Disclaimers in Part 1

Chapter Eleven

On Thursday morning they checked out of Chez Cram, as they had nicknamed their hideout. Since Ryan's first test was at eight a.m., they left much earlier than Jamie would have preferred, but Ryan made it up to her by delivering coffee and Danish one last time. Jamie's last exam was from 12:30 to 3:30, and since she had an easier time than she had expected, she was ebullient when she returned home at four p.m. Ryan had to work at the gym that night, since she had been forced to move a lot of her private clients around to accommodate the study period and her exams. It had been more than a little difficult for Jamie to hold her tongue at Ryan's decision to work that afternoon, but she realized that Ryan followed her own muse on such matters. It just seemed masochistic to Jamie for her partner to have two tough exams in subjects too obscure to pronounce and then squeeze a couple of hours of work in. But Ryan had an iron will when it came to her obligations, and Jamie knew that she had to give her friend support rather than advice. Even though she was sorely tempted to go to the gym just to watch her work, she thought better of it. Give her a minute's peace, Jamie. Remember life before Ryan? You actually had other friends.

She was a bit surprised, but pleased, to find Mia at home when she arrived. She felt very guilty about her lack of time with her old friend. People who gave up their friendships when they got into a new relationship had always annoyed her, and she decided that she had to stop being one of those people immediately.

She jogged up the stairs and poked her head into Mia's chronically messy room. The curly haired woman was lying on her bed in her underwear reading a magazine, and she gave Jamie a big smile when she saw her. "Hey girlfriend! Long time no see! How did your week at the Claremont go?"

"Absolutely perfect," Jamie beamed. "Are you all finished with exams?"

"Yep. I had my last one this morning. How about you?"

"I'm done too. Do you want to go out tonight to celebrate?" Mia sat up abruptly and tried to see around Jamie's shoulder. "What are you looking for?" Jamie asked as she turned around to determine what her friend was searching for.

She laughed as she replied, "I was looking for Ryan. I haven't seen you two apart for months," she said pointedly.

"I know, I know," Jamie replied guiltily. "I was just thinking about how much I miss spending time with you. I promise I'll be better next year."

"It's okay, Sweetie. I want you to be happy, I just wish you'd save a little time for me. But I know what it's like to fall in love, so I've cut you some slack for this year."

"Well it's either love, or I've turned into a stalker," she groused. "I've never been this way about another human being, Mia. Sometimes it actually scares me," she admitted. "I used to pride myself on my independence. I really liked the fact that Jack lived almost an hour away, and I had my week to myself."

"And it's not that way with tall, dark and gorgeous, is it?" she asked knowingly.

"I swear I'd switch to MCB as a major if I had any idea what the hell she talks about when she tells me about her classes! I'm so hopelessly stuck on her it's pathetic."

"I still don't understand how anybody could major in molecular and cell biology," Mia said with her faced scrunched up into a grimace. "Did somebody make her do that?"

"No, silly, she just likes it. And just to make you sicker, she's a double major in math and MCB."

"That's not human," Mia said, sitting up carefully. "Have you ever seen her bleed? Or sleep? I think she must be an alien of some sort."

"No…well, now that you mention it…" Jamie mused, playing along for a while. "She does breathe under water…"

"Ah ha! Just as I thought!" Mia cried. "I saw a creature just like that on the X-Files!"

"I don't care if she is an alien," Jamie said dreamily. "I'd follow her to any planet in the universe."

"Is she as goofy about you?" Mia asked, fervently hoping that Ryan was.

"In a way she is, but in another way she's so mature that I think she can turn it off easier than I can. Still, sometimes when we're studying together I see her just staring at me like a lovesick sixteen-year-old. It's soooo adorable," she gushed.

"You've definitely got it bad, girlfriend."

"Let's go to dinner and then go have a few drinks so I can bore you to death talking about her," she said with a chuckle.

"Sounds great to me. We can go anywhere you want, since you're buying," she informed her with a laugh.

