See part 1 for disclaimers

Chapter Three


Ryan was on the phone as early as she thought polite on Saturday morning. She had gone on a long run with Duffy and she felt fully rejuvenated after her talk with her father and a good night's sleep. "Are you in the mood for a hot date tonight?" she asked when she reached Jamie.

"Sure," she replied readily. "You certainly sound like you're in a good mood. What's up?"

"I've decided that we've been going about this togetherness thing all wrong. We're trying to fit our little square pegs into round holes. It's time we refocused our energies," she said mysteriously.

Since they had both been neglecting their schoolwork so thoroughly they decided to spend the day studying and, to her surprise, Ryan refused Jamie's offer to study with her in Berkeley. She knew the study session would turn into a make out session post-haste, and she needed to get caught up with finals looming just three weeks away.

She called Jamie just before she left her house and was pleased to learn that no one else was home and that neither roommate was expected back that evening. Mia was down in L.A. visiting her boyfriend, and Cassie was staying with her parents. "Bring your jammies," Jamie instructed, much to Ryan's pleasure.

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

Forty-five minutes later Jamie ran down the stairs to answer the door. The stunning vision that greeted her nearly knocked the breath out of her lungs. Ryan was wearing her most faded jeans, an even more faded jeans jacket and a skintight white tank top. As Jamie pulled her into the house she slid her hands into the jacket and ran her hands up and down the strong back as she stood on her tiptoes for a welcoming kiss. Ryan gave her a sexy grin as she stretched to her full height. "Like the look?" she drawled.

As she slowly blinked her eyes to clear her head she could only nod mutely. Her ability to speak had been stripped from her when her hands discovered that the only material covering her lover's gorgeous torso was the thin ribbed cotton of that painted-on tank top.

"Thanks for the generous compliment," Ryan murmured as she pulled her close for a longer, hotter kiss.

"You look so…," she said weakly.


"So hot," she finally decided as she slowly walked in a little circle to admire the vision from every angle. "And sexy," she added while she ran her hands down her broad shoulders. "And tough," she growled as she slid her arms around her slim waist from behind and pressed her body firmly against her partner's. "I hope we're staying in tonight," she murmured as she rested her head against Ryan's broad back.

"Nope," she said firmly. "We're going out. But we'll be able to kiss and hug to our hearts' content."

"We can do that here," Jamie suggested, refusing to release her captive.

"I know we can, but given how you're acting and how I'm feeling I think being in a public place is a good idea," she said gently. "My self-control is a little wobbly tonight."

"Whew," Jamie said as she released her hold and shook her head. "I don't think I have any tonight, so that's probably a good idea. But I need to go change so I look like we belong together," she said as she glanced down at her polo shirt and khakis. "I look like I'm going to play golf and you look like you're going to…well, I don't know what it is you look like you're going to do, but I want to be there to do it with you," she decided.

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

Ryan cooled her heels in the parlor while Jamie went upstairs to change. Ten minutes later she came back down, having performed admirably in the matching outfit competition. To Ryan's extreme pleasure she had taken the tough theme and tweaked it to match her own style. In a surprise twist she was wearing a dress. Ryan was generally very appreciative of Jamie's dress selection and she had tried to banish lascivious thoughts from her mind on several occasions when her companion had worn one. But now that they were lovers, lascivious thoughts were not only allowed, they were welcomed.

Tonight's ensemble was sky high on the lascivious chart, and Ryan realized that they had better head out immediately or they would never be able to leave.

