~ Vows of the Heart ~
by Alex Tryst
Copyright August 2004

Top 25: Aug 1, 2003
This tale follows "Love in Photographs", "Georgia on My Mind", and "Stick to the Script". This is the fourth and final story in the New York Series.

As always, comments and feedback is welcome at alextryst@hotmail.com.

Green eyes studied the ceiling as hands idly caressed the dark head on her bare breasts. Open French doors allowed the sounds of morning waves of the distant water into the room. Normally Helen adored this time of the day most with Torrance, but this morning found her dejected. She sighed deeply.

"What is it, beautiful?" the photographer softly asked, breaking the silence.

"Nothing. I was just thinking."

"About?" the forty-year-old brunette questioned, lifting her head from her wife's endowment.

Seeing adoring green eyes showing concern, the blonde shook her head lightly. She wanted to express what was really on her mind, but she decided not to do so, given their time constraints that morning. Instead she merely smiled and answered, "I was just thinking about how much I'm going to miss you and the kids."

Torrance grinned down at her elegant wife of five years. "Trust me. Once you, Georgia, and Sarah get on that plane, you're going to forget all about us. The three of you are going to have a great time in New Orleans. You need this vacation, Helen. You need time away from our little holy terrors," she joked. "This girls trip is just what you need."

"But I don't need time away from you," she whispered, cupping the brunette's face in her hand.

Torrance smiled down at her before lowering her mouth to the blonde's ear. Kissing it tenderly, she whispered, "Restez-vous avec moi?"

Helen giggled lightly as she held her wife tighter. "Do you even know how much I love it when you speak French to me when we make love?" she asked as their mouths came together gently.

"Vraiment?" the photographer inquired meeting green eyes.

"Yes. It's so sexy," she teased.

"Je t'aime, mon madame," Torrance responded as her left hand trailed down over the blonde's shoulder to her naked breast.

Helen spared a smile for her beloved before kissing her again. "I love you too, Torrance, so much." Moments passed with them slowly escalating their intimacy for a second time that morning. However, when Helen felt her need overtake the idle caressing, she whispered, "Please make love to me again, Torrance. It will be so long until I can feel you again."

Torrance laughed lightly since her wife made her two-week vacation seem like forever. "Avec plaisir," she answered, going about the task with great joy.

Half an hour later their alarm began to emit the sounds of the news, signaling the end of their activities. Regretfully the blonde turned to her lover. "I hate leaving you," she confessed.

"You'll manage," Torrance answered.

Helen nodded. "Promise me when I get back we'll try again for number three. I hate being away during this time of the month."

The taller woman looked down at her spouse. She heard the sadness in the thirty-five year old's voice. For close to a year they had been trying for their third child without success, and Torrance knew it was wearing on her beloved. Their other two children had been conceived with relative ease, so they both were feeling a little frustration that they were not able to do so again. Nevertheless, Torrance never voiced her disappointment to her lover, knowing that Helen was taking it harder than she.

The photographer smiled at her green-eyed angel as she lightly rubbed the smaller woman's midsection. "I promise that we'll try again," she vowed. "Come on now. You need to finish your packing while I go check on our kids. They're being too quiet for their own good."

Meanwhile, over in the bustling city of New York, the Erwin household was already stirring with a flurry of activity. Blake sat with their twins at the table supervising breakfast while Georgia went over the itinerary with the attorney. "Well, here's the number for the hotel and a list of all the reservations that we have so far for dinner and such," she stated, handing a copy over to her wife.

Blake perused it as she sipped her coffee. "Looks like you ladies are going to have fun."

"Yeah. I cain't wait to get back to the South. I've missed it, and I just love Nawlins too."

Blake cracked a grin at her wife's thick drawl. "What did you just call it?" she teased.


"New Orleans?" the attorney clarified.

"Yeah, that's what I said. You Yankees just don't know how to pronounce it," Georgia said with her own proud smile.

The older woman shrugged. "Just try to stay low while you're there. You know the Klan is notorious in Louisiana. I don't feel completely comfortable with this."

"I know, but I promise to stay out of trouble. Now if you have any problems with the kids Mama has offered to help."

"We won't be trouble, Mama," Luke announced with a mouthful of cereal.

The writer smiled at their three-year-old twins. "I know you and Lana will be on your best behavior for Mom. It ain't you I'm worried 'bout. My babies are angels. Ain't that right, Lana?" The dark-haired child nodded as she ate. Looking back at the forty-two-year-old attorney, Georgia joked, "No, it's Mom I'm worried 'bout. She cain run the world but not know what to do with two three-year-olds."

"I'll be fine. I'm taking my own little vacation from work as are Tor and Jamie, so we're going to all help each other."

Georgia shook her head skeptically. "All right. Well, I need to take care of some last minute-packin'. We have to leave in just a bit. When you two finish breakfast, Mom will help you get dressed."

In the meantime on Staten Island, the newlyweds spent their last few minutes alone in bed together before their son, Stephen, made himself known. Sarah sighed at the shrill of his cry and reluctantly left her wife's embrace. Jamie just looked up at her with sympathetic eyes. "You know, you won't know what to do with yourself on this vacation," she mentioned. "The nights will be too quiet without Stephen waking you."

"I know. Are you sure you're going to be okay alone with him?" the twenty-eight-year- old blonde questioned in concern as she picked their child up out of his co-sleeper.

"I'll be fine. I managed with Katrina and Eve. I think I can do this for two little weeks. Besides, Tor and Blake are planning on helping out too. We figured it would be better if we had three adults for seven kids. They were worried about me taking on three at once," she teased. "Although between the three of us, I think it's really Blake that has it worst. She's a great parent as long as Georgia is there for backup. Heaven knows what's going to happen when she's alone with those kids without a net. It wouldn't surprise me if she gave up after the first day and hired a sitter."

"Come on now. She loves her kids. She just doesn't have the touch Georgia does. Her maternal instinct is a little rusty."

"You would think after three years she would've found it," the tall woman stated, rising from bed and coming to her wife. She embraced the naked blonde from behind and nuzzled her neck as Sarah changed Stephen's diaper.

The small woman shrugged. "Enough talk about Blake. There are other things we need to discuss."

"Such as?"

"Katrina," Sarah stated seriously. Jamie sighed at the mention of her eldest daughter's name. "I know you don't like talking about this, but she is getting worse. I love her dearly, but at ten, she's one of the biggest nightmares I've ever faced. She makes all the divas we know seem like kittens."

"I know. I just don't know what to do, Sarah. Her whole life she's gotten everything she's ever wanted. Now she's just expecting everything to be placed at her feet. I don't know where I went wrong with her."

"I'm tired of her attitude, Jamie. I know you want her to live with us, but the girl drives me crazy every day. She responds better to Samantha and Doug than me, and that's not the way it should be. Changes need to be made."

"I know, I know. I promise that by the time you get back I will have thought of something. Okay?" the brunette said trying to pacify her wife.

Sarah gave a nod. "Thank you. I know we can make this work. We just have to find a way to reach her before it's too late."

Changing the subject Jamie stated, "Give me the little one. You need to start getting ready. I'm going to go see if our other two are up yet."

As the tall woman moved to leave the room to check on their daughters, Sarah called her back and kissed her lightly on the mouth. "I love you, Jamie."

"I love you too, Sarah. Get a move on now. It's going to take this crew a little while before we're ready to go to the airport."

By eleven that morning all three families were at JFK airport. Between the three of them, they had decided to take the newly acquired Whitfield family jet down to New Orleans instead of public transportation. They all figured it would be easier given Sarah's still recent Oscar notoriety. The three blondes wanted peace, and since Georgia always aimed for convenience whenever possible and Helen was simply used to the jet for most of their travels, it seemed to make the most sense.

All three women said goodbye to their respective partners and children before heading for the plane. The three brunettes watched quietly as their angels ascended up the staircase. Each of them turned and waved before disappearing into the cabin. When all of them were inside and the door was closed, Jamie looked at her dark-haired counterparts.

Torrance was standing there holding John and Marta's hands in each of hers. Her green eyes were almost misty, and the photographer was silent. Blake had a child on each hip as she too gazed on at the plane, but her look was more of panic than sadness. As for Jamie, she held her son in one arm and grasped Eve's hand with her other while keeping a watchful eye on her eldest. Trying to lighten the moment, she teased, "Oh, are we in such trouble."

Immediately Torrance laughed at the joke. "Should we take bets on who calls a baby sitter first?"

"That's too easy," the actress answered.

Simultaneously they looked at the attorney. Blake faked affront but then shrugged. "Yeah, that is too easy," she conceded.

Up in the plane, the three blondes settled themselves for their flight. As they all took their seats, Helen and Sarah looked out the windows at their wives. "Are we sure this is a good idea?" the former model suddenly questioned skeptically all of a sudden.

"Jamie will be fine. She's used to juggling kids and schedules," Sarah replied. "I'm more concerned about Blake."

"She has to learn sometime," Georgia quickly answered.

The actress looked at Helen and inquired, "What about Tor?"

"She'll be fine. The kids are her life. I'm going to miss her though," she confessed.

Both of the other women chuckled lightly. "I swear you're like newlyweds," the writer jibed.

"If anyone should be missing their wife, it should be me. After all, Jamie and I are still technically in our honeymoon phase," Sarah joked.

As the plane began to taxi away from their families, Helen took one last look and then turned to her friends. She signaled their flight attendant and requested a bottle of champagne to be opened for them. Within moments three glasses were served.

The eldest blonde raised her flute. "To our vacation," Helen toasted.

"To our vacation," Georgia and Sarah seconded before proceeding to drink.

Several hours later the threesome landed in the Big Easy. As soon as their plane came to a stop, a limousine was already waiting to take them to their hotel, the elegant Ritz-Carlton on Canal Street in downtown New Orleans, just a few blocks from the French Quarter. When they arrived, they were quickly ushered up to the Club Level for check-in. It had been decided upon by the three of them to share one suite during their stay, preferring the girlish comradery instead of the solitude of separate living quarters, and the Louisiana Suite's four bedrooms were more than able to fit their needs.

The attendants escorted them with the luggage up to their accommodations. Helen smiled over at Sarah as they all admired their suite. "Your assistant does good work. You'll have to give her a raise."

"Yeah. I gave her an extra week of vacation for making all the arrangements. Figured it was only fair since I'd be gone two weeks. You know you two should think about getting personal assistants. It makes a world of difference," she mentioned.

The writer shrugged. "I don't think Blake would go for that. I'm still workin' on a nanny for the kids, so I cain work from home. The magazine is on me 'bout bein' behind in my articles, and I'm tryin' to write my first book. Maybe this time 'lone will do some good. She'll realize how hard it is to watch two kids everyday."

"I'm sure she doesn't mean to come across that way, Georgia. She's so busy as it is. You just have to take the matter into your own hands. You just have to get the nanny without her permission. Forgiveness is much easier to ask for, you know. Once she sees how much better off you are, she'll be glad. Works with Torrance anyway."

The writer laughed. "Yeah. Tor would give you anythin', Helen. We're talkin' 'bout Blake Erwin here."

"Well, we don't have a nanny and do all right," Sarah piped in. "Of course we do have family right across the street too, so that helps. I think Helen is right, Georgia. If you really think you need a nanny, you should get one. Blake will thank you for it when the two of you get some time to yourselves."

"Yeah. We certainly haven't had any of that. You have no idea how long it's been since we've had the time, much less energy, to even be intimate," the thirty-year-old confessed to her friends with a hint of sadness. "Who would have ever thought that after three years of marriage sex would be a thin' of the past."

Both Sarah and Helen gave Georgia sympathetic gazes. Neither of them could relate to the sentiment. Helen and Torrance always found time for each other, even if it was scheduled, and Jamie and Sarah always had to arrange their rendezvous with their equally demanding calendars, but they did so without complaint.

"Well, we should probably settle in. We have a few hours to kill before dinner. According to our itinerary, we have reservations at Bella Luna at seven. What do we want to do after that?" the actress inquired.

"I don't know. There's so much to take in. Maybe we should just walk the French Quarter to see our options," Helen suggested.

"Works for me," seconded Georgia.

"While we wait, should we decide who gets the first bubble bath in Napoleon's alabaster tub?" Sarah asked, speaking of the impressive historically tub in one of their bathrooms. "I wonder how big it really is. He was a tiny guy."

Both of the other women shrugged. Curiously they went to investigate the notorious bathing vessel. Georgia laughed at its size when they came upon it. "I don't think any of our wives could get into that thin'," she mentioned, referring to their tall, strong, dark-headed champions.

"But I'd certainly like to see Torrance try," Helen whispered as her mind drifted to what her lover might actually look like.

"Oh, it's going to be a long two weeks if you're already fantasizing," Sarah joked, hitting the oldest blonde lightly on the arm as they moved back to their sitting area.

Helen had the decency to flush slightly. "I can't help it. She's just so..." she trailed off a moment moaning faintly. Picking up in mid-sentence after a brief pause, she continued, "And when she whispers to me in French, oh my."

"What? She speaks French to you in bed?" Sarah inquired in playful inquisitiveness. "I didn't even know she knew French."

Helen nodded. "There's this look she gets on her face. She arches her right brow and stares at me with those green eyes. I miss her already," the tall blonde admitted. The actress and writer both laughed at Helen's antics. The oldest blonde looked at them. "Oh, come on. I'm sure Jamie and Blake have something that they do that just drives you crazy," she pushed.

"Oh yeah," Sarah answered brazenly. "I love it when she gets rough. It's so sexy."

Turning their eyes to Georgia, both of them just waited for their friend to chime into the chatter. Georgia shrugged. "It's all good with Blake."

"Oh, come on. Give us more than that," Sarah pushed.

"Well, I guess it would have to be when she sneaks up on me," she conceded. "The way her body feels pressed into my back, the sound of her labored breathin' in my ear as she kisses my neck. Her hands always seem like they're everywhere at once," she mumbled, thinking about the last time she had the pleasure of feeling her lover that way. It had been such a long while. Looking at her friends, she inquired, "Do you think they are missin' us as much as we are them?"

"More," Helen assured. "Right about now they're wondering what they agreed to. Two weeks with just the kids is a lot for anyone to take."

Over the next several days, the blondes filled their time with all their favorite activities from shopping and historical tours to eating in the city's most prestigious restaurants and enjoying the refinements of the hotel's spa. Meanwhile back in New York, the three career-minded brunettes were trying to earn their badges as mothers of the year with the seven children between them. They met daily for joint activities but after the first three days found Torrance and Helen's Hamptons mansion the best place to remain given that it had all the necessary amenities the children wanted, including a pool, beach, and lots of games. On the fourth night, though, after the younger kids had been put to bed and Katrina had retired to her room, the three of them sat around drinking scotch and bemoaning their situation.

Blake sighed as she looked at her two friends. Torrance was reclined in a leather wingback chair and Jamie stretched out on the couch holding a sleeping Stephen. "I can't take it any more," she admitted. "I need Georgia back. I didn't realize this was going to be this difficult."

Torrance chuckled as she took a sip of her beverage. "I don't think you're the only one. Jamie looks like the walking dead," she joked.

"Stephen's been unhappy. I think he knows that Sarah's gone," she stated. "What I would give for a little blonde right now."

Torrance nodded in agreement. "I'm going through Helen withdrawals. I'd give all my money to feel that woman's soft skin underneath me," she confessed.

Blake gave a nod. "Don't blame you for that. That'd be a wise investment," she quipped jokingly. "The bed's been too cold without my sweet Georgia peach."

