Falling Stars

by: Web Bard


Disclaimers: This is a sequel to the uber (or beyond uber) story "Falling". The characters belong to me, but may have similar characteristics to two lovely ladies we all know. Any plot or personality characteristics that may have references to particular episodes are not intended to be any copyright infringement. Content rating: PG-13.

Part One

   Where was she? Beth paced the floor next to the airline ticket counter. We've got 15 minutes before we have to board. Where the hell is Reese? Did she back out at the last minute? Change her mind? Maybe all of this was too good to be true. After all, it had been two days since they had seen each other. Reese had to travel out of town on a business trip in order to make
time for their visit to the Grand Canyon. But, Reese had called her last night to double check on the departure time. Just cool it. She'll be here.
   Reese grabbed her backpack from the trunk, along with the wrapped package still in a plastic bag. I have got to haul ass to the terminal. Beth is going to freak if I miss the plane.
   Beth kept looking toward the airport sliding doors. No Reese. She looked at her watch. Ten minutes until boarding. Please show up. She looked down at the two tickets she held in a firm grasp. Two long, narrow feet came into her field of vision as she looked toward the floor.
   "Reese!" Beth threw her arms around her friend and almost knocked her off balance. "You're a sight for sore eyes."
   Reese grabbed Beth around the waist and hugged her. She leaned down to her friend's ear and whispered, "I really want to kiss you."
   "Right here, in front of God and everybody in the Atlanta airport?" Beth gave her friend an evil grin and squeezed her harder.
   "Wait. I have an idea," said Reese as she glanced toward the bathroom. The attendant walked out and pushed the WET FLOOR sign to the side.  Reese grabbed the blonde by the hand and pulled her toward the bathroom. She pushed open the swinging door and hooked her foot under the WET FLOOR sign to move it directly in front of the bathroom. She glanced around the room. It was empty.Reese flipped the lock on the door. Grinning at Beth, she lifted her off the ground and twirled her around.
   "You have completely lost your mind, woman," giggled Beth.
   "I missed you," answered Reese as she gently placed the smaller woman back on her feet.  
   "Missed you, too, " said Beth. She placed her hand on Reese's face and looked into her crystal blue eyes.
   "Why are we still talking?" Reese looked intently back into Beth's green eyes and could no longer control the urge to make contact with her friend. She cupped her hands under Beth's face and kissed her with the passion she had been holding for two days.
   Beth wrapped her arms around Reese's neck and held on while the tall, beautiful woman captured her soul with a kiss. I'm falling in love with her. I know I am.
   Reese finally broke away from the blonde woman she held in her arms. God, I more than just missed you. I am head over heels in love with you and it scares me to death.
   "That was some hello, Ms. Keros."
   "That's nothin'," said Reese, pulling Beth into a hug. "I'm just getting started."
   "Whoa there. Can I take a rain check on the rest of my hello? We have exactly five minutes to catch our plane. I suggest we blow this romantic escape and make tracks to gate seven."
   "You're no fun," said Reese with a mock frown.
   "C'mon long legs, let's move it," said Beth grabbing her friend's hand and pulling her toward the door. Before opening it, she turned to Reese.
   "By the way, I haven't given you my hello kiss."
   "I can't wait," giggled Reese as she followed her friend out of the bathroom. After she walked out, she kicked the sign off to the side. She looked up to see a line twenty ladies deep waiting to enter the bathroom.  Oops. Oh, well, I got my kiss, didn't I?