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

A few hours later, the roommates were sitting outside in the surprisingly warm night air, sipping rather potent martinis as they talked about the just-completed school year and their plans for the summer. Although Jamie did her very best not to talk about Ryan the whole time, Mia realized that she was intentionally not talking about her and after a while suggested, "Why don't you ask your beloved to come join us when she's off work?"

Jamie's eyes lit up immediately, but she said, "Are you certain you don't mind?"

"No, I like Ryan, and if we're all going to live together next year, I might as well get used to seeing you two together constantly."

"When did I say we were going to live together next year?"

"Well, aren't you?"

"Yeah, but I didn't say it," she laughed. "Ryan and I haven't even discussed it yet, but that sweet little thing is going to be in my bed next year, no matter what!"

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

At 9:15 Ryan roared up on her Harley, which she had brought over to the East Bay on Sunday night. She circled the bar three times before she reminded herself that there was no parking whatsoever at any time of day in Berkeley. Ryan had often thought that the cars in front of every meter were really just an elaborate art installation, even insisting to Jamie that they were all papier mâché. Eventually, she gave up and wedged her bike into the tail end of a space occupied by a new lime green Volkswagen. Boy, the artist did a nice job on that one, she smirked as she walked away. Very realistic. She was just beginning to cross the street in front of the bar when she heard a rather loud whistle coming from the outdoor dining area. She ignored the sound, but as she was about halfway across she heard it again. This time it was followed by a loud, "Hey, baby," in a familiar, but strange-sounding voice. She followed the voice and came upon two very drunk roommates, both ogling her. She stood with her hands on her hips and an amused smirk on her face. "What have you two been up to?" she asked sternly.

"We were celebrating!" Jamie slurred. "School's out for a whole summer!" She finally seemed to focus on Ryan as she added, "C'mere and give me a big wet kiss, you gorgeous hunk of woman."

Ryan just shook her head and gracefully leapt over the small wrought iron fence that separated the diners from pedestrians. She pulled up a chair and picked up Jamie's glass, making a face as she sniffed it, then patiently asked, "How many of these little beauties did you girls have?"

"Four, I think," Jamie said. "Those nice men over there bought this last one for us." She turned in her chair to wave at three frat boys. "Thanks again, fellas!"

Jamie turned again to Ryan and leaned in close as she asked, "Where's my kiss?"

"Yeah," Mia chimed in. "Give her a big one, Ryan."

"Come on, Ryan, don't you love me anymore?" she asked pathetically.

"Of course I love you," Ryan soothed. "But won't your new boyfriends get jealous if I kiss you?"

Jamie looked at her with a completely puzzled expression. "Boyfriends? We don't have no stinking boyfriends." She howled with laughter at this statement, for reasons that escaped Ryan completely.

"Then why did you let those boys buy you drinks?" Ryan asked logically.

"I don't know," she said slowly. "Was that a bad thing to do?"

"Well most of the time when you buy a woman a drink, you expect her to at least spend some time getting to know you. I assume they think you're cute, which you are, and they want to go out with you."

Jamie turned around immediately to straighten out the matter. "Hey, boys! We don't want to be your girlfriends. We're lesbians!" she said the last word in a loud stage whisper. "Well, she's not," she pointed at Mia. "But this one and me are," she said as she helpfully indicated Ryan.

Ryan took this opportunity to find the check and quickly settle the large bill. She guided both of them to their feet and tried to wrangle them out of the restaurant. "Did you drive or walk?" she inquired.

"Drove!" Mia stated confidently. "Walked," Jamie declared, just as confidently.

"Well, whichever one it is, we're walking home," Ryan said decisively.

She walked as best she could, standing between the tottering roommates. She had a strong hand around each woman's waist and was constantly grabbing one or the other of them by the waistband of their jeans to keep them on the path.

After an interminable time, they finally reached the house. She was relieved to find the Boxster still in the drive, but seeing Cassie's car caused her to roll her eyes heavenward in supplication.

She had to perform a thorough pat down on Jamie to find the house keys, a procedure that was made more difficult by her intense ticklishness. She giggled and yelped and fought to keep Ryan from her pockets. Ryan persisted even when she was caught in the eye by a flying elbow.

