RATED NC17: Sexual content and mild profanity

FEEDBACK: If you enjoy the story please let me know: weebod@mac.com




Part Three:


Elish looked down at the blonde head resting on her stomach, her fingers moving lazily through the golden locks. She glanced briefly out the bedroom window, it was almost dark and El guessed the time to be somewhere around 10pm.

"Elish?" Came the quiet voice from somewhere around her navel.


"When did you come out to your parents?" El, chuckled in response to the question. "Oh, this is sure to be good," Aisling, guessed.

"You might say that. I was fourteen, my Mam caught me in my room kissing my brothers girlfriend." Aisling started laughing, El could feel her shaking against her stomach. "I shouldn't be surprised really, but that's one hell of a coming out story Elish."

'Yeah, I suppose it is." El mused. "I was given such a lecture though."

"Your parents weren't happy about you being gay?" Thoughtful green eyes peered up at El.

"Well, my Mam wasn't for sure. But I got the lecture from my Da, because I was kissing my brothers girlfriend. He was more concerned about that, than my newfound sexuality. He smoothed the way for me with my Mam." It would have been hard to miss the adoration the brunette felt for her father.

"He sounds like a great guy?"

"He was." Elish whispered into the dark.

Aisling easily picked up on the hurt in her lover's voice. "You want to talk about it?" she enquired gently.

"Maybe some other time, okay?"

"Of course."

Uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had taken, Elish deftly steered the focus back to Aisling. "What about you? When did you come out?" She playfully ruffled the blonde locks.

"Hmm, I told my parents out of sheer desperation. They were driving me mad with their constant hints about who was suitable and available to date. It got to the stage of them actually inviting young men to dinner whenever I was home from University. It all came to a head when I brought my then girlfriend home to spend some time with me. There we were sitting at dinner with some young Doctor, who was the son of friends of my parents, I decided then that I had to put an end to it. The following day I sat my parents down and explained to them that Karen was my girlfriend and I had been dating women for the last two years. It went down like a lead balloon. Karen and I booked into a hotel for the next few days till things settled down a bit. Karen then headed back to London early and I went back home only to endure countless lectures on how much I had disappointed them. They were continually asking where they had gone wrong. Telling me I would soon see sense and realise how much of a mistake I was making. It was relentless. My brother Aiden became my rock through it all, telling me it made no difference to him. He would love me regardless. Thank God, I'm not sure how I would have handled having my entire family disgusted with me."

If Aisling had lifted her head to look at Elish, she would have witnessed the frown marring the brunette's features. El's own experience having been so different, it was hard to imagine how tough that must have been for the blonde. Elish moved her hand through the soft locks in a soothing motion, trying to relax the woman sharing her bed.

"Why do you continue to live at home? I mean, they don't agree with your lifestyle, it must make things difficult."

El could feel Aisling nod her head against her stomach. "I finished university in June this year. It was already agreed that I would start working for my father when I got my degree. I have a flat in London that my father bought when I went there to study, just as my brother has one in Edinburgh. I'm going to sell it and purchase a property here. I've already looked at a few. I think I would quite like to concentrate my efforts on finding somewhere now. I seem to have found a very enticing reason to hurry that project along." Aisling lifted her head from El's stomach to offer her a breathtaking smile. Not one to miss out on an opportunity the brunette moved in to kiss the lips she had been enjoying at length for most of the evening.

"Good morning."

"It is isn't it?" Elish moved in for a kiss, which quickly became more. "God, I just can't get enough of you." The brunette's voice was husky from sleep and the early stirrings of desire.

"Feelings mutual." Aisling replied as she rolled El onto her back, a move made easier with El's compliance. They began to grind against each other slowly. Elish bent her long leg at the knee to offer Aisling more purchase, which the blonde used with abandon. Sliding easily along the length of El's smooth thigh while the brunette cupped her buttocks to assist. El could feel Aisling's climax getting closer as the blonde move more urgently above her. Concentrating fully on Aisling's pleasure, Elish wasn't prepared for the fingers that snaked between her thighs to help bring her over the edge with the blonde.

They both lay sated and spent, catching their breath in the early morning sunlight. El moved her hand in lazy circles over the sweat slicked flesh of her partner's lower back, she could feel her own skin sticking to the cotton sheet beneath her.

"Wow." Was all the blonde could manage at that moment, her face burrowed into the taller woman's neck.

"Yeah," El agreed. "Wow." They lay in silence for a few minutes, recovering from their early morning exertions, until Elish broke the spell, her conscience getting the better of her.

"Much though I don't want to, I have to get up and ready for work." El gently kissed her lover, before moving Aisling from on top of her body. Taking a deep cleansing breath she swung her long legs over the edge of the bed to contemplate making her way to the shower. One look over her shoulder at Aisling with her tousled blonde hair and her body lying naked on the scattered sheets almost changed El's mind. Sensing her hesitation the blonde smiled enticingly. "You are a dangerous woman Aisling Keenan." Elish declared. Having to use every ounce of willpower she possessed to get off the bed and into the shower.

While Elish showered Aisling took the opportunity to locate her clothing. Looking around the bedroom and seeing only her bra and skirt she assumed everything else would be at the bottom of the staircase.

Elish walked back into the room clad in a bathrobe, her dark hair still wet. She found Aisling sitting on the bed fully dressed in yesterday's clothes. Her own clothing that had been discarded at the bottom of the stairs folded neatly nearby.

"Don't you want to shower before you leave?" El enquired politely.

"No, I don't have any clean clothes, so I'm going to drive home to shower. Thanks for the offer."

"I'll see you at the centre later then?"

Aisling shook her head. "I'm going to work from home today, I know for certain that if I work from your office, I'm not going to get much done and neither will you if I get my way." The blonde's tone left no doubt in El's mind that she was serious.

El laughed. "I agree, I wouldn't get much work done either."

"Can I call you later?" The query was tentative despite the passion they had shared over the last few hours.

"I would like that."

Monday morning found Elish sitting in her office. After a quiet weekend she was looking forward to the days ahead. El glanced at her watch, any minute now. A smile came to her face unbidden as she imagined the mayhem that was about to ensue.



The shrill constant ring was both deafening and nerve jangling. The tall brunette calmly reached for her bag and strolled out to the designated area. As she stood there taking in her surroundings she glanced over and caught the eye of Naomi, they shared a conspiratorial wink as they observed the mayhem around them. El watched on as her staff exited the building, some in a panic, others unsure whether they should bother. She took a mental note of all that was happening, taking especially careful notice of those staff members that had not yet exited the building and the sheer stupidity of the ones that had, only to decided they needed to return back inside a potentially dangerous building to retrieve something. Oh, this is going to be fun.


A full twenty minutes later, which was the amount of time that had passed before everyone had exited the building, Elish addressed her staff. "That, ladies and gentlemen, was a fire drill. Which I might add you have just failed...miserably!" She made direct eye contact with Adam, who had been the very last person to saunter from the centre. She wasn't surprised as he was late for everything. People were always cracking the usual jokes about him being late for his own funeral. El thought it would be ironic if the building were ablaze he could have turned up early for his cremation.

