Chapter Four
by WhymZ
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Please see CHAPTER One for all disclaimers.

Chapter 4

The drive to the airport was quiet. Khrys and Skyler had decided that she would wait at the condo for Khrys to get back. Her lover had wanted to go to the airport to meet Sam right away and thought it would be better. However, Khrys had insisted that she stay at the condo until she could get a handle on how her brother would react. Against her better judgment, Skyler had agreed to wait. After last nights battle the petite blond didn't want to let go of the small foothold she had. The fact that Khrys had let her stay at the condo while she went to pick up her brother was the only confidence she felt.

The blue Durango made it's way through Thursday morning traffic. Her brother had said he'd be on the 11 o'clock flight, American Air Lines from Owensboro, KY. Khrys was apprehensive and concerned but took a deep breath and braved the hell that was M.I.A. She gripped the steering wheel in frustration, trying to avoid the ever present traffic that was downtown. Her resolve was swiftly being swept away with the morning heat that seemed to only intensify the hostility of driving in Miami.

The airport itself was a veritable melting pot of every nationality you could think of. Her nerves were shot as she tried to assemble some sort of emotional barrier so as to protect herself from the inevitable pain that she was expecting. Sam wasn't one for light talk or beating around the bush; he was here to check up on her and pour salty guilt into her wounds. "For my own good, huh," she thought out loud. Her brother would know something was up right away. It had been at least a year since she'd last seen him. Though he had an uncanny ability to see through any barriers that she built up.

As she pulled up to the front of Arrivals, she saw him standing with his bags. She waded and elbowed and inched her way to the curb, hopped out and opened the back of the truck with negligent ease. As her eyes caught her brother's he smiled cynically.

"Ever hear of a phone bro," she said as she grabbed his bag and tossed it into the backseat.

He just grinned at her. "I thought you lived on the computer sis. Besides, it's not that big of a deal is it?"

She rolled her eyes, and tried to keep her calm. "Besides the fact that I have a life, Sin, no, it's no problem. What are you doing down here, anyway?"

"Turns out the big Lutheran Conference is being held here this year, and I figured what better time to come and visit my big sister?" He chucked her on the shoulder.

She rolled her eyes again, and got into the driver's side of the truck. Buckling her seatbelt, she began the long drive home.

"So, Khrystian, what have you been up to lately? Burying yourself in work?" Sam took in the scenery as they drove out of the airport. Palm trees green and the blue sky making everything seem brighter and fresher. He looked over at his sister, seeing the tense lines against her strong jaw. Hmm, What's up with her?


Skyler paced back and forth through the condo, sure that she was going to wear a groove right into the tile. She suddenly had the urge for a cigarette. That doesn't make any sense, I don't smoke. She shook her head and tried to keep her mind off of the fact that Khrys was at the airport picking up her obviously very opinionated, overzealous, holy rollin', brother. You haven't even met him yet Sky. C'mon.

Outside the clouds hung lazily and the sky was so blue she had to smile. The view from Khrys' condo was brilliant. She felt like she was on vacation every time she came out here. She glanced through Khrys' CD collection, noting with a smile the rather eclectic tastes her lover had in music. Several different types of styles. Ranging from Classical to Alternative Rock. Just about everything in between. She glanced through a couple of them, noting the Melissa Etheridge CD's. A guilty pleasure my friend?


She resumed her pacing, trying without much success to get her mind off of the inevitable confrontation.

She straightened the pillows on the couch, checked her reflection in the mirror and paced, paced, paced. She finally decided that the balcony was a reassuring escape. The gentle breeze coming off the ocean filled her lungs with hope. I don't want to lose this. Not now, not after all this time looking. I'm generally not a praying sort of person, but....


She closed her eyes in silent petition to a God that she had long forgotten. Knowing for all intents and purposes that what she was praying for was out of the question.


I-95 seemed to stretch out forever. Khrys felt the tension in her arms as she gripped the steering wheel. They were getting closer to her apartment. All right Khrys, time to bite the bullet...

"Sam, I have a friend that I want you to meet." She glanced at him to gauge his reaction.

"Really? Great! I'd love to meet one of your friends Khrys." He sounded genuine.

"Her name is Skyler and I met her through Unique, you know, the publishing house I work for?" Not a total lie. "She wrote one of the books that I was editing and we became friends right away." Again, no lie. "I think you'll like her; she's really nice."

"Well, Khrys, I'm glad you made time to have a friend in your life." He reached over and squeezed her arm. Their eyes met, and Khrys felt the old stirrings of their friendship. "Really, Khrys. So when do I get to meet her?"

"Thanks Sin. I was...well, really soon actually, um...oh, here we are." She cut off the sentence afraid of revealing too much still a little uncertain. She felt her stomach do a flip. Oh, I hope I can get through this.


She waved at Henry as they made their way to the parking garage. Khrys pulled into her spot and parked the truck; then hopped out to help Sam with his bags.

Stopping on the eleventh floor, the elevator opened it's doors to let them out. Khrys took a deep breath as she steered Sam down the hall. Here we go.


She opened the door to the condo and stood aside to allow Sam to enter. "This is my place." She said with a nervous grin. He hadn't noticed Khrys furtively glancing around.

"Nice." Sam walked in and looked about approvingly. He walked through the condo looking at everything, apparently impressed with her success. Khrys fell silent as she realized that Skyler was not in the apartment. She felt the immediate lump of disappointment in her throat. Why? It took all her strength not to break down.


She buried her feet as she drew idle shapes in the wet sand. Her mind replaying all the events that led up to her presence here. She listened as the waves crashed gently against the shore; it was comforting and soothing. The waves never stop reaching for the shore, never give up hope that they will once again touch the warmth of the sand.


From the balcony she had decided to take a walk on the beach to clear out her head. The sun was out and the breeze was cool. Once on the sand, she had sat down in the same spot that she and Khrys had played last weekend. She closed her eyes and felt the warmth as the sun fell across her body and reveled in it. As the warmth traveled across her cooled skin she smiled and got an idea.

Skyler glanced back up at the condos; she could see Khrys' balcony from where she was sitting. She stood and considered dimensions and lighting. I wonder if that would work? A spark of excitement lit up inside of her. What the heck, let's try it. She shrugged her shoulders, twirled the small stick in her hand and smiled.

Finally, satisfied with the way things had turned out she brushed off her hands and stood up. Taking a moment to get the sand off of her shorts and her legs, she looked down at her creation and then back up at the balcony. Good, that'll work. Pleased with what she had accomplished, she headed back upstairs.


Khrys felt as if her heart would simply break. How could Skyler have left? After all we went through last night. Was it just a lie? No, Skyler wouldn't do that, would she? Forcing her mind into the present, she pushed her insecurities aside.

"Hey, Sin, you can put your stuff in here." She led him down the hall to the guest bedroom.

"Okay, great! Khrys, this place is really nice." He walked to the window and glanced out. "Wow, you can see the beach from here. That's beautiful." He stood there a moment and his eyes narrowed. "Hmm. What's that," he asked in wonder.

"What?" Khrys joined him at the window and he heard the sharp intake of breath as she saw the sand.

"So, Khrys?" he asked, sounding a bit confused. "What is that?"

Oh Shit! Think Khrys think! "Uh...I don't know, must be some love-sick guy trying to win his girlfriend back, I guess. He sure went to a lot of trouble though. This is a private beach." She crossed her fingers and toes.

"Oh. Well, I bet we could see it better from the balcony." He turned to walk into the living room.

Yeah, I'm sure we can see it better from the balcony, she said to herself as she stiffly followed him.

She felt the fear that had gripped her soul, ease. She knew, that outside in the sand was the truth. In her heart she had known that Skyler wouldn't just leave; would never just leave. Not without a fight.

Her thoughts were elsewhere as she crossed to the kitchen and called out to Sam, "Hey Sin?! Can I get you something to drink?"

"Sure, iced tea is fine, if you've got it." He paused at the sliding glass doors. "Hey, Khrys. How do you open these blinds?" He looked around, not seeing the switch on the wall.

"Right there on the wall, Sin. That switch. It opens the blinds, otherwise..." She trailed off as Sinner hit the switch and the blinds slowly eased open. The sound of a glass of iced tea hitting the floor filled the room.


Skyler was leaning over the balcony, smiling at her creation. She couldn't wait for Khrys to get home. She was humming to herself and hadn't heard the front door open. Lost in her own world, she was surprised when the sliding glass doors opened.

Turning around she faced unfamiliar gray-green eyes.

"Uh! Hi?" She smiled at the startled man. "I'm Skyler." She held out her hand nervously. Looking past him searching for Khrys. "You must be Si...Sam?" She asked, noting the dark hair and his eyes, a muddied shade of Khrys'.

He looked a little shaken up. "Oh, yeah, I'm Khrys' brother, Sam. Khrys told me she had a friend she wanted me to meet. I didn't think I'd be meeting you so soon." He held her hand in his own. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Skyler. You gave me a bit of a scare; I wasn't expecting anyone to be out here. Though I'm glad it was you ."

Something in Sinner's eyes made Skyler nervous. He was looking at her a little oddly, but Skyler brushed it off. "Thanks, it's very nice to finally meet you. I've heard nothing but good things about you."

Khrys finally made her way onto the balcony after cleaning up the iced tea. Her eyes met Skyler's in a grateful embrace and knowing looks passed between them. Her relief was evident on her face. "Hey, Sky. I thought you'd left." Khrys said as nonchalantly as she could.

