I Found My Heart in San Francisco: Book 15


By SX Meagher



When she was clean, she thought of the things she could do, but none of them appealed to her. She knew she wouldn’t be able to concentrate enough to read, there was no television in any room but her and Jamie’s, and the last thing she wanted was to answer e-mail or surf the Web. So she decided to just lie in bed and feel good about what she’d accomplished. It wasn’t often that she took the time to review something she was very proud of, but tonight seemed like the perfect time. It was a remarkably warm night, and she looked forward to lying in bed and letting the soft sounds of the evening eventually lull her to sleep.

She opened the door to their room and was surprised to find Jamie sleeping on her right side, both of Ryan’s pillows serving as props for her injured arm. Her mouth curled into a grin when the wan moonlight showed that her partner was completely naked, something of a rarity for her. The sheet was pushed down to her thighs, exposing a lovely expanse of skin for Ryan to admire.

Deciding she’d like a better look, Ryan walked around the bed and perched on the window sill, taking in her partner’s bewitching body. There were few things Ryan liked better than the gentle curve of a woman’s hips, and Jamie’s curve was as perfect as Ryan had ever seen. Full and womanly, it never failed to capture her attention and she sat peacefully, gazing at the curve and the small movement of Jamie’s back each time she took in a breath.

Her eyes automatically slid lower and fixed themselves on the twin globes of her ass—also world-class in Ryan’s learned opinion. A hint of moonlight provided just enough illumination to let Ryan feast on her lover’s beauty, which she was content to do for long minutes. But she began to feel an urge to touch the loveliness she regarded and, since Jamie was such a sound sleeper, she knew she could engage in a little tactile appreciation with impunity.

There was barely enough room for her to sit just below Jamie’s ass, and when she did, her lover didn’t move a muscle. Ryan positioned herself so she could use both hands, and she started with her left—gently running it along Jamie’s flank from her ribs to her thigh. A zing of excitement hit Ryan in a very nice place—the thrill of touching such a lovely body enough to generate the feeling. But Ryan loved to be doing something just a little bit wrong. Even if she had to trick herself into believing it was wrong.

In fact, Jamie had given her explicit permission to touch her in her sleep, but Ryan had never done it. Given how magnetic the attraction she felt tonight was, she was glad she’d saved the experience for a special occasion.

Taking her time, Ryan played with the supple skin, tracing patterns and following the subtle indentations of vertebrae. Moving down, she obviously hit a sensitive spot, because Jamie shivered and straightened out her bottom leg. That made things a little more interesting, and Ryan took advantage of the new position. Scooting back, she rested her face on the warm, soft skin that had just been revealed. Her mouth began to water as she breathed in Jamie’s welcoming, distinctive scent, and she inched forward to tickle her just a tiny bit with her nose. The curly, sandy blonde hairs nearly made her sneeze, but Ryan furiously rubbed her nose, managing to stop the reflex.

Her hand was more tempted than her nose had been, and she reached between Jamie’s legs and delicately caressed the skin. Only a few inches of the very desirable space was available to her, but she managed to build quite a buzz from stroking and probing those few inches. A shudder went through her and she shook her head, grinning from ear to ear. She felt like a child who’d snuck out of bed to wait for Santa Claus, but her clit had never throbbed like it was for Santa. Only Jamie had that effect.

Suddenly overcome with emotion, Ryan leaned over and gently embraced her partner, kissing her pale skin again and again as she thanked whatever power had brought them together. She never would have believed that a woman could entrance her like this—while asleep—but she was overwhelmingly grateful that together they would stay.

She wasn’t sure if it was the hug or the surfeit of kisses, but Jamie stirred again, this time straightening both legs and stretching while a gentle sigh left her lips. Just the sigh set Ryan’s heart beating, and she smirked at herself for falling so helplessly in love. She bent over again and placed one last kiss on Jamie’s hip, then started to get up. But as she did, Jamie rolled over a little, almost lying flat on her back. Ryan managed to get out of her way and she went back to her side of the bed and got in. Leaning down to pull the sheet up, she stopped cold when Jamie slid her hand down her own belly and rested it between her slightly spread legs.

Sitting up like a dog who has heard a distant whistle, Ryan watched, transfixed, waiting to see what her partner would do. Nearly a minute passed, and Ryan decided that nothing would happen. But when she reached for the sheet again she saw that Jamie was slowly pressing her thighs together. A dangerous-looking grin split Ryan’s face and she rested her head on her braced hand to see what would happen next.

As she’d hoped, the pressing continued—not in a rhythmic way—but in the foggy, haphazard way that a sleeping woman moves. Ryan watched her like a vulture watches a wounded animal. Every twitching muscle was noted, every sigh, every gentle purr that left Jamie’s lips. After a long while, Jamie moved her hand and Ryan’s momentary disappointment was replaced by a bigger grin when Jamie grasped and squeezed her own breast.

Ryan nearly leapt for her, but the dazzling sensation of watching her become aroused was too fascinating to halt prematurely. Blue eyes grew wide when Jamie began to press her ass into the mattress and gently thrust against the air. This was too much for Ryan to take. She popped a finger into her mouth and thoroughly wet it, then toyed with the crinkly hairs that guarded Jamie’s most private spot.