"Everyone gather in the main hall in five minutes, and I do mean five minutes! Not ten!" She walked off leaving her staff looking stunned.

Five minutes later everyone was seated in the hall. "Listen up people, the paper you found on your seat is a copy of the fire safety procedures that you are to follow in the event of the fire alarm going off. You will take the list home and learn them. I have set up the TV and Video recorder so you can all spend the next thirty minutes watching a fire safety video. Next week you will sit a written test and everyone better pass it, those that don't will have to sit through this entire video again and again until they do." There were a few grumbles, but El continued, "I'm not finished yet." She paused for effect. "If one person fails the next fire drill, everyone will be doing this again! Enjoy the video." Elish smiled and left her staff to watch.

Walking into her office feeling quite content with herself, El answered the ringing telephone.

"Having fun Stud?"


"Oh, you bet I am, we got them good Naomi." They shared a laugh. El had plotted this day since the fiasco of the skip fire. Every time their staff became blasé about something their bosses would take great delight in planning the most devious and fun ways to keep them on their toes. Those two together could be very wicked.

Later that afternoon El made her way over to Aisling's new office. The refurbishments seemed to be coming along nicely, at least Aisling no longer had to walk through the butchers shop to get to her office. El used the newly reopened staircase to get to the first floor. She knocked on the open door. "Anybody home?' Peering inside El noticed Aisling on the phone the blonde smiled and waved her in. Hanging up the phone, the accountant pinned Elish with a look. "I hear you are upsetting your staff?"

"Ha! That'll teach them to get too complacent. If I hear any complaints I'll just think up more ways to persecute them. Tell me who's been complaining, I'll make their punishment worse." Elish sounded suspiciously cheerful at the prospect.

"You're enjoying this." Aisling accused.

"Off course I am, helps brighten up the more boring days." El grinned insanely at Aisling.

"Are you having many...boring days?' The accountant asked innocently.

"Things have certainly been a lot more sedate over there since you got your office fixed."

Aisling walked into El's personal space, "You want me to liven it up for you?"

The brunette swallowed hard, "I've reprimanded members of my staff for making out on the premises. I wouldn't be setting a very good example if I were to do the same."

"You lost control once before...might happen again?" The blonde husked into El's ear.

"Not today it won't. "Elish squirmed away from the wandering hands of the blonde and stood at the door, "I brought you a gift, for your new office." The brunette thrust a plant into Aisling's dangerous digits. She thought it would at least keep them occupied for a couple of minutes.

"It's lovely Elish." The blonde replied, pleasantly surprised by the woman's thoughtfulness.

El shrugged, "It's just a plant."

The blonde put the plant onto her desk so she could hug and kiss the stoic woman. "It's not just a plant Elish, it's a gift from you and it means a lot to me. Coffee?" The accountant asked to break El's discomfort, she wasn't sure what had the tall woman so uncomfortable about a gift, but she seemed to be.

"Sure, that would be great," El answered, keen to change the subject.

Taking a seat in the chair across from Aisling's desk Elish glanced around while the blonde was making coffee. She liked the new look of the office and wondered idly how much input Aisling had in the decoration. The accountant looked over at Elish, the tall woman still seemed a little nervous, she wondered if El was having second thoughts about them, she hoped not. They hadn't seen each other over the weekend as Aisling had stuck to her normal schedule to visit her brother, despite her frantic unscheduled trip a couple of weeks before.

"Did you enjoy your weekend with Aiden?"

"I did, thanks for asking. We went out to dinner, then to see a film. Stayed out of the bars." Aisling offered wryly.

"He's doing better then?"

"He seems to be more settled. Generally he feels that he lacks control over his life. Every so often he rebels when that feeling becomes too much for Aiden to bear any longer."

Elish nodded, she certainly didn't fully understand all the implications of living with schizophrenia, but she could comprehend to a degree the loss of control. "Does Aiden stop taking his medication at this time?"

Aisling shook her head, "No, he can't do that. He is currently taking his medication by depot injections. He gets the injection once every six weeks; it's like a slow release into the bloodstream. It's not ideal, but Aiden's compliance to orally medicate was less than successful. As soon as he felt well, he stopped taking the antipsychotic because he hates the involuntary movements they cause him, then the symptoms return."

Elish was puzzled, she had never heard of most of what Aisling was telling her. She decided to do a little reading to help her understand better. As she continued to fidget, Aisling had finally had enough.

"El is there something on your mind?" The blonde's voice held a note of concern.

Elish blew out a breath, "Yes, yes there is." She paused, before continuing, which only served to make Aisling frown. "My Mam has asked me to invite you to Sunday lunch."

"Okay." Was the immediate, relieved reply.

"What? You'll go? Just like that?"

"Sure, it's only lunch after all." The blonde replied casually.

El put her head in her hands, "No Aisling, it's not only lunch. You will be meeting my Mam and my brothers."

"Really Elish, I'm fine with it. I would love to go to lunch."

"This Sunday then?"

"I don't have a better offer."

El nodded, she just wasn't sure about this, but her Mam wanted to meet Aisling so she would comply. Having spent the weekend mooning over Aisling, Elish was anxious to spend more time with the blonde. "You want to get together and do something tonight?"

"What did you have in mind?"

Several images popped into El's head, all of which she chose not to disclose, but would certainly love to be doing later. Aisling smiled saucily as if having read El's mind, she backhanded her gently in the stomach. 'What if I were to drive over to yours this evening with a bottle of wine and we see what happens from there?"

El cleared her throat gently, "Sounds good."

Elish walked back over to the community centre with a new bounce in her step, she had a date with Aisling this evening life was good. Walking up to the reception desk, she noticed Brenda over at one of the filing cabinets. "Afternoon Bren!" Elish proclaimed loudly while banging her palm on the counter just to make sure she got the girls attention. "Any calls for me while I was out?"

Brenda glared at her boss, she didn't do exuberant, especially when it came to Elish, it made her suspicious of what other surprises her boss could be planning. Bren was still pissed off with El for not telling her about the fire drill earlier.

"No." Brenda replied flatly. Elish simply smiled sweetly and responded with a teasing, "Good," before making her way to her office.

El answered the cottage door with a question. "Have you eaten?"

"Yes, sorry. I didn't kno..." Aisling's reply was cut short as the brunette's lips captured her own in a fierce kiss. Getting over her initial surprise, the blonde was soon responding in kind. She was aware of Elish moving them both towards the sitting room, of the bottle of wine being removed from her grasp and set down on the coffee table. Then she was being lowered onto the generously sized sofa, quickly followed by almost six foot of horny brunette. Elish seemed to be extremely single minded in her pursuit of Aisling and the blonde wasn't of a mind to stop her. The urgency of their movements increased the more wrapped up in each other they became. Clothing was hastily opened and pushed aside as they both sought out the other with focussed determination. Elish grunted as she struggled to push the blonde's jeans down past her hips. By some silent agreement they both assisted the other in this task. Only partly undressed they moved together in a tangled mass of arms and legs, constrained by the clothing they still wore. El braced herself on the arm of the sofa, hovering over Aisling and offering the blonde access to her swollen clitoris. Her other hand was already moving inside Aisling's underwear. The long fingers quickly finding the blonde's bundle of nerves began stroking purposefully, the blonde responding in kind. The brunette was soon coming hard and tried desperately to continue concentrating on her partner. She lost the battle briefly, but quickly picked up where she left off.