She got the key in the door and pushed both of her charges through, spying Cassie in the kitchen as she did so. Swallowing her ire, she forced herself to be as pleasant as possible and asked, "Cassie, could you come here for a minute?"

With a scowl, Cassie strode into the room, staring at the sight before her. Jamie was draped around the right side of Ryan's body and Mia held onto her just as tenaciously on the left. "Um, they got a little drunk, and I don't think I can get both of them upstairs. Will you take Mia?"

Cassie just shook her head in disgust at the three of them. She started to remove Mia from Ryan's control, but Mia looked at Ryan with big brown bloodshot eyes and begged, "Can I have a kiss?"

Ryan was mortified, but she knew that Mia would persist. So she leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek.

"C'mon," she urged as she remained in her kissing pose. "You can do better than that! I've heard that you can…"

Ryan stopped her story the only way that she knew how. She leaned over and really let her have the kiss she sought. Cassie stared at her in horror, but Ryan figured that Cassie's opinion of her could not go much lower, so she didn't have much to lose on that front. She was afraid that Mia might start blabbing about her and Jamie, though, and that's why it was important to her to keep Mia's mouth occupied. If the kiss shocked Mia, she did an admirable job of hiding her feelings. Ryan was just about ready to release her when she felt Mia's tongue dart into her mouth and start exploring. Ryan couldn't pull away at that point and let Cassie and Jamie see Mia's tongue hanging out, so she stayed right where she was and let Mia investigate to her heart's content.

With a sexy little moan Mia returned her tongue to its home, and Ryan quickly straightened up. Mia, however, stayed exactly where she was. Her lips were still puckered up and her eyes were tightly closed. She was swaying back a forth just a bit and she clearly looked like she wanted more. Ryan stood her up and handed her over to Cassie, who fumed, "I will never, ever, understand the hold you have on women!"

Ryan smirked at her departing form and then focused her attention on Jamie, who had a look of abject sorrow on her face. "Why did you kiss her but you won't kiss me?" she asked as she began to wail plaintively.

Ryan just stooped and picked her up gracefully, carrying her up the stairs and into her room. She performed her all-too-familiar ritual of undressing the relatively helpless woman, averting her eyes as much as possible.

Once she'd dressed Jamie in a long t-shirt, she guided her into the bathroom to brush her teeth. She got the toothbrush ready, but the blonde was not up to the task and, sitting on the edge of the tub, just opened her mouth and let Ryan perform the duty for her.

Then Ryan squatted down beside her and asked, "Do you have to pee?" Jamie just nodded her head. "Do you want me to help you?" A shake that almost knocked her off the tub was the answer. "Okay, can you do it yourself?" Another violent shake. "Then I'll have to help you," was the logical reply.

"Nooooo!" Jamie protested vehemently. "I don't like anybody to watch. It's private!"

"How about if I sit you down and then leave. Is that okay?"

"You won't watch?"

"I promise I won't watch," Ryan said as she crossed her heart.

"Okay," she replied warily. "But don't watch, 'kay?"

Ryan lowered her panties and got her situated. "I'll be right outside. Call me when you're done, okay?"

"Okay," she replied sweetly. "I love you, honey bunch," she said as she blew her a big kiss.

Ryan blew a kiss back as she went outside and closed the door. She ran to the bedside table and quickly called home to tell Conor that she was staying over. Then she dashed back to wait by the door. Long quiet minutes passed before she finally knocked. "Jamie?" No answer. "Jamie," louder this time, but still no answer. She opened the door to find her lover leaning against the back wall, sound asleep. Once again she stooped to pick her up, grunting with the effort. When she got her on the bed, she removed her panties to avoid the struggle of getting them back into place and slipped her under the covers.

She went to the dresser and found the new underwear that Jamie had purchased for her, changed into them and got into bed behind her friend. Moments passed as she tried to relax when she was startled by a very insistent, very annoying snore.

