I Found My Heart in San Francisco

Book 5: Entwined

By S X Meagher


See Part 1

Part 13

As soon as Ryan returned from her team run on Wednesday morning she was on the phone with her old school, trying to schedule an appointment with the principal.

"Any luck?" Jamie asked as she hung up.

"Yeah, but not until tomorrow. I hate to drive back across the bridge in morning traffic, but I need to talk to her as soon as possible."

"I’ve got an idea," Jamie said.

"What’s that, Love?"

"I’m going over to help Colm this afternoon, and I figured that as long as I was on that side of the bay, I might ask Mother to dinner. She’s leaving for Rhode Island on Friday, you know."

"Nope. Had no idea." Ryan tossed her feet onto the floor and stood to do some stretching.

Jamie watched her bare body contort for a few minutes, finding that her train of thought had abruptly left the station.

"You were saying?" Ryan prompted, knowing that her partner was a sucker for her stretching routine.

"Oh, right. Umm…" she fumbled, trying to recall what in the heck she had been talking about. "Oh! I got it!" she said proudly. "Mother goes to Rhode Island for the entire month of August to see her extended family. I’m sure I’ve told you that."

"Honey, your mother is always going somewhere. I’m sure I haven’t learned her schedule yet."

"Well, this trip is a given," Jamie declared. "I just thought that it would be nice to have a little sendoff for her. She’s been so extraordinarily nice to us since I came out to her."

"Hey," Ryan said softly, sitting on the bed next to her partner. "I’m happy to go, Babe. Just tell me where and when."

"I’m meeting Colm at two, so why don’t you come over to Niall’s when you’re finished with work. Then we can stay over at your house and be close to your appointment."

"Sounds like a plan," Ryan agreed. "I’ll look forward to escorting the lovely Evans women tonight."

* * * * * * * * * * *

They decided on Zuni Cafe since it was close to the freeway and not too far from Ryan’s. After they were settled with a nice bottle of wine and a large bottle of mineral water for Ryan, Catherine thanked them for inviting her, and spent a few minutes praising how lovely each young woman looked.

The older woman seemed to know a lot about food, and she made several comments on the menu while they perused it. Calling the server over, she asked some pointed questions about the origin of the oysters, what type of parmagianno cheese was used on the Caesar salad, and other details that were far over Ryan’s head. When all of her questions had been answered, Catherine asked if they minded if she ordered for them. Ryan was glad for any help, so she readily accepted the offer. Jamie smiled and also assented.

The menu was not overly large, and Ryan noted with surprise that Catherine ordered every appetizer on the menu. "That’s one way to avoid having to make the tough decisions," Ryan laughed.

"I’ve noticed that you seem to have a very healthy appetite, Ryan," Catherine smiled in return. "I want to make sure that you don’t leave hungry."

"That rarely happens, Mother," Jamie informed her. "She invariably steals at least a quarter of my entrée."

"It’s my duty!" Ryan soberly informed her companions. "I’m a charter member of the ‘Clean Plate Club’."

While the younger women devoured their large entrees, Catherine nibbled on a small caviar appetizer that could not have satisfied even Caitlin’s tiny stomach. However, as she seemed perfectly content with her choice, neither woman commented. "Ryan," she said when the entrees were cleared from the table, "are you aware of my annual pilgrimage to Newport to visit my family?"

She nodded briefly, "Yes, Jamie’s told me that you go for a month every year. Is this your mother’s or father’s family, Catherine?"

"Mother’s," she said. "My father’s family has been in California since the Gold Rush."

Mine’s been here since the Summer of Love, Ryan thought, but she wasn’t sure how Catherine would get her joke, so she kept her thought to herself.

"I know this is sudden," Catherine said, showing a little hesitation, "but this year I wanted to see if Jamie would accompany me for part of the time."

Jamie had never felt quite as trapped as she did at that moment. Her mother was being more connected and more understanding about her situation than she could have ever dreamed possible, and she was being extremely cordial to Ryan. To say no would be callous and disloyal, but she would honestly rather go over Niagara Falls in a barrel than spend a month with her tedious relatives. Her face must have reflected her feelings because Catherine said, "If you’re terribly opposed, don’t give it another moment’s thought, Dear." But even in this short exchange, she could see the disappointment register in the deep brown eyes.

"No, no, it’s not that," she hastened to explain, even though it was. "I just don’t know if we can work it out. School starts early this year and I have my golf tryouts..."