"We are truly pathetic," the youngest brunette joked as she finished off her glass of scotch. The photographer poured her another. "Here we are pining away for our women while they are having the time of their lives. You know they aren't even thinking of us. They're busy off getting drunk at some jazz club in the French Quarter. I bet you right now some fools are trying to pick up our women."

The comment hung in the air a moment before Blake said, "You know we agreed to watch the kids, but we never did specify where we would watch them."

"Uh oh. Sounds like the attorney is coming out to play. I love it when your mind works this way," Torrance mentioned. "What is that devious brain of yours thinking?"

"We could go down to Nawlins, as my sweet would say."

"With the kids? Those ladies would kill us," Jamie replied. "They're supposed to be on vacation. It would be quite another thing if we could dump the kids and go alone. I think they'd like that, but to bring seven kids down there, I think our wives would murder us in our beds."

Torrance shrugged. "What if we did ditch the kids?" she suggested. "I think I could convince my mother to take the children for a couple of days, especially if she knew what I was going to do. Don't you think Cindy would like to spend a little time with her grandchildren?" pointedly she asked. "And what about Samantha and Doug? Do you think you could drop Katrina and Eve at least with them just for a day or two?" The attorney and actress both shrugged. "Isn't it worth finding out?" Torrance pressed.

"I think someone is thinking with something other than her brain," Jamie joked. "Still the idea has merit."

"It sure does," Blake granted. "It wouldn't hurt to find out."

An hour later the three of them convened again. Smiling triumphantly Jamie announced, "Samantha and Doug will take all three of them off my hands for a few days."

"Cindy was more than happy to help out. What about you, Tor?"

"My mother said she'd come down from Albany. This is going to be great. The ladies are going to love this. How soon can everyone be ready to go?"

On Friday evening the dark-haired threesome stepped off their plane into the humid New Orleans night. Torrance checked her watch as they waited for their bags to be loaded into their limousine. "I bet they've probably already left for dinner. We should hit the hotel first to drop off our stuff and then try to catch up with them at the restaurant," she suggested.

Blake nodded in agreement but Jamie mentioned, "We aren't going to be able to get into Commander's Palace without a reservation."

The photographer shot her a lopsided grin. "Who said anything about going inside? I've got a better idea," she stated before letting them in on her intentions. The actress and attorney immediately agreed. "Let me just call Helen to make sure that's where they went. It would be terrible to go through all this if they changed their plans." Pulling out her cell phone, she called her wife as the three of them took seats in the car. She motioned for her friends to be silent as she waited on an answer.

The three blondes were sitting at an exquisite table sharing a bottle of champagne as they simply chatted about their dinner options when Helen's cell phone began to ring. Reaching into her purse, she mumbled, "I thought I turned this thing off." She was about to do so, when she noticed that the number was her wife's cell phone. "It's Torrance," she explained. "I better answer it just in case it's important. Excuse me." Flipping open her phone she quietly greeted her lover.

"Hi," Torrance cheerfully greeted.

"Hi, Torrance. What's going on?"

"I was just seeing how you were," she said.

"I fine. We're in the middle of dinner. I can't really talk right now. Are the kids okay?"

"They're fine. I just wanted to hear your sweet voice a moment. I didn't mean to disturb your dinner. Where did you ladies go tonight?"

"Commander's Palace."

"Oh? What are you eating?" she questioned, trying to push for as much information as possible to see how much time they had to implement their plan.

"I don't know yet. We haven't ordered. Now as much as I appreciate your call, I really should go. I'll talk to you later. I promise."

"Okay. Have a good evening. Have some fun."

"We will. Kiss the kids for me."

"I will. See you soon, mon petite chou."

"Bye, Torrance," she said with a little laugh before ending the call. Looking back at her two friends, the tall blonde shrugged. "I think my darling is missing me. Who would've guessed she would be the first to break down and call?" The other women laughed before the three of them looked back at their dinner selection choices.

Hanging up her side of the call, Torrance cracked a grin. "They're at Commander's Palace and haven't even ordered. We have plenty of time."

Two hours later the three blonde were just finishing their desserts. However, as they talked about their plan for after dinner, Sarah's eyes were caught by a presence speaking to the maitre d'. Shocked at what she thought she saw, she stared more intently for a moment.

"What is it, Sarah?" Georgia inquired, seeing that her friend's mind was elsewhere.

"I swear I just saw a woman that looked exactly like Blake standing over there." All three of them immediately looked to that spot, but no one other than then host was standing there. "Must have been my imagination," she mumbled.

A few minutes later their waiter came to the table with an envelope in his hand. "Excuse me, Mrs. Talbot-Dean, Mrs. Erwin, and Mrs. Whitfield. This just arrived for the three of you."

Quizzically Sarah reached for it and opened it for them. "The honor of your presence is requested at the curbside of Commander's Palace as soon as possible," she read off the card. She didn't recognize the handwriting, so she handed it over to Georgia.

The writer shrugged and passed it on to Helen. "Well, I guess we better go then," she stated. Looking back to their server she requested, "I think we need our bill."

"That has already been taken care of. Have a lovely evening, ladies," he said with a smile and slight nod of his head before walking away from them.

"I wonder what this is 'bout," Georgia speculated as they rose from their table.

"I don't know, but this has Torrance written all over it," the oldest woman said.

Slowly the three of them made their way through the restaurant to the exit. As soon as they stepped out the door, however, they were greeted by an unexpected, sexy surprise. A black stretch limousine was parked at the curb with three dark and dangerous ladies waiting. The attorney was wearing dark gray slacks with a black shirt. She was sitting on the trunk of the limo, one foot propped up on the bumper, and she idly played with a glass of bourbon she had taken out of the car as they waited. The actress was leaning with one hip against the car with an unlit cigarette in the corner of her mouth. Her outfit was a revealing black silk top with a pair of low riding black leather pants that showed off her fine physique. Her cocky attitude was apparent. Last was the photographer. She leaned casually against the back door with her ankles crossed. She was dressed in black slacks and a white shirt with black pin-stripes. All three women held a single red rose.

An extended moment passed in silence. The three brunettes could tell they had succeeded in taking their wives completely off guard. Breaking the stillness though, Torrance finally stepped forward and issued a greeting. "Bon soir, madames."

"What are you doin' here?" Georgia asked as Blake slid off the car and approached her.

The attorney shrugged. "We thought we could use a little distraction as well," she answered for her friends.

"Where are the children?" Sarah inquired as Jamie neared her.

"With Samantha and Doug. Everything's fine. We just had to give up. It was too tough for us. We had to come down here and tell you all that you three deserve the mother of the year awards, not us. We can't take it," she joked slipping her arms around her wife. They kissed gently.

"So, the night is young as they say. Where would you ladies like to go?" Torrance asked, pulling open the car door in invitation.

"Well, we were planning on going over to the House of Blues," Helen stated.

Sarah broke away from Jamie's mouth long enough to add, "But suddenly I'm feeling very tired. I think I might just want to go back to the hotel."

"Me too. That was a long flight," Jamie added.

Blake laughed at the obvious lie. "Yeah, I believe that. The two youngest women here tired? I think she just wants to get laid. I guess we better let Jamie do her duty, huh, Tor?"

The photographer shrugged. "Yeah. It's best to keep the ladies happy," she conceded. "All right. The hotel it is for the Talbot-Deans. What about the Erwins?"

"I want to go out to the casino. Perhaps my wife would indulge me?" the attorney questioned of the writer.

Georgia smiled wrapping her arms around Blake's waist. "Anythin' for you."

Smiling down at her own wife, Torrance asked, "And for Madame Whitfield?"

"I could go for some fun out but not Harrah's. Let's go to the French Quarter."

"I guess that settles it then," Blake stated. "Come on, ladies. Your chariot awaits."

All six of them got into the limousine. Their first stop was the hotel. Quickly Jamie and Sarah rushed to get out, making their friends laugh. Watching them go inside, Georgia asked, "Where do you want us to drop you?"

"Actually, it's only a few blocks from here. We can walk," Helen mentioned.

"Are you sure?" Blake inquired.

"Yeah. We'll be fine. Have fun, you two. See you in the morning," Torrance answered as she and Helen stepped out of the vehicle as well.

In the hotel Jamie and Sarah leisurely made their way up to their room. However, as soon as they were in the door, the little blonde gave her lover her best bedroom gaze. "Have I missed you, Miss Dean," she growled, tugging anxiously at her wife's shirt buttons.

Jamie chuckled as Sarah's urgency. "I missed you too, love," she whispered leaning to catch her lover's open mouth in a kiss. "It's so nice to have you alone without the kids to bother us." Her fingers found the zipper to Sarah's summer dress. "Show me to your bed, Mrs. Talbot-Dean," she requested scooping the small woman up into her arms.

Within seconds they were in the bedroom. Jamie gently placed her wife down against the down-turned bed and then stood at the bedside to undress. Sarah watched with rapt attention as her lover's frame came into view. The sight of Jamie never failed to awaken her own body's fervor. Reaching out her hands, the petite woman demanded, "Come to me."

Flashing her notoriously arrogant grin, the tall woman did just as she was told. Leaning down, she captured Sarah's soft lips with her own as she slipped onto the bed. Her hands quickly began to remove the younger woman's clothes, and within minutes, they were both naked. "You're so beautiful, Sarah. You never cease to amaze me," Jamie whispered as her hands reverently mapped her wife's frame.

"Please, Jamie. I need you now," the blonde responded with rising ardor.

"I need you too, Sarah," the tall woman replied giving in to her lover's needs.

It was mere moments before they were both of the verge of peak as they clung tightly to each other, helping the imminent moment approach as fast as it could. When it came, they both were left spent and panting for several minutes.

"I've missed you so much, Jamie," Sarah whispered as she curled up into Jamie's body. The older woman knew she was speaking of more than just the absence during the vacation. It had been so long since they had been together like this given the obstacles in their lives. Between their work schedules, their new family arrival, and other family duties, they hardly ever had the time much less energy for the sexual intimacy they craved, often settling for physical closeness. However, they knew it was the way it had to be between them if they wanted careers and a family.

"I have missed you too, beautiful woman. It's so nice not to have to worry about being interrupted by Stephen."

Sarah nodded in agreement. "Are you sure Samantha and Doug will be okay with him? He's only a few months old. That was quite a favor to ask."

"Samantha assured me that it was fine. I think she needs a baby fix anyway. She's kind of been dropping hints about wanting another, but I think this will be a wake up call for her. She'll remember what it's like to have an infant and change her mind," the brunette joked lightly.

"That or confirm her decision. What does Doug think about that?"

"Don't know really. Knowing him though, he'll do whatever Samantha says. She has him around her finger."

"Sounds like someone else I know," Sarah said with a smile as she propped herself up on Jamie's chest.

The tall woman smiled as she caressed her wife's cheek. "Yeah. You've certainly got me that way. I love you, Sarah."

"I love you too, Jamie," she answered leaning down to give her a soft kiss.

Meanwhile down on the streets of New Orleans, Helen and Torrance walked hand in hand through the French Quarter. Street musicians filled the air with jazz, and locals and tourist mingled along Bourbon Street. Putting a soft hand on the photographer's arm as they strolled, Helen looked up at the woman who had held her heart for so many years. Torrance smiled down at her. "So, tell me. Whose idea was it to sneak down here?" she asked conversationally.

The dark-haired woman shrugged. "I think it was mine. Blake suggested coming but bringing the kids. Jamie talked her out of that, and I came up with this plan. You don't mind, do you?"

"Not at all. It's nice to have some time alone with you. Who's watching the kids?"

"My mother came down from Albany to stay at the house. She seemed more than happy to leave the governor's mansion for awhile. Politics apparently aren't as great as they once were. I think if she had her way, she'd get my father to resign. He's doing well by the state, but I think he's getting the inclination to take even bigger steps."

"Joining the senate again?"

"Bigger than that," Torrance answered.

"You're kidding? He's not thinking about running for president, is he?"

The photographer shrugged. "Well, the party likes what he's doing. There's been talk of him going on the ticket but in which position no one is sure. I think my mother will try to talk him out of it if she possibly can. She wants her husband back."

Helen nodded. "I understand that. He tried to retire once before. He needs to stop, Torrance. There's no need to pursue anything else. He has all that he wants already. Why is he pushing on like this?"

She shrugged. "The Whitfield men never stop, Helen. You know that by now."

"Except for you," she joked, knowing Torrance's family thought of her as an honorary male member.

The tall woman gave a laughing smile. "Well, when I have the most perfect woman on my arm, a career that can't get much better, and two fabulous children, there isn't much more that I could want."

"Except for another fabulous child," Helen mumbled.

Looking down into the green eyes that she adored, Torrance said, "I don't need another child to feel fulfilled, Helen. I have a perfect world as it is."

The blonde nodded in response. Changing the direction of their talk, she mentioned, "This street is too loud. Do you think we could find a place a little better suited for us?"

"Of course. Come on," she said taking a right at the next block to leave the crowded street. Cutting through Jackson Square, Torrance pointed over to Café Du Monde. "How about some coffee?" she suggested.

"Sounds good," Helen answered.

Once inside they had to fight a small crowd to get to the counter. However, then they ordered some café au lait and chicory coffee to go with their beignets and found a seat in the open air patio of the café. Quietly they enjoyed their snack as they listened to the bustle of the streets. Looking over at her wife, Torrance smiled. The blonde had managed to get powdered sugar on her pastel green linen dress. Nevertheless the photographer thought it the most adorable thing she had ever seen. Leaning over the tiny bistro table, she reached to brush it off for her. "You managed to cover yourself," she teased.

Helen looked down at herself and Torrance's hand as it lightly brushed over her chest in an innocent gesture. Nevertheless, the soft touch sparked a flame inside her. "Anywhere else?" she questioned as the tall woman withdrew her hand.

She shook her head. "You're perfect."

They remained at Café Du Monde for close to an hour, simply talking and reveling in the feeling of closeness. However, when they felt they had occupied the coveted table long enough, they left for more strolling. They walked at a slow pace through Jackson Square again. Music filled the night. Coming to a stop in the middle of the square, Torrance embraced her wife around the waist. "Voulez-vous danser avec moi?" she whispered.

The tall blonde smiled up at her lover. Torrance was always full of romantic surprises, which made her feel as if she was continually falling in love with her spouse. Slipping her arms around the photographer's neck, they began to move at a much slower pace than the jazz that floated on the breeze of the Mississippi River.

People passed by around them, but neither of them noticed having only eyes for each other. Helen sighed in contentment. She felt adored as strong arms held her. Her thoughts began to drift as they swayed to the music. The blonde knew that her lover's words from earlier were true. Torrance felt complete with or without another child. However, there was something in her that yearned for a third baby. She needed to give the photographer another child. John and Marta were gifts she wanted to give Torrance as sign of their bond, and she wanted to prove her love once more that way. Suddenly her musings were broken by a voice in her ear.

"What are you thinking about?"

Helen looked up into Torrance's green eyes. "How much I love you," she replied with a beautiful smile.

"I love you, too, Helen, more than you can possibly ever fathom. I live to see the light of your eyes, your smile, to feel your tender embrace. You couldn't conceivably know how my heart aches for your very touch. You are by far the greatest gift I've ever been given, Helen. I still don't know how after all these years how I managed to snag you. I'm so lucky."

"I'm the lucky one, Torrance," she countered, leaning up to her wife's mouth to kiss her.

It was a soft exchange but full of promise. The brunette moaned softly as she pulled the blonde impossibly closer. When they broke for air, she murmured Helen's name. Questioning green eyes gazed up at her. "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" she softly whispered, gazing longingly into green eyes.

Helen's body responded to the solicitation as it usually did, instantly humming with anticipation of pleasure to come. Giving a sweet smile, the blonde answered, "Qui, Madame Whitfield."

