Disclaimers in Part 1

Chapter Thirteen

Monday morning found them lounging around the dining room table, surveying their options for the week. Jamie was content to just lie around the house as long as Ryan was with her, but she knew that her lover needed a lot of stimulation to keep her interested. She was also learning that Ryan needed at least a general idea of her schedule, or she became a little anxious.

Rather than switch clients around too much, Ryan had decided to work at the gym from 3-6, her normal hours. Since Mia was leaving and Jamie no longer needed a formal session, Ryan had tinkered with her schedule to compress it into her preferred time period. The 15 hours of full- fare clients gave her an income that far surpassed anything she had ever dreamed of, and gave her the financial security to take two weeks off without worry.

The only downside was that her work prevented them from ranging very far afield during the week. Jamie would have preferred spending a few days up in Napa or Mendocino, but Ryan's financial autonomy obviously meant a lot to her, and she decided not to challenge her strict work ethic.

"Okay," Jamie said, as she stood to clear the breakfast dishes. "We've got to be back by one for you to get to work. It's almost eight so we have five hours to play with. Since you didn't run today, I assume you want to spend the morning doing something energetic?"

"I've got a few suggestions," Ryan said, obviously having thought this through earlier in the day. "I really enjoyed being at the Marina on Friday. Why don't we go back and do our workout there."

"Oh, like we did at the track that time?"

"Kinda," she said with a twinkle. "I think it's time you learned the rudiments of kickboxing little girl," she added as she pinched her partner rather hard on the butt.

Jamie looked up to the heavens for assistance. "Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to wind up bruised?"

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

A short while later they were warming up on the broad, grass-covered lawn that fronted the Marina. The day was bright and warm for May, and it seemed like every baby in town was out on the green with their mothers or their nannies. Ryan decided to teach Jamie the basics of the cardio-kick class that she used to teach at Castro. She had a small boom-box resting on the ground, along with some lightweight padded gloves and a big blue padded mitt.

They followed their usual warm-up routine, and then Ryan gave her some instruction on proper kicking technique. Jamie was now muscular enough to brace herself on one sturdy leg while kicking out forcefully with the other, a required element for kickboxing. She took to the instruction very well, kicking the padded mitt with some force, and after just 15 minutes Ryan pronounced her ready to begin.

She switched on the music and led the way, showing Jamie at half speed how to execute the series of kicks and jumps timed to the music. She added the punching moves that made the exercise a full-body workout, and then started the tape again.

This time they went through the moves at full speed, kicking, jumping and punching the air in a graceful series of moves--rather, Ryan was graceful, and Jamie just struggled to keep up. But when she led the way through the series again and again, Jamie started to catch on. By the time she fully understood and could follow the signals, however, she was so tired she could hardly move.

Her arms felt like she had ten-pound weights attached to them and her legs were heavy and slow. "God! You really had weights in your hands, but I'm the one who's pooped!" she cried when she surveyed Ryan's calm, even breathing.

"I've been doing this a lot longer than you have," Ryan reassured her.

"Oh please! That has nothing to do with it, and you know it, Buffy. You're just amazing, and I won't accept any other explanation!"

"Well," she drawled, "I guess I am rather remarkable." But she gave her partner such a goofy look when she made this statement that Jamie had to just laugh at her good-natured teasing. "And that reminds me," Ryan said. "What's with this 'Buffy' stuff? Is that like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Buffy like Buffy, and Muffy and those other rich girl names?"

"Neither, Silly," she laughed. "You don't look even a little bit like Sara Michelle Gellar, and you could never pull off the preppy rich kid thing."

"So…why do you call me that?"

"Because of these," Jamie said as she ran her hands down Ryan's arms, trailing her thumbs over the smooth dips and protrusions of muscle. "You're terribly buff, you know."

"Ahhh, Buffy," Ryan nodded, fairly satisfied with the name now that she knew its origin.

"Buffy, indeed," Jamie nodded in concert, leaning in for a sweet kiss. "But right now, I've gotta find a bathroom. Is there one around here?" she asked, looking around aimlessly.

"Yeah, but it's pretty far," Ryan warned, indicating the building in the distance. "Want me to pack up and go with you?"

"No, I like this spot. Why don't you sit by that tree and take it easy. I can tell you're really beat. You're just hiding it well."

