A Million Reasons
“I feel like a chaperone,” said Ruth as she looked out at the passing houses. Becker had come by to pick her up, like she did every year, and the nun was excited to be along for the ride to pick up Jolie.
“You act like one and I’ll give a big enough donation to the church so you’ll be ministering to a bunch of real penguins in Antarctica,” teased Becker. The closer they got to Jolie’s house the tighter her collar felt.
“Stop tugging on that or you’re going to look like a ragamuffin by the time we get there. Promise me you’re going to have fun.”
“Of course I’m planning on having fun,” Becker took her eyes off the road for a second and looked at Ruth as if she’d lost her mind.
“Not just tonight, rascal. This young woman isn’t a one-night kind of deal, and just like those bullies I found you beating up on the day I met you, I don’t want you to turn away from her because of fear. You stand up for yourself and show her how you feel.”
Becker nodded before putting the car in park and going around to open Ruth’s door for her. She had called that morning as promised but had only been able to get Jolie’s machine all day. Her nervousness stemmed from the fear that Jolie had changed her mind, not just about the night, but about everything.
“Stand up straight and smile,” Ruth fussed with Becker’s jacket as they waited for someone to answer the door. “Hi, Constance, don’t you look beautiful.”
“Sister Ruth, we’ve missed you at the slots,” joked Constance as she hugged the nun hello. “Are you ready to go?”
“You bet. We’ve done all we can so it’s time to let the little ones fly on their own.” She took Constance’s arm and started down the walk to the car just pulling up, driven by Oscar.
“Where are you going?” asked Becker.
“I’m going to have a drink and mingle.” Ruth waved and then pointed to keep her in place. “I know we always go together, but tonight doesn’t belong to your past, it belongs to your future. Just remember it’s vast but not impossible and you still have a lot of walking to do, only now, you have someone to walk the road with you and hold your hand along the way.”
“You do you know, if you’re interested.” Jolie’s voice made her forget the three friends pulling away, but for the life of her, Becker could only stand there and stare when she turned around and got her first look at her date. “I was going to wear the dress you bought me, but then I didn’t want you to get bored right off,” Jolie went on when all Becker could do was nod her head. “Constance helped me.”
“You are so beautiful,” Becker whispered in awe.
“Do you mean it?” Nervous hands smoothed down the front of only the second designer dress Jolie had ever put on in her life. Constance had told her not to ask where and how she had acquired it, and after all the stuff they had done that day, from shopping to the salon, Jolie had decided to just be quiet and agree.
“I love you in anything you’re wearing, but right now you’re just stunning.”
“Can I tell you something?”
Becker finally got her feet to move so she walked in and closed the door. She carefully kissed Jolie so she wouldn’t ruin the perfect makeup job, barely touched her lips to the blonde’s. “You can tell me anything you like.”
“I will just as soon as you kiss me hello again. Only this time, do it like you mean it.” There was no protest from Becker as she lowered her head again and put her arms around the trim waist. “You make me feel like a beautiful woman, Beck,” Jolie confessed when they had to pull apart to breathe. “I’m just so lucky to have found you.”
“You are a beautiful woman, Jolie, and we can argue all night about who’s luckier but I’d rather hold you and dance with you.”
Becker picked up the blonde’s wrap up from the back of the sofa as Jolie picked up her bag. “Ruth already called me today to make me promise her I’d let you dance with her at least one time, other than that, I’m all yours.
“Do you promise?” The tall woman’s hands came to rest on Jolie’s shoulders after she draped her with the beaded silk wrap.
“I promise you a night to remember, and I promise you I’m all yours during and after.”
The night was mild by New Orleans standards and there was a slight breeze blowing through City Park when Becker handed the valet her keys and took Jolie’s hand. When they were close enough to the entrance of the amusement park, a waiter with a tray of champagne flutes offered them their first drink.
“Aren’t you ever afraid of rain?” Jolie lightly tapped her glass against Becker’s as they made their way past a gate decorated with garlands of white roses.
“The foundation has a secret weapon when it comes to the weather. After all, we’ve been organizing this thing for about ten years now and the weather is always perfect.”
At one of the bars set up around the rather large area, Ruth tapped Constance on the arm and pointed to the entrance. They both smiled as the blonde leaned into her date and wrapped an arm around one of Becker’s. The two made an attractive looking couple.
Jolie stopped their walk, turning Becker so she could see her face and her eyes. Once they had gotten to know each other better, the blonde had come to enjoy the businesswoman’s sense of humor and lighting fast wit. “Tell me, Gaudet, what secret weapon do you have against bad weather?”
“A convent full of nuns saying novenas for just right conditions. I doubt anyone can trump that.” The twinkle in her eyes made Jolie laugh and they just stood there for a while looking at each other. Near the large carousel, they both heard the music start and saw a few couples head to the dance floor that had been put down. “Let’s get our mingling out of the way so I can go back to giving you adoring looks.”
More than a few people came up, shook hands with Becker, and mixed a little business conversation with comments about the event. Jolie took that opportunity to take a walk around and check the placement of arrangements Bridget and her new troop of helpers had put out. There was one item on the auction table that caught her eye and she smiled as she picked up the description card and tapped it against her chin.
“You look like a woman with devious thoughts going through her mind.”
“That might be a distinct possibility, so what are you going to do about it?” asked Jolie.
Becker held her hand out, gave her a charming smile, and bowed a little at the waist. “How about I try and dance it out of you? It’s not jitterbug music but I think I can manage to make my way through.”
They smiled at Oscar and Ruth as they headed to an open space on the dance floor. With the passage of time, the nun had come to see that just because she had taken vows to serve, didn’t mean she couldn’t on occasion go out, and have a good time. Both Oscar and Becker had done a good job of changing her mind coming by at least once a month and taking her to dinner or a show when there was something worth seeing in town.
