Making Our Way Home

Anne Brisk& S X Meagher

Anyone watching Lauren Hale fly home that day would have thought that her pants were on fire. She never flagged, despite a load of books that would have daunted a lesser woman. The cold weather that had arrived last week only helped Lauren's cause, allowing her to keep up her pace without heatstroke setting in. She'd been thinking of Jill Hudson since she left their apartment that morning. She would have kept Jill in bed all day but for a series of unavoidable exams. The tests had not stopped her from thinking of Jill however, and she felt the primal mix of hormones that had driven her thoughts all day surging through her body.

Small clouds of her breath nearly obscured her vision, and she knew it was risky to move so quickly on such slippery sidewalks. But she had a feeling Jill would be just as ready for her as she was for Jill. They'd lingered in bed that morning as long as both could justify, spending precious moments kissing and caressing each other before Lauren's conscience got the best of her. After a quick, shared shower, they faced the morning, pausing at the door of their apartment to share one last, long kiss. That kiss, and all that it promised, was imprinted on Lauren’s body and her mind. As she drew near to their building, she saw that the light in the kitchen was on, and she let out a loud "Yes!" to no one in particular.

Lauren felt instantly at home as she closed the door behind her and shed her backpack and coat. She'd never shared a place with someone she loved before, and this apartment felt more like home than anywhere she'd ever lived. Her feelings gave her pause for a moment as she realized that it was love that made it so. It was quiet in the apartment, and she could see Jill in the kitchen. "Hi."

"Hi, you," Jill said, glancing over her shoulder. Lauren was stopped dead in her tracks by Jill's smile. Sometimes when Jill looked at her or moved a certain way or said her name, she was overcome. This was one of those moments. Though she'd had every intention of bulldozing her lover when she got home, she walked into the kitchen slowly, admiring the beauty in front of her.

Jill Hudson was the most beautiful woman Lauren had ever seen. Surprisingly, her lover wasn’t the "type" that usually appealed to Lauren. She usually liked women who were "interesting" looking, rather than traditionally pretty. Jill was classically beautiful, with a long, lean frame, glossy raven hair and strong, perfectly proportioned features, but her looks were not the main draw for Lauren. What had attracted Lauren, and still brought her up short nearly every day, was the way Jill inhabited her body. She exuded confidence and a sexiness that were simply stunning. And the thing that always surprised Lauren was that Jill reserved the sweetest, sexiest part of herself for her alone.

Lauren thanked the heavens that they lived in an apartment that was habitually steaming hot. Jill was barely clad in a thin tank top and a pair of loose cotton knit shorts that defined the curves of her hips and ass. She was swaying slightly and humming as she worked, and as Lauren got closer, she saw that she was peeling potatoes.

She felt a sudden tenderness for Jill and how sweet and caring she always was. Drawn to her, Lauren placed her hands on her hips, then slid them around her waist, the allure of Jill’s belly a temptation she was unable to resist.

"Laurie!" Jill shrieked. She dropped the peeler and the potato she was working on and grabbed at her lover’s hands, slapping them away. "Your hands are like ice!"

Lauren couldn’t help giggling a little. "Honey, I’m so sorry," she said, and though she was, the giggling continued.

"Forgot your gloves again, huh?"

"I guess," Lauren said, her eyes already glazing over. She couldn’t help her hands’ straying, and they found their way back into the brunette’s shorts and cupped her ass, drawing her close.

Jill didn’t object. She tilted her head and kissed her lover, running her hands through her long, blonde hair, the sensation sending shivers down Lauren’s back.

They stood in the kitchen, kissing and touching each other until Jill pulled back slightly to breathe in her lover’s unmistakable scent. She felt a little weak in the knees as she whispered, "I’ve been thinking about you all day."

Lauren groaned, and all she could say was, "Me, too, baby. You’re making me … you’re making me …"

"Come on," Jill said, leading her to the bedroom. "Dinner can wait. I can’t."


An hour later, Lauren lay on her back, her tongue moving slowly in her mouth. She was amazed and delighted at how her lover’s taste lingered on her palate. Her clit still pulsed occasionally, and she languidly stretched and rolled onto her belly, pressing her vulva against the mattress. "One more time," she said aloud. "I could have gone one more time." But Jill was back at work, finishing the dinner she had planned.

Feeling a little lonely, Lauren crossed her hands and rested her chin on them, wishing Jill would come back to the bedroom. I wish we could live on love. I wish Jill felt the same. Lauren hated having this empty feeling right after making love, but Jill had planned a dinner and gone to the store, and there was no dissuading her once she had an agenda.

Lauren sat bolt upright. Her heart had started to pound; she didn’t just feel lonely — she was starting to feel frightened and panicky. God, it’s gonna be so much worse when she goes. The blonde bounded out of bed and into the kitchen. She grasped her lover around the waist and buried her face between her shoulder blades.

