Skipping Stones

Ali Vali

Chapter 2

"Are you going to help me with this or not?" J.J. stood behind the bar wiping glasses and putting them away.

"You've dated before without needing help, so why ask for my input now?" The beer Julian was drinking left enough foam on her mouth to tickle, which she fixed with a cocktail napkin from the pile in front of her.

It was their ritual Friday afternoon drink and she was enjoying J.J.'s growing nervousness over her impending date with Chris. From what Kiki had told her it was a mutual feeling on Chris' part, since she was now questioning her sanity for agreeing to go.

"I've dated before but never someone you'd kick my ass for if I end up hurting her feelings."

"You got that all wrong." She popped a spiced nut in her mouth, washing it down with another sip of beer.

"I could screw this up and you're not going to get mad?"

She laughed before popping another nut in her mouth. "I might get mad, and we both know I could kick your ass, but I'd have to take pity on you and not make good on the promise of a beating."

"Because of our years of friendship?"

"No, because of the bruising and bleeding you'll be doing once my wife gets through with you. My advice is to be on your best behavior tomorrow night and be charming. Do that and no one gets hurt, starting with me since this is technically my idea. Trust me, if someone's getting their ass kicked if something goes wrong, Kiki won't be starting with you."

J.J. joined her and laughed. From the time they had gotten off the boat and walked back to their cars earlier in the week, she'd actually been anticipating her upcoming date with Chris. Kiki's sister was a smart ass by nature, but when she gave you a smile, the kind that relaxed her face and brought out the laugh lines around her eyes, Chris was truly stunning.

Physically she was similar to Kiki with her petite stature and slim build, but her hair was darker and the green of her eyes was paler. Her looks were different as well since while she was beautiful, her attractiveness came from her individual and unique spirit.

"Hopefully I'll get a good report and avoid Kiki's wrath, which brings me back to my question. Are you going to help me with this or not?"

"I got you covered, don't worry about it. This is where the years of friendship and loyalty come in." She held her glass out waiting for a refill.

"You're so full of shit. This is where the little woman at home comes into play and you're the one going after a good report." J.J. held the glass under the tap and poured another half a glass. "I'd have to agree with you on the fact that one bad word from Chris on Sunday morning and I'm not going to be the only one in the doghouse."

"I readily admit that I'm wrapped around Kiki's little finger, so don't fuck up. Just show up at eight and the staff at the gallery will take care of the rest." She met J.J.'s eyes and leaned in a little. "I want you to know something but keep this to yourself so Chris won't feel self-conscious. She comes across as tough, but she's been hurt before and badly. It's what makes her so guarded when it comes to stuff like this. Kiki and Chris didn't chose very wisely the first time around, and that's really sad since they're so wonderful. If you play this right you might just find something that will completely blindside you."


She took a sip of the fresh brew and smiled. "The love and happiness that comes from finding the right person to spend your life with. You make up your mind that you can't have that, and you'll never be open to the possibility. If you do open up, even just a little bit, I can vouch for the fact that there is no other feeling like it in the world."

"I'm glad, buddy, so wish me luck."

"Luck." She took one more drink and got up to walk back to the office. After the talk she had plans of her own to finalize and all it would take was one lovely lady saying yes.


The lobby of the building was devoid of people since the lunch rush was long since over, so Julian made it through quickly, stopping only to tell the guards hello. She got in the elevator that would take her to the fourth floor and to Kiki and her children. A quick glance at her watch showed that naptime was almost over, so she was quiet as she headed back to Kiki's office when she stepped into the daycare center.

Neither Kiki nor Chris noticed her when she walked in, they were both engrossed in what was on the computer screen, and she laughed when she noticed the word fertility at the top right hand side. When Kiki wanted something it was usually full steam ahead, and adding to their family would be no different.

"Planning on starting without me?" she asked, leaning against the door jam.

"For what I have in mind, I need you present and accounted for, lover," Kiki stood and offered Julian her seat. The move prompted Chris to get up as well and start to leave.

"You don't have to go," said Julian once Kiki had taken a seat on her lap.

"Really, studly, there are some conversations you're better off having alone. I'll be in my office if you need me." Chris wiggled her fingers at them before backing out of the room. Though, she would've loved to stay if only to see Julian's reaction to Kiki's request.

"Should I be scared?" she asked when they were alone.

Kiki laughed and kissed the arched dark brow. "Now there's a question you should've asked yourself before taking that walk down the aisle. It's too late now to ponder the consequences."

"So what do you have in mind, beautiful?" She wiggled her brows and laughed. "She asked facetiously."

"When I wanted a baby before, I went to the doctor and I picked an anonymous donor. I thought I'd chosen carefully enough so that Tiger would have some of both Rhonda and my physical characteristics. It was important to me that he felt like there were two people who not only loved him but who he could identify belonging to."

Julian kissed the side of her head and pulled Kiki closer. "Thank God that didn't work out for you." She kissed her again before adding one more thing. "I mean I'm sorry it didn't work out because it would've made you happy at the time, but I'm glad Tiger's nothing like Rhonda and a lot like you."

"If I had to guess I'd say you were the anonymous donor the first time around since he's so much like you in temperament anyway." It wasn't exactly the place she wanted to have this conversation but their talk so far was a good entry. "This time around I don't want you to be anonymous. I want our baby to be a part of both of us."

Julian had to laugh at the thought that her one and a half beers with J.J. had impaired her hearing or her ability to reason. "Honey, I thought biology was one of your best subjects in school? You know the part about the whole sperm and egg thing." She kissed away Kiki's frown and ignored the pinch to her side. "I want that too," she kissed her again, "more than anything, but it's not possible."

"I want you to indulge in a bit of sweet imagination with me," Kiki ran her hand through Julian's dark hair and ended up circling her ear with the tip of her index finger. "Do you think you can do that?"

"I spend enough time down here that I think I can manage. What would you like me to imagine?"

"Close your eyes, baby, and picture yourself in a birthing room months from now holding the newest member of the Lowe family." She ran her fingers along Julian's brow making her lids flutter closed. "When you see the dark hair and the blue eyes, your chest is going to puff out like the proud parent that you are. Do you want to know why?"

The sound of her voice wrapped around Julian like a warm blanket on a blistery day. Kiki's tone made her want to do whatever it took to give her what she wished for. "Why?"

"Because they will be half yours. I'm wishing for this cute nose," Kiki kissed the mentioned body part. "And these ears," she whispered into Julian's ear making her shiver in a good way, "I'm wishing for a carbon copy of these beautiful ears. I want them to be tall, strong and grow to be noble just like you."