“Did you and Constance take Ruth shopping with you?” Becker asked Jolie when they started swaying to the music.
“And how did you know Constance took me shopping?” The blonde pulled a little of Becker’s hair and tried to sound intimidating. “I do have the ability to dress myself when the occasion calls for it.”
“That you do, darlin’, and a mighty good job you do of it.” Becker stepped back a little and looked at the outfit Jolie had on one more time. “You did such a good job tonight I’m having a hard time keeping my eyes off you, so please accept my apologies.”
“You are such a sweet talker, and in this case you were right, Constance did help quite a lot actually.” She pulled Becker back to her and pressed her face against the silk tuxedo jacket. “I guess I should’ve told you sooner but I was having a hard time with all this.”
Becker didn’t displace Jolie’s head but she moved her hand up to cover the semi naked back in a gesture of comfort. “Trouble with what?”
“We are very different people,” started Jolie.
“That’s not a bad thing is it? If we’re too much alike it would be like dating yourself.”
The tease helped Jolie relax and she laughed a little. “What I mean is, I was having a hard time picturing myself fitting into your world. I can picture myself working to make this night possible, behind the scenes that is, but I’ve never had the desire or the means to attend something like this.”
“Are you uncomfortable?” Becker leaned back and put her fingers under Jolie’s chin wanting to see the blonde’s eyes.
“Tonight is just an analogy, honey, one that best draws the lines between us.”
“Tonight is just a party for a good cause,” the words came softly and slowly close to Jolie’s ear. “You are in my opinion a woman who would feel at home in any world or in any situation, but that isn’t important to me.” She kissed the beautiful neck exposed because Jolie had pinned her shoulder length hair up in a twist. “What’s important to me is that you’re happy no matter what we’re doing. I want you to continue to create beautiful things, like you did for tonight, so you’ll feel the sense of prideful accomplishment you deserve. I want you to continue to dress, however you like, be it jeans or a beautiful dress like you have on tonight. I want you to keep putting your feet on mine to keep them warm when you cook me dinner, and when you kiss me goodnight at the door.”
“Why?” The petite woman tightened her hold on Becker and almost asked her to carry her back to the car and home.
“I want you to keep doing all those things because I know they bring joy into your life no matter whose life or station they fit into. I want you to keep doing them all because it is an essential part of what makes you the woman I love.”
“You love me?” The dancers continued on around them but Jolie stopped moving and looked up at the most unpredictable person she had ever met. Unpredictable because she would pick now, in the middle of a crowded park, on the dance floor, to tell her the words she’d been longing to hear. She just didn’t realize how much she wanted to hear them until right at that moment. “Do you?”
“I do love you, Jolie. How could I not?” The answer was given just as softly before Becker led her to a more secluded spot. “If you don’t feel the same for me, I just ask you to give it time.”
“I’ve had plenty of time to think about it.” Jolie stepped closer to her and slipped out of her shoes. Holding on to Becker for balance, she stepped up and onto the taller woman’s feet to keep her hose from running on the asphalt sidewalk they were on. “Do you want to know when I first fell for you?”
“I’d love to hear that.”
“The night I came up to strike a deal with you in Vegas. On that elevator ride up there I tried to detach myself from the reality of what I was thinking of doing.”
With strength, that still surprised Jolie at times, Becker picked her up and carried her to a park bench under an oak lit up with hundreds of small white lights. “What changed your mind?”
“You did,” she replied. Sitting on Becker’s lap made it easy to kiss her. “I expected a quick tour of your bedroom and that would be that. What I got instead was a soft spoken gentle giant who told me how wonderful and unique I was.”
“You are,” Becker took one of Jolie’s hands and pressed it against her chest.
“To you maybe, but I’ve never felt that way before. You have to understand, I grew up in a large family so, while I grew up happy and loved, I was part of a mob. I was too busy doing my share of the work for anyone to point out how special I was. Then I met Claire.”
A waiter approached from the carousel area carrying a couple more champagne flutes. He delivered them without a word and left just as quickly as he could. The blonde laughed when he stopped and picked up her shoes from where she’d left them. The heels sat next to their drinks on his tray.
Jolie turned back to Becker, gazing into the brilliant blue eyes. “I met her and I felt like I was always running to reach a place someone kept moving further and further away.” The florist stopped to smell and appreciate the small rose bud she’d pinned on Becker’s jacket before they’d left her house.
“What do you mean by that?”
“The race I was running was an effort to make Claire stop her running long enough to see me. But you know what?” Becker shook her head at the question. “You can’t make people do anything. She was never overly cruel, but she never really saw me.” Slowly Jolie let go of Becker’s hand and put her glass down. Once her hands were free, she ran her fingertips first along the dark brows then downward until they were behind the tall woman’s neck. “The first time that happened to me was in a room in Las Vegas standing next to someone with eyes the color of a summer sky.”
“As cliché as this may sound, I find that hard to believe. I told you before, I looked at you, and I found a million reasons not to turn away.”
The music stopped and they could hear the muffled sounds of the crowd finding their tables. They were getting ready to serve dinner, the main even culminating during dessert. That was when the auction was set to begin. It was something Jolie didn’t want to miss but there was something she had to say before they started back.
“My hope is to give you a million reasons to never look away from me, and I’ll start the rest of your days with the first and most important.” She pressed her lips to Becker’s temple and smiled when she saw the smile her action had caused. “I’m going to make sure that before you go out to slay all the corporate dragons, you fight every day that you know that no matter how many of those battles you win or how many you lose – I love you.” She kissed the middle of Becker’s forehead next. “I love you and I plan to keep loving you until I have nothing left to give.” The last promise was followed by a kiss that made Becker pull the small woman as close as possible.
“That is one promise I’ll hold you to and I promise the same in return.”