"Me? Leave this place?" She held out her arms and looked at Khrys pointedly. "Never." She laughed and realized that maybe she'd said a little too much and hastily amended. "It's like being on vacation out here, right Sam?" She turned towards Khrys' brother.

"Yeah, actually it is." He smiled charmingly.

Khrys walked to the balcony. "We were just coming out here to check out the artwork on the beach." She pointed.

"Yeah, I was just looking at that myself." Skyler said, as she stood next to her lover.

The three of them leaned on the railing and gazed out at the sand. Their shoulders were touching as they leaned into the sun and Skyler could feel the shiver as it passed through Khrys.

"I wonder what would possess someone to do that?" Sam spoke into the wind.

"Love." Skyler said wistfully, her eyes never leaving the sand.

"I suppose, that's sure an odd way of expressing it though. Whoever it is must be a lucky girl, or guy." Sam turned to look at the two women. They were so close together leaning over the railing. "Hey Khrys, I'm gonna go get that iced tea. Skyler would you like something?" He asked.

"Sure that would be great, thanks Sam." She smiled at him and turned back to the sand.

Alone on the balcony, Khrys turned to Skyler. "I...I can't believe you did that." She shook her head in disbelief.

"Believe it." Skyler looked up into Khrys eyes sincerely. In the sand, in the very spot that they had played not more than a week ago, Skyler had put her heart out there for all to see. She had duplicated the painting in Khrys' hallway, two hands, clasped across the sun. Across the top of the picture was the single word, "Always."

"Oh, my GOSH!!! The painting!" Khrys jumped and ran inside, almost colliding with her brother.


"Whoa! Hey, Khrys, what's the matter?!" He nearly dropped the iced teas.

"Oh, my gosh, sorry Sin, I just remembered I had to send an email to Jen today. Sorry, I'll be right back." She scurried down the hall in a haste.

"What's up with her?" Sam turned to Skyler.

"Oh, I don't know. I guess Jen asked her to do something and she hates to be late." Skyler feigned innocence.

He shrugged his shoulders. "Okay, well here ya go." He handed her the glass of tea that he was holding. "Here's to new friends." He toasted.

"To new friends." Skyler agreed.

"So, Skyler, why don't you tell me how you came to meet my sister." He leaned back against the couch.

"Well, actually it's quite funny. She has been coming to the club where I bartend for the last month. I had no idea who she was or anything. One night we started talking and she was telling me about this book she had discovered. It turns out it was mine." She looked up as Khrys walked back into the room.

"Sorry, Jen would've killed me if I didn't get that list to her today. So what are you guys talking about?" She sat down on the floor in front of them and stretched out her legs.

"I was just telling Sam how I met you."

"Yeah, sis; you didn't tell me that you met Skyler in a club." He threw her a condescending look.

"Well, yeah I did actually. You know I like to dance Sin, and Skyler is a great bartender. She's only working there until she finishes school. Right, Sky?" She pleaded silently with Skyler.

"Oh yeah, I'm in my last year at Nova; afterwards my father wants me to join his practice."

"Really? What is it that your father does?" Sinner asked as he sipped his tea.

"He's a lawyer in Texas. He wants me to come and work for the firm; I'm a little undecided. I think I might be able to do more good down here in Florida. Now, with the book? Who knows what I'll do." She peered over her glass at Khrys and gave her a ghost of a wink.

"Well, I think that's wonderful Skyler. You have a great many options with your career. From what Khrys tells me, your book is going to be a smash. What's it about, by the way?" He looked at Khrys and they exchanged a smile.

Khrys turned onto her stomach and stretched out on the floor. Before Skyler could answer, "Hey, you guys want to go out and get something to eat? You must be hungry, Sin."

Skyler breathed out a sigh of relief. "That sounds great, but, um, I should get home and get my stuff together. I've got to work tonight and I need to get some sleep. You guys should do some catching up anyway." She stood to get her bag.

Sinner stood with her, "Are you sure you don't want to come with us, Skyler? It would be nice to continue our conversation. I'm very interested in the whole writing and publishing process myself."

"Thanks, but I really can't; maybe before you leave we can have dinner." She smiled and shook his hand. "It was nice meeting you. I hope you have a nice visit with Khrys." She turned as Khrys stood next to her.

"Let me get your bag." Khrys walked back into the bedroom and grabbed Skyler's backpack only and leaving her overnight bag. That would be a little conspicuous.


"Here you go. I'll give you a call later about that meeting we've got tomorrow." She went with Skyler to the door. She turned to talk to Sinner. "I'm going to walk Skyler down, help yourself to whatever you want; I'll be right back." She closed the door behind her as they walked down the hall.

"Khrys, that was so close. What did you do with the picture?" Skyler whispered.

"I took it off the wall and hid it in my closet; he won't even notice. I switched it with an extra one that I've been meaning to hang. Boy, that sure scared the crap out of me."

At the elevator, Skyler turned and placed her hands against Khrys stomach. "I missed you all morning." She leaned into Khrys and inhaled deeply. "I was pacing the whole time."

Khrys wrapped her arms around the blonde. "I was worried that you'd get freaked out and leave. When I came in and realized you weren't in the apartment, I thought I was going to cry."

"Khrys, I'd never leave you like that; I couldn't. I'm glad I met your brother, I didn't want to hang around much longer and risk messing something up. I don't think I'd have been able to keep my hands off of you for another second." She ran her hands down the dark haired beauty's strong back.

"I know what you mean." Khrys breathed as the elevator doors opened. "Come on; let me walk you downstairs."

Skyler stopped her, "I don't think that's such a good idea; he might get suspicious if you take too long. I sure am going to miss you tonight."

Khrys took the blond into her arms and tilted her chin up. "I will try and make it; if not I will call you once I get him settled; okay?" She bent low and gently kissed her lover.

Skyler leaned up and tangled a hand in Khrys' dark hair and pulled the woman closer to her. Their lips met with the emotions that had built between them the previous night. Khrys let her hands cup soft cheeks and sighed as they broke the kiss. She touched her forehead to Skyler's.

"It's going to be one long day without you." Touching her nose to Skyler's, she pulled the blond into a hug.

Skyler sighed, "Yeah, it sure is. Make sure you call me later; I don't want to have to pull another cat burglar on you," she teased and poked Khrys in the ribs.

"I will, don't you worry. Now go on before we both get in trouble." She ushered Skyler into the waiting elevator, but not before kissing her one last time. "Bye."

"Bye, hon. Call me." Skyler called out as the doors closed and left Khrys standing there.

Khrys shook her head and ran a hand through her hair. Damn this is going to be harder than I thought.



"So, Khrys, does Skyler have a boyfriend," Sinner asked as they sat in the living room. "She's really cute."

Khrys was curled up on the floor, leaning on her elbow. "Um, actually, I don't know, Sin. I haven't really asked her."

"Could you find out for me? I mean, I think she might like me too." He waggled his eyebrows at his sister.

Khrys had to hold in the laughter that threatened to escape. "Okay, I'll ask, Sin. I don't think she is your type though. She's so busy with school and work, I don't think she has any time for a relationship." The irony was almost too much.

"Well, we'll see; maybe I can charm her. I can't believe you haven't asked if she had a boyfriend; aren't you at all attracted to her?" He smiled as his words hit their mark.

Khrys tried not to react to his comments. Feeling the sudden anger boiling up inside of her, mixed with the guilt. "Sin, I don't want to get into this with you; not right now. Skyler is a very nice person, and I get along with her really well, so just drop it ok?"

"Well, it was just a question, sis. You don't have to get so defensive."

"It was a question designed to hurt me, Sin. I'm tired of you throwing out those little comments when you know how hard things have been for me. We used to be best friends, but you treat me like a stranger sometimes. Did you forget that I have feelings too? Just because I'm gay doesn't make me immune to getting my feelings hurt by your little digs." She breathed heavily as she sat up; not intending to have said so much.

Sinner was stunned; he wasn't sure what to say. "Khrystian, I'm...I'm sorry. I really had no idea that I was doing that to you." He sounded upset. "It is not my intention to hurt you. I only want to help you get through this...this, whatever this phase is you are going through."

Khrys took a deep breath to speak and when she spoke, the anger boiled out with her words. "No, Sam, you know exactly what you are doing. You are taunting me with the guilt that you have so firmly planted in my head, and its not fair. You know damned well how I've struggled with this, and you still throw it in my face. So, I don't want to hear that it wasn't your intention, okay?" She stood and stormed off into her room slamming the door behind her.

Sinner sat, stunned at his sister's outburst. Have I really done that to her? Have I been that mean? He sipped his tea and thought about it, recalling all the little comments he'd made since having found out that she was gay.

Wow, Sinner what sort of brother are you? Can't even have compassion for your own sister. He hung his head as the realization of what he'd done came crashing home; he rubbed his eyes in frustration. Maybe I can still fix it. I don't want this to come between us and ruin any chance at a relationship we might have. She doesn't really have anyone else.


He got up from the couch and headed down the hall towards her room and stopped just outside the door. He raised his hand to knock but stopped when he heard his sister's voice, broken, talking to someone on the phone. He listened for a second and then sighed, heading back into the living room.


Skyler walked into her apartment just as the phone was ringing. She dropped her bag by the door and rushed to pick it up.

