(An excerpt)


Susan X Meagher



[Here’s a new bit from my series “I Found My Heart In San Francisco”. If you aren’t familiar with it, all you need know is that Jamie and Ryan are in the second year of their relationship, and are on vacation in Australia.]

Ryan sat in an upholstered chair in a nice, but not opulent hotel close to Cairns in Australia. She and Jamie had just experienced what she might have had to characterize as the best day of her life. She’d heard about the Great Barrier Reef, of course, but it had never dawned on her how epically beautiful it would be.

They’d started the day by renting a clear kayak that enabled them to see the remarkable variety of ocean life just inches from their hull. Ryan had been so excited that she’d paddled so hard and fast that her biceps still hurt. Then they’d rented snorkel gear and played in the water until it was nearly dark. Both too hungry to wait for showers, they’d grabbed a meal in what was essentially a shack. But the seafood was fresh and plentiful, most of the patrons were barefoot, and Ryan was fairly sure it was the best meal, as well as the best atmosphere she’d experienced in months.

Now they were back at the hotel and Jamie was checking e-mail and confirming plans for the rest of the week. Ryan considered trying to talk her into canceling everything and staying right where they were until the Olympics began, but Jamie had worked hard putting together an itinerary and it would be unfair to spoil her plans.

The television was on in the background, but Ryan didn’t have much interest in it. Once she’d marveled at how different the programs were from what she was used to, the novelty wore off quickly. Now she was clean, well fed, antsy and horny. She chuckled, thinking Jamie might not consider that an ideal set of circumstances.

Actually, it was Jamie’s fault that she was horny as well as antsy. She was constantly amazed that her partner didn’t understand how unconsciously sexy she was. Right now she was merely sitting at a small desk, working on her laptop, not doing anything spectacular, but to Ryan she was as hot as a fire cracker.

Tonight she wasn’t even wearing any of her delightful lingerie. She’d put on Ryan’s discarded shirt, a long-sleeved white one with wide blue stripes—and it was at least four sizes too large. There was something really hot about a woman wearing clothes that were too big for her, even though that went against logic. Jamie had the sleeves rolled up a few times and it was unbuttoned enough to be illegal. The shirt mostly covered some simple, white, boy-cut panties that Jamie probably also didn’t think were very hot. She was dead wrong.

Jamie tapped a pen against the desk while she waited for her page to load, then tucked the pen over her ear, where it was immediately covered by her longish hair.

Ryan knew her vaguely unkempt hair was driving Jamie nuts, but it was the fact that it was often slightly messy that Ryan loved. It would take another year for it to grow out to the length Jamie wanted, and Ryan was going to vote strongly against taking any action that would neaten it up in the meantime.

The Internet must have been maddeningly slow, because Jamie swiveled around in her chair, propped one foot up on the seat, placed an elbow on that upraised knee, and dropped her chin onto her palm. Her breasts strained the fabric, bowing one of the stripes out, and the white panties grasped and held Ryan’s attention. Jamie said something, and Ryan tried, but failed to grasp it. “What did you say?”

Smirking, Jamie said, “I said it’s slow. You look like you’re in a daze. Are you thinking about all those fish you saw today?”

“Sure.” There was no sense in trying to have a conversation. She wanted to peel those panties off and bury her face in the delightful space they covered. But Jamie was clearly doing something that needed to be done, so Ryan bided her time, making plans.

Maybe it was because they were on vacation, and had so few claims on their time. But in the four days they’d been away from home Ryan had found herself insatiable for her partner’s charms. She had no idea why she’d been in such a sex-fugue, but it was real and it was intense. When they weren’t actively having sex, Ryan passively thought about it, planning for the next time they’d be able to get horizontal. Jamie seemed pretty darned happy with the situation, and Ryan guessed that getting away for a while had been the trigger. It was very easy to get into a rut when they were in San Francisco, and being away let her focus on the most important thing in her life—Jamie.