“You’d better, or I happen to know a nun with a very large ruler who’s promised to help me keep you in line, honey. Now come on, I’m hungry and I have my eye on something in the auction.” Jolie reached over for her shoes and laughed when she was placed back on the bench and Becker dropped down to her knees to help put them back on.
The chefs from five different local restaurants put together a meal with a little something for every taste. As Ruth looked around the gathering, she was sure that in ticket sales alone they would be able to finish the projects they had planned for the year, and the auction hadn’t even begun yet. If they raised enough with that, her next pipe dream was to transform an old and unused portion of the convent into a library for the children complete with media center and comfortable places for them to study. For now, they all congregated in the playroom but it didn’t give the older children in their care much in the form of quiet when it came to doing schoolwork.
“What are you thinking about over there?” Jolie asked Ruth while Constance was trying to talk Becker into flying back to Vegas within the month for a high stakes craps tournament she was putting together. Her date was listening closely to all the details.
“I’m doing what all good stewards of the church do when it comes to money.”
The blonde reached down and placed her hand over the large one lying in her lap. Even when Becker’s attention was focused on something else, she had a habit of staying connected to Jolie. So, for most of dinner, they had either shared special looks or Becker was holding her hand.
The meal was now finished for the most part and the staff was busy serving dessert and coffee. Since they were sitting at what could be considered the head table, and had long since finished after having been served first. “What’s that?”
“I’m counting heads to see how much money we made. All these smiles around us means we get to finish refurbishing the girls’ dormitory and put in a new heating system. If that’s true then I can start dreaming pie in the sky projects if we do well with the auction.” Ruth leaned in and crooked her finger at Jolie so the young woman would lean in as well. “I’d have traded all that though for the joy of seeing the smile on Becker’s face when you two got back from your walk. I don’t know what you two talked about but you both look like you’re about to burst.”
“I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to me before now, but you have to tell me if anything about the type of relationship I want to have with Becker makes you uncomfortable. It’s very seldom that I find myself sitting in a church pew on Sunday, but I do know the church’s position on how I feel about her.” Jolie put her free hand on Ruth’s and hoped her disappointment wouldn’t show on her face if the nun disapproved.
“You want to know a secret?” Becker looked in their direction and Jolie shook her head and squeezed the hand in her lap to give Ruth and her more time. “The church does a lot of good but there is a lot they’re still in the dark about. I don’t care what sex you are, Jolie, what I care about is that you love my rascal. That’s really all that matters to me. Just don’t go and tell the bishop my take on things. I’d hate for that to end up in my employment file.”
The older blonde kept such a straight face that Jolie just looked at her in shock until she couldn’t hold the laughter in any longer. They laughed together until they were leaning against each other trying to catch their breath. “Thank you for that, Ruth.”
“What are you two talking about?” asked Becker.
“How we would love for you to go and get us another glass of champagne,” answered Ruth with a sweet smile. “Get going, we’re not done talking about you yet.”
Jolie kissed the pout away and sent Becker on her way. “Thanks again, I don’t want to think how she would have handled it if you had disapproved of what we’ve found in each other. But Monday will be here soon enough and we’ll have the chance to talk about it.” There was a man on stage preparing the microphone and podium for the beginning of the auction. “Why don’t you tell me what pie in the sky as you put it dreams you have in mind with the proceeds of what’s coming?”
They talked about the library Ruth had in mind and where it could be completed on the compound. As they were finishing their conversation Becker made it back from the bar with their drinks just in time to see Ruth make her way to the front of the crowd and the small stage that had been set up.
More than one person close to them smiled watching Jolie as she leaned back and used Becker as a backrest. Item after item went for large donations as Ruth worked the crowd knowing who liked what and more importantly, who could afford more when it was called for. The ones the nun picked on laughed at her good-natured teasing, never giving her any grief in return.
There were a few items still left and Becker had yet to raise her hand to bid on anything, but it didn’t surprise Ruth since the businesswoman always bid on the same thing every year. “The next item up for bid is a weekend stay at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in one of the penthouse suites. The package comes with the casino’s private plane to get you there and show tickets to O.” Another nun from the orphanage helped Ruth hold up the large envelope with the casino logo embossed on the front. “We’ll start the bidding at ten thousand.”
Becker raised her free hand and tightened her hold on Jolie with the other. Before Ruth could up the bid and ask for more, someone from the back yelled, “Twenty-five.”
“I have twenty-five, do I hear thirty?” Ruth didn’t need to look anywhere else in the crowd but to Becker. The hand she was looking for went up immediately.
The back and forth went on until Ruth had gotten the price to fifty thousand. It was enough to make the man bidding against Becker put his hand down and set his sights on something else. “I see that Ms. Gaudet will be going back to enjoy the Bellagio’s hospitality again this year. The price is fifty, going once,” Ruth walked the stage opposite to where Becker was sitting. “Going twice,” Ruth looked out once more, knowing there were only a couple more items so her dream of the new library would have to wait. A clear voice spoke up before Ruth was able to close.
“Five hundred thousand dollars.”
The surprise bid made Ruth come close to falling off the stage when she turned and headed back to the table at the front. This event had been successful in the past but they had never had anyone offer this kind of money for something that was valued considerably less than the bid. The shocked auctioneer stopped in front of Becker and smiled.
“Becker?” She cocked her head in her equally shocked friend’s direction then put her hands up. “Care to go for a little more?”
“I’ll concede to the lady,” answered Becker sounding as if someone had sucked the air from her lungs since it had been Jolie who had beaten her bid.
“The weekend is yours then, Ms. Clement.”
The rest of the auction went on but Becker and Jolie didn’t hear a word of it. Becker turned her date around a little so they could talk. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Tonight, when you take me home, it will be the last time you kiss me goodnight at the door. Because that’s going to be our reality, I think we deserve to start with nothing between us.”
Not caring who was watching Becker bent her head and kissed the woman who had stolen her heart. “The money was given with no expectations.”