"Hello?" The choked sob on the other end making her heart race. "Khrys? Is that you? What's wrong? Talk to me." Skyler was frantic wanting to know what could've happened since she had left the condo.

"Oh, Sky, I just can't take this anymore. I'm so tired of living this lie; pretending that I'm alive when inside I'm dying." Khrys' sobbing voice caught on her tears.

"Baby, what happened? Did Sinner do something to you?" Sky felt her anger rising at the insensitivity that she had felt from Sam from the beginning.

Khrys choked, and fought to calm herself. "When you left, he started asking me about you, whether or not you had a boyfriend, and why didn't I know for sure. It was insane. I started yelling at him for making me feel so guilty and then teasing me about it." Her breathing slowed as she heard her lover's voice, knowing that Skyler could make it all go away.

"Oh, Khrys, I'm so sorry; I know how hard this has been for you. I just can't believe that he is so insensitive." Skyler tried to contain her anger, but it wasn't quite working. "Hey, why don't you come and stay over here tonight. Leave him at the condo and just don't even tell him where you're going."

Khrys considered it; as far as she could recall there was nothing in her apartment that would incriminate her in any way. "Okay, I think I will, I wanted to spend time with you anyway." She felt herself smiling at the idea, Sinner forgotten.

"Great! I'll make us dinner tonight and we can just hang around here today; I'm exhausted." Skyler exhaled loudly.

"I bet you are, I think I can fix that for you. I'll be there in about half an hour." Khrys smiled into the phone excited about spending the rest of the day with Skyler. Her mood picked up considerably.

"I can't wait. Be careful driving; I love you." Skyler could feel the tension lifting and was glad that she mentioned the idea.

"I will, I love you too." Khrys hung up the phone. This will be good. She started moving around her room slipping things into an overnight bag and deciding to stop on the way to Skyler's. She grinned to herself as her hands brushed over the Goofy boxers that had been washed and folded neatly in her laundry basket. They disappeared into her overnight bag.


Skyler let her excitement take over. She opened her fridge and frowned at the mother hubbardness of it. Shoot! I don't know if I have time to run out. She looked at the clock and decided she could make a quick run to Winn Dixie. She grabbed her bag and her keys and raced down the stairs and out to her car.

As she hurried up and down the aisles, she grabbed a bottle of White Zinfandel wine and put it in her basket. Deciding that she would make a seafood dish, she bought a pound of tiger shrimp, three cheese tortellini, alfredo sauce and a fresh loaf of Italian bread. She raced through produce and picked up fixings for a Caesar salad and headed for the check out. As she passed the frozen foods section she detoured and grabbed a pint of Haagen Daas Dulce De Leche ice cream and a bottle of fudge flavored magic shell. Smiling to herself she went to the check out.

Skyler pulled into her parking lot and noticed the blue Durango already there. Shoot! I hope she wasn't waiting too long. She watched as Khrys slid out of the car and shouldered her bag. Skyler swallowed and felt her pulse quicken just at the sight of her lover. The object of her affections was wearing a pair of cut-off denim shorts, with a black tank top tucked in the waistband. She wore black hiking boots and white socks and her long tan legs flexed as she crossed the parking lot. Skyler pulled into a space as Khrys turned and waved.

"Hey! where did you go?" Khrys asked as Skyler hopped out of the car with bags in hand.

"I just ran to the store, turns out I didn't have much to make a decent dinner with." She hefted the bags and smiled when Khrys walked over to help.

"Here, give me some of those." The tall woman took a couple of the bags, and their eyes met. "Hi," she said with a grin.

"Hi." Skyler breathed trying to slow her pulse and the pounding of her heart.

Khrys bent low and captured Skyler's mouth. Bags forgotten, Skyler tried to reach up to pull her closer, realizing she couldn't, she reluctantly broke the contact.

"Let's get upstairs." she whispered.

Khrys smiled. "Right behind ya."

They unpacked the bags and put stuff away in the fridge. While doing so, Khrys commented how impressed she was that Skyler could cook such a complicated meal. Skyler merely shrugged and admitted that it wasn't all that difficult to make.

At last, they kicked off their shoes and collapsed onto the couch in the living room.

"So, what did you tell your brother?" Skyler asked as she ran her hand through the dark hair that spilled over her legs.

Khrys grimaced, then blew out a breath. "I didn't tell him anything. I left him a note with my pager number on it, and told him to call only if there was an emergency. I left him money for a cab if he needed to get anywhere and left his name with Henry to help with directions and then I got out. " She sighed and shifted her shoulders in Skyler's lap.

"Well, you're a better person than I am; I would've just walked out." She bent and kissed Khrys' forehead. "I'm sorry that you had to go through that, honey. I wish he could just see you as his sister."

"Me, too. I just ... I don't know what to do about it." She closed her eyes and let Skyler ease the tension with her reassuring touch. "Thank you, by the way." She said.

"For what? I didn't do anything." Skyler was perplexed.

"For being my best friend." Khrys met her eyes seriously. "I've never trusted anyone the way that I trust you. I never could."

Skyler felt her heart lurch at that, "Khrys, I will always be here for you. You've got to trust that." She brushed stray strands of hair from bright green eyes. "You mean the world to me."

Khrys closed her eyes, letting the love wash over her and through her soul. She believed in this, in the love that she shared with Skyler. As her heart settled into place she felt herself drift into a relaxed sleep.

Skyler smiled and continued to stroke the silky mass of hair that warmed her legs. She's so beautiful and so kind. Why would anyone ever want to hurt her? Skyler traced the lines on Khrys' face and felt the smooth skin relax under her touch.

Skyler glanced at the clock, and noticed that it was just two o'clock. I guess I should let her sleep a little; she seems so tired. A sudden yawn made her realize that she was tired too. She shifted a little and slid down next to Khrys on the couch, still cradling the dark head. At this, Khrys threw an arm around Skyler's body pulling herself closer. Skyler smiled and tucked the crown of midnight dark hair under her chin. "I love you so much." She barely breathed as she gently squeezed her friend and closed her eyes.

"I love you too," Khrys murmured against Skyler's chest.

Skyler smiled, glad that Khrys was here.


Sinner came out of the room, his thoughts consuming him. He had heard Khrys leave, but didn't have the nerve to confront her. He found the note on the door, grateful that Khrys hadn't left him stranded. He hoped that she would cool off and be home tonight, but the note had said not to wait up.

Whistling tunelessly, he wandered around the house, glancing at everything. There wasn't much to see; Khrys didn't really have a lot of stuff around the condo; mostly simple watercolors and understated furniture. He walked out onto the balcony as the sun made it's slow journey down the sky. He enjoyed the breeze that blew in off the water and took several deep breaths as he looked out at the sand. His eye caught sight of the impromptu declaration of love again, and grimaced as his thoughts inadvertently turned to their father.

Mitchell Meadows was a strict man and the rules in his house were the law. He had been raised on hell-fire and brimstone and had raised his children that way as well. Sinner thought back to the times their rooms had been searched and inspected; they had had no privacy at all. Everything had to be in it's place or there was hell to pay and he winced remembering that more than once he had felt his father's belt on his legs. Unlike him, Khrys, had always kept her room immaculate, but Sinner did recall one time when their father found something just slightly out of place in her room.

Khrys had never seen it coming, though she should have. Her father was ritualistically going through his daughters room when he happened upon the bookshelf and leafed through one of the Nancy Drew mysteries he picked at random. A folded piece of paper fell out from between the pages, and Khrys' eyes went wide with shock as he bent and picked it up and read the childish poem she had written.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I've got a crush,

On Nancy Drew.

Khrys stood there as he read the poem. Her mind racing as to what might happen and if she could talk her way out of it. She had written it as a little joke to herself and now... He looked over at her.

He looked at her coldly and her heart lurched as he said imperiously, "Khrystian, do you know what this is?" He held out the piece of paper.

"Um, no, could I see it?" She reached for it and he handed it to her. Mind racing, she pretended to read the poem, and an idea hit her. "Dad? What is this? I don't know where this came from I haven't even gotten to that book yet." She crumpled up the piece of paper and threw it into the trash bin.

"So, that's not yours, Khrystian? You didn't write that?" His eyes narrowed as he looked at her as if he could see right into her soul.

Always before, that look had caused her to confess any wrongdoing, but this time steeling her strength, Khrys looked right into his cloudy hazel eyes. "No sir, I'm sorry." Then, knowing her place she looked back down at her shoes.

"That's my girl," he said as he walked out, tousling her hair as he went.

Sinner remembered Khrys coming into his room and telling him what happened in hushed whispers. Even then he didn't believe that it wasn't Khrys' poem. He knew that she wrote poems and little stories that took her at least for a little while, to distant lands away from the restrictions and harsh rules imposed by their father. Sam remembered telling her that she was going to go to hell if she didn't own up and tell the truth.

Thinking about that now, and all the things that she had to keep hidden, Sinner felt his own guilt rise within him. What have I done to her? What have WE done to her? He shook his head at the sudden realization that she could probably never let herself be happy because of the guilt that their family had planted deep within her mind.


Khrys' eyes opened to find that she was on Skyler's couch and alone. She sighed at the feeling of loss and stretched out her long body. She heard Sky in the kitchen and smiled to herself.

"Mmm, smells good, whatcha making?" Khrys called as she sat up and curled her feet under her.