On cue, Jamie’s body reacted, her legs spreading apart just enough for Ryan to touch her lips. At first contact, a low, mumbled groan left her and Ryan’s clit twitched like a live wire had been applied to it. Shivering, she kept probing, smiling when she realized that the last thing Jamie needed was extra lubrication. Her fingers were immediately generously coated with the obvious expression of Jamie’s somnolent desire, and Ryan continued to explore. Intently watching Jamie’s face, her fingers slid forward, making progress in their journey until they were poised at her opening.

Spending just a moment debating, Ryan’s fingers slid in, and she ground her teeth together when Jamie’s hips thrust forward to meet her. Her own desire was reaching the boiling point, but she didn’t have any idea how to touch herself while keeping her fingers inside her partner. And since being enveloped by Jamie’s wet warmth was the engine driving her desire, she had no interest in withdrawing.

She scooted closer and started to kiss any part she could reach, while slowly and deliberately slipping her fingers in and out and in and out … just a few inches … just the way Jamie liked it.

Jamie’s breathing became more rapid and her nipples grew taut and firm. Ryan swirled her fingers around her opening, then turned her hand and massaged the roof of her vagina, tenderly but firmly pressing against the spongy tissue.

Without warning, Jamie’s head turned and she slowly blinked her eyes open. Reaching between her legs she found Ryan’s hand, then jerked and sought her lover out in the dark. “Good God,” she said, then began to laugh. “I was dreaming about being in the hospital after I fell, and the doctor started fucking me! I was so confused because I loved the way it felt, but I knew it was wrong to let him do it.”

Ryan wrinkled her nose and grinned sheepishly. “Just me, baby. Do you like it?”

“Come here, you nut. Of course I like it. Now kiss me and keep doing what you’re doing!”

Ryan moved up and wrapped an arm around Jamie’s shoulders, pulling her close to kiss her. As soon as her tongue entered her mouth she resumed the slow pistoning of her fingers and Jamie stayed right with her, picking up the rhythm immediately. “Ooo … this is good,” she moaned. “So, so good.”

Ryan kissed her again, probing her mouth while her fingers probed her slick channel. “You’re so fantastically hot,” she murmured.

“I’ve been hot for you all day long. All … day.” She raised her knees and started to thrust, meeting Ryan’s hand hard enough to make a soft slapping sound. “Touch my clit, baby. Softly … softly.”

Ryan rushed to meet her need, grazing over the engorged flesh with her thumb. Once … twice … and Jamie’s flesh started to contract, squeezing Ryan’s fingers in waves while her head roughly shook back and forth, not a sound coming from her parted lips.

Finally, she sighed heavily and her body began to relax. Seeking Ryan’s lips she kissed her again and again, while holding her hand in place. As soon as she could catch her breath she sucked Ryan’s bottom lip between her teeth and gave it a gentle bite. “Again,” she said, eyes gleaming in the moonlight. “Do it all again.”


Jamie opened her eyes when the first light of dawn hit the bed. She reached out and found Ryan’s warm body, then grasped her alarm clock and shut it off. Scooting across the bed, she cuddled up behind Ryan, kissed between her shoulder blades and fell back to sleep.

At around 8:30 Jamie opened one eye and looked at her clock. “Shit! Baby, you’ve gotta get up!”

Ryan sat up like she’d been pulled by the nose. “What? What?”

“It’s 8:30! You’ve gotta be at therapy in a half hour.”

“What happened?” She jumped out of bed, dashed into the bathroom, and started running the water.

Jamie walked into the room and gave her a sheepish smile. “I was so tired when I woke up, that I turned off the alarm. I thought I’d just sleep for a little while.”

“That’ll teach me to sneak up on you in the middle of the night,” Ryan said, frowning slightly while she started to brush her teeth.

Jamie approached her from the back and hugged her tightly. “Don’t be grouchy. I’m very happy you snuck up on me. And you seemed pretty happy about it a couple of hours ago.”

“I was.” Ryan raised an eyebrow and asked drolly, “Didn’t you hear me squealing with delight?”

“It’s my fault you’re late, so I’ll drive you to therapy.”

Whining slightly, Ryan said, “Then I’ve gotta take the bus back. I hate that.”

“I’ll go get coffee and then come back and pick you up. It’s the least I can do.” She kissed all across Ryan’s bare shoulders. “I owe you for giving me such a nice, nice evening.”

“It was really morning,” Ryan said, finally smiling. “About three o’clock.”

“Any time … any where—I’m your girl.”

Ryan finished brushing and turned, holding Jamie in her arms. “I can drive myself. I’ll park in one of the garages by the office. I know you don’t like to drive my car.”

“Don’t be silly. I can drive it, I just prefer my own.” Jamie went into their room and put the previous day’s clothing back on. “Now don’t argue with me. Paying for parking is pure punishment for you. I’ll play chauffer.”

“Deal. And if you shake a leg, we might be able to get me a cup of coffee before my session. That’d be sweet.”

“Anything for you.” Jamie dashed across the room and hugged her again. “I loved the way you woke me up. Really loved it.”

“I did too. Very much. And seeing the look on your face when you woke up and felt me inside you, nearly made me swoon.” She tapped the tip of Jamie’s nose. “I think we’ll be doing that again.”

