


Her friend shook her head briskly. "You described your emotional reaction really nicely. But what's it like physically?"


"Hmm, that's even tougher," she mused as she let her head fall back against her shoulders. "I don't think I've ever tried to describe this before." She spent another few minutes deep in thought and finally said, "I guess it's the combination of the vulnerability, the intimacy and the slightly naughty nature of the act, but all of that comes together for a real wallop on the old central nervous system," she said thoughtfully. "It's just a jolt of sensation when they first touch you. It starts in your vulva but just radiates out until your whole body tingles. Their tongue feels so warm and wet and soft, just such a tender touch. And if you're turned on enough it just feels like someone pouring aloe on a sunburn. It's really very soothing. But within seconds that fire is burning hotter than ever and you just want to jump in and let it burn you alive." Ryan's eyes were half closed and her mouth was curled up into an adorable little grin as she softly described the act. She had a dreamy expression on her face that perfectly matched her soft, sensual voice. Jamie knew that she had stopped talking and she sensed that it was now her turn. But she could not make her mouth move. She tried gamely, but the signal just could not get to her mouth from her brain since all of the other neurons were sending signals to her own vulva.


Ryan turned her head to look at her friend's open mouthed stare and finally asked, "Too much information?"


Jamie shook her head roughly to snap herself back into reality. "No, No, not at all," she insisted. "I just...I've never...I mean..."


"I know," Ryan said gently as she patted her knee. "But you can, Jamie. I know you have a ton of passion that just hasn't been tapped." She smiled at the still stunned looking woman and said, "I think you're going to surprise yourself someday, Pal. I guarantee your best sexual experiences are in front of you."


"I certainly hope so!" she laughed. "I couldn't go on if I thought they were behind me! But back to your story. Wasn't it hard to touch her that way the first time?"


"No, not really. What she had done to me felt so utterly fabulous that I had to do it to her just as a way of thanking her!"


Jamie laughed again at Ryan's guileless face as she recounted her tale. "So, did you like it?"


"Like is not even in the ball park," she said wistfully. "I felt like we were merged into one big, throbbing, pulsing body. I was completely, totally, helplessly in love with Katie no more than 2 seconds after my tongue touched her. Of course she was a little more realistic about the experience," she said sardonically.


"What happened?" Jamie asked as she placed her hand on Ryan's shoulder.


"About what you would expect," she related. "She was from Iowa and since the term was over she was going home. She didn't want me to write to her and a few weeks later she sent me a note and said, 'Thanks but no thanks'."


"You poor baby," Jamie said with a face full of empathy.


"No, no, Jamie, this isn't a sad story. I didn't know a thing about Katie. I wasn't in love with her. But she showed me how totally wonderful oral sex can be and for that I am forever grateful. I have no idea where she is today but wherever she is I hope she has gotten as much out of the act as I have over the years."


"So is Jack being a baby because he won't try it with more enthusiasm?" she asked with a bit of trepidation.


"No, not really. I had someone who showed me how to do it and how it felt to have it done to me. It's not quite the same for you but I bet if one of you was more experimental the other might follow."


"I guess that's about the only other option I have at this point," Jamie agreed. "If I ever want to have an orgasm I guess I'll have to try one of your suggestions. I'm sure he won't like it though. He views every orgasm as inferior if it doesn't come from penetration."


"That's ridiculous!" Ryan shouted before she could catch herself. "I would never try to dictate how my partner had an orgasm. Jesus! I do everything in my power to please my partner and these are women I hardly know!" She was immediately chagrined to have allowed herself to vent like that, but she was getting so sick of this guy. She hated to see Jamie saddled with an insecure jerk like this, but she knew that it was not her business. She vowed immediately to keep her opinions to herself, but she was amazed by the smile that lit up Jamie's face.


"Thanks. I really mean that," she said softly. "You've really made me feel better. I've been so afraid that what I wanted wasn't reasonable. But you've helped me see that not everyone is like Jack."


"Jamie," she said as she took her hand. "Sex is an important part of a relationship. You have a right to your own pleasure. You just need to figure out how to best please yourself and then you need to ask for it. You can't spend the rest of your life with this man only caring about him and his satisfaction."


"I know you're right, Ryan. But it's just another area that is not going to go smoothly," she predicted.


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


The rest of the weekend passed at a snail's pace. The restless boredom that had been tugging at her guts grew worse as the hours passed. She spent time with her mother, going shopping and trying out 3 new restaurants. Did I used to enjoy this? After spending yet another lunch listening to her mother talk about absolutely nothing of interest Jamie thought that she would scream. I've been here for 4 days and neither she nor Daddy has really asked about me. I know they don't know what classes I'm taking. They know nothing about my life. They don't even ask about Jack. Am I just so used to this disinterest that I've not noticed it before?


* * * * * * * * * * *


After dinner with her parents she decided to go spend the night with Jack. He was glad to see her, but within an hour he was engrossed in his schoolwork. Jamie pulled out her own books and spent the evening reading while sitting on the couch with her legs in Jack's lap.