Elish looked on in fascination, as Aisling's orgasm seemed to continue on and on. Not wanting to stop, she stroked the blonde harder and faster and brought her to another two orgasms, before Aisling trapped the fingers between her strong thighs. Elish stopped moving, as the blonde released a long groan, then flopped boneless onto the sofa. Her thighs continued to twitch occasionally, as her breathing evened out, releasing small whimpers and soft moans. Then all was still, except the movement of the blonde's chest as she breathed deeply. Elish was at a loss, as to what to do next. She gently removed her hand from between the blonde's legs. Pulling her underwear and trousers over her hips, she fastened the buttons of her jeans. Quietly, lifting the bottle of wine from the coffee table, Elish made her way to the kitchen. She opened the bottle with a corkscrew and retrieved two glasses. Gently sitting back down on the sofa, she poured the wine and waited on the blonde to wake up.

Sipping on her wine, Elish watched the little blonde open her eyes. She gave Aisling a stunning smile, which was returned in kind until the blonde seemed to remember something.

"Oops." She made a face, "I fell asleep, didn't I?"

"Only for about," El made a show of looking at the clock, "twenty minutes."

"What did I miss?"

"Oh not much. I opened the wine, poured us each a glass then watched you sleep."

Aisling sat up and rearranged her clothing. "Great. I'm feeling really thirsty." The blonde grinned at her lover as she reached for her glass.

"Has that happened before?"

"What? Me falling asleep?"


The blonde laughed. "Sorry, I couldn't resist teasing."


"Oh, you mean my multiple orgasms." She grinned unrepentantly. "It has happened before, many times." El's face seemed to drop a little at hearing this. "But...I'm usually on my own." The brunette's eyebrow rose with interest. "I can give myself multiple orgasms, but it's rare to hit more than two in a row with someone else. I presume it's because I know exactly how to touch myself, it's easy for me to accomplish it."

"How many?"

"On my own?"

"Tonight." El clarified, sure she was being teased again.

Aisling grinned, "Four." Then she added, "So far." And noted that El looked pretty pleased with herself.

The taller woman stretched out on the sofa alongside her lover, their wine glasses just a short reach away on the coffee table. The blonde took the opportunity to rest her head on the brunette's chest.

"I'm glad you had eaten, I don't think I could have kept my hands away from you long enough to have cooked."

Aisling chuckled, "I believe you." They lay quietly absorbing each other's warmth until the blonde broke the silence, "You know El, if I'm going to meet all your family on Sunday you should at least help prepare me a little."

"I suppose it's only fair...what do you want to know?"

"Hmm, names and professions would be a good start."

The brunette nodded, "Alright, let's see. First there is my Mam. Marie Maloney, housewife and Mother. She is very active in the church and the lives of her children." El added wryly. "My Mam hasn't had a paid job since her first pregnancy, she was too busy looking after all us kids to find the time for work as well. Prior to having the twins, she was a Home Economics teacher."

"I can imagine, seven kids!"

Elish laughed, "We were a handful alright.... Okay lets see, first born were the old twins, Gerry and Gheordan..."

"Why do you call them the old twins?"

"Cause there is another set, the young twins."

"Oh, I see."

"Right, Gerry and Gheordan are builders, they have their own company. Then comes John, he's a, well John is a law unto himself. I'm not sure exactly what he does, he seems to have his fingers in a lot of pies and is always vague about exactly what he's up to."

Aisling nodded and repeated the information, in an attempt to retain it.

"After John is Tim, he is a mechanic, has his own garage. The family vehicles alone are enough to keep him in business. After Tim would be me," El smiled. "Finally, the young twins, Danny and Thomas. Danny is a plumber and Thomas is a joiner."

Aisling laughed. "You should have been an electrician Elish."

"I get that a lot. However, Gheordan is also an electrician as well as a builder, so no need."

"Must be great having all those brothers with trades."

"Well you would think so, and they have helped me out from time to time, but in reality their jobs keep them pretty busy so getting them to start, then finish a job off can be tricky. They refuse to take my money despite my protests, so it doesn't make any difference if I offer to pay them to finish the job. Danny and Thomas insisted they would fit my new bathroom and they have done a fantastic job. Problem was they came along almost did it in one day, but then I had to wait another week for them to come finish of the small stuff, like the grouting of the tiles. I had to drive to my Mam's for a shower every morning!"

Aisling laughed. "I can see where there might be drawbacks."

Elish was beginning to feel amorous and leaned in for a kiss, but Aisling still had questions. She moved to the side just as El's lips were about to hit their target.

"What ages?"

Sighing and pulling back, Elish paused to think about that. "Old twins are 36, John is 33, I think. Let's see, Tim is 30; I know that for sure because I was at his party earlier this year. I'm 27 and the young twins are 25."

"Married? Kids?" El looked exasperated. "Last questions, I promise."

"Okay, the old twins are married. Gerry has three kids, two girls and a boy and Gheordan has four kids, three boys and a girl. Now everyone else is unmarried, however, John has two kids, much to my Mam's displeasure at his antics, but she loves them just the same. He has a girl by his first wife and a boy to a woman he hardly knew. The rest of us have no kids, as far as I'm aware anyway."

"Nine nieces and nephews?"

"Yes, please don't ask me to name them. I could, but I'd rather not." El gave the blonde a pleading look.

She seemed to consider it, then relented. "Alright, questions over...for now." Aisling added impishly.

"Good, cause I was hoping we could move this party somewhere more comfortable."

"Really? Whatever did you have in mind Ms Maloney?"

"Me, you and my queen size bed."

"Hmm, let me think." Aisling teased just for a moment before adding, "I'm all yours."

Elish took Aisling's hand and led her slowly upstairs. Their hurried love making upon Aisling's arrival having taken the edge of their raw passion, they now seemed more intent on taking things slowly for the rest of the night.

Naomi looked up from the file she was updating to watch Elish bound into her office and flop down in an empty chair. She took in the smile etched onto her friend's relaxed face. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion, followed by a knowing smile.

"You and Aisling are having hot sex aren't you?"

"Like I'm going to confirm that." El scoffed.

"You don't have to, it's written all over you stud."

El rolled her eyes, trying to throw Naomi of the scent. "You on for tomorrow?"

Her friend frowned. "Ah, I don't know about this Elish. She'll have a fit."

"You're not getting out of it now, Ms Campbell. You promised." El reminded her.

"I was drunk!"

El shrugged her shoulders, "So?"

"Oh, Ellll." Naomi groaned.

"It's gonna be fun. I promise."


"I knew you would see sense, I'll be here at one, we can take my car."

"No, I'm driving." Naomi sounded very adamant so El relented easily but she did wonder if it was her car or her driving Naomi had a problem with.