“Don’t promise if you don’t mean it,” Jamie said, patting Ryan’s bare butt. “Now get dressed!”


When they got home, Ryan went to her room to start working. She had an appointment to talk to Professor Berkowitz about her project, and she wanted to make sure she had everything in order. Jamie had class in an hour, and she spent her available time working up the nerve to call her mother. Finally it was time to call or put it off, so she steeled her resolve and dialed the number. To her dismay, Catherine answered on the second ring.

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hello, dear.”

Jamie couldn’t read anything from the brief greeting, so she dove right in. “I’m calling to apologize for the way I behaved on Sunday. I don’t know what got into me, but I was out of line.”

“I assumed you weren’t feeling up to par, honey. Don’t give it another thought.”

“I’m fine, Mom. I have no excuse. Your life is yours to live as you choose. I shouldn’t have tried to pry.”

“Really, dear, it’s fine. I’d forgotten about it.”

Jamie was quite sure that wasn’t true, but she forced herself to accept the statement at face value. “Okay. We’ll just move on.”

“Oh, honey, don’t sound so dramatic. It was a minor tiff, and I told you how I felt at the time. Let’s drop it.”

“Okay. If you’re sure you’re not upset.”

“Honey, believe me. I wasn’t upset at the time. I think it’s good for you and for us for you to express your feelings.”

Jamie raked her lower lip against her teeth. She desperately wanted to say what she was thinking—that she wished her mother had been angry. That might have allowed them to have a real argument. And a real argument might have compelled her mother to tell her the truth about Giacomo. But it was clear that wasn’t going to happen. Just to make conversation she asked, “Uhm … did you have fun with Maeve yesterday?”

“Of course. I always enjoy being with Maeve. But we have our doubts about The Ritz for your reception.”

Jamie didn’t mention that Maeve had called Ryan as soon as she’d gotten home the previous day, and that the fact that Catherine hadn’t done the same had been a good indication that she had not forgotten their fight. “What was the problem?”

“Oh, no problem. But it felt too, “too,” if you know what I mean. I can’t imagine you two wanting a very formal reception, and the space doesn’t lend itself to anything less.”

“We don’t … or at least I don’t want it too casual, either. I mean, I want it to be a special place. This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me, Mom.”

“I know it is, Jamie. I don’t think there’s a woman in the world who doesn’t want a special way to commemorate the day she pledges to love someone for the rest of her life.” Seemingly without thinking, she added, “Even though forever doesn’t last nearly that long for many of us.”

“Wow.” Jamie was at a loss for more than that.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry! That was so insensitive of me! I’m just … I’m a little jaded about marriage right now. But I should never let my feelings about my own failure carry over to you.”

“Uhm … are you sure you want to help with this, Mom? I don’t want you to feel obligated.”

Catherine sounded like she was on the verge of crying. “Yes, I definitely want to help. I’m not jaded about your and Ryan’s commitment. I truly believe you two are ready to take these vows.”

“I’ve never heard you say anything so … negative about marriage. Are you feeling that down?”

“No, I’m fine. Really. I started talking, and thought about my own wedding, and my mouth starting moving before my brain caught up.”

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. I’ve forgotten about our little spat, and I hope you can forget about my faux pas.”

“I’m good at denial,” Jamie said. “That’s why this is the second wedding I’m planning, and I’m only twenty-two.”


That afternoon, Ryan sat on a chair in Professor Berkowitz’ office, with Vijay sitting on the windowsill in the small room. The professor had been going over Ryan’s notes, graphs, and spreadsheets for over an hour. She asked the occasional question, but mostly she concentrated, her dark eyes roaming from one stack of papers to another to check a number or a footnote. Ryan, full of nervous energy, was itching to move, but she didn’t want to disturb her instructor. It was clear that Professor Berkowitz was devoting her full attention to thinking the theory through, and Ryan didn’t want to take more of her time than she had already. She silently tapped her feet in sets of ten while watching the professor’s face for the smallest sign of a question.

After another thirty minutes, Ryan was chewing on the inside of her cheek. She jumped when Professor Berkowitz said, “This looks perfect. I can’t find a flaw in your methods or your application. The theory should work.” She looked at Ryan with narrowed eyes. “Why doesn’t it?”

“Damned if I know.” Ryan stood and started pacing. “If the theory’s right, the stock market should have peaked over two months ago. My partner and I played a game where we had imaginary portfolios. I decided to sell our tech stocks weeks ago. And I missed another two percent increase in the portfolio.” She stopped and frowned. “I’m stumped.”

“If I had money in the stock market, I’d sell based on this paper. But there must be some factors you can’t account for using math alone. That will probably keep this from being published.” She looked at Ryan and shook her head. “I guess every market analyst would be a billionaire if numbers alone could predict the market.”

“I guess.” Ryan looked down and said, “My father agrees with my theory and he didn’t look at any numbers.”

The professor looked at her, head cocked, so Ryan continued. “He said no one’s making anything or building anything. The market’s going crazy based on the belief that technology will revolutionize everything. But no Internet company has turned a profit. Not one!”

“I know. But the market doesn’t behave rationally. If it did, a bunch of twenty-year-olds wouldn’t be riding around in limos drinking champagne.”