Jamie's mother had once told her that her clothing was a little juvenile. But her mother had obviously never seen the outfit she had on tonight. The dress was sleek, black, tight, shiny… and leather. Ryan wasn't sure what this style of dress was called—other than mouth-wateringly hot that is. The strapless top fit like a black leather long line bra—also a good fashion choice in Ryan's mind. But the dress continued down Jamie's firm body, caressing every one of her many womanly curves. It ended about four inches above her knee and Ryan spent a moment wondering how Jamie was going to walk, much less dance, in the skintight outfit. But she decided that some sacrifices had to be made for fashion and Jamie was just the one to make them. As Ryan stood and gazed at her Jamie just smirked at her slack-jawed expression. She remained on the last step to equalize their heights and crooked her index finger to summon her. Ryan trotted over like a compliant pet and placed her hands on her partner's slim waist. As Jamie dipped her head to reward Ryan's obedience their mouths merged in a sweet kiss that gradually heated up until it became nearly incendiary. A small growl escaped from deep in Ryan's chest as her hands strayed from her partner's waist and found that her rear was unencumbered by her normal panties. She couldn't help but trace the outlines of the tiny thong that she found and against her better judgment she ventured to ask with a weak voice, "What color is it?"

"It's black and it's lace," she whispered as her warm breath glided past Ryan's ear and sent chills up and down her spine.

"That's just not fair," Ryan moaned. "I think the Geneva Convention covers this under cruel and unusual punishment."

"Ha! What do you think that little tank top does to me, Ms. Gorgeous Braless Breasts?"

"So are you discovering that you're a breast woman?" Ryan asked teasingly.

Jamie's deep blush was a clear enough answer but she fought through her embarrassment to admit, "I didn't know that I was but I must be. I just get chills when you wrap me in your arms and I feel those hard little nipples rubbing against mine. Maybe that's why I had a hard time feeling desire for men, huh?" she added with a wry smile as she wrinkled her nose in amusement at her amazing powers of denial.

"That could be a factor," Ryan chuckled as she took her hand. "I assume we'll drive your car?"

"Are we going far?"


"Then let's ride."

"In that dress?!"

"Yep." She playfully tapped Ryan's nose as she enunciated each word. "I want to drive you crazy."

Jamie went to the hall closet and pulled out a black leather trench coat just slightly longer than her dress. The coat had deep slits on each side that gave her some flexibility. When they reached the bike she hiked her dress up a good foot and climbed on the back, tucking the leather coat around her legs to create a modest appearance. But Ryan knew what little was between them and that knowledge did indeed drive her nuts on the short drive.

They pulled up near the lesbian bar on Telegraph but Ryan quickly turned around and instructed, "Let me get off first." Jamie obeyed and waited patiently as her partner climbed off. Ryan stood next to the big bike and placed her hands firmly around the smaller woman's waist and easily lifted her from the seat.

"Why'd you do that? Just showing off?" Jamie asked as she shimmied around to pull her dress down to its normal length.

"No, Jamie, you're the one who would be showing off," she explained. "I don't want that crowd of women to see your hidden assets before I do." She pointed at the group of women standing on the sidewalk smoking cigarettes, and then pointed at Jamie's extremely short skirt. "Even you can't gracefully get off a motorcycle in a skirt that short."

Ryan paid the $5 cover for each of them and guided her up to the bar after placing her coat on the handy rack. Jamie smiled to herself when she remembered the first time she had spent the evening with Ryan and how she had noticed her unconscious habit of guiding her by the small of her back.

Sandy the bartender was in her normal place and she greeted Ryan like the old friend that she was. "I haven't seen you two in here since…I think it was your birthday," she said as she smiled at Jamie.

"That's right," she admitted. "I've been keeping her too busy to come back," she teased.

Sandy returned her smile and said to Ryan, "It's nice to see you're finally getting some sense into that beautiful head. I've been telling you for years that you should get a steady girl. I'm glad you've finally listened to reason."

"Oh, this one's not steady," Ryan said. She slung her arm loosely around Jamie's shoulders as she added, "She's permanent."

"Excellent!" Sandy cried. "That merits one on the house. What'll it be, ladies?"

"White wine spritzer," Jamie said. Ryan thought for minute and decided to throw her normal abstemiousness to the wayside, "Harp lager."

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

They had their stools very close together so that they could lean against each other in order to be heard. Ryan had an arm loosely draped around Jamie's waist with her other elbow on the bar. She held her chin in her hand and stared at her date with undisguised interest. Ryan's stare was so intent that after a while Jamie started to feel a little uncomfortable. "You look like you're planning on having me for dinner," she finally teased to lighten the mood.