Before bed she went into the kitchen to get a drink. He came into the kitchen just as she was finishing and sat down at the kitchen table. "I love having you here, Jamie," he said with a smile as he took her hand. "It just doesn't feel like home when you're not around."


Warning bells were sounding in her head but she ignored them and asked the question. "Why do you love me, Jack?"


He looked completely dumbfounded. "You know why I love you Jamie," he said defensively.


"No, I really don't," she disagreed. "I know that you tell me you love me, but you never tell me why." She grasped his hand and looked at him with pleading eyes. "Please tell me."


He stared at her for a long time before he finally answered. "I guess I love how I feel when I'm with you," he said thoughtfully. "You make me feel whole."


Is that all??!!! She continued to stare at him without saying a word. Silently she prayed that he would continue with something---anything--about her.


"I am really attracted to you," he continued hesitantly. "I love the way you look and I love the way I feel when I touch you," he smiled shyly as he began to do just that.


She concentrated with every fiber of her being and finally found the strength to shut down the voice that was screaming for her attention. She repeated the mantra, He does love you, he just doesn't know how to express it. He does love you, he does.


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


On Monday Jamie got to the gym just as Mia was finishing up.


Ryan's mood was ebullient when she greeted her friend. "Hiya," she said with a big grin as she gave Jamie a quick hug.


"You certainly look happy," Jamie said as she caught some of the infectious mood.


"What's not to be happy about?" she asked lightly.


"Good point," Jamie replied, thinking that she could spew for an hour about her unhappiness with Jack.


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


Mia was still at the gym working on the stair climber when they had finished their session. Jamie approached her and asked, "Would you like to go grab a bite with Ryan and me?"


"I'd love to as long as I can go shower first. I would scare the livestock the way I smell right now," she replied as she wrinkled up her nose.

"I think we could both use a little freshening up," Jamie agreed. "Let's go home so we can take a shower, then we'll decide where to go."


Mia called dibs as soon as they walked into the house. She trotted up the stairs with the promise that she would be quick. Jamie and Ryan walked up to her room to wait. They discussed all of their menu choices and when Mia was done Ryan went back downstairs to allow Jamie to get ready.


"So, how do you like working with Ryan?" she asked after Mia came into her room.


"I like it a lot, James. You were right; she is really good at what she does. And she's a lot of fun too," she conceded. "I guess I should just accept your view of people and save myself some trouble."


"I'm really glad you like her, Mia. I knew that you two would get along, being that you're my two favorite people." Mia smiled at her friend, pleased by the confirmation of their long friendship.


After they were presentable they settled on a Thai restaurant within walking distance. During dinner Jamie grew pensive and finally asked, "Do you guys think it's odd that Jack can't tell me why he loves me?"


Mia looked at Ryan who returned the gaze. They mouthed "Oh, Oh," in unison, as they laughed. Mia spoke first, "I guess that doesn't really surprise me," she replied. "Guys are not great at that kind of thing." She paused for a minute, "Let me guess, his answer was either 'Gee, I don't know, I just do', or it was about how you make him feel," she said presciently.


"Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner," Jamie replied. "His answer, and I quote, was 'I love how you make me feel when we're together'. " She let out an aggrieved sigh. "It makes me feel like I have to guess how he feels and just assume I'm right."


"Well, that is the safest course," Mia agreed with a slight chuckle.


Jamie noticed that Ryan had not responded, and was in fact gazing down at her meal, deep in thought. She decided to drop the subject and they began to discuss their workouts and the ride and other topics of mutual interest. At about 7:30 Mia announced that she was meeting some friends for a movie. Both Ryan and Jamie declined the invitation to join the crowd and Mia took off after hugging both of them goodbye.


After they had settled the bill they began to walk down Telegraph. The street was still filled with the merchants who set up tables along the sidewalk and they browsed for a long time. After they had turned down a quieter street Jamie suggested they stop for a coffee. They found themselves at 'Sufficient Grounds', Jamie's favorite spot. They received their respective lattes and settled into a table.


Jamie noticed that Ryan was still a little reserved, so she finally asked, "What's bothering you? You were so up before dinner, and now you seem a little sad."


Ryan looked down at her coffee and shrugged her shoulders a little. "I don't know if I should talk about it," she finally replied.


"Should or want to?" she asked. "If something is bothering you, I want to know about it, unless you don't want to talk about it, " she said firmly.


Ryan looked up with those deep blue eyes and stared at her intently for a long minute. "It's about what you said about Jack," she finally revealed. "It hurts me that he isn't able to make you feel better. I want you to have a great relationship. I really want you to be happy and fulfilled, Jamie," she said sincerely as their eyes locked again.


"I appreciate that more than I can say, Ryan," she said as she patted her friend's folded hands. "I know I shouldn't be so hard on him. Maybe I just didn't give him time to think."


Ryan shook her head a little. "That's what I was doing in the restaurant. It only took me a moment to think of what I love about you," she said with an embarrassed little smile.


"Tell me," Jamie said simply as she grasped her hands as they continued to stare into each other's eyes.