“And buying houses in my family’s neighborhood, pricing normal people out,” Ryan grumbled.

“Let me spend some more time looking at this, Ryan. I don’t imagine I’ll find anything wrong, given how much time you and Vijay have spent, but I’ll give it a try. Do you mind if I have a couple more grad students look at it?”

“Only if there’s not a mistake,” Vijay said, smiling despite his disappointment.


Later that day, Ryan spied her rooting section moments after she emerged from the locker room at the softball field. “Hey, Heather,” she called to her teammate, “we’ve got extra groupies today.”

Heather took a look and waved at Jamie, Mia, Jennie, and Ashley. “Not bad for a practice,” Heather said.

“Let’s go say hi.” The two women jogged across the field, reaching their fans in a few of their long strides. “Here to get dates, girls?”

“No thanks,” Ashley said, wrinkling her nose. “Your coach isn’t my type.”

“I’ll take one,” Jamie said. “Give me a kiss so I can see if you’re worth hanging out for.”

Ryan climbed the bleachers and kissed her rather chastely. “Not my best effort,” Ryan whispered. “Don’t wanna scare the children.”

“How did your meeting go?”

“Eh.” Ryan shrugged. “Okay, I guess. My professor thinks the paper’s solid, but it hasn’t proven accurate. I guess I wasted my time.”

“You’ll get credit, won’t you?” Jamie’s eyes were comically wide.

“Sure. It’s a theory. They don’t have to work; you just have to show that you did the work properly. It wasn’t my theory, anyway. I was just trying to apply it to this situation. I’d like to publish it just to stop other people from working as hard as I did to prove it.”

“But you can’t?”

“Nah. No one will publish a failed theory by an undergrad. When I get time, I’ll post my work to all of the newsgroups I know of. Word might travel that way.”

“Well, I’m proud of you. And I know you’ll get an ‘A.’”

Ryan chuckled. “I think that’s a safe bet. I could have taken six classes in the time I spent on this project. Professor Berkowitz was impressed. She said she’d sell her stock if she had any.”

“I’m gonna make some changes in my portfolio. I think we should talk to Mom about hers, too.”

“Ryan!” Heather called. “Coach is making fun of you.”

Ryan turned around and saw that Coach Roberts had turned his back to her and had wrapped his arms around himself—acting like he was being hugged passionately. “Gotta go,” she said, kissing Jamie quickly.

“That guy’s funny,” Mia said, watching Ryan and Heather run away.

“Yeah. He’s a good guy. Just the kind of guy Ryan likes. No nonsense, but he has a sense of humor.”

“Sounds like her,” Mia said.

“Hey, Jamie?” Jennie said.


“Are you gonna stay for a while? Ashley was gonna help drill me for a math test, but I don’t wanna leave if you’re not gonna be here long.”

“We’re staying. Go sit someplace quiet and get your work done. Then it won’t be on your mind.”

“It’s not on my mind,” she said, grinning. “Honest!”

“Let’s go,” Ashley said, tugging on her shirt. “The sooner we start, the sooner we finish.”

Mia watched them move over and down a few rows. “She acts like she’s your kid.”

“She kinda is. We’re the only family she has that really cares about her. Ryan and I and my mom are in charge of her education. Although Ashley and Heather have been doing most of the grunt work. They’re both tutoring her—a lot.”

“Does she really need it?”

“Yeah. She made it through eighth grade, but she didn’t learn a heck of a lot. Her mom didn’t supervise her and she skipped a lot of classes, but she’s doing well now. She’s really a bright kid.”

“She’s sweet, too,” Mia said, looking over at Jennie. “Reminds me of myself at her age.”

“Yours isn’t the first name that comes to mind when I think of Jennie,” Jamie teased. “She’s had a tough life so far, but she’s still remarkably innocent.”

Mia sniffed. “Oh. Well, then I change my mind.”

“You seemed so worldly when I first met you. We were just a year younger than Jen, you know.”

“Hard to believe.” She shook her head. “It feels like it was three lifetimes ago.”

Bumping her with her shoulder, Jamie said, “Are you down today?”

“Nah. Just thinking about my Jordy. I hope she’s taking care of herself.”

“I think she can do it. She’s been on her own a lot longer than she’s been with you. I’m sure she’s out of practice, but it’ll come back to her.”

Mia smiled. “I guess you’re right. I worry about her too much.”

“It’s … different when you’re really in love, isn’t it?”

Dropping her head into her hands, Mia groaned. “I had no idea! Now I know why my mother just smiled at me when I said I was desperately in love with one guy or another. I was way too selfish to love anyone when I was in high school. I didn’t realize that love was more about giving than getting.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. I’m still amazed that my mom didn’t try to talk me out of getting engaged to Jack. She had to see that it was a mistake. I gave him nothing. Nothing!”

Putting her arm around Jamie, Mia hugged her. “Did you ask her opinion at the time?”

Laughing, Jamie said, “Good point. I’m sure she had the correct impression that I didn’t want advice. That’s one thing about my mom—she’s always treated me like an adult … even when I wasn’t one.”

“Hey, do you think we could merge your mom and mine? We could get a relatively involved mother who only gave advice when it was really needed!”

“That would be kinda cool. But I want the new creature to get your mom’s cooking skills.”