Ryan, always helpful, interjected, "We’ve got most of August free, Honey. School doesn’t start until August 23, remember?"

"Thanks, Hon," she said with a rigid smile. "Well, I guess that settles it then," she added. "When would you like me?"

"Any time you can spare would be wonderful, Dear. Why don’t you two discuss it, and call me in Rhode Island?"

"Okay," Jamie agreed. "But I can only spare a week," she declared. "Even at that I don’t know if it’ll be bearable to be around me." At her mother’s questioning glance she explained, "It’s hard for me to go play golf without her."

As she reached over and grasped her lover’s hand, they shared a terribly tender smile that caused Catherine to say, "It didn’t dawn on me that a short separation would be hard for you both. I don’t want to cause any discomfort, girls. We can do this another time."

"No," Ryan said firmly. "I think it would be good for you two to have some time together. And Jamie and I can see if absence truly does make the heart grow fonder."

Jamie smiled gently at her partner and said, "There are limits to everything, Sweetheart; I could not possibly be any fonder of you."

Ryan didn’t reply verbally, but her love-filled eyes spoke volumes. It was actually a little too intimate for Catherine to witness, so she called the waiter over and asked for the dessert cart. Just as she suspected, once Ryan had a dazzling array of sweets in front of her, she broke the tender exchange and got down to the business of eating.

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

"Did you realize that your father was home, Jamie?" Catherine asked casually as they sipped their after-dinner coffee.

"Yes, I assumed he was," she said quietly, her eyes fixed on her folded hands.

Catherine placed her hand atop Jamie’s and gazed at her daughter until the green lifted eyes to meet hers. "I understand this is hard for you, Jamie, and I’m not asking you to do anything you aren’t ready to do. I just want to remind you that your father has far too much pride for his own good. You might have to make the first step to re-establish contact."

Jamie nodded, acknowledging that she would have to be the one to approach her father. "I don’t mind that so much, Mother. I mean, it’s what I’m used to."

Catherine felt a great deal of empathy for her daughter, knowing that the young girl had always had to go the extra step to stay in her father’s good graces. It wasn’t that Jim was irrational, in fact, it usually took quite a lot to anger him. But he had a very difficult time saying that he was sorry, and Jamie usually gave in before he did. "I know that’s true, Jamie," she said softly. "I wish it wasn’t always so, but I don’t think he’ll change at this point."

"It’s not that I won’t apologize, Mother," she said. "I was very touchy when we spoke, and I did react badly. I just worry that this will happen again and again. I wish I knew how to get past the entire issue." She looked very frustrated, and Catherine was considering how best to reassure Jamie when Ryan’s hand went to her face and softly stroked her cheek. The gesture was small, almost insignificant, but when Jamie looked up into Ryan’s striking blue eyes, Catherine watched in amazement as her frown disappeared, immediately replaced by a small grin filled with affection.

"I’ll get involved if you wish, Jamie. I hope you know that," Catherine assured her.

"I know, Mother," she said, "and I appreciate it. But I think I have to work this out on my own." She shook her head in frustration and ran her hand through her hair. "I know I have my work cut out for me in order to convince him that I’m an adult, but it just annoys me that he insists on keeping me in the dark!"

"Tell me how you mean that, Dear?"

"He won’t even give me a copy of my trust agreement, Mother," she complained. "He seems to think that I should be satisfied with him making my decisions for me, but I can’t!"

"Jamie," Catherine soothed, "haven’t you learned that confronting your father directly never works? Go around him, Dear," she urged.


"You haven’t been to the bank in years, Dear. Why not drop by to say hello to Tuck and get a copy of your agreement that you have misplaced?"

"But I didn’t mis…" Jamie started to say, but stopped short when she caught the twinkle in her mother’s eyes. "That’s very devious, Mother," she laughed.

"Devious, perhaps," Catherine admitted, "but also efficient. Why go through the wall when you can go around it, Dear?"

I like this woman more and more, Ryan mused, watching mother and daughter as they shared a laugh.

* * * * * * * * * * *

It wasn’t very late when their server cleared all of the plates from the table, and it quickly became clear that Catherine didn’t want to go home. She had already offered after-dinner drinks, but neither Jamie nor Ryan was in the mood for any more alcohol. Signaling the server, Catherine said, "I’d like another espresso, can I convince either of you to join me?"