Skyler smiled at Khrys from the kitchen. "It will be ready in a couple more minutes; glad to see you're up. I was worried I was going to have to wake you."

"I guess I was tired; needed a nap. Now I gotta pee." Khrys stood and headed for the bathroom.

"Well, thank you for sharing that. I hope everything comes out all right." Skyler smiled at Khrys' chuckle; shaking her head she returned to finishing the meal.

A few minutes later Skyler felt long arms around her waist and jumped in surprise. "Hey!"

In the next second a pair of warm lips found her neck. She leaned into the contact as her breath left her body. "Oh,'re gonna have to stop that, or I will never get dinner finished." She said breathlessly as she turned to face her dark haired lover.

Khrys smiled down at the blonde. "Well, I always did like to have my dessert first." She bent low and captured soft lips.

Their kiss deepened as Skyler forgot about the dinner and let herself be caught up in this wanton display of lust. She broke off reluctantly and Khrys growled in protest.

"Now stop it, you'll ruin your appetite." She turned to put the finishing touches on their dinner. "Make yourself useful and set the table." Skyler scolded her and pointed at the cabinets.

"Ruin my appetite, huh? Mmm, I don't think so." Khrys ran a teasing hand down Skyler's back and playfully pinched her butt.

"Out! Get moving." As Skyler shoved her out of the kitchen; she smiled, enjoying the banter between them.

Skyler quickly grilled the shrimp then mixed them into the alfredo sauce. Tossing the salad and then taking the bread out of the oven she moved everything into the small dining room. Khrys had brought two candles to the table and lit them, the soft light complimenting their moods perfectly.

They sat at the table and Skyler served them. Three cheese tortellini, covered with the alfredo shrimp mixture, a nice salad and perfectly toasted garlic bread. She smiled at the look on Khrys' face.

"What? Did you think it would be bad? I can cook ya know." Skyler feigned hurt.

"Um, no, it all looks so good. Thank you." Khrys looked at her sincerely.

"You're welcome, anytime." Skyler smiled at her as she opened the wine. She poured them both a glass and they toasted each other with knowing looks.

They ate dinner in a comfortable silence, Khrys not really wanting to talk about her brother and Skyler not wanting to push. She was, however, feeling a bit cheeky. She slid her bare foot up Khrys' strong calf and then up onto her thigh. Khrys smiled, but acted as if it were nothing. Skyler picked up a piece of shrimp and smiling rakishly, popped it into her mouth. Her foot remained where it was, rubbing the inside of Khrys' thigh.

Khrys shifted slightly and she felt herself warming at the gentle touch as Skyler's smooth foot continued to assault her senses. Khrys dropped her fork as the wandering foot found the warm apex between her legs. She cast a glance at Skyler who seemed to be totally absorbed in her meal. Khrys flushed as she felt the warmth threaten to take over her senses. When she could stand it no more she reached down and grabbed Skyler's ankle; only then did Skyler look up.

"What?" She said with a devilish brown-eyed smirk.

Khrys leveled her gaze at her, "You know what; be careful what you start, Skyler." A slight warning in her voice.

"It's just us here, Khrys, what are you worried about?" She lifted a rebellious blond eyebrow. "Is this making you ... uncomfortable?" She wiggled a toe and was pleased at the sight of Khrys closing her eyes in reflex.

"No...I'm not uncomfortable." Khrys whispered after catching her breath. "I guess I'm really sensitive to your touch." She looked into golden brown eyes.

"Good; then let's just relax and enjoy our meal." Skyler picked up her fork, and left her foot right where it was. She could feel the heat as it radiated off of Khrys' body. I don't know if I will get through this meal. She shifted once more sending yet another jolt through Khrys' body. The blond enjoyed this teasing between them, watching as Khrys tried to focus on eating and not accomplishing that at all.

Finally Khrys couldn't take it anymore; removing Skyler's foot, she stood up. Walking to the other side of the table, she grabbed a handful of blond hair and pulled her head back. "You want to play? I can play." Smiling at Skyler's surprise, she bent low and began to slowly kiss her lover. Her mouth barely touching Skyler's she breathed in the scent of her, as she placed a feather light kiss on the full lips. "I want you, and I will have you right now." Khrys reached down and pulled Skyler out of her chair.

"Khrys." Skyler could hardly contain her excitement.

"Shhh, don't worry, I won't hurt you. I just want you." Khrys smiled, wrapped her arms around the smaller blond and kissed her deeply. Her hand snaked up into the blond locks and pulled gently. This, she found, elicited a soft moan from her companion. One more tug and she received the same reaction. Oh, you like it a little rough, do you? Khrys found that this turned her on as well. She pulled back on Skyler's hair, exposing her neck; bent forward and nipped and sucked along the sweet flesh.

Skyler felt her knees go weak. She was excited at this side of Khrys and scared at the same time. Khrys had never been the aggressor and Skyler liked it; she liked it a lot. She heard Khrys growl, "mine," taking possession of her and the word sent a shiver down Skyler's back. She wrapped her hands in Khrys hair, pulling her face up to look into her eyes and whispered, "Forever."


Rachel smiled as she flipped through the pictures. Several were just what she was looking for. She tapped the folder on her counter. They had arrived express mail from the private detective that she hired. Now, Skyler, I do believe I've got you.


She made a phone call and headed out the door; an evil grin crossed her face as her plan slowly but surely fell into action.


Khrys and Skyler lay spent on Skyler's bed.

"Whew. That was something else." Skyler snuggled in next to Khrys.

"Mm, yeah it was." Khrys ran her hand down Skyler's smooth, tan hip; watching as Skyler sighed in pleasure.

"I had no idea that it could be like that; I have never wanted anyone more than I want you." She placed a soft kiss on Khrys' shoulder. "You are amazing." Another kiss on an exposed collarbone.

Khrys smiled as Skyler continued the assault on her nakedly prone body. She had never felt so happy in her life. Sadly, then, her thoughts shifted to her brother and his hurtful words; she wrapped her arms tighter around the small blond.

"I love you so much Skyler." Khrys whispered into her ear. "I don't know what I would do with you."

Skyler snuggled closer to her tall lover, one bare leg draped over Khrys'. "Well, you don't have to worry about that, because I'm not going anywhere." She planted a gentle kiss on Khrys' lips. "How bout some dessert?" She rolled off of Khrys' chest.

"Um, I thought that was dessert." Khrys growled and pulled Skyler back into a warm embrace.

"Ha, ha. No, seriously; I bought some ice cream and some fudge Magic Shell. We wouldn't want that to go to waste, now would we?" Skyler smiled down into emerald eyes. She leaned forward and touched her nose to Khyrs', then placed a soft kiss on the tip of her nose and watched as the green orbs fluttered closed. "C'mon, I hear a bowl of ice cream calling my name."

Skyler pulled Khrys up out of bed and they shuffled, naked, into the kitchen to enjoy some ice cream. Skyler opened the freezer and the cold blast of air made the hair on her arms stand up.

"Brrr... that's cold." She placed the container of ice cream on the counter and turned to see Khrys staring at her. "What?"

Khrys moved to where Skyler stood at the counter. She slid her arms around a firm stomach. Skyler leaned back into Khrys' chest. A curious mouth worked it's way around the slope of Skyler's neck. A low murmur escaped from Khrys' throat. "I don't think I'm in the mood for ice cream." Her hand slid into Skyler's hair and pulled gently, eliciting a moan from the little blond.

"I think we can skip the ice cream." Skyler gasped as she tried to turn around to face her lover.

Khrys stopped her, "No, no ... don't turn around." Her voice was deep and rich with desire. Her hands trailed lightly down Skyler's strong back, splaying out and taking in every inch of flesh within reach. Skyler fought to stay on her feet. Khrys' hands were strong and confident. She massaged muscles tight from their lovemaking and sighed as she felt Skyler relax into her touch. Skyler's skin was smooth and warm to the touch and Khrys tried to keep her focus as she trailed her hands down the woman's arms.

"Now," Khrys spoke into Skyler's ear as she leaned over, "about dessert." She licked the outside of the closest earlobe. Skyler tilted her head to give better access to the questing tongue. Khrys growled as her hands found their way around Skyler's strong body. Reveling in the feel of her young lover, Khrys could not stand the teasing anymore. She spun Skyler around and captured her mouth in a lip bruising kiss which left them both breathless and gasping for air.

"Khrys, I love you so much." Skyler groaned as she ran a hand down Khrys cheek, and her eyes took in the beauty before her. Khrys was standing stark naked in the kitchen, her long form comfortable under the lights and Skyler's gaze. She shivered as Skyler stood looking at her, taking in every muscle, every ripple of perfect skin. The blond reached out her hands and ran them up the middle of Khrys' tight stomach, finally reaching behind the long neck and pulling her close. As their lips were about to touch, Skyler pulled back to look into Khrys' eyes, "You are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen."

Their lips met with an intensity that never seemed to flicker. Khrys gracefully scooped Skyler into her arms, and headed back towards the bedroom. Her lips never left Skyler's until they got back into bed. "Tell me again why we got out of bed?" She hovered over the smiling blonde, watching as she tried to think of an explanation.

"Um,... I" She pushed herself up on her elbows to meet Khrys half way and once again they lost themselves in each others arms.


Nate paced back and forth in front of the phone. When it rang he nearly knocked himself over trying to get to it. "Rachel?" He barked into the phone. "Did you get them?"