Jill was cooking contentedly, happy to have Lauren holding her, extending the intimacy of their lovemaking. Lauren was trying not to cry.


Lauren sat on an uncomfortable chair in the student health services building, waiting for Allen, her counselor, to speak. He had his hand on her chart, and it occurred to her that he was nervous. "Okay. When we met, you said that you’d been having some panicky feelings and that you were depressed."

"And I had to spend all of my time trying to convince you I wasn’t gonna jump off the library," she said, not smiling. "I’m gonna be more careful of what I tell you from here on in."

Alarmed, he said, "No, please don’t do that! The only way I can help is if you feel safe telling me anything that’s on your mind."

"I don’t feel safe when it feels like you’re gonna assign a guard to watch me," she said. "I’m upset and I’m depressed, but I have a damn good reason. I don’t need shock treatment or whatever it is you do to people. I just need some advice."

Allen nodded, "Got it. Now, tell me about the things that are upsetting you."

"Thing," she corrected. "Just one thing. My lover is going to leave Massachusetts when we graduate and move to Hartford, Connecticut to learn the insurance business from her grandfather. He owns the company," she added, a slight look of distaste on her face.

"I see," he said. "And this upsets you … why?"

"I won’t be going along because she can’t or won’t tell him she’s a lesbian. I’m supposed to wait around for him to be properly prepared for this horrible news, or we can break up. My choice." She slumped down in her chair, looking like she’d given up hope.

"When did you learn about this?"

"Uhm …" She looked at the ceiling, then out the tiny window. "About a week after we met." At his questioning look, she added, "A little over a year ago."

"Uh-huh." He made a note. "And it just started to bother you recently?"

"No, Allen." Her voice cracked a bit. "It’s bothered me all along. But now the time is actually coming when the woman I love, and who loves me, is leaving me. To please her grandfather."

"Does she know how you feel?"

"Oh, yeah, she knows. She’s got this family thing. This obligation thing. And it’s the only thing that matters. Not how she feels or what she wants. Not how I feel. It’s the only thing."

"Does she normally ignore your needs?" Allen asked.

"No." Lauren’s voice was firm and unequivocal. "We have a damned good relationship. She’s caring and thoughtful and very loving. She really shows me how much she loves me. That’s why this is driving me so crazy! It just doesn’t make sense!"

"How’s your sex life?" he asked.

She blinked, but ignored her discomfort and answered. "It’s great. Better than ever. We’re really, really close," she said.

"Hmm … intimacy usually suffers when there’s a big issue in the relationship."

"Just the opposite," she said. "The closer we get to the date, the closer we get physically. It’s like we’re trying to make up for the future." She dropped her head and covered her eyes with her hands. "But we can’t."


Jill shifted her foot and watched the book that hid Lauren’s face move just enough for the blonde’s eyes to peek out. A soft, slow bossa nova CD was playing in the background, and Lauren’s voice was nearly as slow and mellow as the song. "You’re heading for dangerous territory there."

With a playful wiggle of her toes, Jill said, "I love to live dangerously."

"Well, you’re on the edge. And I’ve got to study tonight. So don’t push me over."

"Aww … you’re so cute when you’re serious." Jill smiled at her lover and added, "You’re cute all of the time, though, so that makes sense."

"Let me finish this chapter, okay?" Lauren asked. "Then we can take a little break."

Jill nodded, but didn’t look down at her book. Instead, she kept her eyes on her lover, watching the way her eyes moved across the page and how her sweet and competent hands held the book. Her honey-blonde hair was piled up on the back of her head and held in place with a pencil. Jill never could figure out how she did it, but she loved coming up behind her, sniffing her neck until Lauren giggled, then pulling the pencil and watching her hair cascade. And now she could feel the warm connection all along her body where she and Lauren touched.

The spell hadn’t worn off, even though they’d been together for more than a year. When they were at home, Jill had to be touching Lauren. There was a pull she couldn’t resist that drew her to the smaller woman no matter what they were doing. Cooking, cleaning, doing the dishes, studying, almost anything. Jill had to brush against her, grab a kiss, stand behind her, wrap around her, snuggle against her, breathe her in. It was an addiction she was powerless over and one she had no desire to quit.

They’d figured out the puzzle that was their favorite study position not long after they moved in together. It probably didn’t look comfortable, but it was. It was blissful for Jill to be facing her lover, touching her in so many places, having her foot nestled between Lauren’s legs. She could watch her, feel her chest move, almost hear her breathing. Every sensation reassuring, calming … home. Laurie.


Jill was leaving Amherst at 7:00 a.m. to drive to Hartford for Christmas break, so the couple had gone to bed at an unnaturally early hour. Lauren woke to a noise and spent a moment trying to orient herself. The room was silent, and she closed her eyes and started to drift off to sleep again when she heard a soft sob. Turning onto her side, she put her hand on Jill’s back and felt her body shaking. "Sweetheart," she said quietly, but there was no response. She wasn’t sure if Jill was awake or asleep, since it wasn’t odd for her partner to fail to reply when she was crying.