"Good idea," Ryan agreed. "You always know best."

She watched Jamie jog, admiring the way her firm little butt looked in her navy blue Lycra shorts. Deep in concentration she did not hear the footsteps that approached her from behind. "Police officer," the rather deep but decidedly female voice boomed. "Don't make any sudden moves…just keep your hands right where they are."

Ryan's heart started beating so fast she could actually feel it in her chest. She knew she had done nothing wrong, but the thought of having a police officer call her out was terribly alarming. "What's the problem, officer?" she asked, as calmly as possible.

"You answer the questions," the woman snapped. "I ask them." The rough tone and brusque treatment were not making Ryan feel one bit better. "Get on your knees and put your hands behind your back," she ordered.

Ryan had every intention of obeying the command, but she had a momentary flash of doubt that this really was a cop. "Let me see your badge," she said with more conviction than she really felt.

"Been in this situation a few times, huh, tough guy?" the officer growled. She produced a badge that she flashed right in front of Ryan's face. It certainly looked authentic, having the same general style as her father's Fire Department badge, but even though Ryan was reassured that she wasn't an imposter, she didn't feel a hell of a lot better with this confirmation.

She followed the officer's instructions to the letter, getting to her knees and docilely placing her hands behind her back. She had not heard handcuffs opened before, but she got a crash course in the distinctive sound when the cold steel was slapped first on one wrist and then the other. Ryan had been in many testy situations in her young life and had gone up against some very tough guys, but she had rarely felt as powerless as she did at that moment. The fact that she could not defend herself, either physically or verbally was combining to make her absolutely panic-stricken.

A jumble of thoughts raced through Ryan's mind as she considered her options. As the daughter of a civil servant, she had been taught since she was a toddler that police officers were the guardians of the city. Her father had always stressed that when she was in trouble, she should never hesitate to ask an officer for help, and her personal experience with the police had been uniformly positive. But she also knew that members of the force were trained to demand complete obedience from suspects, and that when they didn't get it they sometimes reacted badly. She had no interest in being booked for resisting arrest, and even less interest in being goaded into assaulting an officer, since that would definitely land her in serious trouble. So she ignored every one of her instincts to defend herself, and tried to be as docile as a kitten.

"I don't want you to move one muscle," the officer growled, seemingly right into her ear. "One move, and I slap another pair on your ankles and hog-tie you."

Now Ryan's discomfort was turning into panic. Trying to keep her wits about her, she tried again, "What do you want with me?"

"Did I tell you to talk?" she spat. When Ryan meekly shook her head, she added, "Good girl. Following orders is the only way you're going to get out of this in one piece."

One piece? What in the fuck does she think I've done? Is there a lunatic murderer on the loose?

The officer grasped her around her upper arms and pulled her easily to her feet. "Lean your head against that tree," she stated as she pushed Ryan in the general direction. "And spread your legs shoulder width."

She managed the move, but it caused her to lean up against the tree in a very ungainly position. Even with her strong abs and thighs, she doubted that she could stand up again without assistance. The officer began a thorough pat-down, maintaining a cool professional attitude throughout. But another stab of panic shot through Ryan when the officer lingered longer than was necessary on her crotch.

Is this some renegade lesbian cop rapist? she wondered as she was pulled into an upright position. "We're gonna go for a little walk now," the officer stated. "You're gonna move nice and slow and go just where I tell you."

Another docile nod was Ryan's only response. The cop placed a surprisingly small hand on the back of Ryan's neck and started to push her in the direction of the street. "My stuff," she weakly protested, not wanting anyone to wander off with her gear.

"We'll be right at the squad car," she declared, indicating a car parked next to a maintenance building. "Nobody will touch your stuff."

Ryan's panic was building, as they got closer to the car. It was parked in such a way that it was hidden from both the street, and the people on the green, by dense shrubbery. The thought hit her that it was just the way you would park the car, if you didn't want anyone to see it.

When they were about ten feet from the car, Jamie was just drawing close enough to see her lover being led away by a police officer. Oh shit! Now what? she cried to herself, as she began running.

When the officer had Ryan right up against the car, she unlocked one cuff. Reaching around her, she quickly moved both arms to the front and cuffed her back up. "What are you doing to me?" Ryan finally cried in frustration.

