All or Nothing



Disclaimers: Please be gentle with me as this is my first posted work. All the characters belong to me and me alone. Copyright 1997, 1999.
Love/Sex/Language: This is an uber alternative fiction story. It depicts a loving relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under the age of 18 or live in an ignorant state wherein this may in any manner be illegal, please move on.
There is bad language that may offend some, but given what is on tv/cable these days, it's probably tame. There's also drinking of alcohol and a tad bit of angst.
Feed The Bard: Please let me know if you like my work!


Alexandra Barton stared blankly out of the window of her large, brightly decorated office. ‘If life is a bowl of cherries, why am I always in the pits?’ She thought. Knowing this not to be completely true, as most cliches are not, she exhaled a cloud of smoke from her cigarette and glanced at the mirrored etching hanging on the wall to the left of her desk. She was surprised at what she saw. Who was that auburn haired, hazel eyed woman staring back at her? She couldn’t possibly have those worry lines across her forehead. Those were her mother’s, not hers.

Alex, as she was known to everyone but her parents and superiors at work, was thirty-four and already in the midst of a mid-life crisis. She was quite successful as Corporate Counsel for a large publishing company, Padre Press. Despite all the rewards, it was a competitive battle. Playing hardball in a man’s world can take its toll on other aspects of one’s life, as Alex had learned. The only way she could rationalize her choice of careers, was that she was a masochist.

Stubbing out the cigarette in the ashtray sitting on top of her desk, her hazel eyes shone dimly as Alex thought about her personal life, or rather, the lack of one. Like most professionals, she seemed to have sacrificed her personal/emotional relationships to achieve success. It was now taking its toll on her. She missed the companionship and tenderness of another woman in her life. ‘Has it always been that way?’ she wondered. She had always dated and had "relationships", but there was always a sense of emptiness. Something was always missing. Alex thought that it was her perceived emotional dependency that pushed people away, but she didn’t feel that she was a dependent person. Even as a child she was independent. A leader, not a follower.

The phone rang suddenly, startling Alex out of her trance.

"Yes Sally," she picked up the phone and spoke to her administrative assistant.

"Ginny’s waiting patiently out here for you."

"Send her in." Alex didn’t remember having a lunch date with Ginny. That was unlike her to forget appointments, and even more unlike Sally to forget to remind her. Sally Penn was her life saver. Both Alex and Sally had begun working for the Company at the same time, Alex as Associate Counsel and Sally as an entry level admin assistant. As Alex was promoted up the corporate ladder, Sally moved with her and they stayed as a team from the beginning. Sally had an uncanny sixth sense and usually had whatever Alex needed before it was asked for.

"Forget me again kiddo?" Ginny McDougall asked as she opened the door and walked into the room. Dressed sharply in a tailored blue suit, Ginny was a stunning looking woman in her early forties. Her short, but well styled, salt and pepper hair gave her a sense of class worthy of Lauren Bacall.

"No, just daydreaming. I sort of lost track of time," she lied not to embarrass herself.

"Been doing a lot of that lately?" Alex shrugged her shoulders in response. "Well," Ginny continued, "From what I understand, you’ve been working too much again. You’ve got to take some time off and relax. Starting right now. Let’s go."

"I take it that you and Sally were conspiring out there. You two are like mother hens,"

Alex teased. "I can’t go out for lunch today. I’m way too far behind in the paper pushing."

"Bull. You have to take some time off and relax before you get a bleeding ulcer or have a heart attack. I know you and your incessant need for perfectionism. Most of your work can be delegated to your associates. But nooo, you have to do it yourself. You can’t keep this pace up forever, Sweetie!"

Ginny had been a mentor to Alex. She was senior counsel when Alex started working at Padre Press. At first they were leery of each other because they both knew they shared the same secret. Being a lesbian is enough of a social stigma in society as a whole, but in the homophobic corporate world, laws or no laws, it could be professional suicide if they were too open. The two began to trust each other after a business meeting that evolved into drunken confessions. Ginny then took the green eared a young attorney under her wing. After indoctrinating Alex into the company, Ginny left to become a partner in a prestigious law firm, tiring of the repetitive routine her in-house position required.

"All right, all right! Half an hour, that’s all. Then I have to get back to work," Alex cried giving in reluctantly. She knew she needed a break and was hungry, but didn’t like to give in to Ginny so easily.

Ginny cut Alex off before she could argue. "O.K., compromise. Half an hour now, but you have to come up to the cabin with me and Izzy this weekend. No excuses. I know that you don’t have to work this weekend and that there’s nothing else going on. "

"I swear you and Sally are teaming up against me. Fine. I’d like to spend some time with Izzy anyway," Alex chided as Ginny faked a hurt expression. Izzy was Ginny’s lover of ten years. When they had first met, Alex took an immediate liking to her friend’s lover and the three became a trio of sorts.