Julian's eyes opened slowly and a smile followed at the same pace. "That sounds like a dream. Something I want more than anything to give you, but I don't know how. I know how much you want this, baby, and I really don't want to disappoint you."

"Look at the screen, honey," instructed Kiki.

The site Kiki had pulled up explained the process of harvesting eggs from a donor so that it could be fertilized and put into someone else. All in all it sounded like it wasn't too complicated, but even if it meant she had to jump through hoops lit on fire Julian was willing to do it just to keep the smile on Kiki's face.

"I understand half of the equation, so how do we fulfill the other half?" asked Julian.

"I'm sorry I did this without talking to you first, but my first thought was Kermit. He's no different to me than Chris when it comes to what he means in my life. It's not anonymous like the first time with Tiger, but Kermit isn't going to want to be anything but Uncle Kermit if this works."

"You talked to him already?"

She nodded and put her hand on Julian's cheek in hopes she wasn't upset. "I know I should've waited, but he called the other day to confirm what we were doing this weekend and I just couldn't help myself."

Julian pressed her fingers to her lips to get her to stop talking. "I'm not mad at you, baby. Stop torturing yourself, I just want to know what he said."

"He's happy with his life even though he has to live part of it sort of hidden. You don't make it very far in the department here living with a guy named Joe, but he's happy. They've been together for five years and are looking to buy a house soon. When I asked him about this, he thought about it for about a second before he said yes." She kissed Julian just because she had a look of peace on her face that had been rare before Kiki came along. "Like I said, he's interested in being Uncle Kermit whenever we spend time with him. He even told me to tell you that if you want you can have the company's attorney's draw up some papers stripping him of any claim or rights to our baby."

"Is there anything else left to do?"

"I'm sorry, Bernie. I didn't mean to just plan all this and make you feel like I left you out."

"You want to have my baby, and you did your homework on how to go about it, and you think I'm going to get mad at you?" Julian stood up and took Kiki with her. "More like I'm going to marry you all over again. When do we start?"

"Really? You want to?"

"Make the appointments and tell me what I have to do and where to be."

"Bernie, and here I thought I was going to have to call in Eugenia to talk you into this. I had her all lined up too."

"Nanna would've been the perfect choice now that she knows there's more great grandchildren in the realm of possibilities, but you had to know I'd do anything you want to make you happy."

Kiki kissed her for a long sweet moment as if she wanted this time together to last. "I am happy because I have you, but I want to know if you really want this. It's okay to say so if you don't. The thing I want more than anything is for you to be happy."

"Honey, we'll have this talk as many times as it takes for it to sink in." She leaned back in the chair and framed Kiki's face with her hands. "I'm not Rhonda, and I never will be. When I tell you something, it isn't because I want something from you. I say it because it's what I want. We aren't always going to agree on everything, but when it comes to our family and having children, there we'll always agree."

"Thank you for saying it again."

She dropped one of her hands and placed it on Kiki's middle. "One of the things I'm looking forward to is seeing you pregnant. Feeling the life we'll create growing and kicking in here." The smile that statement created on Kiki's face made her heart melt. "You're the most beautiful woman I've ever met, and that beauty is only going to be magnified seeing you pregnant."

"Then you're definitely different from Rhonda. When I was pregnant, she was more disgusted than awed."

The chair creaked a little when Julian flexed the muscles in her legs and stood up, still holding onto Kiki. "You really should've let me hit her that morning she came over, if only for being such an idiot, and that's the last time we're going to waste our time talking about someone so unimportant. You almost made me forget what I came down here for in the first place."

"You're going to take me away from all this?" teased Kiki.

"I've been put in charge of helping to plan your sister's date tomorrow night, so I thought we could give it a dry run tonight."

Kiki left her hands linked behind Julian's head when she put her down. "Are you asking me out, Ms. Lowe?"

"That I am, Mrs. Lowe, so what do you say?"

"I say yes, and that goes to most things you have to ask me."

Her laugh made Kiki move closer and move her hands down to Julian's hips. "So what you're saying is that you're easy."

"A regular floozy when it comes to you, baby. Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise so go home and put on something sinfully sexy and I promise to show you a good time."

"Do you think if I show you a good time, it would make your eggs happy as well?"

"You can nickname me chicken from now on. Don't worry, me and my eggs won't let you down."


Rudy pulled up to the front of the Roberta Bernstein Lowe Art Museum and hopped out to open the door for his charges. There hadn't been any conversation coming from the backseat from the time they left the house, but then he doubted their lips had parted from the time he first closed the door.

There was someone waiting for them at the door and waving them in, showing Rudy to an extra chair behind the front counter. The gallery was lit with only the spots that were placed above the art giving it a romantic atmosphere. Soft music filtered through the sound system and Julian took her hand and walked Kiki through the first floor admiring the new pieces that were hanging in the new exhibits hall.

When they reached the second floor, Kiki had to stop and just stare at how the curator and his staff had transformed the great room that usually held their more classic collection, into an area that could have been found in the great palace in China. There were great landscapes along with sculptures that varied from ancient warriors to graceful women with flowing robes frozen in stone.

"Oh my God, honey, this is wonderful." Kiki had let go of her hand and just stood in the center of the room and turned slowly in a circle trying to take it all in.

From the corner of the room a woman dressed in a kimono came out with a try and stopped in front of Kiki. "Champagne, ma'am?"

"Thank you," she took both glasses and handed one to Julian. When her partner moved forward to accept it, Kiki noticed the table that had been set up near one of the sculptures of a geisha. "This certainly is a surprise."

"I know how much you love Chinese food, and I know how much I love spending time with you without a crowd." She held her glass up and tapped it against Kiki's. When they both took a sip, she put them down on the table and took Kiki in her arms. They swayed to the music for a long time without saying anything more.

"Thank you for thinking of doing this. I may have married you on Valentine's day, but you make me feel like it's February 14th every day of the year."

Julian twirled her around and kissed her neck. "Then my plan is working. See I've been a romantic fool trapped in that office all this time. I've gotten so good at it that I'm franchising," teased Julian.

"Oh yeah, I doubt this'll have the same effect on Chris and J.J.'s date tomorrow when they're having to share it with all the people that usually come to the openings. If there's one thing the staff you put in place here is good at, it's been getting new members."

The song ended, so she pulled Kiki's chair out and kissed her neck one more time since her wife had worn her hair up that night. "You want to know what they're really good at?"

