Chapter Fifteen: A Weekend From Hell



The phone rang and Samantha picked it up. "Hello?"

"Hi-ya, Sam, how’s tricks?"

"Hi, Dusty, I’m great. It’s good to hear from you. One of these days soon, we have to get together so I can tell you everything that’s been happening."

"How about this weekend? Your mother asked if Roy and I would like to spend the weekend at the cabin with her and your dad. Roy couldn’t turn down an offer like that from the Boss’ wife. Anyway, your mom asked me to call and invite you to come too." She paused. "I think she thought that I would have a better chance of getting you to say yes."

"Thanks for the warning, Dusty. I owe you one."

"Does that mean you’re not coming? It sure would be a lot more fun if you come. We’re Driving up Friday night, so we won’t waste part of Saturday. Come on, Sam, it should be fun, and you'll get a chance to meet Roy. Whatdaya say?"

"I Would love to meet Roy, Dusty, but I already have plans this weekend."

"Maybe you should change your plans kiddo. I'm not supposed to tell you this, but she's planing a surprise birthday party for you."

"Oh God, Dusty, she knows I hate surprise parties." Samantha shook her head. "That's why she hasn't given me one in the last five years. I finally convinced her that I really didn't want her to invite everyone, and their dog, to my party. I didn't even know half the people she would invite. Why would she do that? Never mind, I know why she did it. She just loved to have parties, and she invited all her friends, whether they knew me or not. Made me hate to even think about my birthday."

"Well, yes, but this one is small, not like the one's she used to give when you were a kid."

"My plans are pretty firm, Dusty, but I'll think about it. Even if I don't see you this weekend, we'll get together real soon. I really do have something important I want to tell you."

"Can't you tell me now?"

"No, I want to tell you in person." Samantha said. "But don't worry, it's nothing bad. In fact, it's very good."

"Okay, Sam, but make it real soon. I’m dying to get all the details. And if you change your mind and decide to go, give me a call and you can ride up with Roy and me. No sense taking so may cars."

"Soon, I promise. Talk to you later." Samantha hung up the phone and just sat there. How am I going to tell Mom no, she thought.


It had only been an hour since she had talked to Dusty when a knock came at Samantha's door. She peeked through the peep-hole and saw her mother waiting to be admitted. She didn't waste any time, Samantha thought. I bet she started over here as soon as Dusty told her I had plans. Samantha opened the door and greeted her mother with a smile, which hid the nervousness she felt. "Mom, what a surprise." She opened the door wide to invite her mother in.

Sarah McBride gave her daughter a quick peck on the cheek and breezed past her into the small room. Looking around the cluttered little apartment with disdain, she remembered the only extra seat in the place was the bed. "I don’t understand why you prefer this hovel to your place at home."

"Let’s not get into that again, Mother. I like being on my own, and this is what I can afford."

Samantha closed the door and crossed to her chair, pulling it over for her mother to sit on. "Please, Mom, sit down." Walking towards the kitchen she asked. "Would you like something cold to drink?"

"I’d love some iced tea if you have some." Sitting down, she watched Samantha. "You know, if you would take that job your father offered you, you could afford something nice."

"We've been over this before, Mom. I love what I do, and I won't give it up to make more money. I make enough to get by"

"Suit yourself, dear, it's your life."

"Yes it is and it really bothers me when you belittle my choice of a profession, and the home I am able to provide for myself. It may not be what you're accustomed to, but it's mine. I'm a big girl now and I wanted you to be proud of the fact that I am taking care of myself. Instead all you have done is tell me what a failure I am and how dreadful my apartment is."

"I am proud of you Samantha," Sarah said sincerely. "Really I am. I guess I was just hoping that you'd come back home if I could convince you this place was unacceptable. It' hard for a mother when her baby leaves the nest, but I promise I won't say another disparaging remark about your home."

She hadn't expected her mother to apologize and Samantha smiled. "Apology accepted," she said, reaching into the refrigerator and pulling out a pitcher of iced tea she had made for the occasion. She had been fairly sure that her mother would come after she talked to Dusty, but she had not expected her this soon. "What brings you to my neck of the woods?" she asked, filling two cups with the sweet raspberry tea her mother liked so much. "I know you don’t like slumming it." Walking back to her mother, she handed her the tea, then sat on the bed across from her.

"I just wanted to see you, dear." Sarah smiled and sipped daintily on her tea. "You know you haven’t come to see us in a while. We miss you."

"I’m sorry, Mother, I’ve been kinda busy lately."

"Your father and I were talking just last night about you, and saying that we just don’t get to see enough of you any more. We thought it might be nice if we all got away for the weekend and spent some time together."

"I’d love to, Mom, just let me know enough in advance so I can make sure I don’t make other plans."

"Well, we were hoping you would change your mind about this weekend. It’s the first weekend you father has had off in God knows how long, and we thought a family weekend would be nice."

"I'm sure Dusty already told you that I already have plans for this weekend. I’ll have to make it next time Dad has some spare time."

"But we need you to come this weekend. You know that I already invited Dusty and her boyfriend Roy, and they accepted. Couldn’t you change your plans?"

"No, I’m afraid not. This weekend is kind of special." Samantha thought for a moment, trying to come up with the best way to explain to her mother.

"Samantha, you’re going to be twenty-five years old on Sunday, and we were trying to have a small, intimate, surprise party for you up at the cabin. Twenty-five years is a major milestone in one's life. I hope you'll consider changing your plans and letting us share it with you." Sarah stood and resettled herself next to Samantha on the bed, taking her hand and squeezing it. "Please come, baby. I know it's short notice, but your birthday sort of snuck up on us this year, and it really took your dad some doing to rearrange his schedule, and take time off.

Samantha didn't know what to do. She didn't want to hurt their feelings, and she knew how hard it was for her workaholic father to take time off, but she wanted to be with Tess. "I'll see if I can change my plans mom," she said, hoping Tess would understand.

Sarah wrapped her arms around her daughter and pulled her in for a hug. "It'll be worth it, Hon, you'll have a great time. I know it."

"Sure, Mom," Samantha answered. I'll see you at the cabin."

Sarah took another sip of her tea, then handed the glass to Samantha. "I really need to run, dear. I have a lot of preparations to make. Grabbing up her purse, she disappeared out the door without another word.


Samantha picked up the phone and dialed Tess at work. They had been looking forward to this weekend alone in the mountains. She wasn't sure how the tall woman would take the news that she needed to change their plans. Tess had seemed so happy at lunch today, talking about how wonderful it was going to be to get away, just the two of them.

"Tess Richmond."

"Hello, Love." Samantha paused. "My mom just paid me a visit, and she and my dad want me to join them at their cabin this weekend. She gave me this sad story about how hard it is for my dad to get off, and they really want to spend some time with me. Their timing really sucks."

"I don’t want to cause a problem with your family, Hon, we can put off our weekend if you need to."

"Mom put so much pressure on me, I just couldn't say no. I hope you understand that I'd rather spend the weekend with you," Samantha said.

"It's okay love, I understand. I want you to go. What's one weekend out of the rest of our lives?



Tess looked at the phone again. This is silly, she thought. You had lunch with Samantha this afternoon, you can make it the through the weekend without talking to her again. But the thought of not seen Samantha for an entire weekend was not going over well with the tall woman. Picking up the phone, she dialed the familiar number.


The voice at the other end of the line did not sound quite right. "Samantha?"

"Sam's in the shower, this is Dusty." Came the reply. "Would you like to leave a message?"

"Just tell her Tess called and said, have a good weekend."

"Oh, I'm sure she will. What could be more fun than a romantic weekend with David. He is such a hunk."


"Her date for the weekend." Dusty replied. "Believe me, if I wasn't so happily paired up, I would be after this one myself." She laughed. "Do you want Samantha to call you back?"

Tess was speechless, but she managed to get the word 'no' out, then hung up the phone.

Samantha had told her she was spending the weekend with her parents. Had she lied? She had canceled their weekend, to spend it with someone else? Tess was devastated. She felt as if her world had just been snatched from her. This couldn't be happening. Samantha loved her, didn't she?

The young woman had been her champion in the hospital, defending her against Tucker's tirade. She had told Tess she loved her, wanted to explore a relationship with her. For the first time in her adult life, Tess felt truly loved. Had Samantha changed her mind? Was she exploring a relationship with this, David, as well? She felt betrayed that Samantha could tell her she loved her, then go away for a romantic weekend with someone else. Was Samantha beginning to question her sexuality? If she had just told her she had doubts, needed more time, it would have been different. She would not be overjoyed at the thought, but she could live with it. She did not want the young woman to enter into a partnership with her if she was not sure. A vision of Samantha in a man's arms invaded her mind, and she shuddered at the thought of it.

Tess stood up; she had to get out of here, but her legs would not hold her up. She crumpled to the floor, drawing her knees up to her chest she held them there. "No," she sobbed, as the tears started. She lay her forehead on her knees and rocked back and forth as she cried. She didn't know how long she sat there like that, her body wracked with sobs. Finally she was able to pull herself together and stand up. Looking at her watch, she was grateful for the late hour. Most people would have already left work, so there was a good chance she could leave without anyone seeing her eyes, swollen and puffy from crying. Walking into the bathroom, she splashed water on her face and tried to make herself look presentable, just in case.


Their cabin on the lake had been a favorite place of Samantha's when she was growing up. It was so relaxing to take her small boat out onto the lake to fish; nothing beat swimming in its cool depths on a hot summer day. Although she had hated postponing her weekend in the mountains with Tess, she was still looking forward to this weekend. It would be nice to spend some time with her parents, but she was really glad that Dusty was along, she had so much she wanted to tell her. Of course with Roy there too, she wasn't sure how much time she would really get to spend, one on one, with her friend. Samantha listened to the two of them banter as they drove to the cabin, and had to admit they made a cute couple. Dusty fairly glowed when she looked at him.

"It's the next turn off on your right," Samantha said, and Roy nodded in reply. They turned onto the small gravel road and as the cabin came into view, she noted that there was an unfamiliar car parked out front. She wrinkled her brow. "I thought you said this was going to be just us, Dusty?"

"Hmmm?" Dusty looked to see what Samantha was looking at. " That's David's car. Didn't I tell you? Your parents invited him up for the weekend too. He works for your dad.

Samantha's face flushed red. She couldn't believe her mom was trying to set her up again. It had been three years since the last fiasco, and after the fuss she had made she thought her parents understood that she did not like them interfering in her love life.

They parked the car and Roy popped the trunk. "You two go on in," he said. "I'll get the bags."

"Thanks," Samantha answered, starting for the door. She was anxious to talk to her mother about inviting David. Perhaps it was time to tell her parents about Tess and stop this kind of foolishness once and for all. "I wish you'd told me about this," Samantha said to Dusty, as they stepped up on the porch.

"I was afraid you wouldn't come, and I did so want you to come, Sam."

Samantha turned to face her friend. "No, I wouldn't have come. Would you like to know why?" The little blonde did not wait for an answer. "I'm in love with Tess, Dusty, and she's in love with me. Remember when I told you I had something important to tell you?" Samantha asked. "I wanted to tell you about Tess and me."

"I'm sorry, Sam, I didn't know…"

Roy stepped up on the porch, his arms full of bags. "Could someone open the door, please."

"Sure, Hon," Dusty said, happy for the distraction.

Samantha followed them in and looked around. No one was in sight. She walked to the downstairs bedroom and peeked in. It was empty. She checked upstairs, and found no one up there either. They must be down by the lake, she thought, starting back down the stairs.

Samantha exited through the back door, and followed the winding path to the lake. She had probably walked this path a hundred times before; this time was different, there was no joyful bounce to her step. She marched with a purpose. As the lake came into sight, she could see her mother and a man standing out on the dock. They turned toward her as she emerged from the tree-lined path, into the open.

Sarah smiled up at David. "Here's, Samantha, now." She took a few steps in her daughter's direction. "Samantha, this is, David. He works for your father."

David extended his hand. "It's nice to meet you. Your Mom's been telling me all about you."

He was a nice looking young man, with blonde hair, and eyes almost as blue as Tess'. Samantha reached out and accepted the proffered hand. "It's nice to meet you too, David."

"I'll just leave you two young people alone to get acquainted," Sarah said, quickly walking away.

"Mother," Samantha called, but Sarah just kept walking. She looked back to David, who was nervously shifting from foot to foot.

"It sure is pretty here." He looked out over the lake. "Any fish in this lake?"

Samantha laughed. "Of course there are. I used to spend half my time when we were up here, out in my boat fishing."

"A fisherwoman, I'm impressed." David picked up a stone and tossed it into the water. "How about taking me out in your boat tomorrow morning. I'd love to do some fishing."

"Sure," Samantha said. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad after all. He was nice and it might be fun. They were just going fishing, no harm done. But she was definitely going to have a talk with her folks. She was not a child anymore; they had no business interfering in her life like this.


Tess tossed her keys on the table and slumped down in a chair. She kept imagining Samantha with some man's hands caressing her. She would try to push the image from her mind, but it kept returning, over and over. Something had to make this stop; she couldn't stand it any more. Be reasonable, Tess, she told herself. Just because she went away for a weekend with him, doesn't mean she's going to let him make love to her. She wouldn't do that to you. She loves you.

Tess got up and walked to her liquor cabinet. Pulling out a full bottle of bourbon, she poured herself a glass and sat back at the table. Not bothering to add the usual water to her drink, she winced as the strong liquor burned its way down her throat. The image of Samantha returned, and she squeezed her eyes shut, as if that would stop the unwanted vision. Why would she lie about going away with the man, unless she was planing to sleep with him? Dusty had certainly made it sound as if it was a hot date. She took a few more swallows of her drink, and it no longer burned. Now if she could only drink enough to make the image of Samantha go away.

