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!


When both Ginny and my therapist suggest something, I guess I really ought to try it. Both told me I should start journaling more. But where do I start? Goodness...

Ummm . . . How about Alex first?

My, after Alex came over to my house late one night after we broke up, I started to call a few of the women who were handing me their phone numbers. I went out to dinner and a movie with a couple of them. But,

man, are these women out for one thing and one thing alone! Once I told them I was just getting out of a relationship and didn't want to practice serial

monogamy by getting into another one right away, they'd bail and I'd usually not hear from them again. Of the few women who did call me again, I've only started to become friends with one or two of them. Weird! Doesn't say much for the lesbian community, does it?

I did go home with one of the women I found attractive. But despite my lust, I just couldn't sleep with her. Man was that embarrassing! As we were making out, thoughts of Alex popped into my mind. Thoughts of how she kissed; how she felt; even the aroma of her perfume overwhelmed my memory bank causing me to withdraw and retreat.

What the hell's up with this? I know it's over between us, but I seem to be obsessed with her.

Just when I think I'm making some progress, she shows up on my doorstep or calls. Each time I see or hear from her I sink deeper into my confusion and get drawn back into my hope that she's coming back to me. But with each contact, nothing had changed. I was left frustrated, disappointed and angry at myself for letting it happen.

I was going crazy. I realized that I had to cut off all contact with Alex if I wanted to heal. I don't understand how women can become instant best friends with their ex-lovers without taking time to let the wounds heal first. I tip my hat to those who can, but, alas, I'm not one of them.

Although I've told Alex to leave me alone, she hasn't honored my boundaries and has certainly been persistent. I did everything I could to avoid her; monitored my phone calls; parked the car in the garage; and even wore earplugs to bed so I couldn't hear her if she called or came to the door.

Then about a week or two ago Ginny 'casually' mentioned that Alex and Chris had stopped dating, but wouldn't tell me more. I've been surprised that Alex hasn't made any real effort to contact me since then. Was it ok to bug me when they were together, but not now that they've broken up? My mind has been spinning, with tapes of all different scenarios running through my head. Her silence is disconcerting. I have no idea what's going on with her and I'll be damned if 'm going to pick up the phone and call her to find out.

Listen to me. In one paragraph I bitch that she's bugging me and then in the next I bitch because she isn't. Who am I kidding? I'm still stuck on her. Why, I don't know. I do know it's insane to continue to care for

someone so deeply and who so utterly fucked you over. It's not healthy, it can't be . . .

Sooo . . . I must strengthen my resolve and not even entertain the thought of the two of us together. It's time I really let go and moved on . . .

Which brings me to my next quandary, making all of this academic. I flew up to San Francisco a few weeks ago to interview for a Senior Editor

position at a MAJOR publishing house. It would be a BIG career advancement for me. I'd still be able to advance higher and the money and benefits are obscenely high. I'd be able to commute in and network from home via computer, but I'd also have to travel more. I went back up yesterday for a call back. It seems they've narrowed the field considerably and I'm in the final running.

This would be an opportunity of a lifetime! But do I want to leave San Diego and my friends? I know it's not that far away and we could visit on week ends and I do have friends from college who still live in the Bay Area. But I would miss the weather. Sun or fog and cold? Not much choice there.

And I would be getting away from Alex and could have a fresh start. New job, new city, new women. Maybe I'd finally be able to break this weird tie I have to her.

Ginny just called. Izzy's going out of town and she was wondering if I'd like to get together for dinner on Thursday. It's hard to remember the last time the two of us spent time alone, so I readily accepted. Ginny has kept her word and has turned out to be a good friend. Although I imagine that it's hard on her given her friendship with Alex.

Anyway, we're going to meet for dinner and try to relive our youth by going bar hopping. I hope I'm up to it. It sounds like a fun way to escape for a night.

* * *

"Are you crazy?" Ginny asked Alex in disbelief.