"Then it’s a deal. Now, where for lunch? Not the cafeteria. That crap’s enough to make anyone sick."

* * *

‘This is the loneliest part of the day,’ Alex thought to herself as she laid in bed watching a late night movie on the television. She was looking forward to going to the mountains with Ginny and Izzy, but was impatient because it was only Tuesday and she had to wait three more days. She loved her friends, but seeing them so happy and content sometimes made her jealous. She wanted that type of closeness and intimacy, but always made excuses when friends tried to get her to go out to the bars or attempted to introduce her to other women. She claimed that she either was too tired or had to work.

Alex knew the excuses were wearing thin, not only with her friends, but with herself as well. Even Sally, who was as straight as they came, had been trying to convince her to go out and have fun, offering to sacrifice herself by going with Alex to the bars. Alex laughed at the thought of poor Sally in a lesbian bar. Her assistant, almost six feet tall and who looked like Lucy Lawless, would be a hit. ‘Maybe that’s why I never took her up on her offer,’ Alex thought laughing to herself, ‘All the women would be hitting on her and I wouldn’t stand a chance.’

Alex again began to reflect back on her life. It was like a movie; her life seemed to be playing before her in full Technicolor. She always knew that she was different. The youngest child of five she was, essentially, an only child. She was the ‘surprise’ her parents did not expect. Her youngest sister was ten years older and the eldest eighteen years her senior. With her parents both working, she was left to fend for herself. A lone wolf in the pack.

She saw her puberty and adolescence roll before her. It felt like it had all happened in another life; or like an eternity ago. Not receiving the attention from her family, she searched for it elsewhere. Instead of getting poor grades, she strove for excellence and enjoyed the attention from her academic success. That became expected of her. But then something changed. Her behavior began to suffer, which was totally unexpected from an anal retentive overachiever. The foul language and wild temper had given her the reputation at school of a hard ass trouble maker. But her grades always saved her from her parents and teachers. Who could take the trouble seriously when she brought home straight A’s?

Then there was the social stuff. She grimaced as she thought of the awkwardness she felt during that time period. Although she had always been a tomboy, her family thought it was a stage that she would grow out of. She never did. Sports, particularly softball, were her refuge. Even back then she was a ‘softball dyke’ and didn’t really know it. She chuckled at the thought. Her friends would roll on the floor if they saw the baby dyke pictures of her in her uniform.

Back then, the idea of dating boys terrified her. The making out scenes with her ‘boyfriends’ still made her cringe. She never felt comfortable with them. Although she went through the moves of dating boys, she was faking it so she’d be accepted by her friends. It was the female playmates that excited her; the female classmates and teammates whom she wanted to get close to and make out with. Not the gangly, awkward adolescent males who only wanted one thing, to get into her pants. But she never let them go there. By age fifteen, she knew what she had to do and sought out ‘others like her’.

Her late teens and early twenties began to roll. After she came out and after many unsuccessful liaisons and failed relationships, Alex found the swing of being single and finally found what she thought to be "success". ‘Sex, no commitment’; a series of casual relationships that were physically charged but emotionally devoid. Her roommate in college often teased her about making extra money by charging admission through the revolving door to Alex’s bedroom.

"Oh what it is to be young," she said to aloud herself as she lit yet another cigarette, suddenly propelled back to the present. It wasn’t her past, but the here and now that concerned her. She knew that it was uncharacteristic for her to hide as she had been doing for the past year, but she also knew that she was afraid. Afraid of the pain which comes at the end of every relationship. Alex knew that the pain was to be expected, but she was tired of it. Her last relationship had left intense scars. Cindy had hurt her deeply. She shook her head trying to escape the memories, but the film began to replay with a forcefulness that surprised her.

They met when Alex was still a teen-ager. She had been going to the bars for more than two years and was a regular at a dance club called "Nikki’s". One woman continually tried to get her attention, but Alex ignored her, knowing that the woman had a lover.

Her thoughts were suddenly propelled back like she was in a time machine. It was no longer the present, but years gone by. She felt like she was actually there again, the first night she really met Cindy.

She was standing at the Centipede machine, masterly avoiding the spiders as they fell down the screen to her bug zapper, her friend Jaime standing next to her, watching and cheering her on. She suddenly felt a presence walk up and stand close behind her to the side.

:Hey there. Excuse me, but do you think I could talk to you outside?" She heard a strange voice speak to her. Glancing around to the voice, she saw her. The woman who had been hitting on her for months. She quickly glanced the other way over at Jamie, who shrugged her shoulders questioningly. Distracted, her zapper was destroyed by a falling spider, ending the game.

"Sure," she answered uncertainly, butterflies taking hold of her stomach.


"I’ll be right back," she said to Jamie as she stepped around her to follow the woman out the door.

They stood outside the bar, both nervous. "Hi. I’m Cindy." The woman held her hand out, introducing herself. "I’ve been watching you and have been attracted to you for quite awhile."