Mia extended her hand and Jamie shook it. “Deal. But she gets your mom’s money.”

“Deal,” Jamie agreed, laughing.

They were idly watching the players go through their usual practice routine and Mia said, “What’s up with Ryan not playing? I don’t know much about softball, but she looks awfully good.”

Jamie smiled and watched her lover fielding sharply-hit ground balls at first base. “She is. But her coach is a very loyal guy. Her friend Jackie plays first and has been a starter since she was a freshman. She hits as well as Ryan does, but Ryan’s a better fielder. And Ryan’s arm is better, too. But I think the coach feels a real sense of loyalty to Jackie, and doesn’t want to bench her for a newcomer.” She shrugged. “I’m very proud of Ryan for not making an issue of it. She’d be much better in left field than the girl who’s out there now, but I think Coach Roberts wants to give the girl some confidence. Half of the team is graduating, and he’s gotta get the freshmen some playing time.”

“I guess it’s not easy to make everybody happy, but I’d put Ryan in just because of how cute she looks when she bats.”

Jamie giggled and slapped Mia playfully on the leg. “She does have a cute ass, doesn’t she?”

“Sure does. And the little wiggle she gives is sweet. The coach obviously doesn’t let his testosterone influence his judgment—’cause Ryan’s the best looking one on the team.”

“I sure think so. But I’d think that at the Miss World competition.”

Mia looked at Jamie for a second and asked a question that had been on her mind. “Hey, do you think it bothers Ryan when I tell her she looks good?”

“Huh?” Turning, Jamie just looked at Mia like she was speaking gibberish.

“It kinda threw me the other night. I got home late and Ryan was in her room beating the hell out of her drums.”

“She was? When was this?”

“Uhm … I forget. Maybe Monday or Tuesday.”

“What time was it?”

“Late. After the bars closed.”

“Huh.” Jamie smiled devilishly. “The drums must have flipped her switch. I woke up with her fingers inside me.”

“Ooo!” Mia’s mouth formed a perfect circle and her eyes nearly did the same. “The little devil! Jordy’s never done that to me. But it seems like every guy I’ve seriously dated has tried to slip it in first thing in the morning.” She rolled her eyes in distaste. “Do they think I’m gonna like that?” She laughed, shaking her head. “Guys are sooooo clueless.”

“I would have hit Jack with whatever I could’ve gotten my hands on, but it was a very, very, very welcome visit from Ms. O’Flaherty.”

“Have her tell Jordy to do it!” Mia said excitedly. “It’d ruin it if I had to ask for it.”

Jamie looked at her, puzzled. “Why don’t you do it to Jordan?”

“Damn!” Mia slapped herself on the forehead. “My brain’s not working. So … how’d she do it?”

Coloring slightly, Jamie said, “She started touching me in my sleep. Apparently, I was responsive enough to give her confidence. I kinda wish we had a videotape, to be honest. I’m not at all sure what she did—but I was ready!”

“That’s the problem with guys. It’s so hard to convince them to pre-heat the oven. They wanna throw the door open and stick it in. But every woman knows you’ve gotta be hot to cook.”

“I was hot,” Jamie said. “And you can’t imagine how good it felt to wake up from a sexy dream and have your partner watching your face while she touches you.” She shivered roughly. “Makes me wanna take her home right now!”

“You hit the jackpot, girlfriend—a woman who looks like Ryan and is into you, not just herself. Most chicks who look like her are so full of themselves.”

“So what’s the deal about the other night? What did you say to her?”

Mia frowned for a second, thinking. “I went into her room and she was wearing this little tank top. Like I said, she was banging the hell out of her drums, and she didn’t see me. I didn’t wanna startle her, so I sat on the bed until she stopped—just so I could say goodnight.”

“Sounds harmless enough. But there’s always more with you,” Jamie teased.

“Not much! Really!”

“Spill it,” Jamie said, her voice dangerously low.

“Well, she didn’t stop for the longest time. I finally lay down on my stomach and watched her. You can’t … you absolutely can’t fault me for that. It’s not possible to turn away when she’s playing the drums in a wet tank top. I mean, really!”

Jamie laughed and hugged her friend. “I’ll give you that. You’re only human.”

“Thank you! So … when she stopped, she looked up and saw me. I told her that she was hot … super hot … and she looked embarrassed.”

“Ryan? Looked embarrassed?”

“Yeah. I asked her if it bothered her when I said things like that and she said it felt weird.”

“Huh. She didn’t mention anything to me.”

“I assumed she knew I was just teasing, like I always am about stuff like that. I mean, I wouldn’t hit on Ryan if she was in my bed playing with herself!”

Patting Mia on the arm, Jamie said, “If that ever happens, I’ll give you a free pass.”

Mia bumped her with her shoulder. “Thanks. But even if you didn’t mind, I’d never cheat on Jordan. But the other night—Ryan didn’t seem to understand that I was just making an observation. I mean … she is hot, right? It’s like telling her she’s tall or has big feet. Just a fact.”

“I don’t know why she would’ve minded your saying something to her,” Jamie said, thoughtfully watching her partner who was now standing in right field, chasing down fly balls. “Maybe she felt too exposed.”

“Well, she was! Those cute little nipples were popping out of that tank top like a pair of erasers!”