"Maybe. But I'm out of options. She still won't return my phone calls. Please Gin." Alex pleaded.

"Alex, she went back up to San Francisco on a call back interview. The chances of her getting the job are promising. Can't you just accept it's over and let her go?"

"Ginny, Like I told you and Izzy a few weeks ago, I can't. I don't know why, but I can't. I'm obsessed, possessed, crazy, whatever you want to call it, but I just can't let her go without trying. So what if she moves? I know that if she was staying in San Diego I'd always have hope. When you told me she may be moving, it rocked my world. I know that if I don't try, I'll always have regrets. And if she moves without me trying, then my chances are absolutely nil. Please Gin! Please help me!" Alex begged.

There was a moment of silence on the phone line. "OK, but what are you thinking of? Remember, I won't violate Stacy's trust or boundaries again."

* * *

* * *

That Thursday, Stacy picked Ginny up at her office. After eating Japanese food, they headed off to their first bar. Having a drink each, they moved on to the next bar and the next one, repeating the routine at each bar. When they finally arrived at Flickers, they walked in and found Alex sitting by herself at the bar nursing a beer. Stacy

was surprised and looked at Ginny with an expression that accused her of a set up.

Seeing them approach, Alex's stomach was in knots. This was the first time she had seen Stacy in a social setting in months. "Hi," she greeted with a whisper.

"Hi," Stacy replied cautiously.

"How 'ya doing?" Ginny interjected, feeling the tension between her two friends. Alex had asked her to bring Stacy to Flickers that night, figuring it was a neutral public place. All Ginny promised was that she'd try, but would not make any guarantees. Ginny was concerned about Alex and wanted to protect her from the imminent dawning of reality, but knew that if she could help, she would.

"If you don't feel too uncomfortable, would you like to join me?" Alex asked shyly, pointing to the empty stools beside her. Both Alex and Ginny looked to Stacy for a response.

Stacy fought with herself for an answer. Part of her wanted to grab Ginny and run out of the door, while the rest of her wanted to sit next to Alex and have a drink. She sat on a stool allowing Ginny to sit in between them. Alex silently exhaled in relief as Stacy sat.

"So, what have you two been up to?" Alex asked after the bartender took their orders.

"Hitting all of the bars in town . . . at least three or four of them anyway. We went to George's, Paradise and caught a bit of the drag show at the Ingenue. That was a hoot," Ginny laughed. "Seeing those guys walk better in heels than I do was hilarious. Don't you think?" she turned to Stacy.

"Yep. Some of them were gorgeous as women. It was unbelievable," Stacy laughed as well. "Have you ever seen them?" she asked Alex.

"Not there. I've seen drag shows at Impersonations and in Vegas. It can be hilarious. Some of them are so good at it. They make a better women than I do." They laughed. Then an awkward silence settled over the trio.

"How's work going?" Alex asked Stacy, changing the subject.

"Fine. It looks like the buy out may go through, so we're all holding our breath as to who is going to stay or be let go. Most of the editors have been given assurances that we'll keep our jobs, which is a relief. I'm . . . ahhh . . . I'm also checking out another position. I should know in about a week or two. What about you?"

"Oh really? I'm busting my butt. Since I got my raise they figure they're going to get every cent out of me that they can. We may be bought out too, but we're fighting it."

There was another long nervous silence before Ginny excused herself to go to the bathroom. Alex and Stacy sat not knowing what to say to each other.

"I'm sorry to hear about you and Chris, I guess." Stacy offered, breaking the silence.

"No biggie, shit happens." Taking a deep breath Alex knew it was now or never. "I... I'm sorry what I did to you."

"I know," Stacy whispered, just loud enough for Alex to hear.

"I don't want to ruin your night out. If you want me to leave, I will."

"I can't ask you to do that Alex. You have as much right to be here as I do. Drink your beer and relax. We'll be leaving soon for the next bar."

