Update Disclaimer: Sorry to take so long between updates! My partner and I are moving into a house, so for the next month or so, I may be a bit slow. But I will get to the updates!! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Chapter 14

"I think I’ve died and ended up in a John Wayne movie." T.J. quipped. The two weary travelers were currently seated in a quiet, out of the way booth, with the remnants of T.J.’s meal strewn about the table.

Once they had finally made it into civilization again, they had unanimously decided that warmth and food were their first priorities. So with an arm around T.J. for support, Cami hobbled them to the rustic looking dining room of Aunt Mary’s Inn.

The town of Julian was a nineteenth century gold mining town that had changed very little since it was founded in the late 1800’s. Located about an hour east of downtown San Diego, the picturesque, quaint little place was nestled among a glorious abundance of pine trees on a steep hillside. The main part of town boasted wooden sidewalks, a General Store, soda fountain, and a cigar-store Indian that gave the town real character and charm, and made one feel like they should be riding in a horse and buggy, rather than one of those "new fangled" horse-less carriages.

Aunt Mary’s Inn, one of the larger structures in town, assaulted the senses with the heavenly smell of freshly baked apple pie and homemade fried chicken. The dining area of the inn was decorated in typical wood cabin style, with the prerequisite gingham curtains and Mason jar of flowers on every carved wood table. A cozy fire was lit in the fireplace in deference to the cool air outside. A stuffed deer head and rusted, antique cooking implements that hung from the walls completed the décor.

When they stumbled into the Inn, the rosy-cheeked owner herself had taken one look at the bedraggled pair and had bundled them off to a room with a hot shower. She had even sent down to the General Store for some clean clothes for the two women.

Now curled up near the warmth of the fireplace, clean, with her throbbing ankle propped on a nearby chair, and the dizziness finally easing off some, Cami let the exhaustion of the day wash over her. But nothing could dim the solid glow that emanated from her heart. She kissed me…well, kissed me back at least! The photographer was still proud of herself for taking that big final step. Granted, T.J. had picked her up…But I listened to my heart…finally! She refused to examine the precious instance in time any further. For now at least, she would revel in the joy of being with T.J. Time enough to deal with the possible repercussions later.

T.J. pushed her plate away and patted her stomach. "That was the best damned fried chicken I’ve ever tasted!"

Cami was pulled from her reverie and grinned at the sparkling blue eyes across from her. "Told you it would be worth the wait!" Cami’s look turned rueful. "I’m not sure it was worth the car accident, the physical injury, and the hike we took, but…

T.J. laughed at Cami’s wry attempt to smooth over the events of the past few days. "No…I’m not so sure! I’ll reserve my judgment until I’ve tasted that famous apple pie!"

The laughter at the table echoed through the mostly empty dinning room. "I don’t know if I could even eat a slice of pie right now," Cami said. "This chicken broth isn’t setting well with me." She feebly gestured to the bowl of soup in front of her. The blow to her head from the accident had made her nauseous and dizzy.

"Still not feeling well?" T.J. voiced her concern, and leaned forward to place a hand on Cami’s forehead. "That accident must have scrambled your brains worse than I thought!" T.J. secretly reveled in the electrical jolt she felt at the contact with Cami. Now that she knew the cause, she thoroughly enjoyed the sensation.

While T.J. had eaten her way through several pieces of fried chicken, a mountain of mashed potatoes and numerous pieces of cornbread, the two women had talked about everything except the magical moment they had shared on the mountain. It was almost as if they feared the kiss was all a dream, and talking about it would make them wake up. Instead they continued to stare at each other from opposite sides of the table, grinning like fools, and reveling in the amazing feelings that were swirling around them.

The proprietor interrupted them by serving up two giant slices of her famous apple pie. "Here ya are!" She placed a piece before each of them and cheerfully began cleaning up the dinner remnants.

"Uh…thanks Aunt Mary, but umm…"

Cami’s objections were dismissed with a wave of the plump woman’s hand. "No arguments now! Besides after the ordeal y’all told me you had been through, well…these are the least I could do."

"That’s really sweet, but my stomach…"

T.J. jumped to Cami’s defense. "Aye. She’s feeling a bit worse for the wear. But if ya’d wrap it up we’d be happy to take some with us. Besides, ya done plenty for us! Ya gave us that lovely room to shower in. And ya sent for dry clothes." She reached a hand up to brush the front of her new blue flannel shirt.