   "First class, huh?" Reese settled in her oversized chair and stretched her legs as far as they could go. "Who exactly is paying for this trip?"
   "Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you. In order for you to accompany me, you're now my designated photographer," said Beth. "You do know how to use a camera, don't you?"
   "Of course."
   "Good. It's settled then."
   The flight attendant stopped next to the two women to take their drink orders.
   "I'll take a chocolate milk, if you have it," said Beth.
   "Make that two," said Reese.
   "Okay ladies. I assume you want the high test version," said the flight attendant with a smile.
   "Naturally," said Beth. "Could you bring a couple of pillows and blankets when you come back?"
   The attendant smiled, reached into the overhead compartment and handed the young blonde pillows and blankets. "Be right back with your drinks."
   "Beth, it's ninety degrees outside. What do we need blankets for?"
   "Just wait. You'll see."
   Two tall glasses of chocolate milk arrived within minutes. The attendant also brought a small plate of chocolate chip cookies. She grinned as she set down the plate. "What's milk without cookies?"
   Beth giggled. "Can I shake your hand? You're a woman after my own heart."
   The attendant shook Beth's hand and returned to the front of the plane.
   "She better not be after your heart," said Reese, staring at Beth. "Because it's mine."
   Beth swallowed a large gulp of chocolate milk and tried not to choke.
   "Of course it is, honey," said Beth. " I can't think of a safer place for it to be."
   She took Reese's hand, turned it over and kissed her palm. She then took her friend's hand and placed it over her heart. It's yours and always will be. Don't you forget it.
   "Let's have a toast," said Reese. "A toast to our trip and to us."
   Beth smiled and clinked her glass with her friend's. "To the Grand Canyon and to us."
   The flight attendant soon returned to pick up the empty glasses and cookie plate.
   "Thank you again," said Beth as she winked at the attendant.
   "My pleasure."
   The overhead lights soon dimmed in the flight cabin. Beth and Reese pushed their seats into a reclining position.
   "Hand me the blankets," said Beth. She took the blue blankets from her friend and arranged them neatly over their laps. She pulled back the middle arm between the chairs and then intertwined her fingers through Reese's. She carefully pulled the blanket over their arms and leaned her head against her friend's shoulder.
   "Comfy?" Reese patted Beth's head with her free hand.
   "Mmmm," said Beth. She squeezed the taller woman's hand and covered it with her own.
   The two women sat in contented silence, connected by the warmth of their joined hands.
   "Do you want to sleep for a while?"
   "No," said Beth. "It's not time to sleep yet. But, it is time for something else."
   "Time for what?"
   "For this," said Beth. She turned off the reading lights and gently pushed Reese toward the dark corner of her seat next to the window. She pulled the blankets over both of their heads. "Hello."
   "Hello yourself."
   "C'mere," said Beth in a low whisper. She placed both of her hands on her friend's face and kissed her. Then, she kissed her again, holding her lips against Reese's until she felt her kiss her back with the same force. Beth lowered her head, opened the side of Reese's collar and nibbled on the inside of her neck.
   "God, Beth," gasped Reese.
   Beth continued to explore the side of Reese's neck and worked her way back up to her friend's lips. "Hello, friend," whispered Beth. "I missed you so much."
   "I missed you too," said Reese, running her hands through blonde hair. "Hmmm. I remember a certain rain check from a very romantic ladies room. I think I'll collect the rest of my kiss now."
   Under the dark blue tint of the blanket, Reese kissed the top of Beth's head, then both cheeks and the tip of her nose before landing softly on the lips of the woman she loved. As the women continued to kiss, the soft blue canopy slowly and quietly slipped to the floor.
Part 2
  Beth pulled out her driver's license and handed it to the lady behind the registration desk.
   "Welcome Ms. Morris and Ms. Keros," said the resort attendant. "We've taken the liberty of putting you in our newest cottage. It's a little bit of a walk from the main complex, but it's close enough to all the amenities we have to offer. It has a full kitchen, fireplace and a hot tub on the back deck."
   "Sounds great to me," said Beth, winking at Reese. Her friend winked back and leaned against the registration desk.
   "Ms. Morris, I understand that you've had a long flight today," said the attendant. "Our staff would like to give you a tour of our facility tomorrow. If you don't mind a suggestion, you might want to stop by our supply store before going to your cottage. They have food, camping supplies, permits, film -- and you can also make arrangements for horseback riding, nature hikes and lots of other things."
   "You are very good at your job," said Beth to the lady behind your desk. "I can sense that I'm going to be very well taken care of the next few days."
   You bet you are, thought Reese. I'm going to do everything in my power to let you know how much you mean to me, my friend.
   Beth felt a pair of eyes staring at her from the side of the registration desk. She turned to look at Reese. God, those blue eyes just slay me. She smiled and quickly squeezed her friend's hand.
   "Ms. Morris. Ms. Keros. Again, welcome to Falling Stars Resort." The attendant smiled and handed the women two keys. "Our bellman will take your luggage to your cabin. Your purchases at the supply store will also be delivered. One of our guest services staff will escort you to the supply store. Have a wonderful stay."
   "Wow," said Reese. "This is some place."
   "I think you're right," answered Beth. "I can hardly wait to go exploring."
   A member of the hotel staff led the women outside of the main resort and down a long sidewalk to the supply store. Beth handed the young man a tip and walked in the store with Reese.
   "Good grief. This place is huge," said Beth. "Boy, am I gonna have fun in here!"
   "Here's a buggy, shopping queen," said Reese pushing a cart her way. "Listen, I'm just going to take a look around this place. I'll find you in a few minutes."
   "Okay, see you in a few," said Beth as wheeled the cart down the first aisle. I love shopping for supplies. School supplies, office supplies, camping supplies. It didn't matter. It's a good thing Reese went off on her own. She might think I've lost my mind.
   Reese walked over to the opposite side of the store and looked at the display of knives and hatchets hanging on the wall. Those look like fun. She pulled a small hatchet down from the wall and held on to the handle. The weight was nice. Might need it for firewood or something. She put it in an empty cart that someone had left in the aisle. Let's see what else we need.
She reached down and placed her hand over a small dagger. Reese touched the
beautiful pearl handle and held it up to the light.  I'd really like this, but Beth will think I'm a weapons freak if I buy a hatchet and a dagger.  Oh well, maybe I'll pick it up before we go home.
   Beth turned the corner just as Reese was carefully placing the dagger back on the display.
   "Reese, would you do me a favor and run over to the second aisle and pick out some of the things you like to eat? There are some pre-packaged meals you can choose from," said Beth. "Hey, what's that in the buggy?"
   "Um, a hatchet. For firewood. Or protection," said Reese with an impish grin. "Can I have it mom, please?"
   "Of course you can, honey," said Beth, reaching up to touch the side of Reese's face. "Now scoot over to the food aisle. Put your hatchet thing in our buggy. I'll be right there."
   Reese pushed the cart toward the food aisle. As soon as she turned the corner, Beth reached down for the pearl handled dagger. I know you want this. If this knife will make you happy, it's yours. She picked up the dagger and the leather sheath that would attach to a belt. It really was a beautiful knife.  She slipped to the front desk without Reese seeing her and
paid for the knife. She explained to the person at the register that she had other purchases, but this was a gift. The young girl behind the counter reached down and placed the dagger in a gift box. Beth smiled and placed the gift box in her oversized handbag.  Now, back to more shopping.
   She passed by the candles and flashlights. Candles. Yes, we'll need those. Plenty of those. And, two good flashlights. She picked up two large boxes of candles and the flashlights and placed them in their buggy. Reese had already added the ingredients for s'mores to their existing food supplies. You devil. Somehow, I knew you would like s'mores.
   "Are you ready to go to the cottage?" Beth placed her hand on Reese's back and let it rest there.
   "I thought you'd never ask. Can we pick out our itinerary tomorrow? I'd really just like to relax for awhile."
   "You bet," said Beth. "I'll see if we can have something delivered for dinner that we don't have to cook, okay?"
   They paid for their supplies and then picked up the courtesy phone to order dinner.
   "A half hour. Fine," said Beth as she hung up the phone. "Let's go."
   When they stepped out of the store, a member of the guest service staff was waiting with a golf cart. "Ladies, if you're ready, I'll take you to your cottage."
   The two boxes of supplies were loaded on the back of cart, along with two backpacks. The golf cart soon moved down the path into a remote wooded area away from the resort. Beth handed the man her key. He opened the door and unloaded the boxes and backpacks.
   "Ladies, have a wonderful time," said the bellman as he handed Beth her key. Reese reached in her jeans pocket and handed him a tip. A door closed behind them.
   They both looked around the stone cottage. A fire was burning in the fireplace. There were fresh flowers placed around the room. On the table in front of them was a bottle of champagne cooling in an ice bucket. Beth reached down to read the note.
   "It's from the resort," said Beth shaking her head in disbelief. "No way am I going to write a bad review of this place."
   The walked hand-in-hand into the next room in the cottage. The large queen bed was beautiful. A down comforter was draped across the bed.
   "I think I could live in that bed," said Beth.
   "Only if you live in there with me," said Reese softly. She reached over and pulled her friend closer to her. She placed a hand under Beth's face and lifted it toward hers. Their lips met and they kissed each other softly.
   "Thank you for inviting me here."
   "Hey, you're working on this trip, remember?" Beth smiled and patted her friend on the backside. "Speaking of working, why don't you take a little walk around the cottage and scope it out for me. See if there's a walking trail or anything close by. I'm going to unpack our stuff and wait for dinner to be delivered, okay?"
   "I guess I would like to stretch these long legs out a little," said Reese as she moved toward the door.
   "Hey, do you want to take your hatchet thing with you?" Beth grinned at her friend playfully.
   "No, I won't be going far, I promise." Reese turned back and walked toward Beth. "I need a kiss for the road."
   "You got one," said Beth, reaching up to meet Reese's lips with hers. "Now, scoot."
   The door closed behind Reese and Beth headed for the boxes. Candles, gotta find the candles. She only had a few minutes to set everything up according to her plan. She placed candles everywhere. On the tables. On the floor. On the mantle. Even in the kitchen. Hmmm. She reached into her handbag and pulled out the gift box. She walked over to the bed and placed the box on the pillow. A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. The dinner bill was signed and she placed the food on the table. Need a candle there, too. Candles around the room were lit and the lights were dimmed. She popped open the bottle of champagne and poured it into the two waiting glasses. One more thing. She reached over and pulled a long stemmed rose from the display on the table. Now, we're ready.
   Beth looked toward the door and heard the key fit into the lock. She swallowed hard. Reese opened the door and found her friend waiting for her a few feet away. Reese looked around the darkened room illuminated only by candlelight and the fireplace. Beth moved her hand from behind her back and handed her friend a single red rose.
   "Oh my God, Beth," gasped Reese. "I don't know what to say. I, I, um..."
   "You don't have to say anything," said Beth as she slid her arms around Reese's neck. "I just need you. Right here."
   "You did all this for me?" Reese ran her hand through Beth's blonde hair and caressed the side of her face.
   "I just wanted to let you know how special you are to me. I wanted everything to be perfect when I told you."
   "Told me what?"
   "Can we sit down for a few minutes?" Beth felt her confidence fading. Is this too soon? I am completely in love with her. Why can't I just say it? She reached for the champagne and glasses and moved toward the fireplace.
   "Can you grab some pillows from the bed? We'll have a toast by the fire if that's okay with you."
          Reese left the room to get the pillows.
   Beth turned one of the champagne glasses up to her mouth and drank the contents of the glass. She refilled it quickly. Maybe that will help me relax.
   "Here you go," said Reese as she placed the pillows on the soft rug in front of the fire. "I found something on one of the pillows. I assumed it was for me. Can I open it?"
   "Sure," said Beth looking down into her glass.
   Reese opened the top of the box and a smile beamed across her face. "How did you know?"
   "I saw the look on your face when you put it back in the display. You were so disappointed. I couldn't stand it. So, I bought it for you."
   "Thank you," said Reese leaning over for a kiss. " I love it. I have something for you, too.  I'll be right back."
   While Reese retreated to the bedroom, Beth took a few more liberal sips of champagne and refilled her glass again. Yep, felling better now. Yep. Yep. Yep.
   "You'll probably think this is a very strange gift," said Reese as she handed the wrapped package.
   "I'd love anything you gave me," said Beth as she opened the long narrow box. Wrapped in tissue paper were three long pieces of cylindrical wood. "Um, honey, what is it?"
   Reese took the three pieces of wood from her friend and screwed the ends of the pieces together. The top piece had a strap and the bottom piece had a small metal spike. The middle piece was covered with multicolored leather strips that were interlaced together.  "It's a walking stick.  I thought with your ankle still healing, you'd need a little extra support when we were exploring the Grand Canyon."
   "I love it. But it's more than a stick really," said Beth. "It looks more like a staff to me. Nice and sturdy. Bet I could whack somebody with this with no problem."
   "Whack somebody?" Reese started to giggle as the young blonde stood up and started to swirl the staff around.
   Beth found the staff to be strangely familiar. She swirled it around her head and around each side of her, carefully keeping out of her friend's way. As she swirled the staff over her head again, she noticed that the room was swirling with her.
   Reese reached up to grab her as she started to fall toward the floor. "Whoa. I gotcha, sweetheart. I gotcha."
   Beth threw her arms around her friend's neck and held on until the room stopped spinning. "I had a little bit of champagne when you weren't looking. Sorry."
   "How much is a little bit?"
   Beth relaxed her hold and nestled into the taller woman's shoulder. "Um. One glass. Maybe two."
   "Honey, why?" Reese tipped Beth's face up to hers.
   Beth's composure started to break when she looked into Reese's questioning blue eyes. Tears welled up and spilled over the top. "I, I know I've had too much to drink. I wanted everything to be just right."
   "Everything is perfect.  Really." Reese ran her fingers through her friend's blonde hair. "Now what is it that you wanted to tell me?"
   "Can I have some more champagne?" Beth sniffled and pointed to the glass on the floor.
   "No. I want you to tell me why you're crying."
   Beth took a deep breath, wiped her eyes on the back of her shirtsleeve, and positioned herself on her knees in front of her friend. She took Reese's hands in hers and pulled them over to her lap. It was now or never. Drunk or sober, this was it.
   "Yes, Beth. I'm still here."
   Taking one more deep breath, she looked into Reese's face. "I'm in love with you. Absolutely crazy, head over heels in love with you."
   Reese squeezed the hands that held hers. She leaned over and softly kissed Beth.
   "I have something to tell you, too," said Reese as she looked nervously toward the floor.
   "Would you like some champagne?"  Beth handed her a full glass.
   Reese took the glass and swallowed the champagne in two gulps. She interlaced her fingers with her friend's.
   "I've never felt anything so powerful in my life and it scares the hell out of me," said Reese as her voice started to crack with emotion. "I am so in love with you that nothing else matters anymore. Nothing."
   Tears escaped from Reese's eyes before she could stop them. Beth reached up and brushed them away from her friend's face. She leaned over and kissed each eyelid, tasting the salty tears that lingered. With her hands holding her friend's face, she kissed her. Softly at first, then with more urgency.
   Reese placed her hand behind Beth's head and gently lowered her to the pillows in front of the fire.