Her thoughts drifted back to Samantha. Why had she allowed herself to fall in love with the woman? She wouldn't make that mistake again. It hurt too much. Standing, she grabbed her leather bag and keys, "Two can play this game," she said, and started for the door.


Tess walked into 'Girls Night Out' and looked around. It was the first time she had set foot in the place since she sold it to Angela, and she was greeted enthusiastically. "What do I have to do to get a drink around here," she said, walking to the bar.

Jan had seen the commotion when her ex-boss arrived and had her bourbon and water waiting for her when she reached the bar. "On the house," she said, handing the drink to Tess.

"Thanks, Jan," Tess said, taking the drink and sipping it. Turning around, she leaned against the bar, letting her eyes sweep the room. It was a predatory gaze. She didn't know who, yet, but she planned to sample the delights of at least one of these lovely ladies tonight. She downed the rest of her drink, and turned back to Jan. "Another, please," she said, setting the glass down on the bar.

"Where's your little blonde friend?" a voice said from over her shoulder. Tess turned around to find Judy standing before her. She ignored the question and smiled at the lanky brunette. Judy was wearing a tiny tube top that exposed her belly, and a very mini skirt. She let her gaze sweep the body before her. Looking back into Judy's eyes, she said. "Want to have a little fun tonight?" Not even waiting for an answer, she grabbed Judy's hand and led her to the dance floor.

As if on command, the song 'Love to Love you Baby' by Donna Summer, started playing, and Tess pulled the beautiful brunette close. "They're playing our song," she said, grinding her body into Judy's.

When it came to the art of seduction, Tess was in her element. She leaned down and nibbled at Judy's neck, as her hands found a well-rounded butt. She squeezed the soft mounds, and pulled the woman closer, as she continued to grind her body into her. "Want to get out of here?" she whispered into a lovely ear and pulled the lobe into her mouth, sucking gently.

"Oh, yes," Judy panted, her head dropping back, as Tess bit her neck, then placed her mark on it.

Clasping Judy's hand, Tess pulled her back to the bar. She picked up her drink and downed it. Winking at Jan, she started for the door with the pretty brunette in tow. When they reached her Lexus, Tess pushed her conquest against the car. Leaning down, she kissed her hard. There was nothing sweet, or gentle or loving about it. It was demanding, and cold.

Judy was on fire, and the thought of waiting until they got to her place was torture. "I can't wait, Tess," she said, knowing that the mini skirt she wore was no obstacle. Pulling Tess' hand down to where she needed it, she captured Tess' mouth, groaning when she felt a large hand spread her legs farther. She pushed her tongue into the tall woman's mouth. Suddenly Tess stopped responding and pushed her away. Judy's fingers clung tightly onto Tess' shirt, trying to pull her back. "Don't stop now, Lover."

"I can't do this," Tess said, removing the woman's hands from her shirt.

"Come on, lover, you can't leave me like this," Judy said, leaning into the tall woman suggestively. "You know what you do to me."

"No," Tess said, pushing her away again.

Judy's anger flared. "What's wrong, Tess?" she spat. "I'm not good enough for you anymore?"

"This isn't about you," Tess responded. "Please, just go back inside and forget this ever happened."

"It's that little blonde number, isn't it?" Judy said. She saw the look on Tess' face when she mentioned her, and knew she was right. "I never thought I'd see the day that anyone could clip your wings. But she's grounded you, hasn't she, lover?"

"You don't know what you're talking about," Tess growled. She pushed Judy out of the way and reached to open her car door.

Judy reached out and grabbed the tall woman's arm, spinning her around. "Why'd you come on to me in the bar? Why'd you bring me out here just to dump me like this? You're one first class bitch, Tess. You know that?"

"I know," Tess answered honestly. "I'm sorry."

Judy slapped the tall woman across the face, then turned to walk away. Stopping, she turned back to face Tess. "I always played by your rules, Tess, because that was the only way I could have you." She shook her head. "But you don't play fair."

Tess had always seen Judy as a --let's have fun, no strings attached-- kinda gal, just like she had once been. Now she was seeing her in a different light. She had not set out to hurt the woman, but she had. She just needed to feel wanted tonight. "I never meant to hurt you, it's just…" Tess' words trailed off as tears started down her face. She turned away from Judy, covering her face with her hands.

"Hey," Judy said, placing her hand on Tess' shoulder. "You've really got it bad for her, haven't you?"

Tess turned to face Judy, nodding her head. "I've never felt this way about anyone before."

"Then what are you doing here? You should be home with her."

"I'm not sure she want's me anymore," Tess said, her voice trembling. "She's gone away for the weekend with someone else." She covered her face with her hands as the sobs started in earnest.

Judy couldn't believe this was happening. Tess, so much in love that she was reduced to tears by a mere slip of a woman. She wrapped her arms around the tall woman and just let her cry on her shoulder. She didn't know what else to do.



It was almost lunchtime when Samantha and David tied off the boat and stepped on shore. They had been fishing since early this morning and it had been a good day for fishing. Samantha was looking forward to a nice fish dinner. It seemed fish always tasted better when you caught them yourself. She smiled at David. "Mom and Dad have never been big on fishing. I've always fished alone. It was nice to have the company of someone who enjoys it as much as I do."

"My pleasure, My Lady," he bowed deeply, then kissed her hand.

Samantha laughed, but when he didn't release her hand, she grew silent.

"I had a great time Samantha. Perhaps your parents would let us borrow the cabin sometime and we could come up here and spend a weekend really getting to know each other," he paused for emphasis. "Without chaperones." He squeezed her hand.

Samantha gently pulled her hand away. She had hoped that this wouldn't happen. "I'm really sorry about this, David, but I'm involved with someone." She shook her head. " I hope you understand it has nothing to do with you."

David nodded his head. "I understand," he smiled. "This is kind of awkward."

"I know, I'm sorry. If I'd known in advance that my parents were trying to fix us up, I'd have warned you before you wasted your time driving up here." Wait until this weekend is over, Samantha thought. I'm really gonna give Mom a piece of my mind. She had decided to wait until the weekend was over, not wanting to make a scene in front of their guests.

"Forget it. I know how parents can be." He picked up the fish and started back to the cabin, leaving Samantha alone on the dock.


Sarah looked up and saw David walk in. "Looks like the fishing was good," she said, eyeing the fish he was carrying.

David was annoyed with the woman for setting him up, but she was the boss' wife and he smiled. "Yep, we'll have a fish fry tonight."

"So, how did you and Samantha get along?"

"Just fine, Mrs. McBride. She's a very nice girl."

"I'm glad you think so." She winked at the young man. " I knew if you spent some time alone together, you'd hit it off. I just had a feeling you two would be good together. And please, call me Sarah."

"Mrs. Mc…Sarah, " David paused, he wished she weren't the boss' wife. "Look, nothing is going to happen between Samantha and me."

"But I thought you said you liked her?" Sarah saw her hopes at finding a nice young man for Samantha crumble around her once again.

"I do like her, very much. In fact, if she weren't involved with someone else, I would be following her around like a little puppy dog."

Sarah looked stunned. "Samantha's involved with someone?"

"That's what she told me," David said. "I just think it would be a little awkward if I stuck around." He deposited the fish in the sink and turned toward the door. "Excuse me, ma'am, I'm going to go collect my things."

Sarah frowned. Samantha had not mentioned anything to her about being involved with anyone, even though she had asked her several times lately if she had a nice young man in her life yet. Her daughter could be so difficult sometimes. They were only trying to help her find someone to love. Someone to make her happy. She hadn't even given David a chance, just gave him that silly story about being involved with someone.

David emerged from the bedroom, and Sarah walked him to the door. "I'm sorry it didn't work out," she said. The young man just nodded his head and walked out the door.

Sarah turned and started for the back door, determined to find Samantha and give her a piece of her mind. She heard laughter and looked to see Dusty and Roy coming down the stairs in their swimming suits.

"Don't fix lunch for us," Dusty said, as she reached the bottom of the steps. "I made some sandwiches, and we're gonna picnic at the lake."

"If you see Samantha, out there, ask her to come seem me. I want to have a talk with her before her father gets back from the market."

"Will do," Dusty said, as she grabbed Roy's hand, pulling him to the door.

A few moments later Samantha arrived. "Did David show you all the fish we caught?" she asked, crossing to the table and siting down. "I finally found someone who likes to fish as much as I do," she said with a smile.

"Yes, and then you drove him away." Sarah crossed her arms over her chest.

"David's gone?"

"Don't act so surprised young lady. David told me what happened." Sarah walked to where her daughter sat, shaking her finger in her face.

"Samantha, you’re going to be twenty-five years old tomorrow. Don't you think it's about time you at least tired to meet someone? Here I invited a very nice young man for you to meet, and…"

"So, you finally decided to tell me the real reason you wanted me to come this weekend." Samantha got up and paced back and forth. "You’re trying to set me up again, Mother. You know how much I hate that."

"Samantha Rose, be reasonable. How are you ever going to find a nice young man and settle down if you won’t even try."

"I've met someone, Mom." Samantha sat back down and grasped her mother’s hands. "Someone I love very much."

Sarah’s face brightened. "Well why didn’t you say so before; we would have invited him instead. Your father and I would love to meet him."

"I don’t think that’s such a good idea."

"Why not?"

"Because it isn’t a he mother, it’s a she. I want you and dad to get used to the idea before you meet her."

Sarah sat staring at her daughter in stunned silence. Hadn’t she spent a small fortune on therapy to try to prevent something like this from happening? Finally she said, "I was afraid something like this would happen when you refused to give up your obsession with that imaginary woman."

"She wasn't imaginary, Mom. She was real, and I found her."

"This is worse than I thought; you've convinced yourself she’s real. What do they call people with those delusions, schizophrenic?"

"I’m not schizophrenic, Mother, and I’m not going to argue with you about this."

"Well, I guess there’s nothing more to say." Sarah pulled her hands away and started into the kitchen.

"I guess not," Samantha said. That went well, she thought, as she got up and followed her mother.

Sarah turned to face her daughter again. "Have you ever been with a man, Samantha?"

The little blonde stopped short. "Why would you ask such a question, Mother?"

"Just answer the question. Have you?"

"It's really none of your business, but I'll tell you. No, Mom, I've never slept with a man, if that's what you're asking."

"What about this woman? Have you slept with her?"


"How can you know if you like men, if you've never tried one?"

"This is not about sex, Mom, it's about love. I love her. Making a life with the person you love is a wonderful thing. Don't cheapen it by equating it only with sex. Making love with Tess is a wonderful part of our relationship; but it's only one aspect of the relationship." Samantha crossed her arms over her chest, defiantly. "Let me ask you a question, Mom. Have you ever been with a woman?"

Sarah flushed. "What kind of question is that? Of course I've never been with a woman."

Samantha smiled. "How can you know you wouldn't like women better if you never tried one?" The little blonde saw the faintest look of understanding come over her mothers features, as she pondered her daughter's words.

"I don’t understand this," Sarah said. "And I’m certainly not happy about it, Samantha, but I love you, that’s not going to change." She walked over and embraced her daughter. "I’ll try, but I don’t know how I’m going to tell your father." Shaking her head she walked back to the kitchen, and began to prepare lunch.

"Tell me what?" Sam asked, putting his sacks down on the table.

Samantha started. She and her mother had been so absorbed in their conversation that they hadn't even heard him come in.

"That I'm a lesbian, Dad."

Sam looked from his daughter, to his wife, then back again. "Well," he paused thoughtfully. "I can't say that I'm shocked."

Samantha reached over and took his hand. "I found someone I love very much, Dad."

"Are you happy?"


He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. "That's all any parent can ask for, that their child is happy. I love you, Samantha.


Samantha waved as Dusty and Roy drove away. A lot of things had been accomplished this weekend, but she was glad to be home. Shouldering her bag, she marched up the stairs to her tiny apartment. I can't wait to tell Tess how well the folks took the news. She smiled. It felt so good to have her relationship out in the open with them. Dumping her bag, she went to the phone and dialed Tess' number. When the machine picked up, she looked at her watch. Hmmm, she thought. I wonder where she is? She heard the beep and began to speak. "Hey, Love, I missed you. Call me when you get in."

She hung up the phone and picked up her bag. As she unpacked her clothes, she went over the conversation with her parents again. They had understandably not been thrilled, but had made it clear that they loved her, that her sexuality would not change that. She felt bad about poor David, but all in all, it had been a good weekend.


Samantha looked at the clock. It was eight PM, and she wondered why Tess had not returned her call. Where could she be? She dialed Tess' home number again. Perhaps she forgot to check her messages, she thought. When no one answered again, Samantha started to panic. She had a bad feeling that something was wrong. Tess knew that she was coming home on Sunday afternoon, what could have happened to her? "Megan!" she said aloud. "Something must have happened to Megan." She grabbed her purse and hurried out the door.


Samantha walked into Megan's room and was relieved to see that the child looked well. "Hi, Sweetie," she said, and the little girl flashed her a big smile.

"Hi, Samantha," she said, looking around to see if her big sister was with her. "Did, Tess, come with you?"

"No, I just got home from a weekend out of town. I haven't seen her yet," Samantha said, not wanting to worry the child about the missing Tess. " I just wanted to check in with you on my way home. You been doing okay?"