“And it was given to Ruth with only one.” Jolie put her hand on Becker’s face trying to give them a little privacy. She didn’t owe Becker an explanation but she offered one anyway. “So that, in what I hope won’t be the too distant future, I’ll sit on Friday nights, and listen to you read stories in the new B. Gaudet Library.”
“Again, I don’t know what to say.”
“You aren’t mad at me are you?” The blue eyes, when Jolie looked at them, held no anger but she had to be sure.
“Honey, I couldn’t love you any more right now if I were to try, but give me until tomorrow and I’m sure the feeling will grow and those feelings will continue to grow everyday after that. I would’ve still felt that way had you kept the money.”
Chairs scraped along the ground as people started to go back to the bars and dance floor, now that the dinner and auction were over. If anyone else wanted to talk to Becker or Jolie, one look at them and they left the couple alone not wanting to interrupt the intimate conversation they were enjoying. The band started again, but still the music of the carousel could be heard in the background.
“Tell me one more time,” requested Jolie.
“I love you.”
“I love you too, honey, and I have to say that I’ve never been with anyone who can make a girl feel so incredible.” The clothes, the shoes, and everything she and Constance had needed to get ready didn’t just drop from the sky, and Jolie knew without being told who had provided the means to get them. “Thank you for another wonderful evening.”
“It’s not over just yet.” Becker stood and offered her hand. The blonde accepted thinking they were headed back to the dance floor before going home. She was surprised when instead Becker walked them to the large carousel and waited for the ride to come to a stop. “Someone told me that I should always make a point of having fun. I think to Ruth it shows better than anything how you feel about a person.”
“Why do you think so?”
They came to a stop in front of a white stallion next to a lion, both beautifully painted and restored. With ease, Becker put her hands on Jolie’s waist and hoisted her up on the horse sidesaddle. She then straddled the lion and waited for the other riders to find a horse or bench before the switch was thrown to start them in motion again.
“I think it’s because, to Ruth, anyone can enjoy an evening together, they can enjoy the day if that’s all they have, but to have a relationship that will last requires fun.” Both of them braced as the ring started to pick up speed and the wooden animals were set in motion. “In a way she’s right. If you don’t truly like someone, then there will never be an easy laughter between you, and without that, the love that relationship is built on is not a very solid foundation.”
“Then we’re off to a good start, baby, because you’ve done nothing but show me a good time since we met.”
“We’re just getting started, darlin’.”
Their ride home was made in a peaceful silence that spoke of contentment. Since Constance and now Ruth were staying at Jolie’s for the night, the blonde suggested they spend the night at Becker’s. At the door, the blonde tucked her fingers into Becker’s belt to stop her from going any further in.
“You want to know something?” The high heels were kicked off again and Jolie stepped up so she could press herself against Becker. In their time together, Jolie most enjoyed when they stood like this and she could feel the heat the tall woman emitted in abundance.
The way Jolie was looking at her made Becker want to just pick her up and carry her to the bedroom, but the night was going to be about making the small woman happy so she settled for a kiss before answering the question. “Tonight, my love, I want to know everything.”
“Oh my, you are a sweet talker.” Nimble fingers started on the buttons of Becker’s vest then worked it and the coat off where blue eyes watched them fall to the floor. “Don’t even think about picking it up,” threatened Jolie in a teasing voice.
“You had a question remember?”
The black bow tie came next in a slow and steady pull. “I did indeed.” The black silk joined the jacket on the floor. “But I have to tell you, Beck, you are one distracting tall drink of water.”
Even though her resolve was to go slow, Becker couldn’t wait to put her hands on the woman driving her insane. She scooped the blonde into her arms and started up the stairs to the master suite. By the time they reached the landing, Jolie had worked her shirt open so she could kiss along the strong neck. “Keep that up and I’m going to drop you before we get much further. I’d hate to stop what we’re doing to rush you to the emergency room.”
“I don’t know. Your mouth to mouth techniques are way above average, honey.” She wrapped her lips around Becker’s earlobe and smiled around it when the action caused a loud moan. “It’s exactly those techniques I’m interested in right now.” A deep laugh bubbled out of Jolie when Becker made record time on the last bit of stairs.
The room, like the rest of the house, was devoid of personal pictures and small knickknacks, giving the spaces a cold and stark feel to them. If she hadn’t taken the time to learn Becker’s heart, Jolie would have taken one look at the house and kept walking. Now she knew what the tall woman needed was someone to give her a sense of family and of belonging to something more than just her job and few friends. It was a task Jolie was looking forward to fulfilling.
Back on her feet, the blonde turned her back on Becker and waited. When nothing happened, she turned her head and smiled. “Could you help me out of this?” The small buttons starting at the middle of Jolie’s back came close to being cut open when Becker felt like her fingers would never get them undone. “Don’t even think about it,” warned Jolie. “I love this dress. You did give it to me after all so take your time.”
Jolie laughed again when Becker let out a long and relieved sigh when the last of the buttons succumbed to her maneuvering. “I was just about to buy you another one if these little suckers didn’t come loose.”
The petite blonde turned around holding her hand to her chest to keep the dress in place. “Sweetheart, tonight you’d better learn that patience might be the word you should keep in mind.”
“If we go any slower I might lose my mind,” quipped Becker.
The hand came away from Jolie’s chest and the strapless sheath she was wearing dropped to the floor leaving her in a very silky looking pair of panties and thigh high hose. “Oh that’s entirely possible, Beck. You want to help me up on the bed?” The antique four-poster was a little higher than Jolie thought she could get up on gracefully so she appreciated the strong hands that gave her another boost. Once she was sitting on the edge, she put one of her feet just above Becker’s crotch. “Could I talk you into helping me with these?” She pointed to the hose.