Part Three

         After releasing Beth to the soft pillow on the floor, Reese stretched out on her side and wrapped one arm around her friend's waist. Beth ran her fingers through Reese's long black hair and pulled her face closer to hers.
         "I love you," whispered Beth as she kissed Reese.
         Reese felt a wave of emotion rush through her soul. She loves me.  It's really happened. I've waited my whole life for someone to say those words to me and really mean it. And now, it's no longer a dream. The woman I love is right here in my arms.
         "I love you, too, Beth," said Reese. "More than you could possibly know."
Reese placed her head on Beth's chest and listened to the heartbeat beneath her ear. Beth circled her arms around her friend and kissed the top of her head.
"I don't want you to move," said Beth as she lightly stroked Reese's back. "I just want to hold you, okay?"
         Reese gave her friend a squeeze and nestled herself on Beth's shoulder. The two friends gently caressed each other and then rested in contented silence.
         "Beth, I think we've managed to forget about dinner again," said Reese as her stomach started to growl. "I'll bring the food over here and we'll eat in front of the fire."
With reluctance, Reese left the comfort of Beth's arms and walked over to the table to move the plates.
         "Why is it that we always end up eating on the floor?" Beth grinned at Reese while she poured more champagne in the empty glasses.
         "I think it's romantic," said Reese. "We're here, in a beautiful cottage, in front of a fire, surrounded by a room full of candles. What more could you want?"
         "Just you, love," said Beth, placing her hand on the side of Reese's face. "Just you."
         The women ate the sandwiches and drank the last of the champagne. Beth took the plates to the kitchen and returned to find that Reese had gone to the bedroom. She looked up to see her friend holding two bathing suits in her hands.
         "Let's get wet," said Reese. "I love hot tubs."
         "That's a great idea," said Beth, reaching for the green suit her friend was holding. She stepped into the bedroom and slipped off her clothes.  She quickly put on her bathing suit and grabbed two oversized, fluffy towels from the bathroom.
         "Ready?" Reese peered around the corner of the bedroom door. Beth threw her a towel and the women walked toward the back door.
         The cold air took them by surprise as they walked the last few steps to the hot tub. "Oh my God, Reese," said Beth as her teeth started to chatter. "It's freezing out here."
         "Well, we are at about 7,000 feet in altitude," said Reese as she stepped in the gurgling tub. "But you're right. It's pretty damn cold!"
         "I guess we'll just have to warm each other up, then, huh?" Beth slid into the tub next to Reese and pulled her into a hug. "Mmm. That's better. Warmer now."
         Beth nestled herself under Reese's chin and savored the smell of the inside of her neck.
         "I like your bathing suit," said Reese. "It's got lots of cute little gators all over it. They match your green eyes."
        "I like yours, too," said Beth as she ran her hand down the side of the dark blue spandex suit.
         Reese took in a quick breath as Beth's hands began to roam over the part of her body below the water. She took Beth's face in her hands and kissed her.
         "Beth," said Reese still holding her friend's face in her hands. "If this is moving too fast for you, just let me know, okay? I promised myself before I came on this trip, that I was going to do everything in my power to make you happy. I just don't want to rush things if this isn't what you want."
         "Reese, I'm the one with the roaming hands," smiled Beth with a seductive smile. "I want to be close to you tonight. I want to learn everything about you. Every curve, every muscle, every finger, every toe. Everything."
         "That could take a while," said Reese with a wicked grin.
         "I'm not going anywhere," said Beth as she leaned in for another kiss.
         Reese pulled her into a tight embrace and began to trace the outline of her friend's face. "You are beautiful, you know that don't you?"
         Beth began to blush and lowered her head. "No one's ever said that to me and meant it. It means so much more coming from you."
         "Beth, it's not just your face or your body, it's you," said Reese. "You're truly a beautiful soul."
         "And you, my friend, simply take my breath away," said Beth softly. "You are incredibly gorgeous. You also have the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. I don't intend to share it with anyone, is that understood?"
         "It's all yours," said Reese. "Always."
         "Reese, would you mind if we went back inside?" Beth was still cold despite the warmth of the water and her friend's embrace.
         "Sure," said Reese as she helped her friend to stand. She reached over the side of the hot tub and grabbed the towels. After throwing one over her shoulder, she wrapped the other one around Beth. The two women stepped out of the tub and walked back into the cottage.
         "I think I might have created a fire hazard with all these candles," chucked Beth as they entered the room. "Let's blow them out."
         "I'll take the ones in here if you'll get the ones in the kitchen," said Reese as she leaned over to blow the candles out over the fireplace. "But Beth? Leave the ones alone in the bedroom."
         "I'll meet you there," said Beth as she walked to the kitchen to blow out the rest of the candles. She looked on the counter and saw a few unused candles in the box. She took them and walked to the bedroom. She lit the new candles and replaced the used ones. She turned and looked toward the door. Reese was standing there with one arm resting on the doorframe. Beth took a deep breath and walked toward the tall, sleek beauty.
         "I don't know what I've done in my life to deserve you, to deserve this happiness," said Beth as she pulled Reese into an embrace.
         "I understand exactly what you mean," said Reese as she kissed the top of her friend's head.
         Beth felt a chill and shivered. She wasn't sure if she was cold anymore or if the emotions running through her were more than she could handle.
         "I, I need to get out of this wet suit," said Beth as she dropped the towel from around her shoulders.
         Reese dropped the towel from her own shoulders and placed her hand on Beth's shoulder. "Can I help you with that?"
         Beth placed her hand over her friend's. "Reese, you asked me earlier if this is what I wanted. I feel like I need to ask you the same thing. Is this what you want? There's no turning back from here."
         Reese leaned down to kiss Beth softly.
         "Yes, I want this," said Reese as she moved her kisses to Beth's shoulder. "I want you."
         Slender fingers slid under the straps of Beth's suit and tugged them over her friend's arms. Beth freed herself from the straps and circled her arms around Reese's neck. She felt her heart race as Reese slowly moved her hands down her side and pulled down the rest of her bathing suit. Beth stepped out of the suit and kicked it away. She reached for thin straps over Reese's shoulder and slowly brought them down, kissing the muscular shoulders and arms as the bathing suit began to work its way down the taller woman's body. Reese stepped out of her suit and moved closer to Beth. In one motion, she scooped the petite blonde in her arms and carried her to the bed.
        "I love you, Beth," whispered Reese as she placed her friend on the bed and slid in under the covers next to her.
         "Love you, too," said Beth as her breathing became more irregular and her heart began to race.
         Reese ran her hands through Beth's hair and kissed her. Beth pulled her friend closer and kissed her with all the emotions that were flooding her soul. She slowly explored the curves and soft skin under her fingers. Reese's touch shifted from Beth's face and neck and began to move lower.  She lightly caressed her friend's stomach and moved her head down to place kisses where her hand had just traced a pattern.
         Beth reached down and placed her hands around Reese's head and pulled her up until the taller woman's body completely covered her own. Reese balanced herself on her elbows and looked with concern at her friend.
         "Honey, are you okay?" Reese brushed a lock of hair away from Beth's face.
         "Reese, now, please," said Beth as she pulled Reese down to her face and kissed her. "I can't wait anymore. Please."
         Reese's hands moved quickly and more urgently. Beth felt herself completely taken over by the expert hands now touching and caressing her like no one had ever done before. As Beth began to come close to the edge of losing complete control, Reese pulled her into an embrace and held her as she shuddered and could no longer catch her breath. Reese held her close.
         "Are you alright, love?" Reese tilted Beth's head back until blue eyes met green.
         "Yes," said Beth as she drew in a quick breath. "That was, I mean you were, incredible."
         Reese smiled and kissed Beth softly. She felt a tingle move down her side as Beth's hands began to move down the curves of her body. Reese relaxed the hold she had on her friend and allowed herself to be completely open to the new sensations now taking over. She placed her hand over her friend's blonde hair as she felt kisses on her chest and stomach and thighs. Beth then returned to Reese's face and pressed her lips against the ones waiting for her. She held Reese close as the two of them joined each other again. And again.
         Beth caressed Reese's long, black hair as her friend lay quietly in her arms. "Are you still breathing?"
         Reese had completely relaxed with her head resting on Beth's chest. "Yes, I'm still here. I, I just don't know what to say to you. I've never had that happen before."
         "I know, honey," said Beth as she kissed the top of Reese's head. "I'm not sure how to describe it either. But I'm looking forward to feeling it again."
         "Me, too," said Reese. "How about right now?"
         Beth held her friend's head in her hands and kissed her. Yes, right now is fine, my love. Right now, and tomorrow, and the next day after that.  Always, Reese. Always.