A low laugh was the officer's response. She opened the rear door, pushed Ryan roughly and laughed again when the larger woman fell face first against the seat. In a flash, the officer jumped in, landed on top of her, and murmured in her normal, higher-pitched voice, "I always told you I'd be on top someday, Ryan."

"Carolyn?" Ryan squeaked as the front door flew open to reveal 110 pounds of outraged fury.

"Oh-oh," Carolyn mumbled, when Jamie began to yell at full volume.

"Yeah, oh-oh is right," Ryan fully agreed, to the not-so-fresh smelling vinyl seat that her face rested against.

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

"Who the fuck are you, and what are you doing to my girlfriend?!" the little dynamo shrieked.

"Girlfriend? When did you get a girlfriend?" the chagrined officer demanded of the back of Ryan's head.

"Umm, Jamie?" Ryan mumbled, unable to speak clearly due to her position. "This is my friend Carolyn." After a beat she added, "She's a police officer."

"You know each other?" Jamie stuttered as she turned around and sank into the passenger seat.

"Shit!" Carolyn muttered, "I'm so fucking sorry, Ryan!" She was frantically sticking her hands into her various pockets, looking for the elusive key to the handcuffs.

"Uh, wouldn't that be easier if you got off of me?" Ryan tactfully suggested.

"Oh, fuck," she cursed, as she crawled back out of the car, blushing furiously. "I don't have any idea what I'm doing right now." She quickly found the key and rolled Ryan onto her side to unlock the cuffs.

"Is anyone going to tell me what in the hell is going on here?" Jamie finally demanded.

"I don't know what's going on, so Carolyn's in charge of that one," Ryan said as she sat up, rubbing her wrists.

"Um…Jamie, is it?"

"Yeessss," she drawled, staring right into the small woman's shifting eyes.

"This was all a really big misunderstanding," she began.

"It better have been," the little dynamo grumbled.

"Hey! I'm blameless in this!" Ryan protested.

"You're never blameless," Jamie corrected. "There's always some degree of culpability when you're involved."

"No fair!" Ryan cried. "I was just sitting by the tree minding my own business. Actually," she corrected, "I was busy watching your butt as you ran across the green. My attention was so focused that I didn't even hear Carolyn approach."

"See, you were partly to blame," Jamie said rather pointedly.

"No, no, this was all my fault," Carolyn insisted. "Um…Ryan and I have been uhh…friends for a couple of years now," she said. "We don't see each other often or anything, and I just didn't know she had a girlfriend."

"Is Carolyn one of your 'special friends', Ryan?" the small blonde inquisitor demanded.

"Yep. Carolyn is most decidedly special," she admitted, with a wolfish grin at her old friend.

"You know about her um…friends?" Carolyn asked, truly surprised that Ryan would tell her new girlfriend about her past.

"Yes," Jamie dryly informed her. "But I don't know how many there are. 'Were,' and I stress the 'were,' you friends for long?" hoping this wasn't another member of the five-year club.

"Uhh, yeah," she admitted. "But I had a steady girlfriend for a while, and we haven't seen each other since…when was it, Ryan?"

"No, that's okay," Jamie interjected by holding her hand up. "I'm going to question you separately. You tell me when it was, Carolyn."

"Ahh, I think it was um…some time in the fall. I'm not sure exactly when though."

"That's acceptable," Jamie pronounced. "I've only had dibs since April."

"Oh, it was lots longer than that," she assured her, with a look of obvious relief. "Anyway, I broke up with my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago and I was just about to get back into the dating scene. I finished my shift at ten and was driving home when I caught sight of Ryan here. I thought it would be fun to um…play a game with her."

"Have you played this little game before?" Jamie asked as she turned her attention to her blushing lover.

"I like a woman in a uniform," she squeaked, blushing furiously.

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

After Jamie assured Carolyn that she was mostly joking, they all said goodbye. "Now don't forget to lose her number," Jamie reminded the chagrined officer as they parted.

They stood together, watching the squad car depart. Ryan slid her arm around her partner and said, "Would you ever consider…?"

"In your dreams, Buffy," she snapped as she strode over to reclaim their gear with Ryan's bemused chuckle just tickling her ears.

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

On the way back to the car, Jamie absently kicked a rock. "Why wasn't she on your list to call?" she asked Ryan.