Lauren got out of bed and walked around to its other side. She bent and squinted in the dim light, trying to see Jill’s face. Damn. Another nightmare. She’s having them more often lately. She knelt on the floor, watching her partner struggle with her demons, knowing it wasn’t wise to wake her, but finding it nearly impossible to restrain herself.

Jill woke with a start and pulled herself up and away from the figure on the floor, not even realizing it was Lauren. Her chest heaved, and she roughly wiped her cheeks with the palms of her hands. It didn’t help. She continued to cry. It broke Lauren’s heart every time she saw her lover this way.

Lauren suspected that she’d had these nightmares since the accident that killed her family, sparing only her. When Jill was seventeen, her father, a marine biologist from Woods Hole, and her mother, a research assistant who often worked with her husband, and she, were flying to the Florida Keys in a small Piper when they crashed.

Jill survived with only a broken arm, but her psyche was shattered. Her grandfather, Lionel Hudson, was the only family she had left. He wasn’t capable of raising a young woman, and Jill refused to leave Woods Hole, so she was left to soothe her own wounds while living with a friend’s family for her senior year.

Lionel Hudson, the only son of the founder of Hudson Assurance, was eighty-one years old when Jill’s father, his only child, died. He was not a man prone to displays of emotion, but Jill knew that he loved and cared for her. From the time she was a girl, he had delighted her with his promises of her one day running the company. He promised he would groom and train her, and to Jill it sounded like she was being made ready to be a princess. It wasn’t until she started college and began to take courses in her business major that she discovered the business world wasn’t as alluring as the fairy tale world she’d imagined.

She did well in school and in every summer internship at Hudson Assurance, and she made her grandfather extremely proud of her. He was her family now. She knew it, and she intended to fulfill the obligation she felt to him.

"Honey, it’s me; you’re having a nightmare," Lauren soothed. She moved gingerly, getting ready to slide back into bed. "I’m gonna hold you. Just relax." Getting into bed, she tucked her arms around Jill, relieved when the brunette reached for her like a lifeline. They held each other for a long time, with neither speaking. Jill had a hard time expressing her feelings most of the time, but after a nightmare, she was totally non-verbal. Lauren had learned early on that the best way to reach her lover was through touch, and she did her best to always be there for her when she needed her.

The minutes passed, and Lauren felt Jill’s body lose some of it’s tension. Her body seemed to cool a little, also, and Lauren was confident she’d be able to sleep. She lay on her back and urged Jill to nestle against her side. When Jill’s dark head rested on Lauren’s shoulder, she let out a shaky sigh and put her hand on her partner’s belly. Within minutes, Lauren could feel her breathing deepen and become regular. She stroked her hair, keeping her touch light. I wish you’d talk about the crash, baby, but I know how hard it is for you. Who’s gonna hold you when you’re in Hartford?


Jill and Lionel sat in the backseat of a black Lincoln Towncar, being driven up Interstate 91 on the way to Amherst. Jill was thrilled that Christmas break was over, and she’d be back in Lauren’s arms in less than an hour. But when she considered her homecoming, she began to grow nervous. Lionel Hudson and Lauren Hale would be meeting each other for the first time, and Jill was loath to admit how important this first meeting might prove to be. If he likes her, it’ll help towards smoothing the way when I tell him about us. I just have to control things until I can tell he’s ready.

When they pulled up in front of the three-story, brick apartment building, the driver jumped out and held the door for Jill and her grandfather. The young woman looked up to see if there were any lights on, smiling to herself when she saw that Lauren was home.

"I’ll bring your things up, Miss Hudson," the driver said.

"Thank you," she said.

"Well, let’s see where you’ve been living, Jill."

"It’s on the second floor, and there’s no elevator, Granddad."

He gave her a sharp look and said, "I can still make it up a flight of stairs."

"Oh, I didn’t mean to imply …"

"Up we go then," he said, sounding lighthearted.

Jill gave the buzzer a short ring, just to let Lauren know they were about to come in. She opened the door and let her grandfather go first. The first thing she saw was Lauren beaming at her over the older man’s shoulder. "Lauren," she said quickly, "this is my grandfather, Lionel Hudson. Grandfather, this is my roommate, Lauren Hale."

Instead of approaching Lauren, Jill busied herself with taking her grandfather’s things and hanging them up along with hers. Lauren was a little nonplussed, but she extended her hand. "So nice to meet you, Mr. Hudson."

"What was your name again? Laura?"

"Lauren," she said, trying not to look offended.

"Well, this is a tiny little place you have, Jill." He looked around, seeming to count the doorways. "Three rooms?"

"Yes, it’s big enough for us and so much less expensive than a two-bedroom."

