Chapter 34

Max Sr. rubbed a hand over his rugged features as he sat on the couch with a muffled thud. He leaned back, titling his head to the side and surveying all that was his. The burly man peered at his wife through narrowed eyes, wondering why she seemed to have more color and zeal lately. I've got to do something about that. I kept her in line this long. Don't want her to get any thoughts in her head like that damn Michelle did. With disdain, he drank in Beatrice's austere posture and perfect unwrinkled cotton dress that covered her from neck to ankle. With a glance, he dared her to move, to speak, or to blink. Her eyes held his. A snake like smile formed on his lips. It got bigger as Beatrice hurriedly turned away in what he assumed was fear. Control was a wonderful thing.

Max scratched a rough section of stubble right under his neck then ran a hand through salt and pepper hair, as he watched his son, who sat in a black leather easy chair not far from him. Max Jr. was pale, jumpy with smudges the color of charcoal under his blood shot eyes. The blue flannel shirt hung off his form. At the same time, the jeans seemed to swallow him up. My family, he thought snidely. He gave his son another once over and shook his head in disgust. Why am I looking for this piece of shit woman again? He sure as hell isn't man enough to keep her in line. His smile turned into a Cheshire like grin. Oh, yeah my grandson. I won't make the same mistake with him. I'll start early.

Max Sr. took a quick look at the blonde sitting beside his wife. He snorted inwardly. Marsha, you're mine too. I wonder if you know it? He canted his head to the other side, looking at the woman more closely. Her skin was sallow looking as though she hadn't seen the sun in ages. Flesh hung off her face and bones, making her look a lot older than she was despite the attempt to cover it all with ill applied make up. The green polyester pants she wore were stained and wrinkled but then again so was the shirt. Blonde hair was limp, greasy, and green eyes were glazed and far away. Max Sr. snorted out loud this time. Yeah, she knows.

His final stare encompassed the whole living room rich in black and brown overtones from the furniture and carpet. It was their first family meeting in the living room, simply because he had not felt like the kitchen today. Max sucked in a deep breath and patted his red flannel encased chest. He snapped the suspenders he wore only once in a blue moon and prolonged the silence between them all. This was his world. He could do that. Satisfied, Max Sr. sat up a little bit and reached deep into his pants pocket, pulling out an opened envelope.

Beatrice took in her surroundings carefully then swallowed. With one wrong word, she could ruin it for her grandson, for Michelle, and for herself. She cringed. I was ruined a long time ago. Didn't think anything was left in this shell. Good thing it was. Now, I just got to find a way so he won't beat it out of me. She leveled a discreet glare at her son and her insides dropped upon seeing his deterioration. This is killing him. There's nothing left of him. I'm so sorry Max because you're more like your mother than you know.

Finally, she saw it, the stark whiteness in his hairy hand—-a bulky white envelope. Oh God. Beatrice felt her mouth go dry. Please don't let it be the phone bill. He'll see the phone calls, and he'll know. He'll know! Her heart hammered hard in her chest then dropped to her shaking legs as she watched him tap the envelope against his chin. She studied his face looking for the familiar blinding rage. It wasn't there. Yet. Beatrice bit hard at her bottom lip to keep a whimper of fear from escaping but felt the sharp sting of skin breaking as a result. With trembling hands Beatrice wiped away the speckles of blood.

Tearing her eyes away momentarily to look down at the appendages, she knew at that moment she would see a lot more of her body fluids before the day was over. Inside she screamed, he's going to kill me this time! Anxious, fearful eyes, returned to fur covered hands. She wanted to reach out and snatch it, run for it, crawl for it-—anything to get away from it all. But today, she wasn't that bold. Her whole body shuttered as panic seized her with iron like fists. It's over just like that. I should have known that I could never win. I'm so sorry Toby. I have to tell him everything ‘cause he's going to know. Somehow he will.. Her whole body shook with each breath. She could feel Marsha's eyes on her, studying her, but she ignored them. Beatrice closed her own eyes, preparing herself for the downpour that was sure to come.

Marsha Neiland watched the other woman with equal parts trepidation and amusement. What did this silly woman do now? Her eyes swung around the room until they were on Max Sr. Her mouth twisted in a digusted smirk, waiting to see what transpired. All this time, all I received were curt phone calls. Now they ask me to come over like I'm at their beck and call. Nobody runs me. Nobody. . .I wonder if he's gonna keep up on the monthly checks if we don't find her? But I hope to hell that we do. She deserves whatever she gets.

Marsha sighed inwardly. I can't believe this mess she created. I can't believe the mess she put me in! It's hard. . . to be by myself. Dammit daughters are supposed to take care of their mothers. What am I supposed to do now? Marsha could feel space closing in on her and looked around frantically, wishing she was back in her own house hiding and looking out the window where she waited for things to be right again.

Max Jr. floated on a narcotic induced cloud. Like a mindless automaton he stared into space, waiting for the right command to be activated. Thoughts in various juxtapositions sprinted through his head a mile a minute. Memories of football, school and Michelle made themselves clear. Did I ever please him? Did I ever make him proud? I'll do what I have to—to make him that way now. Proud. Maybe then I'll feel something again. Ah, Michelle. . . Chuckles that he thought were inside, spilled out. He could feel eyes on him, but Jr. just laughed on.

Max Sr. glanced at his son and shook his head. Hopeless. He took a gander around the room, figuring it was time to hear his own voice. He slapped a hand against his thigh and called out, "Bea, get your ass up and get these messages you took from the police and the people who called!" He smiled when all three occupants of the room jumped. Max threw the envelope at his wife, who looked as though she was sweating. "Here's some of them right here. Put'em together in some kind of order so we can go over ‘em." He watched as she puttered around the room then sped into the kitchen in record speed. Yeah, I definitely have to do something ‘bout that.

The large man turned toward the other people in the room and spoke. "She's been gone too damn long with my grandson. It's time to get serious ‘bout this. The police can't do much of nothin' anymore because she isn't charged with a crime. Now, I'm not dumb, but I still think that's the wrong thing to do. She'll be able to open her mouth and say what she wants. I won't have my name dragged through the mud. Don't that sound bout right, boy?"

Max Jr. stared at his father blankly, knowing he was being addressed but not knowing what was said. "Huh?"

The senior St. Jean stood up part ways with a menacing look on his countenance as if he were ready to lunge. He sat back down instead. "Dammit boy! If you don't take your head out of your ass! What's wrong with you anyway?"

Max Jr. shook his head lamely. "N-nothing. Just waitin'." His voice shook.

"Waitin' for what?!" His voice seemed to get louder and angrier with every word.

"F-for you to tell me what to do." In a perfect foil to his father. Max Jr. shrank with every word.

"Damn straight! At least you got something right." Max Sr. added with a big smile. "Now, soon as your worthless mother comes out here. We're gonna piece together our own clues and see where it leads."

The other Max simply nodded and continued to cave in on himself.

Marsha watched the whole display in abject awe. Why can't I do that? If I could maybe she woulda never left.

A few yards away behind the swinging door of the sunny yellow kitchen, Beatrice held on to the sink with a white knuckled grip as silent tears slid down her face. They were tears of relief, fear, and shame. For a moment, she was ready to give it all up. For a moment, she saw no out—no possible way to succeed. For a moment, she had a reprieve, but for how long?

Hundreds of miles away, Michelle sat in front of the computer, peering at the screen. She saw nothing. Sensual, erotic words blended into a huge verbose mess, but nothing could remove the smile from her face. It seemed to have taken up permanent residence over the past week and had gotten so big it felt as though her cheeks would split.

The blonde relived the same moment over and over again adding onto it as the bond between her and Bobbi grew. She bit her lip in silent contemplation. I heard it. I heard every gasp from her mouth that day I was coming home from the library. It's what I'm supposed to be looking for. I know that now. I see now—-the way she looks at me. How did I miss it before? I don't know. I think Annie really opened up my eyes. Michelle leaned back in the leather chair and crossed her green sweat pants clad legs. She gripped the arms of the chair as she relived the revelation for the umpteenth time.

Michelle's discovery at the library did not prepare her for the discovery she made at home. When she opened the door, anxious, glittering blue eyes met her and watched her every move, the blonde could feel the palpable heat of the gaze as she hung up the red jacket and removed Toby from his. It warmed her to the bone, exciting her and wrapping her in safety at the same time.

Finally, green and blue met, and the blonde felt something crackle between them. It was enough to make her heart flutter, enough to make her breath catch. "Um, you're waiting for me? I didn't expect you till lunch time. Don't you have patients?" Michelle asked, standing a few feet away from the couch where the doctor sat, still in her lab coat and ponytail.

Bobbi was quiet for what seemed like long minutes before her throat bobbed on a swallow. "This is more important."

Compelled to move forward, Michelle found herself standing then sitting beside her friend with Toby in tow, still chewing on his toy. The heat she had only imagined before surrounded her, seeping into her pores. The warmth closed in further as Bobbi scooted next to the blonde.