But the object of her desire was taking far too long doing whatever she was doing. “Are you going to be long, honey?” Ryan finally asked.

Distractedly, Jamie said, “Don’t think so.”

That meant “yes”.

They approached sex in very different ways. Jamie claimed that when she was feeling randy she liked to think about it and idly focus on her desire all day long. To, in essence, tease herself and intentionally delay satisfaction. The whole concept was alien to Ryan. When she had an itch, especially an itch like she had at that moment, she wanted--needed to scratch it.

Draping one leg over the arm of her chair, she did just that. Actually, her move was more of a pinch, and she purred in pleasure as she gathered the flesh between her fingers and did it again. Jamie was clearly involved in whatever she was doing, because she normally had excellent hearing and definitely would have picked up a stray purr.

Ryan continued to touch herself, thoughtfully saving Jaime several moments of preliminaries when they finally got down to business. Moving her fingers past the leg of her panties, she slid one into herself, biting down on her lip as it filled her. Delaying gratification wasn’t working well. Her fuse was very, very short, and she was just about to go perch on the edge of the desk and demand attention when Jamie finally got up.

She brushed by Ryan on her way to her bedside table, where she picked up one of the guidebooks she’d brought along and headed back towards the desk. Without stopping to think, Ryan grabbed the tale of Jamie’s shirt and pulled just hard enough to knock her off her stride. Reaching out with both arms, Ryan grabbed her and pulled her onto her lap. Before Jamie could utter a squawk of protest Ryan used one hand to hold her head still and place a hot kiss on her lips while her other slid into Jamie’s panties--where her slippery digit found its mark.

For just a second, Jamie’s body lay across her, rigid and unyielding. Then Ryan could feel her smile and grow receptive. She pulled away enough to say, “You are such a devil,” then latched upon Ryan’s mouth for a fevered kiss, the slow Internet a thing of the past.


They made love for a very long time, with Ryan eventually managing to have a rare second orgasm. Jamie lay in her arms afterward, humming contentedly.

“It was okay to sneak up on you, wasn’t it?” Ryan asked.

Turning her head just enough to make eye contact, Jamie said, “That must be a rhetorical question.”

Chuckling, Ryan said, “Well, I just want to make sure. I don’t want to breach your barriers.”

“I have no barriers left.” She stretched and yawned. “I don’t miss them, by the way. You can come at me any hour of any day. Permission is permanently granted.”

Ryan’s grin was so wide the corners of her mouth ached. “This is the cool part of monogamy. No one tells you how nice it is to be able to just go for it without signing waivers and getting blood tests.”

“You can write a book to let everyone know.” Jamie kissed her, beginning to get frisky again. “You can get started as soon as you wring one more orgasm out of me.”


Jamie was having the most delightful dream. She was in a warm, humid, lush, tropical rainforest and Ryan was pressed up against her, kissing her neck and making her shiver. It took a second to realize that part of the dream was real. It was warm and a little humid, as the open window let in the scent of the lush mountain their hotel perched upon. And her neck was definitely being kissed by a person she assumed was Ryan. Stretching her neck confirmed it. The dark mass of hair that spread across her chest had to belong to her lover. “Is it time to get up?”

Ryan lifted her chin and met Jamie’s eyes. Her smile was particularly buoyant this morning. Jamie threaded her fingers in Ryan’s hair and scratched along her scalp.

“It is if you want to do something I planned.”

“You planned something? When?”

“This morning. I got up early and looked at the notes you made. Given where we are now, and where you want to wind up tonight, the place I want to go is right on the way.”

Jamie sat up and saw that Ryan was showered and dressed. A quick look outside showed it was barely dawn. “We need to go now, huh?” Maybe Ryan had made a calculation error.

Those blue eyes shifted nervously, and she bit her lip and nodded. “Kinda.”

Throwing off the sheet, Jamie got to her feet and wrapped her arms around her partner. “When you get me up this early on vacation…it had better be good, sport.”