"Okay," she began hesitantly. "I love how you treat other people. You have a ton of empathy for others, and it's very genuine. Not just a token. You're thoughtful and kind and very considerate. I've never heard you make a derogatory comment about anyone. Not even Cassie who certainly deserves a few," she laughed. "I love your intelligence and your sense of humor. You have a really quick mind and I love to see you work on a problem. I appreciate how much you love language and literature, and how deep your knowledge is on the topic. You make me laugh more than anyone I know, and that's saying a lot," she smiled. "I love how interested you are in other people and topics that you aren't familiar with. You have a real love of life and you're really open to new experiences." She thought for a minute as she continued, "The bottom line though, is your heart. Your compassion and love for other people constantly impresses me. It's what I love the most about you." As she finished she looked up to see tears forming in Jamie's eyes. She pulled one of her hands from Jamie's grasp and laid it on top of hers as she smile tenderly at her.


"That was the most amazing thing anyone has ever said to me," she finally choked out. "But do you know what the funny thing is?"


Ryan shook her head a little as she cocked it in a question.


"As you spoke I was thinking that every trait you ascribed to me was exactly how I would describe you," she said sincerely. "I've never met anyone who is as connected to their feelings as you are Ryan. That is such a gift. I hope you find someone that you can share it with who really appreciates it."


Ryan looked a little surprised but finally replied, "That's part of the reason I'm so happy tonight."


"What do you mean?" Jamie asked, a bit confused.


"I've been thinking a lot about love and relationships lately. I was bothered by the interaction that I had with that older woman. That's why I snapped at you when you called me on it," she admitted with a bashful grin. "But I had some time to really reflect due to the time off from school. And I think you're right Jamie. I have been avoiding real intimacy. I'm worried that if I keep avoiding it I won't be able to be intimate when I feel I'm ready. So I'm going to try to find a real girlfriend and stop my serial dating."


"Anyone is mind?" Jamie inquired lightly.


"Yeah, as a matter of fact. It's someone you know," she revealed.


"Who?" she asked, really confused.


"Tracy Stuart, from class," she explained. "You know her, right?"


"Yeah, I know her." Boy do I ever know her. From the first day of class Jamie had been impressed with the tall, lean brunette. It was a toss-up between Ryan and Tracy for who was more beautiful, but Tracy had a sleek, smooth feminine grace that was mesmerizing. Jamie had often thought that Ryan and Tracy would make a knock out couple, but she had never seemed interested in Ryan. "How did you make a connection with her?" Jamie finally asked.


"Well, I tried to talk to her one day just after school started, but she shot me down fast," she said with an embarrassed grin. "She was dating another woman, so I didn't approach her again. A couple of weeks ago I heard that they had broken up and I tried to talk to her again." Here she looked a little embarrassed. "She told me that she had no intention of being just a stop on the O'Flaherty Express," Ryan blushed at being called at her game. "I thought about that a lot the last couple of weeks. But after that encounter with the woman from the gym I just decided that I had to stop sleeping with everyone who caught my eye. I called her on Saturday and she agreed to have coffee with me," she said happily. "You know, Jamie, this is the first woman I have pursued in years," she said as she blushed again.


"So what happened?" Jamie asked, beginning to get a little nervous.


"We talked for a long time. I confessed that she really had my number." She paused for a moment. "But then I asked her if she would go out with me if I promised not to see anyone else and I promised to remain open to having a real relationship." She looked up at Jamie. "I had no idea that I was going to offer that, but she really is something Jamie. I don't remember the last time I was this attracted to a woman," she shyly revealed.


"So did she agree right then?"


"Nope," she said happily. "She made me wait until today. She called me this afternoon and agreed to go out with me tomorrow evening." She laughed a little, "She also told me in no uncertain terms that when she said 'go out' she meant 'go out'." Here she gave a bemused chuckle, "I don't think I'm going to 'have my way' with this one for quite a while," she drawled.


"Are you okay with that?" Jamie asked with a laugh. "I know you have 'needs' that you are used to having filled."


"I think my overactive libido could use a rest," she reflected.


"This could give you a chance to get to know yourself and discover what's really important to you in a relationship," Jamie said thoughtfully.


"Oh, believe me, if she makes me wait too long, 'Knowing myself' will not be a problem," she said as she laughed at Jamie's deep blush.


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


On the first Friday after Thanksgiving break Jamie walked into Jack's apartment and was astounded to find him setting the table for dinner. She smelled something cooking but she was too shocked to even try to guess what it was. "Hi," he said brightly when he saw her.


"Uhh, hi," she managed to get out. "What's up?"


He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her tightly. "I've been giving a lot of thought to what you said on Thanksgiving and I've really resolved to do something about it. I don't want to have a marriage like my parents, Jamie. But I have been falling into their patterns. I'm sorry that you got so frustrated before you told me but I'm glad you told me eventually."


"I had no idea that you even took me seriously," she said in wonder. "I can't tell you how good it makes me feel to know that you care enough to try to change."