The little girl nodded. "I was just wondering about Tess. She didn't come to see me this weekend."

"I'm sure she was just busy. Speaking of busy, I've got a lot to do. I'll see you later, sweetie." She gave a wave, and turned to leave. Now she was really scared. When she reached the parking lot, she broke into a run. Something was very wrong.


Samantha pulled up in front of Tess' house and parked her car. Rushing to the front door, she knocked several times before fumbling through her purse for the key Tess had given her. Her hand was shaking so much it took her several tries before she could get the door unlocked, and go inside.

She rushed through the kitchen and opened the door to the garage. Tess' car was parked just as it should be. "Tess!" she screamed, running through the house and up the staircase.

She opened the door to Tess' bedroom, and the stench almost bowled her over. Tess' quilt looked like someone had recently vomited on it, and the sour smell permeated the air. There was also the unmistakable odor of stale booze.

Samantha could see that the bathroom door was open, and she rushed to see if Tess was in there. She found the tall woman draped over the bowl, her eyes closed. She appeared to be sleeping. "Oh, Tess," she said. "What happened to you?" She had seen Tess drink before, but she had never seen her drunk. "Tess," she called softly, as she knelt next to her tall lover. "Baby, what's wrong?" She shook her gently, and got no response. "Tess, wake up honey." She shook the woman a little more briskly, and Tess groaned. Samantha reached up to the towel rack and grabbed a rag, wetting it. Gently she cleaned her lover’s face.

Tess could feel the wet rag on her face, but all she could think of was the pain in her head and stomach. God, she had never had a hangover this bad before. She lifted her head and groaned again, as the room started to spin. Then her stomach clenched, and she started in on more dry heaves. Opening her eyes was painful, but closed didn't seem much better. She seemed to be able to see the veins in them throbbing in time with pain in her head. Her stomach muscles ached from all the vomiting, and she wondered if she should just stick her head a little further into the toilet and drown herself. At least it would make it all go away. The dry heaves stopped, and she felt the cool rag on her face again. Opening her eyes, she saw Samantha and pushed her hand away, struggling to get up. The room started to spin, and she staggered against the wall.

"Let me help you," Samantha said, reaching out and grabbing her lover.

Tess pushed her away again. "I don't need your help." She made her way to the bed and collapsed on it. That movement was enough to start the dry heaves once more, and she lay on the bed, helpless to stop them.

Samantha didn't know what to do. She had no experience in getting drunk, or having a hangover. She watched as the dry heaves finally stopped and Tess curled herself up into a fetal position. She wondered what could possibly have happened to cause Tess to do this to herself. Could she be more upset about the cancellation of their weekend than she had let on? She supposed that what Tess needed was time, and she walked to the door, letting herself out.

Samantha walked downstairs and picked up the phone. She remembered that Dusty had talked about getting wasted a few times. Hopefully she could give her some advice on what to do for Tess.

Dusty picked up the phone and was surprised to hear Samantha's voice. "What's wrong, Sam? Forget something?"

"I need help with Tess."

"Tess? What's wrong with Tess?"

"Oh, Dusty, she's so sick. She's been drinking and she's got a terrible hangover."

"Not much you can do for her, Sam."

"There has to be something. I can't stand to see her like this."

"Are you sure about this relationship, Sammy? You go away for a couple days, and she goes out partying?"

"Just tell me what to do, Dusty. I'll deal with why she did this later."

"Well, when she gets to the point where she can keep something down, give her some water. As much as you can get her to drink. Nothing is going to cure it, but the water will help her body go through it quicker. Aspirin is good for the pain, but she might not be able to keep that down. Try the water first. When she can keep that down, try a little dry bread, then some aspirin. After that, she just needs time to sleep it off. Keep giving her water as often as she'll take it. Wish I could give you a magic cure that would fix her right up, but if there is one, I've never heard of it."

"Thanks, Dusty, I owe you one."

"Anytime, my friend. Talk to you later."


When Tess awoke the next morning, she still felt like hell. "I must be getting old, she thought. I know it's been years, but I don't remember ever having a hangover this bad before. Or was it that she had never drunk this much before?

She opened her eyes and sat up. Her head throbbed, but the room was no longer spinning every time she tried to move. Her stomach was no longer threatening to revolt. As she scooted her legs over the side of the bed so she could stand up she noticed, for the first time, that Samantha was sitting in the overstuffed chair by the window. If there was one thing she was not ready to face right now, it was Samantha. Leaning over she placed her elbows on her knees and lowered her head to her hands, groaning softly.

At the sound of her lover groaning, Samantha started awake. She saw Tess sitting on the side of the bed with her head in her hands. "Are you feeling any better?" she asked, walking over and kneeling in front of the tall woman.

"What are you doing here?" Tess asked, looking up.

"I got worried when I couldn't find you, so I used my key." She reached over and brushed the hair out of Tess' face.

"I've been busy," Tess replied curtly. "Did you have a nice weekend with your parents?" She asked sarcastically.

"My parents can be annoying at times, but yes, I had a good time."

Tess cringed at the thought of Samantha having a good time with this David person.

Samantha smiled. "I'm really glad I decided to go. We had a good talk and cleared the air about some things." She reached out to cup Tess' cheek. "What happened to you, Tess? Is it about our missed weekend?"

"Have I given you the impression something was wrong?" Tess said, as she stood up and walked toward the bathroom. "I went to 'Girls Night Out', and had a wonderful time. I got along just fine without you. Now if you'll excuse me, I don't feel like company. You can see yourself out." She paused, "And, Samantha, don't show up at my home again unless you've been invited." She went into the bathroom and locked the door behind her.

Samantha was stunned. What had just happened? This was twice now that Tess had led her to believe that she cared for her, then just as suddenly dismissed her from her life. She walked to the bathroom door and knocked. "We need to talk," she said, crossing her arms over her chest. "And I'm not leaving here until I find out what the hell's going on with you."

Tess opened the door and walked back to the bed holding a glass of water with a couple of fizzy tablets bubbling away in it. "I thought I asked you to leave?" she said, sitting on the edge of the bed and sipping her Alka-Seltzer. Her stomach still felt a bit queasy, but she thought she was going to keep this down. Taking a few more drinks, she placed the glass on the bedside table and looked up at Samantha. "Well?"

"I told you I wasn't leaving until you tell me what’s going on."

Tess was visibly trembling now; the pent up stress and emotions of the last few days not willing to be held back any longer. "You lied to me, Samantha. You said you were spending the weekend with your parents, but Dusty told me you were spending a romantic weekend with some guy named David." Tears started down Tess' face and her voice cracked as she continued. "Did you let him touch you? Did he spend the weekend fucking your brains out?" The tall woman was emotionally exhausted and she slumped back down onto the bed. The anger had dissipated; now she just felt numb. She covered her face with her hands and wept.

Samantha couldn't believe what she was hearing. "How dare you judge me without even talking to me!" She walked closer to the tall woman; reaching out, she turned Tess' face up so she could look into her eyes. "I didn't lie to you, Tess. I didn't know my Mom was trying to fix me up with someone until I got there. Dusty may have shared that information with you, but not with me." Samantha's heart broke to see Tess this way, but that did not lessen the anger she felt at the lack of trust her lover had in her. "I told him I was in love with someone, and he didn't even stay the weekend." Tears were streaming down her face, and Samantha wiped them away as she continued. "I can't do this, Tess. I love you, but I can't be in a relationship where there's no trust." She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. "You love me, but you don't trust me. How could you believe that I would tell you I love you, then sleep with someone behind your back?"

Tess watched Samantha as she spoke. She was right; Tess hadn't trusted her. She had just believed the worst. She didn't deserve someone like Samantha who was open and honest.

"Good-bye, Tess," Samantha said, turning toward the door.

"Please don't go," Tess said, reaching out and grabbing Samantha's arm. She pulled herself up and wrapped her arms around Samantha's waist, her body wracked with sobs. She rested her face against the young woman's belly, her tears wetting Samantha's blouse. "I know I don't deserve you, but please don't leave me…"

Samantha wrapped her arms around Tess, stroking her head. "I don't know what to do, Tess." She leaned down and kissed the top of her head. "But this hurts too much. I can't live my life afraid to be friendly to anyone for fear you will take it the wrong way. Either you trust me, or you don't." She knelt down in front of Tess. "I love you, but I can't live like that."

"I'm so sorry, Samantha. If it had been anyone but Dusty, I would have laughed it off as ridiculous. But I know she's been your best friend since you were a kid, and I couldn't think of any reason why your friend would make up something like that about you." She placed a hand on each of Samantha's cheeks." I should have known better. I'm sorry." She pulled the young woman into her arms. "Please, don't leave me. If this weekend is any indication, I don't think I'd survive if you do."

The thought that her love had been hurting like this for days, broke Samantha's heart. It was so unnecessary. It all could have been avoided if Tess had just told her what Dusty had said, and asked her about it. "Shhh, love, it's okay. I'm not going anywhere." She stepped back and wiped the tears from Tess' cheeks. "We have to promise each other that we'll never jump to conclusions. If something is bothering us, we'll talk it out. And above all, we need to trust each other."

"I promise. " Tess whispered, wrapping the young woman tightly in her arms again. "I promise."


Tess sat on the couch, munching a piece of dry toast. She had finally taken a shower, and it felt good to feel clean again. Her mouth still tasted like a backed up sewer, but her stomach was not protesting at the moment, and it looked like she was going to keep the toast down.

"You didn't drink all your water," Samantha said, as she walked over to her lover with a water bottle and a couple of aspirins.

Tess saw the water. "Baby, I'm about to float away already." She patted the seat next to her. "Come sit next to me. I've told you before that you're all the medicine I'll ever need.

Samantha held out her hand and deposited two aspirin tablets into Tess' hand. "Take these and I won't make you drink any more water for a while." She smiled and sat next to the tall woman. She watched Tess swallow the pills then patted her lap. "Lay down and relax, Love, let the pills take effect."

Tess lay down, closing her eyes and reveling in the joy of feeling secure in Samantha's love again. How could she have ever doubted her? She felt Samantha's fingers began to stroke her brow, and she sighed. She never wanted to do anything to jeopardize this relationship again. You're a first class ass, Tess, she thought to herself. You almost screwed up the best thing that ever happened to you.

Samantha leaned down and kissed her. "I told my parents about us this weekend."

Tess' eyes popped open. "How did they take it?" She knew that Samantha had been worried about what their reaction would be.

"Mom wasn’t happy, but she took it pretty well. She said she loves me and she’ll try. I can’t ask any more than that, can I?"

"No, I guess you can’t."

"But my dad was great. He just asked if I was happy, and told me he loved me."

Tess was relieved to see that Samantha seemed in good spirits, and that the encounter with her parents had not been as horrible as she had feared it might be.

Tess sat up and took Samantha's hands in her own. "I…I need to tell you something…" she stammered, looking down at their clasped hands.

"What's wrong, Tess?"

"I did something this weekend that I'm not proud of, but I need to tell you." She brought Samantha's hands to her lips and kissed them. "I want to always be honest with you. I love you."

"I love you too."

"I hope you still feel that way when I finish." Tess looked into her eyes. "I honestly don't know what I'd do if I lost you."

Samantha cupped her lover's cheek, letting her thumb gently rub across her lips. "Nothing you could say could make me stop loving you, Tess. Don't you know that by now?"

"I went to 'Girls Night Out' with the express purpose of seducing the first woman that appealed to me, and taking her to bed."

"And did you?" Samantha asked. "Did you take someone to bed?"

"Judy was there," Tess said, looking up at Samantha. "Do you remember her? She was the tall brunette that was there that first night I took you out dancing."

"I remember her," Samantha shuddered. "She was so beautiful, and she couldn't keep her hands off of you. I couldn't help being jealous."

"I danced with her, Samantha. I…I did more than dance, I practically made her come right there on the dance floor. I asked her to leave with me, and when I got her to the car, I kissed her. She was ready, she wanted it right there, but I couldn't go through with it. I realized that I had changed. That sex without love was not something I wanted any more. I didn't love her. I didn't want her. I wanted you, and I thought I was losing you, so I went home and drank the rest of the night, and into the morning. I don't think I've ever been that drunk." Tess searched her young love's eyes. They were sad, but not condemning. "Can you forgive me for making such an ass of myself?"

Samantha pulled her tall lover into her arms. "I can."

Chapter Sixteen: A Mountain Retreat

Much to Samantha’s delight, Tess made arrangements to take her for that mini vacation in the mountains, and they had been counting the days until the trip. The tall woman was feeling good, the BMT was behind her, and she was building a strong relationship with her sister. Her life had settled into a routine where work and revenge were no longer her main motivation. Her family, which consisted of Samantha and Megan, had taken over that role and she couldn’t be happier about it. She was grateful that Samantha had been so understanding about her need to have her sister in her life, and the two of them became the family she never thought she would have.


"I’m glad I listened to the guy in the video store. That was one of the funniest ones so far," Tess said to her little sister, as she turned off the TV. They had just finished watching ‘The Gods must be Crazy’. "He said if we like this one, they made a sequel."

"Oh you have to get that one for sure," the little girl said yawning.

"You got it, Little Sis," Tess said as she stood and stretched. "Well I’ve got to go pick Samantha up for our trip to the mountains. I want to get up there before dark." She reached into the plastic glove and patted Megan’s cheek. "You look pretty beat. Why don’t you get a little nap before dinner, and I’ll see you next week?"



