Just Like Old Times
To my AJ - the woman who gives my life meaning, and who will always be my Valentine.
Copyright February 2003 by Carrie Carr. No unauthorized copying or distributing without written consent of the author.
Snow, piled over a foot deep, covered her tiny patio. Delaney Kavanagh stood at the sliding glass door, silently debating on whether or not to actually do something about the pristine view. When a gust of wind rattled the glass, she shivered and backed away from the door, allowing nature to make the decision for her. She pulled her heavy sweater closed and walked back into the living room. The worn recliner that she dropped onto was as close to the fire as safely possible.
Bored, but not in the mood to watch television, she set the radio to her favorite station. When an old familiar tune flowed from the stereo speakers, Delaney fought the sudden ache it caused in her chest. She stared into the flames as unbidden thoughts came into her mind. Gib would have not only gone out on the patio, but would have probably dragged me out there and wed have built some sort of snow creature. She shook her head angrily. Stop it. Gibs not here, and theres no sense in visiting the past.
She reached for the remote control and turned down the volume, almost desperate to relieve herself of the painful memories the love ballad brought about. It had been eight months since Delaney had seen or heard from her lover of four years, and the emotional wounds were as fresh as if it were yesterday. She looked across the room to the front door, which still bore marks from where she had thrown her coffee cup so many months earlier. Delaney closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair. Gib had always teased her about her fiery temper and jokingly referred to her hair as chili pepper red. Knowing that it was of her own making, the loneliness gnawed at her heavy heart.
"Cmon, Dee. Why do you want to spend such a beautiful weekend inside? Everyones going to be at the lake." Of medium height and stocky build, Gib loved anything that had to do with the outdoors, while Delaney was into more cerebral pursuits. Gib had been trying, for most of the morning, to drag her lover away from the computer desk. She stood behind the office chair and put her hands on Delaneys shoulders, squeezing lightly. "A little jet skiing, a little sunshine on your beautiful skin"
The redhead tried to shrug off the touch. "And a load of not-so-beautiful freckles." She spun the chair around and glared at Gib. Her partners short blonde hair was almost bleached white from the exposure to the sun, and her skin held a golden tan. That was one of the things that irritated her the most about Gibson Proctor the woman never wore makeup or sunscreen. She knew dozens of people who spent thousands of dollars and hours in the tanning salons to get a poor imitation of what came naturally to her lover. She had tried a similar path long ago, and ended up spending even more money to rid herself of the freckles that resulted. The fact that Gib worked in her precious sunshine and fresh air she was a park ranger, had little to do with Delaneys irritation. It just rankled her that a woman in her mid-forties didnt even attempt to live a more sedate and controlled life.
Gib leaned closer and kissed the hollow of Delaneys throat. "I love every inch of you, Dee," she whispered, tilting the chair back so that she could gain better access to her lovers skin. "As a matter of fact," one hand rose from the chair arm and began to unbutton Delaneys light cotton top, "let me show you just how much."
"Dammit, Gib, stop it!" Delaney slapped the roaming hand away before her shirt was opened. "Ive got to finish this project by next week, and Im already a month behind." She rebuttoned the blouse and brushed the hair out of her eyes. "You know how important this highway project is to me."
"I thought I was important to you." Gib hurriedly backed away to keep from being knocked down when Delaney rose from her chair. She followed the angry woman over to the breakfast bar, where the redhead started to pour herself a cup of coffee. "Arent I?"
Delaney took a deep breath before turning around to face her lover. "Of course you are. Its just that sometimes I feel as if youre purposely trying to sabotage my work."
"Thats not true," Gib denied. She held her hands out away from her body in a submissive gesture. "Why would you say something like that?"
Not answering right away, Delaney spooned sugar into her coffee. Her partners lack of understanding where her job was concerned had always exasperated her. Delaney worked for her fathers highway construction company as a planner and designer. If it werent for her job, she might have never met the easygoing ranger. But recently, she felt as if Gib didnt take her work seriously enough. She looked up into the open face of her lover. She doesnt even understand why Im upset, Delaney realized. "Why do you keep insisting that we go out all the time, Gib? Dont you know how important this project is to me, and to the county? This highway has been needed for years."
"Of course I know its important, sweetheart. But that doesnt mean you have to spend every single minute of our weekend hunched over that computer."
"Our weekend? Since when does my weekend become our weekend?" Delaney stepped forward until they were inches apart. "Just because weve been living together for the past four years doesnt mean that I dont have my own fucking time," she yelled, using her spare hand to push a surprised Gib away from her.