But instead of lightening the mood her comment served to intensify it. Ryan leaned even closer and let that deep voice rumble up from her chest. The warm breath slid past Jamie's flushed cheek as she replied, "Ummm, now that would be a meal to remember. I don't think I'd be able to control my gluttony." She leaned over just enough to capture a pink earlobe and take a good nibble as an example.

The image that flashed through her mind caused Jamie's breathing to quicken just slightly as the heat in the room seemed to rise a few degrees. "I think we'd better dance," she mumbled, hoping that her legs would hold her.

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

She thought that she had seen Ryan dance before, but what they had done before was a pale imitation of dancing compared to the way she moved tonight. Ryan moved her strong body against Jamie's so seamlessly and fluidly that it actually felt like making love standing up. She had removed her jeans jacket because of the heat in the room but Jamie's temperature rose as the jacket fell. Those incredibly soft mounds of flesh moved slightly beneath her tank top, completely capturing Jamie's mind and imagination. It was all she could do not to grab both of the tempting breasts and explore them to her heart's content. It was clear that Ryan was taunting her and attempting to escalate her desire since she continually brushed her erect nipples teasingly against Jamie's aching breasts.

But even though Ryan seemed to enjoy teasing her it was fairly obvious that she was much more interested in Jamie's choice of underwear for her own growing arousal. She would come in close and wrap her arms around her smaller partner, letting her hands drop dangerously low on her back, obviously trying to feel the outline of her undergarments. The teasing and taunting went back and forth until both women were completely and thoroughly aroused. A sexy, slow number came on and as Ryan drew her close Jamie's head tilted up just enough to have her tender lips captured by her partner's seeking mouth. They were in the darkest corner of the dance floor, barely moving their feet, but their mouths were far from inactive. Their deep kisses continued to escalate in intensity as the song continued its driving, pulsing, Latin beat. By the time the last chords faded away Jamie was nearly hanging from Ryan's neck, weak with desire.

Ryan gently guided her to a stool in the darkest corner of the bar and quickly lifted her up before leaning in to capture her swollen lips again. Jamie's heart was throbbing so violently in her chest that she could feel the beat through every fiber of her being. She knew her resistance was fragile at best and Ryan's seemed dangerously low as well so she pulled herself away and gasped, "I have to…go…" She got to her feet and stumbled into the line for the bathroom, thankful for the respite from the overpowering aura of lust that was just rolling off Ryan tonight. When she finally reached her goal a good ten minutes had passed and she spent another two or three splashing cold water on her face to cool down a bit.

Thoroughly refreshed, she made her way back to her companion feeling much more in control. But faster than she could have imagined possible all of her control vanished as she gazed at the dark beauty waiting for her in the corner. In her ever-expanding list of things she was learning about herself Jamie had discovered that she was very aroused by Ryan's tough girl look. Her partner did not affect the look often, but Jamie had already decided she could live with a steady diet of it.

The vision that greeted her return was more appealing than Jamie thought possible. Ryan stood next to the stool, one shiny black-booted foot casually resting on the lowest rungs. A sweating bottle of cold beer was dangling from her left hand, resting right at the apex of her thighs. Her right hand held her jeans jacket over her right shoulder in a very relaxed posture and her hips moved sensually to the bass beat of the spine-numbing music. Jamie didn't know many things at that moment but one thing was perfectly clear; no other human had ever aroused her so immediately or so thoroughly.

Ryan caught the gleam in her eye and immediately responded by lifting her onto the stool once again. She pounced on her lips with a wild ferocity as Jamie shivered uncontrollably. They both knew the scene was escalating too rapidly but it was Ryan who pulled back, moments before their passions spiraled out of control.

She took in a breath so deep and heavy that Jamie was able to hear it over the thundering bass. Dropping her head onto Jamie's shoulder she spent a few minutes trying to collect herself, breathing deeply the entire time. Jamie's hands ran up and down Ryan's damp back, silently thanking her partner for pulling them back from the brink.