The two-hour drive had been worth it, Samantha thought as she carried her bag into the cabin. It was so peaceful here, no people hurrying around everywhere. The little blonde put down the bag she was carrying and went back outside to take in the beautiful scenery. She leaned against the porch rail and took a deep breath of fresh mountain air. Off to her left was the start of a thick forest of fir-trees, lush, green and elegant. To her right, about a hundred yards away, was what appeared to be the landing of a ski lift, with lines going up and out of sight as it went up the mountain.

"I love having you up here all to myself," Tess said, stepping up behind Samantha, and wrapping her arms around the young woman.

"Mmmm, a weekend with nothing to distract you but me. I think I like that," Samantha replied, turning in the tall woman’s embrace. "It’s so beautiful here, I’m surprised there aren’t more people around."

"Not many people come up here this time of year, but wait ‘til ski season, then the place will be packed." Tess bent down and kissed Samantha. "Come on, let’s go up to the lodge and get something to eat. Then we can come back and I can have my way with you all night long." She wiggled her eyebrows. " I always keep my promises." Tess took the young woman’s hand, and led her down the steps. "This winter I’ll bring you back for some skiing. Would you like that?" she asked, as they turned toward the lodge.

"I’m afraid I’m not much of a skier, more like a snow plow," the young artist said, smiling up at the tall woman at her side.

"You just haven’t had the right teacher," Tess said, putting her arm around Samantha’s shoulders and pulling her close as they walked up the hill.

The lodge was large and rustic looking. There was a warm inviting feeling about the place. A rather effeminate man in his late forties welcomed them and greeted Tess like a long lost friend.

"Tess, I don’t remember seeing you up here this time of year before."

"I’ve been here a few times in the off season, but it was years ago." Tess turned to her companion, "Samantha, this is Michael, the proprietor of this place."

"Nice to meet you, Michael," the little blonde responded. "Beautiful place you have here."

"Thank you," he said, lifting her hand and kissing it, then turning to his tall friend he said, "didn’t know you were into robbing the cradle, Tess."

Samantha turned to Tess, a puzzled look on her face. "Is he implying I’m under age?"

"If the shoe fits, sweetie," Michael said, winking at Tess.

"Just show us to a table and cut the wise cracks, Michael," Tess bristled.




Walking back to the cabin after dinner, Tess realized that she had no idea how old Samantha was. She in love with the woman, and she didn’t even know her age. "You know it’s funny," she said, turning to Samantha. "I don’t even know how old you are. I never even thought to ask. It didn’t seem important, but now, I’m curious."

Samantha smiled. "How old do you think I am?"


"Nope, just turned twenty-five a couple of weeks ago."

"Why didn't you tell me you just had a birthday?"

"I've never liked making a big deal out of my birthday."

Tess put her hands on her hips. "What am I going to do with you?" She smiled. "I wish I had been with you on your birthday, I would have done something to make it special."

Samantha returned the smile, and wrapped her arms around Tess' neck. "You make me feel special every day." She pulled the tall woman down for a kiss. "Now, turnabout is fair play. How old are you?"

"I’ll be thirty-four on the twenty-first of this month."

"Wow, that’s only a couple of weeks away. I’m gonna have to hurry if I want to plan a party."

"No way. No party, just us."

"But Tess, I want to make your birthday special," Samantha said, pouting. Her mind started to turn. She had to think of something Tess would like for her birthday, and she only had two weeks to do it.


It was well and truly dark by the time they got back to the cabin, and Samantha started to shiver from the chilled mountain air. "You’re cold," Tess said, reaching for her jacket to wrap around the shivering woman. "As soon as the sun goes down, the temperature drops pretty quickly. Let me get a fire started."

The tall woman opened the flue, then lit the logs that were already stacked in the fireplace. Turning back to Samantha, she reached over and grasped her hand, pulling her over to the couch. "I finally have you all to myself," Tess said, as she sat down and patted the seat beside her. "Sit here and put your head in my lap."

Samantha smiled. "Hold that thought, I’ll be right back." Turning, she walked to the door and flipped the light switch, blanketing the room in darkness, save for the flickering glow of firelight.

"Much better," she said, striding back to her beautiful lover waiting on the couch. Warmth radiated from the fireplace and Samantha removed her jacket. Smiling, she climbed into her lover’s arms, scooting down until her head was resting in Tess’ lap. "Mmmm, this is cozy."

"Have I told you lately that I love you?" Tess asked, running her hands through Samantha’s golden tresses.

Samantha wrinkled her brow, and pretended to be deep in thought. "Hmmm, not in the last hour."

"Well, then I’m definitely overdue." Tess’ gaze fell on enticing lips, and she leaned down, grazing her lips softly across them. "I love you," she whispered, wrapping her arms around Samantha and lifting her so the young woman was cradled at her breast. "With all my heart." Samantha nuzzled into her neck and she sighed. Life was perfect.

Chapter Seventeen: A Surprise for Megan

The trip had been wonderful, but Tess was glad to be home, anxious to see how her sister was doing. The flashing red light on the answering machine across the room caught her eye. Walking over, she pushed the button. The first message was from Amanda.

"Tess, we received the most devastating news this afternoon after you left," the voice on the machine began.

The tall woman heard Amanda’s voice break as she tried to speak, and her heart stopped.

"The new bone marrow has stopped regenerating blood cells. They’ve given her a drug called GMCSF, which is an agent that activates the bone marrow and gives it a "push" toward reproducing healthy blood cells. The doctor said if this doesn’t work, there’s nothing else they can do for her. I can only pray that I will have good news to tell you when you return from your trip. Call me when you get home." The message ended.

All the joy seemed to go out of Tess. She was trying to hold everything in, afraid if spoken, her fears would gain power and substance.

Samantha took her hand and pulled her down on the couch, wrapping her arms around the tall woman. "Let it out Tess," she whispered as she stroked her lover’s back.

Tess felt herself losing control and she tried to push the little blonde away. "I’m okay Samantha, you don’t need to baby me."

The young woman took her lover's face in her hands. "I’m not trying to baby you, Tess. I love you. I just want to help." She wrapped her arms around her again. "Please don’t push me away, you don’t have to be strong for me. Let me be strong for you for a change."

That was all it took to release the floodgates. Tess lay in her lover’s embrace, tears spilling onto her shoulder. She had grown to love her sister more than she ever imagined she would, and the thought of losing her, just as she was getting to know her, was tearing the tall woman apart.

When she was able to compose herself, Tess pulled away from the comforting embrace. Angrily she wiped the tears from her face. She was angry at the world for letting this happen to Megan, and angry with herself for breaking down like that. This mushy vulnerable side of herself had started to surface when she met Samantha, and continued to grow until now she didn’t even know herself anymore.

"I need to call Amanda."

Tess waited as the phone rang; silently praying that Amanda would answer the phone. She was definitely not in the mood to talk to Tucker.

"Hello," the masculine voice came over the wire.

"Tucker, this is Tess. Any news about Megan’s condition?" She would have much preferred to talk to Amanda, but all that mattered at the moment was finding out what was going on with her sister.

"I’m glad you called," Tucker answered, his voice joyful. "Megan has responded well to the medication, and her marrow has started functioning again."

"That’s wonderful news. Tell Amanda I’ll talk to her tomorrow."

Tess hung up the phone as the tears started down her face again. She did not wipe at them angrily this time though. She was too overjoyed at the ecstatic news. Rushing across the room, she wrapped her arms around Samantha. "She’s going to be okay," she said, pulling the young woman tight against her.

"Thank God," Samantha responded, tears starting down her own face as well.




"Hey, Little Sis, I hear you’ve not been doing too well," Tess said, as she walked into the hospital room.

Hazel eyes tracked to blue and the little girl smiled sadly. "Look’s like you went to a lot of trouble for nothing," she replied.

"I don’t want to hear that kind of talk," the tall woman said as she put her arm into the plastic glove and squeezed her sister’s hand. "It’s never trouble to help out someone you love, and it wasn’t for nothing. I spoke with Doctor Davies this morning, and he tells me you’re doing great."

The little girl turned over slowly, that small movement seeming to tire her out. She wanted to lie on her side so she could watch Tess without having to turn her head. "Could you read to me a while?" she asked softly. Even speaking seemed to take too much effort.

"Sure." The tall woman reached for the stack of books she had brought, and picked up ‘The Island Stallion Races’. She started to read, but soon noticed that Megan had drifted off to sleep. She closed the book and just sat awhile watching the sad little girl sleep.


Tess started across the hospital parking lot; it had been a difficult visit. Although the medication had worked and her new bone marrow was busily regenerating blood cells, the setback had sent Megan into a depression and she was having a hard time believing in a recovery. The little girls eleventh birthday was only a little over two months away and Tess decided she wanted to give her a horse. She was hoping it would boost her spirits and get her back on a positive track. So it was a couple of months early - she really didn’t care. Megan needed it now. The only problem she could see was her parents. She avoided Tucker most of the time, but her relationship with Amanda was pretty good. She would ask Amanda.

When Tess had bought her house five years ago, one of the selling points had been that it was horse property. She had it in the back of her mind that someday perhaps she would have the time to indulge in that pastime again. As she drove home, her mind was working out all the things she needed to do to get the place ready. She needed to fence in an area in the back, and have a shed built for feed and tack. Her mind was still ticking things to do off her list as she arrived home.


Samantha was finishing up dinner as Tess walked in the door. "Hey, good timing." She wiped her hands and grabbed a couple of TV trays. "I thought we could eat in the living room. ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ starts in a few minutes and I’d like to see it again." She smiled at the tall woman. "It’s a good one to cuddle up and watch with someone you love."

Tess wrapped her arms around Samantha. "Mmm, sounds good. I love to cuddle." She bent down to nibble on an ear, "and you never know what cuddling can lead to." She took the trays from her lover’s hands and started into the other room with them.


"Mmm, good," Tess said around a mouthful of food. "This is what I keep you around for." She flashed a big smile at her beautiful lover.

"Gee thanks," Samantha said sarcastically. "How was Megan doing tonight?" She asked popping a bite of steak into her mouth.

"She’s really depressed, told me I went through the BMT for nothing." Tess took another bite and thought a moment. "You know I was thinking about buying her a horse and keeping it here for her."

"Oh, Tess, that’s a wonderful idea. She’s so horse crazy, that would have to cheer her up." She smiled at the tall woman. "And I’m sure there’s no ulterior motive on your part, like making sure she spends a lot of time over here when she gets out of the hospital."

Tess raised an eyebrow. "You know me too well." She took her last bite and chewed it thoughtfully. "But I really do think it will be good for her."

"How do you go about finding a horse for a little girl?"

"I’ll call my old friend Tom," she sat back and pulled the little blonde closer. "He owned the stable I used to frequent in my horse days."

"I didn’t know you had a horse when you were young," Samantha said, snuggling a little closer.

"I never owned one, but I rode a lot. We had a stable pretty close to us, and I used to hang out there a lot. I convinced the owner to let me muck stalls for rides. Then when I got to be about thirteen, I convinced a couple of the weekend cowboys to let me exercise their horses for them."

"What’s a weekend cowboy?"

"That’s someone who loves to get out there on the weekend and ride the hell out of their horses, but can’t take the time through the week to keep them in shape for it. So they need someone like me to feed, groom and exercise them. I kept at it ‘til my hormones really started to kick in at about sixteen or seventeen; then it was good-bye horses, hello women." She pulled her young lover into her lap and leaned down for a kiss. "Worthwhile trade I might add," she said, capturing Samantha’s lips and sliding her hand under her shirt to explore.



Tess sat across the table from Amanda wondering how to broach the subject of buying a horse for Megan. She was new to this sister business, but it didn’t seem too out of line to want to do this for the little girl. Now if only Amanda would agree.

"Megan mentioned to me that someday she would like to have a horse of her own, and I’ve been checking around to see if I could find a gentle horse for a first time rider." Tess took a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair. "I’ve found one that seems to fit the bill and the vet said she checked out sound. All that’s needed now is for me to go make sure she’s as gentle as they say she is and write the check. I think it would be good for her and I hope you’ll give your permission."

Amanda frowned. "We don’t have a place to keep a horse."

"That’s okay, she can stay at my place. I’ll take care of everything, feed, tack."

Amanda studied the tall woman. Why would she want to buy her daughter a horse? That was not only an expensive item to buy, there was also the upkeep. She had seen Tess with Megan enough to believe that she did indeed care for the child, but this was a commitment that would go on for years to come. Could she trust the woman to keep that commitment and not disappoint Megan?

"Are you sure you want to do this?"

"I’m sure. I spent a good deal of my childhood having a love affair with horses. This is not a hardship for me, Amanda, please let me do this for her."

Amanda shook her head and smiled. "Okay, but you have to be in charge of the horse. Tucker doesn’t know anything about them, and they scare the hell out of me." She extended her hand.

"Deal," Tess shook the proffered hand, an enormous grin taking over her face. "I’m going to see the mare tomorrow. If everything works out, I’ll be by with pictures of her tomorrow evening to show Megan. I’ll call you one way or the other."




"I need you to ride her for me. I want to see how she moves."

Samantha looked worriedly at the small mare. "Can’t someone else do it? I don't know how to ride."

"That’s why I want you to do it. I want to see how she reacts to an inexperienced rider." Tess rubbed the soft muzzle of the little mare. She would not have even considered asking if she seemed spooky or ill tempered. "Please."

Samantha looked at the horse. She was tiny compared to Night Wind, the seventeen hand American Saddlebred gelding Tess had been admiring. They had come to find a horse for Megan, but Tess had fallen in love with the big chestnut gelding and decided to buy him too. After all, she reasoned, Megan would not want to ride alone.