The brunette lifted a hand and pushed back bangs off her friend's face in a gesture of affection and so much more. Michelle let out a shaky breath as sparks shimmied over her skin then she turned to the doctor. Green eyes widened at what she saw there—-banked fire, apprehension, and caring. She turned away suddenly not ready for the release of emotion but glad she saw it nonetheless. The large hand lifted from her hair, and out of the corner of her eye Michelle saw the same hands start to fidget with each other. That was followed by a soft sigh. "Do I . . .do I touch you too much. It seems to bother you sometimes. . ." Her strained voice dropped off.

Michelle returned her attention back to Bobbi's face, seeing the lines of worry and apprehension grow. The blonde grabbed her friend's hand, bringing the open palm to her face and laying it on her cheek. "No, I like it. . .very much." The last words came out breathlessly. The admission made her face flush, but she refused to look away or take it back. Michelle watched as blue eyes darkened. Her smaller hand fell away and wrapped back around Toby, but her gaze remained with the brunette.

Bobbi's hand developed a mind of its own. The touch on her cheek became caressing and fingertips trailed down until they pranced lightly across lips.

Michelle could not hide her sudden intake of breath or the obvious shudder of her body. Again, she refused to turn away, seeing sky blue eyes darken even more until they were swirling with heat.

"I-I like it t—" Suddenly, the heat dampened as pale blue eyes widened with a look that Michelle was more than familiar with, fear. She knew it well, but it surprised her to see it in the doctor's eyes. It surprised her that she seemed to be the cause of it. Not knowing what to do, Michelle fell silent. The hand withdrew again, and the doctor's head hung before she met the green gaze once more. The fear was gone replaced by a look the blonde had seen from the very beginning, a look of patience.

In a voice higher than usual, Bobbi asked, "So how was the library?"

A little shaken by the shift of emotions, it took a minute for Michelle to answer. "I-it felt like I knew what I was doing. I was scared and confident at the same time. There were no boogie men hiding, and for once I knew they weren't there not even in the shadows, waiting for me. I don't even know if I can describe it."

Bobbi chuckled warmly. "I think you just did."

"Mmm, maybe, but you were right about the people here—-strange but sweet. I think that's how I would describe Annie."

A dark brow raised. "The one with all the bracelets?"

"Yeah, she's full of surprises." The blonde added her expression thoughtful.

The sable brow rose higher. "Really?"

Michelle nodded and smiled secretly. "I'll tell you about it someday soon."

They talked until the doctor looked down at the slim black Timex regretfully, but Michelle had learned more than she probably needed to know. Returning to the present, the blonde turned her thoughts inward. I saw it then, and I see it now—-everyday. It's there. She feels something. I may not know that much about friendship and what is involved, but I'm not stupid. There's something more there. I feel it when she touches me, looks at me, and talks to me. Annie saw it, but I guess I wasn't ready to at that time.

Blonde brows furrowed as her smile faltered. Continuing to play a game of back and forth, Michelle felt her confidence wane to allow doubt and contradictions to creep in then out again. I hope to God that I'm not just reading things into this. I want to be a hundred percent sure. It all just feels so right. I should be scared. I am sometimes, but the fear pales in comparison to everything else. Yeah, I should be scared. I really should be, but I'm just so happy to feel something other than the fear, the darkness, and the pain. I embrace this, and I want to know what it is and what it can be. I guess my decision has been made. I want this.

Michelle peered at the screen again. The words became clearer, and one jumped out at her beyond all others—-lesbian. Brows furrowed further as she sucked on her lip. Is this what all of this means? Is this why I never felt anything when Max touched me? Michelle did a mental double take. No, no that's not it. He didn't care about me. He just wanted to own me. But, if love was there would I have felt a fraction of what I'm feeling now? She pushed hands through her hair. "I guess that I'll never know." She wiggled her toes in Taz's soft fur and felt him shift. The blonde let out a loud sigh then asked the room, "Am I attracted to women or is it just Bobbi?" Michelle shook her head. "This pot is a lot bigger than I want it to be." How do I figure this out?

Her mind wrapped around the fact that in the span of a week the touches between them had increased, the looks were longer, but still no one said a thing about it. Every time she touches me I feel more alive, more heated, more everything. Michelle let out a frustrated whimper, causing Taz to look up at her. She returned his stare. "What am I supposed to do boy? It's like she's waiting for me to do something, but I need to be positive that she's feeling this. Then there's the simple fact that I have no idea what I'm doing! So what should I do?" She looked down at her companion with eager eyes, waiting for an answer.

Taz gazed helplessly at his mistress for a full minute before offering her a low whimper.

Michelle nodded. "Yeah, that's exactly how I feel. Maybe I need to get the courage to throw those feelers out after all." The smile returned.


Janine watched the scene unfold before her eyes. She had never seen a doctor take the time Bobbi did. She had never seen a doctor obviously care like she did. It shook her, making views expand on the profession and the woman standing before her in the short week she had been there. I think she's as about real as a person can get. The nurse swallowed nervously. And I have no idea how to approach her. I'm so used to using my body, but that won't work here. I don't think that I would want it to. I feel like I'm back in high school or something. How do you get a girl that you like to notice you? I feel like I'm fluttering around here. I've always known what to do and what game to play. Maybe I need to learn to be myself. Janine stifiled a bitter laugh. I don't know who that is. I've always been what people wanted me to be. Janine shook her head in exasperation and watched on as the doctor chatted and chuckled with a patient.

And she seems so sure of herself. She pulled the patient's file close to her chest and continued to study the developing scene. I can't stop thinking about her. We've barely talked, except about work. I don't think that I would know what to say anyway. That's a first. God, I'm stumbling in the dark here. The revelation left her feeling empty and unsure but still determined. I can't give up. I'm not used to that.

Her gaze slipped to the floor, leaving her startled when a familiar voice called her name. The nurse jumped in surprise and glanced up to see two sets of eyes peering at her curiously. "I'm sorry? I missed that."

Bobbi frowned slightly and reached out to touch the other woman's arm. "You okay?" She whispered in genuine concern.

Janine nodded and fought the urge to pull away. The heat from her touch was almost too much. "Sorry just phased out for a second there. What did you ask?"

Satisfied Bobbi added, "Ah, can you make sure that Mr. Potter gets the number of an orthopaedist from my rolodex." She paused. "Better yet. Go ahead and call to make him an appointment."

Janine smiled, encompassing them both in it. "Will do. If you'll follow me, Mr. Potter."

The old man chuckled. "Sure, love followin' pretty women around."

The two women's eyes met and Bobbi rolled hers in amusement upon seeing the twinkle in Janine's. After they left, heedless of the other patients in the waiting room, Bobbi jumped up on the now bare examining table. See what you did, Chelle? I wouldn't have touched another person who wasn't a patient a few months ago. She could feel a slow smile take shape. "But nothing compares to touching you," she whispered, acknowledging the tingle that shot through her body.

She knows that something is happening between us. At least, I think she does. All the touches, how can anyone not think. . .but this is Chelle how would she know about something she never experienced? But the way she looks at me. . . Aargh! I am so damned rusty at this. I think she felt it—-the electricity between us after she came back from the library. It scared me in a way because for a minute I couldn't control myself. Everything about her is so soft, and she has no idea how beautiful she is. I just wanted to touch it a little while longer and go a little further. I just don't want to scare her away completely. I wish I knew for sure. All I know right now, is that this is growing whatever it is. I can't stop touching her. I can't stop thinking about her.

Bobbi looked skyward. "I wish you were here, ma. You would know what to do wouldn't you? I wish I could just pick up the phone, and say "ma, there's this girl." Bobbi chuckled as she felt tears sting the back of her eyes. "You would break out with the pamphlets." The chuckle turned into a tearful laugh. "But you would look me in the eye and know that this is something more. I know you ma. You would see what I'm feeling and tell me to show her what I feel in as many ways possible. You told me once that's what daddy did for you, when you two first met. God, I miss you, but I'm trying. I'm trying, and you're right ma. I need to show her." The doctor wiped at the tears. She got up and opened the supply cabinet to get gauze in order to dab at her eyes

I want to show her things she hasn't seen before. I've made so many promises and she's been denied so much. I want to show her what she missed as a kid. I need to give her this. She deserves it---to know what it feels like if only for a little while. My time in high school wasn't the best but hers was a horror compared to mine. She had nothing, no one. She needs to laugh and have fun. I can give her that too. Maybe I can give her all that in the slumber party I promised? Bobbi threw the gauze in the medical waste basket. She gazed back up at the ceiling and could feel the grin returning. "Thanks, ma. I'm still not sure, but this is something."

The doctor started slightly as the door flew open. Janine gave her boss a rueful smile. "Hey, sorry. Didn't mean to scare you, but our last patient had an emergency at work so she had to cancel."