"You told me that you went over to Alisa's to tell her about us. You said you were telling your 'special friends' that you were off limits."

"I started to," Ryan said, "but I didn't really enjoy having Alisa give me a hard time about dating a straight woman."

"So…you're gonna do what?" Jamie asked as she looked up at her partner. "Just wait until they call you…or jump on top of you?"

"Jamie," she began, but her obviously miffed partner just shook her head and moved ahead of her to walk to the car alone.

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

The short ride back to the Noe Valley had never seemed so long to Ryan. An uncomfortable silence had descended upon the car as soon as they climbed in, and Jamie gave no signs that she was going to end it anytime soon.

Ryan had always prided herself on her ability to bide her time when she knew there was trouble brewing. She'd always thought that it was best to let the other person figure out what was bothering them, and then talk about it. As with so many things, her budding relationship with Jamie was changing her attitude. She wanted nothing more than to jump right in and make her partner talk about it—ready or not. She was just about to blurt out her question when Jamie turned to her and said in a very quiet voice, "That scared me, Ryan."

"Scared you?" she asked, totally caught unawares by the statement. "Because she was taking me away?"

"No," her partner replied quickly. "That was frightening for a moment, but that's not what scares me."

Ryan immediately picked up the change in tense. It was obvious that whatever had bothered Jamie was still bothering her. Pulling the car to the curb, she shut off the engine and turned in the seat as much as her long body would allow. "Tell me, Jamie," she urged as she reached over and lightly grasped her hand.

It was clear that Jamie was embarrassed. Her mist green eyes refused to meet Ryan's, even though the dark haired woman tried to engage her. "I worry about pleasing you," she finally said in such a quiet voice that the gentle, muted sounds of the cars passing by almost obscured her words.

"Pleasing me?" Ryan asked, still confused—both by the direction the conversation was taking, and the tone of her partner's voice.

"Sexually," she clarified, beginning to blush.

"But why...what about Carolyn...why now?" Ryan stumbled.

The green eyes finally shifted and locked onto Ryan's, accompanied by one arched blonde eyebrow.

"Because of the way I teased you?" Ryan finally guessed.

"No, well, not entirely," she said. "Umm, that's part of it, but not all of it."

"Come on, Jamie," Ryan gently urged. "This is important to me because it's obviously bothering you. Please tell me what's going through your mind."

"You've just done so much," she finally said in frustration. "I worry that I won't be able to please you like you're used to being pleased. I mean, I don't even really know what you're talking about when you implied that you wanted me to be in a uniform."

"Jamie," she said softly, obtaining and holding eye contact. "You're right about one thing. I know that you will never please me like I'm used to."

The mix of hurt and shock that flew across the younger woman's face was nearly heartbreaking, but Ryan had a point to make and she wanted to make sure it sank in. "I just wish I had some way of convincing you that I don't want to be pleased the way I used to be."

"What do you mean?" she asked, her lower lip trembling slightly.

"I probably had sex with Carolyn two dozen times," she said gently, still holding one small hand. "She has touched my vulva every way imaginable, and I've got to admit that she did a damn good job of it. But she never, not once, touched my heart. She never made my chest feel like it would burst with love. She never made my knees weak with emotion. My point is that it's really not that hard to make me come, Jamie."

Her partner had to smile at that characterization.

"Yeah, you already guessed that, huh?" she asked with a grin.

"Kinda," Jamie admitted with a smile.

"If I let a woman touch my vulva, I will eventually have an orgasm. No big deal. But I have almost never let a woman touch my soul, Jamie. I've kept a very tight lock on my heart. I swear that you're the only woman who has that key." A single tear had escaped from her lover's eye, and as she reached over to catch it, she pressed her lips against Jamie's mouth, savoring the taste. "Sex between us is going to be so much more than manipulating genitals," she vowed, not moving her head an inch. "It's going to be tender and sweet and passionate. Most of all it's going to be loving, Jamie; it will always come from love."

"Are you really sure that love can make up for inexperience?" she asked timidly, dearly wanting to believe Ryan but having a difficult time of it.