It was a challenge to put only the tips of her fingers along the inside of the lacey elastic, but Becker did her best and rolled off the first length of hose. It no sooner than the floor than Jolie’s other foot was pressed against her stomach. When the blonde’s legs were bare and she was left with only the black panties, she sat up and put her hands on Becker’s hips.
“Now for my question. Do you love me?” asked Jolie.
“In every way possible.” To Becker, it felt like someone had turned the heat on her skin felt so hot. “But if you need to hear it again, I love you.” She reached for Jolie’s hands and raised them so she could kiss each palm. “As long as I’m breathing I don’t think I’m going to get tired of saying that.”
“Good to know honey.” She pulled her hands free so she could unfasten Becker’s belt. “I ask because I want this to be a forever kind of thing I love you so much.” The plain silver buckle with Becker’s initials was left hanging to one side when Jolie was finished. “I want your love, your passion, and your desires.” The button on the pants came next. “But right now, above all else, I want you.”
Becker stepped out of the pants, when they dropped to her ankles, leaving her in just the dress shirt. That easily went next when the blonde grabbed the shirttails and pulled sending a shower of buttons across the room. She laughed when a dark brow hiked as Becker looked down on her.
“The dress is a one of a kind, and I’ve never seen the inside of your closet, but I’m guessing there must be at least twenty five more white shirts in there.” Jolie did take the time to unbutton the wrist buttons before moving her hands to all the skin she’d uncovered. “Come here, baby.”
With a smile on her face, Becker put her knee on the bed and pulled herself up to join the blonde. Lying beside Jolie, the blue eyes swept down the shorter but beautiful body. When she had seen her soon to be lover holding up the dress in the boutique in Las Vegas, Becker couldn’t help but appreciate the feminine flair of Jolie’s hips and the beautiful bottom. She had never been one to sit and fantasize about how a woman looked naked, but for every norm or rule there had to be an exception. Jolie had been that exception and the fantasy hadn’t even been close to the reality.
Long fingers started at the slope of Jolie’s shoulder. “Do you know how incredibly beautiful you are?” As if trying to memorize every millimeter of Jolie’s body, Becker slowly ran her fingers down her shoulder to the top slope of her right breast. The tall woman hadn’t touched anything but the soft skin, but Becker’s smiled when she saw the dark pink nipple pucker in anticipation.
“Do you know how hard it’s been not to drop to my knees and beg you to let me touch you like this?” Becker followed the curve bypassing the nipple until she had cupped the breast. “You’ve come to dominate my dreams,” they both watched as Becker’s thumb softly raked over the hard nub. In reaction, Jolie sucked in a breath that sounded almost like a hiss.
“Baby, I’m begging you not to tease me.” Jolie reached up and put her hand over Becker’s in an effort to encourage her to relieve her need to be touched.
“I’m not teasing you.” The thumb moved back for another swipe at the nipple. “I just figure that I’ve waited all this time, so I’m going to enjoy every moment of this time with you.”
Jolie stopped the fingers from moving with one hand, and with the other moved Becker’s head so the businesswoman was looking at her. “This time with me?” The smile the night had affixed to Jolie’s face disappeared under the implications of her question.
“A long time from today,” Becker moved her hand off Jolie’s chest and moved to cover the blonde a little more with her body. “I’m going to look back on my life and there are going to be a lot of happy memories.” She bent her head down and kissed Jolie’s left cheek. “There’s going to be the day I met Ruth,” she moved to the other side and kissed the right cheek. “Then the day I met Oscar and we started working on a future that would cement our success.” When she moved up to kiss the blonde’s forehead Becker’s hip pressed against Jolie’s sex and the hiss of pleasure broke through the pause. “All those days, as happy as they were to me, will pale in comparison to the first night I made love to the woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with.”
“I love you so much.” Jolie had to get the words out before pulling the dark head down so she could kiss the poet who was wreaking havoc with her system.
“I love you too, baby, and I want more than anything to show you how much.”
Jolie was about to protest when Becker moved off of her but it was only to remove the few barriers left between them. Now that they were naked, Jolie pulled Becker back until almost every inch of her skin was covered by the tall body she could see she was going to learn to crave. Becker looked at her before lowering her head for another kiss making Jolie lose herself in the feeling of her lips. The blonde’s head fell back and she moaned when the teasing fingers found their way between her legs.
“Ah…please…” Jolie moaned as Becker’s hand moved further down.
The wetness she found made Becker stop and feel the proof of how much Jolie wanted her. “Let me touch you.”
“Please, honey, it’s me who’s begging you now.” The thrust of Jolie’s hips almost dislodged the tall woman from her spot.
She would have liked to have moved down and put her mouth where her hand was now, but Becker stayed and kissed the soft lips. Along her back, she could feel Jolie’s nails as the blonde tried to press them closer together. Through it all, Becker’s fingers never stopped their stroking, bringing the point of Jolie’s need to a slick pinnacle that came up over and over again to meet the source of her relief.
It didn’t take long before Jolie’s hips were bucking to meet Becker’s hand and her breathing had become ragged. The top of the abyss Becker was leading her to was getting closer, and as much as she wanted to slow down so they could get there together, Jolie couldn’t stop. She wanted Becker to put out the fire she had started and the woman holding her so lovingly was pouring everything she felt for the blonde into her touch.
“Oh, baby, don’t stop,” Jolie said as her hands came up and her fingers threaded through Becker’s hair. It felt like her heart was going to beat out of her chest from the pleasure she was feeling and Becker only added to it by never stopping her fingers. They sped up until Jolie’s head dropped back to the pillow and her body came to a taut stop as the orgasm rushed through her. “Okay stop.”
Becker held her until the panting stopped and the small hands returned to her back and started a circular motion that was meant to sooth both of them. “Are you all right, love?”