Part Four

        Reese slowly opened her eyes as daylight began to creep through the window. Curled up in her arms was a gift. A gift that she never expected. Her soul mate. The person who completed her. The woman she loved. She shifted her body until she was face-to-face next to her sleeping friend. She leaned in and lightly brushed her lips against Beth's. The young blonde stirred, but didn't open her eyes. Reese kissed her again.
         This is going to be harder than I thought. Reese brushed the locks of hair away from Beth's face. I guess I'll keep trying until she wakes up. Reese grinned and leaned in for another kiss. Again, no response.
         As Reese leaned in for one more attempt, a hand reached up from under the covers and pulled her down to waiting lips. With one hand around Reese's neck and the other around her waist, Beth flipped the taller women on her back. Naughty green eyes met blue startled eyes.
         "Were you trying to get my attention with all that kissing?" Beth grinned at Reese and moved closer to her face.
         "Um, well, um, yes, I was."
         "It worked," said Beth, only inches away from her friend's lips. "I've never been kissed awake before. What a way to start the day. Thank you."
         Beth lowered her lips and kissed her lover. She touched the side of her face sighed. "As much as I'd like to stay right here all day, I think we need to start exploring."
         "But it's warm and cozy right here, dontcha think?" Reese pulled Beth into a hug and squeezed the smaller woman in her arms.
        "If I had my druthers, there's no place I'd rather be, love." Beth nestled her head into Reese's shoulder.
         "Well, if we have to actually work, we'd better get out of this bed and stop touching each other," said Reese as she ran her fingers through Beth's hair. "I can't help myself when you're next to me. I just can't keep my hands off of you."
         "I know," said Beth. "It's like I always need to be connected to you in some way. A touch. A kiss. Holding your hand. I need to touch you as much as I need you to touch me. Does that make sense?"
         "Yes," said Reese as she smiled at her friend. "What you just said reminded me of part of a Winnie the Pooh story that I've always loved."
         "You like Pooh?"  Beth gave her friend a surprised look. "You just don't look like the Pooh type."
         "Well, I am." Reese huffed and closed her eyes.
         "Oh, honey, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," said Beth, touching the side of Reese's face. "It's just that you act so tough most of the time. It just surprised me, that's all. Please tell me the story. I'm all ears."
         "Well, okay," said Reese. "But just for you.  If you tell anybody that I quote Pooh, I'll hunt you down and find you, you hear me?"
         "Oooh, I'm scared." Beth grinned and kissed Reese on the nose. "The story, please."
         "Okay, okay." Reese cleared her throat. "Once upon a time, Piglet and Pooh were walking in the forest. Piglet came up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh,' he whispered. 'Yes Piglet?' 'Nothing,' said Piglet as he took Pooh's paw. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'"
         Beth's eyes glistened and she took Reese's hand. "Sometimes you amaze me. That's it exactly. I just want to be sure of you."
         "You'll never have to worry about that," said Reese, holding her friend's hand in a firm grasp. "You can always be sure of me."
         "Thank you," said Beth, giving Reese a kiss on the cheek. "I love you very much."
         "I love you, too, honey."
         "Let's start the day then, shall we?" Beth coaxed her friend from under the covers and pulled her to her feet. The two women embraced and then reached for the bathrobes and the foot of the bed.


        After breakfast, Reese and Beth walked to the supply store to sign up for the events package of their choice.
         "Well," said Beth. "We have lots to choose from. What would you like to do? Horseback riding, hiking, whitewater rafting, fishing, camping under the stars?"         
         "All of the above."
         "Then, we'll take this first events package," said Beth as she signed the form in front of her.
         "Miss Morris?" The attendant reached under the counter and handed Beth a colorful brochure. "You've timed your trip just right. Tonight is 'Canyon Under The Stars'. It happens once a year. People from all over the world gather at the Grand Canyon to view the stars. They have telescopes set up around the Canyon rim. People bring their sleeping bags and camp under the stars. It's really something."
"I'm sold," said Beth. "Reese, would you like to camp under the stars tonight?"
         "I'll sleep with you anywhere."
         Beth blushed and gathered her reservation papers. "Thank you for your help."
         She shook the attendant's hand and then turned to Reese and tugged her shirt. "You're going to get me in trouble, young lady."
         "That's my intention."
         "C'mon," said Beth as she grabbed Reese's hand. "We've got some horsies to meet."