"I miss you Stac. The thought of you seeing other people or moving hurts."

"Now you know how I feel . . . felt," she quickly corrected herself. "It's not so fun, is it?"

"No, it's not," Alex agreed, sliding over to the stool next to Stacy. They sat only inches away from one another. Close enough that Alex could feel the penetrating heat from Stacy's body. They glanced into each other's eyes. Alex felt a wave of emotion sweep over her. She thought her legs would have given out if she had been standing. "I know you probably hate me and will tell me to go fuck myself, but I'd like you to give me another chance Stac. I still can't promise anything, but I'll try," she stated with sincerity.

Stacy was surprised both at herself and Alex. This is what she had been waiting to hear for over two months, but it wasn't enough. "I don't know Alex. So much has happened in the last two months. It wouldn't be the same you know. And I may not be around."

"Yeh, I know. I know that we would probably have to start from scratch. I don't know if I can make the promise that you want me to, but I don't know if that is what you even want anymore."

"I don't know either, to be honest with you. I don't know if I can trust you Alex. Being able to trust my lover is mandatory in a relationship you know."

"At least give it a shot, please?" Alex saw Ginny approaching and was thankful that she had stayed away for as long as she did, but knew time was running short. "Stacy, please, just once. Just go out with me one time and then make a decision. We'll either kill each other or have a great time. Just once," Alex pleaded passionately.

"I'll think about it," Stacy whispered quickly as Ginny sat next to Alex.

"What's going on here? I hope you two weren't conspiring against me," Ginny joked.

"No, not at all. What happened to you? Get locked in?"

"No. Joan was over on the other side playing pool and I stopped to chat." Sensing that Alex had said her peace, she looked at Stacy and knew it was time to move on to the next bar. "I don't mean to be a stick in the mud, but if we're going to stick to schedule, we should hit the road," she stated to Stacy, pointing to her watch.

"Sounds good to me," Stacy agreed, pleased with her reprieve.

"I should go too," Alex said looking at her own watch. "I've had a long day."

The three stood and walked out of the bar. "Where did you park?" Alex asked when they got outside.

"In the parking lot across the street," Ginny responded.

"So did I." The three crossed the street as Ginny and Alex laughed about some gossip Ginny had heard about someone in Alex's office. They walked to Stacy's car, which was parked near the front of the lot.

"Well, you two be careful and don't get too bombed. I wouldn't want anything to happen to you," Alex said to both of them, keeping eye contact with Stacy. Ginny gave her a hug goodbye, whispering that she would call her later. "Can I have a hug from you too?" Alex asked awkwardly, stepping to the other side of the car to where Stacy stood waiting.

"Why not," Stacy shrugged her shoulders in response. Alex hesitantly put her arms around Stacy, afraid to pull Stacy too close against her. Although inches separated their bodies, Alex felt her entire body heat up from the contact. Raising her own arms and placing them around Alex, the two held onto one another tightly and burrowed their heads in the other's shoulder. Pulling her head away for a moment Alex whispered into Stacy's ear, "Let me come back. I love you."

"I'll think about it Al. But don't push. Give me some time to think." Stacy pulled away and turned to get into her car where Ginny sat waiting. Alex stood and watched them drive away before walking to her own car.

* * *

Alex laid in bed chain smoking, anxiously waiting for Ginny to call. She started to doze when the phone finally rang.

"Ginny?" Alex answered the phone quickly.

"Yo! You still awake?"

"Of course I am! So, what happened?"

"Give me a chance . . . Good God Al, I just went bar hopping and am feeling a little tipsy," Ginny teased.

"Cut the shit Gin. I put myself on the line tonight. Did she say anything?" Alex prodded impatiently.

"She didn't really say much. We went down to WC's and she was really quiet. Boy, you are a mood breaker. She said that she was thinking things through and was sorry for becoming a party pooper. She's real torn up about this."