Kiki laughed at the mischievous look in Julian's eyes. "What's that?"

"Keeping a secret. The opening is actually on Sunday, not tomorrow night." She raised her glass again and saluted Kiki before taking a sip. "We're getting to enjoy all this tonight, just us, and tomorrow night it'll be Chris and J.J.'s turn."

"You're going to duplicate this date tomorrow night?" Kiki gave her a smoldering look before leaning back giving the waitress a chance to put her soup bowl down.

"I thought Chris liked Chinese art."

"Oh she does, but she loves to be romanced even more. Thanks to you there's a good chance J.J.'s going to get lucky tomorrow night if Chris gets swept up in the moment."

"I'm more worried about whether or not I'm getting lucky tonight. J.J. is on her own when it comes to how her date turns out, but I'm fairly sure that she's going to get a good night kiss, maybe, and then be sent merrily on her way."

Kiki picked up her porcelain spoon and pointed it at her in jest. "And how do you know that?"

"Because if there's one thing I'm familiar with, it's the disposition of the women in your family."

The sweet and sour soup gave off a delicious aroma so Kiki tried some before continuing the fun conversation. "Go on - I can't wait."

"Honey, I know you, your mother and your sister. None of you are going to just hand anything over easily, you make us work for it."

She stopped to take another sip of soup and laughed as Julian gave her a smile. "Are you complaining that you have to work too hard for it?"

"Of course not. Anything worth having is worth putting forth a good effort." She reached across the small table and took Kiki's hand. "You're special to me, honey, and I love romancing your and showing you what you mean to me. For once, I want Chris to feel like that. That bozo she was going out with was the last straw for me. No one, who loves her family and our kids like she does, deserves to be used like she was. Tomorrow night might have been something that I arranged as far as access, but I can assure you that J.J. will treat her with respect."

"You're really too good to be true you know. Thanks for looking out for my little sister."

Julian picked up a pair of chopsticks and took a piece of sushi that had been placed on the table and fed it to Kiki. "You bring out the best in me I guess."

"And I'm planning on bringing out the best in you when we get home, don't worry about that," teased Kiki before she accepted another bite of sushi.


"You know what your problem is, Lowe?" Arthur put his hand up to his forehead to block out the glare of the sun to see where his ball had landed.

She stood with one hand on her driver waiting for him to finish before heading back to the cart. "That I got stuck with you as a partner today, and Kermit got J.J.?"

"Just because my daughter married to you doesn't mean that I can't kick your ass."

"You can try, but Kiki will return the favor when we get home. If you mess up my good looks she'll beat you with a stick, old man."

"Your problem is you don't follow through with your stroke." He pantomimed his stroke as if giving her a quick lesson.

"My ball went about ten yards further than yours did," Julian dryly pointed out.

"But you're three yards more to the left than I am. I landed more in the middle of the fairway."

Behind them J.J. and Kermit had their hands over their mouths trying not to laugh. They had both been the other two in this foursome before and knew all the jostling was in fun. "Dad, you know I never take anything down the straight of way, it's just not in my nature."

"Smart ass." They took off for their balls with all of them laughing. Waiting in their cart as Kermit and J.J. advanced their balls to the green, Arthur leaned against the wheel and looked at her. "My kid was full of information for her mother this morning when we got to your house."

"Told you some stuff huh?"

"She wants to be a mama again, and you're playing matchmaker for my other kid."

"She really was full of information then," teased Julian. "I thought since you and mom are retired you could take on a bunch of kids."

"Sure we can, but what about this yahoo you set Christine up with tonight?"

"Come on, you know her as well as I do. Don't worry, your little girl is in good hands."

He put his hand behind her head and squeezed. "Don't tell someone's father that his daughter is in good hands. Just wait until Summer starts dating, I'm going to have my revenge."

She got out and pulled out her four iron waiting for J.J. to take her shot. "If it makes you feel any better I already got this lecture from Kiki"

"It does not, and if anyone asks, we never had the conversation. I just figure you're smart enough to know why we're having this discussion. I love my girls but they sure picked for shit when it came to the first time around." He went with the four iron as well and stood close enough to her not to disturb Kermit's shot.

"How about the second time around?" She was teasing, he could tell by the size of her smile.

"It depends on how much time you got to listen to me complain."

Julian laughed and slapped him on the back. "You love me and you know it, even if it's only because I get you into the nicest courses in town."

"Enough self-promotion, how about you promising me another grandson?"

"I think we'll have to wait and see how their first date goes before we go planning on if they'll have kids."

"I swear I'm going to take a swing at you one day, consequences be damned." He put his fist up and shook it at her. "I was talking about my grandson with the last name of Lowe."

"I can't guarantee a grandson, but I'll try my best. Though, since you have girls and I have a girl, if it turns out to be a new granddaughter, that won't be bad. Am I right?"

"That you are, Lowe. Just make sure of one thing."

Before he could say anything she stepped up to her ball and tried her best to copy his swing just to make him happy. It was a surprise when her ball landed about two feet from the cup. "What's that?"

He took his swing and ended up on the edge of the green, then turned and gave her a look that told her not to say a word. When they were alone again, or as much as they could be on the course, he kept his eyes on her before taking off. "You take care of Kiki through this. I know you don't have anything in common with that moron she was with before, but no woman wants to go through that with her mama holding her hand and her head when she's puking her guts up. You do that to her and I'll hunt you down."

"Have I given you the impression that I'd do something to let Kiki down somehow?"

"The girl thinks you hung the moon but I'm her daddy, and that's what daddies do. They look after their little girls even when they have little girls of their own and are married to big, bad golfer partners." He put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a haunted look. "From experience I've learned that sometimes pregnancy changes even the best of spouses. Happened to my partner on the force and I didn't understand it much back then either. When it happened to Kiki, well let's say it took her mom to keep me from un-retiring my gun."

"You have my word, just like I gave it to you before I promised before God to take care of her. Kiki's past is just that, her past. It has no meaning to her present or her future."

"That's something else about you, Lowe."

"What's that?"

"You have a way with words that make even old codgers like me feel good. Now how about we change partners so you can play with Kermit?"

"Do you promise to be good so Chris won't be the one hunting you down when we get home and she finds out you're out here harassing her date?"

"If the big weenie tells on me, then I'll have my answer as to what kind of person she, now won't we?"

"Even though the girls complain about you, you're all right, Dad."