         "Good morning ladies," said the stable master. "If you'll come with me, I'll walk you through the stables and you can pick out your horses."
         Reese and Beth followed the man into the barn. A wave of new smells greeted them as they entered the door. Fresh hay, mixed with the smell of a dozen horses wafted through the air. Reese began to look into each stall. She tried to make eye contact with each horse to get a feel for its personality. After six stalls and virtually no response from any of the animals, she looked into stall number seven. A sturdy palomino horse turned and walked toward the stable door. Reese inched closer to the horse. The golden maned horse nudged the tall woman's shoulder. Reese ran her hands over the side of the horse's head.
         "Hello, girl," said Reese softly, as she continued to gently stroke the large animal. "Would you like to go for a nice ride today?"
         Beth stood and watched the interaction between her friend and the horse. She'd never seen anything like it. She walked over to Reese and placed her hand on her lover's arm. "You're not one of those horse whisperer people and just forgot to tell me, are you?"
         Reese turned toward Beth. "No. It's just that my grandparents run an inn in Greece. It's been in my family for generations. They've kept stables and horses there as long for as I can remember.  This horse reminds me of one I used to ride as a little girl."
         "Well, it looks like you've made a new friend," said Beth.
         Reese looked up into the horse's eyes. Then why does it feel like I'm meeting an old friend?
         "What about you, Beth?" Reese motioned to the other stable gates.
         "I have a confession to make," said Beth. "I am not too crazy about horses."
         "Then what are we doing here, silly?" Reese put her hands on her hips and looked at Beth who was meekly looking back at her.
         "I wanted you to have a good time while you are here," said Beth who turned her eyes to the floor. "I want you to ride. I need to start my article anyway. I'll wait for you under that tree over there, okay?"
         "I can't believe you, Beth," said Reese as she led the horse out of its stall. "Why don't you like horses?"
        "I had a bad experience when I was a little girl," said Beth. "I tried to pet a pregnant mare and she bit me. She took a pretty big chunk out of my arm. Scared the hell out of me."
         "Good grief," said Reese. "No wonder you don't like them."
         "Please go ahead and ride," said Beth. "I'll be right here waiting for you. Oh, leave me the camera, will you? I'll take some pictures of the ranch while you're gone."
         Reese handed Beth her daypack and then placed her hand on her friend's shoulder. "I won't be gone long, I promise. Thank you for doing this for me, Beth."
         "My pleasure," said Beth as she placed her hand over Reese's. "Now you and that pretty horse go and have a good ride."
         Reese led the horse out of the stables and lifted herself up into the saddle. She nudged the horse's side and moved closer to the tree Beth was sitting under. "Can I have a kiss for the road?"
         "You betcha," said Beth as she reached up to meet Reese. She kissed her companion and patted her on the side. "Be careful, okay?"
         "Always," said Reese. She took both reigns in her hand and pulled the horse to the left.
Horse and rider trotted off into the open countryside.
         Beth pulled out her pocket email computer and the camera from her daypack. She loaded film into the camera and walked away from the tree. She pointed the telephoto lens into the field in front of her until she could focus on the woman she loved. Reese's hair was flowing in the wind behind her. She and the palomino were galloping at full speed around the perimeter of the forest. She loves this, thought Beth. She's such a natural. Must be in her genes. She clicked off several frames of pictures and walked toward the stable to continue her photo essay.
         Reese let the horse ride at a faster pace than she was used to, but loved every minute of it. She felt carefree and happy as she continued to gallop through the open fields. I wish I could travel like this all the time, she thought. How fun would that be?
Reese looked over toward the tree where she last saw Beth. She wasn't there. You know, this would be a lot more fun if you were with me, thought Reese. She looked over at the stable and saw Beth walk to the tree. She turned the horse back toward her friend.
         Beth looked up to see her friend trotting up toward her. "Howya doing, cowgirl?"
         "I missed you," said Reese as she lowered herself from the saddle. "C'mere."
         Beth moved into outstretched arms and nestled herself into Reese's chest.
         "Come with me. Please?" Reese pulled herself away to look into Beth's green eyes. "You don't have to ride. Just walk with me. I didn't come all this way to have you sit under a tree while I have a good time. I want to be with you, okay?"
         "You've got a walking partner then." Beth reached into her daypack and pulled out the pieces of the walking staff. She assembled the parts of the staff together and held it next to her side. "Did I tell you how much I like this staff?"
         "Yes, you did," said Reese patting her friend on the back. "Just don't whack anybody with it. This is just a friendly little walk, little warrior bard."
         "What did you call me?" Beth smiled. "A warrior bard?"
         "Well, isn't what they call writers? Bards?" Reese crossed her hands over her chest. "And anyone who carries and swirls a big stick around like you can, could definitely inflict a hurting on someone if you whacked them. I think that qualifies you as some kind of warrior. A little bitty warrior."
         "Smart aleck. Are you making a crack about my height?"
         "No, I'm just stating the obvious," said Reese as she turned Beth toward her. Beth pretended to scowl, but the edges of her mouth turned into a grin.
         "I'll get you back for that," said Beth. "When you least expect it."
         "I'll be waiting." Reese looked down into the green eyes that gazed with affection into hers. A wave of emotion took her by surprise. She impulsively pulled Beth into a bear hug. " I was just teasing you, you know that don't you?  I love every single inch of you."
         "I know, sweetheart." Beth traced a pattern across Reese's back. "Let's go. Reese, why don't you ride? I'll just walk along beside you."
         "Okay, but you let me know if you get tired and we'll switch, alright?"
         "Reese, I am not getting on that horse," said Beth. "And that's final."
         "We'll see," said Reese as she pulled herself back into the saddle.
         The two women traveled side by side into the open field. Beth liked the familiar grip of the walking staff in her hand. She didn't want to mention to Reese that her foot had been bothering her. The staff provided a nice support to relieve the pressure as she walked. She looked up at the dark haired beauty on the golden horse. Reese was wearing black jeans, a blue denim shirt and a black leather vest. She looks good in leather, thought Beth. I need to make sure she wears it more often.
         Reese looked down at her companion. I wonder if she has any idea how much she means to me? She reached down to touch the top of Beth's blonde hair. Her friend looked up and smiled.
         "Reese?" Beth reached for the bridle to stop the horse. "Can I ask you something?"
         "Of course."
         "Do you think we might be able to take a trip to Greece one day?" Beth placed her hand on her friend's thigh. "I'd love to meet your grandparents and stay in your family's inn. Maybe we can trace our Greek roots together."
         "Well, when my grandparents retire, my parents will move back to Greece and run the inn," said Reese, looking down at Beth. "I guess my parents will eventually turn the place over to me. But yes, I'd love to take you there. Maybe you can write a travel article about it."
         "An article. Why didn't I think of that?" Beth shook her head. "I'll see what I can to arrange it when we get home."
         Beth walked slightly ahead of the horse and rider. Reese looked down at her friend and noticed a slight limp each time Beth took a step.
         "Stop walking right now." Reese quickly jumped down from the horse. She walked over to Beth and placed her hands on her shoulders. "Sit down, young lady and take off your shoe."
         Beth did as she was told and unlaced her hiking boot and sock. Reese gently ran her hands over the slightly swollen ankle and frowned at her companion.
         "Why didn't you tell me you were hurting?"
         "Well, it's your turn on the horse, then." Reese placed the sock back on the foot and slowly eased the boot over it.
         "No way," said Beth, crossing her arms over her chest.
         "C'mon, I'll ride up there with you. I'll protect you, I promise." Reese took the reigns of the horse and pulled the animal toward Beth.
         Fear crept into Beth's eyes as the horse moved closer to her. Reese took Beth's hand and squeezed it. "Beth, this is Artemis. Artemis, this is the love of my life, Beth."
         Beth reached up tentatively and touched the side of the horse's face. Her hand was shaking, yet she continued to lightly caress the animal.
         "See. That's not so bad, is it?" Reese let go of Beth's hand and put her arm around her shoulder. "I'm going to sit in the front of the saddle and pull you up behind me, okay?"
         Reese climbed onto the horse and offered her arm down to Beth to pull her up. Beth disassembled her walking staff and placed it in her daypack. She reached up for the waiting hand and found herself being pulled up into the saddle. She moved her legs behind Reese's and slid her arms around her friend's waist.
         "Hey, I think I might like this after all," said Beth, giving Reese an extra squeeze. She craved the warmth of her friend's body in front of hers. She rested her head on Reese's back. I am so lost in this feeling of love for you, thought Beth. I just want to stay like this forever.
         "Ready?" Reese patted Beth's leg that was tucked in behind hers. She pulled the reigns to the side and began to slowly walk the horse toward the stables. Reese placed one hand over the interlaced fingers holding her firmly around the waist. Why does this feel so familiar? They had never ridden a horse together. It didn't make any sense. But they had definitely done this before. The feeling was too strong to ignore.  Well, it wouldn't be the last time, she was sure of that.
         Reese broke the silence of the peaceful ride back to the ranch. "You okay back there?"
         "Hmmm?" Beth brushed the hair away from Reese's neck and placed a soft kiss under her ear. "This feels so good holding onto you, I just got lost in the feeling."
         "No more walking for you today," said Reese.  "We're going to take it easy the rest of the day until we need to go to the Canyon tonight. Deal?"
         "Deal. Does that mean that a nap in a soft feather bed is in order? Maybe some hot chocolate, too?" Beth stroked the back of Reese's hair as they approached the stables.
         "Yes. On both counts." Reese pulled the horse to a stop.
         "I love you."
         Reese slid off of the saddle and reached both arms up to help Beth off of the horse. Beth reached down and willingly fell into her companion's arms. Reese wrapped her arms around the small blonde and rested her chin on the top of Beth's head. "I love you, too. Please tell me that you know that by now."
         "I do," said Beth. "But it's still nice to hear you say it."
         "Then get used to it. I plan to tell you as long as I'm breathing."
         "Me, too," whispered Beth. As long as I live.