He turned to her, puzzled. "Money’s not an issue for you. In such a small space, why have a roommate?" He cast a quick glance at Lauren. "No offense to you, of course."

"Lauren and I are great friends, Granddad, and besides, she’s a great cook," Jill said.

"Oh, well, that’s a good reason."

Lauren was staring at her lover, trying to control her feelings. No kiss? No hug? I know she doesn’t want him to know about us, but, Jesus, the old guy’s obviously never even heard of me!

Lionel walked through the living room and spent a moment looking out the triple windows. "Nice view. I’ll bet there are some good bargains in real estate around here. What’s the market like?"

Jill swallowed and tried to think of something intelligent to say. "I don’t know about bargains. With all of the schools and IT firms in the area, the Pioneer Valley is pretty expensive."

"Hmm … I guess I’d better stick to Hartford," he said, laughing a little. "That’s an area I know."

Lauren was still standing near the front door, not quite knowing what to do. Jill was standing next to her grandfather, and they weren’t trying to include her in the conversation, but she didn’t want to be rude and walk away. She said, "Can I offer you a drink, Mr. Hudson?"

He turned, looking surprised that she was still there. "Oh. No, thank you. I’ll be leaving soon."

With a soft knock, the driver opened the door and put Jill’s bags down. He stood there for a moment, waiting for further instruction. "Thank you, John," Lionel said. "I’ll be right down."

"Yes, sir," he said, turning to leave.

Lauren picked up a bag and said, "I’ll help you get settled in."

"No, no, that’s not necessary," Jill said, not wanting her grandfather to have any idea how close they were. "I can do it myself."

Giving her a look filled with hurt, Lauren said, "Good to have you back. Nice to have met you, Mr. Hudson." Before either could reply, she went into the bedroom and closed the door.

Lionel walked back to the front door and waited for Jill to hand him his coat. She helped him on with it and stood there, waiting for him to speak. "When is your graduation?"

"May 12th," she said.

"Ahh … excellent. I want you to start work by June 1st. That’ll give you a couple of weeks to get settled. Maybe even take a few days to relax. You won’t be getting much time for that once you start at the firm. Everyone will expect you to work twice as hard as anyone else. I hope you won’t disappoint me, Jill."

"I won’t," she said, but his hand was already on the door knob. Just before he walked out, he put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze.

"Do well," he said, then walked down the stairs, the driver opening the door for him when he reached the street.

Jill leaned against the door, her head resting on the cool wood. "I’ll do my best," she said, feeling the responsibilities of her future tighten one more notch.


Lauren didn’t open the bedroom door, even though Jill was certain she’d heard the front door shut. Jill picked up her bags, but took them only as far as the bedroom door. Her guilt sent her shuffling into the kitchen. She looked in the refrigerator, and after she’d stared blankly at its contents for a while, she realized she was looking for a way out. She felt anguished over the way she had treated Lauren, but the thought of trying to make Lauren understand her position was draining her. Oh, fuck. This is so hard sometimes.

Jill spun in place when she heard the bedroom door open. Lauren was standing in the doorway, leaning against the jamb, looking like a wounded pup.

Jill crossed the room in seconds flat, scooped Lauren into a hug and held her tight. "I missed you so much, sweetheart."

"Did you?"

"God, yes, you know I did! It feels so good to hold you again."

"I really wasn’t too sure about your feelings; you seemed like a stranger when your grandfather was here."

"Laurie, it’s not like that. You know how things are. We’ve talked about it a dozen times."

"I still have feelings," Lauren said, looking hurt and sad. "This is getting harder with every day that passes."

She hugged her tighter, murmuring into her hair, "I know. It’s hard for me, too. But if we handle this right, things can work out in the end."

Lauren pulled away. "I don’t want things to work out in the end. I need you now, not years from now!"

The brunette’s expression changed in a flash. Her obvious compassion morphed into something that looked like impatience. "I’ve been honest with you from the beginning," Jill said. "You can’t try to change the rules now. It’s not fair."


"Yes, fair for both of us. Keep you eyes on the bottom line, baby."

"The bottom line is, you say you love me, and you’re walking out of my life in May. That’s the only bottom line I see!"

"But I’m not," Jill said. "I’m going to set the stage … to get things ready so that we can be together again. But I have to do this right. I can’t have my grandfather find out before I think he’s ready. If he does …"

"What?" Lauren demanded. "Tell me what’ll happen if he finds out before you think he should."

Jill’s expression grew guarded. "That’s not an option. That can’t happen. That won’t happen. I won’t let it."

"You can’t control the universe!" Lauren yelled in frustration.

"I don’t have to," Jill said. "I just have to make sure my grandfather doesn’t put a stop to this before it even gets started. Let me handle this my way," she said, her voice once again growing soft and comforting. "I know what I’m doing."