"Sure, whatever. Just be ready for one."

"You owe me Elish!" She declared vehemently.

"Yeah, yeah. See you tomorrow." She laughed easily at the glare her friend sent her way, as she stood to head back to the community centre.

Back at her office, El decided to look over a new proposal from Connor Colquhoun, one of the newer community workers. He had joined them at the start of the summer after graduating. Twenty minutes later, El was close to pulling her hair out. "Jesus Christ! He can't be serious." Elish exclaimed to her empty office. Grabbing the telephone she dialled Molly's extension.



"Molly, it's Elish." The older woman was used to her bosses direct approach.

"Hi El, what can I do for you?"


"Can you come down to my office?"

"Sure, I'll be there in a few minutes."


"Great, see you soon Molly."

Putting the phone down, Elish took a seat and thumbed through Connor's proposal again while she waited on the community worker.

As soon as Molly walked into the office, she was met by the whirlwind that had earlier been her laidback boss. "Have you seen this?" El held the proposal up for Molly to look at.

"It doesn't look familiar." Was the hesitant reply.

"It's from Connor."


"Oh indeed." El blew out a breath, as she regained some composure. "I thought we talked about this?"

"I spoke to him Elish. He must have just forgotten to show me his work first."

"Molly," Elish said in an exasperated tone. "If he had shown this to you first, what would you have done?" Before Molly could reply El continued. "You would have given this idea a complete make-over and ultimately masked the problem." El slapped Connor's proposal down onto the desk, causing Molly to jump slightly.

"I'm very concerned about him. If his last three proposals are anything to go by, I think he may have to be pulled from the field."

"Oh Elish he's a good lad, harmless."

El knew Molly would defend Connor, it was in her nature, but she had to be firm on this occasion. "He probably is Molly, but he is also a fully trained professional in a position of responsibility who is frequently in contact with the public. I have serious concerns about his ability. This stuff is just too out there."

"Oh come on Elish, how bad can it be?"

El looked at the older woman, a serious frown marring her features. "Have you actually seen any of the original proposals he brings to me?"

"Well, no..."

El opened a filing cabinet and removed some folders. She threw one onto the desk in front of Molly. "This one is a proposal to have a pensioners Olympics. It's creative I'll give him that, as I recall there is everything from a ten metre Zimmer dash to an electric buggy race. When I turned it down flat, he demanded to know what was wrong with it. I told him that no-one would give us insurance and we would probably break the world record for the most broken hips in one hour."

"Well it does sound a bit..." Molly struggle to come up with an appropriate word, so El finished for her, "Out there?"

"Perhaps a little." The older woman conceded.

"His latest proposal is a way to get the unemployed club, back into gainful employment."

"Well that does sound promising Elish." Molly was looking for positives.

"It does doesn't it, the problem lies in how he plans to do this."

Molly squirmed in her seat as she waited to hear what her wayward co-worker planned.

"He plans to turn the field at the back of the centre into an organic vegetable plot. Let's put aside the fact that we don't own the field for a moment. That could go down as a simple over sight. Look at this, there are diagrams, it's fantastic." Elish pointed to a drawing of the field including a tractor and vegetables growing. "The guy should have gone to art school, cause there is more chance of this hanging in an art gallery than getting the go ahead from me!" El was on a roll, "Let me list what is wrong with this proposal. He won't get anyone to agree to do the work. Even if by some remote chance they did where would they get a tractor? Even if I came up with the budget for raw materials what would they live on after they planted the stuff and waited for it to grow? Who is going to teach them about organic farming? It's not a simple case of planting the stuff and leaving the vegetables to grow on their own."

Molly had heard enough. "What do you want me to do Elish?"

"Keep an eye on him, just make sure he isn't doing anything crazy in his day to day work. Let me know of anything suspicious or strange. I'm going to chat to him and go over everything he is currently involved in. I know it doesn't sound great, but I need to reassure myself that he is doing a good job. I'm also going to sit in on some of his groups."

Molly knew that what Elish planned to do was right and part of her job as the boss, but she just hated the idea of it. However it seemed that there was little she could do to help Connor out of the predicament he had put himself in. For whatever reason the young man had chosen not to seek her assistance, despite a discussion they had together after Elish last spoke to Molly and voiced her concerns. Molly's mind was made up, she would help Elish any way she could. "I'll do it El. I don't like it, but I know you're right and you have to do the tough stuff."

El smiled sadly, knowing how difficult this type of problem was for the older woman. "Thanks Molly. I'm afraid it's got to be done. Oh, and one more thing, do not under any circumstances let him attend the fundraiser on Monday. Frankly, the thought of what he might say to the prospective contributors scares me...he will probably tell them he has plans to take the after school club on a educational trip to the moon!"

"Oh Elish!" Molly scalded.

"You think I'm joking?" El raised her eyebrows and waved a third folder at Molly.




The following day Elish stood in Naomi's office, dressed in a black tuxedo.

"She is going to go nuts El!" The dark skinned woman looked slightly panicked.

"Paybacks are a bitch." El replied as she wiped some imaginary fluff from the sleeve of her jacket.

"Maybe it's a bit over the top?" She gestured at her similar attire.

"No, I don't think so, and no way are you getting out of this, teach the two of you to meddle in my business anyway."

Naomi rolled her eyes, though she had to admit, Elish looked fantastic in a tuxedo, she hoped she looked half as good. "Have you worn one of these penguin suits before Elish?"

"Nope." El replied casually.

"You just want to play dress up! You, schemer!" It suddenly twigged to Naomi that Elish was enjoying that part way too much. "So what do you call this anyway? Is this like lesbian drag?"

"Hush up and lets get moving, we don't want to be late." Naomi's laughter followed her all the way to the car park.

Naomi drove them to the town hall, they parked nearby and watched as Molly went back and forward from her car to the hall with various boxes. "Maybe we should help her Elish?"

"No need, she usually does all this, she'll just complain that we are getting in the way and besides, it would spoil her surprise."


"Time to go, the oldies are starting to arrive."

"Elish!" Naomi chastised.


"You can't call the senior citizens Oldies."

"I know that! I would never say it to their face." El was winding Naomi up as much as she could and having fun.

The pair walked side-by-side right up to the front doors of the town hall and stood either side, Naomi glanced over at her companion. "Elish! For god's sake, lose the sunglasses. You'll scare them all of!"

El smiled and put her shades in her pocket.

They started to greet the pensioners as they arrived for the tea dance; both knowing it would only be seconds now till Molly apprehended them.

Sure enough the older community worker appeared in front of them seconds later, but instead of creating a fuss she stared sternly at the suited duo. Elish had a bad feeling about this but said nothing.

"Elish," Naomi said discretely as Molly continued to eyeball them.

"Relax." El replied smiling to hide her discomfort.

Without saying a word Molly turned around and went back inside.

"I don't like this El." Naomi warned.

"Calm down will you? What can she do?"

"We're messing with her baby, women don't like that."

"Oh quit fretting you wimp." The brunette chastised.