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

Just before dawn Ryan woke from a deep sleep to the sound of a soft, low moan. She struggled to get her bearings, finding herself alone in bed. She got up and, following the sound, discovered that the bathroom door was open. She poked her head in to find Jamie sitting on the edge of the tub, holding her head in both hands. She walked over and sat down next to her, bending her head down to closely observe her face. "Don't feel so good, huh?" she asked softly.

The tousled blond head slowly lifted, revealing a pasty white complexion and red-streaked green eyes. "Very observant," was the surly reply.

Ryan was a little taken aback by this attitude, but she maintained her compassion. "Can I do anything to help?"

"If you don't have a revolver you may as well go back to bed," she replied petulantly.

"I definitely don't want to shoot you, but I could get you some Tylenol and something to drink to help hydrate you," she offered.

"I don't think anything will help," she grumbled.

"Let's try anyway. I'll be right back." Ryan ran downstairs and found two bottles of ginger ale in the refrigerator. She filled two glasses with ice and brought them both back upstairs. Then she went into the bathroom and found a bottle of Tylenol. Quickly removing four tablets, she gave Jamie two as she filled the glass with the soda. "Shhh!" her friend warned. "That's too loud!"

As Jamie struggled to swallow the pills, Ryan filled the other glass and snuck into Mia's room. She placed the soda and the pills on her bedside table and crept back out without disturbing her.

When she returned, Jamie was sitting on the bed, looking absolutely miserable. "I think you need some more sleep," Ryan observed.

"You're just full of insight, aren't you?" she replied with a grimace, grasping her head in pain from the mere effort of speaking.

"Jamie, I love you even when you're cranky. But please don't be so sarcastic. I'm just trying to help you."

Ryan could actually see her teeth clench, realizing with a smile that the poor woman was really trying to control her sharp tongue, albeit with only partial success. "I'm sorry, Ryan. I just want to go back to bed, but this headache is honestly about to kill me! I'll be nicer if I can get some sleep, I promise."

"I think I can help with that," Ryan replied confidently as she slid in behind her friend. She began to apply pressure to various points on Jamie's head and neck. At first the pain-wracked woman fought the rather intense pressure, but after a few minutes she began to relax and allow Ryan to work. After a while she started to sigh deeply as her body grew heavy and sagged against her partner.

Sliding out from behind her and placing her on her stomach, Ryan started to slowly and firmly knead the muscles in her shoulders and neck. Contented grunts and small moans now greeted her ministrations. After a long while she leaned over and kissed her head as she got out of bed. She got dressed in the previous evening's clothes and went back downstairs, feeling just a little regret that she wouldn't be able to spend the day with Jamie. Walking over to Telegraph in the early morning light, she fetched her bike, removed the ticket that one of Berkeley's ever-thoughtful meter-maids had left for her, and headed home.

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

Ryan decided that she needed to blow off some steam, and her father gladly acquiesced to the loan of his truck; after securing a promise that it would be washed and vacuumed upon her return. She loaded Duffy and his bag of floating toys in the vehicle and took the wildly enthusiastic dog on a spirited run on the beach. After the run, and a half hour of retrieving his toys from the cold water, Duffy's exercise needs were taken care of for the day, and his mistress was in a much better mood. When the car was once again spotless, she took a long shower and then decided to clean her room, having noticed quite a layer of dust gathering on her photos and books. After a good two hours, everything was in order and she was just putting her cleaning tools away when her pager went off.

She smiled at the familiar number as she went to dial the phone. "Hi," she said simply, wanting to test the waters before she said too much.

"Do you still love me?" was the shy plea.

"Of course I love you," she said warmly. "It's going to take more than a little grumpiness to get rid of me. Are you feeling any better?"

"Yeah, I feel a lot better actually. Thanks for taking care of me last night and today." After a pause she added, "We must have been a mess."

"Nah, you were actually kind of entertaining. I honestly didn't mind at all, Jamie. But I do think you should give some thought to how you deal with alcohol. You don't seem to tolerate it very well," she offered.

"That's an understatement," she agreed. "I think one is my new limit. And since I will never drink another martini, I don't have to worry about them."

"So, do you want to rest today, or would you like to see me?"

"I always want to see you, Ryan. You're the best part of every day for me."