"Yeah, Nate. I got 'em. They came out really good; I think it will work. She will never do anything to hurt her oh so precious Khrys." Rachel sneered as she tapped the folder in her hand.

"Make sure you make copies of the originals and send a set to me as soon as you get a chance."

"Already done Nate, dropped them in the post office this morning." Rachel smiled as she lit another cigarette.

Nate grunted with satisfaction. "Good; now all we need to do is make sure that Skyler knows we aren't joking." Nate went over their plan one more time for Rachel. Assuring her that his father would take care of any expenses that she had incurred as a result of this little plan. His father was determined to partner with Skyler's father and wasn't going to let some damn lesbo interfere with his plans.

As Rachel glanced down at the folder on her counter, a sudden feeling of guilt washed over her. Why am I doing this? Then an evil grin cracked her face as she pushed aside any thoughts of remorse. Because she hurt me. She flicked the end of her cigarette heedlessly onto the floor and listened into the phone as the plan for destroying Skyler Blue came closer to fruition.


Sinner made his way back to Khrys' condo after having gone to his convention that afternoon. His heart was heavy with thoughts of his sister. He sighed as he wondered where she would be tonight and if she was going to come home. He entered the condo and sat down on the couch. Not sure what he should do, he finally leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He missed his sister; missed the way they would talk and play and just have fun together. He thought about all the years they had wasted judging each other. He knew that his struggle was one with his own conscience. His beliefs were such that her feelings were not acceptable to him, yet he believed in loving her regardless. What was the right choice?

He knew he could never accept a relationship that she got involved in. He knew that it went against everything he preached on Sunday's. If it ever got out, how would it affect his career, and the long run, would it matter? He admitted to himself that he was worried about how he would be perceived if her orientation got out and his congregation found out about it. He didn't think they would be very forgiving.

He paced around the condo, watching as the sun cast flickering shadows across the walls. He noted again that there were very few personal things in the condo. It made him feel sort of sad that there were no pictures of family or friends; just watercolor paintings that were unusually bright. He walked into the kitchen to get a drink and noticed a couple of notes on top of the refrigerator. Glancing at them, he saw that they were all notes from Skyler, which had been taped to the door. He read them over and knew that his sister was in love with the young blond and that she was in love with his sister as well.

He slid down to the floor of the kitchen and held his head in his hands, Oh Khrys, I'm sorry that you have had to go through this all alone. I'm sorry that I wasn't a better brother. He sat there as tears of guilt streaked his face and he prayed for the understanding and wisdom to say the right things the next time.

Khrys opened her eyes as she heard her pager go off. Reaching over and disentangling herself from Skyler, she checked the number. Damn! I wonder what he wants. Skyler stirred and turned over onto her back.

"Mm, what's up?" She said as she ran her hand down Khrys' arm.

"It's Sinner; I suppose he wants to know if I'm coming home tonight. Let me call him." She rolled out of bed reluctantly and reached for the phone. Skyler shifted onto her left side and propped herself up on an elbow.

"Hey, Khrys?"


"Do you think he will ever understand how you feel? I mean, can he ever get past it?"

Khrys thought about it, remembering how close she and her brother used to be. "I don't know anymore, Sky. Honestly, it surprised me that he would still treat me as badly as he does. He's got a good heart but, he doesn't know how to express the right things; I think he just doesn't know how to handle this. It goes against everything we were taught." She picked up the phone and dialed.

The phone rang four times before he picked up. "Uh..hello?"

She kept her voice even, trying not to sound as annoyed as she was. "Hey, Sin, it's me what's up? Do you need anything?"

His voice was hesitant. "Actually, uh, we need to talk. I-I've been doing a lot of thinking and I know I've wronged you terribly. I want to make it up to you somehow..."

Khrys eyed the phone in shock. She cast a glance at Skyler, eyes wide as she shrugged her shoulders.

She spoke cooly. "What do you want to talk about, Sin?"

"I think you know, Khrys. Please." His voice held the regret that his heart was feeling.

"Well, I've got plans tonight; how 'bout we have breakfast tomorrow morning?" On the spur of the moment she decided to give him a chance.

"Thanks, Khrys. I'll see you then. Are ... are you going to come home tonight?" He asked a little hesitantly.

"No, I'm not, help yourself to anything in the house. If you need help getting somewhere, just ask for Henry downstairs; he'll help. I'll see you tomorrow, Sin." She hung up the phone before he could say more.

Skyler was on the edge of the bed, her feet dangling over the side. She watched as Khrys ran a hand through her dark hair and sighed.

"Are you ok? What was that all about?" Skyler asked.

"I think he knows about us," Khrys stated matter-of-factly.

"Really?" Skyler let out a breath in a soft whistle as she absorbed this information. "So, what do you think he's going to do?"

"I guess we'll just have to see, won't we? We're having breakfast with him tomorrow." She watched Skyler's eyes widen at this revelation.

"'WE' are going to have breakfast tomorrow? As in you and me and Sinner?" Skyler stammered.

"Well, I figured since it's about YOU and ME...I might as well get it all out, right?" She climbed back onto the bed next to Skyler. "I want you with me." She looked into the patient brown eyes.

"Of course I'll go with you; are you sure this is what you want to do, Khrys?" She searched bright green eyes.

"Skyler, he knows, and I want him to know the truth. I want him to understand what this is." She motioned between the two of them.

"Okay, so than breakfast it is." Skyler leaned over and wrapped her arms around Khrys. "No problem."


Gail and Mitchell Meadows sat in the third pew from the front of the church, just like they always had every Sunday for the past thirty years. Gail would smile at the parishioners as they stopped to say hello; Mitchell would simply nod his acknowledgment.

"Gail dear, how are the kids? That wonderful Samuel and Khrystian?"

Gail felt the twitch in her husband's hand and squeezed it gently. "Oh, they are fine. Samuel is preaching out in Kentucky and Khrys is down in Florida working for a publishing house. They are just great." She smiled

"Oh! That's wonderful. Tell them I asked after them when you speak with them again."

"I surely will. Thank you, Lindy." She watched as the robust woman walked away.

Turning towards her husband, she noticed his jaw clenched in anger. "Mitchell, look at me."

"No, Gail. I told you before, I don't want her name ever mentioned in my presence again." He spoke sternly without looking at his wife.

Gail sighed and leaned back against the pew. She hadn't heard from Khrys in ages and had gotten her slim information of her daughter from Sam. She felt the sadness of the lost relationship with her only daughter and a single tear slid down her cheek as the pastor took the pulpit.


Khrys and Skyler drove in silence back to the condo. Their night had been spent in peaceful slumber after having worn themselves out that day. Now, on their way to pick up Sinner, Skyler could feel the tension. She reached over and rubbed the back of Khrys' neck.

"Hey, are you ok?" She asked when Khrys glanced over.

"Yeah, I'm just thinking."

"Are you nervous?"

"A little, I'm not sure what he's going to say, but I know it won't be that bad if you are there." Khrys smiled and turned her head, kissing the hand on her shoulder.

Skyler smiled and pushed a lock of dark hair behind one of Khrys' ears. "It'll be fine. You said it didn't really sound like he wanted a confrontation."

They pulled into the garage and parked the car.

In the elevator, Skyler clasped Khrys' hand in hers. Khrys turned and smiled gratefully at the blond. She squeezed the hand in gratitude as they headed down the hall. Just outside the door they glanced at each other and both took deep breaths.

Khrys entered first, looking around for signs that Sinner was awake. It was eerily quiet. She walked down the hall to his room and tapped lightly on the door; no answer. She knocked a little louder.

"Sinner? Hey! Are you here?" She knocked on the door, then tried the handle. When she opened the door, there was no one in the room. I wonder where he went. She turned to look at Skyler, a question in her eyes. "I don't know where he is."

They turned and walked back into the living room. There was no note or anything. Khrys' brow furrowed.

"Khrys, where could he be?" Skyler asked, looking around. "His stuff is still here."

"I don't know, maybe he went for a walk." Khrys crossed to the balcony and walked outside. It was a beautiful morning. She looked down at the beach and noticed the figure sitting in the sand in the same spot as the now faded gift from Skyler. "I think I found him Sky, come on."

They headed downstairs towards the beach. As they came down towards the water Khrys saw Sam sitting in the sand, his head hung low, his elbows resting on his knees. He was wearing a pair of shorts and a

t-shirt, his dark, unruly hair falling against his forehead.

He didn't hear the two women approach. He was lost in his thoughts as he watched the waves crashing to the shore.

"Sam?" Khrys sat down next to him as she put a hand on his shoulder. He jumped a little, not expecting them.

"Oh! Sorry. Hi, I didn't think you would be here this early." He looked out at the water again. "I was just enjoying the morning."

"Are you okay?" Skyler asked as she sat next to Khrys in the morning dampened sand.

"Yeah. I guess." He shrugged not really sure if he was or not.

He had awakened that morning with a heavy heart. It was well before sunrise so he decided to go down to the beach and connect with nature. He had struggled all night with his conscience; trying to decide how to handle this whole situation. He buried his feet in the sand and prayed. For guidance, for wisdom and for patience; for his sister's soul, for God's grace and for forgiveness. He had spent a long time on his knees in the sand, while the sun had slowly come up over the horizon, baptizing him in the light. He felt his heart settle as words filled his soul. He felt a quiet peace take over, where he was so afraid of saying the wrong thing. He wanted to have a relationship with his sister that was based on love and not condemnation. He was torn, between what he believed and what he wanted. He looked at his sister as she spoke quietly with Skyler. She looked so relaxed, so...happy. He took a deep breath.