Lauren moved away from the door and walked into the living room. She sat down on a chair, not giving Jill the option of sitting next to her. The taller woman sat down on the sofa and looked at her partner, waiting for her to speak. It took a while for Lauren to compose herself, and Jill could clearly see that the blonde was both hurt and discouraged.

"You’re never going to see this my way," Lauren said calmly. "And I’ll never see it your way."

"But I’m trying —"

"Please, let me finish," Lauren said. Her voice was so nearly a monotone that it frightened Jill. "In my eyes, you’re putting your grandfather’s feelings ahead of both mine and yours. I don’t know how to get over that hurt ... especially since I know it’s gonna get worse."

"It’s gonna get better," Jill insisted.

"When? Today I met him for the first time, and he didn’t even know you had a roommate! How much longer until he knows you have a lover? A couple of months, a year, five? What?"

Jill leaned back against the cushions, her body limp. "You know I can’t predict when that’ll happen. You knew that from the start." She reached up, surprised when she noticed her cheeks were wet. "It’s not fair to let me fall in love with you like I have and then try to change everything. It’s just not fair."

"So what am I supposed to do?" Lauren asked.

"Try not to think about it," Jill said. "I have an obligation, I have a plan, and I’m gonna make it work. Just trust me."

Lauren knew that one definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. It rankled her and humiliated her to admit she was about to cave. But she’d been sitting there, looking at her lover across the room. There was the woman she’d missed so much, the woman she loved so much, and she couldn’t bear to be apart from her for another moment. Lauren walked across the room and deposited herself onto Jill’s lap. She could feel Jill’s relief, and even more, she could feel her own. "I love you, Jill, and I believe you love me. This is all I want right now. Just be with me, baby."


Lauren picked up a piece of pineapple with a pair of chopsticks and slipped it into her lover’s mouth. Jill smiled, licking her lips where the sweet sauce had dripped. Fishing another tidbit out of the carton, Lauren saw that it was a green pepper, and she popped it into her own mouth. She was straddling Jill’s lap, facing her, and she dipped her head to kiss her. "We make a good pair," she said. "I like everything you don’t like, and you like everything I don’t. We’re like Jack Spratt and his wife."

"Do we know them?"

"Old nursery rhyme," Lauren said. "You don’t hang out with enough pre-schoolers. Jack liked the lean meat, and his wife liked the fat. So they ate everything on the platter."

"I wish I did hang out with pre-schoolers. I’m so jealous that you get to student-teach this term. It must be cool to have all of those little munchkins hanging onto your leg."

Tickling her lover’s nose with the sticks, Lauren said, "And I have one at home, too. I’m a lucky girl."

"You don’t let any of them sit on your lap to eat lunch, do you? This is my spot," she said, patting Lauren’s butt.

"No. I can think of a few who’d like to, but I try not to pick out any favorites." She laughed. "Even though I have some."

Jill opened her mouth when Lauren held up a piece of shrimp. She chewed for a moment while Lauren searched for the last bits of food. "I meant it about being jealous," she said softly.

Surprised by her tone, Lauren looked up, then put the container on the table. "What’s wrong, baby?"

"I wish I could’ve majored in education and been student-teaching with you this term. I like business, but I don’t love it. I worry that it won’t keep me interested."

Lauren privately thought that her lover was totally ill-suited to a career in business, but she didn’t think it was fair to tell her so, especially since she knew Jill was going to go through with her plans. "You’ll have to wait and see, honey. If you really don’t like it, you can’t just will yourself to be interested."

"I have to like it," Jill said, morosely.

It was rare that Jill expressed even a hint of a doubt about her future, and Lauren wasn’t sure how to respond. She wanted to shake her and force her to admit the truth. That Jill didn’t want to do this. That Jill wasn’t the type of person to read actuarial columns all day. That she would never be happy having her company be the primary focus of her life. But she couldn’t bear to have another pointless argument about it. She placed a soft kiss on Jill’s lips and got off her lap, then went to the sink to clean up.

It only took a few moments for Jill to cross the room and stand behind her, wrapping her arms around Lauren’s waist. The smaller woman lifted her head and leaned back enough to kiss Jill’s throat. "Feels good," she said.

As was so often the case, Jill seemed to need intimacy when she was feeling sad. She started to kiss Lauren’s neck, moving her hair out of the way with her mouth, then placing noisy, wet kisses all across the pebbling skin. Lauren giggled helplessly, unable to speak the moment Jill’s lips touched her neck.

Partially to stop the tickling, and partially to feel her partner’s body press against hers, Lauren turned around and held Jill close. They kissed for a long while. Jill knew just when Lauren was ready for a little more passion and when she needed to back off to let her catch her breath.

A small moan escaped Lauren, and she pressed closer. Jill’s hands dropped to caress Lauren’s ass, and she found her hands filled with soft, pliant flesh. Her hand trailed down the back of Lauren’s thigh and she began to lift her leg, knowing it was an angle her lover liked. Without a word, and with a little help from Jill, Lauren hopped up to wrap her other leg around her lover’s waist.