"This is too much," Ryan murmured into her ear. "It's…it's just too hard, Jamie. I…I can't…"

"I know, Honey," she soothed, feeling completely overwhelmed herself. "Let's go home." Sliding off the stool she grasped Ryan's hand, noticing the slight tremor as she did so. She led her through the crowd, dodging the women on the dance floor as they threaded their way towards the door. A quick detour to retrieve Jamie's coat and they burst through the throng that was trying to enter. As soon as they cleared the crowd they threw back their heads and sucked in the cool, moist air.

"We need a new plan," Ryan grumbled as she took Jamie's hand to lead her to the motorcycle.

"Let's walk," Jamie suggested as they neared the bike.

"Walk? Really?"

"Yeah," she insisted, pulling her along. "We both need to cool off a little and the bike might not be the best place to do that."

"Good point," Ryan agreed with a tiny smirk as she gazed once again at the mouth-wateringly hot dress that covered her partner's body.

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

The night had cooled appreciably and Ryan shivered a little as the damp air met her wet tank top. She shrugged into her jeans jacket and helped Jamie into her coat, and then draped her arm around her partner's shoulders as they began the short walk. "This isn't going too well, is it," Ryan said, more a statement than a question.

"The whole thing?" Jamie asked as she turned her head to gaze into Ryan's eyes.

"No," she soothed. "Just the arousal thing." After several more steps she asked, "What do you think we should do about it?"

Only the sound of Ryan's boots clicking on the pavement filled the air for several minutes as Jamie considered their options. "I think we can go one of two ways," she decided. "We either jump in or pull back…a lot!"

Ryan gave her a gentle squeeze as a small smile curled the edge of her lips, "Which option do you pick?"

"It's not just me that decides that, Honey," she reminded her. "It takes two to tango…as well as other things."

"Are you leaning one way over the other?" Ryan asked carefully, wanting Jamie to have the space to make up her own mind.

"I sure was a few minutes ago!" she reminded her, her eyes comically wide. "I was leaning so far I almost fell over! I guess I just need some time to think about it."

"Okay," Ryan agreed as they continued their walk. "Take your time." As they kept a slow, companionable pace Ryan smiled down at her partner. The smaller woman was deep in thought, her brow wrinkled just a tiny bit in concentration. Ryan absolutely loved to watch her think but she was a little wary of revealing her interest. She knew that Jamie would want to know exactly what she liked about watching her. And since she had to be honest she would have to reveal that she most loved the fact that her partner looked considerably younger when she was deep in thought. She actually looked like a little kid trying to solve a puzzle that was a little too advanced for her. Sometimes the tip of her tongue even stuck out of the side of her mouth, adding to her juvenile appearance. But since Jamie was already a little sensitive about looking so young Ryan didn't think it best to bring it up. Resisting the urge to pinch her cheek, she merely gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze and tried to hide her grin.

They walked the remaining distance in silence, gently holding hands in the cool evening breeze. When they arrived, Ryan paused at the door and said, "I think maybe I should go home."

"Home?" Jamie asked, her face immediately clouded with disappointment. "Don't you want to sleep with me?"

"Of course I do," Ryan soothed as she took her in her arms. The warm golden glow of the porch light gave Jamie's hair such beautiful highlights that Ryan had to close her eyes to concentrate on their actual discussion. "I would never be apart from you another night if I had my wish."

"Then why do you want to leave?" her small voice asked into the denim jacket that her face rested against.

Ryan pulled back to look her partner right in the eyes. "I think we both need some time to figure out what we want," she said. "We almost got carried away tonight, Hon, and that's not how I want it to be with us. I want our lovemaking to be slow and intentional and deliberate. I want our last 'first time' to be a time we always remember," she insisted as she leaned forward for a kiss.

"Our last first time?"

"Yeah," she grinned. "It'll be our first time but it's the last first time I'm ever going to have. I've already got our first real kiss burned into my brain. Now I'm gonna partition my mental hard drive to make sure I have room to archive our first time. Cause it's gonna eat up memory, big time!"

"That was the sweetest, nerdiest thing you've ever said to me," Jamie smiled as she stood on tiptoe for some tender kisses. As she settled back onto her feet she left her hands lightly clasped behind Ryan's neck. "We could discuss how we feel…while you stay over." She had intentionally placed a deceptively innocent look on her face but Ryan wasn't fooled.