"Are you girls hungry? I think we should go get something to eat." He smiled as they shook their heads.

"Am I hungry?" Skyler laughed. "Of course I'm hungry." She patted her stomach and stood up, extending a hand down for Khrys.

"Well, let's go then. Khrys; any ideas where we should go?" He said, his eyes darting to their hands that remained linked even now.

"Um....let me think...." She rubbed her chin trying to remember the name of that restaurant.


They sat in a booth by the window. The Original Pancake House served the biggest breakfasts in town and Khrys was in the mood for a Dutch Baby. Very sweet, very fattening but so good. Sinner sat across from Skyler and Khrys in the other side of the booth. Covertly watching the interaction between the two women. Skyler smiled easily at his sister, her eyes revealing her feelings. Skyler had ordered chocolate chip pancakes, and Sinner ordered the steak and eggs. They sat in silence until Khrys spoke up.

"So, Sam, what did you want to talk about?" She met his eyes with a confident gaze.

"Well, um... I've been doing a lot of thinking." He glanced nervously at Skyler.

"It's okay, Sam, anything you tell me she's going to hear anyway, I don't keep anything from her." Khrys reassured him.

He cleared his suddenly dry throat. "Okay, well, I've been thinking about what you said about how I hurt you intentionally. How you said, that we have ingrained into your mind what was right and what was wrong. I know that me being a pastor hasn't been easy for you. It hasn't been easy for me, either. I've got things pulling me in opposite directions." He looked at her expecting a little sympathy or perhaps understanding. What he got was a cold, hard stare.

"Sinner, I don't know why you think I would be sympathetic to your plight. What do you think I have been dealing with? I'm going to be thirty years old and for the first time in my life, in my life, Sin, I am happy. I have been so torn between what I was taught to believe and what I felt in my heart that I twisted myself into someone I hardly recognized. Denying myself any joy, any true happiness. So, forgive me if I don't feel sorry for you."

She tried to contain the frustration she was feeling as years of tormented anger came rolling off of her shoulders, then felt Skyler's hand on her thigh, effectively calming her down. She took a couple of deep breaths and waited for Sinner to continue.

He spoke quietly, "Khrys, it wasn't my intention to wring sympathy from you, I just...I guess I wanted you to know that I'm sorry for ever having treated you differently because of the way you feel. I don't have to agree with it or like it, and I don't have to approve of it, but I do have to love you unconditionally. You are my sister and even though your lifestyle goes against what I believe, and what I teach, I love you and should take your feelings into consideration. I'm sorry for ever hurting you."

Skyler listened as Sinner struggled to express what he was feeling. Watching as he shifted uncomfortably trying to make Khrys understand his position. Skyler was touched by the obvious display of regret and knew that this was something that he had been trying to come to terms with. Her hand reached for Khrys' that was clenching at her side. She squeezed it reassuringly and got a gentle smile in response.

Khrys had listened to her brother, and tried not to judge what he was saying. She wanted to scream at him, for hurting her for so many years, when maybe all she needed was for someone to love her. She had felt so alone for so long, without her family it was even harder. Now that she had Skyler's love, there was no way she was going to let that go. She took a deep breath.

"I appreciate what you are telling me, Sin, but understand, this has been years of struggle for me. You've ... got to give me time to ... forgive you." She sighed sadly, glad of Skyler's presence.

"That's okay, Khrys, I know, I ... we, must have really hurt you. I know dad wasn't easy on you and I'm sorry for that as well."

Khrys thought back to all the times she had tried to win her father's approval and then the total banishment when he invaded her privacy that last time. Absently she rubbed the scar on her side, then pushed the food away, no longer hungry.

"I think we should get going." She asked their waitress for the check, and cast a glance at Skyler.

"Khrys, are you okay?" Skyler asked, as she looked at Sam.

"Yeah, I'm just not hungry anymore."

Skyler could feel the sadness that engulfed her lover. "Let's go home then."


Nate opened the envelope to reveal pictures of his high school girlfriend in a loving embrace with another woman. There were other pictures that he knew could destroy the dark woman she was now with as well. His eyes widened in rage as he flipped though all the pictures and he threw them down on his desk with frustration This is never going to work. Rachel has lost her mind and maybe I have too. He paced around his office trying to think of how they could pull this off and be sure that it would work.

It had been one of those nights. His father was pissed because Garth Blue just didn't want to have anything to do with becoming partners with him. After that whole incident with his daughter and Nate, Garth cut off all association with him. Red Campbell, was not an ideal partner, not with his tricky ways and dishonest deals. Red had taken his anger out on Nate. Blaming the young man for foiling his plan to run Garth Blue into the ground and destroying his law firm.

"NATE!" Red bellowed.

Nate came into the room. "Yeah, dad, what's up?"

"Nate, it's your damn fault that this deal with Garth fell through. Now I want you to make up with that daughter of his and fix this." His voice was thick with menace.

"Dad, Skyler moved to Florida and she's involved with someone. How can I...." His words were cut off by the back of his father's hand.

"BOY, do I have to do everything for you? If you hadn't a fucked this up in the first place we wouldn't have to worry about that, now would we?"

Nate staggered back with the blow to his jaw. "No, Pa." His head hung low.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" Red breathed into his son's face.

Nate whispered, "I-I'll figure something out, Pa."

"Good! Now you let me know when this gets settled and I can begin to bury that damn Garth."

Red stormed out of the room and slammed the door behind him as his shaken son sat down in a nearby chair holding his head in his hands.

Not a week later Nate had gotten a letter from Rachel. She had laid out a plan to destroy Skyler and at the same time force her back into Nate's arms. Rachel wanted money; she didn't care what happened to Skyler as long as she was miserable.

So, Nate Campbell had made a pact with a devil by the name of Rachel Monroe. Together they would get what they both wanted ... one way or another.

Nate picked up the pictures from the desk; wondering if the dark haired woman would even care if the pictures got out. Then he picked up the note from Rachel.


As she drove them back to the condo, Khrys was having a hard time dealing with all these emotions; they were all new to her. She had been alone so long and kept her feelings to herself. The only time she made the mistake of trusting someone with her feelings, she found that they were used against her.

It was years ago, she was 21 years old, and away from the world of her parents. Her youthful rebellion had landed her struggling to get by. She had been alone walking along the beach when she was approached by a shady looking man and a beautiful blond woman.

"Well, hello there, sweetheart." His eyes ran down her long body. Taking in her tall frame and her unruly mane of dark hair, he smiled broadly once his eyes focused on her face. Two orbs of blue fire peered at him unwavering. He stuck out his hand, "Allow me to introduce myself, my name is James, as in James Modeling, Inc." He handed her his card with a flourish. "And this lovely young lady, is Katina." He indicated the blonde.

Khrys had taken the card and looked it over and shrugged. "So?"

His laughter rang out loud and annoying. "Yes, good, I like that. Well, right to the point then. I want to represent you." He saw the confusion in her eyes. "I want you to model for my agency."

Khrys still looked blankly at him. She wasn't sure she could or wanted to trust this man. "I don't know, how do I know you're for real?"

"Good question and quite smart of you to ask. Why don't you come down tomorrow afternoon and we'll introduce you to everyone. If you still feel uncomfortable, than well, C'est la vie!" He smiled brightly at her. "I want to make you a star!"

Khrys looked at the card in her hand and back up at his gray eyes. "Okay, I guess it couldn't hurt to look around."

"Great! Just call that number on the card and I'll have Melinda set up an appointment." He looked her in the eye and offered his hand again. She took it with slight hesitation. "Until tomorrow." He kissed her hand and then released it.

As he walked by, the blond looked at Khrys with hazel eyes full of...something she couldn't put her finger on. Unspoken words passed between them and Katina smiled knowingly.

The next day, hurting for cash, Khrys made her way down to South Beach where the James office was located. She noted that the building was obviously brand new, in the center of the very popular hub of South Beach. She entered and checked in at the front desk.

"Um...I'm here to see, James?" She said to the auburn haired woman behind the desk.

"Oh yes, he's expecting you, ms...??"

"Khrys, Khrystian Meadows." The tall girl answered.

"Well, Khrys, please have a seat and someone will be down to escort you in a moment. My name is Melinda, if you need anything please let me know."

"Thanks." Khrys smiled half heartedly. She seems nice enough. I wonder if this is for real.

"Khrys!" She turned and saw the blond from last night heading towards her. "Darling how are? Please come with me." Katina held out a well manicured hand.

Khrys looked into hazel eyes and smiled when Katina winked at her. She took the hand offered and allowed herself to be pulled down a long hall towards some elevators.

"Well, Khrys, James focuses on getting his girls the best jobs for the most money. I've been with him now for about five years and he has been wonderful. I've been on a couple of different covers, some foreign, some here in the states. My big one was Vogue; I'm quite proud of that." She pointed to one of the large posters hanging on the wall in the hallway.

They turned and stepped onto one of the elevators. Khrys was taking it all in, trying to think about something other than the blond at her side. Katina was talking a blue streak about what was expected and what James would do for her.

Flash Forward three years.

Madrid, Spain.