The rest of the afternoon Julian kept turning back making sure that Arthur didn't have J.J. in a headlock. He was a teddy bear at heart, especially when it came to his family, but it took you about five dates to figure out he really didn't want to kill you.

"Is he for real?" asked J.J. when they made it back to the clubhouse.

"If he told you he has the perfect golf swing, then he's full of shit. But if he told you he'd rip your tongue out and feed it to his dog if you hurt Chris' feelings, then yes, he's for real."

"I'm going tonight and I'm going to behave, but if I end up with some permanent disfigurement, I'm never forgiving you."

"Just remember one thing."

"I can't wait for another piece of advice since I'm over thirty and I've been dating for years. What?"

"When you bring her home, just remember that Arthur will be on the other side of the door, and somewhere in that house he has a loaded nine millimeter pistol with your name on it." Julian slapped her hard on the back and laughed all the way to the door of the locker room.

Early Sunday morning Kiki opened the door at seven and waved Chris into their house. She would've asked how her date had gone but they had already gotten the blow by blow at six a.m.

"It was totally amazing," said Chris holding her hand to her chest.

"Show a little restraint and put your 'I'm hard to get' face on." Kiki hugged her and then yawned.

"Why? I had a really good time last night and I wanted to come over and thank you guys for talking me into going out with her. At first she just screamed asshole, but she's really sweet."

"I'm glad I made a better second impression," said J.J. from the door with a hint of teasing in her voice. "Good morning."

Chris turned scarlet and slapped Kiki on the arm for not warning her. "Good morning to you. If I didn't tell you last night, I had a wonderful time."

Kiki left them alone to go through the moves of trying not to look too interested in each other to join Julian in the kitchen. "Tell me again why I'm awake on a Sunday morning and the sun is barely out?"

"Because the morning after is happening at our house for some strange reason. Maybe your father put the fear of death into her and J.J. feels better on more neutral ground."

"I'll give you a hundred dollars if you take me back to bed right this minute."

She put her arms around Kiki when she fell into her chest and laughed. "Considering how much I love taking you to bed, maybe I'm the one who should be offering you money. Let's go since I'm thinking our presence in the other room is no longer needed."

They got to sleep for another two hours before Tiger came in with Summer and they climbed up on the bed for their ritual Sunday morning visit. Usually on the weekends when they were staying in for a little while, the kids would come in and just enjoy being held while Kiki told them a story. Afterward they would head down to the kitchen and share a light breakfast while making their plans for the day.

"Bernie, Aunt Chris and J.J. are downstairs talking," said Tiger. He staked out Julian's side of the bed before his sister got a chance.

"They got here when everyone was sleeping and wanted to wait for you guys so they stuck around I guess. How would you all like to go sailing today?" Even their houseguests heard the screaming coming from the kids when they gave Julian their approval to that plan.

"If only you could get that kind of enthusiasm for your ideas from people like Roscoe, think of how much easier your life would be," joked Kiki as she listened to the kids running down the hall toward the stairs to tell J.J. and Chris about their plans.

"Just as long as I get that kind of enthusiasm from you when we talk about that taking you to bed subject I'll be happy." She pulled Kiki up with her and sat her on her lap before getting out of bed. "Can I tell you something I've never told you before?"

"You can tell me anything at any time, love."

"I love spending my Sunday mornings like this and I wanted to thank you for giving me a family. Sundays were always about reading the paper, and watching TV, before you and the kids got here. Thanks for bringing such joy into my life."

"It's a full time job for life and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it." Kiki took her time in kissing her to show just how much she meant the sentiment. "I wanted you to know that I was wrong about J.J. and Chris. They make a really cute couple, so good going, baby."

The weather on Lake Ponchatrain was wonderful since it wasn't too windy. When they had the kids out with them the last thing Julian was interested in was neck-breaking speed. Calm steady winds coming from the north allowed her to let each kid take a turn at the wheel while Kiki looked after the other one. The most entertaining part of the day was the way the new couple barely broke their heads apart from the conversation they were having.

It was the last weekend they had before they started down the fertility path to try for a third child. When Julian had expressed her excitement, Kiki had made all the necessary arrangements and appointments to get them going.

By the time they were able to do their first retrieval, it was late August. After the regimen of medication she had taken, the fertility doctor was able to retrieve five eggs from Julian. By their wishes, not wanting something like all five taking, the first two were implanted a week later and the hopeful parents wished for the best.

Not being able to wait, Kiki dragged Julian into the bathroom in late September with the home pregnancy test she'd purchased. It was the first month that the blue line wouldn't appear. In late October they watched the stick with the same anticipation and again they were disappointed. Now the process had to be started all over again, this time ten eggs were retrieved during the procedure and they upped the number implanted to three for a better chance of success.


"Why is this happening?" Kiki asked the doctor when they arrived for the visit in December and there was still no luck. "The last time I was pregnant after the first try."

Ellie Eschete smiled and tried to sound as reassuring as she could. Between herself and her partner Sam, they had helped more than a few couples like Julian and Kiki achieve beautiful families. "This isn't a race, Kiki. I know this isn't what you want to hear but it'll happen when it happens, babies and nature won't be rushed no matter how much we'd like to."

Sitting quietly holding Kiki's hand, Julian listened and wondered if it was something to do with her. If getting what they both wanted came some other way, like from donor sperm like Kiki had done with Tiger's pregnancy, she would be just as excited with a successful outcome, and she expressed that to Kiki in the doctor's presence hoping Ellie would speak up if that would be better.

"Do you want this child to be a part of you, Julian?" asked Ellie.

"It's going to be a part of me no matter how it gets here. It's just hard looking at the disappointment in Kiki's face every time we fail."

"I wouldn't classify it as failing. As my partner Sam is fond of saying, your baby is waiting for the right opportunity to come into your life. Five months is too soon for us to lose hope or to think we're doing anything wrong," she looked at Julian, "any of us."

"When do we start worrying about something being wrong?" asked Julian.

"I'm not going to answer that because we're a long way off from changing our procedures. Don't worry, no one is accusing your eggs of laziness just yet," she teased before scanning the file one more time. "And since we're on schedule for the next implantation, let's get started. Unless you want to skip a month."

Julian squeezed Kiki's hand before turning in her chair so she could look her straight in the eye. "You know I'll do whatever you like, so don't do this again so soon just for me. If you want to take a few months off then that's what we'll do."

"I want to feel your baby growing inside of me, and know that I'm giving you back as much as you've given me. I want that more than anything and if it takes coming here until that happens, that's what I want to do."