"Okay, I’ll do it, but if I fall off I’m holding you responsible."

"Deal," the tall woman said as she led the little Appaloosa mare to the small arena. She laced her fingers together to give her partner a leg up.

Samantha nervously held on to the saddle-horn and kicked the little mare. She responded immediately by moving into a quick walk. Tess had to smile as she watched her lover hang on for dear life when the little horse started to trot.

The mare performed well, responding to each command Tess instructed Samantha to give. A couple of times she was a little confused at the mixed signals the little blonde gave, but she never showed any signs of nervousness or bad temper, trying her best to do as requested. Tess couldn’t wait to get her film developed so she could show Megan her new horse.




When Samantha and Tess arrived, Megan was waiting. She seemed a bit livelier today. Her mother had told her Tess was on her way over with a surprise, and she couldn’t wait to see what her big sister would bring her. She grinned as Tess approached and called out, "What’s the surprise?" She looked anxiously from her sister to Samantha. It didn’t appear that they were carrying anything.

"Can’t wait, huh? Close your eyes," Tess said to the excited little girl.

Megan quickly closed her eyes, grinning from ear to ear.

Tess retrieved the picture from her pocket and held the photo of the little Appaloosa mare up in front of the child.

"Okay, you can open them now."

Megan opened her eyes and gasped.

"She’s yours," Tess said, as she watched the hazel eyes grow large and round.

"Re…really mine?" the little girl stammered.

"Really yours," Tess replied. "She’ll stay at my house, but you can come over whenever you want."

"She’s beautiful," the little girl said as tears ran down her face. "What’s her name?"

"Well, her registered name is Cotton’s Candy, but they called her Candy. You can call her anything you like though."

Megan looked at Tess, tears still sparkling in her eyes. "Thank you. It’s the best surprise I’ve ever had in my life."

Chapter Eighteen: A New Home

Samantha sat at her drafting table, her mind going over the recent turn of events in her life. On Tuesday she spent the day trying to explain to her mother why she wasn’t quite ready to bring Tess over to meet them. On Wednesday she finally got together with Dusty, filling her in on what had been going on. She and Dusty had never really had any alone time at the cabin, and it had been good to be able to share with her old friend. Samantha was anxious for Dusty to meet Tess. She had been her best friend for more than half her life and her fondest wish was that Dusty and Tess would like each other. She had made arrangements for them all to meet tonight for dinner, and was a little nervous about the meeting. A knock at the door brought the young artist back to the present. Walking to the door she wondered who would be knocking at this hour of the morning. Dusty and Tess would both be at work, and her mother never got up this early. She peeked through the peephole and was surprised to see Tess standing there. A big grin took over her face as she opened the door to welcome the tall woman in.

"What a wonderful surprise. I thought you’d be at work."

"I missed you," Tess said, encircling Samantha in her arms and pulling her in for a tight squeeze. "I love you." She leaned down for a lingering kiss. "I get up every morning to an empty house, and I don’t like it. So, I decided to do something about it." She led the beautiful little blonde over to the bed and sat down, pulling her down into her lap. "Samantha, I know it hasn’t been very long, well, not in this life anyway, but I want us to live together." Lifting a small hand and kissing it tenderly, the tall woman continued. "I want to wake up every morning to the sight of you in our bed." She looked around the little apartment and smiled. "Do you think you could give up all this and come live with me?"

"I don’t know." Samantha said following Tess’ gaze around the room. "This is an awful lot to give up," she laughed, before throwing her arms around her lover. "Oh Yesss! I can’t think of anything I want more."

She was surprised when Tess abruptly stood and walked over and picked up one of the many boxes still stacked around the room.

"Good. Lets get started then. I’ll start taking these boxes out while you pack the things that need packing." She opened the door and gestured at a stack of boxes out on the landing, with her head. "I brought some boxes," she said over her shoulder as she started down the stairs.

Samantha walked to the door and watched the tall woman walk to a large U-Haul truck parked in the parking lot.

"Pretty sure of yourself weren’t you? Samantha said, hands on hips.

Tess put the box in the truck then turned to flash a most radiant smile at the beautiful woman standing on the landing. "Yep," she said as she started back up the stairs. "Now get to work woman, we have a lot do."



They spent the day packing and moving Samantha’s belongings from the tiny bachelor apartment to Tess' spacious home. Home, Samantha thought to herself as she carried a box into the house. It really does feel like home. Of course any place would feel like home as long as Tess shared it with me. She gave a sigh of relief. Almost done. She was looking forward to soaking her tired muscles is a very hot bath, and relaxing for a while before they had to leave to meet Dusty for dinner. I wonder if there's time for that? She mused as she stepped into the entry hall. Probably not, she answered herself as she glanced at her watch. It would have to be a quick shower if they were going to be on time.

Tess walked to the beautiful little blonde and encircled her in her arms, lifting her off her feet. She nuzzled into the silky blonde tresses and captured an ear in her teeth. "Mmmm, I love you."

"I love you too, but if you keep that up, we’re not gonna go anywhere. Did you forget we’re meeting Dusty for dinner tonight? I’m afraid your lustful plans will have to wait ‘til later later." She smiled seductively, "but when we get back…"

Reluctantly, Tess put the small woman down. "When you’re right, you’re right," she smiled, "but when we get back…." She leaned down and brushed her lips against Samantha’s.




Dusty glanced around the busy dining room looking for Samantha’s familiar face. She was a little apprehensive to finally be meeting the enigmatic Tess. No matter how strange the situation was she was sure of one indisputable fact - that Samantha was head over heels in love with this woman. For that reason alone she wanted to try to like her. She had been appalled at first when her friend had relayed the story to her of how they finally met. Samantha had not gone into all the gory details, but Dusty had gotten the gist of the misunderstanding and turmoil that followed. She was not sure she could like a person that was capable of purposefully inflicting that much pain on someone, not once, but twice. Especially someone she cared so much about. But Sam loved her, so she had to try. She would not risk losing Samantha’s friendship, and she was sure that if forced to choose between them, Samantha would choose Tess. Her first impression of Tess when she had seen her outside the health club had been that the woman was beautiful but arrogant. She spotted them across the room and started toward them. "Well, here goes nothing," she muttered to herself as she caught Samantha’s eye and waved.


Tess looked up and smiled at the tiny woman as she waved at her partner. She was an attractive little brunette with soft brown eyes. Tiny was the operative word. She doubted the woman was five feet tall, even with her shoes on. She understood that Dusty had not known about her relationship with Samantha, and the conversation they had had, no matter how much it had hurt, had been just girl talk. She had put it behind her. If not for Dusty, she would never have met the love of her life. For that alone, she was determined to try to like this woman. She watched as Samantha stood and hugged her, then ushered her over for the introductions.

"Dusty, this is Tess."

"It’s nice to finally meet you, Tess," Dusty said, extending her hand to the beautiful woman seated in front of her.

Tess took her hand and squeezed it firmly, a radiant smile lighting up her face. "I’ve been wanting to meet you so I could thank you."

"Thank me?" Dusty interrupted with a puzzled look on her face.

"You were the catalyst that brought Samantha and me together, and I will be eternally grateful."

Tess’ blue eyes sparkled with warmth and her smile was genuinely friendly. Dusty found she could not help but like her. "You’re welcome. But to tell you the truth, when I first told her about you, I thought she was gonna turn into a stalker and get herself arrested." She grinned at her friend. "And sure enough…"

"Hey, I didn’t get arrested," Samantha said as she playfully slapped her friend. "Although I could have been when I ran her down with my car." She sat next to the tall woman and indicated the seat across from them for Dusty.

"You two really are a pair to draw to."

"You can say that again," Tess said as she covered a small hand with her own and gave a quick squeeze.

Samantha pulled a slip of paper out of her purse and handed it to Dusty. "Oh, by the way, This is my new address and phone number. I moved into Tess’ place today."

"Our place," Tess corrected.

"Our place," Samantha repeated, flashing a beautiful smile at her partner.

"Wow, that happened fast. You didn’t even mention that you two had talked about moving in together last night, and today, you’re already living together."

"I didn’t know last night," Samantha said, flashing a smile at Tess. "She just showed up on my doorstep this morning and said she wanted us to live together. She was pretty confident too. She brought boxes with her, and the truck was parked downstairs waiting."

Dusty laughed. "I like a woman who knows what she wants, and isn't afraid to go after it."

They spent the next hour-and-a- half talking and laughing over a wonderful meal, and at the end of the evening, Samantha was relieved to see that Dusty and Tess seemed to hit if off just fine.


Tess parked the car in the driveway and sighed. It was good to be home. It had been quite an eventful day. They had moved Samantha into the house, and she had finally met Dusty; the person responsible for the best thing in her life. She walked around the car to Samantha and took her hand. The two lovers walked up to the door hand in hand. Opening the door and facing her partner, Tess scooped the small woman up in her arms.

"What are you doing?" Samantha asked, grinning broadly. "Can’t wait 'til we get inside?"

"I’m carrying you across the threshold." Tess said as she bent down and placed a gentle kiss on the wonderfully enticing lips of her partner. "It’s customary to carry your lady love across the threshold of your first home together." Her expression grew serious. "I have lived here for over five years, but until you came, it never really felt like a home." Tess’ eyes sparkled with unshed tears. She leaned down again, this time to kiss Samantha’s forehead "From this day forward everything I have is yours," she whispered, "and I promise to love you…" another soft kiss on upturned lips, "…and take care of you…" a nuzzle into fragrant blonde tresses, "…for as long as I live."

Samantha wrapped her arms around Tess’ neck. She was speechless. Tears were making their way down her cheeks as the tall woman carried her inside.

The first evening the couple spent together in their home was nothing that would be thought of as exceptional to the casual observer. They cuddled on the couch in front of the television, but really did not pay attention to the screen. They talked, laughed and never lost physical contact with each other. The day ended with the new partners making love for the first time in their own home. A very sated Samantha fell asleep in Tess' loving embrace. Time passed, but sleep would not come to the tall woman. She lay on her side watching the gentle rise and fall of Samantha’s breasts as she slept, and a tear came to her eye. Her emotions seemed to come to the surface more and more often since Samantha came into her life. "I love you," she whispered to the sleeping woman as she softly brushed her fingertips across those oh so beautiful lips. Samantha stirred momentarily, then settled back down. It was still amazing to Tess that this precious woman was able to not only forgive her, but to love her. She lifted Samantha’s hand and pressed it to her lips.



Tess awoke to the sound of soft breathing in her ear, and the feel of a warm body pressed up against her back. She smiled; this was perfection. Looking at the clock, she sighed. Almost time to get up. She had taken the day off yesterday to pack Samantha up and move her in, but she would have to go in today. Turning over, Tess stretched her long frame and yawned. She looked at the sleeping form at her side and realized that she could survive anything life could throw at her as long as Samantha was there.

There was a hint of gray showing through the window; it would be light soon. Regretfully she eased herself away from the beautiful sleeping woman at her side. Much as she would have loved to stay where she was, her bladder was sending an urgent message that could not be ignored.


Samantha awoke to the sound of loud cursing coming from the bathroom. She bolted out of bed and ran to see what had so angered her partner. She found Tess pushing a towel around the base of the toilet with her foot. "What happened?" she asked, as she turned on the light so she could get a better look.

Tess was embarrassed and also annoyed at her lover. "Damn it Samantha, why do you always have to put the damn cover down on the toilet?

Samantha realized what had happened and burst out laughing. She couldn’t stop herself. It was just too funny.

"Go ahead and laugh. You’re not the one who just sat on a closed toilet and peed all over herself," Tess said, walking to the shower and turning it on.

Samantha watched as her lover stepped into the shower and closed the door. She could tell that the tall woman was embarrassed, and she felt bad that she had been the cause. The laughing hadn’t helped the situation, but she just couldn’t help it.


Tess smiled as Samantha slipped into the shower and wrapped her arms around her, pulling her close. She was already over her mad, and was sorry for snapping at Samantha like that.

"I’ll try to remember not to do that any more. I’m sorry," Samantha said, as she kissed the muscular back of her partner. "My mother was a real stickler for keeping the cover down. I guess it's just a habit."

"I know," Tess said, turning in her lover’s embrace. "I just really needed to go, and it was dark so I couldn't see the cover. I guess more than anything else I was embarrassed. I’m sorry for yelling like that." She started laughing. "I guess it was pretty funny. Do you realize we just survived our first fight?" She took a step back and looked a little sheepish. "I mean the first since we made the commitment to live together."

"Well, if all the fights we have are resolved this quickly, we won’t have any problems," Samantha said, patting her stomach. "I love you."

"I love you too," Tess said, wrapping her arms around the little blonde. "You know, I’m going to be black and blue by the end of the week."

Samantha looked puzzled. "Black and blue?"

Tess laughed. "I keep pinching myself to make sure this is real and not a dream." Pulling the small woman close against her body she leaned down for a kiss, and lost herself in the feel of the soft wet body in her arms. "Mmmm, I wish I could spend the morning ravishing you. I hate the thought of leaving. But at least you’ll still be here when I get home and we can pick up where we left off." Reluctantly she released Samantha and reached for the soap.

Samantha took the soap from her and worked it into a rich lather. Slowly she began to run her soapy hands over her partners beautiful body. "Are you sure you can’t stay a while?" she said, standing on tiptoes and nibbling on a tempting ear.

"I can’t. I have a meeting this morning with an important out of town client, and I just can’t get out of it." Tess heard the words come out of her mouth, but her resolve was already starting to weaken. Samantha had her wrapped around her little finger, and she knew it.