Ryan realized that she was merely trying to extend the evening, so she relented. "I’d love to Catherine, but I need a decaf if I’m going to get to sleep."

She nodded and gave the order to the server, and since they were going to be there for a while, Jamie figured it was a good time to bring up the topic that had been in the back of her mind for several weeks. "You know, Mother, one of the reasons that I want the trust agreement is so that I can ascertain how to receive the 25% distribution that I was entitled to upon my 21st birthday."

Catherine paused, her body language revealing nothing of her feelings about this declaration. The server was on his way with the coffee, and she waited until he departed to ask, "Why now, Jamie? I thought you were happy to leave the money in place until you had some definite plan for it."

"I did," she agreed. "But Ryan’s showed me how to look at my statements more carefully, and I’ve found that I’m unhappy with the performance of the fund. I could do as well in a savings account, Mother, and that’s just ridiculous in this market."

"Do you need more money, Jamie? I’m sure we could raise your monthly allowance now that Ryan…"

"No, no," Jamie interrupted. "I have plenty of money. But eventually Ryan and I want to use our money to start a charitable foundation of some sort. The more I can earn, the more we’ll be able to give away."

Catherine smiled at her daughter and said, "I wish I could say that your great-great-grandfather would be proud of you for that, but in truth he would turn over in his grave to think that you were planning on giving his hard-earned money away."

Looking at her mother with careful regard, Jamie asked, "What about you, Mother? Your opinion means more to me than that of a long-dead relative."

Giving her daughter an identical stare, Catherine smiled and replied, "I’m always proud of you, Jamie. I think it’s a fabulous idea if you can distribute some of this money during your life. I guarantee that you won’t get any support from the extended family, but you’ll have my complete approval."

Jamie laughed, her eyes crinkling up in their usual fashion. "Oh, Mother, you and the rest of the family give scads of money away!"

"Oh, we give money to our favorite charities, and to all of the major cultural institutions, but that’s just to keep our way of life intact. As much as I love the opera and the symphony, I never delude myself into thinking that I’m significantly changing anyone’s life by supporting them." She sounded so bitter and self-deprecating that Ryan nearly asked her why she continued to behave this way if she had so little regard for it. But she didn’t yet know Catherine well enough to question her choices, so she held her tongue.

"I think your support of the arts is very important, Mother," Jamie insisted. "Music and dance and art have a very meaningful impact on people. Don’t diminish that."

Fixing her daughter with her velvety brown eyes, Catherine asked, "Is that how you want to distribute your money, Dear?"

Jamie was silent for a moment, staring at her folded hands while she tried to think of a graceful way to answer that question. "No, it’s not, but not because it’s not important. I’d like to do something to help individuals with quality of life issues…things like housing and even medical care for people who don’t qualify for other programs."

Catherine nodded, took a sip of her espresso, and murmured, "That’s what I expected, Jamie. I don’t think you’ll ever spend your days going from one charity luncheon to the next, talking to a group of people who care far more about who is wearing what than actually helping others."

Giving her mother a very compassionate look, Jamie insisted, "You don’t have to do that either, Mother. You could really make a difference in people’s lives."

"Oh, Jamie, I’m not unhappy with my life," Catherine insisted, a touch too enthusiastically to be believed. "No, I’ve found my place in this world, and it suits me perfectly. I just don’t think it would suit you." She pasted on a bright smile and said, "Now back to your request. If you truly feel that you’re ready to start managing your own money, I have no problem with you taking your distribution now. Would you like me to talk to your father before I go?"

"No, I think I should do that myself," Jamie said. "I’ll try to patch things up with Daddy, and then talk to him about the distribution later. I’m not in a big rush."

"That’s fine, Dear," Catherine said. "Feel free to tell him that we’ve spoken already if that helps your cause."

What odd ways these people have of communicating, Ryan thought. It’s like they form little alliances. I hope to God we never fall into this…it would kill me to think our kids couldn’t talk to both of us together.

Both Jamie and Ryan looked like they were about to fall asleep by this time, and Catherine signaled the server for their bill. "I’m tired myself," she announced. "I think I’ll go stay at the apartment."

Warning bells went off in Ryan’s head, and she tried to think of a way to prevent Catherine from getting a very unwelcome surprise. "Is Jim staying in the city tonight?"

"Yes, Dear, he is. He said he had a conference call at three a.m. He often stays here when he has that type of thing to attend to."

"Does he know you’re coming?" Ryan asked, her mouth moving faster than her brain.