"Well, I've got to work from two until five and then I'm free. Do you want to see me during the day or in the evening?"

"Yes," was the forceful reply.

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

Jamie showed up a little after 11, looking much better, although still a touch pale. Ryan greeted her warmly, trying to give her the clear message that she wasn't angry with her. They stood in a warm embrace for a long while, with Jamie uttering a deep sigh occasionally. "I'm sorry I was so rude to you today," she said as she looked up with sad eyes.

"It's okay, Jamie. Bad headaches can do that to anyone," she reassured her.

"Have you ever had a hangover?" she asked.

"I've had my share," Ryan admitted. "I have a pretty big capacity for alcohol, but as you know, I rarely drink anymore. When I was in my 'acting out' phase, I drank more than I should have, mostly to appear older and more experienced." She laughed a little at the memory. "I decided fairly quickly that hangovers were not for me."

"I couldn't agree with you more," Jamie agreed with a wry grin.

Ryan went downstairs to change as Jamie went to get a glass of water. She was still dehydrated, and Ryan had assured her that she would feel better if she got a lot of fluid down. The day was warm and Jamie wore cuffed khaki shorts and a salmon polo shirt. Several moments later her mouth went dry when Ryan came back up wearing one of the outfits from Jamie's fantasies. When they had recently visited the Berkeley Patagonia store, Ryan had purchased some of their baggy print shorts for Caitlin. Jamie had liked them so much that she had gone back and bought several pair for Ryan. Today she had on a pair in sky blue, deep blue and salmon. She wore a tank top in the same deep blue; the colors making her eyes look an even darker blue than normal.

Jamie stood back and gazed at her partner lovingly. Her hair was back in a high ponytail and showed off the strong planes of her face. The tank top revealed her tanned broad shoulders and muscular biceps. The shorts fit closely around her trim waist, but were quite roomy in the short legs. Jamie came up next to her and wrapped her arms around her. "Thank you," she whispered into Ryan's ear.

"What for?" was the reply.

"Fulfilling another fantasy," she replied as she nibbled the pink ear. "But you can't wear your normal underwear with these. What do you have on under there?" she asked with a seductive tone.

"Why don't you find out for yourself?" was the taunting reply.

Jamie proceeded to do just that as she ran her hands down the sides and around the back of the shorts. She let her fingers tease the strong legs as they slid up and under the fabric. She was rewarded by the feel of a very tiny pair of bikinis that failed to cover all of the strong firm flesh. As she ran her hands over the surface again and again Ryan dropped her head for a series of gentle kisses. She consciously kept the tough light, knowing Jamie's tendencies. When her partner's hands rose to pull her head down more firmly, she smiled through the kissing and shook her head as she murmured, "Uh, uh, Jamie. I don't want your blood pressure to rise and make your headache worse."

Jamie released her head as she pushed her face into the broad chest and moaned, "Why do you do this to me?"

"Do what?" Ryan asked innocently.

"Look like this!" she groaned.

Ryan just patted her on the back soothingly. "In three weeks you can handle the merchandise at will," she whispered seductively.

"I don't think I can wait three minutes. How can I wait three weeks!"

"If we start doing all the things I want to do to you, I guarantee you will not want to sit on a bike seat for 500 miles," she said with a smile that belied her seriousness.

Jamie just gulped noticeably as she squeezed Ryan again in frustration.

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

After unloading all of her things from the Porsche, they spent a little while getting the computer up and running again. That done, they decided to go steal Caitlin and take her over to the Marina district to play in the park and watch the boats. The baby was with Maeve today, and Ryan was anxious to see the little sprite after her self-imposed exile in Oakland.

When she greeted them at the door, Caitlin had on her own little pair of baggy shorts in greens and yellows and a little yellow t-shirt. They laughed at her antics as she slapped the glass of the storm door, turning her head repeatedly to look for her grandmother while she waited for the barrier to her favorite playmates to be removed.

Maeve finally arrived and unlocked the door, laughing at the glee on the baby's face. Caitlin launched herself at Ryan's knees, and then raised her arms demanding, "Uh, Uh."