"Do you promise you'll behave during this discussion?" she asked sternly.

"Depends," Jamie replied as she wrinkled up her nose. "What do you have to sleep in?"

"Duhhh, I forgot to bring anything," Ryan groaned as she closed her eyes tightly and smacked herself on the forehead.

"I've still got some of Jack's sweats here," she offered. "I'd like it if you stayed and I promise I'll behave. Scout's honor," she vowed as she held up all four fingers of her right hand.

"You weren't a scout, were you," Ryan chastised as she bent the little finger of Jamie's raised hand down and brought the thumb up to trap it. "You don't even know the pledge!"

"No, I wasn't," she admitted. "We were gone most weekends and that's when they did all the fun stuff. I always wanted to join though. Camping out sounded like so much fun."

She had a wistful, childlike expression on her face and as Ryan bent to give her a light kiss she said, "You'll get all the camping you can stomach on the AIDS Ride. Now let's get inside and warm up!" As they walked in together Ryan thought, for the thousandth time, Don't ever ask her parents for advice on childrearing!

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

As they paused in the foyer Jamie asked, "Drink?"

"Yeah, I'll take whatever you've got. That dancing is dehydrating."

"The way you do it is," Jamie teased as she slipped into the kitchen. Popping out a moment later she questioningly held up a beer and a Pepsi.

"Ahhh, let's go with the beer," Ryan decided. "'Tis as well to hang for a sheep as for a lamb."

"Irish slang?" Jamie asked over her shoulder as she went back into the kitchen to grab one for herself.


Handing Ryan her bottle and adding a kiss she decided, "I like it…a lot."

"Mighty!" Ryan replied with a gleam in her eye, leaning down for another kiss.

"Don't wear it out, O'Flaherty," she warned with a mock scowl as she slipped her hand around Ryan's arm to lead her upstairs.

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

Kicking off her shoes Jamie flopped down onto the loveseat and tried to cross her legs. Ryan stood, hands on hips, as she pointedly gazed at the tight leather dress. "Now you know why cows don't cross their legs," she informed her. "Skin's too tight."

"Very funny," Jamie scowled. "I'll put my pajamas on."

"If you want this discussion to be rational I would highly recommend it," Ryan agreed. But she quickly added, "Unless your pajamas are hotter than that dress."

Heading to the dresser Jamie pulled a sedate pair of black-watch plaid flannel pajamas out for herself and then rifled through the bottom drawer, finally extracting a pair of gray sweatpants and a bright red t-shirt. "Put these on…for your own safety," she warned her grinning partner with a wink.

Minutes later they were both in their night-clothes and they sat on the loveseat to discuss their situation. For a change they weren't sitting particularly close and even more remarkably they weren't touching. Each wanted to make some headway on the issue and both knew that distractions were easy to come by so they silently agreed to keep a polite distance.

"Mind if I lay out the problem as I see it?" Ryan asked when they were both settled.

"No, go ahead, Hon," Jamie agreed, always appreciative of Ryan's analytic mind.

"First we have the big issue—do we just let go and have sex when we can find a private space, or do we make a firm decision to wait until we're both sure we're ready."

"Okay," Jamie started to interrupt but Ryan held her hand up, asking for patience.

"Once we decide on that we then need to find ways to implement the decision and make sure we stick with it. That's the harder part," she stated.

Jamie grinned shyly as she amended, "If we decide to go ahead I don't think we'll have a problem sticking with it."

"Good point," Ryan smiled in return. "One fewer issue. So, how do you want to attack this?"

Slumping down a little further on the cushions Jamie let her head rest upon the back of the loveseat and moaned, "I don't know! I'm just so confused, Ryan." Lifting her head a few inches to be able to make eye contact she plaintively asked, "Do you know what I mean?"

Gently patting her thigh Ryan murmured, "Sure I do, Honey. There are a lot of issues to consider no matter what we do."

"Well, let's get those out first. Then we can make a rational decision."