Catherine gave her a puzzled look, but answered anyway, "No, Dear, he doesn’t."

"You’d better call first," Ryan said, now forcing her brain to think of a reason why Catherine should call. Finally, it came to her, and she blurted out, "Jamie says he entertains clients there. You wouldn’t want to interrupt a business meeting."

Catherine’s puzzled look remained, but she nodded and fished in her purse for her small cell phone. "That’s a good idea, Ryan. Thank you for suggesting it." She speed dialed the number, waiting patiently for an answer. "Hello Jim," she said, obviously to an answering machine. "I thought I’d come stay at the apartment with you tonight. I’ll be over in a few…Oh, hello," she said, after Jim must have picked up. "No, no special reason. I was in the city having dinner with Jamie and Ryan, and I just thought…no, I understand, Dear. Don’t give it another thought. Will I see you tomorrow? Oh, I see," she said, her eyes betraying her disappointment. "Well, I suppose I’ll see you when I return from Rhode Island then. Take care, Dear. Goodnight."

Giving Ryan a half smile she placed the phone back into her purse. "Thanks for the suggestion, Ryan. He was involved in a meeting at his apartment. I’ll just head home."

"Are you sure, Mother? You could stay at the Palace." Jamie knew that the luxurious old hotel was one of her mother’s favorites, and she assumed that she might like to spend the evening there to avoid the long drive to Hillsborough.

"No, no, it’s no bother. I just thought it would be fun to stay in the city and see your father. He’s been gone so much lately, and with me leaving for Rhode Island…" She trailed off, looking sadder than Ryan could stand to see. "Oh well, we’ve had longer separations than a month," she said blithely. "It’s nothing in the greater scheme of things."

Please, oh please, never, ever let me say that about Jamie! Ryan thought, as they all rose to fetch their cars.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The next morning, Ryan was too anxious to eat breakfast immediately, so they decided to head down to Union Street for a cup of coffee if they had time. Sitting outside on the warm summer day, Jamie couldn’t help but notice the lines of stress on Ryan’s face. She had her darkest sunglasses on, concealing her eyes, but small lines of tension were etched into her forehead, and an unusual tautness around her mouth revealed just how anxious she was.

"This is really tough for you, isn’t it?" she asked, her voice full of sympathy. Ryan’s hand was resting on the small metal café table, and Jamie covered it with her own.

"Yeah." Her head nodded slightly, a stoic mask covering her usually expressive features. "I’ve been upset about Sister’s role ever since Coach Ratzinger told me that she allowed me to be the sacrificial lamb, but what Father Pender told me is just too much."

"Were you close to her, Ryan?"

Jamie’s question was simple, and it merited a simple answer, but Ryan knew that she couldn’t give her one. "I’m not sure how to answer that, Jamie," she said quietly. "I really thought that I could rely on her, and I believed in her…it’s…it’s really hard for me to think she spread the rumors about me."

"Did you spend much time with her?" Jamie had spent a grand total of ten minutes with the headmaster of her prep school, and it puzzled her to think that Ryan would have had much of a relationship with this woman.

A small, wry laugh preceded Ryan’s reply. "Yeah…I’d say we spent more time together than she wished." At Jamie’s confused look, she continued. "You have to stop and think of who I was, and what my school was," she reminded her partner. "I was not from the poorest family, but I was definitely in the bottom five," she laughed. "Most of the girls were from very wealthy, very socially connected families, and in many ways I stuck out like a sore thumb. I mean, I wasn’t only working class, I was basically an immigrant."

Jamie laughed at this description, disputing its accuracy. "That’s a little strong, Honey."

"No it’s not," Ryan insisted. "I wasn’t who I am now, Jamie. I was raised in a very isolated, protected environment. All of my relatives are from Ireland, and in some ways, we really keep to ourselves, along with the other people from our neighborhood and our parish. I wasn’t exposed to much diversity. I was in Sister’s office every third day, asking her about one thing or another." Ryan’s face took on a sad look as she added, "Or crying about some bit of teasing or an unkind remark."

"You were teased because you didn’t have money?"

Ryan nodded. "Partly that, and partly because I just didn’t seem like the other kids. I mean, Jamie, you’ve got to remember that I spoke with an Irish accent, I didn’t watch MTV, I didn’t know any of the current songs…I really was like an immigrant."