Eyes wide, Gib backed up. "No, Dee, I didnt mean it like that." She shook her head before coming to a decision. "I cant talk to you when youre like this. So, I tell you what. Ill go on out to the lake, and once youre calmed down, give me a call on my cell." She started for the door of the apartment. "Maybe youll change your mind and join us later."
"Dont you fucking leave, Gibson! Im not through talking to you."
Gib opened the door and turned to look back over her shoulder. "No, Dee. Im not going to fight with you. Cool down, and call me later, okay?"
"If you walk out that door, dont even think about coming back," Delaney threatened.
"I love you, Dee." Gib quietly closed the door behind her.
"Goddamn her all to Hell," Delaney shouted, throwing her coffee mug at the door. She burst into tears before the shards hit the floor.
In a complete fit of anger, Delaney gathered up all of Gibs belongings and threw them out into the hallway of the apartment. She called maintenance and had them change the locks within an hour of her lovers departure. Sitting down at her desk, she composed a short note with shaky hands.
Ive had it with your constant badgering, never allowing me to work in peace. Dont bother calling or coming by. I wont be home.
She taped the note to the front door of the apartment, then packed an overnight bag and headed off to an expensive hotel. Delaney returned to her home the following evening, relieved to see that all of Gibs things were gone from the hallway, and the note missing from the door.
She spent the next month or so struggling to overcome the feelings of loss and remorse, before Delaney allowed friends to begin matching her up on dates. Each one was worse than the last, with her trying unsuccessfully to keep from comparing each woman to her lost love.
One woman in particular, several years younger and much more worldly, declared the redhead "a frigid lost-cause who should either go back to her old girlfriend, or at least quit leading other women on". But as the time passed, Delaney realized with a heavy heart that she had ruined the one good thing she had ever had, and all the wishing and dreaming in the world wouldnt bring Gib back to her. God, I was such a fool! How could I have treated her as though everything was more important to me than she was? I was so damn full of myself that there wasn't any room for Gib.
As the song finished on the radio, Delaney pulled her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around them. She buried her face in her arms and sobbed for the love that she had chased away so many months ago.
She didnt know how long she had sat there, but when Delaney lifted her head she noticed that the sun had set and the fire had burned down to embers. A knock on her front door caused her to look at the clock on the VCR and frown. It was eight-thirty in the evening, and she hadnt been expecting anyone. When the knock came again, harder this time, Delaney angrily got to her feet and stalked toward the noise. "Im coming, dammit. Give me a minute." She opened the door and was stunned to see the woman that she had been yearning for. Her movements froze and her heart pounded in reaction to Gibs sudden proximity.
Gib stood quietly, her face creased in worry. Her white-blonde hair was longer, reaching her shoulders in a shaggy style. She appeared to have lost at least twenty pounds over the past eight months, and there were lines around her eyes that hadnt been there before. She forced a smile to her face. "Hi, Dee. I hope I havent caught you at a bad time."
Fighting her way back from disbelief and shock, Delaney stepped aside. "No, not at all. Come in?"
"Thanks." Gib brushed by the redhead and looked around the apartment. It looked the same as it did when she "left", right down to the pictures of them haphazardly scattered across the mantel of the fireplace. The sight gave her hope, but it wasnt the reason she was here. At her ex-lovers gesture, she took a seat on one corner of the sofa that sat across from the chair and the fireplace.
"Would you like some coffee, or something? Im afraid I dont have any beer, but earlier I was thinking about opening a bottle of Chardonnay." Delaney remembered how Gib used to joke about beer being a "poor mans champagne", and would rather have a can of that than the expensive wines that Delaney favored.
About to refuse the offer, Gib realized the offer was a chance to spend a little bit more time with the woman she still loved. "A glass of wine would be good, thank you." She twisted slightly to get more comfortable, as the heavy down jacket she wore had bunched up behind her.
Delaney headed for the kitchen, but called over her shoulder, "Take off your coat and get comfortable, Gib. Ill be right back."
Gib watched her leave, as she slid the thick jacket off her shoulders. She placed it on the floor next to the sofa, and leaned back, trying to decide if coming back here after all this time was a mistake. The familiarity of the entire situation finally put her at ease, and she gave Delaney an earnest smile as the other woman brought back two glasses of white wine.
"Here you go," Delaney said, handing one of the glasses to Gib. More habit than thought, she sat on the opposite end of the sofa, with only one cushion between them.
They both sat quietly, each trying to gauge what the other was thinking. Finally having enough of the silence, Delaney cleared her throat. "Its been a while, hasnt it?"
Nodding, Gib leaned over and placed her untouched glass on the nearby coffee table. "Yeah, it has. Im sorry I dropped by without calling, but your new number is unlisted."