She found herself, in the awkward position of crawling out of another strangers arms, clawing her way through the darkness that enveloped her. "How did I get here?" She remembered a shoot with that photographer, "What was his name again?" He had a friend who had a friend and they were partying. She remembered not wanting to be there. Vaguely aware of Kat's presence, she thought they would just go back to the hotel and go to sleep. Surely Kat knew she didn't want a part of any of this.

Here she was crawling out of a strangers bed, gathering her clothes as quietly as possible. Not daring to look at the person in the bed, she backed out of the room and dressed silently, leaving no trace that she was ever there.

Then came the drama, the media, the scandal. She had no idea what had happened, was caught off guard, and shocked. Apparently the faceless person she had left in the room last night was the infamous Ernesto Paulo and now... he was dead.

Khrys looked over at the small trusting blond beside her, Would she ever understand; could she? You owe her the same trust that she gives you, Khrys. She loves you. She shook her head and pulled into the garage, waving at Henry as she did so. Skyler smiled and placed a gentle hand on her lover's arm. Grateful for the reassurance, Khrys smiled and patted her hand.

They left Sinner at the apartment, Khrys desperately needing to get away, and not face the inevitable. Her world was crashing down around her and she just wanted quiet. She knew Samuel, was trying to reach across the chasm between them. Tentatively, she had let him in, but could not allow herself to forgive him just yet. Her anger was like an old familiar friend, the only thing she could count on to always be there.

"Hey, Sin, if you need anything, use my pager, I'll be at Skyler's, her phone number and everything else is on a piece of paper on the fridge." She looked down at her feet, unable to meet his patient gaze.

"Thanks,'m sorry." Sinner reached out to her. She flinched away. "Okay, well, I guess, I will see you tomorrow? You can drive me to the airport right?" His voice hopeful that this relationship could still be repaired.

"Yeah, Sin, I'll be here." Khrys spoke quietly. She turned to leave and met understanding brown eyes. Turning back to Sinner she spoke, "Listen, Sam; I understand you are trying to fix things between us; I know it. You are just going to have to give me some time to get over my feelings. These are deep, old wounds you are trying to heal and it is going to take a while." She looked up into his tired hazel eyes. She sighed, and in a bare whisper, she voiced her pain. "All I ever wanted was for you to love me. For my family to love me. You were my best friend Sin, we did everything together. I hurt so much."

Her pain too close to the surface, her strength battered by all that had happened, Khrys finally broke down and cried. For the loss of her family, the one thing she ever needed. She cried for the years she spent hiding and the pain that she had constantly dealt with alone. Alone, so many years alone without so much as a friend to comfort her. Her tears fell freely, streaking a suddenly worn face. She felt Skyler's presence at her back, gentle hands soothing and catching her. Khrys slumped against the smaller, stronger woman, and let the pain go. Finally, let herself feel all of the things she buried.

Sinner stood speechless, unable to digest what was going on; the pain his sister had endured overwhelming him. "I'm so sorry, Khrys. So sorry..." he whispered as he watched his sister allow the support of her only anchor in her sea of sadness. "I swear I will do anything it takes to make this up to you." He met Skyler's eyes sadly, in silent gratitude; Skyler merely nodded and held her lover.

Skyler eased them down onto the couch in her living room; whispering soothing words and smoothing the dark hair. "Shhh, baby, it's okay. It's all going to be fine now." Skyler spoke against Khrys' hair. "It's okay, I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere. It will work out; I promise."

"No, no, Skyler, it won' can't, there's so many things." Khrys could not contain her sobs. It was like a dam breaking after too many years of unattended cracks.

"Khrys, what are you talking about, honey? It's just Sinner trying to make amends. You can take all the time you need." Skyler tried to comfort her friend with words she wasn't even sure of herself.

Khrys huddled closer to her young lover, not wanting to leave this gentle warmth that enveloped her. Skyler was the one thing she needed right now. She wasn't about to risk losing it by bringing up her past. She decided that she would tell Skyler everything once Sinner had gone home, and she had a chance to sort through things in her mind.

"C'mon, let's go see a movie. You want to? That will relax you a bit, right? It'll be fun; come on!" Skyler enthused trying to get Khrys' mind off the raging emotional torrent.

"Yeah, maybe that's a good idea. Any suggestions?" Khrys wiped her eyes.

"Um, how 'bout we go see that new shark movie...what's it called? Deep Blue Sea."

"Who's in that?" Khrys asked a little uncertain.


They exited the movie theater talking animatedly about the movie.

Khrys was gesturing wildly, "That part when Samuel Jackson was talking, and then WHAMO! Oh, man! You just weren't expecting that."

Skyler laughed as she listened to Khrys talk. She nodded her head in agreement, pleased with their choice of films. It wasn't something they had to think too much about, and it was constant action. She grabbed one of Khrys' hands, and squeezed it gently.

Khrys stopped talking and looked down into caramel brown eyes. "Thanks, baby," she whispered. "For being there for me, even when I think I should be alone." Khrys let her eyes show the feelings she was trying to express. "I can't tell you how much it has meant to me to have you by my side."

Skyler looked into deep mist green eyes and smiled. "Honey, I love you; nothing and nobody is going to change that. You are my world. I'm just glad you let me be there for you." She ran a small hand down Khrys' tan cheek. Standing on her tip toes she placed a soft kiss on Khrys' lips. "Just don't forget who loves ya, baby."

Skyler smiled as they made their way back to the car. Khrys decided that ice cream would be the perfect end to this evening.

"Have you ever been to Jackson's?" Khrys asked the little blond.

"Jackson's? What's that?" Skyler asked.

"Oh, well you are in for a treat then my dear. Let's go!" Khrys smiled as they drove off into the night.

"Khrys, what is Jackson's? Aren't you even going to tell me?" Skyler saw the smile in her lover's eye, and knew prying was futile.

"Mmmm, mmm, mmm...mmmm.." Khrys hummed as she drove. She hadn't been to Jackson's in years. It had been one of her favorite places to treat herself.

They headed south on A1A and when Khrys saw the huge sign in the distance and tapped Skyler on the shoulder. "Almost there." She pointed to the sign.

Skyler looked around a little uncertain, it wasn't the best of neighborhoods, but Khrys didn't seem to mind. She watched the lights go by and they pulled into the tiny parking lot.

"Here we are!" Khrys laughed as she jumped out of the car. She walked around to the passenger door, and helped Skyler out.

"Khrys, where are we? This doesn't look familiar or anything."

"Well, be prepared to have fun. I think you'll like it." Khrys smiled and tugged her hand. "C'mon."

The walked up to the little wooden door and Khrys opened it with a flourish, ushering Skyler in. The heady scent of freshly popped popcorn wafted out to them. As they entered they were surrounded by piles and piles of all sorts of different candies. Lollipops, Necco Wafers, Gummy Bears, Gummy Worms, Pixie sticks, Lik-em-Stix, Candy buttons, Candy necklaces, ring pops, chocolate, root beer bottles, Wax candies... anything you could think of was there for the picking. You could get bags, or pieces. They even sold stuffed animals.

Khrys smiled as she watched Skyler walk around, her eyes wide in childlike fascination. The hostess approached her, "Will you be needing a table this evening?"

"Yes, please; for two. We'd like a booth if you've got one." Khrys spoke, her eyes never leaving Skyler.

"No problem, just follow me." The blond woman with the straw hat spoke to Khrys gently.

"Hey, Sky! C'mon, we are gonna sit down. We'll wander through here on our way out, okay?" Khrys held out her hand to the young woman.

Skyler grabbed Khrys' hand; she had the biggest grin on her face. "Khrys, this place is so cool!"

Khrys smiled brilliantly and nodded, leading her to the booth that the waitress was standing beside. They scooted into the seats. As Khrys sat down she felt Skyler scooting in beside her and raised an eyebrow at the blond.

"You don't mind do you?" Skyler said as she placed her hand on Khrys' thigh.

Khrys grinned at her. "Nope, I sure don't!" and she slid a little further into the booth.

Skyler seemed to exude joy. She was like a little bouncy ball fidgeting in her seat. Her eyes darted around the ice cream shop; taking in all the old-fashioned decorations. She looked through the menu and wondered out loud not for the first time why you had to have at least four people to order the kitchen sink. Khrys tried explaining that it was two gallons of ice cream, meant for a party of people. She watched as Skyler stuck out her bottom lip.

"But, I want a kitchen sink. It sounds like so much fun."

Khrys could not resist the pout that graced her lovers face. When the waitress returned, Khrys offered a "little extra" something for her if she could get them a kitchen sink. "Just tell them we are waiting for two more people, they just won't show up. It will be our little secret."

The waitress looked at the dark haired woman and decided to go ahead and help them out. They chose the flavors they wanted and sat back to wait. They ordered two root beer floats as well. If you are going to make yourself sick eating ice cream, you might as well make yourself truly sick.

Skyler leaned into Khrys' side, "Honey, have I told you lately just how beautiful I think you are?"

Khrys looked into sincere brown eyes. "Yeah, you tell me everyday, simply by looking at me. Thank you. I think you're kind of cute too." She touched Sky's nose.

Skyler wrinkled up her nose in reaction. "You think I'm cute, huh? Well, we'll see about that." The hand that was on Khrys' leg slowly began working it's way up the inside of a thigh. She felt Khrys jump and grab her hand to stop her movement.

Khrys looked at her beseechingly and in a low growl she said, "Skyler, don't you dare."