"Okay," Ryan said, ticking off the points on her fingers. "If we decide to have sex we need a place where we can be alone. But you don't want your roommates to know we're together yet so I guess it has to be somewhere that we could use for a few hours but not stay overnight."

"Gee, that sounds great! Why don't we go to one of those nice places in The Tenderloin?"

"Jamie, we will not be reduced to going to Skid Row," Ryan gently rebuked her. "Come on, stay open-minded."

"I'm sorry, Ryan, I promised to behave," she said with a guilty grin.

"That's better," Ryan said as she patted her leg absently. "Okay, I got ahead of myself a little here. First we need to decide if we're each ready to have sex. If we had a place are you feeling comfortable enough to take that leap?"

"Uuuuuhhhhh," Jamie mumbled. "I uuuhhh…I'm…well it depends…"

"I'll take that as a no," Ryan said patiently. "Look Jamie, this is really about your comfort level. If you're not sure you're ready you're not ready. It's that simple."

"But I am sometimes," she complained. "Like tonight. If we had the opportunity I would have had you right there in the bar!"

"Honey, that's not making a decision," Ryan reminded her. "That's letting your vulva replace your brain."

"Ooo, now that's a pretty image," she giggled, shaking her head at the thought.

"You know perfectly well what I mean, Jamie," Ryan said rather seriously. "We need to be adults about this. I've sworn off sex in cars—I can't go back to that. This is too important to me to be cavalier about." Her deep blue eyes glittered as the warm lamplight hit them and Jamie was terribly moved by how sincere her partner was about protecting their nascent relationship.

"I'm sorry, Honey," she whispered. "It's important to me too. Really it is."

"My take on this is that if you're not sure--all the time--then you're not ready," Ryan opined. "I think we should wait until we both agree on the when and the where."

Much as she hated to agree, Jamie nodded her head slowly. "That makes sense," she agreed. "I…uh…I think I might be trying to avoid responsibility for the decision," she revealed. "Anna thinks that's kind of a pattern."

"Do you think it is?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah. It is. Especially around sex," she decided. "This is just what I did with Jack and it's probably why we waited so long to have sex. I was waiting to be swept away with the emotion, but that's not fair—to you or to me."

"I agree, Honey," Ryan soothed. "So let's move to making sure we can implement our decision…and stick to it."

"That will be the hard part," Jamie agreed. "Any ideas?"

"Yeah," Ryan said quickly. "But I don't like them."

"Tell me," Jamie urged.

"The easiest way is if we see each other less. Fewer opportunities will keep us safer."

"That sucks. What else ya got?"

"We see each other the same amount but we spend less time kissing."

"Sucky idea number two," Jamie declared. "Anything else?"

"No showers?" she asked with a hopeful grin.


"Eat lots of garlic?"

"No. I can't even smell garlic on you. One more example of your perfection," Jamie teased as she tweaked her nose.


"Now there's a good one. How about Cassie?"

"I'd rather skip showers," Ryan said decisively as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"Hmmm, I guess the only thing that makes sense is to kiss less and make sure it doesn't get too hot. But that is kinda counterproductive for me," Jamie mused.

"Counterproductive? How?"

The smaller woman pursed her lips together briefly before she said, "This is really different for me, Ryan. It's a good difference but a difference nonetheless. Kissing you and touching you gets me really, really turned on and that's something that didn't happen much with men. I guess I'm allowing myself to get used to that feeling."

"And not having sex with you allows me to experience what it's like to be turned on and not be satisfied immediately," Ryan informed her. "And as frustrating as that is, I think it's good for me."

"Really?" Jamie asked shyly. "You really think you're learning something from this?"

Ryan grasped her hand and brought it to her lips. She kissed it gently on the palm and held it to her cheek for a moment. "I am, Jamie. I'm learning what it is that I want from sex."

"Tell me, Ryan," she begged.