"Jamie," he said softly as he lifted her chin with his fingers, "Your opinion of me matters tremendously. You're the most important person in my life. Don't you know that?"


She rested her head on his chest and let herself just sink into his embrace. His strong arms completely enveloped her and she felt warm and loved for the first time in weeks. "Thank you," she said softly. "Thank you for everything."


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


The following Monday morning Ryan walked up to Jamie after class and asked, "Juice?"


"Sure," Jamie agreed, very thankful that Ryan did not stop their little breaks together even though she was getting close to Tracy. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the good looking brunette talking to a group of women. "Would you like to ask Tracy to join us?" she asked with just a moment of hesitation.


"Um...I guess I could. But I like having time alone with you," she said firmly. "So I wouldn't mind asking her once in a while but I don't want to make a habit of it."


Jamie smiled sweetly up at her friend as she shook her head. "You are such a sensitive woman, Ryan O'Flaherty," she said fondly. "I really like having time with just you also, but I'd like to get to know her a little. Is it okay?"


"Sure. I'll ask her," she said with a winning smile as she sauntered over and gently placed her hand on Tracy's back. The dark head turned to regard her and Jamie watched as Tracy's face broke into a big smile. Seconds later both women were walking her way. "Ms. Stuart has accepted our invitation," Ryan said with mock formality. "Our usual?"


"Perfect," Jamie said with a smile.


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


After a few minutes of topical conversation Jamie hopped up from the table to buy another round of juice for her always thirsty friend. Ryan had whipped through her two bottles and was eyeing Jamie's rather hungrily so since it was her turn to buy Jamie strolled over to the vending machines to purchase another cranberry juice. I am amazed by how natural Ryan seems with her, she mused during her short walk. I thought she'd have the predator persona but she doesn't at all. Hmm, maybe she puts that on only when she has a woman alone. She considered this idea but reminded herself, No, she was very predatory with the women she picked up during class. Having an audience sure didn't seem to stop her then. She inserted her dollar bill in the juice machine and made her selection. After removing the bottle from the tray she turned to return to the table. A smile crossed her lips as she watched Ryan gently flirting with Tracy. She wasn't up to her usual tricks, however. She was just smiling shyly at something the gorgeous brunette had said. Her eyes were half lidded and also reflected rather innocent shyness. Tracy obviously appreciated this new attitude as she playfully touched the tip of Ryan's nose. But there was still a little predator left as Jamie watched a feral grin come over her friend's features just before her mouth snapped open to grab Tracy's index finger between her perfect white teeth.


Jamie set the bottle down on the table, admonishing her friend, "I've brought more calories, Buddy. You don't have to resort to cannibalism."


Ryan just gave her a rakish look as she tamely released her prey. Tracy leaned over and patted her gently on the cheek, murmuring, "Good girl."


She turned to Jamie and twitched her head in Ryan's direction and asked, "How long have you and blue eyes here known each other?"


"Mmm, just since class started," Jamie informed her.


Tracy blinked a little at that bit of information. "Gosh, I thought you'd known each other for years. You just seem so close."


"We are," Ryan said, locking her eyes onto Jamie's. "Jamie's the best friend I've ever had."


The misty green eyes did not waver as Jamie echoed her thoughts. "Best class I've ever taken," she said with a small smile. "I've learned a lot and got a best friend in the bargain."


Tracy gave each woman a long appraising look as they grinned at each other seemingly unaware of her presence.


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


After class on Wednesday Ryan sidled up to Jamie and asked, "Do you know how to bowl?"


"Bowl? Like in a bowling alley?"


A delightfully quirky grin crossed Ryan's face as she asked, "Umm, what other kind is there?"


"Well, there's lawn bowling, but I guess they do that mostly in England."


Ryan cocked her dark head and repeated her question. "Do you know how?"


"Well, I'd say I'd be more proficient at lawn bowling," she mused. "I went bowling once, in grade school, and the manager of the alley asked me to stop before I hurt myself," she said with a wry laugh.


"Perfect," Ryan pronounced with a very satisfied grin. "We're going bowling...tonight!"


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


After their workout and a stop for a quick shower and a mini-rubdown they got into the Porsche for the drive to The City. After some dogged questioning Jamie finally got the story out of her recalcitrant friend. "So all of your brothers and cousins are in a bowling league, right?"




"And you fill in when someone can't make it?"




"So tonight Brendan can't make it and for some obscure reason, you want me to be on your team to take his place."


"Almost right," she said with a smile. "Brendan is on Conor's team. I'm filling in for Rory and he's on another team." Her waggling eyebrows indicated her extreme pleasure with her plan and after a few minutes the reason dawned on Jamie.


"You asked me because you knew I'd suck!!" she cried in outrage as she slapped Ryan hard on the thigh.


"Hey! That hurt!" she winced, rubbing the affected part as she shot a glare at her friend. "And I asked you because Conor suggested you," she sniffed. "I thought we'd have fun together." Her eyes were dark and a tiny little pout was forming on her lovely face.


"Ryan, I'm sorry," she said quickly as she gently rubbed her hand on the still stinging thigh. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings."