Jamie shook her head, thinking of a young Ryan, struggling to fit in amongst her new classmates. "I don’t think I realized you spoke with an accent. I thought most kids spoke like their friends."

"Don’t forget that I spent every summer with my family in Ireland. I wanted to fit in over there, so I spoke like them when I was with them. It usually got less pronounced as the school year went on, but when I started at Sacred Heart I had just come back, and I’m sure I sounded like I just stepped off the boat."

"So this woman helped you through some of those hard times?" Jamie asked.

"Yeah. She really did. We kinda became buddies," Ryan said wistfully. "I trusted her."

Jamie knew that few things were as precious to Ryan as trust, and she also realized that few things wounded her more deeply than betrayal. "I’m sorry this is so hard for you, Ryan," she said softly, lacing their fingers together and giving Ryan’s hand a squeeze.

"I know you are, Honey. It really helps to have you here with me."

"Do you want me to go in with you to see her? Or would you feel more comfortable talking to her alone?"

Her dark head dropped a few degrees, and shy blue eyes peeked out through her long bangs. "Would you be willing to hang out in the library while I talk to her? I’d like you to be close in case I need you."

"Honey, I’d do anything for you, I hope you know that. I’ll stay as close to you as you need."

"That might make Sister a little uncomfortable," Ryan laughed. "I think the library is a safer bet."

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

As her fingers curled to rap upon the door of the office she had entered so many times, Ryan cast a puzzled glance down at the strong, defined hand of an adult. She shook her head briskly, reminding herself that she was no longer an innocent, young seventeen-year-old. Taking a breath, she knocked on the heavy wooden door, then heard the reply, "Come in."

Stepping into the room Ryan was again transported back six years, amazed that the office looked almost exactly like it had the last time she had entered, and that the woman she gazed at had changed just as little. With a smile she recalled her Aunt Maeve’s motto that: after sixty, change comes slowly to a woman’s face.

Sister Mary Magdalene was a good deal more than sixty, Ryan knew, guessing that her former principal was at least 75 years old now. She was past the usual retirement age even when Ryan was in school, but Ryan had never heard a soul say that she was too old for the job. She had been the principal at Sacred Heart for almost thirty years, and had taught biology for ten years before that--long enough to have been on the job when some of the current girls’ mothers or even grandmothers had been in attendance. Taking the school from the troubled days of the sixties up to the current time was an enormous accomplishment, Ryan knew, and even today Sister showed no signs of age getting the better of her. "Ryan," she said with genuine fondness, coming around to the side of her desk to grasp Ryan’s hand and squeeze her shoulder with her other hand. "It’s marvelous to see you." Her eyes reflected her pleasure, and Ryan couldn’t help but return her infectious smile.

When the older woman gestured towards a chair, Ryan sat down, finding that her posture was stiff in the rigid leather seat.

"That chair seems to have shrunk a bit, doesn’t it?" Sister laughed gently. "That’s odd, since mine seems to have grown." When Ryan gave her another studied glance, she noticed that Sister looked a bit smaller than she had six years ago. She still looked vital and healthy, but the signs of her age were a little more obvious now.

"I think you look great, Sister," Ryan said, meaning it sincerely.

The older woman folded her hands neatly on her desk, her pressed navy blue blazer exposing starched white cuffs. She had stopped wearing the traditional habit of her order almost 35 years earlier, but a navy blue or black suit with a below-the-knee skirt had taken its place immediately. The only real change to her attire was the elimination of the elaborate headpiece that she had worn as a young religious, and that was an item of clothing that she was more than glad to discard. "Your name has been popping up with startling frequency, Ryan," she said forthrightly. "I assumed I was next on your list of interviews."

Her directness startled Ryan, but when she thought about it for a moment, she realized that had always been Sister’s style. "So we can do away with the preliminaries?" she asked, just as directly.

"No, I don’t think that’s wise," she said. "First I want to apologize to you."

Ryan cocked her head, waiting for the older woman to continue.

"After I spoke with Ms. Ratzinger, I spent a good amount of time and prayer thinking about what had happened with you, Ryan, and I realized that my actions were wrong-headed and hurtful to you. I know it’s too late to make an impact now, but I want to admit to my failings. I’m truly sorry, Ryan," she said softly, making eye contact with her young visitor.

"Why did you do it, Sister?" she asked, desperate to find out why this once-trusted mentor had so badly betrayed her.