"No indication at all?" Alex was perplexed. She had been certain that Ginny would be able to pry information out of Stacy.

"Stacy cares for you, otherwise she wouldn't have reacted the way she did. Give her some time and space, you'll get an answer," Ginny cautioned.

"I know, but I'm just so damn impatient. You know that."

"I sure do. Anyway darlin', I'm sorry that I don't have more info for you, but I've got to get some sleep. I'm getting too old for this. I'll talk to you later."

After Alex hung up the phone, she felt depressed. She left herself open with no knowledge as to whether she would be shot down or given a second chance. The more she thought about the recent events in her life, the more she thought she was living a soap opera. 'Only Erica Kane could have the troubles I have,' she thought to herself. 'Wouldn't that be something? 'All My Lesbians', starring Alex Barton as herself. Not,' she thought as she turned the light off to try to go to sleep.

* * *

After she drove away from the parking lot at Flickers, Stacy was in emotional turmoil. The words Alex finally spoke were what she had been wanting to hear for a long time. Now that she heard them, they rang hollow. They would have to start all over again, but, she wondered, if she could. Could she trust Alex not to leave her again? Alex admitted that she didn't know if she could commit to a relationship and Stacy didn't know if Alex just promising to try was enough. Then there was the possible move, how could she not include that in the equation, she wondered.

Stacy knew she shouldn't play like that on a work night again. Her head ached and emotions ran rampant throughout the next day at work. She hid in her office all day, hoping no one would notice her condition. Walking up to her front door that evening, she saw a flower box laying on her doorstep. Opening the door, she leaned over, picked up the box and walked inside. She placed the box on her dining room table, removed the envelope taped to the box and pulled out and read the card inside.

It can be better this time. I love you and know

I'm in love with you. Please, give me another chance.



Setting the card down, Stacy opened the box and found a dozen long stemmed roses. Pulling one out of the box, she placed it to her nose, inhaling its sweet aroma. She picked up the box and carried it into the kitchen when the phone rang.

"Have a good time last night?" She heard Alex's voice purr over the phone line.

"Yes, I did. Thank you for the flowers." Stacy acknowledged, carefully pulling the roses out of the box, cutting the end of the stems and placing them into a vase.

"You got them? Great. I was calling to make sure."

"You didn't have to do that Alex," Stacy said softly.

"I know, but I wanted to. Have you thought about what I said?"

"Yes, but I need more time Alex. You dropped a bombshell on me."

"I'm sorry I did it where I did, but I meant what I said. Could I come over so that we can talk?"

"I don't know Alex. I need to figure some things out. What can you say that you didn't last night?"

"There are a few things, but I want to talk to you in person. Please? I'll buy a pizza," Alex pleaded.

Stacy was silent, fighting an internal battle over what to do. "It's probably against my better judgement, but ok. But only for a short time. No pizza though."

"Thanks Stac. I'll be there in a few."

Stacy slowly hung up the phone. Her thoughts were scattered. She wondered about Alex's persistence as she tried to prepare herself for her eminent guest.

"Hi," Stacy greeted opening the front door.

"Hi. I brought these for you," Alex handed her a bottle of wine and a gift bag which she had been holding. As she walked through the door, she withheld her desire to take Stacy into her arms and cover Stacy's face with kisses.

"Thank you, but you really shouldn't have. Would you like a glass?" she responded, holding up the bottle.

"Sure. Would you like me to do that?"

"No. Go sit and I'll be right back," Stacy said walking toward the kitchen. Alex went and sat on the couch in the living room, she mentally rehearsed what she planned to say. Concentrating, she didn't hear Stacy walk into the room and was startled when she saw a glass of wine being held in front of her face. She took the glass from Stacy, who sat on the opposite end of the couch, holding the gift bag.

"Go ahead and open it," Alex urged.

Looking into the bag, Stacy saw a small box. She reached in and pulled it out. Opening it slowly, she saw two perfect pearl earrings.