Her friend gave her a rakish grin as she admitted, "You didn't, Jamie. I really did ask you because I thought you'd suck."


At the smaller woman's outraged squawk she added, "Plus I wanted to spend the evening with you. Tracy would suck too," she reassured her. "I just thought it would be fun."


"Okay," Jamie said suspiciously. "Who would you have asked if your team needed another player?"


"Ally," she said quickly as she tried to cover up from her laughing friend's pinch.


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


They arrived at the Japantown Bowl just as the rest of the clan was arriving. Looking around quickly Jamie observed that they were the only women in the entire building. "Is this the Testosterone League, or what?" she whispered to Ryan.


"Pretty much," she admitted. "You're on the Carpenter's Local 751 team. I'm on the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 128." Her playful grin caused Jamie to smile back at her, ignoring her pique at being tricked into playing.


Conor arrived moments later and claimed Jamie as his charge for the evening. "Finally, a teammate that I'll enjoy looking at," he said with obvious pleasure. "I'm so sick of looking at sweaty men all day...this is a treat, Jamie."


"Just remember that she has her own sweaty man that she likes to look at, Conor," Ryan reminded him as she playfully patted her brother's cheek.


"Oh, I'm well aware of Jamie's marital status," he said sweetly. Turning to the blushing woman he inquired, "You are still single, but with some vague plans on marrying some unemployed fellow in the distant future, correct?"


"I suppose that's about right," Jamie admitted with a grin.


"Perfect," Conor said with a sexy grin that nearly matched the one Jamie had seen on his sister whenever she spotted a fresh face. "Let's get you set up," he said as he took her hand to lead her over to the racks of balls.


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


Conor spent quite a few minutes helping Jamie choose a ball that fit her hand and proved light enough for her to roll effectively. After she secured a lovely pair of tan and red rental shoes he took her up to the line and spent a good 10 minutes instructing her on his philosophy of bowling. She kept looking at him with a puzzled glance and finally Ryan could take no more. She stomped over to their lane and demanded, "Are you teaching her how to build a bowling alley or throw the damn ball?"


"Ryan," he explained patiently. "Bowling is a difficult sport. It helps to understand the angles and the percentages of the different approaches."


"Oh for God's sake," she snapped as she placed her hands on Jamie's shoulders and said, "See the center arrow on the lane?"


Jamie nodded.


"Stand just to the right of it, take 4 steps, staring with your right foot. Bring the ball back to about here," she instructed as she pulled her arm back. "Release it smoothly, while looking at the matching arrow right up there," she told her, pointing to a mark on the lane about 10 feet away.


Jamie nodded once and mimicked Ryan's instructions perfectly. The three watched the ball as it slowly but determinedly made it's way right to the pocket where it knocked every pin down, one at a time.


Jamie turned and threw her arms around Ryan, who was grinning like the Cheshire cat at her scowling brother. "Keep it simple, Stupid," she instructed as she backhanded him sharply in the stomach on her way back to her own lane.


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


The evening went fairly smoothly and Ryan quickly became engrossed in her own play. She didn't own her own ball and she sometimes had trouble finding one that fit her long, slender fingers. Her strength allowed her to effortlessly roll a 16 pound ball but she had never been able to find a heavy ball that did not fall off her hand. So she usually had to settle for a 14 pounder just to keep some control. But tonight she had found the perfect ball. It was a 16 pound dark red ball and the finger holes were nearly perfect. The initials JWB were stamped into the plastic and she made a note in her organizer for the next time she had to fill in so that she could find the darn thing again.


The proper equipment allowed her to have the game of her life, she noted happily. Her first game was a 225, the second 215 and she was already at 230 in the 9th frame of the last game. Even though she was concentrating on her match she shot glances over at Jamie every time her friend went to the line. Not bad for a rank beginner, she thought with a small smile. Her eyes wandered to her brother and her assembled cousins as Jamie went to roll her second ball of the frame. Perverts! she scoffed when she saw 5 pairs of eyes firmly glued to her friend's butt. But she admitted to herself that Jamie did indeed have a very watchable butt so she really could not blame the lads. The second ball gave her a spare for the frame and Ryan smiled broadly as the smaller woman jumped gleefully into the air and gave a whoop of delight. All of the members of her team were smiling and congratulating her but Ryan noted with her own delighted smile that those misty green eyes immediately found her, seeking Ryan out to share her enthusiasm. She did so with pleasure, giving Jamie both a broad smile and a wink of approval.


As Ryan rolled her next frame she turned and caught Jamie gazing at her intently. They locked eyes and for just one split second the din of the alley died down and became a very faint muted rumble. The other bowlers faded from her view. Only one face remained and Ryan could nearly feel her breathing...so intent was their connection for that one instant. But as soon as it began it was gone...as Ryan walked into the ball return and nearly took a header. "Yipes!" she cried as only her excellent balance kept her upright. All of the cousins laughed at her completely unexpected clumsiness. She felt a deep blush cover her face as she sat down and tried to gather her scrambled thoughts. But just when she was nearly back to normal she felt a warm hand on her shoulder. She turned and saw those green eyes just inches away, this time filled with concern. "You didn't hurt yourself did you?"