Bobbi nodded. "That's just as well anyway. My mind isn't on work anymore."

For the first time Janine noticed the puffiness around the other woman's eyes. Her heart cringed at the sight. "Hey? Are you okay?" She took a couple of steps closer to the doctor, hesitant to reach out but refusing to turn away. Okay, maybe it wasn't as hard as I thought. I just don't want to see her like this. She looks so sad.

Bobbi smiled at the other woman's concern. It really is nice to have someone in the office to talk to. That is, now that I'm able to do that. I need to watch it with her though. "Yeah, just missing my mom."

Janine felt the bitterness creep in as she thought of her own mother. "Oh." She could feel it spill out into her expression and turned her head to hide it.

With a raised brow, Bobbi caught it all. "Um," the other woman looked up and the doctor pointed across the hall. "Um, I was about to go back to my office. You wanna join me?" She looks like she needs someone to talk to, and I've discovered that I'm a good listener. Got to make it clear to her—-nothing but friends.

Janine dropped her head and nodded in lieu of words. God, I can't believe I'm feeling this now. She doesn't need to see my anger, especially since it's pointed at you mom. But, maybe I'll feel better if I talk to someone about it. Will she listen? No one ever listened before.

They sat opposite from each other-—one behind the desk the other in front. Janine smiled at the now empty bag of Hershey kisses that she had bought for Bobbi, hoping the doctor had as big a sweet tooth as she did. She reached for the bag. "You ate the whole thing?" The nurse asked teasingly. Janine watched as the dark head hung but not before she caught the slight flush.

Bobbi glanced back up from under dark lashes and chuckled. Ah, damn here we go. "Okay, I have a thing for sweets. I usually confine it to cereal, but you caught me." She dug in her pockets, fishing out the last one. "Here it's the last one." The doctor threw it across her desk.

Janine swiped it out of the air. "Thanks, I got a big thing for sweets myself" Okay, this is a start. It's just talking. I can do talking, even though I'm nervous as hell. She wiped a sweaty palm on the pant leg of her scrubs. Brown eyes bore into blue as if searching for something.

Bobbi blinked then swallowed. She gave the nurse a tight smile. I refuse to lead her on.

A silence lapsed between them. Bobbi sighed. This isn't what I called her in here for. I hope she gets the message before this goes too far. She's a good nurse. "Um, I remember you saying that you didn't know anybody around here yet."

I'm a wreck in front of her! I can barely hold up my end of the conversation. "Uh, yes except for you and my landlady."

Bobbi nodded. "Well, I recently got into this friendship thing, and I would be glad to extend it to you." She smiled softly. "I think you need one. We really haven't got the chance to get to know each other. You were kinda distant today, and I want you to know that if you want to talk, I'm a good listener."

For a moment, Janine panicked. "Um, I didn't let it effect my job. . ."

Bobbi held up a hand to interrupt her. "Whoa, it's not Doc B right now. It's just B. I know it can be hard to be by yourself." God, Chelle if you could see. You have changed me so much. I can't believe I'm doing sensitive chat with someone I barely know.

Janine felt her shoulders sag underneath the blue scrubs. I'm so used to it, the fake people, but she's the real deal. I want that in my life. I need it. Their eyes met. She would listen. She would listen to it all. It would be so easy to. . . "It's just hard pickin' up, leavin' and endin' up with absolutely nothin'. It's kinda funny though. I don't think I had anything to begin with. I didn't leave any friends behind just people glad to see me go, even my mother. That didn't used to bother me now it does. No one liked me because they viewed me as a taker, but it wasn't until recently that I realized that I was takin'. But, I wasn't gettin' a damn thing." Her voice was low, angry, but the words gushed forward as if they had been waiting to come out. She glanced down at her hands and back up again with her face flushed with embarrassment. "I'm sorry. You don't wanna to hear this. I don't know why I'm tellin' you all. . .

"Cause you want to. 'Cause you need to get it all out," Bobbi voice was soft, friendly.

Janine felt her insides flutter as their eyes met again. She's right. I want to. "I-I don't miss my mother. I don't miss anything about that city. It was time to get away. I was tired of being second best; tired of being a second thought. Sometimes I felt like I didn't even exist. I mean, do you know what that's like?"

Bobbi smiled sadly. "Unfortunately, I do. I sorta went through the past few years like that, and I didn't know until recently that it wasn't living."

Janine studied her. "Yeah, I think I'm startin' to realize that too." She covered her face with her hands and muffled, "I still can't believe I told you all of this. I don't even know you." Is she just being polite? Or does she really understand? Janine looked up hoping she could recognize sincerity when she saw it.

The doctor smirked. "That's true, but don't you feel better? And didn't we just find out that we have something in common—-albeit painful?"

The nurse chuckled despite herself. I think she means it. "Very true, but I'm pretty new at this friendship thing. It's never been an option before."

Bobbi snorted. "So am I, but I'm learning everyday. No rules that say we can't be friends." The doctor said pointedly, meeting the nurses eyes and willing her to get the message.

Janine heard it loud and clear. That's not enough. It's just not enough. She watched as the doctor peered at her watch. When she looked up again, Bobbi's smile was huge. "Lunch time. I'm gonna go. I'll see you in about an hour or so."

Instead of answering the nurse chose to hide her disappointment in the doctor's departure. She simply nodded and continued to watch as the doctor hung up her lab coat, revealing well-worn tight jeans and a yellow crew neck sweater that seemed to be made for her. Without another word, Bobbi was out the door and making her way down the hall.

Janine closed her eyes and turned back around facing the desk. I have to fight for this. This feels different from the others. There's something there. I feel it. Maybe if we get to know each other better? I bet there's a lot more that we have in common. She's so easy to talk to--no pretense and no fakeness. I can't give up. I fought for attention everyday, but momma never saw me. There was only Sue. Even after she died no matter how much I acted up, no matter how many homes I broke, or how many lies I told I was nothing to her. She never held me, touched me, kissed me, but I don't care about that now. That's in the past. I can't let it get in my way.


As she neared the door, Bobbi let her hair loose from the scrunchee and ran her fingers through it to make sure each strand was free. Upon entering the kitchen, she pulled open the fridge and grabbed a half liter of Poland Springs. The brunette didn't even glance at the bedroom or the couch as she passed the living room. She headed straight for the study. With each step, her heartbeat accelerated. Instead of hours for some reason it felt like days since she had seen the blonde. Bobbi wanted to run down the hall but resisted the temptation. As she neared the open door, she took a long swig from the water bottle. Then slowly, she peered around the corner to see Michelle totally engrossed in whatever was on the monitor.

Her gaze dropped, and the doctor saw a tale thumping under the desk, but Taz decided not to move. It gave her time to observe uninterrupted. Pale blue eyes were riveted on the blonde following the lines of her flushed face and remembering what those lines felt like. God, B. You've got it bad, girl. Real bad. Still, it feels so good to have all of this when I never thought I had the chance. Her thoughts turned to the night. Thank goodness it's Friday. I can't wait to see her enjoying another first. I love seeing it all through her eyes.

Hesitantly, her gaze broke away to see the bassinet that held an obviously sleeping Toby. "Sleep well, Peanut," she whispered quietly. Drawn to the blonde, Bobbi found her eyes there again. She canted her head to the side and watched as the flush on Michelle's face seemed to get darker. Her eyebrow rose as the blonde began to fidget in the chair. What's going on inside that beautiful head of yours, Chelle? I want to know everything. Before she could stop it her thoughts became actual words. "Whatcha reading that has you blushing like that, Chelle?" Her voice was gentle, inquisitive. Still, it caused the blonde to let out a little yelp.

Michelle looked around frantically trying to find anywhere to gaze except for pale blue eyes. I can't look at her when I'm feeling like this. It just makes it more intense. Heat curled in her belly and pooled its hot lava like flow parts south, but she could still feel it like two points of searing blue light—-Bobbi's eyes on her. The arousal she felt at mere words had absolutely nothing on this. What she felt before was abstract. This was definitely palpable. Her heart slammed against the wall of her chest, making it suddenly hard to breath. Michelle wanted to hide, but at the same time she wanted to show it all. As if compelled, her eyes drifted toward the tall form lounging against the door, but to her dismay and delight Bobbi had moved closer. Their eyes finally met, and the blonde expected to hear as well as feel the charge in the air. A hard knot of pleasure tied itself in her stomach and refused to let go, making her gasp at the feel of it. She clutched at the tweety bird t-shirt encasing her torso, wringing it through her fingers. There's that look again.

Taz wiggled his way from under the desk. He sauntered to the middle of the room and peered at both the humans. With a sneeze and shake of his head, he padded out the door, heading for his water dish.

Neither woman noticed.