"Oh my, don't you two look smart." It was El's neighbour, Mrs Fitzgibbon.

Elish smiled at her elderly woman. "Thank you Mrs Fitzgibbon. And might I say you are looking lovely today."

"Who's your friend Elish?"

"This is Naomi."

"What did you say?"


"No matter, I liked the little blonde though." El's eyes nearly popped out of her head as she stared after her neighbour. Naomi couldn't make up her mind if she should be offended or not. They both looked at each other, slightly confused until the moment was interrupted by a familiar voice.

"What? Did you think because she was deaf she was blind as well?"

"Mam!" El squeaked in surprise. She had forgotten her mother came to the tea dances.

"Go make yourself useful Elish and stop hanging around the door like a spare part. Escort the ladies and gentlemen into the hall."

Naomi glanced at Elish, "Both of you." Mrs Maloney supplied.

"Yes, Mam."

"Off course Mrs Maloney."

The pair spent the next fifteen minutes escorting people to their seats. When the tea dance got underway Molly approached the suited duo and handed each of them a card filled with ladies names.

"What's this?" Naomi asked.

"We never have enough men at these things, since you two went to the trouble of wearing suits, you might as well make yourselves useful. If you aren't sure who someone is, just ask me. You're going to be busy for the rest of the afternoon, it will keep you both out of trouble."

With that Molly walked away leaving the pair looking stunned. Naomi was the first to regain her composure. "You so owe me big time for this Elish." The brunette wisely chose to remain silent. She studied the card in front of her and counted ten names. She winced; Naomi is going to kill me.


At the end of the tea dance Molly glanced across at a table where Naomi and Elish were sitting, they both looked dazed and dishevelled. She wandered over to the pair with a wicked glint in her eyes. "What's wrong girls?" She asked sweetly.

"I was groped!" Exclaimed Naomi her eyes wide. "Old Mrs Laverty groped my backside ...with both hands!"

Molly winked at Naomi, "That would be Ms Laverty." She watched amusedly as the penny dropped. She turned to look at her boss, who was glaring back at her.

"I have drool all over my breasts, Mrs McNamara fell asleep on me."

"And that's different how?" Molly asked with a straight face, then turned and left the pair.

Elish turned to look at her friend; seeking clarification that Molly had just said what she thought she said. The look on her dark skinned friends face confirmed it, as Naomi threw her head back, laughing heartily. "I swear it has been worth everything just for that!" She was beating her hands on the tabletop.

As they left the building Molly politely thanked them for helping out, adding. "Oh, by the way, I've had many requests to bring you back next week?"

A firm "No way!" was her answer.

Molly laughed. "Serves you both right thinking you can just waltz in here and fit in. There is a lot more to this than meets the eye you know."

"Clearly," El said and Naomi nodded her agreement.

Naomi hadn't spoken to Elish since they got in the car. "Tell me you didn't have fun?" Her friend continued to pout. "Come on, admit it. It was a laugh."

The ebony skinned woman rolled her eyes. "Oh, okay – it was entertaining." She finally conceded.

"Told you."

"Where did you get the suits?" Naomi wanted to change the subject.

"The dress hire place in the village."

"What are you going to do about the drool?"

"I have to have them dry cleaned, it was the only way I could get them for free."

"About that, how do you manage to get so much stuff for free anyway?"

"Oh, the usual way, tell them it's for a good cause. Guilt them into it." El grinned.

"I always wondered what your secret was." Naomi pulled into the car park, having to use a space further away from the centre. They both exited the car and began walking towards the community centre.

"One more thing Ms MacPherson, or is it K.D Lang today?" Naomi snickered at her own joke.

El shot her a poisonous look before answering drolly. "Yes Ms Campbell?"

"You...need some dancing lessons."

"Me!" El scoffed. "I saw a little old lady limp back to her chair after dancing with you."

"She uses a walking stick!"

"You mean she does now."

And so they continued until they parted company at the centre doors. Unbeknownst to Elish she was followed all the way by a pair of avid green eyes.

Back in her office El grabbed the suit cover, which was hanging on the back of her office door. She was just about to remove her jacket when a knock at the door stopped her movement. Opening the door she found a very welcome sight, she smiled at Aisling, but received no acknowledgement in return. The blonde's eyes seemed to be burning holes into El with their intensity and her nostrils were slightly flared. El didn't like the look of this. She backed away from the door, intent on putting a bit of space between herself and what appeared to be a highly aroused Aisling.

Closing the door behind her, the blonde stepped into the office and allowed her eyes to once more sweep the length of the brunette's body. Moving slowly but surely closer to her target, Aisling uttered her first words. "Do you have any idea how hot you look in that suit?" It was almost a growl.

El stood rooted to the spot as the blonde continued her stealthy approach, in truth there was nowhere for her to go, she was cornered. Aisling ran her hand up the inside of El's leg and didn't stop until she cupped her mound. Elish jumped back and released a girly yelp as a result of the brazen manoeuvre.

The blonde seemed to snap out of her trance at the sound of El's yelp. "Sorry." She stated, though it was clear she wasn't sorry at all. "I just needed to see how far you had taken the dress up."

Quickly realising what Aisling was referring to, El's interest was suddenly peaked. "So, what if I had taken it further?" she asked cryptically. Her reply was a non-verbal lick of the blonde's lips, accompanied by yet another smouldering look. "Good to know." Was El's quietly spoken reply. She tucked all thoughts of future possibilities away for a more appropriate time. "Would you like to get together this weekend?"

"Actually I was going to ask if you would like to go walking on Saturday. I could make us some lunch and I know some really good walks that we could try?"

Elish was intrigued, walking wasn't something she did much. "That sounds good. Ah, I was thinking maybe you could stay over at mine on Saturday night, then I could drive you to my Mam's for Sunday lunch?"

"Looking forward to it."

Elish saw the silver Mercedes pull up at the bottom of her drive, Opening the front door she watched her blonde lover exit the open topped car. Though well into august the weather was holding up for them. It was a perfect day for a walk and a picnic. Seeing Elish making her way down the path, Aisling chose to wait at her car. Leaning back against the passenger door, arms folded across her chest in a relaxed pose. She took in the vision walking towards her. The brunette had chosen to wear khaki shorts, showing of her long legs, much to Aisling appreciation. A simple white t-shirt and running shoes completed her outfit. A small rucksack swung casually over one shoulder.

Elish approached the blonde with a smile on her face, allowing her eyes to wander over the compact body leaning casually against the car. She stopped abruptly, a frown replacing her relaxed smile. Aisling who had been enjoying El's approach was initially confused, then soon began to squirm uncomfortably when Elish continued to stare at her feet. Unable to take the awkwardness any longer she spoke. "What?"

The brunette was snapped out of her reverie by the sound of Aisling's voice. Her eyes rose back up to meet the blonde's. "I'm sorry, I've just never seen your toes covered up before." El pointed to Aisling's feet, which were sporting a pair of hiking boots.

"What?" Aisling was confused.

"Your feet," El gestured again to the body parts in question, "I've never seen you wearing enclosed footwear. I was beginning to think your toes were claustrophobic."