The older woman shook her head, thinking back to the time in question. "I wasn’t looking at the entire picture, Ryan. I allowed myself to look at the issue with a very narrow focus. To me, it was a group of girls who no longer trusted one another. Some very vocal people wanted you off that team, and I honestly thought it would be better for everyone concerned if you just walked away. I knew soccer was important to you, but I had no idea that the coach at Cal would withdraw her scholarship offer just because you didn’t play during your senior year. I just didn’t understand the gravity of the situation."

Ryan was shaking her head the entire time the older woman was talking. Her brow was furrowed and she seemed very impatient, finally speaking as soon as Sister finished her sentence. "I think I understand what happened about the team, Sister. What I want to know is why you told other people about what happened between Sara and me." Her eyes were glowing with a determined fire, and the older woman blinked slowly, startled by their white-hot intensity.

"Told…told…why, Ryan, I swear I told no one! I would never do that!"

This was the first time in Ryan’s history with the sister that she had ever seen her stunned. Her normal, implacable features were askew with the surprise she felt, and Ryan was quite disconcerted by the display. "Sister, that’s what everyone tells me. But then they think about it, and they remember that they told just one person that they thought was safe. Either someone else is lying to me, or you told someone."

The sister shook her head gravely, a determined look now filling her eyes. "No, Ryan. I told no one. I would never spread a rumor about a girl, particularly not someone I was so fond of. I admit I made a grievous mistake with you, but I did not betray you, Ryan."

"Then who did!!" Ryan was beyond frustration at this point, and her voice was much louder than she intended it to be. She scrubbed at her face with her hands, trying to get her mind around the ever-widening circles of lies or half-truths that someone was spinning.

"I can’t tell you that, Ryan. I don’t know who would have done it. I can only swear to you that it was not me."

* * * * * * * * * * *

When Ryan shuffled listlessly into the library, Jamie immediately knew that she had not received the satisfaction she had sought from her conversation. They spent the next 15 minutes talking over what Sister had related, finally agreeing that someone was lying, but not knowing how to determine who that someone was. "How much do you think lie detector tests for everyone would cost?" Ryan asked, only partially kidding.

"I have no idea, but I’ll gladly pay for them," Jamie offered, willing to go to any expense to ease her partner’s mind.

"Shit!" Ryan stood and kicked at the heavy study table. "Maybe I don’t really want to know. Somebody that I trusted screwed me over, and then continues to lie about it six years later. Maybe I should just put it away and try to act like it didn’t happen."

Jamie gazed up at her for a moment, seeing the roiling emotions reflected in her deep blue eyes. "Can you do that, Honey? I know you’d like to have a cordial relationship with Sara and her mother and Father Pender. Can you do that if you know that one of them might have betrayed you?"

Ryan flopped down into the wooden chair, dropping her head onto her arms. "I don’t know. Maybe I can…" She trailed off, knowing that it would be a difficult task, but not knowing what else to do.

Jamie rubbed her back for a moment, then got to her feet when Ryan did. They linked hands and started to leave the building when Jamie was struck by a thought. "This is a school, right?" she asked, her eyes flickering with an idea.


"What schools do best is make notes. There might be a note of some kind in your record that would mention the talk with Father Pender, or there might be something saying that Sister told the school counselor, or someone! Come on," Jamie dragged her out through the doors, towards the principal’s office. "We’ve got one more stone to overturn."

* * * * * * * * * * *

15 minutes later, the two young women were poring over the record of Ryan’s years at the Convent of the Sacred Heart. As Jamie suspected, the vast majority of notes in the file had to do with scholastic honors, requests from various college coaches to attend a game to watch Ryan play, and other routine paperwork. Pulling out a score sheet from a standardized I.Q. test, Jamie read the score at the top right-hand corner and flipped it to her partner, "That’s just sick," she said with a disgusted shake of her head.

"I.Q. tests are not very representative of people’s intelligence, Jamie," she insisted, not bothering to look at the number.

"Uh-huh, tell that to somebody who’s gullible, Babe," she breezily scoffed. She continued to whip through the large file until suddenly her hands stilled on a neatly typed 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. Without a word, she handed it to her partner, and watched as Ryan’s eyes darted across the words.

"Well, fuck me," she mumbled, getting to her feet to knock once again on the door to Sister Mary Magdalene’s office.