Bobbi took another step closer, sitting the now empty bottle on the desk. With the next motion, she shoved her hands deep in her pockets. She could feel them shaking. The air between them was thick. The doctor didn't know what to say or what to do, so she did the only logical thing and reveled in it—-the twist in her stomach, the flutter of her heart, the loss of breath, and the incredible heat. Bobbi let it all come, slamming into her and leaving her at a stand still. Yes, she feels this. How can she look at me like that and not feel this? She wanted to ask so much and tell so much, but as she opened her mouth it all came out as one word, "Chelle."

Simultaneously, Michelle could hear her own voice pounding through her head. You decided that you wanted this. Feelers. Remember those feelers. As her name left the doctor's lips, two words left the blonde's. "Fan fiction."

Bobbi swallowed then blinked. Then, she blinked again, still caught in the haze between them. "Huh?" It came out as a croak.

It was Michelle's turn to swallow. "Um, you asked. . .reading. Alternative fan fiction." The words came out in a hurried but breathless whisper through a dry throat.

Unfrozen for the moment, Bobbi took another step forward. Her eyebrows were high and her brow scrunched. "Um, say again?" Her heart began to thump harder as her next words came out breathlessly. "Did you say alt. fan fiction?" Their gaze held.

Michelle simply nodded then added, "Is that okay? Uh, you do know what I mean, right?" She asked hesitantly. She continued to chant to herself, feelers. . .feelers.

Bobbi's heart stopped in her chest then started back triple time of what it was before. She took a deep shaky breath. "Wha. . .wha. . wha?" Unable to get the words out, she held up a finger. Silently, she searched for words to convey her surprise, her hope. Alt. fan fiction. Oh yeah I know what that is. Her mind went on rewind, recalling sexy little stories with Abbie Carmicheal. Bobbi blinked again as she returned to the present. Oh shit, what does this mean? Tread lightly here, B. Make it or break it time. She tried again to speak, holding green eyes the whole time. "Umm, it's very okay," Bobbi answered in a high squeaky voice.

Taken back a little by the other woman's tone of voice and nervousness, Michelle took a moment to collect herself. Did I just scare her? Maybe I should stop right here. Maybe. . . Her heart made the decision for her. "Wh—it is? Um, you don't find it strange?" Her hands rubbed up and down her own thighs in a nervous fit.

Bobbi groaned inwardly. This is not the way to do this. It can't be. "N-no. Uh, not at all." For some reason, she couldn't get rid of the stutter.

Green eyes widened. Oh my! Don't read too much into this. Not yet. I just wish I had some help here to know what I'm doing. "Why?"

Oh double shit. This can't be happening not right now. I don't think I'm ready. "I---"

A piercing cry made them both squeal in surprise. They both headed for Toby, nearly bowling each other over. Eyes met then skittered away and met again.

Oh, that had to be a sign from heaven. Bobbi pointed toward the door with her thumb. "I'm gonna go fix lunch. Um, I'll see you in a minute?"

"Kay," Michelle whispered. She picked Toby up and watched as the doctor made her exit. She looked down at her son, and grabbed the still warm bottle off the desk. Tear filled blue-green eyes blinked up at her. "Here you go little man." She sighed and looked toward the open doorway. Feelers. What did that accomplish except making her nervous? Fair brows drew together in concentration. She peered down at Toby, who held the bottle and blinked back at her in contentment. "But why was she so nervous?"

Sitting with her legs crossed under her, Bobbi peered down at her turkey sandwich and potato chip filled plate. Then, she glanced sideways at the figure sitting on the other side of the soft rug. Long minutes ago, they seemed so close. Now, the chasm that was the distance of the rug seemed wide as the Grand Canyon, but somehow the heat was still there, smoldering between them. Maybe I want it that way right now. Taz even seemed to give them their space, choosing a spot on the rug that was away from them both. He watched them through intelligent blue eyes, sensing the confusion and tension, but unaware of how to help.

Her gaze went back to the television that reverberated with Michelle's voice, her laugh, and the sight of her as beautiful as ever even if she was covered with stick white baby cereal. The tape had been made a week ago with the use of the new camcorder, and they had watched it countless times. Bobbi walked from the kitchen to see it on once more. Despite it all, the doctor could not help but smile at the sound of Toby's delighted squeals along with his mother's gasps of outrage and chuckles of amusement. And I was there for it all. Knowing that she had a hand in his growth, she recalled the warmth, the contentment, the tenderness the moment revealed. It must be what fathers feel like. Dad, you have no idea what you missed. I feel so sorry for you.

Bobbi picked up her sandwich and took a bite. It tasted like sallow paste in her mouth. She chewed slowly, and continued to listen to the only sounds-- the TV and the not so silent coos coming from Toby, who was sitting up drooling over his favorite toy, the plastic keys.

The brunette sighed. I can't stand this awkwardness between us. Maybe that's why I didn't want to tell her. Bobbi almost snorted. That and I was scared shitless. Wasn't that the sign I was waiting for? It could have been, but how do I know she wasn't just a little curious after reading that stuff. Either way, I ran. Part of me likes feeling this way---out of control, heated, and floating. A smaller part doesn't want anything to do with it. Ah, ma? Did you know you raised a coward? I know you feel like you failed with Stevie, but with me, I'm sure you had no idea. I ran from the thing that draws me most, and I didn't want to. Now, I have to fix this. I want to give her and show her everything. I still do. Maybe that's how I can fix things. She chomped on a Ruffle then wiped greasy hands over the soft cotton of her faded jeans. Her thoughts lightened a little. This is the best thing that ever happened to me. I should be running to it not away. You were right, ma. I need to show her, and I need to get the courage to do that right about now. Maybe it'll come from that Greek fire that you said was always a part of me.

Schooling her features to be as blank as possible, Michelle tried to observe the doctor unobtrusively. Did I do something wrong? Did I push too far? When did I become so bold? I guess I have to be since I'm not used to having a voice, but I didn't expect this silence when I came out here. I actually didn't know what to expect. I guess this is what I get for messing with things I know nothing about. But, God, the things I felt in there. It was so intense. Maybe Annie can shed some light on this. She glanced at her son and rubbed a soothing hand up his back. He cooed in return and continued to slobber all over the blue bib that covered his tiny sailor outfit.

And it was with a woman. Who would have thought it? Mom, would rip a piece right out of me with the things she would say alone, but she can't do that -–not anymore. That's the beauty of it isn't it? I'm on my own, and this is what I have been missing out on—-this intensity, this feeling? Michelle shook her head slowly.

Ah, Max you made me feel so much too—-pain and hate. I still feel it. I sense you there, but I know about the other side of all that now—-the light, the heat, and the caring. How can something I've never experienced feel so right and with this woman? When did it happen? How did it happen when all this fear and danger that still seems like its a step away? I don't remember not feeling something with her whether it was fear, gratefulness, or friendship. Michelle turned her head slightly, watching the doctor eat. There are times when it is so easy with her, and there are times when it so hard. I just want to---I don't know what I want to do. I just don't want this to stop. The blonde turned a little bit more getting bolder with her gaze. Across the blanket and carpet combo, their eyes met, held, then skittered away as the air became thick again.

Bobbi found her gaze on Toby. She smiled as the blue-green eyes matched hers. Her heart burst when he began bouncing and chubby arms reached for her. Putting her plate down and glaring at Taz, she closed the distance between them and pulled Toby into her lap. The doctor swallowed and looked up. Astonished blue and green met and lingered. In that moment, the child broke the thin sheet of ice that rested between them.

"Um, did you. . .did you see that?" Pale blue eyes were lit with wonder and affection. Her face was flushed with emotion and a slow grin formed on her lips.

Michelle bit her lip. Catching cobalt eyes peering at that exact place, she released the flesh with a stuttered sigh. The blonde smiled. He can't stay away from her either. "Yeah, he likes being near you, but I've never seen him do that before."

Naturally red tinged lips parted in a small smile, enjoying the feel of the child in her arms. "Wish I had the video cam." Bobbi paused and sobered. "I'm glad I get to be here for a lot of his firsts." Azure orbs sparkled with meaning, hoping the blonde could read what was written in them.

Michelle's throat bobbed on a swallow. She read it all loud and clear, knowing the brunette's expressions, sounds, and mannerisms, but sometimes unable to really see what is written so plainly. She's okay with what I showed her, but I have to ask. . . "I-I . . .are we okay? I didn't mean to shock you. It's okay that I read that. . .?" Did I scare her? Does she find this disgusting? It could have been why she was so nervous. She asked the questions and made the statement in quick succession. Nervous hands fluttered about then found themselves picking at the material of her sweat pants.

Ugh, what do I say to her? I don't want to scare her by just blurting it all out. I need to just . . show her. Show her, right, and maybe she'll show me. "We're very okay, and there's nothing wrong with what you were reading. Don't let anybody tell you different." Bobbi gave her friend a soft smile then reached out a hand, beckoning her closer. I could ask all kind of questions right here, right now and bring this to a head, but I'd rather show her. If that is the coward's way out, so be it.