They drove for a long time, but the scenery was so lovely and verdant that Jamie was happy to have had her sleep curtailed. “People have told me that Australia is a lot like California,” she observed, “but there’s a huge difference.” She pointed at the vines, plants and bending trees that threatened to cover the narrow road. “We ain’t lush.”

“I think we have a Mediterranean climate,” Ryan said. “I have no idea what this is…other than green and wet.” She shrugged. “I guess that’s why they call it a rainforest, huh?”

“It’s a little like Hawaii…another place I’m going to have to drag you.”

“I won’t argue. I’ve always wanted to go. It would be sweet to surf in warm water.”

“There’s warm water all over the planet, baby, we just have to go to it.”

“I’d like it better if it came to me. How long will it take global warming to make the San Francisco Bay eighty degrees?”

“Mmm…probably quite a while. And when that happens the bay will be a few dozen feet higher. We might have to move to Pacific Heights, ’cause Noe Valley will be underwater.”

“You’ll get to have a bay view,” Ryan said, taking her eyes off the road to show a smile. “If Noe Valley is underwater, I’ll probably agree to leave it.”


By the time they got to the spot Ryan was seeking it was almost nine. She pulled into a wide, muddy lot and went to a shed where a buff man was doing paperwork. “Hi, I reserved a Jeep. Ryan O’Flaherty.”

He looked up and smiled. “I thought Ryan would be a man.” His gaze lingered a little longer than it should have. “You’re no man.”

“Not this time around.” She pulled out her license and International Driving Permit, along with a credit card. “Is there a map I should follow?”

“No, no map.” He filled out the forms, she signed and they went back outside. He tossed her a set of keys, pointed at a well-used Jeep and said, “There’s only one road. Follow it up and stop when you’re done.” Before he reached the shed he added, “We close at eight. If you’re not back…” He laughed. “Just leave the keys in the damn thing. Who’s gonna come out here to steal it?”


They had been driving up the dirt track for about ten minutes when Jamie said, “How early did you get up? You found a spot you wanted to visit, found a place to rent a car and got it all arranged while I was still snoozing.”

“Pretty early,” she admitted. “I was awake, so I decided to get up and make some plans. I’ve left all of the work to you so far, and that’s not fair.”

“Oh, it’s fair. I like to travel and making plans is part of the fun.” She propped herself up against the door to avoid being hurled from the open top of the Jeep. “I’m glad you planned this, because I never would have…but it’s fun.”

“We’ve just begun. I’ve got all sorts of things on my agenda. Just relax and enjoy thrashing your way through the rain forrest.”

“I’m not sure I can relax while my teeth are about the shake loose, but I can definitely enjoy myself. It’s wild out here…like you.”


The research Ryan had done claimed the spot she was searching for was twenty kilometers from the car park. That hadn’t seemed very far, but they were going so slowly that if the speedometer had been working it probably would have shown them going fewer than ten kph. But it was tough to complain when they were surrounded by such a gorgeous landscape.

They were near the crest of a hill and to their left a dry valley and higher mountain shone in the bright morning sun. But the right side of their view was dark green, wet and thick with vegetation. It was truly like being in two completely different temperate zones, and Ryan had never felt further from home. This was like nothing she’d ever encountered, and she could easily believe she was on another planet, rather than another continent.


Finally, they reached a clearing. There were no other cars, but plenty of tire tracks showed others had parked here recently. “I think this is the spot,” Ryan said. Jamie hopped out and looked around. They were no longer in the middle of nowhere. Now they were on the edge. Ryan got out and pulled her backpack from behind the driver’s seat. “Bug spray,” she announced, pulling the bottle out. “God knows what lives in these parts.”

Jamie had some idea, having read many advisories about the flora and fauna of the rainforest, but she thought it best to keep her knowledge to herself. Her city girl was plenty tough, but she had zero experience in the wilderness and was a little afraid of it—even though she’d never admit that.

They sprayed each other thoroughly, then started to walk, with Ryan carrying what looked like a heavy backpack. “Whatcha got in there?” Jamie asked, tugging on it.