"Really," Ryan vowed, placing a kiss on her smiling lips. "Truly," as she placed another. "Absolutely." The final kiss, punctuating her sentence, lasted longer than either had planned. The kiss got wetter and hotter and deeper, ratcheting up the desire between them until Ryan pulled away with a whimper. She shook her head so roughly that her bangs flew from side to side. "Jesus, Jamie, you make me hot just sitting in a car having a conversation!"

"Um...sorry?" she said in a teasing tone.

"You've got nothing to be sorry for, Love. It's all good. You know," Ryan murmured, continuing to speak softly right into Jamie's ear. "I really need to sleep with you tonight. Do you think we could sneak into your house?"

Jamie gazed at her in thoughtful silence for a few moments. Pursing her lips she replied, "I don't have any way to check on Cassie now that Mia's gone. I know she's not supposed to leave for New York until the middle of June, so there's a pretty good chance that she and Chris will stay at my place now that Mia's gone."

Ryan tried to hide her disappointment with a casual tone but was largely unsuccessful. "That's okay, maybe I can get my snuggle quotient before we go to bed."

"Umm, if you really want to we could go to my dad's apartment," she offered tentatively.

"That sounded significantly less than sincere," Ryan said with a furrow in her brow.

"Well, it would probably be okay but the last time really bothered me. I guess I'm a little hesitant to stir up those feelings."

Ryan considered this for a moment, nodding her head briefly. The thought occurred to her that the woman Jim Evans had been with might have a key to the place too, so even if he was gone, there was a tiny chance that she might show up. "That settles it," Ryan stated firmly, deciding not to risk either Jamie's comfort or her illusions about her father just to satisfy her own needs. "We'll be on the ride soon, and from then on we're stuck together like glue—24/7."

"How about a hotel?" Jamie ventured, unwilling to let the issue die.

"No," Ryan said quickly, not even taking the time to consider the question. "It was hard enough for me to let you pay for the room during finals. I think it would bother me too much."

"DUH!" Jamie cried as she slapped her head with her open hand. "I've got just the place! Private, quiet, no roommates, free and convenient!"


"You just wait and see, Baby. I'll pick you up from work at six."

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

Jamie was waiting for her partner at six on the dot. The sweaty, dark-haired woman came out, looking the worse for wear.

"Were you working out, too?" Jamie asked.

"Kinda," she admitted. "My five o'clock is a new client, and she doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. I have to show her every single exercise, and she still has trouble. I wound up doing as much as she did today." Shaking her head in exasperation, she added, "I've never had a client like that. It almost seemed like she just wanted to see me work out. Weird, huh?" she asked, with a totally ingenuous look on her face.

"Yeah, really weird," Jamie said with an internal smirk, having a very good idea why a woman would want to watch her buff lover work out. "Hey, good news," she cheerily announced. "I went to the house to get my mail and ran into my soon-to-be ex-roommate."

"That's good news?"

"No. The good news is that she was leaving for a movie. She won't be home for a couple of hours so we can stop by there to get you showered."

"That is good news," Ryan agreed as she delicately sniffed under her raised arm.

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

As they were getting out of the car, Ryan looked on questioningly as her lover popped the trunk and pulled out a duffel bag. "What's that?"

"A change of clothes for you," she smiled. "You do have a tendency to ruin a perfectly clean outfit in a very short time, you know."

"Hey, why are we here anyway? Couldn't we go to our destination and get showered and changed?"

"Not really," the smaller woman replied. "This is much easier."

Ryan decided to take her partner at her word as she hoisted the heavy bag from her grip and toted it inside.

A few minutes later, when Ryan emerged from the shower, she smelled something delicious wafting up from the kitchen. Jamie had laid out a complete outfit for her so she put on the clothes, smiling to herself as she considered how butch her young lover liked her to look. She shrugged into the shorts and faded jeans, then added the red hooded sweatshirt, smiling to herself that Jamie had not provided a bra. She then sat down to lace up the tan suede work boots. When she was finished, she slipped on the jeans jacket from which she'd removed the sleeves after she'd seriously ripped one of them while trying to leap a barbed wire fence during the AIDS Ride several years before. I'm glad we're not going to a nice hotel, she mused as she ran her fingers through her hair and grinned at her reflection.

Trotting down the stairs, she stood in puzzled silence as she watched her lover work at the sink. "So where we're going has no adequate shower, no adequate kitchen, and is casual enough for me to look like a big dyke?" she asked, as she stood in the doorway with arms crossed, nearly filling it with her size.