Without hesitation, Michelle scooted closer to the brunette and took the hand offered. Electric jolts shot up her fingertips and up her arm. She held on tighter, meeting the doctor's eyes. I could ask her right now, but what do I say? I don't want another response like in the study. What do I do if I get the answer I want? What if I don't? Michelle shuddered at the thought then felt a strong arm around her. She leaned into the doctor's side, taking in her spicy scent. The heat caressed her from all sides, making her take in a gasping breath. "T-thank you."

Bobbi closed her eyes at the feel of the warm then hot tingles shooting through her body. God, this is. . .everything. She pulled Toby closer and titled her head, feeling soft blonde hair rubbing against her cheek. Unable to help herself, she turned and buried her nose, soaking in the floral scent. Lips pursed in a soft kiss, against the fragrant strands, and she muttered, "Anytime. . .anything."

Lost in the moment, Bobbi came out of it slowly at the feel of warm, wetness oozing over her hand. She smirked then chuckled. "Peanut is loving me again. He's probably teething about now you know?"

Michelle turned to find the doctor's face a hair's width away from hers. In silent but quick succession, she took in the high arching cheekbones, the little lines around eyes that were an impossible blue, and lips that were moist and full. At that moment she wanted nothing more than to touch them. . with fingertips, with lips. Her hands itched as her mouth twitched. I never wanted to do something so much in my life.

"Chelle?" Bobbi watched green eyes darken. She held her breath and waited, fighting the urge to close the distance between them. I have to let her lead. Her insides shook with the effort, but the sound of the blonde's name seemed to have brought Michelle back from wherever she was.

Michelle blinked several times, before asking hoarsely, "Huh?" Teething. She said something about teething. She backed away a little, missing the heat almost instantly. "Ohh, um, yeah I noticed that. It's not too bad yet. He's not having any trouble sleeping." She paused, looking thoughtful. "Um, good thing I have a doctor around, huh?"

Letting the moment go, Bobbi chuckled, "Good thing indeed." Her gaze was drawn to her watch. "Aww, I've got to get back to the office, unfortunately, but I was thinking about what we could do tonight."

"Well, um, I was thinking about going to the library for a little bit, but I'll be back before you close up." I think that I need to talk to Annie.

Bobbi's smile brightened. "Okay, I've got two words for you. Slumber party! I promised you a while ago that we would have one. Tonight seems as good a night as any, and it's Friday. Um, I know you've never had one, and it usually involves a group of girls. But, will you be okay with just me?"

Michelle bubbled with mingled excitement and joy. "You remembered that? I didn't think that you meant--"

Bobbi's voice lowered and softened along with her expression. "I remember everything you say, and you should know by now that I don't say things that I don't mean." She grinned into green eyes that danced with anticipation. "Now, I take it that you like the idea?"

Feeling antsy, Michelle scooted and squirmed. "Yeah, I thought about it when you told me. I know I didn't sound so enthused then, but it sounds like fun."

The doctor snickered at the child like glee her friend was enacting. You need fun, Chelle. We both do. "Well, then let's consider tonight a girl's night." She glanced down at the little boy in her arms and the Husky peering at her. "Uhm, with two males."

Unable to help it, Michelle clapped and chuckled with glee. "Great! So what are we going to do?"

Bobbi waved a finger, "Ah, ah, ah, you just have to wait and see." The doctor laughed outright at the scowl on the blonde's face. "Okay, I've got to go. You have a good time at the library." She arose from the floor. "I'll see you in a few hours." Bobbi winked and turned to go.

Feeling like there was something more she should have said—something she left out, Michelle called out the brunette's name, "Bobbi!" She turned and their eyes met. "I, um, you're all I need to be here."

Ebony brows scrunched in confusion. Then, realization dawned. Her breath caught at the warm curl in her stomach. With eyes glittering, Bobbi smiled softly, and whispered, "So are you." Their gaze lingered until the doctor broke it. With hammering heart, she made her way to the kitchen.

Chapter 35

Janine noticed the smile that seemed to be permanently glued to the doctor's features as she talked with yet another patient in the exam room. Apprehension curled inside her. She seems so happy—too happy to be lonely. Would she lie about there being someone else? The nurse examined the taller woman from behind, remembering the sincerity in her eyes. No, she wouldn't. Then why---. God, Jan get a grip. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Don't lose sight of things. I like her already, and I know she likes me just not that way. . .yet. She sighed inwardly. The loneliness she'd felt everyday of her life, crept up on her, darkening the edges of her vision, causing her to step closer to the light she knew was in the doctor. I don't want to feel that--not anymore. Maybe she's the one who can take it away for good. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Bobbi turned to see dark eyes studying her. It gave her pause but she smiled anyway. Nothing could bother me today. "You want to show him out, and make him an appointment for next month?"

Janine swallowed taken aback by the smile that held her. She bit her lip and saw blue eyes drop to her mouth. Her heart accelerated, but she smiled through it, taking a step closer and beckoning the man with a wave of her hand. "That's what I'm here for," she joked even though heat slowly spread inside her. I felt that! I saw the way she was looking at me. I wasn't imagining that.

Bobbi's eyes glittered as her thoughts continued to center around a certain blonde, who was developing the same habit she had just seen. Caught in her own memories, she nodded at the nurse and patient and continued to smile as they left the room. She chuckled once she was alone. "Yeah, B. You got it real bad. No, you got it awful." Bobbi looked down at her watch and rolled her eyes. Yeah, yeah a watched pot never boils. It's seems like I've been here forever!


Making sure Toby was strapped in the stroller and the diaper bag was secure over her shoulder, Michelle took a moment to breath in the air and take in her surroundings. Things had never looked so beautiful. Although the snow had disappeared weeks ago it left with it a sogginess that was slow in drying up, now, she could see green things sprouting in the trees on the grass, in the little bushes that lined the library entrance. Patrons talked and laughed, enjoying the fresh air in their own right. The sparse buildings, consisting of the library itself and few stores of various kinds, seemed to glint in the sunlight, highlighting brick and siding that may have been dull before. Everything had new life. So do I.

Michelle made her way through the door and headed straight for the front desk, seeing the clerk dressed in lime green. Different dangling earrings were in her ears, along with a matching lime green head band, and familiar jangling bracelets.

Annie waved at her friend and beckoned her over. "Hey Jo! Didn't expect to see you in here today."

Michelle smiled warmly, but faltered with her speech. "Well, I, um. . ."

Brown eyes twinkled knowingly, and Annie raised up a hand stopping further conversation. "Go sit at our table. I'll be there in a minute."

Michelle's eyes widened, but she obeyed. How did she know?

A few minutes later, Annie sat across from the blonde after tweaking Toby's nose in hello. He gave her a toothless grin then immediately went back to gnawing on the blue key. Annie leaned forward and put one hand on top of the other, waiting.

Michelle blinked taken aback by the openness the older woman displayed. There's something about her I think I can trust. She met brown eyes and felt the words spill from her mouth and heart. "You were right, and I don't know what I'm doing. I mean, how do I know if she feels that way. I tried feeling her out, but it just ended up in a mess. I don't know what to do, and I've never felt this for anyone before. I mean, we're friends, but things are so. . intense now. I think I want more, but I don't know what more is." She paused. "That's a lie. I've read things, but they didn't prepare me for this. And, and, and. . ." She took a short breath and whimpered in frustration.

Brown eyes sparkled with amusement. "Whoa, slow down." Annie brought a finger to her lips that pursed thoughtfully. "You're worried about this all being one sided, I see." She reached out and touched the younger woman's hand. "I know you're very innocent concerning affairs of the heart, because yours was in pieces for so long." She smiled sadly at the painful confirmation in the other woman's face. "Can I ask you? What do you feel when you're 'round each other?"

Michelle's fair brows drew together in contemplation. "That's easy. I feel safe and cared for, and I feel like I can tell her anything. Then, there's this heat." She closed her eyes. When they opened again, they were bright and emotion filled. "It starts from the inside and works itself outward until that's all I feel. When she touches me, the heat turns to this fire." Green eyes closed again as a red flush covered her face. She reached up to touch it. "I can't believe that I'm telling you all of this."

Annie reached out for the younger woman's free hand. "You needed to tell somebody."

"Maybe, but what do I do about this? I want to know if she feels it, but a part of me is a little scared. I haven't felt anything for so long, and now this. What if she doesn't, and how do I tell?" Her tone was pleading.

Annie patted the hand under hers. "This is simple to say but hard to put into practice. Don't just see with you eyes. Use your heart too. Listen to it. It's time for you to start trusting it." She chuckled as green eyes glittered with confusion. "You may not understand now, but you will."

Michelle bit her lip. A grin stole over her face as she thought of the brunette, and she let go of the piece of flesh. The younger blonde turned slightly, sniffing the collar of the familiar red jacket. She peered at the clerk, hoping she hadn't been caught, but brown eyes twinkled back at her knowingly.