* * * * * * * * * * *

This time Ryan was only inside for five minutes, but in that short time Jamie nearly wore a path in the carpet, pacing back and forth outside the closed door. When the door finally opened, Jamie was surprised to see an elderly woman holding Ryan in a fond hug. "Goodbye, Sister," she heard her partner say. "Thanks for helping me clear this all up."

"Goodbye, Ryan," the older woman said, in a clear, full voice that belied her age. "I wasn’t much help, but I’m glad that you feel better. Keep in touch, won’t you?"

"I’ll try to, Sister," she said, stepping into the outer office and grabbing Jamie in an emotion-filled hug. The door closed softly behind them, and it was all Jamie could do to keep her feet on the floor against the power of Ryan’s embrace.

"Good news?" she gasped, nearly all of her breath squeezed from her lungs.

"The best!" Ryan’s smile was enormous, and Jamie couldn’t help but mirror it, even though she didn’t know why they were smiling. "Nobody that I trusted screwed me, Babe!"

"Huh? How can that be, Honey? That note…"

"Yes, that note was about the talk Sister had with Father Pender. She wanted a note in the file just for her own records."

"But it was typed…"

"Yes, yes!" Ryan cried. "That’s who did it!"

She was still so excited that she could hardly talk, but Jamie had to know what was going on, so she directed Ryan to a bench in the long, empty hallway and instructed, "Breathe, Baby. Calm down a little bit and tell me exactly what happened."

Ryan closed her eyes and took some deep, calming breaths, finally, nodding to show she was calm. "Okay. Sister took notes, and she put them in my file. Because they were confidential, she didn’t want them typed. But her secretary took the file from her desk, and typed them up. That’s why the original was clipped to the back. There was a little sticky note that said, "For your review," attached to the letter, but Sister obviously never saw it. The file got put away, so she didn’t know that her secretary had seen the note!"

Ryan still looked so happy that her face must have hurt, but Jamie didn’t see how this solved anything. "I still don’t get it, Babe. Are you saying that the secretary was the one who told? Are you sure?"

Ryan’s arms crossed over her chest, and she nodded solemnly. "I’m positive. Not much of a deduction when the secretary was none other than Tammy Anderson’s mother!"

"Was she one of the girls on your team?"

Ryan nodded, a smirk on her face. "She was the all-star bitch, who was also a relatively poor back-up goalie." Her dark eyebrows twitched and the light went on for Jamie.

"Her mother told her, and she told the other girls so that she could force you off the team??"

A confident nod was Ryan’s reply. "I’d bet the farm on it."

"But that still doesn’t make sense, Honey," Jamie said, even though she hated to dampen Ryan’s ebullient mood.

"What doesn’t?"

"Why would your teammates believe her? It just seems hard to fathom that they would ignore what they knew about you."

"No it doesn’t," Ryan said confidently. "Tammy was actually more popular with the girls who were left on the team at that point. They liked me as a player, but my friends had all graduated the year before. I didn’t have any buddies left by that time. For all of her faults, Tammy was really the leader of that clique. It’s not hard at all for me to imagine that the other players would believe her–especially if she told them that her mom had learned the info from Sister Mary Magdalene."

"What does Sister think?" Jamie asked, assuming that she knew the parties involved quite well.

"She thinks it makes perfect sense," Ryan advised. "I got the impression she isn’t a big fan of young Ms. Anderson’s. I think that’s the closest Sister Mary Magdalene has come to cussing in a long while. She was just about purple with anger."

"I’m really glad that you think you’ve found out who was behind this," Jamie said. "I’m just not looking forward to confronting two more people!"

Ryan shook her head and got to her feet, extending her hand to lift Jamie to hers. "Nope. We are finished, Babe. I’ve got all the answers I need."

"Huh? But I thought…"

"Jamie," she explained. "I only hurt this bad because I thought someone I loved or trusted had screwed me over. The fact that some prissy little snot tried to ruin my life doesn’t bother me much! In fact, if she was here right now, I’d kiss her!"

Jamie beamed a smile up at her partner, tremendously relieved that her angst had been resolved. "I’m here," she said softly, batting her eyes at her partner.

"That you are," Ryan grinned, and proceeded to kiss her senseless.

* * * * * * * * * * *

By the time they returned to Berkeley, Ryan’s mood was lighter than it had been in weeks, and Jamie was grateful to see the lines of tension completely disappear from her face. That night they went to bed early once again, with Ryan falling asleep almost immediately, a sweet, innocent smile on her lovely features.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Continued in Part 14

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