Green eyes finally opened and while Jolie wasn’t crying, they were a little glossy from emotion. “I’m very all right, or at least I will be in just a minute.” Jolie never moved from her spot but she reached down to see if her partner was in as much need of attention as she had been. “Just as soon as,” with a wicked smile on her face she slowly dragged her fingers up until she found a very hard and wet spot. Very close to her ear, Jolie heard Becker’s breathing hitch and she let out a very noticeable groan. “What’s the matter, baby?” She kicked up the pressure a bit.
“Darlin’, from where I’m sitting, there’s not a damn thing wrong,” it took some effort, but Becker got the quip out.
“Then let’s do…something…oh Jesus.” The hand between her legs bled all the teasing out of Jolie’s voice and it was all she could do to concentrate on bringing Becker the same pleasure. “Something about that.” If her body thought to protest the exercise so soon after finishing, Jolie put it aside and enjoyed the sensations Becker brought out in her as she returned the favor.
All the talk between them died away as they reveled in the feel of skin moving against skin and the orgasms built. Just as they both reached the edge, Becker pressed her lips to Jolie’s neck and closed her eyes. In the past, this was where she started thinking of leaving and distancing herself from her bed partner, but with this precious blonde she thought of making room in her closet for Jolie to move in.
“Thank you, my love,” whispered Becker. She was still lying on Jolie and could feel the comforting hands rubbing circles on her back.
“I’ve never felt so loved.”
Jolie pressed a kiss to Becker’s temple and smiled. “Just wait, baby, it’s only going to get better with time, but I know what you mean. It’s never been like this for me.” She rolled with the tall woman as they changed positions so Jolie was able to rest her head on Becker’s chest. From her new spot, it gave the florist a clear view of the door that led to the closet.
“What are you thinking about?” Becker brushed back some locks of blonde hair behind Jolie’s ear.
“I was thinking about something you told me.” She turned her head so her chin was resting on her folded hands and her eyes looked into the sparkling blue ones so close to her. “If you found a million reasons not to look away from me, then I want a million nights just like this one. I don’t want you to ever let me go.”
“Let you go,” Becker pulled her closer and looked at her in the most loving way she could muster. “Not ever, my love.”
“You know what?”
The question had been put to her more than once in the time they’d been together, but it never failed to bring a smile to Becker’s face. “What?”
“Other people may give thanks for a million other things, but I have to tell you – I sure am thankful that you love to play craps.”
Becker rolled them over again with a mischievous gleam in her blue eyes. “That may be true, but let me show you what other things I love to play.” The only response the tall woman got was a groan of pleasure.
When Becker’s hand reached its destination, Jolie looked up at her and laughed. “Oh yeah, folks, we have a winner.”
“Then you roll until you get the same number you set before you roll a seven. It’s easy I’m telling you.”
Oscar looked up from the contract he was reading and shook his head. While he had been back to Vegas a couple of times during the year, this was the first time Jolie and Becker were going back since they’d met. The happy couple had stood in front of friends and family a couple of months prior to declare their love for each other in a ceremony presided over by Ruth, but they hadn’t been able to go on a honeymoon. They had saved that for the anniversary of their peculiar meeting, in the hotel were they had struck their equally peculiar bargain.
“And you win money doing this?” asked Jolie. It was pitch black outside the window since they were flying over Lake Mead signaling they were close to their destination. The blonde leaned closer to Becker and winked at Oscar and her second cousin Sabrina. The two had met at a Clement family gathering and the middle-aged blonde had turned Oscar’s world off kilter from their first conversation.
“Plenty, don’t you worry. Besides, I’m thinking there might be some things other than the gaming tables that will interest me.” Dark brows wiggled making the three other passengers laugh.
“You’re damned right, lover, this weekend cost me plenty so I want to see you in the bed more than on the gaming floor. You may be a whale, Gaudet, but I’m your Captain Ahab.”
The wheels hit the tarmac smoothly causing them all to look out at the strip full of neon and lights. It was late but the streets were still teeming with people walking Las Vegas Boulevard catching the sights and a little action.
“Have fun you two and we’ll call you tomorrow for dinner,” said Jolie as she hugged first Sabrina then Oscar.
“Make that we might call you tomorrow for dinner,” added Becker, getting a slap in the arm for her teasing. They headed from the airport to the Bellagio in separate cars, and each couple soon found kissing their traveling partner much more entertaining than people watching.
Jolie finally looked out the window again when the car stopped to make the left into the property. The large hotel was lit up but the large lake was black for the evening. She accepted the bellman’s hand to get out of the car and was surprised to find a familiar face.
“We meet again, Joe.” The New Yorker smiled at the blonde as his gesture of help turned into a handshake. “How are you?”
“I’m great and it’s nice to see you as well.” He dropped her hand when Becker’s tall form appeared and he smiled. “Ms. Gaudet, it’s nice to see you as well.”
“Honey, this is Joe. We met the last time I was here.” It wasn’t often Jolie compared Becker to Claire but when things like this happened, Jolie couldn’t help but dwell on the differences. Had it been Claire walking up to this situation she would’ve made some move to show possession. Becker though extended her hand and smiled.
Initially the florist believed Becker’s passiveness to be a form of indifference. At least Jolie had assumed that until Becker explained that there was one certainty in her life that defined her behavior. It was her unshakable belief in how Jolie felt about her and how she felt in return. Because she believed in the strength of their love, she would never embarrass Jolie by treating her like a piece of property.
“It was Joe who told me to walk over and watch the fountain show the last time I arrived.” The petite woman laughed when Becker shook the bellhop’s hand again and patted him on the shoulder.
“Thanks for giving her the recommendation,” Becker smiled when a small hand slipped into hers.
“You’re very welcome, Ms. Gaudet. If I may, I’d suggest you head back over there now.” He saluted them before walking away to deal with their luggage. His opinion of Jolie rose even higher after running into her again. This time around if she had ignored him, considering who she was with, he would have understood. Before stepping through the door that lead to the service elevator, Joe turned and saw the silhouette of the two kissing. As much as both Becker and Jolie loved the fountain coming to life, it was lost on them now.