"Are y’all arguin’ with Aunt Mary??" The owner managed to look astonished and amused all at the same time. "If that sweet potato over there is not well enough to eat, you can have her piece and I’ll send another home." She gestured to the rather pale looking blonde woman. "Besides, y’all came all this way! And what is a trip to Julian without the apple pie!" She glanced from one sheepish grin to another. "You wouldn’t want to offend an old lady by refusing her pride and joy now, would you?"

T.J. looked at Cami, who was doing her best not to fall over laughing. "Aye. Well. When ya put that way…" She gave a winning smile to Aunt Mary. "Me gran taught me ‘twas rude to refuse the cook’s favorite dish, so…" She picked up a fork and took a large bite of the warm pie.

Aunt Mary stood with her hands on her hips, awaiting T.J.’s verdict.

The Irishwoman deliberately slowed her chewing, savoring every morsel, and ended by licking the fork clean.


"Hmmm….." T.J.’s eyes took on a mischievous glint. "Just missing one thing."

"WHAT!?!" Both Cami and Aunt Mary’s eyes’ simultaneously bugged out of their heads.

"Coffee." T.J. nodded with finality and deftly ducked the napkin that Cami threw across the table at her.

Aunt Mary threw back her head and gave a rich hearty laugh. "Just for that young woman…. you’re taking a whole pie home with you!" She continued to chuckle to herself as she started from the table. "One cup of hot coffee, and one chamomile tea, comin’ up!"

"Oh you’re bad!"

Cami was rewarded with a sultry look from T.J. "Aye, lass. An sure as you don’t even know just how bad I can be."

The temperature in the room instantly rose 30 degrees. Cami gulped in air and took a sip of the water in front of her. "Yes. Well." And if my damned head didn’t hurt so much, I’d love to find out just how bad you can be! Cami felt the flush from her thoughts color her face.

But she was saved by Aunt Mary who returned with their drinks, and a grim look on her face. "Alright ladies. Looks like the chances of us getting you a ride home tonight are kinda slim." She frowned thoughtfully. "I’d give you my car, but the brakes are shot. Not ideal to be heading down the windy road in the dark."

"No. Thanks. One car accident is quite enough for the weekend, thankyouverymuch." Cami shuddered.

"Unfortunately, it’s Sunday evenin’ and even if the town weren’t closed up tighter than a mason jar at canning time, we don’t have a car rental joint here." Aunt Mary folded her arms and leaned a hip against the booth.

"That’s ok. I have a couple of friends we can call."

"Or y’all could just stay here tonight. This is an Inn after all! I have a room I can spare." Aunt Mary looked at Cami, who looked over at T.J. Both women were struggling with a variety of issues, the least of which being the sexual tension that was radiating between them in waves.

God I would love to stay…to wrap Cami up in my arms…Enjoy the feel of her body pressed into mine…T.J.’s thoughts took a lovely flight of fantasy until she glanced across the table at her friend, who was obviously in tremendous pain. Holy Shit! She looks like…well like she was in a car accident you damned fool. T.J. chided herself for her lustful thoughts, when it was obvious that what her friend needed most was to get to a doctor and have her head checked and her ankle wrapped properly. T.J.’s commander instincts kicked into high gear and she immediately took charge.

"Aye. And sure as we are grateful for such a wonderful offer. I promise we will take you up on that sometime." She cast a worried glance across the table at the small blonde who looked suddenly very pale. "But…sweet potato did ya call her? I think I need to find her a doctor to look at that noggin’ of hers."

Sweet potato?? Oh damn. T.J. is never gonna let me live this one down.

Aunt Mary cast a decidedly fretful look at Cami. "She does look pale. And if she turned down apple pie, she must feel poorly. I’ll go call the doc." She turned from the table muttering to herself. "I should have done that sooner, darned old fool, what were you thinkin’…that girl needs medical attention…"

Cami had gone rather quiet on the other side of the table, so T.J. moved to the other side of the booth and slid herself in next to the smaller woman. Just for comfort. She rationalized as she felt herself slip an arm around Cami’s shoulders and ease her friend onto her shoulder.

Cami almost wept with relief and joy at the same time. Her head was pounded so hard she was sure that a marching band had taken up residence there, and she reveled in the warm, safe feeling she got being wrapped up in T.J.’s arms. She gratefully closed her eyes and almost seemed to doze for a moment or two.

That was how Aunt Mary found them a few minutes later. "Doc’s on her way to the clinic. She said she’d meet ya there."

"Clinic?" Cami’s sleepy response was muffled by T.J.’s chest. "Don’t think I want to move anywhere."

T.J. might have chuckled at the implications of that statement, but she was afraid of moving Cami too much, so she settled for a smirk instead. "Shhh. Darlin’ we’ve got to have you looked at. You cracked your head pretty good."