Making their way back to the hotel suite, all was quiet as they entered. "I guess Sarah and Jamie wore each other out," Torrance teased lightly.

"Like I intend to do with you," Helen mentioned, pulling her wife back toward her bedroom. However, when they got into the room, the blonde stopped in the doorway. It had been intimately decorated with flowers and candles. Seeing the photographer's bags sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed, she turned to her lover. "How did you get in here while we were gone?" she questioned.

"You know me. I can sweet talk my way into anything," she teased. "You like it I hope."

"I love it. Thank you."

"You're welcome. I have a surprise for you tonight. I want to try something different if you don't mind."

"I'm yours for whatever," Helen replied as they kissed.

Without any further words, Torrance began to unzip the green dress her wife was wearing. It fell to the floor within a moment. Helen reached for her own bra clasp, knowing how much the photographer loved to watch as she freed her femininity. This time was no exception as she saw green eyes darken in arousal as they came into view, but Torrance didn't reach for them yet. Instead she worked on her own clothes, slowly undressing for her wife. This was a game they liked to play to see who would give in to their need to touch the other first. Almost without fail it was Torrance that crumbled. Tonight though, Helen succumbed to the want as she reached to assist her wife with her clothes.

When they were discarded in a pile on the floor, they moved toward the bed. "Just relax, Helen. Keep those pretty green eyes closed. I promise you'll enjoy this," Torrance whispered. "Turn over onto your stomach."

The former model did as the photographer requested, closing her eyes and turning over as she waited for what was to come. Torrance reached for the bedside table and opened the drawer where she had stashed some things earlier that night. Removing the lavender oil, she poured some of it into the palms of her hands. Helen moaned lightly as powerful hands took hold of her delicate shoulders and began to massage them. "Oh, you're better than the masseuse they have downstairs," she mumbled.

"Don't go to sleep on me now. This is only the beginning," Torrance assured quietly.

The room was silent as the brunette worked on her lover's body, pulling all the tension from her tall slight frame. Her mouth followed closely behind her hands, kissing over each curve of her back. Torrance then moved further down with her hands to each leg. The blonde was quiet until she felt her lover's mouth on her again. Torrance's lips were doing wonders. She felt a tongue sneaking up her inner left thigh as hands massaged her hamstrings. Finally, though, questing fingers found their way up to the juncture of her thighs. Helen gave a little gasp as her hips instinctively raised slightly off the bed. "She certainly didn't do that," she whispered as Torrance's fingers teased her lightly

"I hope not," the older woman answered as she slipped into her lover for just a moment. Helen moaned. However after a few strokes, the brunette withdrew, much to the smaller woman's disappointment. "Turn over for me," Torrance asked. Helen managed to do as she was told. However, instinctively she opened her eyes to gaze upon her lover. The photographer was wearing a sexy little smile. "I told you to keep your eyes closed," she lightly admonished. "You wouldn't want me to stop, would you?"

"No. Please don't stop," the blonde panted shallowly.

"Then keep those gorgeous green eyes shut," she demanded. Regretfully Helen closed them again. She enjoyed seeing Torrance as much as feeling her, but she decided that she would do as her wife asked. She heard the taller woman pull something else out of the nightstand but didn't ask what it might be. She figured it was some sort of sex toy, which they experimented with only occasionally. The leisurely massage continued, but it was even more intimate as Torrance's mouth caressed every curvature her hands charted. An especially long time was spent on her feminine endowment. It was obvious that the photographer's methodical pace would not be altered, so the blonde merely laced her hands through graying dark hair to enjoy all the attention. Hands and mouth traveled her whole body but eventually settled where she had hoped.

As Torrance gave her wife the most intimate pleasure, she reached up for a pillow off the headboard, knowing she would need it in a few minutes. The blonde hardly seemed to notice when she managed to slip it under the smaller woman's hips, raising them slightly off the bed. Helen was too far removed with the exquisiteness of her lover's mouth to realize what Torrance was actually planning to do. Continuing the course with her tongue, the older woman gently opened her lover further. Helen's body responded in growing urgency. The forty year old could tell that her wife was closing the distance to the summit faster than she thought.

Helen knew she was close with each passing stroke. The slow pace was just right for her in that moment. Suddenly she felt a plastic phallus shape enter her as Torrance persisted with her mouth. The blonde, who usually preferred just her lover without assistance, didn't mind as the photographer kept each little thrust in perfect unison with her rocking hips. It was an impeccable orchestration of stimuli, leaving Helen helpless to the tender assault on her body. Her thighs began to strain as she neared her pinnacle.

Torrance felt the first signal of Helen's peak as the blonde's thighs began to instinctively try to close, but her shoulders held her open. Helen's hands pushed her head deeper as the blonde whimpered, "Torrance."

"I've got you, love. Je t'aime, mon madame. Let go for me, Helen," she quietly spurred as she slowly began to apply pressure to the end of the baster. Silently she prayed that this time would work for them for Helen's sake. When the salty taste of semen hit her own mouth, she wanted to choke but managed to refrain as Helen began to climax. Knowing it was time, she released the rest of it. The overflow came back at her though, the awful taste filling her mouth. However, the blonde was hardly even cognizant of the fact of what her wife had just done as an earth-shattering peak enfolded her. It was only when she was starting to descend and heard her lover sputtering between her thighs that she came back to the moment.

Looking down between her legs and seeing Torrance coughing as she held a baster, Helen realized what her wife had just tried to do for her. "Are you okay, Torrance?" softly she asked.

The photographer gazed up at her with a loving smile. "Well, I have to admit I never thought I'd ever taste sperm, and I never want to again. That stuff is nasty," she teased tossing the baster aside. "Are you all right?" she asked turning her attention back to her wife.

"I'm more than okay," Helen replied cupping her wife's face in both hands. Torrance raised herself from her position and leaned up to kiss her. "Thank you, Torrance."

"You're welcome, Helen. I know you didn't like being away while you were ovulating."

"How did you know it was today though?"

"I do read our calendar. I've been paying attention, love. I just thought the change of scenery and relaxation might help a bit."

The blonde's eyes grew misty as she kissed her wife again. "You are the best, Torrance."

"Anything for you, Helen. You know I mean that." Grabbing another pillow, the photographer lifted her wife's hips to place it under her to assist gravity. "You stay put for awhile now."

"Hold me," Helen requested.

"Always," whispered the brunette sliding her arms around the woman she loved. They were quiet for a long time in contemplative silence. However as they just lay in each other's embrace, they heard noise coming from the sitting area of the suite. They exchanged quizzical gazes. "You think I should go check?" offered the photographer.

Helen was about to answer when they heard Sarah's passionate plea to her lover. Both of them giggled. Just then a loud groan obviously from Jamie ensued. They heard the crash of glass as the sounds grew in intensity. "My God. They're like animals in there. What is that growling?" Helen questioned.

"Oh, the sounds of youth," Torrance joked. "What I would give to be as young as Jamie again. I'd be likely to hurt you if that was the case though."

"You could never hurt me," Helen answered. Getting a mischievous look in her eyes, she asked, "Do you think we could silence them with our own fireworks?"

"I'd certainly be glad to try," Torrance answered.

The following morning Helen and Torrance were up first. After taking a leisurely shower together, they dressed for the day before heading into the common area of the suite. However, what they saw made them stop. In front of the fireplace were Sarah and Jamie, covered by a blanket, blissfully asleep. The brunette actress was stretched out on her stomach, revealing her strong naked back. She had an air about her very much like the feline that graced her shoulder. Curled up against her was the little blonde. The older couple just looked on for a moment not knowing exactly what to do, because they had ordered breakfast to be delivered. Knowing that neither actress would want to be caught by any of the hotel staff that way, they decided it would be better to wake their friends.

Nudging the tall brunette's leg, Torrance whispered, "Hey, lovebirds. Time to rise and shine. I'm getting a good show of your lady, Jamie."

Jamie and Sarah both awoke with a start, clutching the blanket closer to them as they sat up. Sarah rubbed her eyes as Jamie looked up at their friends. "Oh, we didn't mean to fall asleep out here. Sorry," she apologized.

"It's all right."

Cracking a grin, the dark-haired actress joked, "If you two weren't so damn loud, we wouldn't have had to drown out your noise."

Helen blushed as Torrance chuckled. "Room service is on their way up with our breakfast, so unless you want to give them a show, I suggest you get back to your room." As if on cue, there was a knock on the suite door.

Both actresses rose from the floor but only Sarah bothered to conceal herself. Jamie merely shot Helen a cocky smile as she strolled completely unabashed and bare toward the other room. Turning to her wife, she opened her mouth to comment, but Torrance beat her to it. "Don't even think about it. I can't get my body to look like that for all the lipo in the world," she stated.

Half an hour later the couple joined them again looking fresh from the shower. However, the attorney and writer hadn't appeared. "Do either of you know if they even came back last night?" Sarah asked conversationally.

"No idea," Torrance mumbled looking toward their bedroom door. Not a sound had come from that direction since they had all been awake. "Maybe I should check." The other three shrugged, so she made her way over to the door and knocked. "Blake, Georgia? Anyone there?"

"No one's home," came the growl of the attorney. Rolling onto her side, she sat up slightly enough to look around the room. She and Georgia were both lying half dressed across the bed surrounded by small bills.

The blonde mewed as she stretched. "What time is it?" she whispered reaching for her wife.

"Too early. I take it we won last night," Blake teased lightly, holding up some of the money.

"I think we were celebratin' that when we passed out," Georgia added as she looked at their state of undress. She smiled over at the attorney before leaning to kiss her as she pulled her tiny frame on top of the taller form. "Maybe we could continue that now?" she questioned, suddenly feeling amorous at the sight of Blake naked from the waist up with slacks hanging open.

Blake moaned in response to the idea as her hands perched on her wife's hips. Georgia's dress was already unzipped, so the older woman pushed it up over her head, leaving the blonde only clad in her intimate apparel. It had been so long since they had been sexual with each other that Blake was not going to let the opportunity pass. However, another knock on the door interrupted their flow.

Torrance's voice called through the door, "Are you two going to join us this morning or not?"

"Not!" the attorney growled in answer. "And if you knock again, I'll kill you and make it look like an accident! What does a woman need to do around here to get laid?"

Hearing her friend's response, the photographer chuckled and headed back to the table where the other three were waiting. "Well, I think they're going to catch up with us at lunch," she informed them.

Back in the bedroom, the brunette whispered, "Where were we?"

Georgia took her wife's right hand and maneuvered it between her thighs. "You should've been right 'bout here," she replied as their mouths came together again. Bypassing the silk that separated her from her goal, Blake found her lover's entrance and filled her even before Georgia seemed ready. The blonde cried out at the invasion, calling her wife's name.

"God, you feel so good, Georgia. I've missed this so much."

"I've missed it too," the smaller woman managed to say as her body instinctively kept in time with Blake's thrusts. "I want to feel the rest of you."

Nodding in reply, the attorney withdrew long enough to flip the writer onto her back and yank off her own pants. Georgia hurriedly rid herself of the rest of her own clothes and then pulled her wife down on top of her. She moaned as soon as the larger body covered her own. Grasping at graying brown hair, the blonde directed her lover's mouth, pushing it down from her neck to her chest.

Blake was more than happy to oblige the little woman, taking the crest of one of her fair breasts into her mouth as her hand once again found its way home. "God, you're beautiful," the tall woman murmured.

"Blake!" Georgia called loudly as she felt herself rushing toward a climax in record time. The long absence of her wife's touch had heightened the sensations that now roared through her frame.

Outside in the eating area, all four friends stopped conversation as the sound of the attorney's name permeated the suite. "Well, it looks like Blake hasn't lost her touch after all these years," Torrance quipped, taking a sip of her coffee.

Jamie laughed as did the blondes. "We shouldn't be sitting here listening," Helen lightly admonished.

"We're not. This is common space. They are invading our privacy not the other way around," the photographer countered.

"That's right," Jamie seconded. "Who knows? Maybe I could even pick up a few pointers from the old woman."

"Oh, you did not just call her that," Torrance stated. "I'll have you know, Blake and I were laying women while you were still in diapers, young one," she teased.

The brunette actress just shrugged and laughed. "So, what are your plans today?" she inquired, changing the subject.

"Well, we were going to go look at antiques today, but with Georgia otherwise engaged, maybe we should wait on that," Sarah answered.

"I know I'd like to get some photographs of New Orleans for my collection, but I can do that alone," the photographer mentioned. "We came to surprise you, ladies, not alter your plans, so whatever you want to do is what we'll all do."

"Well, I know this afternoon we were planning on taking a tour of the Garden District. I'm sure you'd get plenty of opportunity for pictures there, Torrance," Helen said. "Why don't we at least stick to that part of the plan? By then hopefully Georgia and Blake will have joined the land of the living again."

That afternoon after the six of them had lunch, they did take a tour of the Garden District of New Orleans. Torrance knew that wasn't what Jamie and Blake wanted to do, but the brunettes had agreed that they would not try to alter their wives' plans too much by their presence. Besides Torrance didn't mind, because it gave her a chance to capture some of the prestigious antebellum homes in photograph. She knew she wanted to document other areas as well but decided that she would venture out on her own if she had to in order to get the pictures she wanted.

The rest of Saturday passed with the six of them enjoying each other's company. However, on Sunday all of them agreed to accompany Torrance on her expedition to some of the famous cemeteries of the city. Their last stop of the informal shoot was to Saint Louis Cemetery Number One. Upon their arrival though, they were disappointed to find the cemetery locked. No one seemed to be around. Looking up at the ten-foot concrete wall that surrounded the cemetery, Torrance looked over at the tall actress.

"Jamie, I need you to give me a boost. Help me up there, will you?" she asked.

The youngest brunette looked at the attorney and then her own wife before inquiring, "What are you planning on doing?"

"I just want to see if I can see Marie Laveau's mausoleum. Come on. Lift me up there," she insisted, putting her camera around her neck.

"Tor, if you get caught, you'll be arrested," Blake stated.

Cracking a grin, she answered, "That's why you're here, Blake, to bail me out of jail."

"I don't like this, Torrance," Helen said firmly, but the photographer ignored her wife.

Reluctantly the actress put her hands out for Torrance to step into, so she could help lift her onto the wall. Within moments the photographer was straddling the high barrier scanning for the tomb she had seen in other photos. Spotting it farther into the cemetery though, she looked down at her wife and four friends on the ground.

"I'm going in," she announced.

"Torrance Whitfield, don't you dare," Helen demanded.

"Helen's right, Tor. This is a bad idea," Blake added. "How will you get back out?"

"I'll worry about that later. Just make sure no one spots me," she said before jumping down on the other side.

"You are in so much trouble, Torrance," Helen scolded.

She only heard a laugh on the other side of the wall. "You guys just stay there. I'll only be a little bit."

The tall blonde shook her head at her wife's behavior. Looking over at Blake, she said, "I hope you're prepared to bail her out of jail when she gets arrested."

The minutes passed slowly as the five of them tried to act like just interested tourists while they waited anxiously on the photographer. About twenty minutes later they heard her trying to climb back over the wall.

"Um, I've got a problem," she proclaimed after several false starts.

"You bet you do," Helen stated.

"No. I'm serious."

"So am I, Torrance Whitfield," the blonde answered.

"I can't climb back up by myself. It's too high."

"We tried to warn you, Tor. Now what grand idea do you have for getting yourself out?" the attorney inquired.

"Well, if I can get on top of one of these mausoleums here, I think I could grab the top of the wall maybe. Let me try that."