"Just trying has made me happy, honey, so don't stress yourself too much over this. I want it too, but not at the risk of you becoming increasingly depressed over it."

"It's going to work this time, Bernie, I just know it."

"Then let's get going."

They relaxed in the dimly lit room for a couple of hours before going home, where Julian lay down and held Kiki for the rest of the afternoon. The house was quite and they spent their time talking about the holidays and the last minute shopping they had to do. Eugenia was coming over for Christmas lunch wanting to join the rest of Kiki's family in celebrating. Christmas was a holiday she didn't celebrate, but spending time with the people she loved was something hard to pass by.

As they watched the kids rip open their presents on Christmas morning, Kiki said a little prayer that the next year there would be one more addition to their family making this day all that more special. When she placed her hand on her middle, she smiled when Julian's soon covered hers as if to give wings to her wish.

At the end of January, their prayers went unanswered when the stick refused to show them the blue line that would be proof of their success. No matter what Ellie and Sam had told them, Kiki couldn't help but feel there was something they weren't doing, but was willing to stand by her vow to Julian and try as many times as it took.


"Bernie?" Tiger picked up one of the rocks they'd collected and held it in his hand. Julian had let him come with her to look over the progress of the new ship, and he was enjoying their time alone.

"What, buddy?" She picked up a rock from the pile and threw it with a flick of her wrist from the dock and watched it skip along the water with five good bounces before sinking to the bottom. They practiced whenever they came out for these trips and Tiger had yet to make one of his rocks skip along the surface, but he was persistent.

"Why does Mama look so sad?"

It wasn't his asking the question that made the rock fly from her hand with a hard ferocity that made it skip eight times before sinking, but the helpless feeling when it came to the why of the answer. "Mama's just having a hard time with something, but it doesn't have anything to do with you or your sister."

"Then what?"

"Remember how we told you we were going to give you guys either a new baby brother or sister soon?" He nodded and tried another rock. "That's taking a little longer than we thought and it's making your Mama a little sad."

"Will having a new baby mean I won't get to spend time with you like this?"

She squatted next to him wanting to be at eye level. "Why would you ask that?"

"Just cause. Rhonda always said what a pain having a baby was, so if we have one you won't have time for me."

"Tiger, you're my son, and we could have ten new babies and it won't change how I feel about you. You're in my heart and I love you."

"What do you mean?" He stomped his foot when another one of his rocks just hit the water and sunk.

The rock to the side of the pile was nice and flat so Julian picked it up and moved Tiger to stand in front of her. She was on her knees now to give her more balance for the next lesson. "When you love someone, it's something you feel in here," she tapped the rock over his heart before dropping it in his hand. With the patience of a good parent she drew his hand back, holding it the whole time. When they moved their hands forward together the rock took two good skips before sinking. He turned around and hugged her with a new excitement in his eyes for his triumph. "So just like that rock that's now at the bottom of the river, you may not see it, but we both know it's there, just like you and Summer are in my heart. Having a new baby won't change that."

He didn't move from the circle of her arms and pressed his face into her shoulder. "I was scared you'd like the new baby better than me if it's a boy."

"Not a chance, buddy, and I can prove it to you."

"How?" That made him lift his head and look right at her.

"You know when we come out here how I have to walk around because of business." He nodded as if hanging on her every word. "What's the one thing I do when we're closing a deal for supplies or other things?"

"You shake hands."

"Right, but do you know why?" He scrunched his brows together like he was trying to think of a good answer but none was forthcoming. "When you shake someone's hand it means you're giving them your word. When you do that, you have to do what you say or people won't want to do business with you anymore because you've broken their trust, so it's really important to mean what you're saying before you seal it with a handshake."

She pulled him a little away from her and held out her hand. "I promise that we're going to spend a lot more days skipping stones no matter what, because you're my boy and I love spending time with you. Nothing in the world is going to happen to change me wanting to do that. I want you to promise that you'll come out here with me and spend some time with me as well. Do we have a deal?"

"Deal, Bernie," he shook her hand as hard as he could with a huge smile on his face. "Can we do it again tomorrow?"

"How about the day after? I have to go with your mama to the doctor's office tomorrow."

He stuck his hand out again and laughed when she took it and shook it. "Deal, but if we do this every time, we can still hug right?" The laugh he let out made Julian think that any worries he'd had were long forgotten when she hugged him and stood up.

As they walked back to the car, Julian wished it would be this easy to allay Kiki's fears as they headed for their sixth try the next day.


"Okay, we're all done," said Ellie as she put all her equipment back on the tray.

"Is it necessary to stay the two hours?" asked Julian.

"Honey, if you have to go somewhere I can call Rudy," Kiki tried not to sound disappointed but failed miserably.

"Ellie, is it necessary?" Julian asked again.

"I wouldn't recommend running around town but no, you can go if you want." She laughed when Julian nodded then scooped Kiki off the table. Letting her down only when Kiki demanded she put her down so she could get dressed again.

"We've done this the same way for the last five times, so I propose we try something new," she said refusing to put Kiki down for the whole walk to the car.

"What do you have in mind, Lowe?"

"I have plenty in mind, don't worry about that," she said as she leaned in and clicked Kiki's seatbelt in place.

The drive back to the house was made in silence as Kiki just stared out the window with lines of worry etching her forehead. When Julian stopped in the drive by the front door, she got out without a word and went to open Kiki's door for her. She squatted down like she had with Tiger the day before so she and her partner could be at eye level.

"Do you trust me?" she asked Kiki.

"Honey, of course I do. Why even ask me that?"

"Because I want you to trust me on what I have in mind. I meant what I said back in the office. We've tried this a bunch of times by the book and this time around we're going to try it the old fashioned way."

The worry lines gave way to the laugh lines around her eyes when Kiki chuckled. "If we could do this the old fashioned way, I wouldn't be interested in you in the first place, honey."

Instead of trying to talk her into it, Julian picked her up again and carried her to the front door. It was seldom that they used this entrance, usually coming in through the kitchen, which was more convenient to the garage. From the front door, leading all the through the foyer and up the stairs, were rose petals. They were yellow, which were Kiki's favorite, and she had to guess that it had taken quite a few flowers to make up the fragrant carpet.

"There are certain things in my life that I have complete faith in, even if I never got to see them first hand. In my heart I know them to be true," said Julian.

Kiki turned from the romantic display and smiled at her. "Things like what?"