Jolie awoke the next morning to an empty bed and sighed thinking her partner had succumbed to either the lure of the tables or the lure of work. She came close to kicking herself when she saw the tall woman walking in wearing one of the casino’s robes and carrying a tray.
Becker looked up surprised to find green eyes looking back. Usually it took dynamite to pry the blonde out of bed. “For what? Did you do something horrible in the time it took me to get the door?”
“I though you were downstairs shooting craps or on the phone.” The aroma of coffee enticed her to sit up when Becker handed her a cup. It was followed by an equally enticing sight when Becker dropped the robe and crawled in next to her.
“And leave you alone with all the cheese Danish? I think not, Mrs. Gaudet.” She motioned for Jolie to take a sip so she could take the cup back. “I know we never talk about this because you think it makes me uncomfortable,” Becker came closer and took Jolie in her arms. “But I’m not her and I never will be. There won’t ever be anything in this world that will capture my attention like you do, love.” The kiss that followed was as gentle as her sentiment. “Especially when we’re somewhere like this room and I have you all to myself.”
“Craps, I’ll have to admit, has been lucky for both of us,” Jolie reached up to run her fingers through the dark hair. “And you can play all you want if the result always brings you back here,” she teased before her teeth bit down gently on the nipple closest to her. “Thank you for saying all that though. Sometimes I pinch you in the mornings when you’re sleeping just to convince myself you’re real and I’m not dreaming.”
“Shouldn’t you be pinching yourself?”
The blonde laughed as she sat up to straddle Becker’s waist, the sheet falling away as she did. “I could,” her hands glided up her body to her own breasts. She cupped them as if presenting them to her wife as a gift before she pinched both nipples. Becker’s hands tightened in reflex on Jolie’s hips at the petite woman’s actions. Just as slowly, Jolie let go and moved her hands to cover Becker’s breasts. “But it’s much more fun to pinch you.”
The coffee and plate of pastry sat forgotten as the young couple found other tings to nibble on. By the time they were finished, the digital clock beside the bed read ten after four in the afternoon. Jolie saw it before closing her eyes again and snuggling closer to Becker. This was how they spent most of their Sundays whenever they could, and would continue to do so if given a choice.
“What are you thinking about?” Becker lightly scratched Jolie’s back expecting to hear her start purring she looked so contented.
Becker’s soft laugh shook Jolie a bit. “Walking?”
“Sure, I’d like to walk around for a little while and maybe find something for Ruth, and if we go to see Huey and Connie tomorrow we can’t go empty handed.” Jolie wrapped her hands around Becker’s neck when her partner sat up intending to carry the blonde to the shower.
“The best gift you can bring Ruth is a roll of quarters for the slots. She must have missed the part of the training where they mentioned gambling is a sin.” She laughed when Jolie pulled a bit of her hair. “Okay it’s not a sin but I don’t often see a plethora of nuns in here screaming for the red sevens to hit.”
“I’m sure we’ll find something to bring her. After all, aren’t’ you the one who told me Vegas has a way of providing what everyone needs?”
Becker’s broad back protected Jolie from the spray of the shower when her teaser put her down. “I was in need of someone to fall madly in love with.” She lathered her hands before placing them on Jolie’s shoulders. “I was also in need of a beautiful woman to romance,” Becker’s hands moved down her arms then took the same path back up. “And I was in need of someone to share the rest of my life with.” Jolie moved closer until they were pressed together when Backer’s hands landed on her bottom. “I needed all that, I came here, and I found you.”
“It was more like we found each other, honey.” At least once a day since they had started seeing each other, Jolie looked up into clear blue eyes and found her definition of adoration. Becker, like no other person in her life, made her feel loved, adored and appreciated in a way that overwhelmed the blonde. “I love you so much and I love how you talk to me. You, my love, are such a gift.”
“I love you too and I promise if you’re good you can unwrap me later,” teased Becker. The best part of having Jolie in her life was how much they laughed together. “Come on, I promised you a walk, and I’ll also promise we’ll do our best to find something interesting.”
The mall area of the casino was packed with last minute Valentine’s Day shoppers, mostly men trying to find something to appease upset wives. They walked, holding hands and window shopping, stopping every so often to look at some of the unique displays the shops had set up to lure in high rollers.
One stop they made was in front of the boutique where Jolie had been standing when Becker stopped in to talk to her. The blonde could almost see a ghost of herself standing in front of the mirror holding up an expensive dress and discovering her knight in shining armor. It was that brief conversation that had forever changed Jolie’s life for the better, and the memory of that always put a smile on the petite woman’s face.
“Want to go in and take a look?”
Jolie shook her head. “I already found what I was looking for.”
“Sweet, baby, but come on. You’d look good in that,” Becker pointed to a simple green dress on a mannequin at the center of the store. “Think you could dance in that?”
“I don’t think a magician could jitter-bug in that.”
“We’re doing that in jeans tomorrow, but tomorrow night, I promise all slow dances.”
Interested gray eyes watched as Jolie leaned against her partner and ran a finger along her cheek. They looked like two people in love even if you couldn’t hear what they were saying.
“Are you asking me out, Ms. Gaudet?”
“Most definitely. Interested?” The only answer Becker got was being pulled into the store by her belt.
If the first time Jolie had come in, she was met with indifference, this time the staff fell over themselves to wait on her. “Did you send a memo down or something?”
“I’d have to guess Constance did. She usually…” Becker didn’t finish when someone stepped in front of her and stood staring at Jolie.
“You think you treaded up? You didn’t. How you got here makes you nothing but a whore.” The blonde just looked at her tormentor in shock not saying anything.
“Walk away now and you don’t lose any teeth,” threatened Becker.