"Hurry up, Tor. This neighborhood is starting to look a little less friendly than when you went in awhile ago," Jamie informed her, taking in the dilapidated housing in the few blocks around them. Locals were starting to stare at them, leaving all of them with uneasiness.

The photographer climbed on top of the stone structure that was closet to the wall, but she was still a few feet too far away. "Damn. Still can't reach," she notified. "I have another idea. Blake, Jamie, why don't one of you boost the other up to the top of the wall? I could use a hand."

The actress and attorney looked at each other, realizing they really didn't have any other options if Torrance was going to get out. "Well, looks like we're all going to go to jail," the actress joked. "Would you rather lift me or go get her sorry ass?"

"I'll lift," the attorney answered. Looking at the blondes, she instructed, "Keep your eyes out for us." Moving to the wall, Blake assumed the same position Jamie had to assist Torrance the first time.

The actress easily hoisted herself up onto the top of the wall. She had to chuckle as she saw Torrance standing precariously on top of a mausoleum. "You owe me big time, Tor," she said as she extended her hands toward her friend.

"Yeah, yeah. Just get me out of here. This is starting to creep me out a little. I don't like standing on top of someone's final resting place like this. It's irreverent." The photographer put her camera around her neck again and took hold of her friend's wrists. Jamie pulled as hard as she could to get the older brunette up. The photographer's body slammed against the wall, smashing her camera, causing her to groan in disgruntlement. "My camera," she bemoaned. Grasping the top of the wall, Torrance was preceding to lift herself the rest of the way when she mumbled, "Shit."

"What's wrong?" Jamie asked as the photographer straddled the wall next to her.

"We're busted," she mumbled.

Jamie looked in the direction that Torrance was and saw two police cars coming to a stop near the gate. "Dammit," she muttered, jumping down to the sidewalk again. Torrance followed suit, landing on her feet as the officers got out of their vehicles.

"What do you think you're doin'?" gruffly one of them asked.

"Um, officer, we just wanted to look inside. The gate was locked. We didn't mean any harm. We were just sitting on top of the wall," Jamie explained.

"But I saw you comin' over the wall from the other side," he accused pointing to Torrance.

"Yes, you did. I dropped my camera, and it's very expensive. I just went to retrieve it. I didn't disturb anything," she justified.

"You're trespassin', both of you. How did you get up there anyway?" the same officer questioned, instinctively eying the attorney. When no one answered, he pointed at the three brunettes and stated, "The three of you are under arrest."

"You have no right. I didn't do anything," Blake argued as the other officers approached them.

"Tell it to the judge. Now up against the wall, and I don't want any funny stuff."

Torrance sighed as she slipped Helen two rolls of film before turning to assume the position the police had indicated. Her wife just shook her head in disappointment. Looking at her two friends that were spread up against the wall on either side of her, she apologized, "I'm sorry. This is all my fault."

"Don't worry about it, Tor. They can't make this stick on Jamie and me. I'll bail you out," Blake answered.

Cracking a cocky smile, Jamie added, "And for me bad press is better than none at all."

The officers cuffed all three of the brunettes and took the photographer's camera from her before placing all three of them into the squad cars. Just as the officers were about to reclaim their own seats, one of them noticed Sarah standing there with the other two blondes. "Hey. Aren't you, Sarah Talbot?" he inquired.

"Sarah Talbot-Dean actually," she answered. "Could I ask where you are taking my wife and friends?"

"Down to the station for booking. If you have a car, you can follow us there."

Sarah nodded. "We're parked over there. Give us just a moment."

The three blondes got into their rented car to follow the police down to the station. "I can't believe Torrance did this," Helen complained. "She is really in trouble when I get a hold of her."

"Oh, don't be so hard on her, Helen. She just wanted a few pictures," Georgia mentioned.

"She could've hurt herself or damaged property," the oldest blonde mentioned.

A little later all six of them were down that the police station, the three blondes in the waiting area and the brunettes locked away in a cell waiting for arraignment. Blake served as representation for all three of them and with ease got the charges against Jamie and herself dropped.

However, when it came time for Torrance's turn, she and Blake stood in front of the magistrate with their wives and the two actresses in the first pew behind them. "Well, in the matter of Torrance Whitfield versus the city of New Orleans, let's see what we have. Trespassing I see," the magistrate read from the docket.

"Your honor, if I may, I would like to suggest these charges be dropped. Torrance is a photographer by trade, and she only wanted to take pictures of the cemetery. The gate was locked, so she got up onto the wall. She had no intention of going in but accidentally dropped her camera as she tried to keep her balance. It is an expensive piece of equipment, so she merely went to retrieve it. She didn't touch or deface any property, merely recovered her camera and was attempting to climb back over the wall when the police arrived on the scene," Blake stated.

However the prosecution rebutted, "Your honor, Ms. Whitfield has quite a record. If I may read aloud?"

"Please do."

"Let me see. We have a few DUIs, narcotics possession, possession with the intent to distribute, and reckless driving. Clearly she is a danger to others and should be held in remand until trial."

Torrance's shoulders slouched down as she heard her list of past crimes read off in front of her wife and friends. Even though she had told Helen years ago about her past faults, she still felt shame in having them presented in such a place. Sneaking a look over her shoulder, she met green eyes. The blonde showed obvious discontent, making the photographer feel even worse.

"Your honor, may I please address those issues?" Blake inquired.

"If you can," answered the magistrate.

"Everything that the prosecution has just presented were incidents that happened more than twenty years ago. Torrance was in college when those took place. She has paid her debt to society and is now a model citizen in New York. Tonight's occurrence was just an accident. Again I humbly request these charges be dropped."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Ms. Erwin. Even if past charges against Ms. Whitfield took place two decades ago, they still exist. However, I am not requesting that she be placed on remand either. Bail will be set at $10,000 and a trial scheduled for first thing Monday morning. Ms. Whitfield will be placed back in her cell at the moment until you, as her representative, can come up with the money. The case is adjourned until Monday."

Compliantly Torrance let herself be led back to her holding cell for the time being. Taking a seat on the empty cot when she arrived, she sighed. It had been decades since she had seen the inside of one and had sworn to herself never to return. She was angry with herself for acting so irresponsibly. She knew with her previous convictions, the matter was a little more serious than if had she had a clean slate. Only a few minutes had passed before one of the officers escorted Helen back to her.

The blonde crossed her arms across her chest and glared at her wife. "Well, what do you have to say for yourself, Torrance?"

"I'm sorry," she offered, standing and moving over toward her wife.

"You're sorry? Torrance, how could you do this? You're forty, not some twenty-year-old! You have children to think about! You could serve time for this, and what would I tell people? Where those pictures worth spending time in jail?" she yelled.

"No," she mumbled in obvious shame.

"With your prior convictions, you're facing time! I have half a mind to let you stay here overnight to think about what you've done!"

"Honey, please don't do that. I don't want to spend the night in jail."

"Well, you should've thought about that before you climbed that wall, Torrance!" she screamed, putting her hands on the bars.

The photographer nodded her head guiltily. However, she eased her hands over Helen's. The mere touch seemed to settle the blonde a bit. "I'm really sorry, Helen. This was totally irresponsible of me. Please don't make me stay here tonight. If I'm facing jail time, please let me have one more night with you," she tried to joke, but the younger woman didn't seem amused.

"Even if you got out of here, I doubt I'd let you touch me. I'm really mad at you right now," she said.

Torrance gave a nod of understanding. "I know," she whispered, letting her hands stroke her wife's forearms lightly.

For a moment it seemed Helen forgot her own anger, but then she pulled back. "I'm going back to the hotel, Torrance. Blake's in the process of getting you out of here. I hope by the time you get home I will have calmed down enough to talk about this rationally. I'll see you in a little while," she stated turning to go.

"Helen, I love you," Torrance called out to her retreating form.

The blonde turned to look over her shoulder. "I love you too, you misfit, but I'd still rather slap you than kiss you right now. See you back at the hotel."

A couple of hours later Torrance and Blake returned to their suite. The actresses were nowhere to be seen, and Georgia was sitting on the sofa obviously involved in her writing. However, she looked up and smiled. "Welcome back, jail bird," she teased.

"Thanks. Where's Helen?"

"I think she's takin' a bath. I have to tell you though, Tor. She's still upset."

"Thanks for the warning. Guess I have some making up to do now. Good night, you two."

"We have to be in court bright and early, Tor. I'm going to convince the D.A. to cut a deal. You'll be out of this in no time. Don't give it another thought," Blake told her.

"Thanks, Blake. Don't know what I'd do without you. See you in the morning."

Going into the bedroom, Torrance noticed light in the bathroom making her figure Georgia was right about where Helen was. Quietly moving to the door, she softly knocked and then opened it. The blonde was lounging in a luxurious bubble bath. Candles filled the small space and rose petals were scattered along the tub and in the water. The beautiful green eyes Torrance loved so much were closed. She knew Helen heard her knock even though the smaller woman didn't respond.

Coming into the bathroom and closing the door, the photographer began to shed her clothes to prepare for bed. Leisurely unbuttoning her shirt, she peeled it off her shoulders. Torrance looked down at her stomach. It had been badly scraped when Jamie had pulled her up the wall, and trickles of dried blood stuck to her. There was also a large bruise where her camera had gotten smashed between her body and the wall. Her pants were next. Fortunately they looked liked they hadn't sustained any damage. Hanging them on a hanger in the closet, she turned to her wife. "Are you still not talking to me?" she questioned.

Helen opened her eyes at the question, but she wasn't prepared for the sight of the photographer standing there half-dressed. Totally forgetting her anger, she looked at her wife in concern seeing her injuries. "Are you all right? That looks like it hurts."

"It does," Torrance answered. She took a seat on the edge of the tub. She watched as Helen reached for her midsection. A delicate wet hand wiped at the dried blood. Taking her wife's hand, Torrance brought it up to her lips and kissed the back of it gently. "I know you're still mad at me, but I am sorry. I'm so much like the other Whitfields. I don't know when to stop sometimes. I just wanted the pictures, and I never gave any thought to consequences. Had I done that I never would have gone in there. Please forgive me, Helen. Your disappointment is harder for me to bear than anything else."

"Torrance, the thought of ever losing you scares me. That's why I'm most upset. You could go to jail for this, and I couldn't bear it if you did. I can't be without you," she whispered as tears came to her green eyes.

"You won't be without me, Helen. Blake's going to cut a deal with the D.A. tomorrow morning. I promise you. I'm not going to go to jail," she tried to assure. However, in the back of her mind, she wasn't so sure of what might happen. She knew the system would not look favorably upon her given her past convictions, but she didn't want to alarm her wife. Sympathetically she ran her hand up the younger woman's arm toward her neck and then cheek. With her thumb she wiped tears from the blonde's face. After a moment she dipped her head down and claimed Helen's lips in a consoling kiss.

The younger woman clung to Torrance as if her life depended on it. "Get in the tub, Torrance," she murmured when the soft exchanged ended. The photographer nodded in understanding. She knew her lover needed reassurance that could only be provided with her physical presence.

The following morning all six of them went to the courthouse. However, by the time they had gotten there, Blake had already spoken to the District Attorney in depth about the case, so Torrance and she sat in a meeting with him before they were called into court. As the two brunettes took seats, he glared at the photographer. "Did Ms. Erwin tell you what we agreed to?" he questioned.

"Not yet," Blake answered for Torrance. Turning to her friend, she began, "Torrance, we have made a deal that will keep you out of jail."

"Great. What is it?"

"You pay a fine of $100,000. Additionally you make a $250,000 donation for the upkeep of Saint Louis Cemetery Number One. Lastly, you do one 120 hours of community service in conjunction with the Department of Tourism, for which you will be photographing the city for some of their new advertising campaign," the district attorney announced.

The photographer shot her friend and representation a scowl. "A quarter of a million dollars! What kind of a deal is that?" she yelled.

However Blake held her ground. "One that keeps you out of jail and with Helen," bluntly the attorney answered. "That's what you want, isn't it? Now shut up and take it before they rescind."

"A hundred twenty hours? That's three forty-hour weeks!"

Turning to the district attorney, Blake asked, "Could I have a moment alone with my client?" When they were alone, Blake glared at her friend. "Tor, I'm doing all I can for you here, but you've got to do the rest! They want to throw your ass in jail! Money talks, Tor! It's either this or jail. You're guilty as sin. You and I know that, and they know that! Take the deal, or else I'll get Helen in here, and you know that won't be pretty. It is three weeks of full time work. The whole time you will be monitored with an electronic tracking device, but you won't go to jail."

"But they're taking advantage of this opportunity by trying to take my money," the photographer stated.

"Yes, they are. Let them. You know Helen would tell you the same. Take the deal, so we can get out of here. They are going to let you schedule your community service when it's most convenient for you. They are giving on that point, but it has to be done."

Torrance pondered it a moment, knowing she really didn't have any choice in the matter. She wanted to stay out of jail at any cost. "All right. Fine. I'll take it," she conceded.

"Good. Now you'll have to go in and tell the judge exactly what happened, how you dropped your camera and all," she explained sparing her friend a wink, making the younger brunette smile.

"Sure. I'll tell them."

"Great. Come on. I want to get out of here. I thought New York lawyers were slimy, but New Orleans takes them to a new level," Blake teased.

By the end of Monday evening, all three brunettes were on their way back to New York, leaving the blondes to finish the last several days of their vacation. When Blake arrived back at her place, Georgia's mother was sitting on their couch reading.

"Welcome back," Cindy greeted, hugging her daughter-in-law. "How was it? How was my baby girl?"

"It was interesting. Sorry we're a day late getting back though. As I said over the phone, Torrance got arrested, but we got that taken care of. Georgia was great. She seemed to be having a blast. She's in her element to say the least. She was actually getting a lot of work done while we were there, which surprised me. She's treating it more as a working vacation. Nevertheless, she's getting articles finished and was even working in her book a bit."

"Nawlins has always been one of her favorite places," Cindy mentioned. "She takes to that city like a duck in water."

"I could see that. If the Klan wasn't there, I'd be for all of us visiting there more often, but I still have my concerns. Even with Melvin in prison, I still feel like I'm being watched whenever I go south of the Mason-Dixon," Blake admitted. Changing the subject, she inquired, "How were the kids?"

"Perfect as usual. We had lots of fun."

"Good. Now if I can just make it through the next six days, Georgia can come back and continue being the perfect mother. I guess her being away has made me realize how hard that job is. She's been asking for a nanny, and I finally understand why."

"You goin' to get one now?"

The attorney nodded. "I think we'll have to if Georgia wants to continue to work. I thought I would go ahead and look around and do some research on the matter before she gets back, so we can make a choice as soon as possible."

Cindy nodded. "Well, I'm sure she'd appreciate that. I should get goin'. It's late. The little ones are already fast asleep. If you need any more help, you cain call me."

"Thanks, Cindy. I appreciate your offer, but I want to see if I can stick it out."

"All right. Well, brin' Jamie, the jailbird, and all the kids down to Georgia's sometime this week," she said.

Blake laughed. "I'll see what I can do."


On Saturday morning all three blondes prepared to leave New Orleans. When they were finished packing, they had the bell person come retrieve their bags. However, Sarah and Helen were surprised when Georgia instructed that her bags be placed in another car separate from their own.

"Georgia, what's going on?" Sarah inquired.

"Oh, I'm stayin' here for a few more days. I'm really gettin' into my writin', so I want to take advantage of the momentum," she said.

"Blake agreed to that?" Helen questioned in surprise.

"I don't need Blake's permission to live my life," she quipped. "I left her a message. She'll be fine for a few more days. My mama will help her."

Not knowing what else to do, the other blondes just shrugged. They were both surprised at the turn of events but didn't give it any other thought, because Blake and Georgia's marriage wasn't their concern. "All right. Well, I guess we'll see you when you get back. Be careful down here," Helen said hugging her friend. Sarah followed suit.