Aisling giggled, "You're crazy."

Elish shrugged and smiled as she moved forward to give the blonde a kiss. "Good morning."

"Mmm, it sure is."

"So where are you taking me?"

"It's a surprise."

El looked again at Aisling's sturdy, but worn hiking boots, then glanced at her running shoes. "Are these okay?"

Aisling followed El's line of sight. "Sure, we won't be doing any hiking, just walking."

"You're boots look as though they have been over the course a few times. Something you want to share?" El enquired curiously.

Aisling pursed her lips as she pondered her answer. "You're running shoes look suspiciously well chosen. Not a brand selected by a novice. Something you care to share?" The blonde teased back.

"I might take them out for a run now and then." Was the casual reply.

"How often is now and then?" Aisling was making a show of studying El's toned calves and lean thighs, a tell tale sign of a distance runner.

"Most mornings."


"And what about this walking, or is it hiking, that you do?" El gestured to the blonde's sturdy thighs and muscled calves.

"Most weekends."

"Anything else?" El added suspiciously.

"A little work in the gym."

"Ha! I knew it."

"How?" The blonde enquired.

"Easy, you don't get the type of abdominal definition you have by walking up hills."

Aisling made a face and El laughed at her antics as they got into the car.

They were travelling towards the motorway when El asked how long the journey would take.

"About an hour."

"What am I going to do for an hour?" El was full of energy, having forgone her morning run.

"Relax, look at the scenery..." Aisling's voice trailed off until she said under her breath, "Take your clothes off."

She glanced over to her tall companion, who had tied her hair back to keep the wind from blowing it everywhere. She noticed El was undoing her shorts. "What are you doing?"

"Just what you asked." El replied innocently.

"You heard that?" Aisling's comment hadn't been meant for El's ears.

Elish grinned, "What do you think?"

"Okay, I was kidding, you can stop now." The blonde requested in a panicked tone.

"Oh, I don't know, it was just getting interesting."

"Elish, people will see!" Aisling was gesturing to the cars around them with one hand while trying to keep her eyes on the road and not on her tall companion."

"Not at the speed you drive, they won't."

"But...I'll crash!"

"Alright, I'll pull them back up, I was just kidding." Elish said laughing at her friend's flustered state.

Aisling blew out a breath as she concentrated fully on the road again. "I can't believe you did that."

"You suggested it." Was the casual reply.

"I never thought you would actually do it. I didn't even think you would hear it!"

"I happen to have very good hearing."

"No kidding."

"Can I pick some music?"

"Yes, it might keep you out of trouble." Aisling wondered if El was usually such a restless passenger.

"For now." Elish winked at Aisling when she glanced at her.

Aisling giggled, "What has gotten into you today Elish?"

"Oh, I don't know. Perhaps it's because I'm spending the weekend with my favourite woman."

"You have others?" The blonde asked casually, but they both knew it was a serious question.

"No, I only want you."

"Good to know. I only want you too." They exchanged warm smiles then spent the next few minutes in contemplative silence, happy to have shared a little of what they were both feeling for each other.

"Wicklow! Elish declared, as she broke the silence attempting to guess their destination. Aisling glanced briefly at her, a little smirk on her face. "Took you long enough."

"Which part?" The brunette asked."

"Not telling."




"Uh uh."

"Hmm, lets see. How about Kilpeder?'



"Again, no."

"Aughrim?" Elish was beginning to sound a little frustrated at this point.

"I'm afraid not." Aisling was enjoying this too much so Elish made a huffy sound and sat back in her seat with her arms crossed. The blonde continued to drive with a satisfied smirk on her face; content that Elish had currently run out of towns to guess.

A few minutes later she tried again, "Glencullen!" Aisling had a look of disbelief on her face as she glanced at El. "What exactly would we do there?"

EL shrugged, "I hear they have some nice monuments." She offered in a feeble attempt at a decent reply.

"Do you want to go look at monuments?" The blonde asked thoughtfully.

"Hell no!"

"Good, cause neither do I."

Twenty minutes later they passed through the small village of Laragh and Elish finally guessed the correct destination.

"We're going to Glendalough!"

"We have a winner." Aisling declared.

"I love this place." El added enthusiastically. "I remember coming here on a school trip to learn all about the monks. The history of the valley is fascinating. It's hard to believe it was established in the 6th century. I was so disappointed when it was time to leave. I wanted to go beyond the valley, but we ran out of time."

Aisling basked in her lovers enthusiasm, delighted that Elish was happy with her choice of location. "There's a walk that passes by the upper and lower lakes, I was thinking we might try that. The views are breathtaking."

Elish bit her lip to prevent herself from uttering a thoroughly nauseating comment about not needing the scenery to provide a breathtaking view. She was shocked that the comment had actually formed in her head. Instead she replied with a neutral, "Sounds good." as Aisling drew into the car park.

The pair had been walking for almost two hours, chatting quietly while revelling in the serene surroundings. Elish believed this had to be one of the most peaceful places on earth, just as she had on her first visit over 10 years ago. They found themselves stopping at a particularly beautiful spot, which offered an expansive view of the lower lake.

"You up for some lunch now?" Aisling enquired hopefully, this seemed like an ideal place to stop and her stomach had been growling quietly for the last few minutes.

"Sure am, all this walking and fresh air has built up an appetite."

They sat on nearby rocks and Aisling began to rummage in her backpack, producing sandwiches, fruit salad and crisps. Elish glanced suspiciously at the collection then looked back to the blonde. "Okay, give it up."

"What?' Aisling asked innocently.

"There's no way you didn't pack chocolate."

"Haven't I made a healthy lunch?"

"Yes," El drawled, "but there is no way you didn't pack chocolate." She repeated eyeing Aisling's rucksack, which the blonde seemed to be attempting to keep out of El's reach. The brunette changed the subject and casually enquired what was on the sandwiches.

"Chicken salad, ham salad, cheese salad."

"I think I'll start with chicken." Elish reached for a sandwich, but at the last second she pounced on the blonde's rucksack. Aisling yelped and attempted to get it back, but El was too quick.

"Now lets see what else is in here?"

"Give it back Elish, it's empty." It was a futile attempt on the blonde's part.

"Ha!" El declared as she found several chocolate bars. "I knew you were holding out on me. "I might share if you eat all your lunch." Elish teased.

Aisling snorted, "Well that's not going to be a problem. Do you want me to eat yours as well?" The blonde gathered up the sandwiches. El looked on wide-eyed as she realised she had been outmanoeuvred by the little blonde. "Lets see, you wanted a chicken salad sandwich. I'll trade you one, for, hmm...a snickers." Aisling waved the sandwich in front of El, knowing she would trade.

By the time lunch was finished El had traded every chocolate bar in return for the food she wanted, she did think it was unfair that two spoonfuls of fruit salad had cost her an entire mars bar. She complained and Aisling eventually agreed to share it with her. Though it was a tough call.