"I wasn't lucky enough to have known my parents, so what I know of them I learned from Nanna and their close friends. It didn't matter that I never got to see how in love they were, what mattered was that they were deeply in love."

The urge to kiss Julian was too overwhelming to resist so she didn't. "If there's one thing I could give you, it'd be a day with them so you could see."

"Thank you, sweetheart, but I wasn't finished. I can see now how your dad feels about your mom. He grumbles about it, but he loves her with all his heart." She started for the stairs as she talked. "And thinking about just those two couples made me think about today's appointment."

"What did you think about?" Kiki ran her fingers through the thick dark hair.

"That you were conceived in love, and so was I. The reason that we're here is because two people who loved each other so much wanted grow that love through the gift of children." She stopped at the head of the stairs and kissed Kiki before entering the master suite. "So the way I look at it is, these fertilized eggs we've been implanting are waiting for a sign."

Kiki really laughed now, but there were already tears in her eyes when she saw the candles and the way the rose petals stopped at the side of the bed. "A sign huh?"

"They want to know, that even if they got a helping hand on getting in there, that they were created in love. That they're going to be born to two people who'll do their best to give them the best family and parents that they could ever hope for." Julian put her down next to the bed and kissed her.

"Do you have any ideas on how we could do that?" She laughed again when Julian started on the buttons of her blouse. The combination of the cool air in the room and Julian's hot hands made her nipples harden to two points.

"I love you, and I want to show you how much." Kiki's shirt dropped to the floor and was quickly followed by the rest of her clothing under Julian's slow but efficient fingers. When Kiki was naked, Julian picked her up again and laid her gently down so that she could strip off anything that would separate her from feeling all that soft skin.

Like it always did, the sight of Julian standing there looking like she wanted to devour her made Kiki wet. When they made love it felt like Julian touched something inside her that no one had ever come close to. Julian's love had broken through each and every one of her defenses that she'd so meticulously built when she was with Rhonda. What she wanted now more than anything was for Julian to lie down and touch her. To take what belonged to her, a gift Kiki was more than happy to give.

"Make love to me, baby," said Kiki. She spread her legs in invitation and sighed when Julian lay down on top of her.

Julian held herself up on a forearm wanting to look into Kiki's eyes as she touched her. She wanted Kiki to see just how much she was cherished no matter what obstacles they faced. "You are so beautiful," she said as she put a hand on Kiki's left breast.

There was nothing more that she wanted to do than to move down and suck on the hard nipple, then continue down the path that would lead to Kiki's passion, but that wasn't what this was about. Today she wanted to stay connected to Kiki, to see her as she touched her and made love to her so that Kiki could hang on to her and surrender completely to what they had together.

"So beautiful," she repeated as her hand slid lower. Kiki put her feet flat on the mattress in a move of anticipation of feeling those long, solid fingers touch her most intimate place. She let out a low hiss when Julian skipped the place she most wanted her and just dipped the tips of her fingers into the abundant wetness.

"Touch me, baby, I'm so ready for you." She didn't want it to be a command, but Kiki could feel the tension building.

"I am touching you, and I'm going to keep touching you until that's all you remember. Me touching you because I love you and because you're the woman who owns my heart."

Julian dragged her fingers up. It was almost like her fingers where climbing some great height they moved so slowly but just when Kiki thought she couldn't take it anymore, Julian's fingers came apart and squeezed her clitoris. She just held it and squeezed it making Kiki's hips come off the bed and up into her.

It felt so good but just as quickly they were gone, dropping back down to the wetness preparing for another pass. The same almost torturous path was taken five times before Kiki could feel the sheets getting a little moist she was so wet. Any words that thought to form in her mouth died when Julian came up again but this time there was no separation of her fingers. She dragged them over the diamond hard point and watched as the passion overtook Kiki's eyes. It didn't matter how turned on she was, her green eyes stayed open.

The look that passed between them made her realize what Julian had been trying to tell her. This love they had found, the love they shared would conquer any problem they would ever have. "That's it, baby, let go for me," said Julian as she slid her fingers all the way in and her thumb covered Kiki's clit.

Kiki wrapped her feet around Julian's hips so that her heels were pressed into the small of her back. As the orgasm built her hips moved faster and faster until the only sound in the room was their skin slapping together mingled with the sound of their breathing. Before she was ready, the end came in one shattering moment where Kiki just stopped and seemed to take everything Julian was offering. The walls of her sex clamped around Julian's fingers and she dragged her nails up her strong back wanting them to stay like this as long as possible.

"You know what, baby?" asked Kiki, as a few more after tremors pulsed through her body.

Julian pulled out and rolled off of her just a little bit so she could take Kiki in her arms. "What's that?"

"You should take time off from work to take me to the doctor more often."

"I'll tell you what," she lowered her head and kissed Kiki with intent. She smiled against Kiki's lips when she lowered her hand again and cupped Kiki's sex. "I'll keep taking time off to take you to the doctor, then we're going to come back here and do this all over again until I get my wife pregnant."

Kiki's laughter echoed through the empty house as they started their new fertility ritual all over again.


"Kiki, there's a Bernard Rosemount on the phone for you," said Chris on the intercom. They had just put the kids down for their naps and were catching up on paperwork.

"Bernard, how are you?"

"Tired, Mrs. Lowe." He was down in the delivery area of the Lowe Museum talking with the security detail. "I was just calling to see if I could steal you away for a few minutes."

It was raining outside her window and from the way it was slashing against the pane, she could tell the wind was blowing at a good clip. February in New Orleans was always a weather mystery. One day it could be a balmy eighty degrees and the next morning it would be in the low thirties. Today it was the latter with wind and rain to go along with the bone chilling cold.

"They're here?"

"No guessing and I'm not giving any hints. If you want any information out of me at all you'll call Rudy and tell him to bring the car around."

With a quick kiss for Chris and a request not to tell Julian where she was if she called, Kiki took the elevator down and out of the building. Following directions Rudy went around to the back and parked along side three unmarked panel trucks that were waiting to be unloaded.

The back section of the museum that was used as storage space was already full of crates along the loading bay. When Bernard saw her, he opened his arms and bowed deeply at the waist. "As you requested, my lady, with a lot of help from the formidable Eugenia Lowe."

"How many?"

"It will require half of the second floor, so we'll have to take down some of the current exhibit and all of the third so the men are storing away the classics that are hanging up there now. When we are done we will host for the next month, the largest Monet exhibit that has been shown in the United States in the last fifty years."

"You're a miracle worker," said Kiki as she hugged him.