"I was down at Horton Plaza for lunch and saw them in the window at one of the jewelry stores. I thought how lovely they'd look on you and couldn't resist," Alex explained, seeing the look of amazement on Stacy's face.

"Alex, this is too much. They're absolutely gorgeous, but I can't accept these," she said offering the box back to Alex, who wouldn't take it.

"Yes you can. They're beautiful pearls for a beautiful lady. Go ahead, put them on," Alex said softly, looking into Stacy's eyes.

"Are you trying to buy your way back into my heart?" Stacy asked nervously as she put the earrings on.

"If that's what it takes. I will do anything that isn't illegal, immoral or fattening," Alex smiled affectionately.

Stacy was confused. Although her heart wanted to hold Alex and kiss her passionately to thank Alex, her mind wanted to force Alex to take the earrings back. "Thank you," she said finally. "I do appreciate it, but it really wasn't necessary. Please don't do it again. Understood?" she added softly.

"Understood," Alex conceded. "But they do look exquisite on you."

"Thanks . . . So, what was it that you wanted to talk about Alex? Remember, you're here on a mission." Stacy asked, changing the subject to the purpose of Alex's visit.

"Well, I have a proposition, actually." Alex shifted in her seat as she saw Stacy's eyebrows raise slightly.

"What is it?"

Alex paused and took a deep breath before proceeding. "I've been thinking . . . which I know is dangerous . . . that maybe we need to spend some time alone together and away from town. I've asked Ginny and have use of the condo at the lake anytime I want." Alex again shifted in her seat, looking at Stacy to gauge her reaction. "We could sleep in separate rooms if you wish. No pressure whatsoever. We could have time to talk, relax, do whatever you want."

Stacy didn't know how to respond. "I don't know Alex."

"I love you Stacy. I admit I messed up and I'm sorry I hurt you. I also admit that I'm still confused. But I'd rather be confused with you than without you. I know that if we both try, we can work things out. It was there before and I don't think the feeling is gone from either of us."

"I don't want to get hurt again Alex. If you are still unsure of how you feel or what you want, I don't want to be in such pain again. You devastated me once and I'll be damned if I'm going to let you do it again." Stacy looked into Alex's eyes, which reflected the pain she herself was feeling. She knew what courage it took for Alex to ask her to go away together, but she wasn't willing to take the risk.

"I know you don't owe me anything. But give us a chance. There's no way of knowing what will happen Stac. Who knows, you may decide you never liked the way I snore after the weekend, but we'll never know unless we try. I'm willing to at least do that." Tears started to form in Alex's eyes and roll down her cheek.

Seeing Alex's anguish and sincerity made Stacy's heart melt. "I just don't know Al." She didn't know how else to respond. She wanted to run off with Alex without any second thoughts, but was being cautious.

"Please Stacy. I'm begging you. I love you so much. Please, just give it a shot," Alex pleaded grabbing Stacy's hand.

Stacy paused to wipe the tears off of Alex's face and the ones forming in her own eyes. "Al, I'm going up to San Francisco again next week for a final interview. The reality is that I'm probably going to be moving. What's the use?"

"I've thought about that Stac. If you move, there's always e-mail, the phone, commuter flights on the weekends, and who knows. Maybe it's time for me to relocate. But I can't dwell on that Stac, not until it happens."

"Okay, okay, " Stacy whispered. "I'll go next weekend, but there will have to be conditions," she relented, causing Alex's face to light up in happiness.

"What? I'll do anything!" Alex agreed enthusiastically.

"One, that you really mean it. That you will not only try, but be completely honest and communicate openly with me."

"I will, I will. What else?"

"I don't want to hear about Chris. I don't want to hear her name or any other mention of her. I can't deal with it."

"I can live with that," Alex stated somberly.

"I'm serious about those two, Alex. Even the thought of the two of you together still makes me angry and sick."

"I understand and will do my best. Anything else?"