Jamie laughed, amused by her friend’s comfort in talking about Ryan’s body. “They do look like erasers, don’t they? Perfect little pencil erasers.”

“Yep. But I don’t wanna touch ’em! I just hope Ryan knows that.”

“Maybe it’s because you’ve been gone for a while. She might be out of practice.”

“Well, if it comes up, make sure she knows I don’t wanna sample the goods. I couldn’t be happier with Jordy, and I’m never gonna do anything to screw that up.”

“Not to mention that I’d cut you up with a chain saw if you tried.”

“Huh. I picture you as the type to hire someone to kill me.”

“Nope. If Ryan’s involved, it’s personal.” She narrowed her eyes and moved to rest her forehead against Mia’s, trying to look menacing, until Mia burst out laughing at her attempt.


A few minutes later, Mia asked, “What’s Ryan doing?”

“Licking her fingers,” Jamie said with distaste.

Mia’s nose wrinkled up. “Why? They have to be filthy!”

“Oh, they are. She says it gives her better control on her throws. I think it’s disgusting—but that’s my girl. She’s so … earthy.”

“Jordy’s not like that. She’s very particular about cleanliness. She won’t eat a thing before she washes her hands.”

“Ryan would eat soup with her hands after playing in the mud if I’d let her! Almost nothing grosses her out.” Jamie lowered her voice to make sure Jennie couldn’t hear her. “She doesn’t know I know it, but she pees in the shower.”

Mia looked at her, then blinked. “You don’t?”

“God, no!” Her voice was so loud Ryan looked up quizzically, and she was twenty-five yards away. “No!” she said again, quieter this time. “I’m not a dog!”

“Dogs don’t take showers,” Mia scoffed. “So … you get out of the shower if you have to go?”

“No! I hold it. Like I said, I don’t have to give in to every impulse. That’s what separates humans from other mammals.”

“Any other mammal would tell you that’s dumb,” Mia said. “You’re in the shower; everything’s going down the drain anyway. Then you get nice and clean after you finish.”

“And the tub’s full of urine!”

“No, it’s not!”

Jennie and Ashley were either finished, or interested in the loudly whispered conversation going on behind them. Jennie sat next to Mia and asked, “What are you guys arguing about?”

Before Jamie could tell her to keep quiet, Mia said, “Peeing in the shower. Jamie thinks it’s gross. How about you guys?”

Jennie looked a little nervous. “Uhm … is it bad to do it?”

“No,” Mia said. “I think it’s efficient and perfectly normal.”

Jennie nodded her head. “I do it.”

Ashley made a face. “Don’t sit so close to me! That’s beyond gross!”

“You can come sit by me, Ashley,” Jamie said. “I’d rather explode.”

“Just because you two are prudes is no reason to label us,” Mia said, putting her arm around Jennie, who giggled, still looking at Jamie for approval.

“It’s not gross if you don’t think it is,” Jamie said, only to assure the girl. “I just think it is.”

“I know it is,” Ashley said. “If somebody did that in the locker room showers, I’d never go in there again.”

Jamie silently prayed her lover kept her habit to her home base.

“So how do you know Ryan does it, if she doesn’t know you know?” Mia asked.

Internally shooting daggers at her indiscreet friend, Jamie said, “If we get up at the same time, I use the toilet while she gets into the shower. There’s no way she could hold it that long.”

“I knew Ryan would do it,” Jennie said, smiling.

“Ryan isn’t the best role model for some personal habits,” Jamie said, unable to keep a straight face. “I think you should model yourself after Ashley, who was obviously properly raised.”

“You get into the shower after she does that, Jamie?” Ashley asked. “I’d make her clean it with bleach first.”

“But then she’d know I know she does it. And I hate to take away all of her guilty pleasures.”

“You’re a better girlfriend than I’d be,” Ashley said. “If a guy did that at my apartment, he’d never get in my shower again.”

“Then you’d better not look,” Mia giggled, “’Cause they all do it!”


Jennie had to be home for dinner at 6:00, so she took off a few minutes before practice was over. “Say bye to Ryan and Heather,” she said before hopping on her bike.

As soon as she was gone, Jamie thunked Mia on the head with her fingers. “You shouldn’t talk about stuff like that with Jennie. If you told her Ryan ate with her feet, she’d try it!”

“Oh, she said she already does it. Besides, what’s the problem? Everybody pees.”

“But everybody doesn’t talk about it,” Jamie said, lifting her chin in a dignified manner. “Thank God.”

“I bet you do things that you don’t want Ryan to know about,” Mia said, narrowing her eyes. “You probably pick you nose or something every time you think she’s not looking.”

Ashley giggled at Jamie’s outraged look. “I do not pick my nose!”

“Come on, you perfect little Hillsborough debutante, you must do something bad.”

Thinking for a minute, Jamie said, “It’s not bad, but I do something Ryan doesn’t know about.”

“What?” Mia asked drolly, “Volunteer to help lepers?”

“No.” Jamie ignored her jibe. “I have my legs waxed.”

“That’s not very bad,” Ashley said. “Is Ryan opposed to wax or something?”

“No, but she doesn’t know, and now I’m afraid to tell her.”