"More like you have a great squad of guardian angels. The Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris is closed for two months for renovations, so the curator said why not let people enjoy the paintings instead of hiding them away from the world. Birdie Lowe would have been an instant fan since that was also her philosophy when it came to art." He walked her inside where the Lowe workers were already putting the exhibit up. "I think your other half is going to be thrilled with her anniversary present."

"Before I met Julian I always thought Valentine's Day was the corniest day of the year. I mean why wait for one day out of 365 of them to show someone how much they are loved."

"And now?" Bernard liked the way she stopped at each painting that was already hung as if trying to memorize it. At the end of their walk they were seated on the bench in front of the piece by Monet that was part of the Lowe permanent collection.

"It's the day the love of my life was born, the same day she lost her parents and the day we got married. So now if it makes me as corny as the rest of the world when I want to stand on the roof of the house and scream to the world how much I love Bernie, I don't care. I want to get her cards with hearts all over them, a box of chocolates and whatever else it takes to make her feel like the most special person in the world."

He patted her hand that was resting in the crook of his arm. "I have a feeling just from seeing the two of you together that when you look at her, she's well aware of the fact that she's the most special person in the world to the one person who matters most."

"I really had another present in mind this year, but since that doesn't seem to be in the cards for us just yet, I'm thinking this will be a great backup."

"What could be more spectacular than this?" Bernard pointed first to the painting in front of them, then behind him to the new exhibit.

"Call it a Lowe original." She squeezed his bicep and laughed.


"Honey, are you about ready to go?" Julian stood at the foot of the stairs and called up to her wife. She pulled a little on the collar of her shirt trying to loosen the tie of the tuxedo she was wearing. Against her better judgment she had let Kiki talk her into a birthday slash anniversary party at the museum that night.

It had been a year since they'd walked down that isle to the waiting canopy, and what Julian had really wanted to do was spend a quite night with just the two of them. There was no way she was telling Kiki no to anything like this though, so she had gotten dressed and promptly agreed to be thrown out of the bedroom so Kiki could finish getting ready.

The back of the box said it was unlikely to show results before a month of pregnancy. Not really enough time from their last appointment and her magical afternoon with Julian, but still. Some things you took on faith as Julian had said, so as Kiki unwrapped one of the sticks, she said a little prayer to Julian's parents. In the study the Yartzeit candles had been lit that morning just like Julian always did on this day. What she wanted now was one more thing that would give new meaning to this day, something Julian would remember and help her with the sad anniversary.

She heard the call from downstairs as she washed her hands before she finished putting on her lipstick. Her image in the mirror captured her attention since she really didn't want to look down and be disappointed again. "Just a few more minutes, baby," she called down from the doorway. It was the time she needed to see one way or the other what the outcome was going to be. No blue line didn't mean failure, since it was technically too soon, but she closed her eyes and held her breath as she picked up the stick almost willing it to be there.

A long stream of air escaped from her lungs as she opened her eyes. She couldn't help the tears, and she turned her head toward the ceiling trying not to mess up her makeup. Julian was ready to go and they had a lot of people waiting for them to celebrate their happy day. It was not the time to become a blubbering mess.

The dress she had chosen for the night was midnight blue, with thin straps holding up the top which came up to almost her neckline, but the back was slightly different. In the back it gave new meaning to plunging. The heels were high enough to put a bit more sway in her hips and the way Julian was leaning against the railing of the stairs and looking at her made Kiki forget everything.

"Next time I stand down here and scream up to you, call down to Rudy to come out here and slap me in the head. Because I'm clearly insane to want to rush you when you look so gorgeous." Julian held her hand up, and smiled so big it creased her cheeks. When Kiki took it, Julian twirled her around and whistled. "No matter what tonight, I want you to stick to me like glue."

Kiki returned the favor and twirled Julian around to look at the suit. "I'm thinking you're right if only to keep anyone from running off with you. If we're separated at anytime, make sure you flash that gold band on your finger at any women without one to mark my territory."

In the other room J.J. and Chris were sitting together on the sofa not paying attention to the happy couple. After their first date, they had been fairly inseparable themselves. For J.J. it was the first time she could see what Julian had told her so often after meeting Kiki. In Chris she had found the woman who made the thought of waking up to her every morning for the rest of her life something that seemed appealing.

"Stop ogling the girl and let's get going," said J.J. then kissed Chris on the nose.

"Okay then, pot, stop staring at Chris and come on. Rudy has the car parked out front," teased Julian.

The old friends kept joking around as they made their way to the museum. When they arrived there were so many friends and family there to congratulate them for their first anniversary and to wish Julian a happy birthday that it took them a good thirty minutes to make it to the center of the first floor. The crowd was the first clue that there was something not exactly wrong but not right to Julian.

"We have two other floors, people, and a new oriental exhibit you might be more interested in than watching me blow out candles," said Julian as she held Kiki's hand.

"Actually the second and third floor are closed for the moment, baby. Once we take a walk around then I'll be happy to let the staff open them." Kiki explained as she smiled up at her.

"There's nothing new now, the exhibit opened months ago."

"Your birthday present is up there and I wanted them to wait. Let's just say I didn't want to take a chance that someone like Nanna would open the box before you got here," she said as she watched Eugenia make her way to them.

"Happy birthday, my darling." Eugenia kissed Julian's cheek before turning and doing the same to Kiki. "And a very happy anniversary to the both of you. Thank you, Kiki, for making my Julian always appear as if the sun is shining in her eyes. The both of you are made for each other, and the last time I saw that, it was my son and his new wife I was looking at."

"It means so much for you to say that, Nanna. I love her and the last year has been just magical," said Kiki.

"Then it's up to you, Julian, to make sure the next one is even better," warned Eugenia. She kissed them both again and pointed to the ramp leading to the second floor. "Your gift is waiting."

"Thank you for all your help, Nanna," Kiki whispered in her ear, hugging Eugenia one more time before taking Julian's arm.

They walked slowly tuning out the noise in the room; neither of them noticing that most of the people in attendance were watching their ascent. Bernard was one of them, and like he'd thought so many times before, the petite Kiki had finally found her place in the world and it was on Julian Lowe's arm. And none of the other women gazing on so enviously would ever usurp her place.

The riot of color made Julian stop the minute they stepped onto the floor. Monet had always been her mother's favorite painter and Julian had come to love his muted but color filled canvas since it made her feel close to the woman who had given her life. To see so many of them in a place she had made for Birdie made her lean against Kiki and her eyes glass over.