Samantha pulled Tess under the running water to rinse the soap off, but continued to let her hands roam over her lean nude body. She ducked her head and captured a soft brown nipple with her teeth, then sucked it into her mouth. Instantly she felt it harden.

"Oh God, Samantha," Tess moaned. "You’re not making it easy, hmmm," She moaned again as she felt her lover’s hand wander to the coarse curly hair at the apex of her legs, and her knees began to get weak. "You know I can’t stand up when you do this to me." She opened the shower door and grabbed their towels, tossing them to the floor. Stepping out of the shower, she pulled Samantha with her to the floor. "You win," she husked, rolling on her side and facing her seductress. "You know, you’re the only woman who has ever made my legs give out on me." Leaning over, Tess captured willing lips while her hand slid down Samantha’s warm wet body, fingers seeking her lover's silky depths. Breaking the kiss, the tall woman nipped her way down a slender neck, then lower still to the young woman’s breasts, licking off the beads of water before sucking an inviting nipple into her mouth. She intensified her sucking when she heard her lover groan, and felt Samantha clutch her tightly, thrusting her hips to push her fingers deeper inside. When Samantha climaxed, Tess rolled over onto her back, pulling the young artist with her, and holding her as her breathing returned to normal. "This was worth being a little late for," she said, as she kissed the top of Samantha’s head.

"Mmmmm," was all the young woman could reply.

Tess patted a well-rounded butt. "I have something I want to show you before I leave. I guess I was a little too…ah… distracted last night to remember." She laughed and continued, "I almost forgot again this morning, you definitely are distracting, my love. Come on, let’s get dressed."


"Make sure you keep your eyes closed," Tess said as she guided Samantha down the hallway. Opening the door at the end of the hall, she led the little blonde inside. "Now open them," she said as she stepped back so Samantha could get the full impact of the room.

Samantha couldn’t believe it. The large guest suite had been transformed into a studio. The walls were covered with shelves of varying sizes. She saw that Tess had also installed new lighting to make sure the working area was well lit.

"Do you like it?" Tess asked, as she watched Samantha turn in a circle to see the whole room.

"Oh Tess, I love it, but you didn’t have to do this."

"I wanted to. You needed a pleasant place to work, and plenty of shelves so you don’t have to keep everything in boxes."

"It’s perfect, you even thought of the lighting," the little blonde said as she wrapped her arms around her lover’s neck and pulled her down for a kiss. "I love you."

Samantha spent the day unpacking boxes. It was wonderful to finally have a place to put everything away. Not only was her new studio almost as big as her little apartment had been, with no kitchen and bed space needed here, it was all usable space. There were also several wooden cabinets, for more storage, and a huge walk in closet. She decided that for now she would put all of her toiletries in the guest bath. She had noticed that Tess did not keep a lot of clutter. The woman had nothing on her bathroom counters at all except a hand-soap dispenser. She, on the other hand, had lots of clutter, but they were all necessary items. There was her flowered tissue dispenser, her shell dishes filled with flower shaped scented soaps, body lotion and Bath salts. It was going to be interesting to learn to live with someone who seemed so set in her ways as Tess did. They would both have to make a few compromises, but she was sure the little day to day adjustments the two of them would have to make would be well worth the effort.

Chapter Nineteen: The In-laws

Samantha grabbed her purse and headed for the front door. She was supposed to meet Tess at the hospital in a few minutes, and if she left now she would just barely make it. She opened the door and found her mother walking up the front porch steps. Damn, she thought, I don’t have time for this.

"Mother, what a surprise, I was just on my way out." Samantha stepped out on the porch, blocking her mother’s advancement. "I’m on my way to visit Tess’ sister in the hospital."

Sarah breezed right past her and into the house. "Surely you can spare a few minutes to show you mother around your new home."

The young woman turned around and walked back into the house. "Okay, Mom, but it’s got to be a quick tour. I really need to go."

The older woman let her gaze sweep the large spacious living room. The beautiful hardwood floor was partially covered with a lovely Oriental rug. There was a large leather couch along one wall, and a love seat and matching recliner on another. An entertainment center stood across from the couch, with a large screen TV, two VCR's, a DVD player and an elaborate stereo system. The off-white walls were covered in Samantha’s paintings to finish up the décor. "Now this is more like it, at least this Tess person has good taste." She continued walking through the dining room and into the kitchen. "Very nice, Samantha, very nice. I love the gray and pink color scheme. I’ve always loved that combination."

Samantha glanced at her watch again. "Mother, please, couldn’t we finish the tour another time? I really need to go."

"All right, but next time I want the full tour." She turned to Samantha and put her hand on her shoulder. "When are we going to get to meet Tess? Every time I invite you two over, you come up with an excuse." She smiled and lifted her hand to the young woman’s cheek, "Your father and I won’t bite her, if that’s what you’re afraid of. We just want to meet her."

"I’m sorry. I have been avoiding you. It’s just that this is all so new to me." She drew the stocky woman in for a warm hug. "I really want you to like her. I was just scared I guess."

"You never need to be afraid of us, Samantha." Sarah cupped her daughter’s face in her hands. "I know I can be a snob sometimes, but I really want to like her, so don’t worry, okay? We’ll be on our best behavior. I promise. How about bringing her to dinner tomorrow night?"

Samantha shook her head and smiled. "Okay, Mom, I’ll run it by Tess, and if she doesn’t have plans, we’ll be there."


Samantha took a deep breath. I guess I better get it over with, she thought, as she walked down the hall toward Tess' office. She opened the door and peeked in. "Dinner's ready," she said. Crossing to Tess, she began to massage the tense muscles in her shoulders.

"That feels so good," Tess groaned, leaning her head forward.

"I live to serve," Samantha said, leaning and wrapping her arms around the tall woman. "I didn’t get a chance to tell you that my mom came by today to check out my new abode. That’s why I was late meeting you at the hospital."

"Did she approve?"

"Oh yes, very much so. She asked me again to bring you over so they can meet you. I couldn’t put her off any longer." Samantha walked around and knelt in front of the tall woman. "Would you mind if we go over there tomorrow night? I told her I would check with you and see if you had other plans."

Tess reached out and pulled the young woman onto her lap. "Of course I don’t mind. You’re my partner, they’re my in-laws, it’s about time we met."




"What if they don’t like me?" the tall woman asked as she and her companion walked to the door and rang the bell. Then remembering that her dad said that the bell was not working, Samantha knocked on the door.

"What’s not to like?" Samantha answered reassuringly, giving her hand a little squeeze. "Besides, no matter what my parents think, I love you. That’s not gonna change. Don’t be so nervous."

"Well I’ve never been taken home to meet the folks before, it’s a little scary.

Samantha began to rummage through her purse for a key when no one came to the door. "They’re probably in the back and can’t hear the knock. The bell shorted out a while back, and my dad hasn't gotten around to fixing it." Samantha said as she unlocked the door and ushered Tess inside. "Have a seat and I’ll go find them," she said pointing to a comfy looking recliner.

Tess sat as requested and watched her partner disappear through a doorway.

Unaware that anyone was sitting in her living room, Sarah McBride walked into the room from the opposite direction her daughter had just exited. She had been thinking about Blue Eyes and wondering how much like this giant woman from Samantha’s imagination Tess really was. "Hurry up Sam," she called over her shoulder, "they should be here any moment."

Tess cleared her throat to announce her presence. Oh, they must be here already, Sarah thought as she glanced in the direction the sound had come from and saw the spitting image of Samantha’s paintings stand and extend her hand. The woman towered almost a foot over her small five foot one inch frame. Stunned, she stopped dead in her tracks.

"Hi, I’m Tess."

Sam had not expected his wife to stop so suddenly and ran right into her, sending her sprawling across the floor on her ample bosom.

Samantha returned to the sight of mortification on her partner’s face, as her father pulled his wife up from the floor. "I'm sorry, I didn't expect you to stop like that. Are you okay."

"I'm fine, Sam, I just mashed my tits," Sarah said, and burst out laughing. She flushed red, when she realized what she had just said in front of company, and began brushing non-existent dirt from her dress.

"So much for best behavior," Samantha said, and joined in the laughter. Looking at Tess, she added, "Well, I guess you’ve met the folks." She tried very hard to stop laughing but gave up the battle as her father joined in too.

What a way to meet the in-laws, Tess thought as she too finally joined in the laughter. The tension had been broken, and after she got over the initial shock of seeing the small stout woman slide across the floor, she had to admit it was funny.

Finally, Sam was able to take his eyes off his embarrassed wife and really look at the tall woman standing in his living room. Now he understood why his wife had stopped so suddenly. It was true. Somehow Samantha had found Blue Eyes. "I’m Sam," he said as he extended his hand in greeting. "I’m glad you could come."

"Thank you for inviting me."

"I’d like to talk to Tess for a moment," Sam said, turning to his wife and daughter. "We won’t be long."

Samantha turned to her partner, silently asking with her eyes if she was okay with this. Tess nodded and gave her an awkward smile. "Okay, I’ll go help mom in the kitchen," she said, smiling back at the tall woman.

Sam watched as they left the room, then turned to the beautiful blue eyed woman. "Please, sit down."

Tess sat. She couldn’t help wondering what this was about. He had seemed friendly, and Samantha had said he was okay about them, but she was suddenly worried that he was going to attack her relationship with his daughter.

"As a father," he began, sitting down in a chair facing the tall woman, "I feel justified in asking you a few questions about your feelings for my daughter. I know she loves you very much." He cleared his throat. "I love Samantha, and I don’t want to see her get hurt."

"I don't either, Sir. I love your daughter more than my own life." Tess stated quite firmly. "When I found Samantha, for the first time in my life, I felt complete. I understand that you may have a problem with the fact that Samantha fell in love with a woman, but I can assure you that this is not a phase she's going through. We plan to spend the rest of our lives together. I hope you and her mother can come to terms with that for her sake."

Sam smiled. "Sarah and I have talked a lot over the last few weeks about the fact that our daughter is a lesbian. We had feared this was a possibility since she was a teenager, but at that time we believed it was a choice, and if we got her help, she could change. I have had a few years to worry and wonder what would happen when she finally brought someone home. This talk is not about whether Samantha should, or should not be a lesbian. She is. That's a fact. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I think it’s just swell that Samantha is gay. No parent would be happy about something that had the potential to cause their child pain, but we've been doing some reading and understand now that this is not a choice she made. If it had been a young man she brought home, I would still want to make sure he had the right intentions as far as my little girl is concerned. All any parent can wish for their child is that they find someone to love them with the kind of devotion you just expressed for Samantha." He extended his hand once again to his daughters beautiful partner. "Welcome to my family."




Chapter Twenty: A Birthday to Remember

Tess awoke, and the bed next to her was empty. She got up and padded into the kitchen and found Samantha putting the finishing touches on a breakfast tray. "Morning, Hon, why the tray?"

"I wanted to bring you breakfast in bed for your birthday. Happy birthday, love, now go back to bed," she said, kissing the tall woman.

Tess pulled the young women close and deepened the kiss. "Mmmm, I think I’m going to like this birthday," she said, as the kiss ended.

Samantha turned her around and patted her butt. "Now back to bed with ya."

Tess arranged the pillows so she could sit up in bed, then waited while the little blonde settled the tray with scrambled eggs, bacon and toast across her lap.

"You eat your breakfast, and I’ll go work on dessert."

"Dessert for breakfast?"

"Special birthday dessert." Samantha smiled. "Now make sure and leave room."

"Can’t you stay and share this with me?" Tess looked up pleadingly. "You can’t make me eat alone on my birthday."

"But I made that for you."

"There’s plenty here, and besides, you said to save room for dessert." Tess patted the bed beside her.

Grinning, Samantha climbed up next to Tess and scooped up a bite of eggs to feed her. They took turns feeding each other, and stealing longing kisses between bites.


When they had finished the meal, Samantha scooted off the bed and picked up the tray. Tess started to follow her, but the little blonde pushed her back down. "No, you’re not done yet. Did you forget about your special dessert?"

"Can't we eat dessert at the table?" Tess asked, continuing to walk toward her lover.

"No," Samantha said. "Special birthday dessert has to be served in bed. She hurried out of the room, leaving Tess to wonder what this special dessert could be.

As the minutes ticked by and Samantha did not come back, Tess thought about sneaking up on the little blonde and surprising her. Thinking better of that plan, she decided to wait as instructed, rather than incur the wrath of the young artist.

"Close your eyes," Samantha called from outside the room.

Tess closed her eyes as instructed. She could hear footsteps approaching and soon felt Samantha climb up on the bed. Then there was the sound of a match striking, the smell of smoke and melting wax. Oh, she brought a cake, she thought, and wondered why she needed to close her eyes for cake.

"Open your eyes."

Tess opened her eyes and found a naked Samantha lying beside her with a generous dollop of whipped cream on her belly, and a lighted candle in the center.

"Make a wish," the beautiful blonde said seductively.

"I wish that on every birthday you give me this special dessert," the beautiful woman said as she bent down to blow out the candle. She lifted the candle out of the thick whipped cream, licking it off and tossing it to the bedside table. Then she pulled off her nightshirt and tossed it to the floor. "I think you didn’t quite get all the cake iced my love," Tess said, as she ran a finger through the cream and painted a soft pink nipple. Slowly she licked, then sucked until there was not a trace of cream. "Mmmm, best cake I’ve ever had."