Jill leaned into her, using the counter to hold the squirming woman still while she ground her hips, pressing against Lauren’s cunt. Their mouths attached, Lauren frantically worked at the buttons on Jill’s blouse, managing to open them with great concentration. The friction against her clit was about to drive her mad, but she needed to feel Jill’s flesh in her mouth. She tried to undo her lover’s lace bra, but couldn’t manage the angle or the pressure. Giving up, she grasped the edge of the cup and pushed it aside, bending into an uncomfortable position to savor the sweet softness of Jill’s breast.

It was Jill’s turn to groan as she held the back of Lauren’s head to her. She looked over her lover’s shoulder, and in one smooth move, pushed her onto the counter. She undid the buttons on her jeans and pulled them off, along with Lauren’s panties.

Her mouth watered at the sight of her. She wanted to hurry, but she rarely did. She looked up into Lauren’s eyes. "I love you."

Lauren didn’t speak, but her panting was a clear response. Jill pressed her thumbs against the base of her partner’s cunt, then ran them up her lips, moving so slowly that Lauren pressed against her for some relief. Again and again Jill stroked her in just the same way, exciting her but never satisfying her. Finally, when she sensed Lauren was at her limit, she leaned into her and tasted her, both women groaning at the first contact.

Lauren reached for her partner, lacing her fingers through her hair to try to control her. But Jill moved where and when she wanted. She knew how much Lauren could take, and she knew how much it turned both of them on to make the teasing touch last as long as possible. Her own cunt was throbbing, her lips so swollen they were nearly painful. But she concentrated only on her lover, tasting her, fondling her, nuzzling against her with the gentlest of touches.

Jill stood, pulling Lauren’s legs to her and sitting her up. Lauren looked at her, kissed her, and her legs automatically wrapped around Jill’s waist. Jill lovingly scooped her partner up and began to walk to the bedroom, trying not to let Lauren’s gentle bites to her neck distract her. "Oh, Jill," Lauren whispered into her ear, one arm around her neck, and one hand in her hair, "I love you, too."


Jill stood behind a chain-link fence, watching her partner round up her little charges to leave for the day. Each of them hugged her or waved goodbye, and the taller woman was touched by how the kids seemed to adore Lauren. Of course, she adored her, too, so it didn’t surprise her.

Lauren looked up and caught sight of her lover, struck by how sad and lonely she looked. She walked over and said, "Hi. I didn’t know you were coming by."

Giving her a half-smile, Jill said, "I’ve never seen your school. I couldn’t let the year go by without seeing you in your element."

Lauren smiled. "I’m really glad you came. Come around to the front, and I’ll give you a tour."

"Okay," Jill said. "I’ll wait until all of your kids have been picked up." Lauren went back to the job of matching kids and their parents or babysitters, occasionally looking up to see her lover’s immeasurably sad face.

For the thousandth time, the tall brunette thought about how she’d gotten into the position in which she now found herself. She threaded her fingers through the chain links and leaned heavily against the fence.


May 12th dawned sunny and bright but joyless. The sun’s first rays made Lauren’s heart start to pound. Jill and she had spent the night making love and trying not to be desperate about it. This was the day she would have to leave her only love behind.

"Laurie?" Jill whispered.


"I hate this day, but I don’t want you to worry. I promise we’ll be together again before you know it."

Lauren had decided weeks ago that there’d be no punishment, no arguing, no second thoughts on this day. She would show Jill all the love she had in her heart, and she would support her, suppressing all of her own doubts. "Come on my baby, I’m gonna make you a big breakfast."

Jill felt a small wave of relief wash through her. "Okay."

She sat at the table in their cozy kitchen almost giddy with the happiness of watching Lauren move around making breakfast. I hope we can get a bigger apartment in Hartford. I know Laurie would enjoy cooking more if we had more space. Jill felt her heart clutch. I have to make this work, and I will.

"Here you go, my sweet, tall girl, the breakfast of champions ... everything you like."

Jill pulled Lauren down on her lap so they could share the meal. When they finished, they went into the bathroom, taking a long, shared shower.

They both moved purposefully, going about the tasks they usually performed automatically. But everything had meaning this morning. Every thing they did was the last time they’d do it — at least in this apartment.

Their ceremonies were at different times, and neither was able to attend the other’s. But Lauren thought it was best this way. She couldn’t get away from her family to go alone, and she couldn’t bear to have them see how upset she knew she’d be to see her lover officially finish this chapter of their lives.

Lauren’s bags were already packed, and after her morning ceremony, her family would help her load the small trailer they’d rented. They’d leave for Boston while Jill’s ceremony was going on.

Jill, and whatever functionary her grandfather dispatched, would return to a mostly empty apartment. By the end of the day, the place would be devoid of everything except memories.