Part 5

         Reese and Beth lay quietly in each other's arms with the soft down comforter
draped across their bodies.
         "Hey sleepy head," said Reese as she drew circles with her fingers on Beth's
back. "I think we need to get up and get ready for tonight, don't you?'
         Beth was happy and warm right where she was. "Nope, I'm not moving. I'm
perfectly content right here."
         Reese smiled and placed her hand on the back of Beth's head. She caressed
the soft hair cascading down her friend's back. "I don't want you to move
either, love. I just want you to be gainfully employed when we get home. I
haven't seen you write a single word since we've been here."
         "Well, it's all your fault, you know," said Beth, lifting her eyes to look
at Reese's. "Someone I know talked me into a pony ride this morning. I had
every intention of starting my article. And, then, this afternoon, you held
me captive here in this heavenly bed."
         Reese smiled and tilted Beth's lips up to hers for a long kiss. Beth's hands
began to trace a familiar path down her lover's chest and stomach.
         Beth looked into Reese's eyes. "Now, you're MY captive."
         "I'm all yours," said Reese as she slowly relinquished control and welcomed
Beth's gentle touch.
         "Yes, you are," said Beth. "Don't you ever forget it."
         Reese unbuttoned the Beth's flannel shirt and dropped in on the floor next
to the bed. Beth reciprocated and unbuttoned her lover's denim shirt, leaving
a trail of soft kisses after each button was released. The two women became
lost in each other's sensual exploration. After they brought each other to
new heights, they collapsed into the soft bed.
         "Oh my God, Reese," said Beth as she tried to catch her breath. "You take me
places I never imagined were even possible. How do you do that?"
         "I have many skills," said Reese tracing the outline of her friend's face.
         "Yes, you do love," nodded Beth.
         "Beth?" Reese pulled her lover closer. "Thank you."
         "For what?"
         "For loving me," said Reese quietly. "And for helping me learn to love
         Beth brushed a lock of hair away from Reese's tear-filled blue eyes. "No,
honey, it's me who should thank you. You have filled my life with so much joy
and meaning these past few weeks. There just aren't enough words to express
how much you mean to me. But I'll spend the rest of my life making sure you
understand that you're the most important person in the world to me."
         Beth took a corner of the comforter and brushed the tears away from Reese's
face. She shifted her position and pulled Reese into her arms. The taller
woman nestled into Beth's shoulder and sighed.
         "You know," said Beth as she kissed the top of her friend's head. "You're
killing me with those tears falling from those baby blues. I thought I was
the emotional one. But God, Reese, it just breaks my heart to see you cry."
         Reese tried to speak but no words formed. All of the emotions she had locked
away for years were now coming to the surface. She tightened the grip she had
around Beth's waist.
         "Can't...talk...now," was all Reese could manage. The stream of tears soon
turned into racking sobs. The hurt and pain of her past rushed to the surface
and begged for release.
         "Oh, sweetheart," said Beth, now close to tears herself. "Just let it go,  okay? I'm right here and I've got you. Just let it out."
         "I...love..you," whispered Reese still crying.
         "Shhh," said Beth as she held her lover's head close to her chest. "I love
you, too. Just relax and let go of whatever is hurting you. I promise you'll
feel better if you let it go."
         Reese buried her head into Beth's chest. Let go of the pain. Let it go. The
rejection of former lovers. The pain of knowing she had used people to get
what she wanted. The emotion of knowing her relationship with Beth had now
left her vulnerable to feel love again.. Everything was coming to the surface.
         "Listen, love," said Beth trying to comfort the tall beauty in her arms.
"Whatever has caused you this much pain has to stop. We'll get through it
together. I'm not leaving you. Ever."
        Reese was finally able to calm the storm that had erupted in her soul. She
concentrated on breathing in a normal rhythm. One breath in, one breath out.
I can do this. I can. She glanced down at Beth's chest. The soft skin was
covered with her own tears. She slowly raised her head and looked up at her
friend. "You're soaking wet."
         "I don't care," said Beth. "Are you feeling any better now? God, Reese, you
scared me to death. What is it that has you so upset?"
         "I'm not upset," said Reese. "Really, I'm not. I think that after we made
love, I realized how much I could actually feel again. Something unlocked the
darkness. I just needed to let it out. I'm so sorry I fell apart on you."
         "You don't need to apologize for feeling anything," said Beth. "I just don't
want to see that hurt in your eyes anymore. I'll move heaven and earth to
make you happy."
         "You are heaven to me, Beth." Reese looked into her friend's eyes and then
leaned in for a kiss. As long as I'm in your arms.

Part 6
           Beth slowly eased her body from under Reese's arm. She bent down and kissed
her sleeping friend on the cheek. "You sleep sweetheart," whispered Beth.
"I'll pack our things for tonight."
         Beth stood and looked down at Reese who had now wrapped her arm around a pillow. She looks peaceful now. Maybe a good cry unleashed enough demons to
allow her to start to heal. I have enough demons of my own, she thought. We
both don't need to be tortured by the past.
         She picked up the flannel shirt that Reese had tossed to the floor when they
made love. Beth reached over to grab the blue denim shirt next to her own.
She pulled the shirt closer to her face and breathed in the faint smell of
perfume mixed with Reese's own personal aroma. I love this smell, she thought
as she carefully folded the shirt and placed it next to her friend's black
         Reese began to stir and lifted her arms over head to yawn.
         "Hey, yourself," said Beth with a smile. She walked over and sat on the side
of the bed. "Are you feeling better now?"
         Reese looked into the concerned green eyes gazing into her own. "I'd feel
better if you kissed me."
         Beth complied with her friend's request and leaned in for a series of soft
         Reese pulled her friend down into an embrace. "Thank you for helping me
through my little emotional collapse."
         "That's what friends do," said Beth. "They stand by each other."
         "Yes, they do," said Reese, kissing the top of Beth's blonde hair. "Thank
you, friend."
         "Why don't you get dressed and I'll finish packing up our camping gear,
okay?" Beth stood up from the bed and offered her hand to help Reese to her
         Reese turned Beth's hand over and kissed her palm. "I love you."
         "And, I love you," said Beth. "Now, come on and get moving. If we hurry up,
we can watch the sunset over the South Rim."