"I've learned that sex becomes lovemaking when we touch each other not just with out bodies but with our souls. It's lovemaking when I welcome you to touch me in ways no one else ever has or ever will. It's lovemaking when I show you the essence of myself, stripped of pretense and façade. Lovemaking is sharing souls, Jamie. It's profound and poetic, intimate and intense. Nothing less will do when we're together." She trailed her fingers through Jamie's soft blonde hair and smiled as her partner snuggled close. "I've been with many, many, women, Jamie, but I swear I've never made love before," she pledged. "When we share that experience it's going to be a first for both of us."

"That was so beautiful," Jamie whispered as she lifted her head for several achingly tender kisses. "God, you take my breath away." She dropped her head onto Ryan's chest and nuzzled contentedly for a few minutes. "It's gonna be wonderful between us." Lifting her head she gazed right into Ryan's eyes. "I love you, Ryan."

"And I love you, Jamie." They cuddled together on the loveseat for a few minutes, nuzzling their faces into each other's necks, until Jamie sat up and sneezed.

"I'm at a disadvantage here," she complained as she grasped a handful of Ryan's long hair.

"Hand me a scissors," Ryan ordered as she attempted to get up.

"You goof! Sit right back down here and tell me how we're going to control ourselves."

"Okay," she nodded decisively. "I've got a plan. Now, I don't like it, but it's a plan."

"What is it, Ryan?" Jamie asked, concerned about the sour look on her friend's face.

"I volunteer to keep us on the straight and narrow," she said firmly, even though she looked slightly ill.

"Oh, Honey, I can't ask you to do that!"

"You didn't ask," Ryan reminded her. "It's hazardous duty but I think it's only fair that I volunteer."

"Fair? How so?" Jamie asked.

Ryan shifted a little bit and traced her thumb down the baby-soft cheek as she cradled her partner's face in her hand. "This is brand-spanking new for you, Jamie. Even ignoring the same-sex aspect you haven't had much experience in playing with your libido. I want to give you that gift. I promise to do my very best to keep a lid on while you feel free to explore."

The smaller woman sat immobile for a moment, stunned by the overly generous offer. "I…I don't think I can accept, Ryan," she said softly.

"Why?" Ryan asked. "I really think this is the best way."

"It's too unequal," Jamie complained. "I don't want you to be responsible for both of us."

"Jamie," she said as she leaned forward and brushed her forehead with her lips. "I've been unleashing my rabid libido on innocent young women for 6 years," she said with just a touch of hyperbole. "I think it will be good for me to learn a little restraint. Please let me give you this gift."

The fair-haired woman sat quietly for a moment, considering the offer carefully. "Are you really certain that you won't resent me?" she asked.

"I'm positive. This gift is freely given. I'll do my best to let you explore but if it gets too hard I'll let you know. You just have to promise to pull back if I tell you to."

"Hmm, that might be tough," Jamie laughed. "But if you can offer nearly a mile I can go the last few feet."

"Deal," Ryan said happily. She got up and walked over to the bed, flopping down on the surface as she spread her arms and legs wide. "Whenever you're ready," she offered, pulling her head up to make eye contact.

"Get back over here, Goofball," Jamie laughed. "We're not done."

"Boy, you sure do know how to take the fun out of an offer," Ryan joked. As she got up and settled herself on the loveseat once again she asked, "What else?"

"I'm sure this isn't an open ended offer," Jamie said as she wiggled her eyebrows. "I mean, you wouldn't want to do this for a year would you?"

"Aaaah, no," Ryan agreed immediately. "I'd be ready for the asylum."

"So we need to make some progress on our end-date."

"You mean our beginning date," Ryan corrected gently.

"Precisely," Jamie agreed. "Tell me your thoughts."

"I think I could muster some enthusiasm for just about any date you might pick," Ryan said thoughtfully, blue eyes twinkling. "How about you?"

"Okay," Jamie said as she considered the request. "I guess I'm pretty close right now. I'm still nervous and all but I think you could help me through that. But I want to wait until we can make it special. I've promised myself that, Ryan, and I don't want to go back on that promise."

"Tell me about that," Ryan urged as she draped her arm around her partner and pulled her close. "Tell me about your dreams."

"Well, I have this…um…fantasy…about the first time we really make love," she blushed. "We're in a special place and we spend hours just touching and kissing and touching some more. I want to touch and kiss every little part of you, one inch at a time. That's what lovemaking feels like to me."