“Provisions.” Ryan took her hand and they walked side by side. “Aren’t you glad you brought hiking boots?”

“I am. This would be tough in flip-flops.”

The grade was fairly steep, with boulders and ruts making them clamber over and around obstacles frequently. “This is tough!” Jamie said after she had to pick her way carefully over what had probably been a fairly severe rock slide.

“Yeah. Cool, isn’t it?” Ryan was never happier than when she was testing herself in some way. Jamie hoped they’d pass this one and one day find their Jeep again. Luckily, Ryan had an awesome sense of direction, and they’d probably need it.

They’d been climbing for almost an hour when Jamie detected a funny noise. She stopped, placed a hand on Ryan to pull her to a halt, and listened. “What’s that thrumming noise?”

Eyes dancing with delight, Ryan said, “You’ll just have to wait and see, Cupcake.”

After another five or ten minutes, Jamie said, “It sounds like water. Like a lot of water.”

“Falling from a great distance,” Ryan confirmed. “I don’t know about you, but I love waterfalls more than just about anything.”

“I’m with you, babe. I can’t wait.”


When they reached the crest of the hill the dry valley spread out before them as far as the eye could see. Off to their right, a massive waterfall cascaded down into the edge of the rainforest, where it crashed into rocks and a bounty of nothing but green. “Oh, my God,” Jamie gasped, grabbing at Ryan. “This is spectacular.”

Looking very proud of herself, Ryan nodded. “At least. Let’s get close.” They spent another ten minutes picking their way down the path, stepping over thick vines and roots from the surrounding plants. When they got as close as Ryan knew Jamie would agree to go, she dropped the pack and removed Jamie’s camera. “For you,” she said, bowing.

Jamie kissed her damp cheek after brushing off a bit of dirt. “You’re a goddess.” She spent the next half hour photographing the surrounding hills, the sun bleached boulders, the falls and her lovely partner, in reverse order of their importance. “Fantastic planning for a beginner,” Jamie declared.

“Oh, we’re not finished. Not by a long shot.” She led the way to a different path, this one skirting the edge of the falls. Spray from the thrumming water hit them as they passed, cooling their heated skin. It was getting sticky, now that the sun was high in the sky, and just when Jamie started to feel thirsty, Ryan reached into the pack and took out a bottle of water.

“For you,” she said, grinning.

They walked until they were the equivalent of halfway down the falls, and Ryan stopped under a glade of trees and dropped her pack. “Now some lunch,” she declared.

Jamie nearly dove for the bag, but Ryan had a plan. She removed a plastic tarp, placed it on the ground, and pointed at it. “Sit.”

Following orders, Jamie sat down and stretched her legs out. They’d done so much walking in San Francisco that summer that she was able to tolerate just about any distance, but this was pretty strenuous. Good strenuous…the kind of exercise that made you feel satisfied instead of tired.

Ryan provided sandwiches and salads, along with forks and napkins. “I think I’ve got it all under control,” she said, surveying the repast. Then she sat down in a basic yoga pose, her big boots caked with dirt, getting her bare legs filthy. But Jamie knew better than anyone that Ryan truly loved getting dirty. She was a dirt magnet, and never passed up the opportunity to jump in a puddle or take off her shoes to bury her feet in the muck at her favorite beach.

They ate while listening to the water raining down like a deluge. Neither spoke much, too preoccupied with the trance-creating pounding to break the peace.

When they’d finished, Ryan packed up all of their things and hefted the pack onto her back again. “We’ve got about a half hour walk…if I read the map right. Are you good?”

“Looks steep,” Jamie observed.

“I know. And then we’ve got to come back up. But I think it’ll be worth it.”

“I know it will. I’ll get to be with you.” She took Ryan’s hand and they walked together until it got too steep to be connected. They had to scoot across some boulders on their butts, but they managed, finally getting to the spot Jamie knew was in the plan. The ground leveled off and a glittering pool of water poured across massive rocks, caressing them in an endless shower. “Fantastic,” she breathed. “Edenic.”