         The women secured a campsite near the South Rim of the Canyon. They had
rented a small tent, a double sleeping bag and a few cooking utensils. The
friends worked together to set up the tent and then placed their gear inside
the small dome.
         "Is your ankle up for a little walk?" Reese placed her hand on Beth's
shoulder and gave it a little squeeze.
         "Yes, it is Dr. Keros," said Beth with a grin. "You wrapped my ankle like
Fort Knox. I could probably pole vault on this sucker."
         "No pole vaulting for you crazy woman," said Reese. "Just keeping you from
falling into holes is job enough for me. And, we are right next to one of the
biggest holes on the planet."
         "Point well taken," said Beth as she assembled the pieces of her walking
staff together. "Shall we go?"
         "Let me carry the daypack," said Reese as she swung it over her shoulder.
         They didn't need much for the Canyon Star Party. Just a blanket, some
snacks and a flask of wine that Beth had slipped into the backpack when Reese
was getting dressed.
         Reese slipped her fingers around her smaller friend's hand and they began to
walk down the path to the Canyon.
         "Did I tell you how great you looked riding that horse today?" Beth squeezed
the fingers intertwined with hers.
         "I loved it, Beth," said Reese. "I haven't ridden in a such a long time.
Artemis was quite a horse, wasn't she? You're probably going to think I'm
crazy, but I had such a powerful connection with her. As soon as I looked
into that horse's eyes, I felt like we had met before."
         "You know," said Beth. "I felt the same way when I first met you. It was
like we'd always known each other. Maybe our Greek ancestors knew each other
in a previous lifetime, what do you think?"
         "Could be," answered Reese. "Do you know what part of Greece your family
comes from?"
         "I don't think the city exists anymore, but if I remember it correctly, it
used to be called Poteidaia," said Beth. "What about your family roots?"
         "A town called Amphipolis," answered Reese.
         "We should do some research when we get home," said Beth. "It would be cool
if the cities were close to each other."
         "Very cool, indeed."
         The path soon opened into a much larger area.
         "There it is," said Beth as she walked with Reese toward the South Canyon
         "Oh my God," said Reese, in awe of the scene in front of her. "This is
         "I want to take a closer look," said Beth as she let go of her friend's
hand. She ran toward the edge of the cliff.
         "Beth, wait..." Reese's heart jumped into her throat as she watched her friend
stop precariously on the edge of the Canyon rim.
         "Reeeeeese!" Beth gasped as she looked down into the mile-long drop to the
bottom of the Canyon. She had misjudged where the end of the dirt ended and the
Canyon Rim began. Loose pebbles moved under her feet and tumbled over
into the abyss below. Both of her feet were several inches over the edge of
the cliff.
         "Don't move a muscle," said Reese as she inched closer to friend. "Don't
even breathe. I'm right behind you. I'm going to put my arms around you and
pull you away from the edge, okay?
         Beth didn't breath. She didn't move. She just closed her eyes.
         Reese moved closer to Beth, trying not to disturb the loose rocks around
Beth's feet. She reached out to wrap her arms around her friend and then
pulled them both back several feet from the edge of the Canyon.
         "I've gotcha," said Reese trying to catch her breath. Beth was trembling.
She turned around and threw her arms around the taller woman's neck and held
on for dear life.
         "Don't let go," Beth said as her voice quivered with fear.
         "Never," said Reese, returning the vice grip hold on her lover. "I'm never
letting you go."
        Beth lowered her head and dropped it against Reese's chest. "That was so
stupid. I wasn't watching what I was doing. I just wanted to see over the
side of the Canyon. I didn't expect the edge to come so quickly. I, I'm so
sorry I scared you."
         Reese pulled back and cupped Beth's face in her hands. "I thought I was
going to lose you."
         Beth felt a lump in her throat and placed her hands over her friend's. "I
promise you--that is never going to happen."
         "I've waited my whole life to find you and I'm not about to let you go,"
said Reese. "If you had fallen into the Canyon, I would have jumped right
after you."
         "You'd follow me into certain death?" Beth slid her arms around Reese's
waist and looked into her steel blue eyes.
         "I'll never leave you," said Reese as she pulled her friend closer. "Even in
         Beth caressed the side of Reese's face and kissed her. "That goes for me,
         The two friends stood with their arms wrapped around each other in quiet
reassurance of the inseparable bond they shared.
         "I think I have something to settle our nerves a bit," said Beth. She
reached into her daypack and pulled out the flask of wine and two collapsible
cups. "Let's sit under that tree and watch the sunset, okay?"
         Reese welcomed the chance to move further away from the edge of the canyon.
After her emotional release earlier and Beth's close encounter with the
Canyon rim, she was a bundle of open nerve endings. She had experienced
heaven and hell in one day. Beth was heaven to her. Hell would be life
without her. It was that simple.
         "Here, honey, have some wine." Beth poured the wine into the plastic cup and
handed it to her friend. "I think we need a toast, don't you?"
         "Here's to keeping you away from big holes in the ground," said Reese as she
let a smile creep across her face. She lifted her cup to touch Beth's.
         "And, here I was, thinking you were going to say something incredibly
romantic," said Beth in mock disappointment. "In that case, I'll make the
         She cleared her throat and looked into Reese's eyes. She lifted her cup in
the air. "To the woman I love and the life we are going to share."
         Reese ran her fingers through her friend's blonde hair and brushed it away
from her face.
         "To you," said Reese as she touched Beth's cup. "To the love of my life. To
the only person in the world I would die for."
         Beth blushed and caressed the side of her friend's face.
         "I definitely liked that toast better than your first one," said Beth with a
smile. She took the cups and placed them on the ground beside her. She
reached into the pack and pulled out the light blanket and draped it over
them. Beth then nestled into her favorite spot on Reese's shoulder. Reese put
her arm around her friend and pulled her close. She took a deep breath and
         "You okay?"
         Reese nodded. "I just like having you here safe in my arms. You scared the
hell out of me today."
         "I like being safe in your arms."
         "Then this is where you'll stay," said Reese. "We'll watch the stars from
right here."
         Beth reached down and pulled the blanket up over her shoulders. She turned
her head to watch the sun move below the horizon, leaving traces of crimson
and lavender in its path.