"No, no, not at all," she said firmly. "There must have been something on the floor," she explained, trying to cover.


"You sure you're alright?" she persisted.


"Perfect," Ryan insisted, smiling to herself when Jamie's small hand gently squeezed her shoulder as she returned to her lane.


Wow, I don't know what's going on tonight, but I'm actually feeling light headed, she mused. I must be having sex withdrawal, she decided, since she had not been with a woman in a couple of weeks. Yeah, that must be it, she decided, as she focused intently on Jamie's cute little butt as the small woman once again approached the line.


"Are you aware of her marital status?" a deep voice breathed in her ear. Her blush climbed her face so fast that she almost passed out from the rush.


She gathered herself with as much grace as possible and shrugged her older brother off. "Get a grip, Conor," she snapped as she went to the line and rolled the first gutter ball of her adult life.


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


Unbeknownst to Ryan, Conor and the boys had been buying Jamie rounds of beers and she had gamely tried to keep up with the much larger men. By the time the match was over her small friend was toast. "Thanks, Conor," Ryan grumbled as a giggling Jamie came over and plopped down on her lap. "Tell Da I had to take Jamie home," she instructed. "I'll just stay at her house so I don't have to come back across the bridge."


"No problem Sis," he said with a smile. "But I could take her home if you want."


The giggles had stopped and now Jamie was sound asleep against Ryan's chest. "Yeah, sure, Pal," she scoffed. "Like I'd trust you with her in this condition."


"Are you sure you're entirely trustworthy?" he challenged. "I can read you like a book, Sis, and you've got it bad." He was smirking widely with his arms crossed against his broad chest.


"You're delusional, Conor," she snapped. "Now help me get her to the car, you big dope."


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


As they pulled up in front of the house Ryan noted with dismay that the lights were on in both roommates rooms. Oh boy, another fun night with Cassie, she groused.


It took a lot longer than Ryan would have predicted but she finally got Jamie's half-awake body out of the tiny, low slung car. She was able to walk with assistance but when they got to the door she was unable to produce her house key. "None of these keys work," Ryan complained as she tried each of the 3 keys on the ring.


"Those'r for the car," Jamie mumbled.


"Where are your house keys," Ryan enunciated clearly.


"Pocket," she mumbled back.


"Can you get them?" Ryan patiently asked.


"Uh uhh," she said as she shook her head and nearly fell over. Ryan rolled her eyes as she began to pat her down. The key was in the small inside pocket of her 501's and Ryan gamely snuck two fingers down into the tiny pocket. She got her fingers around it but had a tough time actually getting it out. Jamie picked that moment to lose the ability to support herself. Her knees buckled and Ryan had to grab her with one strong arm just under her breasts. She dug into the pocket more forcefully and extricated the house key on its tiny silver ring. A minute fumbling with the lock while trying to balance the limp woman eventually allowed them to stumble into the house.


I've gotta get lighter friends, she grumbled as she stooped and swept her friend into her arms and steeled herself for the long climb up the steep staircase. She was nearly at the top when the ever pleasant Cassie Martin emerged from her room and glared at Ryan in outrage. "What have you done to her?!"


"I haven't done anything to her, Cassie," she said with as much patience as she could gather. "I'm trying to keep her from getting hurt. You can help or you can get out of the way." She glared right back at the tall, thin blonde.


She won this round, for Cassie's expression mellowed and she asked, "What can I do to help?"


"Well, I've got to get her undressed and then into bed," Ryan stated.


"I'll undress her," Cassie said firmly.


"Fine," Ryan snapped, unable to tolerate this annoying woman any longer than necessary. "If you can handle this, I'll take off." She placed Jamie on the bed and started down the stairs only to be stopped by Cassie's startled voice.


"I can't lift her!" she cried.


Ryan rolled her eyes and trudged back upstairs. She stood next to the exasperated woman and asked, "What do you want me to do?"


"Um..." she mumbled as she assessed the situation. "Can you pick her up so I can get her jeans off?"


"Yes, but aren't you afraid I'll rape her if I see her in her underwear?" she snapped, unable to control herself.


"Look, Ryan, I'm sorry I said that. I just..."


"It's okay," Ryan said, her own voice gentling. "Let's just get her undressed." They worked together, awkwardly but effectively getting her into a pair of flannel pajamas. Ryan carried her into the bath and stepped outside while Cassie guided her to the commode. When she was finished relieving herself Ryan came back in and carried her to the neatly turned down covers on the bed as Cassie hovered.


"I'm afraid to leave her here alone," she mused.


"Why don't you sleep with her?" Ryan asked, thinking the solution was obvious.


"My boyfriend is here," she said, as though Ryan could have known that.


"Why didn't you have him help you get her into bed?" she snapped.


"I don't want him to see other women naked," Cassie snapped back. "It's inappropriate!"


"Great. So should I sleep with her or with your boyfriend?" she asked wryly. "I'm can assure you he would be safe with me."