"I know," was all Alex could mutter, taken aback at the woman’s forwardness. She felt awkward looking at the pretty woman. Even in the dimmed lighting of the night she noticed how Cindy’s white teeth sharply contrasted against her Hispanic and Native American complexion.

"Yeh, I guess I haven’t been too subtle about it," the woman admitted smiling. Cindy began to ask Alex pointed personal questions, apparent that she already knew the answers, and alarming Alex as to how much the woman knew about her. Where her parents’ business was, where she went to school. It was a surreal conversation. Alex felt as if she was out of body, watching from afar the entire time.

"So, I’d really like to take you out to dinner," the woman stated. "How about it? Later this week?"

Alex was surprised. She had never been pursued like this before and although she was scared, she was also extremely flattered. "Ummm...sure...," she finally answered, hesitantly.

"We can meet on neutral ground if you’d like. I know you don’t know me from squat and are apprehensive," the woman offered.

"That apparent, huh?" Alex looked down, embarrassed.

"And expected." Something about the woman cried "Danger! Danger!", while also denoting trust.

"OK. How about Thursday night we meet at Jane’s Place?" Alex suggested.

"Great! Just give me directions and I’ll be there."

Alex gave the woman directions and they parted, walking back into the bar. As Alex walked past the woman to rejoin her friends, warning lights and sirens went off in her head. ‘My God! What have I gotten myself into?’ she thought to herself.

As Thursday approached and arrived, Alex was a nervous wreck. As she was studying, the designated meeting time rapidly approached. She was torn whether or not to keep the date. She finally picked up the phone and dialed 411 to get the phone number of the bar. She dialed the number deciding to bow out. She described Cindy to the bartender and asked if there was anyone there fitting the description. Being told no, she said she’d call back. After calling the bar twice and receiving the same answer, she left her phone number and a message for Cindy and returned to studying. Within five minutes the phone rang.

"Alex, Cindy. I’ve been sitting here and the bartender finally figured out I was the one you were calling for. What’s up? You’re not bailing out on me are you?"

"Well, to be honest, I am. I have a lot of studying. Sorry. I thought I could get it finished in time, but I was wrong." Alex tried to explain, hoping the white lie would work. She did indeed have a few chapters to read for a class the following week.

"Oh c’mon. Surely you need a break. One drink won’t hurt. I promise. One drink and you can go home and study," Cindy coaxed charmingly.

"I don’t think so. I really do have a lot to cover." Despite Alex’s attempts to decline, her resistance was no match for Cindy’s persistence. She soon relented, agreeing to meet for one drink.

‘Oh how that one drink changed my life,’ she thought back in the present. One thing she did not count on that night was falling in love.

Her memories quickly flashed over the next decade. How she would sit and waiting for Cindy’s call; broken promises that Cindy’s relationship with Gretchen was over and she’d soon be moving out; and the lies. The many lies, most of which she never discovered until after they had broken up. But Alex willingly accepted her status of a mistress, always hoping it would change and justifying it as convenient as she couldn’t handle a full time relationship while finishing college and going to law school.

Alex then remembered how she, herself, was no angel. Although the majority of her time was spent concentrating on her studies, she was a hell raiser, going to bars almost every weekend and partying until the wee morning hours. She had gained a reputation amongst her friends as a ‘heartbreaker’ of the most attractive women, but was able to maintain the secret of her liaisons from Cindy. After all, what was good for the goose was good for the gander, right? She both smiled and cringed as the memories of her affairs played through her mind.

After she passed the bar and began working for Padre, the relationship deteriorated rapidly. Despite all the excuses she made to herself, Alex could never understand how Cindy could profess love for her, but not want to be with her full time.

The feeling of betrayal and that she wasted valuable time soon overwhelmed her. ‘Has it really only been two years since we finally broke up?’ she wondered. It seemed much shorter. But in those two years she realized that she had become battle shy and distrustful of relationships. She knew she willingly placed herself in that position, but the fear to move forward to try to get out of it paralyzed her. During the first year after the break up she remembered going through the motions of life, a date here, a sleep over there, but she never let anyone get too close. Anything resembling the four letter "L" word was the kiss of death for her relationships. She didn’t want to go there. In the past year she devoted the majority of her time to her advancing her career, even letting some friends fall by the wayside in the process. She knew she had unwittingly placed herself in an emotional cocoon.

Completely back in the present, Alex was not pleased with her past, but knew she couldn’t change it- she could only change the future. "Shit! I can’t continue living my life like this," she thought out loud. The thought of the movie ending with her as a bitter and lonely old woman was terrifying. She then mentally ran through a litany of options. She finally decided to take her friends up on their offers and meet new women. To start living life instead of hiding from it. She turned the television off to settle in for a peaceful night’s sleep, feeling both relief and apprehension of the uncertainty of what lay ahead.

To be Continued in Chapter 2

Return to the Academy