"Thinking of her are we?"

Michelle blushed a brighter red. "Um, yeah." She studied the other woman, suddenly needing different kinds of answers. "Why are you doing this? I haven't given you anything, not even friendship."

Annie laughed outright. "Sometimes, Jo. There are people in this world who just want to see others happy. No strings attached. There are some of us still left you know?" She squeezed the younger woman's hand in affection. "Besides, I like you. Those are reasons enough for me."

Michelle nodded. "I think that I understand. I want it to be okay. What I feel for her. . .I want it to be okay. I mean, I remember what you said about some people would view this, and I've dealt with other people's hate all my life. I think that I would be able to deal with it again if I knew she was with me in this. A woman," she paused in fascination. "I've never noticed any other women like this. Why? All I know is that it just feels right."

Annie smiled. "You just answered your own question. It felt right so you let her in as a friend. You've righted each other. I've seen the brightness around you both." Her smile turned quirky. "Is there anything else you want to talk about?"

Michelle chuckled. "No, I think you've covered all the bases."

In dramatic fashion, Annie clapped her hands, causing the bracelets to jingle, and stood up. "Then on to another world we go. English literature today, I think." She walked a few spaces then turned peering over her shoulder. "You coming."

With a laugh and a nod, Michelle got up to follow.


With the waning daylight behind her, Michelle pulled into the driveway, and the scene before her warmed her heart.

Bobbi threw the frisbee. Sable hair caught in the wind, blew over her face, but she still laid her head back and laughed heartily as Taz snatched the toy from the air. Seeing the Cherokee, she broke into a jog and a grin as she headed toward it with Taz in tow.

Bobbi stopped at the passenger side and waited for the window to be let down. Eyes met through the glass and stayed that way as the window disappeared. Habitually, the air popped and sizzled between them. Bobbi felt her grin widen into an excited smile. I missed her. She ran a hand through her bangs. "Hey."

Michelle met the smile with a beam of her own. "Hi." She sucked in her bottom lip and continued to wallow in the blue gaze. Silence lapsed between them, and they got lost in each other. Bobbi didn't let the prancing Husky at her ankles distract her. Her hands itched to reach out, to touch anything go anywhere.

The blonde's heart thumped double time, and the need to move closer became paramount. What is she thinking, feeling? They both jumped at the loud but cheerful exclamation from Toby followed by an even louder bark from Taz. Both sets of eyes turned toward the back seat. Bobbi shook her head in amusement. "I guess somebody else needs attention too."

Michelle joined in on the revelry. "Toby just misses you." She cleared her throat. "So did I." The blonde watched with interest as the slight flush covered the brunette's cheekbones.

Bobbi's eyes hooded in pleasure. "I know what you mean. The rest of my day crawled. I couldn't wait. . ." she added breathlessly. She's getting bolder every day. God, help me. "Um, your surprise is inside." She ducked trying to hide a furthering blush and looked down at the Husky who seemed to be raising his eyebrows up at her. "I'm trying!" she whispered. Bobbi glanced back up into curious green eyes but smiling face.

"Can you help me get him out?" I don't think I have ever look so forward to a single night. They bounded up to the front door. Michelle canted her head to the side, hearing unfamiliar music waft through the door. She peered at her friend with a question in her eyes.

Bobbi chuckled, "Culture Club. It was a group back in the eighties. They were very big. I figured you would like them instead of the stuff I usually play."

Michelle turned the knob and pushed open the door. She paused to listen.

Do you really want to hurt me?
Do you really want to make me cry?

The blonde nodded and smiled. "Yeah, I like it. It's different from what I usually listen to."

Bobbi beamed at her approval. "Kept some stuff from my college days."

They walked completely into the living room. Even over the music, Bobbi could hear the other woman's soft gasp. She watched as the diaper bag slid from her shoulder, and before she knew it the petite blonde pounced into her arms, smothering both her and Toby in an excited hug. The doctor let out a wheezing laugh but her body hummed at the feel of the other woman in her arms. She fit perfectly. "Um, I guess you like the spread?"

They both turned and peered over at the table laden down with a six pack of Dr. Pepper, a huge bowl of potato chips, a plate piled high with little finger sandwiches, small containers of chocolate pudding, a container of dip, a bowl of what looked to be buttery popcorn, and off to the side sat two indiscernible DVD movies. It wasn't much to Bobbi's eyes just all the things the blonde liked or thought she would like, but to Michelle, Fort Knox stood before her. The younger woman turned and pressed her face into the doctor's sweater covered chest, inhaling her spicy scent. She looked up in surprised blue eyes. I still don't think she understands what she does for me. "You're so good to me," Michelle whispered.

Bobbi gave her an embarrassed but crooked grin. "I want to be."

The blonde bit her lip but hastily stopped when blue eyes sparkled down at her. "Good girl," Bobbi chuckled. "Why don't you get out of that jacket, into your pajamas.. ." She picked at the red material with a soft smile. It'll smell like her if I were to put it on, but it looks so cute on her. "And join us on the floor. I'll go get in mine and meet you back here in a minute."

In record time, Michelle, wearing the green paisely pj's joined her friend, her son, and the Husky on the area rug. With eyes brimming with excitement, she looked to the brunette for guidance. She squirmed and asked, "What do we do?"

Bobbi, clad in black Nike shorts and a matching t-shirt, chuckled, "We eat, we talk, we listen to the music, dance if we want, and watch movies if we want." The doctor grabbed a chip out of the bowl intending to hand it to the blonde. To her surprise and pleasure, Michelle leaned in snatching it with her mouth. Green eyes danced as Bobbi tried to remember to breath. Maybe I should say bolder every hour. "Um, h-how was the library?" She cleared her throat, hoping to get rid of the stutter.

Swallowing the remains of the snack, Michelle answered cryptically, "I learned a lot." If you only knew. Every time I talk to Annie, I become more sure of this. I don't think I would have done what I just did a week ago. Am I flirting?

Bobbi eyed her friend curiously. "Um, okay." She reached for the Dr. Pepper and handed one to the blonde.

Michelle grinned as she popped the top. "So this is what you did in college?" She asked over the music.

The doctor nodded as she took a swig of her own soda, deciding to stay away from the beer tonight. "Yeah, they were more like study sessions. I really didn't have close friends. I did this before we moved. My mom would cook all kinds of greasy foods-- homemade pizza, dip, cookies and other stuff. She was a great cook. We would all pile in my room and gossip about the teachers or whoever." She rolled her eyes in amusement. "She would bring the food in, and Stevie would be right behind her," Bobbi laughed able to get past old pain. "His face would screw up and get all red when mom shewed him off. He would mumble something about spreading girl germs all over the house."

Michelle joined in on the laughter.

"We would do each other's hair, get into my mom's make up, even played with some of my dad's old stethoscopes. At night, Stevie would try to sneak in again, but the girls had been over here so many times that we knew his routine. We would wait for him and jump out the shadows. It was hilarious! He would run screaming the other way. I remember once he peed his pants!" Bobbi doubled over as the memories assailed her. Her laughter echoed as tears slid down her cheeks. She looked up to see Michelle's face red with laughter. She reached out to grab the blonde's hand. Their fingers intertwined.

Both Toby and Taz stopped what they were doing to look at the couple. Taz sneezed and moved closer to the infant who almost immediately went back to his toy.

Bobbi sobered slowly and squeezed the fingers wrapped in hers. "God, you know, I was so stuck on the bad memories for so long that I had almost forgotten all the good ones. I guess the door sort of opened with you being here." You've given me so much, Chelle. I could never repay you.

Michelle smiled and nodded, accepting her influence in the doctor's life. "It's only fair, you know. You gave me all new memories, and to top it all off I get to share in yours."

Bobbi grinned. "We're a pair aren't we?"

"That we are." Michelle answered. "So this didn't happen when you moved? When you went to high school?"

The bad began to mix with the good, but it didn't alter her mood. "Nah, with the things going on with Stevie. I pretty much stayed away from people most of the time. I had friends when I needed them. I didn't want to bring anybody home and be in the middle of that mess, and I didn't stay over with anyone because I needed to be home for, ma." Bobbi looked into green eyes that shown with sad understanding.

"I know what you mean.."

The doctor raised their linked hands to her lips and kissed the smaller appendage. "I know you know."

Michelle scooted closer and reached for the bowl of popcorn. "Um, so what was college like? Did you go out? Have fun? Did you have boyfriends?" She dug in the bowl of popcorn, stuffing her mouth with one hand to hide her embarrassment of the last question.

Bobbi found herself chuckling for the hundredth time. "It was a get away from all the stuff at home. I hit the books hard. I played hard, and I tried my best to stay away from medicine. Didn't want to turn out like my dad. I went out to Frat parties, sorority parties, drank and danced. It was wild, and for a little while it made me forget. I had a few friends, but no one close. No boyfriends." Lots and lots of girlfriends if you can call them that. "No one was serious, so I wasn't either. I think everyone sorta stumbles through the first couple years." She paused and glanced at her friend. "Why do you ask? Interested?"