"I'll be fine. See y'all soon. Have a safe flight back."

Late that afternoon all three brunettes left Torrance's place to meet their wives at the airport. As the Whitfield private jet came to a stop near its hanger, all three of them prepared themselves for the anticipated arrival. However when only two blondes came off the plan, the eldest woman gave her friends a confused look.

"Um, where's Georgia?" she asked of Helen and Sarah after they had hugged their own families.

Both blondes exchanged a look before Helen answered, "She's still in New Orleans."

"What? Why didn't she come back with you?"

Looking at her wife, Helen saw confusion on her spouse's face as well. "She told us that she was staying to write for a few more days. She said she had left you a message. Obviously you didn't get it."

The attorney shook her head. Just then her son, Luke asked, "Where's Mama, Mom?"

"You know what, Luke? I forgot that she wasn't coming back today."

"But you said she was, Mom," complained Lana.

"I know, and I'm sorry, honey. I'll make it up to you though. Why don't we go visit Grandma down at the restaurant? She'll make you that peach pie you two love so much," she suggested.

"We'll go with you," Torrance quickly added, knowing her friend was upset.

"So will we," Jamie piped in.

The oldest brunette gave them a half-hearted smile. "That's okay, guys. I can handle this. Really I'm all right."

"Are you sure?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah. I know all of you are anxious to get home."

"If you're positive," the photographer said.

"I am."

"Okay. You know where to find us if you need us," Helen stated before directing her children over to their family's SUV. Sarah and Jamie moved their family toward their car as well.

Torrance assisted Lana into her car seat as Blake did the same for Luke. Once they were in their seats, the photographer moved to the driver's side door. Blake looked at her old college buddy and shook her head. Making sure her kids couldn't hear her, she mumbled, "I could kill her. How could she do something so selfish?"

Torrance shrugged. "Don't get all upset until you talk to her, Blake. There has to be a good reason. Speak to her before forming an opinion."

"I don't have time for this. I've already taken two weeks off work. What am I supposed to do?"

"Do you want Helen and me to watch them for a few days?"

She shook her head. "I'll figure this out, but thanks anyway. I'll see you later."


Getting into her car, Blake sighed. She looked at her twins through the rearview mirror. She was glad they seemed to accept her explanation of why their mother was absent. Driving them over to Georgia's, they had dinner with Cindy. The older woman seemed glad to see her grandchildren but sympathetic although unsurprised at her daughter's disappearance. Over pie and ice cream for the kids, Blake looked over at her mother-in-law. "Cindy, why did Georgia do this? You don't seem all that startled at this development. Did you know this was going to happen?"

"No. I didn't know, Blake, but I'm not surprised either. Georgia's the independent type. You know that. I know she's needed some time away for awhile now. I just didn't think she's do this. Cain't you see that over the last several months that she's been dead on her feet? She's been tryin' to keep up her job, the kids, and the house all for you, and she's tired, Blake."

"Are you saying this is my fault?" the attorney asked.


"If she was so tired, why didn't she tell me?"

"She told me she tried, Blake. You weren't 'round enough to listen though. You work twelve to fifteen-hour days consistently. From the way I hear it, you only saw her long enough to fall in bed beside her at the end of the day."

"Someone has to pay for her lifestyle, Cindy. I've got four mouths to think about now."

"Blake, somehow I think you'd be comfortable financially even if you only worked a forty-hour week. Call it a hunch. That's not why you stay away from home."

"Oh, that's what you think, is it? Then what do you think keeps me away?" she questioned irritably.

Cindy nodded her head in her grandchildren's direction. "I know the love is there, Blake, but you're not takin' to motherhood the way she had hoped. You're still too detached for Georgia's comfort."

"What does that mean? She thinks I'm not committed to my family? The three of them have everything they want. I love all of them. I'm doing the best I can."

"I don't think so and neither does she. Georgia wants you to be a family woman."

"Well, I am to the best of my ability," she argued.

Cindy held up her hand. "I don't want to fight with you 'bout this, Blake. I'm just givin' you my opinion."

"All right. Then tell me what you think I should do, Cindy. Give up my practice?"

"Not at all. Just make more effort to be with her and the kids. Maybe hire someone to help with the kids, so Georgia cain take a break. She's burnt out, Blake."

The attorney nodded. Looking at her kids, she pondered what she could do to make this situation right before it got more out of hand. "Well, it just so happens that I'm interviewing a woman for a live-in nanny position tomorrow. I was going to surprise Georgia with that, but I guess it will have to wait until I talk to her. Well, I should get these two home. It's starting to get to be their bath time," she mentioned.

"Do you need some help tomorrow? I'll come to the loft if you need me to. Jack will understand if I have to be there instead of here."

"It would be helpful. I have to be in the office at some point. Maybe you should come around nine or so."

"All right. I'll be there. Good luck until then though."

Going back to the condo with the twins, Blake got them prepared and settled in their respective beds for the night. After that she went into her office and opened her bar for the bottle of scotch she kept there. As she was pouring herself a glass, the phone rang. She grumbled a greeting, figuring it would be her wife.

"Hey, honey," Georgia greeted cheerfully.

"I'm not in the mood, Georgia. I can't believe you did this to me. Exactly how long are you going to be gone?" she inquired, dispensing with the small talk.

"I don't know, Blake. I'm really gettin' into my book. I need to work on this or else my publisher is goin' to be upset."

"Well, I wish you had told me about this in advance. We could have planned for it. Instead you just don't come back from vacation. Georgia, you're down in New Orleans alone. You're without protection. Where are you staying? Is it at least safe?"

"Yes. It's safe, honey. I'm at this bed and breakfast in the Garden District," she informed, telling her wife the name and the contact information. "Look. I just need some time away. I know you cain handle this."

"Damn right I can. When can I expect you home, Georgia?"

"I don't know, a few weeks."

"A few weeks? Georgia Erwin, what in the hell are you trying to do to me?" she asked in anger.

"Blake, you need to have time with the kids, and I need time to work on my book. You'll be surprised how fast it will go."

"I still don't like it. If you're going to be down there that long, I'm going to insist that Tor be with you when she returns for her community service. I don't feel good about you being alone down there with so many Klan members lurking around. I wouldn't want anything happening to you, Georgia."

"I know, and I'll be glad for Tor's company. When is she goin' to be back?"

"A month for a three-week stint."

"Fine. She'll have a place here with me. Now I should go. It's gettin' late, and I know you have to work tomorrow."

"All right. Be safe down there, Georgia. Talk to you soon."

"Good night, love."

"Night, my Georgia peach." Hanging up the phone, Blake sighed. It was going to be a long few weeks without her wife around.

The next morning the attorney was up and working long before Cindy arrived. However just after she got there, there was another knock on the loft door. Blake went to answer it, knowing that it was her interview. Pulling the door open, she was taken back a moment by the woman standing at her door. She was a petite blonde that looked about twenty-five. Her hazel eyes sparkled brightly as she smiled at the attorney. Over her shoulder she had a nice briefcase, and she was dressed in a modest but perfectly pressed business suit.

"Ms. Erwin?" she asked.

"Yes. Call me Blake. You must be Renee Summers. Come in," she said extending her hand. They shook hands as the young woman entered. Pointing over to where Cindy was with the kids, she said, "This is my mother-in-law, Cindy. Cindy, this is Renee Summers. She's here to interview for the nanny position."

"Hi," the little blonde said. "Nice to meet you." After they shook hands as well, she looked at the twins. "I take it these are your children."

"Yes. This is Lana and Luke. Renee, my office is this way. If you would follow me, we can get started." Leading the way back to her home office, Blake waited until the blonde had entered to close the door. "Please have a seat," she said going to her side of the desk. Once Renee seemed settled, Blake began, "I already took the liberty of contacting the references you sent me. They of course gave you glowing reviews. We've already talked in depth about your experience, and I've liked what I've seen so far. You're still current on all your First Aid certifications I assume."

"Yes. I have all my certifications with me if you'd like to see them."

"And you've been doing this for three years now. Your previous employer had complimentary things to say about you. Tell me again why they released you."

"They were moving out of the area, and I had no desire to leave New York."

"They said the same thing. They wanted you to go with them," she said with a smile. "They are sad to see you go."

"I've enjoyed my employment with them tremendously. New York is my home though," the small woman mentioned.

"Well, being that we've had several phone interviews already, I think you and I have a clear idea about what this position did entail. However, something unexpected has come up. I thought my wife would be back to do this interview with me, but she is on an extended business trip, not to return for several weeks, so I'm on my own for this decision. I've liked what I've seen and heard from you, which is why I invited you here. I wanted you to get a chance to meet and spend some time with the kids to see how the three of you get along. I think it's important that the three of you mesh well."

"Of course. I understand."

"And assuming that all goes well there, I'd like to talk about some details for the arrangement if you feel this is a good match."

"Wonderful. Then why don't I start with Lana and Luke right away? No time like the present," she suggested.

"All right. You know where they are. Go to it. I have some calls to make. I'll be out to check on you in a little bit," Blake stated.

Instead of being taken by surprise at the dismissal, the young woman simply nodded and headed out of the office. The attorney decided to give her prospective employee half an hour with the kids, knowing that Cindy would do a thorough evaluation while she was out there. Sure enough her mother-in-law appeared in her office doorway twenty minutes later just as she was finishing a call. Blake motioned for her to come in and close the door. As soon as she hung up the phone, she looked at Cindy questioningly.

"Where did you find her?" the older woman asked.

"Why? That bad?"

"No. She's fabulous. You have to hire her. You should see her with the kids. They've already taken to her. She's the one, Blake."

The attorney nodded. "I was hoping you'd feel that way. I knew you'd have an opinion. She has an impressive resume and recommendations. The question remains though. Will she get along with Georgia?"

"I think so as long as no one gives Renee more than a passing glance," Cindy pointedly remarked.

"What are you suggesting, Cindy? That I'm offering her a job, because she's a hot girl?"

"So you did notice."

"She's even younger than Georgia. I wouldn't ever do that."

"But would Renee? There's a question for you."

"Perhaps I should inquire as to her sexual orientation. That could be a point of contention. I'll ask her about it. Otherwise she's good?"

"Perfect. Go hire her."

"All right then," she said, rising from her chair.

Together they moved out of the office into the living room. Blake saw Renee sitting on the floor with the children reading them a story. Both of them looked enthralled. The little woman didn't even bother to look up when the attorney took a seat on the sofa near them until the story was complete. When their eyes met, Renee spared her a smile.

"Okay, kids. Mom needs to talk to Renee for a minute. Let's get our rooms straightened up a little," Cindy suggested taking each of them by the hand.

When the two women were alone, Blake said, "I think I better show you the room that you would be using before we talk figures." She led the way to the spare bedroom near the children's rooms. Opening the door, she gestured for Renee to walk in ahead of her. "Unless you have furniture that you would like to move in, this room will remain as it is. You can rearrange it as you see fit though. You have your own private bathroom and sitting area," she stated, pointing to different features of the spacious room. "Luke's room is next door to yours and Lana's just on the other side of that. Georgia's and my room is at the other end of the hall. You'll be welcome to use any part of the loft. It will be your home, and I will rely on you heavily to be at the children's disposal at almost all hours. They will be like your own, especially while Georgia is away. You'll be in charge of the upkeep of their rooms and their laundry as well. Georgia and I can fend for ourselves in that area. Is this space suitable to your needs?"

"It's fine. It's bigger than my last place," Renee responded.

"Good. Then why don't we go back into my office to talk numbers." Together they moved back into the office. "There is just one other thing I wanted to speak to you about, Renee. I want to be extremely careful about the influences on my children. This will be your home, but I want to be extra cautious about your visitors, especially overnight guests."

"I understand. I take my positions seriously, Blake. I know discretion is crucial. I can assure you that it won't be a problem. Besides I'm not currently involved anyway."

Blake gave a nod, knowing she couldn't directly inquire about her prospective employee's orientation. Deciding just to let nature take its course, she said, "Renee, I would like to offer you the position. However I need to ask that we make it on a trial basis. I'll give you a ninety-day probationary period to see if it works. Would that be agreeable to you?"

The young blonde smiled and gave a nod. "I understand. You want to give your wife a chance to evaluate me."

"Yes. Here's my offer. Ninety days probationary period. You get room and board, health insurance, and a gross salary of $50,000 annually that will be paid out biweekly. From what I gathered that's a ten percent raise for you. What do you say?"

The small woman was silent for a moment before answering, "I think I should ask where I sign up."

"Funny you should say that. I have a written offer for you, so we are both clear on our responsibilities," the attorney said, pulling two pieces of paper out of a file on top of her desk. Getting out a pen as well, she requested, "Please review that and see if changes need to be made."

Each of them read their respective copies before Renee answered, "It looks fine to me except for the start date. That's blank."

"Well, when can you start?" Blake inquired.

"When do you want me?" Renee questioned.

"How about right now? I have a meeting to get to. Cindy will stay here with you to help you get acclimated. I'll be back this evening, and you and I can go get the rest of your things while she watches the kids."

"Sounds good."

"Great then," the brunette replied, writing Renee's starting date down on her copy of the offer letter before signing it. She handed it over to the blonde and received the other copy in return to do the same. When they both had signed the two copies, Blake handed one back to Renee and then stood, extending her hand professionally. "Welcome to the Erwin household, Renee."

"Thank you, Blake. I think this will work out well."

"Well, you settle in for a moment and then find the kids. I'm off to the office. When I get home tonight, I'll make you a list of numbers you might need. In the meantime if you need me, Cindy will know how to find me. I look forward to seeing you tonight."

"So do I. Have a good day."

That evening Blake had to stay later than she wanted to try to catch up on some work. Deciding it would not be good to stand Renee up on her first night there, she called up to the house. After the first couple of rings, someone answered, "Erwin residence."

"Renee, hi. It's Blake," the older woman announced.

"Oh, hi. I was beginning to wonder about you."

"Yeah. Well, I got stuck at the office, but I'm on my way out soon. How is everything over there?"

"It's fine. I have the kids eating dinner, and Cindy and I were just chatting. After this it's bath time and then off to bed. Will you be around to see them off to sleep?"

"I'm hoping to. I know that I promised to help you with some of your things tonight, and I don't want Cindy to have to babysit all night while we do that."

"Well, we don't have to do that tonight. We could do it tomorrow evening if you preferred."

"No. You won't have anything to wear if we do that. I'll tell you what. We'll get the kids to bed, and then go get your stuff while Cindy watches them. I'll even throw in some Chinese take-out for my tardiness," she joked.

"Sounds good, Blake. I just happen to love Chinese. Hurry home though. I know these kids would love to see their mom."

"I'll be there soon," she promised. As guaranteed, Blake got to the loft just as her children were getting ready for bed. They were happy to see her and ran to give her hugs. The brunette smiled at them before giving her new nanny a grin as well.

"How was your day?" Renee inquired, reaching for Blake's briefcase.

The touch seemed a little odd for the older woman, but she released her bag to the younger woman who set it aside on the foyer table. "It was long. I'm glad to be home to see my perfect angels though," she said, picking each of them up in an arm. Taking them back to their bedrooms, she deposited Lana onto her bed and left her there in Renee's care as she went into Luke's room. Tucking her son into bed, she gave him a kiss as she stroked back his blonde hair. He looked so much like Georgia.

"Mom, when will Mama be home?" he asked as he reached to hug her again.

"I really don't know, son. She's off doing work, but I'm sure it'll be soon. Don't worry about it." He nodded at her before settling under his covers. "I love you, Luke," she whispered kissing him on the forehead.