Ryan looked at her aunt in wonder as she lifted the joyous infant in her arms. "When did she learn that?" she asked.

"Today, I guess," she replied as she shook her head. "I can't keep up with her, Ryan. She learns a new way to express herself every day."

Caitlin leaned over precariously in Ryan's arms to offer a hug and a kiss to Jamie. She smiled sweetly at her second favorite playmate as she patted Jamie's face with her tiny hand. Jamie reached out and snatched her from Ryan as Caitlin giggled at the tussle. The baby threw her arms around Jamie's neck as she squeezed her firmly; she was terribly happy to be together with her pals once again.

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

They had a marvelous time at the Marina. The weather was quite a bit cooler, but still warm enough that they were all comfortable. They all took off their shoes and played in the grass, along with the dozens of others soaking up the sun. Ryan had brought a kite, and she ran around wildly trying to control it in the stiff breeze. Jamie sat on their blanket with Caitlin on her lap and watched with a contented smile on her face. At one point she watched with alarm as Ryan was seemingly headed right for a large trash can. Ryan spotted it at the last minute, put on a burst of speed and jumped right over it. She slowed down then and trotted back over to the laughing pair. "Pretty cool, huh?" she asked proudly.

"You never cease to amaze me," Jamie replied fondly as she leaned over for a kiss. Caitlin wanted in on the fun too so she leaned over in the same way and puckered up. Ryan placed a sweet kiss on each set of lips, smiling broadly as she pulled back.

They let the baby practice walking, taking turns as her guide. She walked quite well so long as she held on to a pair of hands, and both women enjoyed helping her accomplish such an important milestone. After a while Ryan ran a few blocks to buy sandwiches for them. When she returned, Jamie was feeding the baby some strange tan concoction. Ryan sat and watched them for a while with a fond smile on her face, finally commenting, "I can't wait until we have a baby of our own."

"Yow!" the small woman said with a shocked look. "You don't mean that, do you?"

Ryan's eyes grew wide as she stuttered, "I…I…I…thought…you wanted…"

"Oh, Honey, of course I want to have children with you. I was just shocked at the thought that you can't wait to do it. I don't think I'm ready for that yet."

"Whew!" Ryan cried, as she dramatically wiped her forehead with the back of her hand. "I thought that you meant you didn't want kids at all."

"Oh, no, Ryan. I still remember the discussion we had at your birthday party. I know how you feel about kids, and I'm sure we'll have them, one way or the other."

"Thank the goddess," Ryan said as she breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "It would be hard for me to give up that dream."

Jamie looked at the open, trusting look on her beautiful face. "This is really it for you, isn't it? I mean you believe we'll be together for life, don't you?"

"Yeah, don't you?" she asked, as her eyes once again grew wide with alarm.

"Yes, I do," she replied reassuringly, gently rubbing Ryan's thigh. "It's just surprising to me that you've never even had a girlfriend, and yet you slipped into this lifetime commitment so easily."

Ryan was leaning back against her locked arms, and she dropped her head back and let the warm sun caress her face as she considered her response to that point. "I've got to admit that part of the reason I've never had a girlfriend is that I wasn't looking for one," she finally offered. "I really didn't want the complication that a relationship would bring. But the other reason is that I didn't see the point of being in a relationship that I wasn't sure about." She placed her hand on Jamie's knee as she stared deeply into her eyes. "I've known what I wanted in a lover for a long time, Jamie. I had just never met anyone who fulfilled all of my requirements until you."

"You are such a romantic, Ryan. I can't believe how often you just take my breath away," she said as she maintained the connection.

"I love you, Jamie. And I want to be with you for the rest of my life," she declared solemnly.

"I feel exactly the same way about you. And I can't wait to have a baby with you either." After a pause she added, "But I'd like to have a good long time with you alone, to just be selfish and enjoy you without any competition," she said with a smile.

"Agreed. Besides, I've got enough brothers and cousins to keep us stocked with babies for a long time, if they'll just get busy," she said with a laugh.


Chapter Twelve

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