They sat sipping water long after lunch was finished, enjoying each other's company and the solitude of their surroundings. Elish let her eyes wander over the woman sitting close to her. Amazed at how easily they had formed a friendship and relationship. Spending time with Aisling had become El's favourite thing to do, so much so that she wondered how she could have been content before the little blonde arrived in her life. Taking in her lover's profile, Elish felt a wave of emotion pass through her, if she weren't so happy, she was sure the feeling would have frightened her. She wasn't ready to analyse or label what she felt for Aisling, convincing herself it was too early for those kinds of thoughts, even if she hadn't felt this way before. Time would tell. Elish decided to act upon her emotions, instead of verbalising them.

"Are you up for little walk?"

Aisling frowned, "You want to head back now?"

"Not quite, I think there is a spot just up into those trees that offers a spectacular view."

"You know El, I don't recall that being the case."

Elish was becoming impatient, "Trust me, come on." She practically dragged the blonde to her feet, continuing to hold her hand as they made their way into the trees.

"How can you be sure about this Elish? I thought you said you hadn't been this way before?" Aisling continued to question her as they moved deeper into the trees. The taller woman just kept leading them.

"Elish!" Aisling groaned, clearly not impressed with her friends supposed knowledge of the area.

"Here. This is the perfect spot." The brunette declared as she let her rucksack drop to the ground then reached for Aisling's.

The blonde looked out of the tree line at a very unimpressive view, she was about to turn around to tell the brunette just how unimpressed she was, when she felt two hands grasp her hips pulling her back into the strong body behind her. She gasped when she felt a soft kiss in her hair. Then warm lips began to nuzzle the smooth skin on her neck. El's lips continued to place soft delicate kisses on the blonde's skin as they journeyed towards her mouth. Aisling turned her head, anxious to feel El's lips upon hers. The brunette's hands began to wander over her body. Slipping under her T-shirt to caress her lover's stomach. She allowed her fingertips to slowly map out the plane of abdominal muscles that she had come to adore. Recalling how impressed she was upon first seeing them.

"Ah, is there something you want to tell me?" Aisling sounded a little breathless, much to the brunette's delight.

"Like what?" El asked softly; as she let her hands trail down to unzip her lover's shorts.

"Like, do you have a thing for sex outdoors?"

El chuckled as her fingers found their way inside Aisling shorts, pushing the blonde's underwear aside to dip into the copious moisture already gathered at her centre. Aisling gasped. "Just relax, I won't let anyone see you."

"Oh...I'm not...oh, yesss...worried about that...Ahh, don't stop." She hissed, managing to communicate her answer despite the pleasure El's fingers were providing to her already over stimulated clitoris.

Elish continued to move her fingers in a circular motion, while her hips thrust gently into the blonde's backside. She husked in Aisling ear without losing rhythm, "That's good to know." Her left hand massaged the blondes breasts while her lips kissed and nipped at the smooth skin on Aisling's neck. "Mmm, you feel so good."

The blonde's hips bucked forward at the sound of El's husky voice.

"How does the view look now?" El asked cheekily as she continued to pleasure her lover.

"Spectacular." Came the breathless reply, as Aisling's hips began to buck faster against El's fingers. The Brunette held her tighter as she felt the orgasm begin to rip through her partner.

"Oh, yessss...Nghhg." It was a nothing sound that told El everything. She felt Aisling's legs go weak, she gathered the blonde tighter to her.

"I've got you," Elish whispered soothingly into Aisling's ear. The blonde's head rolled back against El's chest and half closed green eyes gazed up into El's blue.

"Don't let go, or I'll fall. I don't think I'm ready to stand yet." They both shared a chuckle at Aisling's current predicament as Elish guided them to the ground, allowing the blonde to sit and lean back against her. Elish reached down to zip and button the blonde's shorts. A gesture very much appreciated by Aisling.


"You're welcome," El replied. "I believe in finishing what I start."

Aisling turned her head to find El's lips. "I'm very pleased to hear that." She whispered before capturing them and turning fully to pin the brunette to the ground beneath them.

"Talk about killing the mood." A frustrated Elish grumbled as Aisling guided her Mercedes back towards Dublin, laughing as she weaved her car through traffic. "I mean why would they choose to walk that way? There was no reason to." El flopped back in her seat, seemingly finished with her moan. The car was silent for a few minutes before she continued. "And they knew as well! You could see it in their eyes. The way they were looking at us."

Aisling couldn't stop laughing at her pouting partner. "I don't think that's how they knew El. I'm sure it had more to do with you scrambling to pull your shorts back up."

"Peeping Toms." El groused.

Aisling glanced at El, her eyebrow raised in question. "You can talk."

"Touché." They laughed as they both thought back to the night of El's barbeque and the bathroom shenanigans.

The following day the pair arrived at the Maloney household a little after noon. Aisling took in the modest family home, with its well-maintained garden. The grass was cut short with lines clearly showing the trips the lawnmower had taken over it. The hedge was well trimmed and the flowerbeds colourful, with a well-chosen array of plants on show.

"Is this where you grew up Elish?"

"Not this house. We had a bigger place when we were all kids, but we grew up in this area. After my Father died, Mam decided to sell and get something a little smaller. " El chuckled, my brothers still resent the fact that I always got a room to myself. We had a five bed roomed house, but that meant they all had to share with someone else.

El used her key to open the door and announced their arrival. "We're here Mam."

A tall lean woman exited what Aisling assumed to be the kitchen. She was wearing an apron, which she wiped her hands on while walking towards them. The blonde took in the woman before her. Mrs Maloney was a little shorter than Elish, her hair highlighted tastefully to colour the grey that would otherwise show. The eyes were unmistakable, Aisling was sure had she met this woman before knowing who she was, Elish would have sprang to mind because the eyes were identical and as with Elish, a very distinct feature.

"Mam, this is Aisling Keenan. Aisling, meet my Mam."

"Nice to meet you Aisling, I've been hearing a lot about you." The smile Mrs Maloney offered was genuine, if a little wary.

"And you, thanks for inviting me to lunch."

"You're most welcome."

"Can I help you with anything Mam?" The tall woman offered.

"No, I have it all under control. You girls go through into the sitting room, the boys will be here soon enough."

Elish led Aisling through into the sitting room, again the place was immaculate, not a speck of dust to be found. Aisling understood where Elish got her neatness bug. It was clear that Mrs Maloney was of the belief that cleanliness was next to Godliness.

The house was quickly filled with the boom of deep male voices, all laughing and joking with each other, catching up on news. Aisling witnessed the easy camaraderie they all shared, and Elish was no different, she was just one of the boys to them and that seemed to suit her fine. The siblings Aisling noticed shared some similar characteristics, such as height and dark hair. Most of the boys had brown eyes, with the exception of Tim, who had the same eyes as the other two female members of the Maloney family. If Aisling didn't know otherwise she would have thought Tim and Elish were twins. Aisling wondered where the older twins wives and children were. She asked Elish who informed her that lunch for the six of them was mandatory and optional for everyone else.

"My Mam visits through the week with Gerry and Gheordan. She has dinner and spends time with her grandchildren. She wouldn't manage to do that on a Sunday with us all here. She has just the six of us for Sunday lunch as she believes otherwise it could be months before some of us see each other." She added in a mock whisper, "Trust me, you need a very good reason not to attend."