“You’ve been together since June,” Mia said. “How doesn’t she notice that you’re stubbly one day and smooth the next?”

“Her schedule has worked in my favor. My legs aren’t very stubbly, ’cause the hair is fine, and I always seem to need to go in when she’s away.”

“But why does it matter?” Ashley asked. “Just tell her the next time you go.”

“Uhm … she thinks …” Jamie wrinkled her nose. “She thinks I’m perfectly groomed … naturally.”

Ashley cocked her head, then the light went on. “Bikini area?”

“Ahh … yeah. She marveled about how perfect … that area was when we were first together. I should have told her that I had some help, but I didn’t. Now I feel stupid telling her that I kinda …”

“Lied to her,” Mia supplied helpfully.

Slapping her leg, Jamie said, “It wasn’t a lie. I just didn’t correct her.”

“That’s a lie, that’s a lie, that’s a lie,” Mia said, giggling.

“It’s kind of a lie,” Ashley agreed.

Jamie stuck out her lower lip. “It’s not a lie. But … Ryan might think it is.”

“It’s no big deal,” Mia said. “You’ll tell lots bigger lies as time goes on.”

“Gee, thanks!”

Ashley said, “It’s not a bad thing to lie about something to avoid hurting someone. I used to tell my high school boyfriend he was the best kisser in the world, and he wasn’t even the best kisser on his street!”

“But this isn’t to avoid hurting Ryan. It’s just to keep her thinking I’m perfect in a follicular way,” Jamie reminded her.

“True. But Mia’s right. You don’t have to tell everything just because you’re in a relationship. Just like she doesn’t want you to know she has the vile, disgusting, stomach-turning habit of peeing in the shower.”

“Don’t you dare tell Heather!” Jamie said.

“I won’t. Besides, if Heather doesn’t think it’s disgusting, that might mean she does it. Then I’d have to find a new roommate.”

“You’re my kinda girl, Ash,” Jamie said, patting her back.

“Looks like the jocks are about done.” Ashley stood up. “It’s Heather’s turn to buy snacks for the room. I’m gonna go remind her.” She waved. “See you guys, and have a nice time in Colorado if I don’t see you again, Mia. Give Jordan a hug for me.”

“I will. See ya.”

Mia looked at Jamie. “How’d Ryan get here?”

“Motorcycle, I think. She parks it illegally on the grass.” She scanned the area. “Yep, there it is.”

“Do I have to walk home alone?”

“No, silly. We’ll send Ryan to pick up dinner. We’ll walk.”

“Cool. I want something spicy and exotic. And full of fat, if possible!”


They decided on fairly tame Chinese food, but Mia ordered the deep-fried chicken with honey-walnuts and mayonnaise sauce—pandering to her desire for fat.

Jamie assured her that Ryan always got something spicy and that they’d all share.

On the walk home, Mia wrapped her hand around Jamie’s good arm and hugged it to herself. “I love being home with you guys. This has been so good for me.”

“I love it, too. I just wish you didn’t have to go back. But … I want Jordan to be happy, too, so I guess I have to give you up.”

“Why don’t you start an Olympic Training Center here? The climate’s better.”

Jamie laughed. “My mom probably has the money for that, but I think I’d be a little short. Besides, by the time it was ready, the Olympics would be over.”

“I guess. I’ll just have to hang in there and try to do something to keep myself from going mad.”

“Have you thought of getting a job?”

“Yeah, but I wanted to be available to travel with Jordy, especially in the U.S. But maybe I should get one and just stay home when she travels.”

“Not a good option. You need to come here when you don’t travel with her.”

“Jamie, I can’t keep taking money from you!”

Stopping, Jamie faced her. “Why?”

“Because it’s not right. I don’t wanna be one of those people who sponges off her friends!”

“Honey, we’ve been friends for eight years. If you were after my money, don’t you think I’d know that by now?”

“Maybe I’m patient,” Mia said, making a face.

Resuming their walk, Jamie said, “Not one of your characteristics, I’m afraid. I’m really being serious when I tell you I want you to let me pay your airfare to come home. I love you and Jordan, and so does Ryan. We both want you to let us help—just a little bit—when you need something.”

“It’s hard for me, James. It really is.”

“I know. But when I have to buy you a ticket and send it to you, it costs more than it would if you’d buy it in advance.”

Mia gave her a puzzled look.

“I’m not gonna stop. If you don’t travel with Jordan, I’m gonna Fed Ex you a ticket to come home. So why don’t you use the Amex card I gave you when you left and save me the trouble? It’s really the least you can do,” she added playfully.

Mia stopped and put her arms around Jamie’s waist. “I love you,” she whispered. “I’m so glad I don’t have a sister, ’cause she’d be jealous that I loved you more.”

Aww … you’re gonna make me cry.”

“If you can’t cry with your best friend, you’re doing something wrong,” Mia said, wiping at her own eyes.


Ryan wasn’t home by the time Jamie and Mia arrived. “What’s taking her so long?” Mia asked.

“Mmm … she hates to have her food sit, so she won’t order until she gets there. One of her many little quirks,” she said, smiling. “She might have wanted some beer, too, so she’d have to go get that first. It’s best not to be too hungry when you send Ryan out.”

“Well, I’d love a beer, so I won’t complain.”