"That you don't snore. You know I hate that," she said smiling. Alex's face lit up.

Alex leaned over and quickly kissed Stacy on the mouth. Stacy looked at Alex in surprise, then leaned toward Alex and placed her lips upon Alex's, who ardently responded. They sought out the once familiar territories they both had missed for so long. Stacy finally pulled away a few minutes later, her face flushed.

"I've missed you so much Stacy," Alex admitted nuzzling Stacy's ear with her lips.

"I've missed you too, Alex, but remember, absolutely nothing has been settled yet."

"I know, but it's a start. You don't know how happy you've made me by just saying you'll go," Alex again leaned over and kissed Stacy slowly, putting her arms around her. Stacy responded by hungrily taking Alex's mouth into her own.

"I want to make love to you Stac. I want to please you in every way possible," Alex whispered into Stacy's ear.

Stacy looked into Alex's eyes as she slowly pulled away. "I can't Al, not yet. It's too soon."

"It's just that I love you and I've missed making love to you. After all, we've got a lot of time to make up for," she smiled mischievously.

"No Alex, on the contrary, we've got all of the time in the world. Let's be sure about some things before we complicate anything with sex."

* * *

"Hey, Stacy? Norm wants to see you as soon as you can." Stacy's assistant, Geri, informed her as she walked into her office from her Wednesday morning staff meeting.

"He say what it's about?"

"Nope, just that he wants to see you as soon as you're available."

Stacy turned around from her office doorway and walked toward the elevators. "Alrighty then. Call and tell him I'm on my way."

Stacy rode the elevator up two floors to the executive suites, wondering why her boss summoned her. Norm usually left her fairly autonomous so a call requesting her presence was unusual. She exited the elevator and walked toward his office hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.

"Good Morning! You wanted to see me?" She asked peeking her head into the open doorway.

"Stacy, hi. Come on in! Please get the door behind you." Norm instructed from behind his desk. He stood as she crossed the expansive office and approached his desk. "Please, sit down," he motioned for her to sit in the leather guest chair as he sat back down in his leather high-backed executive chair.

"So Norm, to what do I owe the honor? I rarely get to see the inside of your domain," she smiled, sitting down.

"Well Stacy . . . you know this place, always a rumor mill, and I wanted to talk to you about one that's going around about you."

"Oh? What may that be?" Stacy asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.

"That you're going to be leaving us."

"Ah . . . well, I won't BS you Norm. I have been interviewing for a position at Random House, but nothing's set yet."

"Good, that still gives me a chance," he smiled warmly. "Listen Stacy, we're not as big as Random House, so we'd probably not be able to match whatever they'd offer you, but we would like to make staying with us more attractive."

Stacy spent the next hour listening to Norm's proposal and asking questions for clarification along with specific other requirements of her own. "Thanks Norm. It certainly is an attractive proposition and I'll think about it carefully and will let you know within a week." Stacy stood, shaking Norm's outreached hand.

"Great. Bottom line is Stacy, that while we can't compete with the big boys, we do value your work and would like to see you stay."

Walking back into her office, Stacy picked up the pile of mail in her in box and sat down at her desk looking through it. Separating the urgent, not so urgent, and trash mail, she saw a fax cover sheet marked "Personal and Confidential- For Stacy King's Eyes Only". Seeing Random House's letter head, she quickly turned the cover sheet to read the letter.

Dear Ms. King:

We humbly apologize for this short notice, but we will have to cancel our meeting for this Thursday. Due to unforeseen budgetary and other considerations, we have decided to fill the position internally, with a person from one of our other offices . . .

Stacy placed the letter down on her desk. Although disappointed, she was amazed at the way things had worked out and took it as a sign. She picked up the phone and ordered lunch to be delivered, deciding to wait until after she ate to call Norm to accept the company's offer.