“I didn’t pack my dictionary. You’ve gotta give me that one.”

Jamie took her hand and pulled her close for a kiss. “Like Eden. Like it was made only for us.”

“It was.” Ryan led the way to the edge of the pool. “I’m going in.” She started to remove her boots, leaning on Jamie for support. Then Jamie took hers off, using Ryan in the same way. Ryan stuck her foot in first, and her eyes widened. “It’s surprisingly cold.”

Not wanting to be a wimp, Jamie tentatively dipped her toes in. The water was cold. Not bracingly so, but colder than one would have predicted. “At least it’s not like San Francisco Bay,” she said. “Thank God.”

Ryan went back to her pack and took out two bottles of beer, then wedged them between some rocks. “They said the water was cold,” she said, smiling. “I figured we could use it for a beer cooler.”

“You really do think of everything.”

“Well, I was going to bring wine, since you prefer it, but I thought beer would be better for hiking.”

“I think you’re right. If it doesn’t explode from the jolting ride up or the hike…we’re good.”

“Ooo.” Ryan made a face. “I guess wine might’ve been the better choice.”

“It’ll be great. Now I’m going to act like you and strip naked in a public place. I’m hot and dusty and this water looks too good to pass up.” She looked at Ryan and said, “Now I know why you sprayed every inch of me with sunblock.”

“I tried to think of every eventuality.”

“I think you made it. No one else is dumb enough to walk all this way, are they?”

“Maybe,” Ryan said, stripping as well. “But we can dash over there and hide pretty well. It’s worth it.”

They both walked into the pool, squealing as the water quickly went to the tops of their thighs. Ryan made the brave move, ducking under the water, dousing her hair, then sputtering when she popped back up. “Cold!”

It didn’t get much deeper, and they carefully made their way to a big, dry rock in the middle. Ryan stood next to it, her lips pursed in thought. “How do we get up there?”

It was about four feet high…not too high if you had a foothold. But the thing was perfectly smooth and the next closest boulder was at least five feet away. “Can’t do it,” Jamie said. “But we can just play in the water. We don’t have to sun ourselves.”

“Sunning is part of the plan.” Ryan crossed her arms over her chest, then nodded decisively. “I’ll give you a boost.” She stuck her knee out and patted it, indicating that Jamie should step on her thigh.

“I can’t pull you up, baby.”

“No need. Just play along.” Jamie was fairly certain she’d be alone up there, but the rock did look like a perfect place to bask in the sun. Besides, it wasn’t right to waste all of that sunblock. She stepped on Ryan’s thigh and giggled when Ryan put her hands on her butt and shoved her up, making Jamie sprawl gracelessly across the boulder.

She scooted around until she could sit up. “Now what?”

Ryan strode over to a set of rocks and jumped from one to the next, finally landing on the one closest…which was not very close. “No, no, no!” Jamie started to cry, but before she could finish the last “no” Ryan had launched herself into the air, catching the edge of the boulder with her foot, then scrambling onto the flat top like a gecko.

“Sweet!” she exclaimed, making her hands into fists and thrusting her elbows down.

“Stupid!” Jamie slapped at Ryan’s obviously empty head. “You could have slipped and broken a leg. How in the hell would I have gotten you out of here?”

“Uhm…” She looked seriously puzzled. “I guess you would’ve had to leave me. I screwed up, huh?”

“Yes, in my opinion, yes.” She dropped down and sat, legs stretched out in front of her. Patting the rock, she looked up at Ryan who gamely sat next to her. “But you don’t think so.” She grasped her ear and pretended to look inside her head. “I know what’s in there, buddy, and you’re fearless when it comes to things like that. I suppose it’s worked for you so far…so I should try harder to let you be you.”

“Oh, that’s not gonna happen,” Ryan said gravely. “You can’t stop yourself from having a reaction when I do something you think is dumb. You’re only human.”