Part 7

         Reese tugged the blanket closer around her friend as the night chill settled
in the Canyon. A large crowd had gathered near the rim to share the telescopes pointed at the heavens. She and Beth had chosen a small tree thirty feet away from the perilous cliff edge to rest against. It really is beautiful here, she thought. She rested her cheek on the top of Beth's soft, blonde, hair. Dear God, how I love this woman. She ran her hand down the back of Beth's back to generate more warmth.
         "Mmm," said Beth in a relaxed tone. "That feels great. I feel like I could go to sleep right here."
        "You can if you'd like," said Reese. "But you're missing some beautiful patterns in the sky. The stars are so bright here. I just wish I knew something about them. I know where the North Star is and that's about it."
         "I've studied the stars," said Beth. "There are a lot of interesting stories about the constellations. Most of them have Greek origins."
         "Really? Then tell me a story my little bard. Tell me about the stars."
         Beth positioned herself with her back against Reese's chest so she could get
a better view of the night sky. Reese slid her arms around her friend's waist.  "You know where the North Star is, right? It's called Polaris or the polestar. Use that as your reference point, okay?"
         "Okay, I've got it," said Reese as she focused on the bright object.
         "Now, do you see something that looks like a cup with a very long handle coming off of the North Star? That's the Little Dipper," said Beth. "It's also known as the Little Bear. The Big Dipper is called The Great Bear."
         "Bears? How do you bears out of dippers?" said Reese.
         "Well, according to Greek myth, the Great Bear was once a woman named Callisto," said Beth. "Zeus fell in love with her and his wife, Hera, turned Callisto into a bear. She had a son named Arcas before she was turned into a bear. Years later, Arcas ran across a bear in the woods. He was afraid and not knowing it was his mother, aimed his bow and arrow at her.  To save both Callisto and her son, Zeus turned Arcas into a bear, too. He's the Little Bear. Zeus grabbed them both by their tails and hurled them into the heavens. Because he pulled so hard, the tails stretched and that's why both bears have long tales."
        "You're amazing," said Reese kissing her friend on the top of her head. "How do you know all that?"
         "It's really interesting to me," said Beth. "Maybe it's because of my Greek heritage. I love mythology and the stories of the ancient gods."
         "Tell me another one."
         "Okay," said Beth as she placed her hands over the slender fingers wrapped around her waist. "Right next to the Little Dipper is a constellation called Draco the Dragon. There's a group of stars that form something that looks like the letter 'C' around the Little Dipper. Can you see that?"
         "At the end of the letter 'C', is another piece of the Dragon that looks like a dipper," said Beth pointing into the sky. "That's his head."
         Reese had no idea where Beth was pointing, but it didn't matter. She loved how her friend told a story and loved the warmth of her lover's body next to hers even better. "So what's the story with Draco?"
         "Let's see," said Beth clearly loving her friend's interest in her stories. "Draco comes from a Babylonian legend about two groups of gods. There were older gods who wanted to rest and younger gods who wanted to play. Marduk was head of the younger gods and Tiamet was the leader of the older gods. Tiamet appeared to Marduk in the form of a horrible dragon and Marduk defeated her. He left her body in the heavens as a reminder of the terrible battle."
         "Wow," said Reese. "I never learned any of this in school. Tell me more, oh fountain of knowledge."
         "Really. I could listen to you tell stories all night," said Reese giving her friend an affectionate squeeze.
         "Well, one more," said Beth. "Then, I think we better head back to the campground."
         "It's a deal," said Reese. "Now, tell me where to look for the next one."
         "Do you see the top of Draco's head?"
         "It points right to Hercules," said Beth.
        "Hercules?" Reese didn't even know Hercules was a constellation.
         "You know who Hercules is, don't you?" Beth nudged her friend in the ribs.
         "I'm not a complete idiot, you know," said Reese chuckling. "It doesn't look
much like that studly guy on television, though."
         "Well, he's kneeling," said Beth. "He's got a club in one hand and a bow and arrow in the other hand."
         "Sounds like he could kick some serious ass up there."
         "You're a nut," giggled Beth. She turned around to face her friend. She took
Reese's face in her hands and kissed her. "Did I tell you lately that I'm crazy in love with you?"
         Reese returned the kiss and smiled at her friend. "I think you did about thirty minutes ago, but who's counting?"
         Beth crouched to her knees. "Let's go watch the stars by own little campfire in a nice, warm sleeping bag, shall we?"
         "Your wish is my command," said Reese as she rose to her feet.
         Reese folded the blanket and placed it into the backpack. She threw the pack over her shoulder and handed Beth her walking staff.  The two friends walked together down the path to the campground with their arms around each other's waists.
         "I really enjoyed the Star Party," said Reese, breaking the comfortable silence of their walk.
         "I'm glad you did," said Beth. "There will be a quiz later on the constellations we studied, so be prepared."
         "Some teacher you are," teased Reese. "I hate pop quizzes."
         "Oh, don't worry," said Beth. "I'll give you some extra credit points to make up for anything you don't answer correctly."
         "Hmmm. What kind of extra credit points would those be?"
         "I think it involves some kissing and removal of clothing," said Beth seductively. "I usually grade on a curve, so I can guarantee you'll move to the head of the class."
         "I love your curves," murmured Reese as she bent down to kiss the inside of Beth's neck. "This curve is very nice."
         Beth's knees felt weak as she felt Reese's lips create a trail of kisses up to her face. Reese cupped her friend's face in her hands and kissed her.
         "I love you, too, you know," said Reese still holding Beth's face up to hers.
         "I know that."
         "Good," said Reese softly. She drew her smaller friend into her arms. "Don't
you ever forget it."
         "I won't."
        The women resumed the walk to their campsite. Reese picked up small sticks
along the way for firewood. Within a few minutes, they reached their tent.
         "I'll make the fire," said Reese as she piled the sticks and small branches together.
         "I'll get the stuff for s'mores, how does that sound?" Beth reached in the large backpack and pulled out the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows. She placed the food outside of the tent, and then reached back inside for the large sleeping bag and small camp pillows.
         Beth rolled out the double sleeping bag a few feet away from the fire. She then walked behind Reese who was kneeling in front of her, fanning the flames by blowing on the embers. She bent down and wrapped her arms around her taller friend's shoulders.
         "I'm so happy you came on this trip with me," said Beth.
         "I wouldn't have missed it for the world," answered Reese with a smile. "Rumor has it, that you have some s'more fixings close by. Do we need a couple of sticks for marshmallows?"
         "Of course."
        "I'm on it," said Reese as she walked into the woods next to their tent. She broke two sturdy green branches from a tree and walked back to the fire. She sat next to the fire and pulled out the pearl handled dagger that Beth had given her. Reese carefully whittled the ends of the branches into points.
         "I think you've done that before," said Beth as she watched her friendhandle the knife like an expert. "It must be one of those 'many skills' you've told me about."
         "Just one of many," grinned Reese. "Now give me some marshmallows."
         Beth poked two marshmallows through the end of the sticks and handed them to
Reese. "I assume you're doing the cooking this evening, then?"
         "It would be an honor to cook for you, my dear," teased Reese as she placed
the marshmallows over the fire. "Medium or well done?"
        "Medium, please. Just lightly browned."
         "You'd better get the graham crackers and chocolate ready. I think these are
done," said Reese.
         Beth put the cracker and chocolate in her hand and moved it toward Reese who
was waiting with the toasted marshmallows. She placed one cracker above the
marshmallows and one below them. She sandwiched the warm, gooey sweetness
together and placed the cookie on a plate.
         "Now, yours," said Beth as she readied another set of ingredients. "I suppose you like yours well done, huh?"
         "Black and burnt."
           "Gross," said Beth as she reached for the burned marshmallows. She finished
making Reese's cookie and handed it to her.
        They touched the edges of their cookie concoctions together in a mock toast
and took the first bite.
         "Mmmm," said Beth. "I forgot how great these tasted."
         Reese managed to mumble in agreement. Delicious. She glanced over at Beth
who was clearly enjoying her cookie. Traces of chocolate and marshmallow circled the outside of her mouth.
         "Like it, huh?" Reese reached over with her finger to wipe the sticky, white and brown substance off of Beth's lips. "I think I can help you clean up a little bit."
        She started to remove the substance with her fingers but decided to take a
more sensual route by gently placing her lips on Beth's and licking the chocolate off very slowly. "You taste yummy."
         "So do you."
         Beth hesitantly backed away and moved toward the sleeping bag. She unzipped
it and crawled in. She pulled back one corner and patted the inside."C'mere."
         Reese complied with her friend's request and slid into the sleeping bag beside her. Lying shoulder to shoulder, they clasped hands and gazed up into the night sky.
         "Look, Reese," said Beth she pointed to the sky. "A falling star. Quick, make a wish."
         Beth closed her eyes and squeezed them tight.
         "Did you make a wish?"
         Reese took her friend's hand and brought it to her lips. "Don't need to."
         "Why not?"
         "Because I have everything I've ever wished for right here," said Reese softly into Beth's ear. She pulled her friend into an embrace and held her there.
         "What did you wish for, honey?" Reese caressed her friend's back and then rested her hand on Beth's head.
         "You," said Beth.  "For you to always be by my side, just as we are right now."
        Beth nestled into her favorite spot above Reese's heart. "We've come a long way in the past few days, haven't we?"
         "Yes, we certainly have."
         "Reese, I want you to know that this is not some temporary thing with me," said Beth. "I am committed to you in a way I'm not really sure how to explain. But I know that this is it. You're the one and only love I will have in this or any other lifetime."
         "Beth, I want to share my life with you," said Reese. "You and I are soul mates."
         Reese made a quick decision regarding her commitment to Beth and took a ring
off of her pinkie finger.
         "Beth, give me your left hand."
         Beth smiled and complied with Reese's request.
         "This ring has belonged to my great grandmother and is very precious to me,"
said Reese. "I want to give it to you to show you how deep my love and commitment is for you. You are the best thing in my life."
         Beth's eyes began to glisten with tears as Reese slid the ring on her finger. She placed her hand on the side of her friend's face and then kissed her.
         "It's beautiful," said Beth. "You didn't have to do anything to prove your love to me, though. But since you did, I'd like to give you something, too."
         "Beth," Reese started to tell her friend that she didn't expect anything from her, but was stopped by a soft kiss as she tried to finish her sentence.
        Beth looked down at the blue star sapphire ring that she wore on her right hand. She removed it and took Reese's left hand in her own.
         "You'll need to resize this," said Beth as her hands slightly trembled. "I've had this ring since I was in high school. The blue sapphire just mesmerized me when I saw it. Just like your blue eyes did the first time I looked into them. It's the only ring I've ever worn. I want you to have it to show my love and absolute devotion to you. I love you, Reese."
         Reese looked down at the ring with the shining sapphire highlighted by the firelight. She then took Beth's face in her hands and kissed her with all the love she had in her soul.
        After a lengthy exchange of kisses and a loving embrace, the women snuggled back down into the sleeping bag. Beth reached for Reese's hand and interlaced her fingers with her friend's.
         "I guess what we just did makes us partners," said Beth as she squeezed
Reese's hand.
         "Partners," said Reese. "I like the way that sounds."
         "Lifetime partners," said Beth.
         "Are you sure want to stop at just lifetime partners?"
        Beth thought for a moment. "How about eternal soul mates? How does that sound?"
         "Eternal soul mates," said Reese softly. "And then some."
         Beth moved into her favorite place and nestled into Reese's shoulder. She placed her arm across her friend's waist and pulled herself even closer. Eternity and then some. I'll take it.
         "And then some," echoed Beth. She took a deep breath and relaxed in her lover's arms. The two women finally drifted into a peaceful sleep under the watchful eyes of the heavenly constellations sparkling above them.

The end