"You're hardly his type," she scoffed.


"That's a relief," Ryan muttered, just loud enough to be heard.


"Do what you want," Cassie fumed. "Besides, I think you're just what Jamie's looking for, anyway!" She stormed from the room, slamming the door and startling the half-unconscious woman awake.


"Wha...what happen'd?" Jamie muttered.


"Nothing," Ryan murmured softly as she sat on the bed and soothed her friend. "Nothing at all. You just lie down and go to sleep. I'll be right here," she promised.


"Are you stayin' with me?" she asked shyly. "I'm a little drunk."


"You're more than a little drunk, Pal," she chuckled. "I'm gonna stay right here to make sure you're okay."


" 'Kay," she said happily. She pushed the covers back and demanded, "Get in."


Ryan shook her head firmly, remembering the earlier flush of feeling she had at the bowling alley. "I'll just curl up on the love seat or the floor."


"Don't you trust me?" Jamie asked with her face contorted into a sad little pout.


"Of course I trust you," Ryan soothed as she sat on the bed and ran her fingers through her friend's pale hair.


"Well?" she demanded, not verbalizing the obvious unasked question.


Ryan just nodded as she kicked off her running shoes and unbuttoned her jeans. She noticed that Jamie was staring at her intently as she did so and she briefly missed the unconscious phase of the evening. She shucked her pants and slid into bed, still in her salmon colored polo shirt and sports bra.


But even through her drunken haze Jamie was still able to make her uncomfortable. "Don't you have to wear that shirt tomorrow?" she asked lazily.


"Um...yeah, I guess I do."


"Why don't you put on one of my t-shirts," she offered.


Knowing that the idea was sound Ryan got to her feet and went to the dresser. A small voice floated over to her. "You don't have to keep your bra on, Ryan. I want you to be comfortable."


"I think I'd be more comfortable on that floor, fully clothed," she mumbled to herself, but did as her friend asked. She found a t-shirt that looked like it wouldn't be skin tight and stripped off her polo and then yanked her sports bra over her head, demurely turning her back to Jamie as she did so.


That soft voice again commented, "You have a really nice back."


Great! Just great! Every one of my senses are on full alert, I'm unreasonably attracted to my best friend tonight and she's watching me undress like a guy at a topless bar!


She gingerly approached the bed and slid in to the small space her friend had left for her. "Umm, can I have a little more room?" she asked in a voice that hardly sounded like her own.


"Sure," Jamie mumbled as she scooted even closer and curled up against Ryan's side. She snuggled her head up against her friend's broad shoulder and let out a deep sigh. "This doesn't bother you does it?" she asked softly.


"No, no, it's fine," she squeaked as Jamie's arm curled around her waist.


"Good," came the mumbled response. "I need to be close tonight."


Oh God! Ryan cried to herself. Please, please, don't want to be any closer, 'cause I don't think I can resist!


She lay still as a statue for a few minutes until she felt a gentle bump against her side. "Relax," Jamie mumbled. "It's okay, Ryan. I want this."


Want what?? her internal voice screamed.


As though she could hear that voice Jamie replied, "I want to snuggle a little. No big deal between friends, huh?"


A small smile curled the edges of her mouth as Ryan felt her own body begin to relax as she indulgently replied, "No big deal at all, Pal." She brought her right arm around to tenderly rub her friend's back, slowly and smoothly urging her into sleep.


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


Just before first light Ryan slowly blinked her eyes open and tried to order her thoughts. Where am I? she wondered. And who's this? Her face was burrowed up against a very soft, very warm back. Her right arm was wrapped around a small waist, and an arm rested upon her own with a soft hand covering hers. Suddenly, all of her senses shot to full alert. My God! I'm wrapped around Jamie! Shit! Shit! SHIT!! She fought with her mind to think clearly and help her extricate herself from this predicament. Okay, okay, just calm down, she soothed herself. She wanted to cuddle, remember? This was her idea. It's okay if she wakes up and you're touching. But her rational mind reminded her, She wanted to cuddle you, but she didn't ask you to plaster yourself up against her like a wall to wall carpet! She took a deep breath to speed the flow of oxygen to her brain. You've got to pull away before she wakes up but you don't want to wake her when you do it, she instructed her body. You've got to be smooth and gentle! She took a few more calming breaths and let her mind wander for just another moment. I wonder if Tracy will feel this good when we sleep together. A deep sigh sprang from her chest as she thought, I wish I could have this with Jamie. I just feel so comfortable with her. Yeah, yeah, her conscience interjected. You feel comfortable with Duffy too, and it would be just as morally wrong to sleep with him! Get up, you lazy bum, and stop trying to cop a feel from your best STRAIGHT friend


She began to remove her arm as slowly as possible, but she was pulling Jamie's hand right along with it. Going for another tactic she moved back to her original position and lifted her head until it was hovering over Jamie's shoulder. She pursed her lips and blew a forceful stream of air right onto the mussed locks of hair trailing over her forehead. Jamie's face scrunched up into an adorable frown and finally her right hand lifted to brush against her hair, freeing Ryan's arm in the process. A satisfied smile came over her face as she checked her watch alarm and reset it for 7. No clothes to run in anyway, she thought to herself as she rolled over onto her side, back to back with her deeply sleeping friend.