"That about sums it up," the blonde laughed as she turned her head just enough to take in her tough-looking lover. "Nice outfit, Buffy," she added with a definite leer.

"Just trying to keep the customer satisfied," Ryan joked as she crossed the room and leaned over to get a look at the dinner preparations, as well as nibble on a tempting neck.

The giggles that greeted her attack only served to increase the ferocity of her nibbles. "Mmm, let's skip dinner and just munch on each other," she murmured.

"Ohh, you are hot tonight," Jamie teased as she pushed her butt out just enough to rub it against her partner's thighs. "When you want to skip a meal, it's obviously a serious problem."

"Mmm, is that shrimp and mussels you're cleaning?"


"Then I can wait to nibble on you," Ryan decided with a small chuckle as she gave her partner a playful swat on the butt.

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

The fruta de mare over pasta was a thing of beauty. Once again Ryan ate far more than was wise, finally leaning back in her chair and unbuttoning the top two buttons of her jeans.

"I've wondered why you always wear button-fly jeans," the smaller woman teased.

"Yep. It's hard to let a zipper down just a little. More than once I've stood up after a meal only to have my pants stay seated when I had the zipper down."

"Well in a few weeks, you're never going to have pants on while we're in the house, so it won't matter," the feisty blonde threatened.

"That day can't come soon enough for me," Ryan said as she gazed at her partner with her best lovesick look.

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

It was almost nine o'clock when they arrived at their destination. "Uhh, isn't it a little late to go sailing?" Ryan wondered aloud, as the car pulled up right next to the entrance to the docks.

"Yep. But it's not too late to sleep on a nice private boat," she informed her with a grin.

"You just keep thinking, Jamie. It's clearly what you do best."

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

It didn't take long to load their gear since all they had was a duffel with warm coats and a bottle of wine. The night was cool, but not really cold given the time of year. The fog had not yet come in, and the stars were clearly visible as Ryan stood on the deck and leaned her head back to gaze at them. "I hate to go below on a night like this," she mused, as her partner walked up and snuggled against her side.

"We don't have to," Jamie said with a twinkle in her eye as she dashed down the stairs. A few minutes later she was back, lugging a very large cylindrical duffel. "As requested," she said with a flourish as she presented the bundle to her partner.

Ryan's quizzical expression turned into a delighted smile when she dumped the large, bright blue canvas hammock onto the deck. "Where do we hang it?" she asked excitedly.

"One end on the mast and the other goes on this standard my father had installed for just this purpose." She motioned for Ryan to hook up the mast end while she tugged her hook into place. "It's funny, though, he had this set up a couple of years ago, and I've never seen him and mother get into it," she said. "It might be one of those things that sounds better than it feels."

"One way to find out," Ryan said with a waggling eyebrow as she climbed in and patted the space next to her.

"I think I'd better get the wine and a blanket," Jamie mused. "Because I have the feeling we won't want to get out once we get in."

"I think you're psychic," Ryan smiled. "Let me help you."

They decided to go all the way and bring not only a blanket but a couple of pillows also. Ryan carried the bedding and tossed it all on the deck right next to her feet. "I think we'd better get in first and get comfortable, then add the blanket and pillows," she decided. She sat down first, bouncing a little to get the feel of the contraption. "Nice," she said with another wiggling brow.

"You lie down and then kinda hold it steady for me," Jamie instructed. Her partner did so, managing to maintain the stability of the hammock even as she was getting elbowed and kneed in various sensitive places.

"Geez, you've got sharp elbows!" Ryan cried as her partner finally got settled.

"Give me that mouth, and I'll take your mind off your pain," she smaller woman purred.

Only too happy to oblige, Ryan wrapped her arms around her lover and they spent quite a long time kissing and relaxing against one another. "I don't feel a thing anymore," she smiled when they broke their embrace.

"That's certainly not the reaction I was looking for," Jamie purred as she started to work on her neck.

"Oh, don't get me wrong," Ryan corrected as she leaned her head back sensuously as the nibbles and bites continued. "I feel plenty in all the right places. But I'm getting a little chilled. Blanket?"