“I see, when they belong to someone else it’s okay for you to move in on them, but when they’re with you they’re off limits.” Claire dug in her pocket and pulled out some bills. “Then again I forgot how this works with you, Jolie,” she slammed a hundred dollar bill on the counter. “I’ll give you a hundred bucks for a night with your wife.”
The blonde’s ex-lover looked at Becker as she made the offer and smiled. Her friend and business partner Wendy had been more than willing to take Jolie’s place when things didn’t work out between them, and had enjoyed the large cash settlement Claire had come with. That was a year ago but now her traveling companion had talked her into coming back to Vegas to rebuild the money they had blown in setting up the bar and in having a good time. No matter how much fun they had in and out of bed, it became abundantly clear to Claire that Wendy was nowhere near Jolie’s league.
She had given up the one person in her life who had believed in her and had loved her no matter her faults. At first, Claire had cried over it then it had been easier to blame the woman who had stolen Jolie away from her. The woman who was glaring at her now looking like she was going to pulverize Claire.
“What do you say, bitch?” In her alcohol-induced fog, Claire figured if she could talk Becker into a fight and win, she would also win back Jolie. “What’s twenty-four hours to you?”
Jolie was about to pull Becker out of the store, since she looked like the veins in her neck were about to explode they were so visible, when she watched the fist coming flying almost as if it were in slow motion. In the same slow time frame, she watched Claire’s head fly back and her body start to go down from the force of the blow. She detested violence for any reason but at that moment, she looked at the highly agitated Becker and felt her heart race at the sight. No one had ever talked to her like Becker did and no one had ever fought for her.
The florist sprang into action when Becker moved in to hit the prone woman again. “Whoa there, honey,” she put a hand over Becker’s fist and one on her cheek, “I think she got the message.” The hand she was covering relaxed and the tall woman just looked at her as she tried to get her ragged breathing under control.
“I’d apologize but I can’t,” Becker admitted honestly.
“I’m not asking you to.” She moved her hand to the back of Becker’s neck and pulled a little in an effort to get it to bend. Becker complied and was treated to a kiss full of passion. “I don’t want it to become a habit, but you looked incredibly sexy fighting over my honor.” Jolie kissed her again before moving to stand over Claire. The bruise next to her left eye was already starting to swell. “Just for future reference, sunshine, that’s the response you should have when someone offers you money to sleep with your wife.”
“Does that mean you’re still my wife?”
“I think I stopped being that to you long before we came here, and we were both to blame for that. I know we aren’t ever going to be more than a memory to each other, but I’m married to Becker now and nothing you do or think to do is going to change that.”
“It was the money wasn’t it?” Her head was still swimming but Claire sat up.
“The money was so important to me that I gave it away. Actually it was her eyes,” she looked back to see the blue orbs looking at her as if gauging whether or not Claire needed to be smacked again.
“Hell, Jolie, if blue turned you on so much I’d have gotten contacts.”
Two strong arms wrapped around her middle and Jolie’s face softened at the gesture. “The color is beautiful to me, but that’s not what’s important.” Jolie lifted her hand and pressed her palm to Becker’s face. “She sees me and believes in me. Any relationship built on that, no matter how it started, will last for an eternity. I love Becker because it’s the easiest thing in the world, and I would love her even if she only had one dollar to her name.”
From her spot on the floor, Claire watched them leave hand in hand. Jolie had always been a beautiful woman, but she was radiant in love, and Claire wanted the chance to hit Becker for being the person on the receiving end of those feelings. In hindsight, a million on Becker’s part had been a bargain for the treasure she got in return.
Jolie stopped when the maitre d’ opened the doors to the balcony overlooking the lake in front of the casino. The table, just like the year before, was the only one set out there, but this year, it was surrounded by bouquet after bouquet of Stargazer Lilies. The flowers weren’t perhaps the norm for Valentine’s Day, but they were her favorites and considering her profession, it wasn’t often that Becker was able to surprise her with a bouquet of anything.
There was a beautifully wrapped box sitting on the table and Jolie shook her finger at her mate. “I thought you said no presents.”
“I know how much you love flowers, and since I would never order flowers from anyone but you, I thought just this once I could surprise you with a gift of flowers.”
“Flowers that you can put in the shop and they’ll always be in bloom just like my love for you.”
It took effort for Jolie not to make a face. If there was one thing she detested more than anything, it was artificial flowers. She moved to the box and lifted the lid. Inside sat two smaller versions of the Chihuly flowers like the ones in the lobby of the Bellagio. One was blue and the other green.
“Have I told you lately how much I love you?”
Soft music was being piped in so Becker took advantage and led Jolie to a clear spot on the deck. “If something happened and you were never able to tell me that with words, I’d still know how much you love me. You show me in every action, every touch, and in every look.”
They had spent the rest of the afternoon and night after meeting up with Claire in their room simply enjoying their own company. Then the next morning they had flown out with Oscar and Sabrina to enjoy the day with Huey and his wife Connie. This time though the party had been more fun than the blonde ever remembered having. Becker as promised had worn jeans and danced every dance with her until Jolie had begged for mercy. The day had ended with the delivery of the beautiful green dress they had gone in to look at, and Jolie almost suggested they stay in again when she felt the hot fingers on her back as Becker helped her with the zipper.
“I want to always tell you, baby.” The words to the song they were dancing to were Italian, but Jolie got lost in Andre Bocelli’s voice and in Becker’s eyes. “I found you here and now I want to share every last sunset I have with you. At least a million of them.”
“Like you told me, we found each other here and a million won’t be enough.” As Becker lowered her head to kiss the woman she loved, the fountains came to life and the music they had first heard together started to play.
“You’re right, darling, no matter how many, it won’t be enough for us, and tonight I’ll start by giving you a million reasons to think so.” Jolie finished her promise and accepted the kiss Becker was offering. Their beginning may not have been auspicious, but their ending would be like any other for people in love, and it was that happy ever after the blonde was looking forward to.
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