"Aren’t you going to share?" Samantha said, pushing the birthday girl onto her back. She scooped up the rest of the whipped cream and coated her lover’s breasts, then proceeded to lick them clean. She could feel Tess’ heart speed up and hear her labored breathing. Moving up, the little blonde captured warm sensuous lips as her hands continued to tease her lover’s breasts, carefully avoiding her aching nipples.

Tess was groaning loudly now, and arching her back to push her breasts harder into those wonderful hands. "Yesss," she cried, when she felt her lovers warm mouth engulf her right nipple, sucking and biting until she thought she would scream from the pleasure of it. Her body was shuddering all over, and she could feel the wet warmth spreading between her legs.

Samantha released her lover’s breast and moved down her body, moaning when Tess instinctively spread her legs to give her access to her hidden treasures. She settled herself between those beautiful long legs, licking sweet nectar from the inside of her thighs. The smell of her lover’s arousal was intoxicating.

Tess was frantic with desire as Samantha nipped and licked the inside of her thighs. Long fingers grasped golden hair as she guided her lover to the center of her need. She felt the warm tongue stroking, then thrust inside. "Ohhh, Samantha, mmm, ohh," she groaned as the orgasm roared through her body. Collapsing back on the bed, she pulled her young love up and clutched her to her breasts. "I love you," she whispered.

Samantha pushed herself up, "I love you this much," she said spreading her arms out as far as they would go, then looking at her arms she added, "they aren’t long enough."

Tess pulled her back down. "They’re perfect," she said, capturing Samantha's lips, and letting her hand wander over the little blonde’s body.

Samantha grabbed her hand, stilling it. "Not now love, I have something I want to give you."

Tess nuzzled her ear and whispered, "Can’t it wait ‘til later?"

"No, I can’t wait. I want you to see it now." She scooted off the bed and held out her hand to her beautiful partner.

Tess smiled as Samantha led her down the hall to the studio. The little blonde released her hand and walked over to the closet. Opening the door, she reached inside and brought out a canvas. "I couldn’t wrap it because it’s still a little wet." She turned it around and was pleased to see Tess’ eyes grow round with surprise when she saw the portrait of her sister and the little Appaloosa mare.

Tess gasped in surprise. The painting was breathtaking. Megan and Candy looked like they could just step right out; it was so life-like.

"Oh, Samantha I love it, it’s gorgeous."

The young artist had painted Megan like she had seen her in the photo, looking robust and healthy, sitting astride the beautiful little Appaloosa.

"Samantha, would you mind if we give this to Megan? I want her to see herself like this and use it to visualize her goal." She looked at the smiling child in the painting again. "I’ve been trying so hard to get her to visualize herself like this, but I think it will really help if she can see it."

Suddenly it dawned on her what she had just asked, and Tess looked at her young love, hoping she would not find disappointment in those clear green eyes. The idea had come to her so quickly that she hadn’t even thought before asking if she could give her birthday gift away.

Samantha was brimming over with joy that Tess was so taken with her gift. She thought it was a wonderful idea to share it with Megan. "I think it’s a great idea," she said as she stroked her lovers arm. "The way you try to help keep her spirits up is one of the things I love so much about you."

Tess put the painting down and took Samantha in her arms. "How did I get so lucky?" She bent down and brushed her lips against Samantha’s. "I ask myself that question all the time, and I still can’t figure it out."

Samantha smiled. "Luck had nothing to do with it. We’re just meant to be together, simple as that."



Chapter Twenty-one: Tess to the Rescue

Tess had been tied up in meetings again, and had gotten away from work late. Samantha was bringing the painting with her to the hospital so they could show it to Megan. It was going to be a few months before the little girl could experience the real thing, and this was the next best thing. She could look at herself astride her own horse, and believe it was really going to happen. As she turned the corner, she saw Samantha waiting for her outside Megan’s door.

"Sorry I'm late, Hon," she said giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "Been waiting long?"

"Not too long."

"Good," the tall woman said, picking up the painting. "I can’t wait ‘til she sees it." She gazed at the painting lovingly. "It’s so beautiful I hate to part with it, but I know she’ll love it, and that makes it okay."

"Tucker is in there with her, he got here just before you did."

Tess was not happy with that news, even though they really had been getting along. She was still uncomfortable around the man, and preferred to see her sister when he was not there.

"We’ll just stay long enough to give her the painting. I’m really not in the mood to be around him right now." She turned and walked through the door with the little blonde at her side. Megan’s face lit up when she saw them, and Tess smiled in spite of the fact that Tucker was there. "Hey little Sis."

"Hey big Sis," the little girl responded. "Whatcha got there?"

"Samantha painted a picture of you and Candy. We thought it should be down here so you could see it and imagine yourself riding her for real. Now I want you to promise me something. I want you to stop believing in the sick little girl you see in the mirror. Don’t even look in the mirror - look at yourself in this painting, and believe this is the way you are now. When you believe something, I mean really, really believe it, you can make it happen. This is the way I see you, and I want you to see it too." Tess turned the painting around, and held it up for her sister to see.

"Wow Samantha, it’s beautiful. Thank you." She studied the picture for a moment, then looked at her sister. "You really see me this way?" Megan said as she looked at herself in the painting. The Megan she saw was full of life, with her long red hair blowing in the wind.

Tess smiled. "I really do."

"Then I do too," the little girl replied positively. "You know, I used to feel sorry for myself and wonder, why me? But if I never got sick, I never would have known I had such a wonderful person as you for my sister. Sometimes it takes something bad to make something good happen."

"That’s true," Samantha said, as she smiled at her lover.

Tess put her arm through the plastic glove, and squeezed her sister’s hand. "Nothing but positive thoughts from now on. Okay?"

The little girl squeezed back. "Okay, I promise."

"Well sweetie, we have to run. I promise I’ll stay longer tomorrow." She looked at Megan’s father and acknowledged him with a nod. "Tucker."

He nodded back. "Good-bye, Tess."

Samantha stuck her hand in the glove and patted the child. "Bye, Megan, see you soon."



As they walked down the hall, Tess found herself getting more and more annoyed at Tucker. He and Amanda knew the time of day she visited, and usually stayed away to give her time alone with her sister. Why did he have to come today? "He really pisses me off sometimes. He knew I would be there. He should have stayed away."

"Maybe he wanted to see you. Maybe he wants a chance to get to know his oldest daughter."

"He blew that chance a long time ago." She turned to Samantha, "You know, I can honestly say I don’t hate him any more. But I don’t think I could ever learn to love him. Too much has happened."

"I know, I don’t blame you. I don’t think he does either any more." She pushed the button for the elevator. "He realizes he started this whole thing, and now he’s sorry and thinks if he hangs around, perhaps you’ll come around."

"Well, for Megan’s sake, I hope he doesn’t hold his breath, cause it ain’t gonna happen." She followed Samantha into the elevator. "Where did you park?"

"In the north lot. You…?"

"I’m on the other side."

With a quick parting kiss, they separated at the door. "I’ll see you at home," Samantha said as she started off across the lot. She wished she had been able to find a closer spot, but what the heck, she needed the exercise. About half way across the large lot, she heard footsteps behind her. Turning she saw three young men, who looked to be in their early to mid twenties. She picked up her pace and continued on, but kept listening to see if they were following her.

"Hey, blondie," one of the men called out. "Was that your woman back there we seen you kissin?"

Samantha knew she was in trouble. She was too far away from her car to reach it in time, but she started to run anyway. She could hear them laughing behind her as they started to run too. Franticly she looked around for help, but there was no one in sight. She felt a hand grab her blouse and try to stop her, but she kept going and let it rip. Soon however, the hand caught her hair, and she felt herself being pulled backward and hit the ground hard. She lay on the ground, gasping for breath, looking up at her attackers. Two of them stood over her laughing, while the third stood back looking scared.

"C’mon guys, you scared her, now lets go."

The tallest of the three, an extremely nice looking fair-haired man, grabbed him and pushed him up against a car. "If you don’t want to take a turn, that’s fine, but shut the fuck up."

The third one, a rather overweight pimply-faced man knelt by Samantha, holding her down. The tall man turned and stood over the young woman, looking down with a cocky smile.

"You know, blondie," he said, "me and Frank here have a theory about how to cure dykes like you. All you need is a good fuck by a real man, an it’ll fix you right up." He grinned as he began to unbuckle his belt.

"Well I don’t see any real men around here," Samantha spat.

Pimply-face backhanded her across the face for that remark, and she could feel her lip start to swell. He reached and ripped the torn blouse the rest of the way off, when suddenly Tess was there, out of nowhere. She kicked him in the jaw, and the sound of breaking bone shattered the silence. His unconscious body landed in a heap, blood dripping from his nose and mouth. She turned on the pretty boy then and he took a defensive stance.

"You’re gonna pay for that bitch. You broke his jaw."

"Ask me if I care," Tess said advancing on him. She could feel the adrenaline pumping through her body. Her muscles readying themselves to fight.

"You may have caught Frank there by surprise, but no woman’s gonna take me down," he said, as he ran at her swinging a wild punch, which she dodged, then kicked him hard in the groin. He collapsed to the ground, writhing in pain.

Tess looked at the third man cowering on the ground. "What about you?" she said, stalking toward him.

"He didn’t do anything, Tess," Samantha called to the rampaging woman. "He tried to stop them."

"I guess this is your lucky day," Tess said, standing over him. Turning she walked back to Samantha, her expression softening as her eyes fell on the young woman. She picked up the torn blouse and wrapped it around her shoulders, and pulled her in close. "Are you alright?" she asked, kissing her gently on the forehead.

"I’m okay." The young artist turned her head and the lamplight caught her swollen lip.

"Oh baby, I’m so sorry." Tess lifted Samantha's arm to find dirt and gravel ground into an angry red wound. "Lets get you inside and have them check you out."

"No, I’m okay, I just want to go home. Please take me home."

"We need to call the police and have this scum arrested first."

"Please don’t call the police," Samantha begged, a look of panic in her eyes. She had seen too many news stories of people being arrested, or sued and losing everything, when the criminals were injured, and it looked to her like Tess hurt them pretty bad. She couldn’t take a chance on anything like that happening to Tess.

Tess saw the fear in her eyes and pulled her close. "Hey, it’s okay. I won’t call them if you don’t want me to." She walked back to the would-be rapists and started going through their pockets, finding their wallets. She pulled out their drivers licenses, then tossed the wallets back. "I know who you are, and where you live," she said, holding up the licenses to pretty boy, who was still curled up on the ground holding himself. "If I hear of something like this happening to another woman, I won't hesitate to take these to the police. Next time you won’t get off so easy." The tall woman slipped the licenses into her pocket and walked back to a shaken Samantha.


Samantha was overwhelmed at the speed and ease with which Tess took out her would-be attackers. She knew her partner kept herself in good shape, but was still shocked to witness the change that came over the tall woman when she was defending her. The look in her eyes had been frightening and, somewhere in the back of her mind, a memory surfaced. A memory from a life they had shared together in another time. And even though she looked different, it was a memory of this woman, the woman she loved, covered in blood, and dying in her arms. Willingly giving up her life to protect her.

As Tess approached her, the young woman realized that the adrenaline rush that had been flooding through her was beginning to subside, and her legs were so shaky she felt like they were not going to hold her up any longer. She wanted to cry, but could not allow this weakness to show itself in front of her attackers. She could not bear to show them how much they really scared her. Tess seemed to understand and wrapped her arm around her for support, guiding her away from this frightening scene.

When they reached Samantha’s car, the young woman couldn’t hold it back any longer. Tears welled up in her eyes and poured down her cheeks. Her legs threatened to give out, and she grasped the tall woman tightly to prevent herself from falling. Tess wrapped her arms around Samantha and gently pulled her in for a comforting hug, but instead of soothing her, it only seemed to make her sob harder. The horror of what could have happened to Samantha hit Tess like a fist, and reflexively, she clutched her tightly. Tears ran down her face and fell on the blonde head resting on her breast. "Oh God, Samantha, when I think what could have happened…"

Samantha pulled away and saw the tear stains, and the pain reflected in her lover’s eyes. She pulled herself together, seeing that she was not the only one needing comfort. "But it didn’t, I’m okay. All I got were a few scrapes and bruises. You got there in time." A questioning look crossed her face. "What made you come, Tess? How did you know?

"I can’t explain it. I just knew. I was walking to my car when I was overwhelmed with a sense of panic, and I knew I had to find you."

Samantha pulled the tall woman over again for a hug. "You’re my guardian angel."

"I’m not quite sure you could apply the term angel to me," Tess said, kissing the top of her head. "Come on, let’s get you home."





Tess knelt beside Samantha as she soaked in a hot bath allowing sore, tense muscles to relax. The fall the young woman had taken not only bruised her hip and shoulder, it had also scraped up the back of her left arm, and Tess was hoping the soak would help get the dirt and grit out so she would not have to scrub the wound. The young woman held a cloth covered bag of frozen peas to her swollen lip, and the sight of the injured young woman broke Tess’ heart. Unconsciously, she kept stroking Samantha's right arm, which lay on the edge of the tub

Samantha stood up and reached for a towel, wincing at the pull to her sore shoulder. Tess took the towel from her. "Let me do that," she said, gripping the young woman’s arm and helping her out of the bath. Gently she patted her lover dry, careful not to hurt her. Checking the back of Samantha’s arm, she saw that the soaking did indeed do the trick, and all that was needed was a little disinfectant and a clean dressing. Tess rose and walked to the medicine cabinet and took out a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and some gauze. As she finished dressing the wound, she gently kissed the gauze covering. "All better." Standing, the tall woman replaced the supplies in the cabinet. "You go lie down and rest, and I’ll rustle up something for you to eat."