Michelle shrugged afraid to voice her desires but knowing this was the right person to reveal them to. "I've read so much on the computer, but it's not enough. I just feel that there's more that I'm missing, and I've missed so much already. Maybe I want what you just described. I want to learn and . . .just everything. I had no friends. I was too scared to make them anyway. It was just home and school for me. Sometimes not even that."

I can't imagine the things she's been through. "Chelle, if that's what you want. Go for it. There's nothing in your way. Not anymore."

"But, they're looking for me. What if. . ."

"You didn't let that stop you today or last week. Don't let it stop you now."

Michelle's eyes widened. "You think?"

"I know. We'll look around on the net and find all the info we need on the local colleges."

Blue eyes rolled suddenly as the CD changed to of all things Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight". "God, everybody used to love this song. It sort of grew on me. I'd be in my car and hear it before I knew my foot would be tapping. I couldn't believe it when I found this single." Bobbi smirked at her friend teasingly and tugged on her hand. "Wanna dance?"

Green eyes widened further. Did she just ask. . . The idea of being that close to the doctor made Michelle tingle, but a nagging thought entered her mind. "Um, I don't know how."

The brunette shrugged. "I'm no Fred Astaire. I haven't done this in years, so I'm not up on the new steps, but I could show you something easy that I know the kids still do today in some form or another. You game?" The doctor stood up, still holding her friend's hand. Another first, Chelle that I get to be part of. I can't wait.

Michelle swallowed but nodded. With a gentle pull she now stood next to Bobbi. They both looked down to see two pairs of blue eyes staring up at them one darker than the next. The raven-haired doctor glanced at the blonde. "Um, they're gonna be watching us, huh?"

Michelle bit her lip and nodded again.

"Mmm, do you have the feeling that if they could laugh and know what they were laughing at that they might be doing it in a few minutes?" Bobbi asked with a raised eyebrow.

The blonde chuckled and nodded again.

"Mmm, thought so." She stuck out her tongue at both of the reclining males, enjoying the sound of Michelle's peels of laughter. She's having fun. I'm glad. "We'd better move over here." She pointed to the uncovered hardwood floor.

"Okay, follow my lead, and I'll talk you through it. Okay, step to the side, side, then back, and do a little shimmie with your body." Bobbi did the moves as she spoke, moving as slowly as she could while watching the blonde at the same time. She smiled at the look of glowing concentration on Michelle's face. "You're doing good! Keep it up."

Michelle watched the doctor as her body moved fluidly. Oh my God! I can't believe I'm doing this! It feels so good. You denied me so much, mom, but look what I have now! Her face was bright with enjoyment as she moved to the music. She glanced at the brunette to convey her thanks and the emotion behind it. Pale blue eyes were already trained on her. They twinkled softly. Michelle grinned and continued to move. "This is great. Thank you so much!"

"My pleasure, Chelle." You don't know how much. She smirked at the blonde. "You can even add a clap in there if you want!"

Michelle laughed as her body moved with natural grace. "What is this called anyway!"

"The Hustle!"

They danced through a few more songs until thirst got the better of them. Grabbing two more Dr. Pepper's they sat on the rug. Wiping the sweat from her brow, Michelle felt a laugh bubble up. "That was fun! What else do we do?"

Loving the other woman's enthusiasm, Bobbi chuckled. "Wellllll, we could put each other's bra in the freezer. That's an old tradition." The doctor laughed out right and the scowl on the other woman's face.

Michelle shook her head vehemently. "Ugh, no way."

"I know what you mean," Bobbi cringed in sympathy. "Well, I guess we could just eat and talk." She reached for the sandwiches. The CD changed to another Culture Club album. Blue eyes widened. "Oh God I love this song!" Bobbi began to hum. "It's not my type of music really, but I think it's something about the lyrics." She began to hum again along with Boy George. I swear someone is up there listening. This song fits perfectly.

You don't have to touch her to know.
Love is everywhere that you go.
You don't have to touch her to be
Wrapped up in emotion like me. . .

Michelle watched as Bobbi closed her eyes and her head began to sway to the music. Peace filled her along with a slow warmth. All that I missed, she gives it back to me everyday, and it's because she wants to. How can I not feel what I feel? Pale blue eyes opened as if their owner knew she was being observed. The blue had darkened to cobalt. Bobbi reached out a hand then asked throatily, "Dance with me?"

Michelle felt the warmth grow to heat infusing her from the inside then dancing over her skin. She couldn't take her eyes away. Her voice felt thick and slow as the words left her mouth. "I don't.. ." Eyes darkened even more. "Okay."

Their hands touched again, and Bobbi pulled her up and into her body with a soft sigh. Without a word, Bobbi wound small arms around her neck and wrapped her own around the blonde's torso, with hands resting at the small of her back. She began to sway, beckoning the other woman to follow.

Michelle looked up into her companion's eyes, trying to read what was written deep inside. Her heart beat so hard it sounded like a roar to her ears. She listened and waited for it to tell her something, but all she felt was heat and softness, and all she saw was blue. Is this where I belong? Tell me? It just feels so right. Michelle closed her eyes, soaking in the electric tingles of excitement that shot through her body. She tightened her arms around the taller woman's neck.

Bobbi swallowed, lost in the tender moment. She bent her head and brushed the blonde's forehead with her lips. A whoosh of breath bathed her face. All the pain, all the loneliness was just practice to get me to this moment—-to get me to appreciate all this more. I do, and I don't want to let it go. Hair brushed her chin and she felt skin against the flesh of her neck. Content in the moment and accepting her overwhelming attraction to the woman of her arms, Bobbi began to hum again.

They danced that way for what seemed like hours. Until, Toby's cry of hunger made them reluctantly break apart. Michelle looked up at her companion through hooded eyes. I don't want to let go. "Great timing, huh?" The words came out raspy.

Bobbi tightened her hold, loving the way their bodies touched breast to hip. The lush lines of the blonde's body molded into hers, and with each sway she fought the urge to trace them. "Mmm." She sighed and stepped back. "I'll get him." Pausing, she met the other woman's eyes. "Um, we don't have to stop this do we?" Her hands went deep into her pockets.

The truth spilled from Michelle's lips like it was born there. "No, I-I don't want to. Uh, he'll probably go to sleep after you burp him." Bobbi nodded and bent to scoop up Toby. Without another word, she went to the kitchen.

Michelle sat down on the rug with a muffled thump. She glanced over at Taz, who raised his head in acknowledgement. "What does my heart say? My heart says it likes this." The Husky whimpered softly.

Bobbi watched as Toby held the bottle to his mouth. She smiled down at him then peered up at the open kitchen door. "I'm in deep, Peanut."

The doctor let out a surprised yelp at the sound of the ringing kitchen phone. Making sure she had a good hold on the baby, she made it in time to pick it up on the second ring.

"Hello?" She asked softly.

"Hey, B. It's Shelia. I'm sorry to be calling so late, but me and Reggie are gonna be in town in a few days to visit my aunt, starting Thursday to be exact. I was wondering if you wanted to get together?"

Bobbi thought for a minute. "Um, sure but could we have dinner here. I really don't want to leave. . ."

"Your friend?" The doctor could hear the smile in the other woman's voice.

"Um, yeah. 7:30 sound okay?"

"Sure that works for me. I'll see you Thursday night.

"Okay, bye." Bobbi hung up the phone and peered down at Toby. Blue green eyes met hers. "This could be interesting. Very interesting."


Barely acknowledging the ringing of the phone long minutes ago, Michelle stared into the gray screen of the television. She willed her body to behave. She willed her breathing back to normal, but her will had been broken. Everything tingled from fingertips to breasts from breasts to thigh. Each time they touched. Each time they were close the intensity grew along with the sweetness, the tenderness of it all. She felt strong and helpless at the same time.

The blonde fiddled with the edges of her pajama shirt nervously to keep from acknowledging shaking hands. Nothing in my life has prepared me for this. I've never felt so much and wanted to run toward it. There is no running now. I can't even see it as an option—-to be away from her. Michelle rubbed a hand over the center of her chest, trying the massage the sudden ache at the thought of being away from the brunette in any fashion. I can't get close enough to her.

The song on the CD changed, and suddenly Michelle missed the slow bluesy beat. She closed her eyes and she could still hear the doctor's alto hum, feel her presence and smell her scent. Emotion bubbled inside her-- joy, giddiness, achyness, anticipation, along with a healthy dose of fear. Michelle rubbed a hand over her face then pushed it through her hair.