After two weeks on the job at Hudson Assurance, Jill walked into her suite at her grandfather’s house and started to take off her dress. It had been a tough change to have to dress up every day, but her grandfather wanted her to be the best dressed young associate at the firm, and he gave her an unlimited budget to make sure she complied.

She lay down on the bed, clad in a slip when there was a quiet knock on the door. Before she could answer, Linda, the housekeeper, opened it and said, "Dinner will be in fifteen minutes, Miss Hudson." She closed the door without waiting for a response.

"Call me Jill," the young woman said, staring up at the ceiling.


After dinner, she stood up and brushed off her linen slacks. "I’m going out for a little while, Granddad."

"Out? Don’t you want to watch the nightly business report on CNN?"

"I’ll catch up when I get home," she said. It occurred to her that they’d fallen into a pattern so quickly that the slightest variation stuck out.

"Where are you going? You haven’t any friends yet, have you?"

"No, not yet. I thought I’d take a look at some of the apartment buildings that I’ve seen in the paper. Just to get a feel for the different neighborhoods."

"What?" The old man looked at her like she was speaking another language. "Why would you do that? You’re not considering getting an apartment, are you? You have a whole suite of rooms right here with a swimming pool and a tennis court. Where else can you find that kind of place — rent-free?"

"Uhm … I …" She trailed off. It suddenly hit her that her plans were proceeding at a snail’s pace, when they were proceeding at all. She felt a little sick to her stomach, unable to think of a reason to leave such a large, beautiful house. The only reason that made sense was to explain that she needed her own life, but she was certain her grandfather would never understand that. He’d spent every moment trying to turn her into a distaff version of himself, and her trying to declare her independence was diametrically opposed to his plan.


After two weeks of lethargically searching for work, Lauren lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Her sister Kelly was getting ready for school, blowing her long hair dry. The rest of the household was making a fair amount of noise, too, with their father shouting down the stairs, asking where his dry cleaning was.

Lauren gritted her teeth and tried to shut out the noise, but it was impossible. After sighing and turning over dramatically, Lauren finally snapped, "Can’t you dry your hair in the bathroom?"

Kelly looked at her for a second, then turned back to the mirror, completely ignoring her.

Lauren got up, took her pillow and went into her parents’ room, surprising her father who was still putting on his pants. She ignored his expression and flopped down into the unmade bed, putting her pillow over her head.


Her family was asleep, and the house was finally quiet, but 3:00 a.m. found Lauren sprawled across the sofa in the den, laptop resting on one leg. She’d been working on this latest version of an e-mail to Jill for over a half-hour, but she couldn’t keep it from sounding maudlin. She had nothing to report other than the pain of loss, and she knew that wouldn’t help matters between them.

Jill didn’t seem very happy either, even though her notes didn’t say that in so many words. But Lauren knew her so well, she could easily read between the lines and see that her lover was being stifled by the autocratic ways of her grandfather.

She’d been crying on and off for hours, as she had nearly every night she’d been home. Home. Her emotions began to overwhelm her, and she let out a suppressed wail. Her whole body shook as she let out a wellspring of grief. She didn’t know how long she’d been crying, and she gave a start when she felt her mother’s hand gently touch her shoulder.

"Tell me about it," her mother said quietly.

Lauren wiped her eyes, trying to make her voice work. "About what?"

"What’s troubling you so much, sweetheart. And don’t tell me everything’s all right. You haven’t been yourself since you got home."

"I just …" She looked away, unable to bear the empathy she saw in her mother’s green eyes. "It’s nothing big. Just … you know … hard to adjust."

The older woman placed her hand on Lauren’s head, then removed the pencil her daughter had stuck there. As Lauren’s hair fell to her shoulders, she started to cry again. Great, shuddering sobs that frightened her mother. She dashed around the sofa and knelt on the floor, cradling her child in her arms. "Shh."

Lauren continued to cry, her mind awash in grief. Finally, she couldn’t hold it in anymore. She had to let someone know. Taking in a shaky breath, she looked at her mother. "I’m in love."


Jill walked into her office and sat down heavily. She’d been on her feet since 7:00 that morning, and it was now nearly 9:00 p. m. She kicked off her heels and surreptitiously removed her pantyhose. Rubbing the callus that was forming on the ball of her foot, she muttered, "Fuck heels." She’d been working on a project for two days and finally had it at a point where she thought it was good enough to submit.

For the first time that day, she was able to log onto her personal e-mail, hoping for a note from Lauren. She smiled when there were not one, but two from her lover. But her smile faded when she saw that the first was written at 4:00 a.m. She’s not sleeping.