* * *

All Alex could think about that week was spending the weekend alone with Stacy. She was apprehensive, but felt that the weekend was one for a new beginning and hope. She knew that she'd be fooling herself if she wasn't concerned with the possibility of Stacy moving to San Francisco and even more foolish to think she could simply ignore or will the possibility away. She knew the move was a moot point unless she could win Stacy back.

Stacy was also apprehensive, but for altogether different reasons. She knew the weekend would be a time for decision making. The fact that she was now staying in San Diego only seemed to complicate matters for her. Her escape hatch was now gone and she knew she had to resolve her relationship with Alex for once and for all.

On Friday Alex picked Stacy up promptly at the agreed upon time, helping her load her duffle bag into the car. The two drove in nervous silence, occasionally breaking it momentarily to discuss their day at work and other inanities. Neither knew what to say nor do.

When they arrived at the condo after stopping for groceries at a local store, they unloaded the car. They placed their bags in the living room not knowing whether to place them into one room or separate ones. Looking at each other questioningly they broke out in anxious laughter.

"Come here and sit," Alex said, still laughing, and motioned Stacy over to where she was sitting on an oversized chair. When Stacy sat next to her, she put her arms around Stacy pulling her close and placing her mouth over Stacy's.

"I think we better straighten some things out first," Stacy whispered, pulling away slightly.

"What's that?"

"The perimeters of the weekend," she said taking Alex's hand into her own.

"We have more perimeters? What do you suggest?" Alex asked innocently, kissing Stacy's hand.

"That we don't pretend everything is honky-dory. I mean, we came up here to try to work on things and I'm taking that seriously. We can't mask everything by spending the weekend in bed."

"What about part of the time?" asked Alex with a mischievous smile.

"We'll see," Stacy said, returning the smile. "Let's wait and see. Unless you have any clothes to hang up, why don't we put our bags to the side right now before we decide where to put them?"

"Sounds like a good compromise. Are you hungry? I could cook up the steaks," Alex offered. Stacy nodded her head in agreement.

Before standing up, Alex leaned over to search out Stacy's mouth. Shifting, Alex placed the weight of her body on top of Stacy. "You feel as good as ever," Alex murmured into her ear.

"So do you," Stacy responded nuzzling Alex's neck. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Famished, but not necessarily for food."

"Right now I think that's what you're going to have to settle for," Stacy giggled, pushing Alex off of her. "C'mon, let's fix dinner."

"My mama always told me, don't settle for second best, but I guess I'll have to make an exception in this case."

Making dinner, the two easily slipped into a routine they once shared. As Alex prepared the main course and opened a bottle of wine, Stacy made a salad and baked the potatoes. The deafening silence they had experienced in the car disappeared. They discussed movies they had seen and shared the latest entertainment and publishing gossip. By the time dinner was ready, their initial discomfort had subsided almost to the point of disappearing.

They leisurely ate their dinner and after cleaning up went and sat outside on the patio. With their chairs close to each other, they sat enjoying the warm evening and listening to mountain noises.

"It's so peaceful up here," Alex commented taking a drag off of her cigarette, staring up at the stars.

"It's like another world. It reminds me of when I was growing up."

"How's that?" Alex asked, turning her head to look at Stacy.

"We used to have a house on a lake which we went to for a few weeks every year. For those short periods of time my father would take me fishing or I'd go on walks with my mom. I guess it was the only time when we ever resembled a family. The three of us kids would fight, but nothing was like it was at home." Stacy remembered fondly, staring up into the clear evening sky.

"It sounds great. Are those your only fond memories?"

"No, there are a few others. The ones at the lake seem to be the only consistent ones. We'd have barbecues on the deck and bonfires around the lake. My dad would crack stupid jokes and we'd laugh at his attempt at humor. How about you, remind you of anything?"

"No fond family memories like that. When I think of the mountains, I think of camping trips with my friends when I was in college and law school. A group would go up and spend a couple of nights drinking, telling ghost stories and playing cards. Those were the days. No cares or worries, just footloose and fancy free," Alex laughed stomping her cigarette out in the ashtray.