I feel like I'm going insane. All these what if's. The bottom line is that she can hurt me, but she never has. All she's done is make me feel—-finally make me feel things besides the pain. I didn't think there was anything else. Now, I know for sure. There's her, and there's this. The blonde reached for her discarded Dr. Pepper can and took a long swig. She snatched a finger sandwich from the plate, shoving it in her mouth. Grabbing another, she threw in Taz's direction. The Husky chomped it out of the air.

Her brain continued to work and her heart continued to hammer. I've done more tonight than I did during the four years of high school. I've discovered more the past months about myself, about life, about what I want, what I need than ever before. She shook her head. It's simple really. She's a part of that want and that need. Listen to my heart? I'm going to learn how, and it starts tonight. I have to know what she's feeling. Michelle started slightly when the Husky moved to take up residence beside her. She sighed when his furry head found a resting place on her thigh. Patting his head then scratching behind his ears, her gaze returned to the blank TV screen.

Despite the interruption of Toby's cry and the ringing of the phone, Bobbi's body still hummed with soft jolts of awareness. She stood in the hallway between the kitchen and the blonde's room. Her eyes were riveted, watching Michelle's back stiffen then relax as if some weight had been lifted. What are you thinking, Chelle? Did I scare you? God, if you only knew what I wanted to do. How close I was to touching you, kissing you. Would you have run the other way? Perched against her shoulder, she rubbed a large hand across Toby's back as he let out a loud sigh. I didn't know something could be so hard. I didn't know this would be so hard. Control is easy to have when you don't feel, but it's a bitch when everything is bombarding you at once. Lucky me that I get to find this out. Lucky me that she is waiting there for me.

Bobbi took a step forward expecting Taz to meet her. He never came. Her mind remained a jumble of thoughts and emotions. I accepted it in there. I want her, but I know—-I feel that it goes deeper than that. I accept that too. The only thing left to do is to do something about it, but I won't. I can't. She needs to come into her own. Everyday it gets harder. Already I feel like I'm about to explode. I ask again whatever God is up there Help me. I'm not a saint.

Bobbi peered to the side of the wall, eyeing the light switch. With a flick of the wrist, she put them in virtual darkness except for the soft glow of the moon and the two small lamps around the living room. She heard a gasp. No, not a saint at all.

Michelle craned her neck to see her friend moving toward her. She swallowed, monitoring the doctor's graceful movements. Look at her. How can I not feel this? She asked her self for what seemed like the thousandth time. The slow, melancholy throb of another Culture Club ballad surrounded them, but there was stillness and peace. Bobbi didn't dare pierce it. With practiced ease, she placed Toby in his new crib aware of the green gaze on her the whole time. I feel you, Chelle. Can you feel me?

Through the grayness, Michelle looked on waiting for something, anything, and everything. Please, anything just don't stop. She pleaded inwardly. The stillness stretched between them until the blonde saw a long arm reach out for her. She took the offered hand, stood up, and with a soft sigh found herself in the same place she was minutes before-- face buried in the flesh of the brunette's neck, but this times small hands found their way into the softer downy hair at the doctor's nape.

Moving out of the way, Taz watched them quietly, contentedly.

Michelle felt a tiny quiver in the other woman's body, along with the release of breath. She closed her eyes, and listened to the roar of her heart. She tangled her hands in ebony tresses further, feeling the tremble return. At that instant, the blonde knew that the reaction wasn't a declaration but it was something, definitely something. Michelle tightened her hold on the brunette and swayed gently to the music. The hands covering her back felt like hot branding irons, leaving a smoky trail wherever they went. I feel you, Bobbi.

Bobbi rubbed her chin over the blonde's silky tresses as she tried to control her strumming heart and recalcitrant body. I wonder does she have any idea what she's doing to me? Does that matter? All I know is that she's doing it. Without her volition, large hands traveled the expanse of the blonde's back over and over again. She felt Michelle move closer, clinging to her, making the heat between them become a smoldering ache. The hands at Bobbi's nape sent electric tendrils of pleasure shooting down her spine. Not knowing what else to do, Bobbi simply pulled the blonde closer, molding their bodies together. She could feel each movement and each fluid shift of muscle. Either way, they were a perfect fit.

Through mid tempo beats and dance music they continued to sway slowly, deliberately, reveling in the heat, the fire that both knew was there but neither wanted to voice. One CD changed to another and another. They danced through the awareness until there was a comfortable contentment. Michelle was lured by it, feeling herself relax totally. One minute it's so hot. The next it's so safe, and the next it's heaven. I don't want either one of them to end. Slowly, drowsiness seeped in, making her step falter.

Bobbi felt the woman in her arms grow limp, pliant. She smiled into sun kissed hair. I'll take that as a compliment. It shows you're comfortable with me. You trust me. Ah, but I don't want this night to end. Still, she had to speak up. "Chelle? You okay?"

The blonde jumped at the sound of her name. "Uhm, yeah. I just. . . It just feels so good here."

Bobbi's smile got bigger and she graced the top of the petite blonde's head with a kiss. "Yeah, it does, but you're tired. . ."

"Nooo," Michelle whined. "Not ready. Can we do something else?"

The doctor wanted to chuckle, but she did not. Read my mind, Chelle. "We could sit on the floor with Taz and watch the movies?"

"Kay, what did you get?" Michelle mumbled into her friend's neck.

"Um, Jerry Mcguire and Little Women."

Hating to, Bobbi disengaged from the blonde and helped her to the floor. She grabbed Jerry Mcguire and shoved it into the DVD player quickly after turning the TV on and the stereo off.

Taking her place on the area rug, Bobbi glanced over at the blonde, seeing the tired but relaxed slump of her shoulders. The doctor widened her legs, making Taz jump up and out of the way. Without a second thought, she issued a soft command, "Come're you."

Their eyes met in the dimness, but Michelle knew there was no place she rather be. She scooched over and found herself between semi bare legs that seemed to go on forever. Back to torso they sat. Like an afterthought, Bobbi snaked her hands around her blonde companion, folding her hands over Michelle's stomach. "This okay?" The doctor asked in the vicinity of her ear as they watched the copyright warnings.

Michelle closed her eyes as warm breath caressed her neck. Everything has never been more okay. "Yes," she whispered.

Listening to that small part that needed reassurance, Bobbi asked, "You having a good time?" She held her breath, knowing the answer but needing to hear it nonetheless.

Forever honest, Michelle let the answer tumble out of her. "I-I didn't know it could be like this." It came out with a smile.

Bobbi heard the smile in the other woman's voice, and she couldn't help but do the same. "Me either," she added softly and paused. "Barring interruptions, I should have remembered to turn off the ringer."

Michelle's hands found their way to larger ones, covering them, almost caressing them. "Uh, it wasn't another crank was it?"

"I wouldn't call it that. An old friend and her. . um partner are coming to Ivanhoe for a visit. Their coming over for dinner Thursday." The complications of the situation hit her square in the face. Idiot! "Ah, Chelle I'm sorry. I didn't even think to ask if you were going to be comfortable with this." Not to mention awkward for me. I have no idea what Shelia's going to say or do.

Michelle gripped one of the hands encasing her belly. Curiosity and anticipation fanned inside her. It should scare me. I month ago it probably would have, but now I want to know about her life and the people in it. "It's okay. I think that I can handle it."

Bobbi squeezed the hand around hers. "You sure?"

"Yeah, what could happen?"

Less than an hour later, Bobbi ignored the screen for a more dazzling site, Michelle sleeping. Lips were pursed and slightly open. Her face was slightly flushed. Short bangs leafed over her forehead in elegant disarray, and hands that were joined earlier remained that way. Bobbi took in each feature, each nuance and burned them on her memory to recall any time she wanted. "So beautiful," she whispered. "You have no idea."

The Dr. Pepper was flat, the sandwiches were mush, and the popcorn was stale, but none of that mattered. Only the woman in her arms did.


The room was silent except for the tic-toc of the cuckoo clock. While sitting in the middle of her bed, Janine peered at the far wall. Slowly but surely, she could feel all four of them close in on her. She yanked her legs up to her chest and yanked the cheap cotton nightgown over her knees and wrapped her arms around them. In St. Louis, the nurse had the illusion of friends of family, even though deep down, she knew she wasn't liked. But, there was no such thing here. There was only the loneliness. It came full force. Fae wasn't here to whisper sweet lies of love, and none of her exes were there to pretend to care only to take what she had to give. Each time, she became the woman they seemed to need from the society girl to naughty girl, but here in this room, there was no pretense. There was only Janine, alone. The confidence and sureness of self that she showed the public waned, and a lonely woman remained.

The brunette pushed a hand through dark locks. It would be so easy to lie to Bobbi and pretend to be somebody I'm not. The funny thing is that I don't know who I am or who I'm not anymore. All I know is that in the past couple of weeks, when I'm near her I don't feel so hollow or alone. I know we haven't had the chance to talk much, but I can't help what I'm starting to feel. I can't.
I sincerely hoped you enjoyed reading. Let me know at Minerva

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