"You…cook?" The little blonde laughed.

"I didn’t say I was going to cook, I said I would get you something to eat." She smiled, "There is a difference you know."

"Oh, well in that case, I want peppers and mushrooms."

"Peppers and mushrooms?"

"You were going to order pizza weren’t you?"


"Then I want peppers and mushrooms on mine."

"You got it," Tess said as she leaned down to kiss the edge of Samantha’s mouth.

Chapter Twenty-two: Homecoming

Megan had been in the hospital for four months, and had been counting the days until she got to go home. Now that the day had arrived, she was ecstatic. The chronic fatigue she had been suffering from had eased up some, and her hair was starting to grow back. Tucker had installed an air filtration system in their house to reduce the number of air-borne bacteria and dust. Tess had followed suit. Although it was not a necessity, it was certainly beneficial. The doctor had instructed that she be kept out of crowds, and avoid small children, especially if they had recently been vaccinated, and most importantly to keep her away from anyone they knew to be sick. Amanda had decided to school her at home for the time being to be on the safe side. Buster had been relegated to the back yard, and was no longer allowed in the house. The doctor had explained that it could take up to a year from the transplant for her immune system to be fully functional, and it was better to be safe than sorry. Megan was not happy with this, but understood the necessity. The most important thing was that she was going to be able to leave this sterile environment and see something other than the inside of the same hospital room, day in and day out.




Tess had spent the morning washing and brushing the little Appaloosa mare until she fairly gleamed, while Samantha took on the housecleaning chore. They wanted to make the house and horse as germ free as possible. Megan had been out of the hospital for almost a week, but this was her first visit to her sister’s home and they were taking all the precautions the doctor suggested. The girl would not be allowed to visit the stable area. She could come out in the back yard in the hospital scrubs and mask that Tess had bought, and Candy would be brought up there so the child could briefly meet her and feed her some carrots. Then she would have to strip out of the scrubs and wash her hands before she could go to the window and watch Tess put Candy on a lunge line and put her through her paces.

Tess couldn’t help being nervous. "What if she doesn’t like her?" she said to Samantha, as the young woman joined her and the little mare.

"Stop being such a worrywart, she’s gonna love her," Sam said as she swatted the tall woman on the butt.

"You’re right," Tess said rubbing Candy between the eyes. "What’s not to love." She heard the car pull up in the drive and smiled. "This is it, girl." She told Candy. "She’s finally here."

She led the little mare up to the yard and waited while Samantha went to get her little sister ready and bring her out. Candy seemed to sense her excitement and her ears pricked up in anticipation too. The tall woman watched as the sliding glass door opened and the little redhead stepped out into the yard. Even though her mouth and nose were covered with a mask, Tess could tell she was grinning from ear to ear.

Megan held the bag of carrots Samantha had given her as she walked to meet her horse for the first time. Reaching out she rubbed the soft muzzle. "Wow, her nose is so soft." She reached up higher and patted her neck. "I can’t believe she’s really mine." She giggled as the little mare nuzzled the bag in her hand, smelling one of her favorite treats. "You want some carrots, huh girl?" Reaching into the bag, she pulled out a carrot and held it up, but when the mare tried to take a bite she dropped it, afraid when she saw those big teeth.

"Don’t worry, she won’t bite you. Just break it into pieces and put it in the palm of your hand. She’ll use her lips to pick it up."

Megan did as she was instructed, laughing as the soft lips tickled her palm as the little horse retrieved her treats.

Tess’ heart swelled as she watched her sister happily feeding her horse, and she couldn’t wait for the day when she could start teaching her to ride.



Chapter Twenty-three: Forever and Ever

Eight months later.

Megan was so excited she could hardly contain herself. The horses were in the trailer, and she was waiting impatiently in the truck for Tess. They were going for a weekend camp-out and trail ride, just the two of them and their horses. She loved the thought of having Tess all to herself. The little girl idealized her big sister, and their shared love of horses made it even better. She wondered what was keeping Tess, and decided to go and hurry her along.


"I wish you were coming with us," Tess said as she pulled Samantha in for a good-bye hug. "I miss you already." She leaned down and claimed soft lips in a lingering kiss.

The kiss ended, and Samantha laid her head on the taller woman’s chest. "Do you realize this will be the first night we’ve spent apart since we started living together?"

"Tess pulled her love to her breast for one more embrace before she had to leave. She laid her cheek on the beautiful blonde head and sighed. She did not like the way that sounded. Living together…They did not just live together, they completed each other. Samantha was the other half of her soul. She took a step back so she could look into the young woman’s eyes. "Samantha…" she lifted a small hand to her lips and kissed it gently. "We don’t just live together, you’re my life." She brought a hand to each side of the little blonde’s face and said sincerely, "I love you. Will you marry me?"

The question came out of the blue, but Samantha did not even hesitate to answer. Publicly committing herself to Tess was a dream come true. "Yes, I’ve dreamed of declaring my love for you in front of God, and everyone."

Leaning down to rest her forehead against Samantha’s, the tall woman closed her eyes and sighed. "In front of God, and everyone."


Megan backed quietly away from the open sliding glass door. She had not meant to eavesdrop on her sister and Samantha; she just wanted to find out what was keeping Tess so long. The tender scene she had just witnessed played over and over in her mind. She had known that Tess cared very much for Samantha. She did too, but she had thought they were just best friends. Now suddenly, subtle little smiles and pats she had seen pass between them in the past few months took on a whole new meaning.


Tess thought she heard something, and looked up just in time to see Megan disappear around the corner of the house. "Uh oh. I think we had an audience," she said, giving Samantha a quick squeeze, then reaching down and grabbing her backpack. "Not quite the way I wanted her to find out about us. I guess it’s time I had a little talk with my sister."

"Good luck," Samantha said, patting the tall woman’s behind as she walked to the door.

"I’ll see you tomorrow," Tess called over her shoulder, as she flashed Samantha a smile. Walking to the truck, she wondered what would be the best way to handle the situation. Should she tell Megan she knows she overheard them and ask if she had any questions? The girl might be embarrassed to be caught listening to them like that. Then again, Tess was not sure just how much she heard. Perhaps the best thing would be to act like nothing happened, and then take the little girl into her confidence and tell her about the wedding plans. Either way, she would get to talk to Megan about her relationship with Samantha, but the latter would not cause the child extra embarrassment.


Megan smiled as she watched the tall woman walk to the truck. She had to admit that her sister and Samantha seemed perfect for each other, and she wondered why she had never thought of them as a couple before. She remembered watching the ‘Ellen’ show, and wondered if Tess was just afraid to tell her. Grown-ups are so silly, she thought to herself.

"You ready?" Tess said as she climbed in the truck and started the engine.

"Oh yeah," the little girl answered, grinning broadly at her big sister.

Well, she doesn’t seem upset, that’s a good sign, Tess thought, looking at the smiling child beside her.

"Megan…I…" the tall woman paused a moment to gather her thoughts. "I want to talk to you about Samantha and me. We care very much for each other…" Darn, this is harder than I thought it would be. I’ve never been in the closet; never given a damn if anyone knew, but she’s just a kid, how do I explain so she'll understand. "I…"

Megan could see how flustered her big sister was, and although it was kind of funny, she decided to put her out of her misery. "You’re gay, and you want to marry Samantha." She smiled up at her flustered sister. "I understand you know, I used to watch ‘Ellen’," the child continued. "I think it’s cool, I really like Samantha. Guess now I’ll have two big sisters."

Tess pulled the child to her for a hug. Thank you, Ellen, she silently said.




Megan felt honored that Tess and Samantha wanted her to be the hostess at their commitment celebration.

Her sister had picked her up so she could be there early to greet the guests and get them settled before the ceremony. Tess had also left her in charge of the caterers, and she was so pleased her sister trusted her with these responsibilities. It was not a big affair, and only their immediate families, and Dusty and Roy had been invited. Tess had even invited Tucker, and Megan knew that she had done it for her.

The caterers arrived and Megan showed them where they were to set up, then went upstairs to find Tess. The guests should be arriving soon, and she wanted to see if her sister needed any other help before they got here. Tess was sitting at her dressing table in her robe, blow-drying her hair.

"The caterers got here a few minutes ago and they’re downstairs setting things up," the little redhead said, as she watched her sister dry her hair. "Anything else you want me to do before people get here?"

Putting down the blow dryer, Tess turned to the child. "Can’t think of anything else I need right now except a hug." She pulled Megan in for a quick squeeze. "I love you Little Sis. Thanks for all your help." She kissed the little girl on the forehead. "I don’t know what I would have done without you."

Megan beamed from the compliment and wrapped her arms around her sister’s neck. "I love you too," she said as the sound of the doorbell rang through the house. "Uh-oh, they’re starting to arrive. I’d better get down there," she said, dashing for the door.


Megan opened the door to find her mother and father, and another couple she didn’t know walking up the steps behind them. They must be Samantha’s parents, she thought as she opened the door and stepped back to welcome everyone in. Everyone was standing in awkward silence, when Megan remembered she was supposed to be the hostess. Extending her hand to Sarah she introduced herself.

"Hi, I’m Tess’ sister Megan, and these are my parents, Amanda and Marion Tucker."

Sarah smiled and took the girl's hand. "It’s nice to meet you, Megan. I’ve heard so much about you that I practically feel I know you. I’m Sarah, and this is my husband, Sam. We’re Samantha’s parents."

They all exchanged their hellos when the doorbell rang again. "Oh, that must be Dusty and Roy," the child said as she started for the door. "Be right back." Megan retrieved the new arrivals from the doorstep and led them all into the large living room. "Everyone sit down and make yourselves comfortable. I’ll be back in a minute." She left them chatting while she went to check on the caterers and found them finishing up. The large table in the dining room was covered in a pale mauve lace tablecloth, and was filled with a multitude of sumptuous foods.

When Megan rejoined the guests in the living room, everyone seemed to be having a good time, so she decided to go upstairs to ask if it was time to take them all out into the garden. As she started up the stairs, she met Samantha and Tess coming down. They looked radiantly happy, Tess in a charcoal-gray pantsuit with a pale blue silk blouse, and Samantha in a long dress of the softest lavender.

"Are they all here?" Tess asked, as she reached the bottom step.

"Yep, they’re all in the living room talking."

Tess reached out and grasped Samantha’s hand. "Shall we?"

They walked in to greet their guests hand in hand.

"Thank you so much for coming to help us celebrate our commitment to each other. It means a lot to us," Samantha said.

"We wouldn’t have missed it for the world," Sarah answered, as she crossed the room and pulled her daughter in for a fierce hug. "I’m so happy for you, both of you," she continued as she surprised Tess with a hug as well.

This seemed to be a signal for everyone to come and hug the happy couple. Tucker approached them, but hung back a bit. Tess had saved his precious Megan’s life, and over the last year he had grown to care for his oldest daughter. He sincerely wished he had not rejected her all those years ago, but that was water under the bridge and could not be changed. When the others were finished he offered his hand, sure that Tess would not be receptive to a hug.

"Congratulations," he said, shaking first Samantha’s hand, and then Tess’.

"Thank you. It means a lot to Megan that you came," Tess said, giving him a subtle reminder that it was because of her sister that he had been included in the invitation. "If you could all follow us, we’ll get started," she said, taking Samantha’s hand and starting for the door.

Tess and Samantha wanted the ceremony to be out in the open air. For some reason, it just felt right. They led the small procession into the back garden. The side fence was covered in sweet peas, and the roses were in glorious bloom, their fragrance filling the air.

They turned to face each other as their guests gathered around them in a semi-circle. Samantha realized that all her dreams really had come true.

"Tess, you've been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. You lived in my dreams, and gave me comfort as a child, but the dreams pale in comparison to the reality of our life together. I need your love as much as I need air to breathe, for to be without either is to be without life. I can’t imagine my life without you, and I pledge all my love and devotion to you for as long as we both shall live." Both their hands were trembling as she slipped the ring on the tall woman’s finger.

Tess was standing facing Samantha, the young woman’s hands held firmly in her own. There were other people in the garden, but all she could see was the face of the woman she loved. Listening to the beautiful sentiments, she was overcome with emotion. How is it possible to love someone this much, she thought to herself? If someone had told her a year and a half ago, that she would be standing here about to publicly commit herself forever, body and soul, to one woman, she would have thought they were crazy. Yet here she stood, gazing into Samantha's eyes, falling into their beautiful depths, and never wanting to leave. Her heart was pounding as she tried to push back the emotions overpowering her trembling body; afraid she would not be able to speak the words in her heart to her beloved.

"I never believed that stories of true love filling your heart and soul could be real. In my reality, that kind of love didn’t exist, seemed impossible. Then I met you and my whole world changed. Suddenly my life was filled with love, joy and endless possibilities. I will never know why I deserve your love and devotion, but I gratefully accept it. My heart is so full of love for you I sometimes think it will burst, and there is no longer room in it for the hate I carried with me for so many years. I believe that I have known you forever, over many, many lifetimes. The love we share is timeless, and so for us there is no time, only love, and love is eternal. Knowing this continues to fill my heart with a joy that knows no bounds. To you Samantha, I give my heart, and my promise that even in death, I will never leave you."

Tess slipped the ring on Samantha’s finger, then raised it to her lips and kissed it as a sweet tear of joy made its way down her face. Leaning down, she gently kissed those perfect lips and whispered, "Forever and ever."

The End


Return to Main Page