Skyler pulled the most innocent face she could muster without bursting into hysterical laughter. "What do you mean, Khrystian? I haven't done a thing." She wiggled her fingers once and felt the grip on her wrist tighten, in response. Oooh, I could have so much fun with her tonight. Skyler pulled her hand back and looked into laughing green eyes.

"Do you still think I'm just cute?" Skyler said.

"Um,..."Khrys looked at her lover and knew better than to tempt fate. "I think you are the sexiest woman I have ever seen."

Skyler leaned forward, and captured Khrys in a kiss. Hot, sweet and wet, she left no room for doubt about just how sexy she was. "Don't forget that." Sky spoke as they broke the kiss.

The waitress returned with their kitchen sink concoction. Skyler's eyes went wide in surprise. "Holy cow! That's a lot of ice cream."

Khrys shook her head and gave Skyler her 'I told you so' look. Piled high in an actual mini sink, were four different kinds of ice cream, hot fudge, carmel, nuts and whipped cream. Khrys and Skyler smiled at each other as they picked up their spoons and dug in.

Khrys winced at the combination of double-fudge chocolate-chunk and the bit of mint chocolate-chip that she got together. She leaned back pleasantly stuffed and continued to watch Skyler work her way through the messy gift before her.

"Hey, baby, slow down; are you looking for the drain or something?" Khrys patted the blondes side.

Skyler shot her a look. "Actually, I'm just trying to make myself so sick that you will have to carry me out of here. I won't be able to walk for sure!"

Khrys looked at the now sadly demolished giant sundae, and then at her lover. She leaned over and pushed the ice cream away from her. "Skyler Blue, you are surrounded, please back away from the spoon and no one will be hurt."

Skyler smacked Khrys on the arm and they both went hysterical with laughter. The waitress came over surprised that all that was left of this four person sundae, was a cherry stem at the bottom of the bowl. She smiled at the two women and shook her head, mumbling in disbelief. "I've never seen anyone finish it."

Khrys laughed again as Skyler lowered her head and blushed. "It's a good thing I didn't mention that if you actually finish it, you get it for free right?" Khrys laughed even harder at the look on Skyler's face.

"Let's get the check and go home, I think I'm gonna need to be near a bathroom pretty soon." Skyler patted her stomach.

They paid the check and left, not before stopping and buying some very necessary supplies in the candy shop.

"Thanks for warning me about the kitchen sink, Khrystian Meadows," Skyler moaned, "I'll remember how much fun you had laughing at me when you're the sick one."

Khrys looked at the uncomfortable blond next to her, "Just don't get sick in the car, okay." She cracked a big grin and headed the vehicle home.


"Ugh! Remind me never to eat ice cream again." Skyler stumbled out of the bathroom for the umpteenth time.

Khrys cast her an amused glance. "I tried to tell you. But nooo! You wanted to get really sick."

Skyler crawled into the bed beside the dark woman, snuggling up to the warmth that radiated off her body. She wrapped her arms around a slim waist and pressed her face into a muscled shoulder. "Just don't move, okay. Stay right here and let me be warm. I feel really lousy."

"Aww, honey, I'm sorry. I'm being so mean about this and you really don't feel good. Here, scoot over, let me rub your back."

Skyler slide closer to Khrystian, and sighed happily as warm strong hands began to gently ease the tension in her lower back. "Mmm, that feels so nice."

Khrys listened as Skyler's breathing evened out and she fell asleep. She kissed the top of a blonde head and slid down beneath the covers. "Goodnight sweetie." She whispered as sleep claimed her as well.


Skyler shot straight up in bed, clutching her stomach. "Oh, my God!"

Khrys' eyes flew open. "What? What's wrong?" She jumped out of bed and looked around anxiously. "Skyler, what's wrong?"

"Oh, my God!" she repeated. "S-Something is so not right. I am in serious pain here. It's in my back though. Ow!" Skyler doubled over moaning.

"Okay, let's go to the emergency room. C'mon." Khrys tried to get Skyler to stand up, but her hands were batted away.

"No, oh my gosh! I am in so much pain. Khrys, help me. I don't think I can stand up."

Khrys tried to get her mind to function. "Skyler, what sort of pain is it? Sharp? Dull? Moving?"

"Oh, gosh, Khrys it's a BAD pain; please ... get me to the emergency room."

Khrys dressed quickly throwing on a pair of shorts and her sneakers. She called downstairs to have one of the guys bring her car around, then lifted Skyler gently from the bed and carried her to the elevator. Once down, she carried Skyler right out the front door and placed her in the Durango. Her heart was pounding, she had no idea what was going on. She knew only that Skyler was in pain and needed to get to the emergency room.

Khrys pulled right up to the front door of the hospital and ran inside to get a wheelchair. She placed Skyler in the chair and wheeled her inside. At the front desk she harassed a nurse. "My friend needs to see a doctor; she's in terrible pain. Somebody do something." Her voice was frantic, she felt a small hand on her own.

"Khrys, stop yelling; we don't know what's wrong. Calm down." Skyler spoke quietly trying to calm her lover. "It's okay, they are going to need my insurance information, hand me my bag."


Khrys paced back and forth as she waited for someone, anyone, to tell her what was going on. A nurse had come and taken Skyler into the back rooms almost half an hour ago. Still, no one had come out to tell her what was going on.

She paced the floor like a caged tiger and finally walked over to the desk. "Can you tell me what's going on with Skyler Blue, please?" She said to the old, gray-haired nurse behind the desk.

"Are you family," the woman asked.

" actually, I'm the one who brought her in. Can't you tell me anything?" Khrys felt her hands tighten into fists.

"Well, we don't have permission to discuss patients with friends." The nurse looked over her glasses at the tall woman before her.

"Well, I have permission to kick your a.. nevermind. Who is the doctor on call?" Khrys tried to settle her nerves. The nurse ignored her question and turned to her paperwork.

Khrys glanced at her watch, very tempted to kick the emergency room doors open and find Skyler. About twenty minutes and all of her calming breathing techniques later, a young woman in a white coat came out the doors.

"Khrys Meadows, Khrystian Meadows?" She looked around the waiting room.

Khrys stood up. "That's me." She walked over to the doctor.

"Are you Khrystian Meadows?" She eyed the tall woman and Khrys felt a flash of recognition.

"Yes, is Skyler okay? What's going? When can I see her? No one will tell me anything and I'm going crazy."

The doctor held up her hands to forestall any further outbursts. "Yes, Skyler is fine, she asked to see you. It is against hospital policy but she listed you as her only contact, so, if you will follow me, please." The young doctor turned and Khrys followed closely behind, wringing her hands with tension. Why won't they tell me what's going on?


They walked back into the curtained rooms used for emergencies. The doctor pulled back one curtain, and Khrys saw Skyler lying on the bed with an IV in her hand. She hurried to her side.

"Oh, baby, are you okay? What happened?" Khrys leaned over the bed holding her hand.

"Shhh, I'm fine, apparently I have kidney stones." Skyler tried to grin.

The doctor, seeing she was not needed, slipped out quietly.

"Kidney stones?" Khrys asked surprised.

"Yeah, I never knew. Never had any pain, or anything." Skyler shrugged.

"So now what?" Khrys asked, not letting go of Skyler's hand.

"Well, now, we wait until I can pass them. Which they said might take a little while. So I get to use this thing," Skyler held up what looked like a funnel with a net at the bottom. "to strain my pee. Fun huh?" Her face flushed red. Why am I so embarrassed?


"Well, then let me pull up a chair, cause I'm not going anywhere, not without you." Khrys smiled down and brushed damp blond hair out of brown eyes. "Are you still in pain?"

"Nah, they plugged me into this, and it made it stop pretty quick." Skyler indicated the IV in her hand. "This is some good stuff, whatever it is."

Khrys smiled and settled into the chair at the side of Skyler's bed. "So hurry up and pee and let's go home." Khrys sighed and laid her head on the bed beside Skyler.


Seven o'clock in the morning finally found them home. Both exhausted, the two friends hauled themselves upstairs. Once inside, Skyler stumbled into the bedroom shedding her clothes along the way. Khrys followed closely behind, and crawled into bed beside her.

"Are you okay?" Khrys whispered into a tiny pink ear.

Skyler snuggled a little closer, "Mmm, yeah I'm okay. Just exhausted."

"Me too, let's get some sleep."



"Thanks, for taking such good care of me." Skyler whispered into the night.

Khrys hugged her closer, "Baby, I love you. I'm just glad I was here when it happened and you weren't alone."

"Still, it means a lot to me that you were there." Skyler hugged the arms already around her.

"No sweat, you scaled this building for me, it's the least I could do."

Skyler giggled at that thought. Yeah I would've gone across the world looking for you. "I did, didn't I?" Skyler grinned and turned onto her side to look at Khrys. "I would do it again too."

Khrys smiled back and leaned forward kissing Skyler's forehead. "Me, too. Though I'd rather you not be in pain."

They wrapped their arms around each other, content with the knowledge that they were together and nothing would or could change that.

Khrys sent her silent prayer into the night along with her thanks for keeping Skyler safe. Thank you for allowing me this gift. This precious, wonderful gift. I don't think I deserve it but I'm glad to have it. I don't know what I would do without her now. She looked down onto the golden blond head and smiled to herself. "I love you Skyler Blue, please don't ever leave me. I think I would die."

the end

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