"I love you too, Mom."

"Sweet dreams."

"Is Renee going to be here tomorrow?"

"Yes. She's going to be with you during the days now. Is that okay with you?"

He nodded. "I like her. She's fun and pretty," he bashfully stated.

Blake chuckled. "Yes. She is pretty, Luke," Blake conceded.

"But not as pretty as Mama," he clarified.

"You're right. Your mama is the most beautiful woman in the world, isn't she?" He gave a nod in reply. "All right. You need to go to sleep now. Renee's going to come say good night, and then you have to go to sleep," she instructed.

Going next door to her daughter's room, she stopped in the doorway to observe her nanny with Lana. The blonde was sitting on the bed with the three-year-old girl obviously finishing an impromptu story. As Blake watched on, she thought of her wife. She had seen Georgia act the same way with the kids, and it made her miss her lover. When Renee was through, she hugged the little girl and then rose from the bed. As she turned her eyes met Blake's. "Time for the switch?" she teased lightly.

The attorney just nodded moving toward Lana's bed. She knelt down next to her daughter as Renee left the room. "Well, I hope you have sweet dreams, baby girl," she whispered gently, tucking her covers around her and then leaning to kiss her dark head. "I love you."

"I love you too, Mom."

"Tell me one thing before you go to sleep. Did you have fun with Renee today?"

She nodded. "Yeah. She read to us and played dolls with me."

"Good. I'm glad. She's going to stay here with us now. Would you like that?"

The three-year-old shrugged. "Maybe," she answered.

"Maybe? Why only maybe?"

"Because I want Mama instead," she said.

"Oh. Well, Mama is going to be here too. She and Renee are both going to take care of you during the day, but for now it's just going to be Renee until Mama gets back. Is that okay?" Her daughter nodded. "Good. Now it's time to shut those pretty brown eyes and go to sleep."

Giving a nod, Lana said, "Have good dreams, Mom."

"You too, sweetie."

Going back into the living room, she saw Cindy sitting on the sofa. "Well, how was your first day back?" the older blonde asked.

"Tiring. How were things here?"

"Wonderful actually. The kids took to Renee perfectly. She was the right choice, Blake."

"I'm glad to hear that. Your opinion means a lot to me since Georgia's not here to give hers. Listen. I promised Renee I would help her move some of her stuff tonight. Can you stay for a few more hours just in case the kids need something?"

"Of course. I was thinking about just staying the night."

"Great. I'd like that," Blake stated as Renee appeared from Luke's room. "Well, are you ready to get some of your things?"

"Yeah. Most of it is still packed from when I moved out of my last place. I've just been staying with a friend in the meantime, so it's still mostly in boxes and suitcases."

"Maybe I should drive then. How much do you have?"

"Not much. It's mostly clothes, stereo equipment and a computer."

"All right. That should fit in my Hummer," she mentioned. "Cindy, can we get you anything while we're out? I promised Renee Chinese."

"I'm fine. Thanks though. I'll probably be in bed by the time you get back."

"All right. See you in the morning then. Sleep well. I'll come in and get the children's monitors when I get back, so you don't have to listen for them all night."

Blake escorted her nanny down to the garage. Quietly they got into the large SUV and headed out onto the streets of New York. Renee gave her directions but for the most part the drive was silent except for the music the attorney had on. Managing to bribe the building's attendant into being able to park directly in front of the building, the two of them made their way up to the apartment where Renee was staying. Since her friend was home, the three of them were able to get all her things in just a couple of trips.

By the time they got it home and unloaded, though, it was half-past nine. The blonde looked at Blake and gave a tired smile. "Maybe that Chinese should wait for another day. I'm getting tired, and I'd like to get some of this put away."

"You sure? I could run down and get it. By the time I get back you will have gotten some of this put away. It's no trouble. You have to eat something."

Renee shrugged. "All right. If you're sure." Blake nodded.

At 10:30 that night the attorney returned to find her nanny diligently putting away her things. "Time for a break, Renee. You've done enough for one night. Come have some food."

The young blonde nodded and followed the brunette into the kitchen. "Wow. You have quite the spread here," she said, seeing how much food the older woman had actually gotten for them.

Blake shrugged. "I couldn't decide, so I got all of my favorites. What do you want to drink?" she asked, opening the refrigerator.

"What do we have?"

"Let's see. Milk, juice, beer, wine, soda."

"Wine sounds good if it's white."

Blake pulled out the bottle from its hiding place and poured Renee a glass. She retrieved herself a beer before going for two plates and utensils. Settling down at the table with the smaller woman, the attorney unceremoniously began to dig into her meal. Renee followed suit, and they chattered amiably while they ate. Once dinner was over however, Blake excused herself to bed, knowing she had an early start the next morning.

The next day she was busy at work when her assistant alerted her to a phone call. Picking it up, she greeted, "Blake Erwin."

"Hey, Blake. It's Sarah," the blonde actress announced.

"Sarah, hi. To what do I owe this pleasure?"

"Well, Jamie and I were wondering how you were doing with the kids. I called up to your place this morning and found out you had hired a nanny. She seems nice."

"Oh, Renee is perfect. She's working out well so far. Things are going okay."

"Did you find out when Georgia was coming back?"

"No. She said several weeks, but I have no idea what that means. By the sound of it, it seems like over a month, because she intends to stay down there while Tor is doing her community service."

"Wow. That's a long time."

"Yeah," Blake mumbled, wondering if there was a real point to the conversation.

"Listen, Blake. I wanted to ask you something about Jamie's custody agreement with Samantha and Doug. Do you have a minute?"

"Sure. What do you want to know?"

"Is there any provision for Jamie getting sole custody of Katrina?"

"No. Jamie's made it clear she doesn't want to get involved in a battle with them over that. Why are you asking? Is she thinking about trying to file for sole custody?"

"I was just wondering, because things with Katrina are getting so trying. I just thought if Jamie had sole custody or I had joint custody that she might respond better to me."

"Oh, I see. I have to tell you, Sarah. I don't think you'll get Jamie to agree to giving you partial custody of Katrina just for the simple fact that it would mean taking custody away from Samantha and Doug. She doesn't want to fight with Stephanie's family like that. What's going on, Sarah? Are things that bad between you and Katrina?" she inquired in concern.

"She listens to Samantha better than me. I just feel like an outsider in my own family, Blake. There's a bond between Jamie, Katrina, and Samantha that is so strong."

"Are you jealous, Sarah?"

"I wouldn't call it that. I just want to be respected as an authoritative figure in Katrina's life. Now that Jamie and I are married there are four adults in her life guiding her, and I feel as if I'm the last one on the totem pole. I'm her stepmother for goodness sakes. I deserve a little respect."

"What does Jamie say about all this?"

"She won't face the issue. She sees that it's there, but I don't think she knows what to do any more than I do. I just thought maybe there was something that could be done on the legal side to make my position more prominent."

"Well, there are always ways of doing that, but do you want to upset Samantha and Doug? I know Jamie doesn't. Maybe the four of you should talk about this rationally before flinging them back into court. Jamie won't like it, and I know you're on good terms with them. Why ruin your relationship when there are other ways to resolve this? Did you ever think that maybe Katrina was better off living with them again? I know you and Jamie wanted all five of you to be a family, but she seemed to do better with Doug and Samantha. Maybe that's something you and Jamie want to think about. Sarah, I'll do anything that Jamie asks me to of course, but I don't think this is the best way."

"But we could do it assuming I convinced her?" the blonde inquired.

"Sure. We can do anything. I don't recommend it, but we can do it," Blake answered.

"Great. That's what I wanted to know."

"Sarah, I must advise you against trying to convince Jamie to do this. It wouldn't be good for any of the relationships involved."

The blonde sighed. "I know, but I'm at the end of my sanity, Blake. Something has to give. At least if Jamie knows I spoke to you about it, she'll know I'm serious about making changes."

"Just be careful, Sarah. You're messing with something larger than you think."

"Well, I have to go. Eve's being too quiet, which means there's trouble. Thanks for your time, Blake."

"You're welcome. That's what I'm here for. You two take care. Let's get together soon if your schedules permit."

"Sounds good. Talk to you later."

Hanging up the phone, the actress went to find her two daughters. She found Katrina sitting on the front porch doing her favorite activity, chatting on her cell phone. Switching Stephen from one hip to the other, Sarah looked around the yard for Eve but didn't see her. Glancing at the ten-year-old she questioned, "Where's Eve?" Without even bothering to address her stepmother directly, Katrina gestured across the way to Samantha and Doug's house. "How did she get over there, Katrina? Did you walk her over?" The blonde child ignored the questions. "Katrina, answer me."

"She walked over herself," the girl grumbled.

"You let her cross the street alone?" Sarah asked, her voice raising with her anger. "She's four, Katrina. She could've gotten hurt." Again there was only silence to her comments. Finally getting frustrated at her stepdaughter's behavior, Sarah demanded, "Get off the phone, Katrina. You and I need to talk."

"Later. I'm busy."

"Now!" yelled Sarah, grabbing the phone and ending the call.

"Hey! You can't do that! I was talking to someone!" she screamed. "I'm telling Mom!"

"Good. I want her to know, Katrina. You have no right talking to me that way. When I tell you to do something, you better do it. Now why did you let Eve cross the street alone?"

"I watched her! Geez, Sarah! Don't get all bent out of shape about it!"

"What did you just call me?" Sarah questioned. Katrina had called her Mama since she and Jamie had gotten married, so this new and unexpected turn took her off guard.

"I called you Sarah! That is your name after all! I'm going to Uncle Doug and Aunt Samantha's!" she declared.

"Oh, no you're not. You're staying right here, young lady. We're not finished."

"I don't have to do what you tell me," the ten-year-old countered with attitude before starting to walk down the sidewalk to the street.

"Get back here, Katrina!" Sarah yelled.

"No!" the blonde girl hollered back over her shoulder as she crossed the street.

At a loss as to how to handle the situation, Sarah simply watched her go. When Katrina was in her aunt and uncle's house, the actress collapsed into the chair on the porch with her son. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she realized she had lost all control over her eldest child.

Later that evening when Jamie got home Sarah was still alone with Stephen. Taking their son from her wife, she bestowed kisses on both of them before inquiring, "Where are the girls?"

"They're over at Samantha and Doug's," Sarah mumbled in defeat.

"What's wrong, Sarah?"

The blonde looked up at the older woman and shook her head. "I can't do this with Katrina any more, Jamie. She doesn't accept me as a disciplinarian. I can't even talk to her without her getting an attitude with me. Something has to give."

"What happened this time?"

"I was on the phone with Blake today and left her to watch Eve for a few minutes. She let Eve walk across the street alone, because she was too lazy to get up out of the chair and walk her over there. She was on that damn cell phone you gave her. I don't know who a ten-year-old needs to be talking to all the time. Of course I got upset about her letting Eve go unattended."

"I'm sorry," Jamie said taking a seat next to the shorter woman on the couch.

"That's not the worst of it, Jamie. We started to fight. We both were yelling, but she called me Sarah, Jamie. She's called me Mama since we got married. Now she calls me Sarah. That hurt my feelings. It makes me feel as if she doesn't see me as another mother."

"I'm really sorry, Sarah. I'll talk to her."

"You need to do more than talk, Jamie. I'm serious. I can't deal with her when she acts this way. I don't know what's going on with her, but I'm tired of taking the brunt of her frustrations and attitude. You need to let her know with whom she's dealing since she won't listen to me."

"I understand. I'll do something. I promise," the brunette said, rising to her feet.

"Where are you going?" Sarah asked in confusion.

"To talk to Katrina. I want this over with as soon as possible. Be back in a bit."

Jamie walked out of the house and over to Samantha and Doug's. She gave a strong knock on the door and then walked in. Her former sister-in-law and brother-in-law were sitting in the living room with their kids plus Katrina and Eve.

"Mom!" Eve greeted rushing over for a hug.

"Hi, Eve," she said with a smile for the four-year-old. "Did you have a good day?"

"Yeah. I did lots of fun stuff."

"Good. I'm glad. You'll have to tell me all about it, but right now I need to talk to your sister. Katrina, outside now," she stated pointing out to the back porch. Her daughter didn't say anything but rolled her eyes. Once they were alone, Jamie crossed her arms over her chest and put on a scowl. "What happened today?" she inquired.

"Nothing. I was minding my own business when Sarah started yelling at me."

"All right. You hold it right there. Since when did you start calling her Sarah? What brought that on?"

The little girl shrugged for a moment as her attitude deflated under her mother's cold glare. "She's not my mom," she mumbled. "I don't want to call her that."

Looking down at her daughter, Jamie saw something was truly bothering her, so she decided to take a softer approach. "Come here, Katrina. Come sit with me for a minute," she suggested, taking a seat in one the chairs. Katrina followed her actions, but instead of allowing the little girl to sit in her own chair, Jamie pulled her down into her lap. Katrina immediately curled up into her strong mother. Silence ensued for several moments. "Katrina, Sarah is your stepmother. If you don't want to call her Mama any more, you don't have to, but it would hurt her feelings if you started calling her Sarah after all this time. She loves you, Katrina, as much as I do. She wants you to be happy as much as I do."

"All she does is yell at me," the child complained. "She likes Eve and Stephen better than me."

"That's not true, Katrina. All three of you are our children, and we love all of you equally."

"Then why is she so mean to me?"

Jamie sighed as she idly caressed her daughter's fair locks. "Katrina, I know this is hard to understand, but she's not being mean to you. She's trying to discipline you, but since you aren't listening to her, she's getting upset and frustrated. She doesn't like yelling at you. It upsets her to have to do that, but you aren't paying attention to what she asks of you. You need to start doing what she tells you to. If you do that, I can promise you that she won't scream. It's not in her nature."

"But she never asks Eve to do anything," Katrina mumbled.

"Well, honey, Eve's four. You're ten. She does ask Eve to do things. They're just things that a four-year-old can handle. Since you are older, you can handle more responsibility. It's a part of being a big girl. When Eve's your age, she'll ask Eve to do the same things. She'll ask Eve to watch over Stephen just as she asks you to look out for Eve. You're the big sister, Katrina, and that's a great thing to be, but it does have its responsibilities. Sarah knows that Eve looks up to you. She watches what you do, and it would be so helpful to us both if you were doing the right thing."

Silence prevailed for a moment before the little girl softly stated, "I wish it was just you, me, and Mom again."

Hearing the pain of her child's voice, Jamie felt it in her own heart. It was the first time Katrina had spoken about Stephanie in such a way. She suspected that her daughter missed her mother, but the little girl had never actually said it in the five years she had been gone. "I know you miss her, baby," Jamie whispered as she felt hot tears trickle down her neck from where the little girl was clutching to her.

"Do you miss her, Mom?"

"Of course I do," she admitted. "If she were here, I'm sure the three of us would be happy together. However, she's not here, Katrina, and I know she wanted me to find someone else to be with and to help raise you. Your mother would approve of Sarah. I know she would. I wish you would too."

Katrina didn't say anything, so Jamie just waited for her daughter to speak again. The ten-year-old simply cried, making her mother begin to as well, and the two of them wept together, Katrina for her mother and Jamie for her daughter's pain until the little girl had fallen into slumber. Knowing it was getting late, the actress scooped her daughter up into her arms as she rose from the chair. Katrina didn't stir much, only nuzzled closer to her. Going back into the house, she called to Eve, saying they needed to go home. The four-year-old complied, coming to take Jamie's outstretched hand.

"Is everything okay?" Stephanie softly inquired walking them to the door.

"No but we'll talk about it later," the tall woman replied. "Good night. Thanks for looking after the girls."