Ryan leaned over a little farther than she had planned, causing the hammock to teeter on the edge of tossing them over. But she righted it with her arms and made another, more prudent attempt. Seconds later they were wrapped in the thick, warm blanket, pillows behind their heads, glasses of a rich red Cabernet in their hands. "La dolce vita," Jamie murmured, as they began to slowly rock the hammock while they sipped at the wine.

"This is pretty fine," Ryan agreed. The hammock actually made them feel like they were being cuddled while they were cuddling each other. Ryan was mostly on her back with Jamie nestled up against her side, her head resting on Ryan's strong shoulder.

"Can we just stay here until the AIDS Ride?" the smaller woman asked, her voice so soft it was nearly a whisper. "I feel so perfectly content."

Ryan knew the question was mostly rhetorical, so she didn't point out all of the logical reasons why that was impractical. Rather, she indulged in the fantasy herself. "It would be nice to just rock in this hammock under the stars every night," she mused. "Even though the city is right behind us, it feels like we're far away from everything."

"I'm terribly close to the only thing that matters," Jamie murmured softly against her neck. "When we're together like this, I feel so perfectly safe and protected. Like nothing can ever hurt me."

"I'll do everything in my power to make that dream come true," Ryan pledged with a kiss to her smooth, unlined forehead.

They rocked for a long while, sipping contentedly on their wine. Neither spoke, each caught up in her own dreams. They could hear the water gently lapping at the hull of the boat, and the gentle wind caused various parts of the vessel to clang and thump, but the overwhelming sensation was of a deep, intense stillness. Nearly a half-hour passed before Jamie broke the silence. "What are you thinking about?"

Ryan's low chuckle rumbled against her ear for a moment. "I was actually thinking about our honeymoon," she admitted. "Just kinda daydreaming about how it was going to be between us."

"Anything in particular you were thinking about?" Jamie asked in a seductive tone as she snuck her warm hand under the red sweatshirt and began to tease the soft skin her fingers found.

"Umm," Ryan said slowly, her lids fluttering a few times as she tried to maintain her focus. "I was just thinking about what a fantastic lover you're going to be."


"Yeah," she murmured. "Mostly that."

"What else?" the lips situated next to her ear demanded.

"Well, umm, I was thinking about things I'd love to do with you," Ryan said, her voice rising a bit as Jamie's hand crept beneath her waistband and snaked down her belly.

"Tell me," the smaller woman insisted. "Tell me just what you'd like to do to me."

Ryan actually giggled a bit as she considered her answer. Even though she laughed loud and long and often, Jamie had almost never heard the girlish giggle that now tickled her ear. "It's funny," she explained. "I keep trying to picture us in bed together, but I can never get past being stunned into paralysis by your body. In my fantasies, we're both naked and you're lying on your stomach. I keep trying to kick-start my brain to make my body react, but I just sit on my heels, staring at you, and I always find that I'm too overwhelmed to do anything!"

"I think you're going to be a bit disappointed in that area, Buffy," Jamie said with a chuckle. "My body's really nothing to go nuts over."

"Are you crazy?!" Ryan cried, pulling up on one arm so abruptly that they almost tumbled out again. "I've seen most of you, and I've got to tell you that your body just knocks me out! Even without seeing your hidden assets, my mouth goes dry sometimes when we work out together. And sometimes the sight of you in a little black dress just makes my knees week. You've got one smokin' hot body, girlfriend, and I can't wait until my mouth gets to taste every bit of that gorgeous skin."

Ryan couldn't see the color of her lover's skin, but she could feel the heat of her cheek where it rested against hers.

"Do you really feel that way, Ryan?" she asked in a very quiet, almost childlike voice.

Ryan smiled to herself, terribly relieved that her thoughts on the topic were completely sincere. She had complimented many women in the past and had always gone out of her way to praise body parts that really were not very attractive, if she sensed that her partner was insecure about a particular area. But she could be completely honest about Jamie's body. She leaned over the edge of the hammock and placed her glass on the deck to free up her left hand. Raising it to grasp Jamie's chin, she turned her head and held it steady so she could look directly into her eyes. "Jamie, I'm going to tell you the complete and unvarnished truth about my feelings."

She noticed that her partner's eyes grew large, and she looked as though she was preparing for a blow to the face.