Another pang of guilt stabbed at Delaney. The week after she had thrown her lover out of the apartment, she tired of the constant messages from Gib on her answering machine. So, she had the number changed to an unlisted one, and regretted the decision almost immediately. She missed the nightly messages that Gib would leave, always ending with a quiet, pained, "I love you." Now here she was, sitting across from the woman who was the cause of many of her sleepless nights. "Why are you here, Gib?"
"I hate to bother you like this, but I didnt know who else to go to." Gib looked into her ex-lovers eyes, and all the old feelings slammed into her without permission. "Damn, Dee. You still look as beautiful as always." She shook her head, angry with herself. "Im sorry, I shouldnt have said that."
Gib jumped to her feet and crammed her hands into the front pockets of her jeans. "I shouldnt have come here," she muttered, turning her back and looking at the pictures on the mantel. She felt, rather than heard, Delaney get up and stand behind her, inches away. "Why cant I get you out of my mind, Dee?" Gib raised a shaky hand to pull one of the pictures down for a closer look. Taken the Christmas before they broke up, the photograph showed the two women in an embrace, Delaney kissing Gib, who was wearing a baseball cap with a sprig of mistletoe on the bill. "I loved you so damned much." Her voice was rough with sorrow.
"I loved you, too," Delaney admitted quietly. The anguished sound of Gibs struggle caused her hands to migrate to the other womans shoulders. "Im so sorry, Gib. I never meant to hurt you."
The framed print was put back in place, but Gib didnt turn around. "Yeah, well. Live and learn, right?" She wiped at her face before spinning to face Delaney. The redhead was so close that they almost shared the same breath. When Delaney reached up and brushed her fingertips against her cheek, Gib felt another brick of her carefully constructed wall tumble. She leaned into the touch and closed her eyes, almost falling back in surprise when soft lips touched her own.
For her part, Delaney felt as if her world had righted for the first time in many months. The first taste of Gibs lips made her want more, and she ran her tongue across those lips in a silent plea.
Gib opened her mouth and allowed Delaneys tongue access, tasting the wine and deciding she liked the flavor. She ran her hands down the other womans back, reaching her rear and pulling Delaney closer. Her moan of desire spurred Delaney on, and Gib found determined hands struggling with the buttons on her flannel shirt. She broke free long enough to catch her breath. "Dee, we shouldnt"
"I need you, Gib," Delaney gasped, her hands not stopping their pursuit of Gibs skin. "Please."
The insistent plea was all Gib needed. She pushed Delaney back, peeling the outer sweater off of her lover before their bodies hit the sofa. Her hands then reached down and slipped inside the sweat pants the other woman wore, pleasantly surprised when she realized that Delaney was nude underneath. "You havent changed," she said, bending forward and pulling the pants from the squirming body beneath hers. Delaney always complained that underwear was so uncomfortable that it had to have been invented by men, and unless she was going to work, rarely wore the garments.
"Please, Gib," Delaney breathed, working at her lovers belt buckle. When Gib sat back and stripped off her clothes, the redhead quickly removed her own top then reached up and brought Gib back to lie on top of her. "God, Ive missed this."
Gib trailed kisses down Delaneys throat and chest, stopping to take one of the redheads nipples into her mouth. As her tongue ran around the hardened tip, she felt Delaneys hands tangle in her hair and try to pull her closer. Not wanting to be rushed, Gib took her time and savored the moment, one she had been dreaming of for over eight months. She trailed one hand between their bodies, stopping for a moment to tease through curly hair, which had become soaked with desire.
"Oh, Gib, yes!" Delaney raised her hips, begging for a more intimate touch. Between the mouth on her nipple and the hand teasing her, she felt as if she would explode. When fingers traced further down and touched her, Delaney bit Gibs shoulder in an attempt to stifle her scream. Her orgasm was hard and fast, and over far too quickly. Tears fell from Delaneys closed eyes, both in joy and sorrow.
Looking down, Gib noticed the damp tracks on Delaneys face. Concerned, she raised a hand and brushed the auburn hair from her lovers forehead. "Are you all right, sweetheart?" Now that the heated moment was behind them, maybe Delaney had second thoughts. The idea that she could of hurt her, either physically or emotionally, tore holes in Gibs heart. Shed rather die than cause Delaney pain.
Delaney opened her eyes and looked up into the anguished face of her lover. "Im more than all right, Gib." She raised one hand and caressed Gibs cheek. "Lets go to the bedroom, and well talk about it later." Although she didnt know where it would lead, for tonight, it was enough.