Quietly the three of them made their way back to their own house, Eve clutching tightly to Jamie's hand as Katrina continued to sleep on her shoulder. Sarah was sitting in the living room holding a sleeping Stephen when they came in. She could easily see the distress in her lover's eyes, but she didn't ask what was wrong in front of the children. Instead she softly said that it was time for Eve's bath.

Jamie nodded. "I'm just going to put Katrina to bed, and then I'll give Eve her bath. You put Stephen down and meet me in the bathroom."

Walking upstairs to her eldest daughter's room, Jamie gently put Katrina down on the bed. The little girl hardly moved as she began to remove her clothes. Slipping on clean pajamas, she put the child under the covers and then knelt down next to her bed. Jamie gazed at her daughter for a long time and cried over the revelations of the evening. Her daughter was mourning, and she hadn't been paying enough attention to help her sooner. Instead it escalated to the point that Katrina and Sarah's relationship was suffering. Pushing the flowing blonde hair off the ten-year-old's face, she leaned in to kiss her forehead. "I love you, Katrina," she whispered. "Sweet dreams."

Moving into the bathroom, she saw Sarah next to the tub starting the water. Eve was next to her, squirming her way out of her clothes and chatting, oblivious to the strain Sarah was showing. Coming to join the two blondes, Jamie knelt down next to her wife as Eve got into the water. Neither woman spoke to the other, instead focusing all their attention onto their middle child. As usual Eve was thrilled to be the center of her parents' attention and began to tell Jamie all of the wonderful things she had done that day. For her part, the tall woman listened attentively, but she knew once Eve was down for the night the woman next to her and she were going to have to talk about the problem that now faced them. Stalling for time to compose herself, Jamie took over the duties of dressing their little girl for bed. She tucked her in and told her a story before wishing her sweet dreams. Hearing Sarah come into the room to do the same, Jamie retreated to the master bedroom to get ready for bed herself, seeing that Sarah had done so already.

Ten minutes later Jamie was standing on the deck off their room looking up at the night sky. Stars were just beginning to make their presence known. However, she didn't pay them any attention. Instead Jamie cried alone. She didn't know what to do to help Katrina. Helplessly Jamie looked heavenward. "What do I do, Stephanie?" she questioned aloud. "How do I help her?" Pausing a moment she mumbled, "I wish you were here."

Sarah stared out the open double doors at her wife. She wasn't surprised that her beloved spoke aloud to her late wife, but the last comment took her off guard. Her heart sunk a little at the thought of Stephanie actually being there, because she knew what the ramifications would mean, but she knew she had no right to be jealous of a deceased woman Jamie had once dearly loved. She was the one Jamie loved now, and she was the one that shared her life with her and their three children. Quietly Sarah moved out onto the deck and slipped her arms around the strong tall body. The tension immediately began to fade.

"How did it go tonight?" Sarah softly inquired.

Jamie shook her head. "I'm not sure I got through to her or not," she confessed. "She told me something that upset me. I haven't exactly been mindful of her needs. I feel terrible about letting her suffering continue without even as much as an acknowledgment. What kind of a parent am I?"

"Jamie, don't do this to yourself. You're a wonderful mother. You've done everything for all three of our children."

"No, I haven't. My daughter is in pain, Sarah, and I've done nothing to help her."

"That's not true. You do everything you can for her."

The brunette shook her head. "No. I should have seen this. I should have realized that she's acting out because she misses Stephanie. I guess having you here makes her miss Stephanie all the more, and she's having a hard time dealing with you as a mother because of that."

"Poor baby. I'm sorry, Jamie. I should have tried to be more sensitive."

"I guess her living with Samantha and Doug had been hiding that all along, because Samantha and Stephanie are so much alike. It was probably comforting to her, and now she's over here with the two of us. The transition is harder on her than I thought it would be. Listen. I don't know what's going to happen when she wakes up tomorrow. She might still be a thorn in your side, and she still might call you Sarah. If she does that, then I'm truly sorry. I know that hurts your feelings. Could you just bear it though? I'm hoping this is just a phase. I told her how much you love her, but she's not ready to see you as a mother yet. I wish I could get her to change her mind about that, but I'm hoping she will do it on her own in time. I made it clear to her that she should be doing the things that you tell her though. I'm hoping that she remembers that much at least. She told me that she thought you always yelled at her. I promised her that if she minded you that you wouldn't yell. Think you can handle that?"

Sarah nodded. "I never want to yell at her, Jamie. She just pushes me until I'm at the end of my sanity."

"I know, and I'm sorry. Maybe there is something we can do for her. Maybe we should get her professional help. If she could just work out some of this stuff instead of taking it out on you, that would be best."

"We'll look into it. For now however, let's just relax. Stephen's down for a little while. I'd love to spend a little alone time with you. What do you say?" she asked enticingly as her hands mapped over her wife's defined back.

Jamie turned in the small woman's embrace. "That sounds good. What did you have in mind?" Sarah didn't answer. Instead she just gave an enticing smile and motioned for Jamie to follow her as she retreated toward their bedroom.


A month later Torrance returned to New Orleans for her community service. Even though she dreaded being apart from Helen and their two kids for that long, she knew Blake had gotten her out of jail time, so for that she was relieved. As she walked off the plane that day and down the corridor towards the baggage claim area, an excited blonde was there to meet her.

"Tor, how have you been? How's Helen?" Georgia inquired as they hugged lightly.

"All right. Helen's doing well. She's not happy about me being down here, but there was no getting around that."

The little blonde nodded. "Well, at least you'll be in good hands while you're here. I won't let you get into any more trouble," she joked as they walked to get the photographer's luggage and equipment.

"I'm sure she appreciates that," Torrance answered with a demure smile. Even as much as she enjoyed Georgia's company, she was a little upset at what the woman was doing to her long-time friend. For the past month Georgia had stayed down in New Orleans alone, leaving Blake to take care of things in New York. If it hadn't been for Renee, Torrance knew the attorney would have lost her composure by then. As it was, Blake wasn't happy with the writer's extended absence, but she didn't speak about it much except to say that Georgia was following her own dreams at the moment.

After picking up the brunette's things, the two of them quietly made their way back to Georgia's place in the Garden District. As they pulled up to their house, Torrance turned to Georgia in confusion. "This is where you've been staying?"

"Yeah. It's a great place. I rented it for a couple of months. It's a bed and breakfast, but I convinced them to rent me the whole place. It's been nice."

"Different than New York," the tall woman mentioned.

Georgia nodded in agreement. "This is more my pace than New York," she stated.

Torrance quirked her brow in response but didn't reply to the comment. She had secretly feared that the young blonde had thoughts of permanently living in New Orleans with the way she was acting, but she hadn't said that to anyone but her own wife. To hear Georgia admit she liked the city better than her home only served to strengthen her assumption. "Must be hard being away from Blake and the kids though."

Georgia gave a nod. "I miss Luke and Lana terribly. I wish they were here. Of course I miss Blake too, but she's always so busy anyway. She hardly had time for the kids and me while I was in New York. It's not that much different now. We talk on the phone."

"Surely you miss being with her though," the photographer pressed.

Blue eyes sparkled as she looked at her friend. "I miss that too, Tor. Don't get me wrong. However, I've been busy with my book and my articles. This time away has been good."

"Well, when you finally do get home, you'll be happy with the nanny Blake hired. Renee's been great from what I've heard. The kids have really taken to her, and even Blake seems pleased. Apparently Renee's a great cook on top of it all."

"She cooks for Blake?"

"Yeah, cooks, cleans. She was quite a catch from the way Blake tells it," Torrance said, wondering if all the talk about Renee would get to her friend. She saw Georgia deep in thought for a few moments as they got her things up into the house.

Putting the photographer's bags down in the entryway, Georgia tried to sound casual as she asked, "How old is Renee?"

"Don't know exactly. Twenty-five, twenty-six, something like that."

"What's she look like?"

"Blonde, hazel eyes, very attractive," the tall woman admitted, intentionally pushing the envelope, looking for a reaction.

Georgia nodded in silence. The thought of a woman younger than her living in her house in her absence sharing time with Blake and her kids was eating her up on the inside. However, she didn't say that to the photographer. "Well, enough 'bout her. Let me show you to your room."

The next morning Torrance had to report to her assignment early, so she was up and out of the house before Georgia even stirred. After hearing what her job was going to be in detail for the next three weeks, she realized that it wasn't going to be as horrible as it first seemed. Blake had arranged for her to be spending the whole three weeks photographing different aspects of the city, so she decided to just enjoy the opportunity to do her work.

When she returned home that evening, the writer was in the kitchen. "Hey. How was it today?" Georgia inquired.

"Fine. This won't be so bad."

"Good. I was makin' some dinner. You hungry?"

"Yeah. Food sounds good."

"All right. It'll be ready in a few minutes. By the way, Helen called for you earlier. She said she wants you to call her back right away."

"All right. Thanks. Let me do that, and then I'll join you."

Going up to her room, Torrance stowed her equipment on the sofa and then picked up the phone to call her wife. "Hi. You called," she said softly when Helen answered.

"Yeah. How are you? How was it today?"

"Okay. It won't be so bad. Blake did well by me down here. I would even say I might enjoy it if you and the kids were with me."

"Well, we all miss you, Torrance."

"I miss you all as well. How are John and Marta? Behaving I hope."

"Of course. Our children are perfect," the blonde reminded.

Torrance laughed a little. "You know it would be a lot more fun if you were here. Why don't you bring the kids down? I'll have to work during the days, but at least we'd all be here at night."

"I don't want to disturb Georgia."

"Don't worry about that. Come on. Think about it, will you?"

"Sure. I'd love to be there with you," Helen conceded. "Um, Torrance, I actually called for a reason. I would much rather do this in person, but I guess this will have to do under the circumstances. I have to tell you something," she stated with a light giggle.

"What is that, mon madame? Is it what I think it is?" she questioned, hope evident in her voice.

"Yes. I guess you were right. The change of scenery did us a lot of good. I'm pregnant, love."

"Oh, this is so great! Oh, Helen, I wish I was there with you right now. This is so wonderful."

"I knew you would think so. We have so much to plan for when you return. I'm so happy, Torrance. Thank you for giving me this. I love you."

"Je t'aime, Helen," Torrance whispered softly. "When should we tell the kids?"

"I was hoping we would do it together when you came home. I don't want anyone else to know until then. I mean it's still early. I just found out today."

"Of course. We'll keep it between us. Oh, I wish I was there with you now. You're going to go through a lot of morning sickness alone. I'm sorry. Be strong for me and know that I'm thinking of you, Helen."

"I know, but you owe me for this, Torrance. It's one thing to be sick when you're here but quite another when you're away on business. You have to promise never to get into this kind of trouble again. You now have three kids to think about plus me."

"I'll never do this again, Helen. You have my word."

"All right. Well, I need to feed the kids dinner. I'll talk to you later. I love you, Torrance."

"I love you too, Helen. You've made me so happy. Take it easy now. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

The following morning Helen and Sarah decided to take their children into the city. They had planned to meet Blake with her kids at Georgia's for lunch. However, that day as they walked into their friends' restaurant, they saw the attorney sitting with her children and an attractive young blonde at a table near the back. The oldest woman was talking so intently with her nanny that she never even saw Helen and Sarah approach with their group. It wasn't until Helen spoke up that Blake even turned toward them.

"Oh, you're here already," Blake mentioned checking her watch. The time seemed to pass so quickly whenever she and Renee talked. "Um, Sarah, Helen, this is my new nanny, Renee Summers. Renee, this is Sarah Talbot-Dean and Helen Whitfield. Helen is Torrance's wife. You met Torrance a few days ago."

"Oh yes, of course. Nice to meet you both after talking on the phone," the youngest blonde said as she stood to shake hands with the other blondes.

"Have a seat," Blake said, gesturing to the empty chairs.

After settling all the kids and placing orders for lunch, the attorney turned to Helen and Sarah. "So, what do you two have on your agendas today?"

"Actually we're taking the kids shopping. Jamie gave me free reign to buy whatever I wanted, so I have to make the most of that opportunity," Sarah teased.

"And of course Torrance is still making things up to me so a shopping spree is a good way to do that," Helen added jokingly. "What about you all?"

Blake shrugged. "I'm just working. What are you planning on for the rest of the day, Renee?"

"I hadn't actually decided yet. Speaking of shopping though, I was planning on asking you about getting some new clothes for the kids. They seem to be growing so quickly. It would help to get them some new things."

"Then you must do it."

"You could go with us if you want," Helen stated.

"That's a great idea," Blake answered turning to her nanny. "You should go with Sarah and Helen. They know all the best spots."

"I wouldn't want to intrude," Renee hesitated.

"Nonsense. Blake's right. We do know all the places," Sarah countered.

"It's settled then," the brunette announced.

Lunch passed relatively easily even though there were seven children making the meal interesting. When it was over, Sarah and Helen gathered all the kids, even Blake's, since Renee said she needed to speak to her employer alone for a moment. When it was just the two of them, the attorney looked at the younger woman questioningly. Renee looked over at the two blondes and then back at the tall woman. "I'm not sure the weekly allowance you gave me for the kids will cover this shopping trip," she said tentatively.

"Oh, right. Of course," Blake replied reaching for her wallet. Taking out a credit card, she extended it to her nanny. "I actually meant to give this to you a few days ago. I put you on my account, so you could buy things for the children easier. Just collect the receipts as you go along, so I know where it's all going and give them to me when you get back."

As the conversation continued, Helen and Sarah exchanged glances. "Do you see what I do?" the actress inquired of her taller friend.

Helen nodded. "This isn't good," the green-eyed woman responded. "They have a natural chemistry together. If I didn't know better I would think there was interest there on both parts."

Sarah nodded in agreement. "I hope Georgia knows what she's risking," she mumbled as Renee started for them. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah. Thanks for waiting. I just had to get the finances squared away with the boss," the youngest blonde said with a smile. "This should be fun."

That evening when Sarah arrived home with her three children, Jamie was sitting across the street on the porch with Samantha. When she saw the blonde trying to carry Stephen and the numerous bags, though, she jogged across the way to help. "How was shopping today?" she asked curiously as the group went into the house.

Sarah rolled her eyes at her wife. It had been a trial with Katrina and even Helen had noticed it, but she didn't want to get into that with her other kids there. Instead she answered, "We have some things to talk about, Jamie. Katrina wants to spend the night over at Doug and Samantha's again."

The brunette actress nodded in understanding. "Well, was she behaved while you were out?" she inquired of her wife even though she looked at the ten-year-old.

"Not exactly."

"Then she can't go," Jamie answered firmly. Gazing down at her eldest daughter, she stated, "In fact I think it would be a good idea if you spent some time up in your room and away from that phone of yours, young lady."

"But, Mom, that's not fair," complained Katrina.

"I think it's completely fair, Katrina. If you can't behave while you are out, you won't go out. Sarah is in charge of you, and you didn't listen to her. It's time to pay the consequences. Now hand over the phone," she demanded, extending her hand. Reluctantly Katrina relinquished it. "Thank you. Now go to your room and stay there until I come get you." The ten-year-old girl sulked up the staircase to her room before Jamie turned to Sarah. "Well, that takes care of her for the moment. Want to tell me what happened while I work on dinner?"

Sarah followed her wife into the kitchen with their son attached to her hip. "Well, she had a terrible attitude the whole time we were out. Helen even commented on it. Not only that she was rude to Blake and Georgia's new nanny, Renee. She was simply trying to be nice to our daughter, and Katrina pretty much told her where she could go. I don't know what to do here, Jamie."