A short while later, the blonde excused herself and went in search of Mrs Maloney. She just didn't feel comfortable sitting around chatting while the woman was alone in her kitchen preparing lunch. She walked tentatively into the kitchen, sensing this was Mrs Maloney's domain, but unable to quell the urge to offer assistance she forged ahead. She cleared her throat to avoid startling the industrious woman.

"Hi Mrs Maloney"

"Oh, Aisling, is there something you need?"

"Ah, no. I wondered if I could offer some help?" She looked around the well-organised kitchen. Everything was under control, not even a dirty surface.

Mrs Maloney smiled, "Well since you're here, I could use some help with the gravy. Could you stir while I check on the potatoes?"

"Sure." The blonde suspected that Mrs Maloney could have managed to do both tasks with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back, but she was relieved to be able to feel useful.

"Elish says you're an accountant?"

Aisling was relieved that Mrs Maloney had started up a conversation. "Yes, I started working for my Father when I finished university a few months ago."

"You like what you do?"

"Yes, I've always gotten a certain satisfaction from working with numbers."

Mrs Maloney nodded. "I was never able to continue my career after the birth of the first two. I just never had the time. Well seven children will do that to you," she added wryly, "but I've always believed that it was important to choose a career that you enjoy, something that can bring you a sense of accomplishment. Something rewarding."

"I can't claim to be passionate about what I do, certainly not in the way Elish is about running the community centre, but I do get a great degree of satisfaction from my job."

Aisling helped Mrs Maloney dish up her homemade soup. She called for volunteers and Danny and Thomas appeared. They automatically started picking up the plates of soup and taking them to the dining room table. Aisling was impressed with the efficiency. It was clear they had run through this routine many times before.

Mrs Maloney picked up on her thoughts. "The boys will all take turns today helping with the food. Elish is exempt because she has a guest. I'm surprised that she has left you here this long."

Aisling laughed lightly, not missing the gentle scorn aimed at her lover. "I told her I was going to ask if you needed any help. She informed me that I would be back in under a minute."

Mrs Maloney smiled, "Elish doesn't know as much as she likes to think she does." The older woman glanced towards the kitchen door, "Ah speak of the devil. Have you finally come to see where Aisling disappeared to?"

The brunette looked cautiously at the two women. Replying to her mother, "I didn't think that she would be gone so long."

El's Mam fixed her with a look before moving the pair out of her kitchen. "Right girls, the soup is getting cold." Mrs Maloney removed her apron and led them to the adjacent dining room.

With everyone seated at the large table, it was clear that one place remained empty. Mrs Maloney looked at the space thoughtfully. "Did John let any of you know that he would be delayed today?" A chorus of no's greeted her. "Well there doesn't seem any point in letting the soup go cold. Elish would you like to say grace please." It wasn't a question, but El had been expecting the request since Aisling was her guest. Even though she was here at her Mam's insistence. Elish did as was expected of her and soon everyone was tucking into his or her lunch.

The conversation was easy, with El's brothers talking mostly of work, mutual friends, and the result of yesterday's Gaelic football game. The boys knew that certain topics were not allowed at the dinner table and for the most part they endeavoured to abide by their Mother's wishes, her respect was well earned. Aisling, always enjoyed her food regardless of the company or surroundings, and being surrounded by El's immediate family was no different. Elish watched as her brothers almost gaped in awe at the little blonde's capacity to put her food away, while El's Mother looked on approvingly. When the last of her main course was scooped up with some home made bread, she turned to Mrs Maloney to thank her for a wonderful meal.

"It was my pleasure Aisling. I'm delighted that you enjoyed the food so much and please...call me Marie." Mrs Maloney offered Aisling a warm smile to help convey her sincerity.

The blonde sensed something was off and looked around the table at Elish and her brothers. They had all stopped eating or chatting and seemed to be looking at either her or Mrs Maloney. Most seemed to be astonished, Elish looked stunned and Tim seemed to be glaring at Elish. Mrs Maloney broke the moment.

"Eat your food or help clear the dishes away." With that gentle chastisement things seemed to revert back too normal.

Elish drove them back to her place after lunch. Aisling needed to pick up her car and collect her belongings that she had left at El's cottage.

"I can't believe my Mam asked you to call her Marie." Her voice held a note of wonder.

"What was with that anyway? You and your brothers had the strangest looks on your faces."

"That's because only Gerry and Gheordan's wives have ever been given that privilege...and that was after they were married."

Aisling's eyes widened upon hearing this. Now she fully understood the sibling's reaction to their mother's request. "Goodness."

"You must have made quite an impression on her." El remarked thoughtfully.

"I was just being myself."

"Then no wonder." El offered her lover a beautiful smile to accompany her soft words.

They parked in front of the cottage and headed inside. Aisling picked up her bag and El walked her to the front door.

"I really enjoyed meeting your family El. They were all so welcoming and friendly."

"That's because they are scared of my Mam." The brunette joked.

Aisling smiled. "Really though El, I've had the most wonderful weekend."

"Me too and I wish it didn't have to end so soon. Unfortunately I have this presentation tomorrow and I really need to spend tonight going over my notes again, otherwise I won't feel fully prepared."

"It's okay, I understand, really."

"You're welcome to come to the fundraiser. It starts at 11am. I do my presentation and then members of the staff and myself chat further with prospective contributors while we have a little food and drink. We have this fundraiser every few months; it helps bring in extra resources. Every little bit helps."

"I, ah. I'm not sure if I will be able to make it, but I'll try." El noticed her companion fidget, seemingly uncomfortable at the prospect of attending.

"Not to worry, it's not like we can ask our landlord for money. Unless you would

consider a rent reduction?" Elish could have sworn she saw some of the colour drain from the blondes face. "I was kidding, honest." Elish took, Aisling into her arms. "Look, I know that we haven't really talked about it and I think it's best that way. Truthfully most of the time I forget that your father is the landlord. I've spoken to him maybe a handful of times. For some reason it's surprisingly easy for me to keep the two separate. Whatever dealings I have or will have with your father, I never associate them with you."

Aisling nodded. "I'm sorry Elish. I know you weren't serious. I'm willing to bet that you already know if there isn't any profit involved he won't be interested."

"Yeah, I kind of gathered that much. We have haggled over the rent a couple of times and let's just say, I never came out a winner."

"No surprises there." Aisling sounded flat.

"Hey, come on. I don't want to end our weekend this way." She hugged Aisling tighter to her. "I really have had a fantastic time."

"Yeah, me too."

They stood like that for many minutes, each soaking up the others warmth and comfort.

"Mmm, I could stay like this all evening." El declared as she kissed the top of Aisling's head, "but I suppose I have to go back to being responsible for a few hours. Not that I want to." She added playfully.

Aisling chuckled at her lover's words. They seemed to sum up Elish pretty well. "Since

you have some serious work to do, I'll assist by leaving, because I know you won't push me out the door."

"Just one more kiss." El requested and Aisling happily obliged.


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