“I think we have a couple left. I’ll check.” Mia plopped down on the sofa, and when Jamie returned with one beer, her shoes were off and her feet were resting on the coffee table.

“You don’t want one?”

“We only have one. We’re sharing.” Jamie sat next to Mia and gave her the first sip.

“Ahh … that’s good. Hey, what do you have planned for your anniversary? And which anniversary will you celebrate?”

“Uhm … what are my choices?”

“First kiss … first time you said you loved her … first time you got naked. You know, the usual.”

Jamie’s chin lifted and she gazed into space for a moment. “I think we should celebrate both our first kiss and the first time we made love. I’d better tell Ryan that, or she’ll be upset if she’s not prepared.”

“You two are still on your honeymoon,” Mia said, laughing. “You don’t need a reason to celebrate.”

A pair of green eyes shifted and lit on Mia, lingering for a few moments. “I don’t think that’s true.”

“What? That you need a reason to celebrate?”

“No. The honeymoon thing. I think our honeymoon is over, and has been for a while.”


“I mean it. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

“Then why do they say ‘The honeymoon’s over’ when they mean something’s toast?”

“I guess it depends on your view. We learned something in our lesbian psychology class that’s stuck with me. Falling in love is fun, no doubt about it, but it’s what happens after that magic period is over that makes a relationship.”

“Damn, James, I’ve always heard that you should be in that honeymoon thing for at least a year, maybe longer!”

“That’s probably true for most couples. But we’ve had so much junk go down this year that everything has sped up. We couldn’t keep up that ‘Gee, you’re perfect’ thing after seeing each other in the kinds of situations we’ve been in.”

“I guess things have been a little … intense for you two.”

“That’s a remarkable understatement.” Jamie took a long pull from their beer. “We’ve had a lifetime of stress this year. I’ve seen Ryan at what I hope is the lowest she’ll ever be. It’s just not possible to look at her and see her like I did when we were falling in love.”

“But isn’t that kinda … disappointing?” Mia asked. “I look at Jordy, and I’m still amazed that someone as wonderful as her is lying in bed with me. She gives me chills.”

Quirking a grin, Jamie said, “I get my fair share of chills. But the woman I fell in love with was … this is hard to put into words … but I think that woman was more of an image than a real person.”

“But it was a good image, wasn’t it? Tall, dark, and gorgeous?”

“Yep. But she’s a lot more than that. And I’ve started to learn how complex and simple, and fragile and strong, and bright and dumb she really is.”

“Ryan? Dumb?”

Jamie laughed. “She can be as dumb—as she says—as a sack of potatoes. Mostly about herself.”

“Point taken. She does do some pretty dumb things. But she’s so smart that you try to convince yourself that what she did wasn’t as dumb as it really was!”

“Boy, I’ve been there! But we all do dumb things. She’s not the rock I thought I could always rely on to do everything right. She doesn’t always know the right answer. She’s done some things that have really disappointed me. She’s even done things that I think are morally wrong. But God, she tries hard. I admire her more now that I know how hard she works. Things aren’t as easy for her as they appear.”

“Hey, she’s not my girlfriend; she’s my fantasy! Don’t destroy it!”

Jamie put her arm around Mia’s shoulders and hugged her hard. “She’s close enough to perfect, buddy.”

“The breasts are real, aren’t they?” Mia asked, a hopeful look in her eyes.

“Definitely. And they feel better than they look.”

“The fantasy lives!”


After dinner, Ryan went upstairs to study French, but Jamie couldn’t make herself focus on school when Mia was home. They sat in the living room, making so much noise that Ryan finally came to the top stair and said, “Will you two go into the library? I’m trying to memorize these ridiculous verbs and it’s hard enough without hearing you guys having fun.”

Jamie gave Mia an “oo-oh, we’re in trouble” look and said, “We’ll behave.”

“No we won’t,” Mia chimed in. “Do you mind if I drag James down to the bar on Telegraph? I wanna have an appletini.”

Appletini,” Ryan scoffed. “Why does everything have to be a “tini? Gin or vodka and vermouth is a martini. Everything else is … something else.”

“Somebody’s grouchy,” Mia said.

“Go,” Ryan declared. “Both of you. Get out while the getting’s good. If I don’t memorize some of these verbs it’s not gonna be pretty.”

Jamie got up and went to the bottom stair. “Are you sure, baby? I’ll help you study. We both could. Mia took 4 years of French in high school.”

“I remember nothing,” Mia yelled.

Jamie chided, “Shh! Be supportive.”

Ryan smiled down at her. “Nah. You guys go have fun. I’ll stay here and pout.”

“Works for me.” Mia got up and grasped Jamie’s hand. “See ya later, grumpy.”

“I won’t be out late,” Jamie said.

“Whatever. I know you lose track of time … and your name and address when you two go out, but that’s cool.”

Jamie dashed up the stairs and kissed her partner. “I always remember your name, and exactly where you are. And don’t pout.” She kissed her again, right on the downturned corner of her lips. “We won’t be out late.”

“I’ll expect you at 2:15, since the bar closes at 2:00.”

“I’ll bring her home in one piece, Ryan,” Mia said.

“Whew.” Ryan wiped her brow dramatically. “Now I can rest easy.”


Continued in Part 10

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