"Things have changed? I thought you still were." Stacy spoke the words without thinking and instantly regretted saying them.

"Ouch! No fair, below the belt."

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it the way it sounded. My mouth is just working faster than my brain," Stacy apologized, leaning toward Alex and placing her hand on Alex's knee. "Do you miss being in your early twenties? I do sometimes."

"On occasion. I know that I had more energy and stamina than I do now. Other than that, I don't know. With some major exceptions, I'm pretty happy with my age right now," Alex said placing her hand over Stacy's.

"Like what exceptions?"

Alex paused looking into Stacy's eyes. "Like the way I acted with you. I acted like I was twenty-one and not thirty-four. I'm not very happy with myself about that."

Stacy looked back into Alex's eyes and could see Alex's sincerity. Leaning over, she gently placed her lips over Alex's. "I know you are," she whispered softly, returning her lips to Alex's with more passion, and running her tongue over Alex's lips. Responding, Alex put her arms around Stacy, pulling her out of her chair and onto Alex's lap.

As her desire mounted, Stacy had second thoughts regarding her actions. She had no idea as to what the future held for her and Alex. All she knew was the here and now.

Sensing Stacy's thoughts, Alex wanted to put her mind at ease. At that moment, she had more clarity than she had ever before experienced and her confusion vanished. For the first time in a long time, she knew exactly what she truly wanted.

"I love you Stacy King, with all of my heart and soul. Whatever I've done in the past is exactly that, the past. You make me so happy when I'm with you. I know I'm miserable without you. I need you, and I want to be with you, and only you. Without you I don't feel complete."

"I love you too, Alex, that's not the problem. I'm just afraid that I will never be able to trust you again."

"I know, and if it takes me to my dying breath, I'll try to regain that trust. We can do it together honey. As cliche as it may sound, I know our love for one another will pull us through. We can do it hon. And if you need to move, I'm right there with ya babe, because I don't think I could stand losing you again."

While Alex spoke, Stacy studied her face. She intuitively sensed that Alex meant every word she uttered. As Stacy listened, she felt her doubts dissipate enough to know what decision she had to make. She believed that Alex would truly give it her all to make their relationship work. Alex stopped talking and waited for Stacy to respond.

"Would you still feel the same way if you knew I wasn't moving?" Stacy asked caustically.

"Of course I would! Although the possibility did provide me with added motivation, it wasn't the reason. I wanted you back even before I heard about San Francisco."

"Well, good, because I'm not moving . . . I didn't get the job." Stacy admitted, softly caressing Alex's cheek with her fingertips.

"What happened?" Alex asked surprised.

"I didn't go up yesterday. I got a fax from them on Wednesday saying thank you and good luck, but we've decided to hire from within."

"Oh Stac. I'm sorry. From what you and Ginny have told me it was a primo job."

"Yes, it was. But, before I got the letter, Norm called me into his office and offered me a promotion and raise to lure me into staying. It's certainly not as prestigious, but it seems that things worked out for the best," she said kissing Alex's mouth softly.

"When did you plan on telling me?"

"This weekend. I wanted to be sure what motivated you into wanting reconciliation and to be sure it wasn't that I was leaving so that you'd have an out later. It sounds crazy, I know."

"No . . . it makes sense to me. Trust, or lack of it, I understand completely," Alex sighed defeated, looking down at the planks of the redwood deck.

"You can't possibly be comfortable," Stacy said standing up, taking Alex's hand into her own. "Why don't we settle the sleeping arrangements and go to bed?"

"Like what?" Alex asked resigned, prepared to sleep alone.

"How about our room?" Stacy said smiling. The two walked silently toward the bedroom with their arms around one another.

Done? Not Quite...Conclusion in Epilogue

I love to hear what you think. Email me at

Return to the Academy