“This is true. But I don’t want to dampen your spirit.”

Grinning mischievously, Ryan said, “Do I seem damp?”

“A little.” Jamie flicked some of her wet hair from her shoulders. “But it looks good on you.”

Ryan tucked her arm around Jamie’s shoulders and hugged her close. “I bet you don’t complain when I jump back over there so I can give you a hand getting down.”

“I can slide…or jump.”

“Slide off here on your bare butt? Jump onto those rocks that you can’t see very well?”

Jamie looked at the rough surface of the boulder, then at the wet, slippery rocks that surrounded them. “You know, now that I think of it, that rock isn’t really that far away.”

“That’s what I thought.” Ryan laughed, the sound floating around the grotto like music.


Soon they were lying flat on the rock, facing in different directions, cheek to cheek. “You know,” Ryan said, her voice soft and warm and so close it tickled Jamie’s skin, “we’ve been having a lot of great sex recently.”

“Great, great,” Jamie agreed. “Want more? I’m game.”

“Ooo…you’ve loosened up since we met, Princess.”

“Yeah, I have. You’re a really good lubricant. Nothing can stay too tight with you around.”

“Actually,” Ryan said, “when I woke up this morning I decided I needed to focus a little more on making love.”

“What?” Jamie focused on her face, trying to detect what message Ryan was trying to impart. “We haven’t been making love?”

“No, we have, but I’ve been kinda sex obsessed. I’ve been watching you like you’re prey. Damn, last night I had to start touching myself while I waited for you to finish up on the computer. I don’t mind feeling like that but…”

“But what, baby?”

Ryan sat up and rested her weight on her arms. “I want to be very careful to never let my sex drive be greater than my love drive. That’s a dumb way to put it, but sex can’t be more about erogenous zones than our hearts.”

“I don’t want that either!” Jamie sat up and moved around so she faced Ryan. “Is that happening?”

“No,” she said, smiling. “It’s not. But I was lying in bed this morning, thinking of how I went after you last night…and I was afraid I was getting close.”


She closed her eyes briefly, looking a little pained. “Closer to having sex than making love.”

“But we each do that every once in a while, baby. Sometimes we just go at it. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

A line had formed between Ryan’s brows. “No, there’s not, but I feel like I’ve been going at it for a few days in a row. I want to slow down and make sure I’m showing you what’s in my heart.”

Jamie smiled at her, then touched Ryan’s chest, feeling the beat with her fingers. “I think your heart’s been into having sex. But that’s fine. Really, it is.”

“Maybe. But I was worried about it. I want to be sure I never, ever think of you just as someone I fuck.”

“Ryan, baby.” Jamie leaned forward and hugged her tenderly. “You have nothing to worry about. You’re always kind and gentle and thoughtful even when you pull me onto your lap and surprise the heck out of me.” She kissed her lips and stayed right there for a moment, breathing her in. “We’re fine.”

“I know,” Ryan admitted. She dropped her chin so that their foreheads met. “I’m being cautious.” When she sat up again she gazed into Jamie’s eyes for a moment. “I wanted to spend today enjoying you—all of you—not just your slippery parts.”

“That’s so sweet of you. It gets me right here when I see how much thought you put into making sure we’re in a good space.” She tapped over her heart rapidly.

“I was lying in the dark, thinking about how to show you I love you. All I could think of was to be out in the sun, away from everyone, and spend a long time kissing you. No more…just kissing you.”

Jamie ostentatiously looked around, showing that there wasn’t another human in sight. “It’s just us, sweetheart. And my lips are yours for the taking.”

Ryan smiled at her, moving closer. She tenderly placed her lips upon Jamie’s, moving as slowly and deliberately as a woman trying to get up the nerve to steal a first kiss. “I love you,” she whispered while her lips were just a breath away.

“I love you too. Thanks for keeping an eye on us.”

“It’s my pleasure.” She leaned in and captured Jamie’s lips, as well as her heart—all over again.


Back to the Special

Back to the Academy