"How. . ."

"With a lot of help from Bernard, and from Nanna. That day that I was late for work and we ended up making love in your office for lunch, this is what I was working on. I recruited your grandmother the day I followed you over there for a visit. Happy anniversary and birthday, love."

"This is just incredible," said Julian sounding as if she was still in shock.

They walked the second floor slowly without saying anything else. When they made it to the third floor tears were steadily falling down Julian's face. It didn't matter how many times they'd sat on the bench in front of the canvas that was part of the permanent collection it was still her most favorite piece in the museum. They took a seat and Julian put her arm around Kiki's shoulder and let out a long sigh from happiness. For the moment she ignored the ice bucket with the bottle of champagne that had been left for them and just enjoyed the feel of Kiki next to her.

When she was ready, Julian let Kiki go and slipped off the seat to her knees. "Thank you for all this. I couldn't have imagined being here surrounded by so many beautiful and priceless works of art. Today when I lit those candles and sat and wrote in my journal, I wrote for things I wished for." She took Kiki's hands and kissed each palm before pressing them to her chest. "I've written about just surviving each year for so long, that it's a welcomed change to write of things I wish for."

"If there's anything I'm not giving you, baby, you know you could tell me and I'll do my best to fulfill any wish you could ever think to have."

"You fill my life with infinite joy, my love, so I'm sorry you got the wrong impression. Today I wrote about how much I wish my parents had lived, not because of how that would've changed my life, but because I wanted them to have had the pleasure of meeting you. Tonight looking at all this and knowing what a Herculean task it must have been to accomplish, only reaffirms my belief of how much my mother would have loved you." From the inside pocket of her jacket, she pulled a long, slightly wide box that had sat in the safe of her study for years. "So I think if she'd been here tonight she'd have slapped the back of my head for waiting so long to give you this. Happy anniversary, love."

Kiki took the box and just looked at it but didn't make a move to open it. "What is it?"

Since she wouldn't open it, Julian took it back and pressed the small catch that would spring the lock. She looked inside before turning the box around. "It's the necklace my father gave my mother on their first anniversary. This piece has been in my family for decades. With each new generation it's been proudly handed down to the beautiful women we've been lucky enough to have share our lives. It was part of my inheritance and I really never thought it would leave the safe again until after I was no longer here."

"Oh no, my darling, you'll be here for years to come." Kiki was glad she'd worn her hair up making it easy for Julian to put the necklace on her. "I need you with me when we pass things like this down to our children so you can explain just how special they are."

"Not that long ago when I took Tiger with me to the yard for a walkthrough, we spent a good portion of our afternoon skipping stones into the river. Teaching him to do stuff like that is going to be my favorite kind of thing to pass down to him." She stopped to kiss Kiki's hands again and sighed. "Eventually he'll figure out we're there to talk as much as to learn to skip stones, but he's smart so maybe he knows that already. He told me that he was afraid I'd like a new baby better than him."

"That's because you're his Bernie and it more than scares him that anyone or anything would come between you two. He loves you so much, baby." Kiki ran her fingers through her hair in order to soothe her. "What'd you tell him?"

"I helped him skip his first stone so that it actually skipped and didn't immediately sink. Then I explained to him that what I felt for him couldn't be seen but like the rock we'd just thrown. It was there in the river, just like he was in my heart and nothing would change it." The expression of adoration on Kiki's face made her stop and kiss her like what she really wanted to do was to take her home and show her how much she was loved. "I feel the very same way about his mother."

"Then both the kids and I are blessed." They kissed again and Kiki freed her hands so she could press her palms against Julian's cheeks as if to capture her full attention. "While I still have you all to myself, I wanted to share something with you. Before we left tonight, I thought I'd take a chance and use one of those tests."

"It's okay, love, like Ellie and Sam said, it'll happen in its own good time."

"I just thought that having it come out positive would be the best birthday gift I could give you."

She got off the floor and sat back down so she could pull Kiki onto her lap. "If for some reason this doesn't work out for us, we can adopt like we did with Summer, and I did with Tiger."

"I was just sure that after that afternoon when we went home and made love that it had worked. That what we shared had been so powerful and so special, that you'd gotten me pregnant." She reached behind her for her purse and opened it. "And I was right."

In Kiki's hand was the stick she'd used right before they left the house. Unlike all the other ones that they'd thrown away because they had stayed snow white, this one had a thick blue line running down the middle. It was baby Lowe's calling card and it was the most beautiful thing Julian had ever seen.

"It's blue," said Julian as if Kiki hadn't noticed.

"You were right, baby. The thing missing was the making love part. It is after all how babies have gotten here for thousands of years." One moment they were sitting down and the next she was being twirled around the room in Julian's arms. "You did it."

"It's blue!" Julian's yell echoed all the way down to the first floor where J.J. was handing Chris a glass of champagne. "It's blue!"

"Wow, she must really love the exhibit," she told Chris.

"Either that or she just noticed how stunning my sister looks in that dress."

When they opened the museum to the rest of the guests, they found Kiki and Julian dancing to the music coming through the speakers. Any conversation they thought to have with them could wait, everyone wanting them to enjoy their night.

Not long after leaving through the back, Julian and Kiki made their way to the river. Kiki made her stop and pick up a few rocks to drop in Julian's pocket before they arrived at the bank. Where they were standing was close to where the aquarium was located and where the river's famous crescent took it's southern turn to the gulf.

"Can you skip one for me?" asked Kiki.

"Sure, but why?"

"Tiger will have his special spot of sunken stones but I want just one down here marking one of the happiest nights of my life."

It flew from her hand with the usual strong flick and they watched it skip more than a few times before sinking into the brown, churning water. Julian then dusted off her hands and took her jacket off and wrapped it around Kiki.

"There's only one thing I forgot to ask you," said Julian as they stood there in each other's arms looking out over the water.

"If it's a boy or a girl? It's way too early to tell, baby."

"I'm sure it's going to be either a boy or a girl, could be both since they implanted three eggs that day, and if they were fertilized by how many orgasms you had afterward we should be having a litter," teased Julian, earning a soft slap on the butt. "The thing I forgot to ask you is if you would be my Valentine? I just had to wait until Nanna wasn't around," she continued her teasing.

"The first time I said yes to that question, it was a lifetime commitment of yeses."

"Good," Julian rested her cheek against the top of Kiki's head and enjoyed the feel of her. "It's blue," she softly said one more time.

"And it's ours."

The End

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