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


"You awake?" a soft voice tickled her ear.


"I am now," Ryan's sleep roughened voice replied. She turned onto her back and gazed up at the surprisingly bright green eyes that faced her. "You look pretty peppy for a drunkard," she teased.


"Oh God, was I really bad?" her blushing friend choked out.


"No, not at all, but Cassie and I had to undress you."


"Cassie? Did you need help?"


"No, but she thought I would molest you so she wanted to supervise," she informed her with a tight smile that could double as a grimace.


Jamie flopped onto her back and draped her forearm over her eyes. "I've got to get rid of her," she grumbled. "I cannot have her insulting my friends like that. It's just not acceptable."


"It's okay, Jamie. She generally doesn't bother me and now that I know you don't care how I respond I'm perfectly capable of defending myself."


"You have my permission to deck her," she grumbled as she rolled over and got to her feet.


"How do you feel?" Ryan ventured.


"Fine," she replied easily. "Why shouldn't I?"


"Don't you have a hangover?"


"Unh uh," she replied with a shake of her head. "I don't think I ever have."


"Do you do this often?" Ryan asked suspiciously.


"Of course not! I must just have a strong constitution."


Ryan's gentle smile beamed back at her from across the bed. "That's not how I would describe you," she admitted. "I feel like I'm carrying you up those stairs every third day!"


Jamie sat down on the bed and gently trailed the tips of her fingers down Ryan's arm, starting at her shoulder and continuing on to her fingertips. "Lucky for me that my best friend is stronger than Atlas, huh?"


"You're always unconscious," Ryan reminded her. "You don't hear me gasping for breath by the third stair."


"Not a chance, Buffy," she admonished her with a playful tweak of her nose. "You've got muscles for days."


"I've also got an 8 o'clock class that I can't be late for," Ryan reminded her. "Let's get shakin'."


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


"Hey," Ryan said as she responded to Jamie's page on the following Tuesday. "What's up?"


"My father offered me 4 tickets to the Warriors tonight. Wanna go and bring a couple of brothers?"


"Ooo, I'd love to," she said quickly. "But I've got a date."


"That's okay," Jamie said, a little disappointed.


"I could ask Tracy to go too if it's important to you," Ryan offered.


But the thought of sharing Ryan's attention made the evening seem much less attractive. "No, she doesn't look like the basketball kind of girl," Jamie admitted.


"No, she kinda doesn't, does she?" Ryan agreed. "Tennis, maybe, or even the LPGA, but probably not basketball."


"That's okay. Maybe I'll call Conor and see if he'd like all 4."


"He'd love to have you go too, Jamie," she reminded her. "He thinks you're fine."


"Yeah," she laughed. "I think he thinks I'm too fine," she admitted with a little chuckle. "I'm having a hard enough time with Jack. Going to a game with Conor probably isn't in my best interests."


"Well, let me give you his pager. I'm sure he'd be happy to take the tickets if you don't want to use them."


"Okay," she said when Ryan had related the number. She knew she should hang up, but she just didn't want to. "Where are you going tonight?"


"Tracy's having me over for dinner," she replied with a laugh. "But I have a feeling that someone else is doing the cooking. She's not very domestic."


"Where does she live?" Jamie asked, just trying to prolong the contact.


"The Marina. She has a nice little apartment...and no roommates," she added with a deep chuckle.


"The perfect woman," Jamie laughed gently, trying to get the image of Ryan and Tracy locked in a passionate embrace out of her mind.


"Yeah, so far so good," she conceded. "It's still too early to tell, but she's pretty special."


"She'd better be, Buddy. You deserve the best."


"Thanks, Jamie. I've got to run, but thanks again for the offer. Ask me again, okay?"


"Count on it," she promised.


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


On Thursday afternoon Jamie went to the gym to get in a little cardio. Ryan was just finishing up her last client of the day. "Hey," she said by way of greeting when she spotted Jamie on the stairclimber.


"What's up?"


"Not much. I just finished for the day."


"Wanna hang around for a few? I could make you dinner?"


"Oh, no can do. I'm going to the opera," she said as she rolled her eyes rather dramatically.


"The opera? I didn't figure you for the type."


"I'm not, but apparently Tracy is. The things we do for love," she said with a shudder as she considered how long the evening would probably be. "I'd rather be eating your delicious food, but I've got to make some sacrifices I suppose."


"Well, have fun," Jamie said in a much lighter tone than she truly felt.


"You okay?" Ryan asked as she came closer and gave her a penetrating gaze.


"Fine! Just trying to keep up a conversation when I'm laboring on this machine," she said, slightly out of breath.


"Okay, take it easy, Buddy," Ryan said as she gave her a sweet smile and took off for her date.


"I liked her better when she was a slut," Jamie grumbled to no one in particular.


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


Chapter Eleven Return to Main Page