"It’s ok, sweet potato. The clinic is just two blocks down the street. Not far. I’ll just go tell Billy to fire up the Chevy and he can drive ya’ll."

"Yeah, sweet potato. I’ll help you." T.J. couldn’t resist and a gleeful look lit her face.

Cami nearly groaned aloud. She would have too, if she weren’t afraid that her head would split in two from the sound. Sweet potato??? She cast a glazed green eye up at her friend, and sure enough the Irishwoman was grinning from ear to ear. Great. Thanks bunches, Aunt Mary. She thought ruefully.

"Ok. I’ll go." She slowly sat up, steadying herself against the wave of nausea that hit her. T.J.’s arms were there to hold her fast and keep her from swaying. She smiled into the beautiful face that was still just inches away. "But if you call me sweet potato again, I swear to you I’ll shove one up your nose."

T.J.’s laughter echoed through the dining room.


"I’d venture to say you have yourself a mild concussion." Dr. Jones stood and pulled off her pair of surgical gloves. "Your left pupil is still a bit static."

"So. Umm. What do I do for a concussion?" Cami sighed, hoping against hope that she could soon get out of the skimpy paper apron she currently found herself wearing.

"Well, again, I’m not 100% positive without a proper scan, but all the signs are there." The cute, dark-haired doctor was scribbling notes on Cami’s chart. "You say the accident happened when?"

Cami looked momentarily puzzled, so T.J. came to her rescue. "Last evening. A bit over 24 hours ago."

The doctor frowned momentarily and double-checked a few things she had written on the back of the form. "How long was she out?"

"About 5 maybe 10 minutes. I’m not sure."

"Did she land on her back or… How was she positioned when you saw her?"

T.J. sighed. Ah well. It was bound to come out sooner or later. "She was still in the driver’s seat of the jeep."

"WHAT?!" Astonished green eyes swept to T.J. "I thought….But wasn’t I thrown…?" She was clearly shocked.

The small doctor looked from one woman to the next, and finally settled her gaze on T.J. "Ok. Still in the Jeep. And I’m guessing from her reaction that she didn’t walk away from the crash site?"

T.J. looked a bit sheepish. "No, uh…I …well…I carried her away from the car ‘cause I smelled gasoline."

Up that ravine?? And how in the HELL did she get me out of the Jeep in the first place!!

"As a rule you shouldn’t move accident victims like that, but in that case, I’d say you were wise. I don’t see any other real damage, besides the sprained ankle." She turned back to Cami. "Looks like, all things considered, you were lucky."

Cami’s gaze never left her tall friend. "Yeah. I am lucky." She offered up a small smile. Looks like we have even more to talk about, my friend.

"Well. I’m going to prescribe some mild pain medication for you, but your best bet is to stay in bed for a few days. Especially until the nausea subsides."

Green eyes tore away from an intense blue gaze and looked back to the physician. "Thanks, Dr. Jones. Sorry to drag you out on a Sunday evening."
The doctor smiled. "No worries. Actually I was just getting ready to watch X-Files."

T.J. engaged the doctor in a lively debate about the direction that the popular T.V. show was taking, while Cami took the opportunity to slip behind the changing screen and gingerly slide back into the pair of Levi’s that Aunt Mary had gotten for her.

Before they had ridden the two blocks or so to the clinic, Cami had taken the time to call her friend Jo. With an extremely worried sound in her voice, the diminuitive woman had offered to drive up to Julian to pick up T.J. and Cami. The blonde was almost disappointed that she would have to share T.J. on the long ride home. Shame on you, Cami. You’ll have plenty of time to talk to T.J. And plenty to talk about, I think. Her thoughts drifted back to the crash site and she shuddered at the new knowledge that she had gone over that edge with the car.


Jo arrived at the clinic a few minutes after the doctor had finished giving Cami her instructions for the "care and feeding of a mild concussion."

The women once again gave their thanks to Dr. Jones, and piled into Jo’s car for the trip down the mountain. Cami’s nausea returned with a vengeance, and Jo took the drive down the curving road as slowly as she dared. T.J. filled the petite red-head in on the events of the past few days, with a miserable Cami leaning her head practically out the window to keep from being sick.

Somewhere between Julian and San Diego, T.J. came to a hard decision. Looking at her ailing friend in the front seat, T.J. knew it was time to do something about Frank and the Reynoso brothers. But for the very first time in her life, T.J. felt like she might be in over her head. So old girl…time to ask for help, eh?

Part 8

Return to Main Page