"I have looked at thousands of women, and I've touched…well, I've touched a lot," she said, blushing a little when she even tried to guess the number. "And I've been very aroused by different parts of different women. I also have the ability to find something arousing about most women. It might just be their eyes or their legs…heck, one time I got turned on by a woman's feet! But I have never been with a woman whose total package was so pleasing to me," she said softly as she gazed deeply into her lover's eyes. "I mean that sincerely, Jamie," she insisted while leaning forward to gently kiss her lips. "I truly love your body, and I can hardly wait to explore all of the uncharted territory." Her waggling eyebrows caused her partner to laugh at her antics.

"You are so good at reassuring me about things," the smaller woman said with a note of amazement in her voice. "Will you always be able to do that?"

"I'll always try," Ryan vowed. "But I want to stress that I'm not just reassuring you. I meant every word that I said."

"I don't know why I'm so insecure," Jamie muttered. "I've got to admit that I feel beautiful when you look at me with that gleam in your eyes."

"This one?" Ryan asked, willing her eyes to take on their hungry, love-starved look.

"Oooh, that's the one," her lover murmured as she leaned forward to kiss the rose-tinted lips.

Jamie began kissing her partner with a slow, gentle, emotion-filled touch. In a very short while they were moaning into each other's mouths, their hands roaming all over each other's bodies. Ryan felt her control slipping dangerously, and she had to force herself to finally pull back. "We've gotta slow down!" she gasped, panting a bit.

Her lover buried her head against her chest and squeezed her so hard she nearly broke a rib. "I don't wanna slow down! I want to touch you everywhere, Ryan! Jesus!! This is just getting too hard!"

"I know, Honey," Ryan soothed. "It's really hard not to go further when we're in a nice quiet place like this." They rocked and held each other gently for a while, both of them throbbing with desire. "I think we've got to cut back a lot on the kissing and touching, Jamie. It's getting too hard for both of us. I mean, I'm just throbbing right now, and it doesn't feel so hot to just stay frustrated."

"Okay," Jamie agreed. "Let's try to keep it a little lighter between us. I still need to kiss you a lot, but let's sleep apart until the ride and let's try not to get so carried away."

"Are you sure you're okay with that?" Ryan asked, making eye contact.

"Yeah," Jamie replied, nodding her head briefly as she closed her eyes. "Perfectly sure. Unhappy as hell, but perfectly sure," she added with a wry chuckle.

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

They went below to sleep in the big berth in the bow of the boat. It took a while for Ryan to adjust to the rocking motion, but she found that she enjoyed the sensation once she got accustomed to it. The nicest part for her was to be able to smell the salt water and feel the heaviness of the air in her lungs. It was almost like camping under the stars, but a lot more comfortable.

"I think my seafaring heritage is kicking in," Ryan murmured as they snuggled in the cozy berth. "This just feels very, very comfortable for me…sort of like it's something I've done thousands of times…it feels a bit like home."

"Are both sides of your family connected to the ocean?" Jamie asked, realizing that Ryan had never mentioned what her family in Ireland did for a living.

"Yeah, pretty much. My mother's father was a fisherman, and near as I can tell, that was the family profession for many, many years. Their little town is very close to the water, so it makes sense that would be the choice."

"What about your father?"

"Well, his people come from Tralee, which is a bit inland, but still close to the water. His great-grandfather was a fisherman, but his grandfather wanted nothing to do with it and that's why he became a fighter. Career options were pretty darned limited for people from the lower classes, but he must have really hated fishing to choose bare-knuckle brawling over it."

"What did your grandfather do?" Jamie asked, realizing that Ryan was in a loquacious mood, and that she had better make good use of it.

"As little as possible," the dark woman said briefly in a tone that let Jamie know the door was closed. "Sleepy?" she asked, making it even clearer.

"Yeah, a little," her partner answered, knowing that pushing her lover was an exercise in futility.

"Come here," Ryan demanded, stretching her arm out for Jamie to curl into. When they got settled, the warm, soft tones of an old fishing song served as a gentle lullaby. Jamie wondered briefly if her lover had learned this song from her grandfather, but no more than five lines into the song she unconsciously lapsed into a very thick Irish accent. I've never heard that one, Jamie thought to herself with an internal chuckle. Guess that answers my question.

Chapter 14

Return to Main Page