"That's what it feels like to me too, Jamie. That's exactly it! And I agree that we need to wait until we have that special place."

"It's more than just the place," she reminded her. "I need time too. Unstructured time, with no interruptions. I want you and your beautiful body to be the only thing on my mind," she insisted.

"We can do this, Hon, I swear we will. But I think we've got to wait until finals are over, no matter what. If we don't I'm gonna see chemical formulas imprinted on your beautiful little body!"

"Okay," Jamie chuckled. "We'll revisit the issue after finals."

"Deal," Ryan said, extending her hand.

Jamie shook it firmly, pronouncing, "We make a good team, Ms. O'Flaherty."

"The best, Ms. Evans."

"Bed?" Jamie asked with a smile as she got up she extended a hand to her partner. "I left a new toothbrush out for you."

"Excellent. Be back in a minute."

After Ryan spent her normal five minutes brushing and flossing every surface of her enamel she went back into the room, pleased to see Jamie in bed already. "Boy, you look good in a horizontal position," she said with a cute little grin. "What a wonderful sight to look forward to for the rest of my life."

"I bet you say that to all the girls," she teased, blushing a little at the compliment.

"Uh-uh, Jamie," Ryan said with a completely serious expression. "I've never told anyone that I wanted to see them every night for the rest of the month, much less my life. I don't tease about the commitment I'm making to you."

"Oh, Honey, I'm sorry," she said sincerely. "I was just teasing but I'll be more careful in the future. I know you're sensitive about this."

"It's okay," she said quickly. "I know you didn't mean anything by it."

"Come here and let me apologize more convincingly," Jamie beckoned, jerking her head towards Ryan's side of the bed.

Ryan hopped in and they fidgeted around for a minute trying to lay the ground rules for sleep. "How do you like to sleep?" Ryan inquired. "Side, back, tummy?"

"I'm very versatile," she replied. "I can sleep just about any way I fall. But I tend to wake up most often on my side. How about you?"

"When I sleep alone I curl up in the fetal position," she said with a laugh. "I take up about a quarter of my bed at home. But when I sleep with someone I'm usually on my back or side. I think the only time I've slept on my tummy was when you gave me that great massage on St. Patrick's Day."

"Why do you sleep differently with people?"

"I'm usually the larger person and people tend to cuddle up to me. It's apparently one of the perks of having a big girlfriend. And it's pretty comfortable to have someone curled up against my side with their head on my shoulder or chest."

"Like this?" Jamie asked as she snuggled up tight against her side.

"Exactly. Feels good, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," she said softly.

Ryan remembered one major item as she said; "We didn't discuss which side of the bed you want. Any preference?"

"I don't think so. You?"

"No, not really. Which side did Jack sleep on?"

"My left," she said immediately. "Always my left."

"Excellent," Ryan declared, already in the correct position. "New administration. New side."

"As long as we're trying new things why don't I lie on my back and you can put your head on me?"

"Okey dokey," Ryan replied, knowing this experiment would be short-lived. She snuggled up against her smaller partner's right side and gently laid her head just above her breast.

"Ohhh, this feels nice," Jamie said, happy that she had suggested the arrangement. She could run her fingers through the dark hair, and Ryan's fresh clean smell wafted up to fill her senses. "You've been hogging the good position," she gently chided.

"Well I like it down here, too," Ryan happily agreed. "I feel all safe and warm, just like I'm in a snug little cocoon. I've been missing a lot up there."

They were quiet for a few moments and Ryan was nearly asleep when she heard the soft voice say, "Um…my arm's falling asleep."

"Okay, I'll move a little farther in." Now her head was nearly on Jamie's sternum, but that obviously wasn't going to work as she heard her labored breathing. Finally she rolled onto her back and held her arm open, smiling to herself as her grateful partner climbed into her embrace.

"Remind me to start following your advice to start with," she said sleepily as she tossed both an arm and a leg across Ryan's body.

"Mmmm, trapped like a rat," Ryan mused. "Just like I like it."


Chapter 4

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