She read the first note, her mouth open the entire time. By the time she’d reached the end, she had to get up and take off her jacket. She stood there, feeling like all of the oxygen in the small room had been removed. She found herself turning slowly in a circle under the fluorescent lighting. Two beige filing cabinets, already chock full of paper. Cream-colored vertical blinds that never closed properly. A muted pastel reproduction of a mass-market painting, guaranteed to attract no attention whatsoever. A beige metal desk with a Formica top in faux walnut finish, nearly every surface piled high with papers. A copy of the Wall Street Journal stuffed onto her overflowing metal waste basket. And her shoes and stockings, discarded onto the scuffed plastic chair pad, protecting an industrial carpet that had needed replacing ten years ago.

She’d counted her blessings when she’d been shown to her office. None of the other recent hires had one. But now it seemed like a holding pen rather than a place to work. She realized she was still holding her jacket in her hand, and that hot tears were streaming down her cheeks.

She let the jacket fall to the floor, the six ounces of fabric far too heavy for her shaking hand to support. Blindly, she groped for her chair, sinking into it with relief. She blinked again and again, trying to clear her eyes enough to read the note again. When she finished, she opened the second e-mail and began to cry harder as she read it.

Hi, sweetheart.

I got worried about you when I didn’t hear from you all day. Are you okay? If you’re worried about me, you don’t need to be. I’m fine, baby, and my dad has been great, too.

It feels like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders, even though I didn’t know it was there. I feel free, Jill. Free to be myself with my family once again.

I love you,


Jill lay her head on her desk, the cool plastic taking some of the heat from her cheek. Her hands came up to rest on the surface, and they lay there for a moment before striking out with all of the force she could summon. Papers, folders, reports and files went crashing to the floor and against the wall. She leapt from her chair and grasped the big file cabinet by the corners and started to shake it. It was so full that it barely moved, but her strength finally made it crash heavily and loudly against the wallboard, making a significant dent. She started to kick the papers that lay on the floor, not hearing them rip and tear.

She was sweating, her hair tangled and wet, her blouse ripped at its side seam. Spent, she lay down on the floor in the mess of papers, finally able to have a coherent thought. All she knew, all she felt, all she was … was being destroyed. And she couldn’t let that happen. Not to herself. Not to Lauren.


Joanne Hale ran down the stairs at 7:00 a.m., wondering who could be ringing her doorbell. The younger girls were all getting ready for school, and she suspected that one of them had made some plan to meet up with a friend.

She opened the door to find a tall, lean, rather bedraggled-looking young woman returning her gaze. From the pictures Lauren had shown her, she was sure this was Jill. But she had a hard time making her mental image from the photos match reality. Jill looked like she’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. Her hair was tangled and limp, and she looked like she’d slept in her clothes. But the most distressing thing was how obvious it was that she’d been crying. A lot. Her eyes were nearly swollen shut, and her nose was red and irritated. "Jill?" Joanne asked.

The woman nodded. "I’m sorry it’s so early," she said, sounding like she was going to cry again. "But I have to see Laurie."

Joanne reached out and put her hand on her back, ushering her into the house. "Don’t worry about the time, honey. We’re all up." She snuck a quick glance upstairs, seeing the master bedroom door closed. "All except for Lauren, that is. Come into the kitchen, and I’ll get her."

Jill was obviously uncomfortable, and she didn’t move even when Joanne touched her shoulder. "Could I?" she asked, looking longingly in the direction that Joanne had.

"Oh! Of course! She’s gone into our room to sleep. Her sister wakes her up much earlier than she likes. It’s the closed door on the left side of the hall."

Jill hurried up the stairs and paused with her shaking hand on the doorknob. She’d never been so scared in her life. She slipped into the room and closed the door behind her as quietly as she could. There was her Laurie. She knew exactly how Lauren would feel and smell if she crawled behind that sleeping body. She began to cry a little, all of her pent-up longing for Lauren coming out. The body twitched.

"Get. Out." The pillow missed Jill’s head by inches. Lauren now deigned to look and see which sister had arrived to torture her. She was bolt upright in her parents’ bed in less than a nanosecond. And in the next nanosecond, she was sobbing, her arms outstretched in welcome.

Jill got to the bed — she wasn’t sure how — and fell into Lauren’s arms.

"You’re here. How can you be here?" She was running her hands through Jill’s hair, trying to understand why her lover was so upset and such a mess.

"I can’t be anywhere else."

"Baby, what happened? Are you all right?" She was gently touching her all down her body, not even sure that she hadn’t been in an accident.

"I can’t be without you. I wish I were as smart as you. If I were, I’d have known it sooner."

The light was beginning to dawn in Lauren’s head. God, please let this mean what I think it means. "Uhm … uhm, Jill? Am I moving to Hartford?"

"I don’t know. Maybe. Probably not." She pulled back a little and finally looked into Lauren’s eyes. That simple action made things start to make sense. "I don’t care where we live. In fact, I don’t know where we live. I just know that we have to be together. That’s the only thing that matters."

Lauren blinked. "The only thing?"

Jill nodded. Decisively. And then she leaned in to kiss her girl.

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