"Well, Samantha and I were talking while I waited on you to come home. This change didn't really happen until we all moved in together. She started with the attitude a little bit then, but after Stephen was born, she really turned into a hellion. Samantha and I were discussing how much better she was under she and Doug's care," the tall woman mentioned. "I was trying to get information out of her how she managed to do it. Apparently she's started with the attitude with Samantha and Doug as well, but they never said anything about it until now. This is worse than I thought."

"What are we going to do then?"

"I told Samantha about our idea to send her to counseling. She seemed to think it might help. I mean don't know what else to try yet. We can always hope that does the trick."

"I guess we'll find out," Sarah mumbled.

"Anything else interesting happen today? You saw Helen?"

"Yeah. She's good, and I met this Renee woman. I'll tell you this, because you're my wife, but I hate to think of it. I think Georgia's about to find herself in a bind."

"What do you mean? What makes you think that?"

"Renee and Blake get along extremely well. You should have seen them together."

"Are you saying Blake's having an affair?"

"No but the two of them are something to see. I would hate to think Georgia would lose Blake after all they've been through, but her absence isn't easy on Blake. I can see the strain she's under, and Renee seems to be the only thing keeping her sane right now."

"Oh. That's not good. Does Helen think that too?"

Sarah nodded. "She's not thrilled with the situation or Georgia right now. She also sees what Blake is going through, and since Blake is Tor's best friend, it's easy to guess whose side Helen's going to be on when bad things happen."

"Well, that's too bad, but it's not for us to get involved. We just have to be there for them." The little blonde gave a nod in agreement. Coming to embrace her wife, Jamie whispered, "It just makes me all the more lucky to have you."

That night over at the Erwin house, things were quiet once the kids had been put to bed. Blake sat on the sofa reading leisurely and enjoying the stillness while Renee finished up the dinner dishes. When the blonde had completed the chore, she joined the brunette on the couch. The attorney looked over the top of her reading glasses and gave her companion a small smile.

"You look tired tonight. I guess the kids wore you out on the shopping trip, huh?"

"They were a handful, but we got some good stuff. It was worth it. We couldn't have them not walking around in the latest fashion. Somehow based on their wardrobe when I first arrived, it seems like Georgia would appreciate it if they were dressed by only the best designers."

Blake chuckled lightly tossing her book on the coffee table and slipping her glasses into the pocket of her dress shirt. "Well, it is her forte. She is one of the best fashion columnists in New York, and if she has her way, she'll be a best-selling novelist on top of that."

Renee nodded. Seeing dark eyes holding sadness, she asked, "You miss her, don't you?"

"At first I did. Now I guess I've gotten used to it. I mean four weeks is a long time. Having you around has helped though," she replied.

"Well, I'm glad. That's what I'm here for, to make your life easier in any way that I can," her nanny stated.

Blake studied the petite woman next to her for a moment. They still hadn't discussed the woman's sexuality since she had been employed there, but Blake had come to realize that Renee's interest lay in the fairer gender, striking her as curious. The attractive woman never spoke about anyone. Deciding to inquire, the attorney said, "You know, Renee, I've been wondering something."

"What's that?"

"Why doesn't an incredible woman such as yourself have a girlfriend?" she asked softly.

Renee flushed slightly at the question. She shrugged. "I don't know. I guess it's hard with what I do. I mean I basically work twelve-hours a day running after two kids. I'm pretty tired after they are put down for the night. I don't really have any energy to go out. Maybe if I had a day off it might help, but I'd probably just hang out at the house anyway. I don't have great social skills when it comes to meeting girls," she answered.

The older woman laughed under her breath. "I don't believe that. I think any woman with half a brain could see what a catch you were. I understand about being tired though. Maybe we should arrange for you to have some time off. You've worked four weeks without a break."

"You've been busy though. You've needed me to watch the kids. I've seen you when you get home. You barely have enough energy to take care of yourself. Why do you think I've been making all the dinners? I knew if it were up to you, the kids would never get fed," she teased lightly, touching Blake on the arm.

The tall woman felt the touch send heat up her arm. Looking into hazel eyes, she nodded. "You have a point there. You've been a great help to me, Renee. I don't know what I would do without you. You're the only reason I have my sanity. I should do something nice for you in return. What do you say?"

"I think you're already doing it by paying me so much," the blonde responded.

"No. I don't think so. I'll tell you what. Why don't I take you out this weekend? We'll have dinner and go anywhere you want, and it'll all be on me. What do you say?"

"What about Lana and Luke?"

"Cindy can watch them for one evening. Come on. You need some excitement. You never know. You might meet some gorgeous woman that sweeps you right off your feet."

Renee shook her head. "They'll all be looking at you. I don't stand a chance."

"A beautiful young thing like you versus and old has-been like me, there's no competition."

"You're not a has-been, Blake," Renee retorted. Her hand managed to find the attorney's arm again unconsciously. "You're quite attractive, you know."

Blake placed her hand on top of it and patted it lightly. "Thank you for thinking so, Renee. It makes me feel better to know a woman young enough to be my daughter finds me attractive."

Renee laughed gently. "You're not that old either. You're just overworked. That needs to change."

Blake nodded. "Maybe it will." They sat for a moment longer before Blake noticed they were still touching. However, instead of removing her hand from Renee's, she simply looked into hazel eyes. They showed no sign of displeasure in the touch. Instead the brunette saw a glimmer in those eyes that hadn't been there moments prior. "So, do you have any ideas where you might like to go? I'll take you anywhere in the city as long as we can get in that is," she amended.

"I'll think about it. There are so many options," Renee answered, putting her other hand on top of Blake's, so the attorney's was enveloped by both of hers. "For now I think it's time for you to retire. You look like you've had a long day yourself, Blake. I bet a nice soak in that jacuzzi of yours would feel great. Want me to start it for you?"

"That does sound nice, but you've had a harder day than me. Maybe you'd like to sit in it for awhile. You are welcome to it any time you want."

"That does sound nice. I think I'll take you up on that."

"Great. Why don't I get it started for you while change into more appropriate attire? Just come into my bathroom whenever you're ready," the older woman said rising from the sofa. She wandered off toward her bathroom to prepare the jacuzzi for her nanny. After she had started it, she began to pull on her pajamas. It was only a few minutes before there was a soft knock on the bathroom door. Beckoning Renee into the bathroom, Blake was surprised for a moment when the little blonde appeared in only a short robe with a towel tossed over one shoulder. They just looked at each other for a moment awkwardly, because they really hadn't had occasion to see each other dressed in such a fashion. The tall woman's eyes surveyed up the petite form, taking in the bare legs and expanse of Renee's chest that wasn't covered by the robe. The swell of her breasts was so alluring set off by the satin black robe wore. Trying not to think about how attractive and soft she appeared, Blake met her nanny's eyes. "Well, it's all yours now. I'm just going to go to bed. Feel free to stay in as long as you like."

"Okay. Thanks," the blonde answered, obviously waiting for her employer to leave before disrobing.

With a nod of her head, Blake was out the door. She closed it behind her and took a deep breath. She had thought Renee lovely from the moment she had laid eyes upon her, but her thoughts had not drifted beyond that. However something had happened in a matter of moments on the couch. What had started as playful banter seemed to take a sensual turn suddenly, leaving Blake disconcerted. Nevertheless, she tried to dismiss it as her longing for Georgia. Moving to the bed, she climbed under the covers and clicked on the television to catch up on the news of the day before sleep.

The following morning Torrance woke up before her alarm went off. Her mind had been racing most of the night with thoughts of Helen and their baby-to-be, so she didn't get much sleep. Nevertheless, she felt completely energized when she got up for her community service that day. Heading into the bathroom, she quickly showered and dressed. Figuring Georgia was going to sleep in as usual, she tried to be quiet as she moved around her room preparing her equipment before lugging it down to the living area. Going into the kitchen to grab something to eat, she was surprised to see the small blonde sitting at the coffee table reading the paper.

"Good morning. I didn't expect to see you up yet," the photographer mentioned going to the pot of coffee that had already been made.

"Mornin', Tor. I couldn't sleep. I've been thinkin' 'bout what you said 'bout Renee over the last couple of days. I just cain't stop thinkin' 'bout it actually," she confessed.

"What about her?"

"That she's attractive and she's been attentive to Blake."

"You shouldn't worry, Georgia. You and Blake are married. There's nothing to be concerned about."

"I know, but still I was thinkin' 'bout doin' somethin' for her as a surprise. I don't want her to think I forgot 'bout her completely now. What do you think?"

"That would be nice. Did you have something in mind?"

The author nodded. "I was wonderin' if it wouldn't be much trouble to take some pictures of me to send to her," she requested as a slight blush rose to her cheeks.

"That's no trouble. What kind of pictures though? By the look on your face I'm thinking you want them to be intimate."

The small woman nodded with a modest flush. "But I don't want you to be uncomfortable, Tor. It's just that I know I cain trust you."

"I understand. Whatever you want to do is fine. I've photographed women intimately before. It's no big deal. You just tell me what you had in mind, and we'll work it out. I know Blake would love it."

Georgia nodded. "Well, I was hopin' sometime over the next day or two would work well. I know you'll need time to develop them."

"Fine. We'll do it when I get home tonight. That gives you the day to figure out what you want. Do you want black and white or color photos?"

The writer shrugged. "I don't know. Whatever you think is best."

The photographer studied her moment before answering, "Your skin tone and hair color would be highlighted best in black and white, but we can do some of both. I'll have to get some more film on my way home tonight."

"All right. I'll pay for it. Just tell me who much I owe you."

"Whatever. It's no big deal. I have to get going now. I'll see you tonight."

"Okay. Have a good day."

"You too," Torrance replied picking up a croissant and her coffee before heading out the door.

Georgia looked out the window and thought about where she wanted the pictures to be taken that evening for a few minutes before the phone interrupted her thoughts. She walked over to the back door where the phone was mounted on the wall and greeted, "Hello."

"Good morning, Georgia." Helen said. "How are you?"

"Hey, Helen. I'm good. How 'bout you? How are the kids?"

"We're all fine. Is Torrance there? I wanted to talk to her a moment before she left."

"Actually you just missed her by a few minutes. She's gone for the day, but I'll tell her you called though."

"All right. Thanks. Tell her that the kids and I are going to be coming down there on Saturday for a week."

"Oh that's great. It'll be nice to have you 'round. She'll be thrilled. I'll tell her. "

"Wonderful. So, how is the book coming along?"

"It's coming along all right. I'm well into it now."

"Any plans to come home soon? I know Blake and the kids would love to see you."

"I know. I miss all of them as well. I wish she would come down here for awhile, but I cain't seem to convince her to. She's too busy it seems. Apparently Renee is helping out a lot though," she mentioned wondering what her friend thought of the nanny.

"Oh yeah. Renee is working out well, but there's no substitute for the real thing though. I mean when I was out with Renee and your children yesterday they were telling me that they missed you. It's been a month, Georgia. They are too young to be without you."

"Well, if Blake would brin' them down here, they wouldn't have to miss me, but she won't," the younger blonde quipped.

Helen heard the edge in her friend's voice, so she decided she wouldn't press the issue any more. It was obvious Georgia was beginning to become defensive on the matter. Deciding to change the subject, she inquired, "Do you want me to bring them down to you this weekend?"

"Well, I'm down here to work. I don't think I could watch the two of them and accomplish that. That's why I left in the first place. However maybe if Renee came with them that might work. I think I'll ask Blake. Are you sure it wouldn't be any trouble?"

"Not at all. Just let me know," Helen answered.

"I will. Thanks, Helen."

"You're welcome. Well, I should get going. John and Marta are bound to be looking for me any moment. I'll see you this weekend."

That evening Torrance returned back to the bed and breakfast to find dinner already on the table for Georgia and her. The little blonde looked pensive though as she hovered around the kitchen, setting the table, making the brunette wonder if something was on her mind. Dropping her equipment gently down on the floor, Torrance stepped closer to the writer. "Hey. Dinner looks great. How was your day?"

"Fine. I talked to Helen this mornin' after you left. She and the kids are comin' down on Saturday for a week."

The tall woman grinned. "That's just about the greatest thing I've heard since I started this job."

Georgia nodded. "Renee is comin' down with Luke and Lana as well, so we should have a full house."

"Is Blake coming?"

"No. She said she needs to work. Enough 'bout her though. Sit down and eat somethin'."

Torrance did as she was told. Over the course of the meal, she could tell that Georgia's mind was elsewhere, but she didn't want to pry, figuring it was on the attorney. Instead they just ate in companionable quiet. When the meal was complete, the older woman helped with the dishes before inquiring, "Are you still up for our little photo shoot?"

"Oh yeah. I've decided to just do it in the bedroom. I'm all set whenever you are."

"I'm ready. Let's do this."

"Okay. Just give me a minute to change and then come up?" she questioned.

"No problem."

Rushing upstairs Georgia went into her bedroom. She had created most of her atmosphere earlier that day, so it was just a matter of her outfit. As she slipped out of her clothes and into the skimpy revealing robe she had chosen, her thoughts turned to Torrance. She idly wondered what her wife's best friend might think of her this way. She had always thought the photographer dashingly attractive and considered Helen lucky to have the arm of such a woman. Even more, she had never worn so little in front of another woman who was so obviously interested in only the softer gender, so she pondered whether Torrance would find her empirically beautiful.

Torrance waited a few minutes before going upstairs to Georgia's room. She gave a strong knock on the door and then waited for Georgia's response to enter with her equipment. When she opened the door however at the small woman's beckon, she was unprepared for what lay on the other side. There was the little blue-eyed blonde, standing in the middle of a romantic room in only a short blue robe. The tall woman felt her own breath catch at the thought of seeing her best friend's wife in such an intimate state. In that moment she realized exactly why Blake was drawn to the Southern belle. Her body in combination with the honey-laden drawl was enough to drive the most composed woman to delirium. Unable to help herself, Torrance flushed lightly for a moment as she broke their gaze.

Seeing the older woman's response, Georgia knew the brunette did find her attractive, and it pleased her greatly. "So, I was thinkin' we'd just use the bed," she stated.

Torrance looked at the furniture in question. The bed seemed an average setting. Turning her attention elsewhere, she saw the French chaise over by the window. "We could do the bed, but I think the chaise would suit better," she suggested, trying to get into a professional mode.

Georgia looked it as well and shrugged. "Whatever you think is best. You're the photographer after all. Maybe we can do some of both."

"Fine. Let's get started. Take a seat on the chaise for me. I want to get an idea of your presence behind the lens for a moment." Georgia took a seat while Torrance dug out her camera. After several minutes of arranging the blonde, Torrance began the shoot. However, Georgia had a natural way with the camera that made it extremely difficult to keep her thoughts from straying. She had to give the writer more credit than she had originally for her seductive powers. She now knew why Blake had succumbed to them. Moving around the little woman, Torrance tried to stay on the task at hand. However she knew things were about to get more intimate between them at her next request. Finishing a roll, the brunette waited for it to rewind before loading another. "Okay, Georgia. Now it's time to get serious about this. Are you wearing anything under that robe?" she questioned. The younger woman shook her head. "Great. Blake will love that. I want you to lying down all the way on the chaise now and open your legs slightly." Georgia did as she was told, knowing full well that Torrance would be able to see everything if she did so. However, the older woman didn't look up as she got into position, instead giving her some privacy. "Good. Now take both your hands and cover yourself. Put the left hand on top. We need to show off that rock of a ring for your wife," she joked. Getting into the correct position with her hands strategically placed between her thighs, Georgia awaited further instruction. Coming to the end of the small chaise, Torrance knelt down at the arm, so she was almost on eye level with her model. Taking a look through her camera, she shook her head. "That's not quite it," she mentioned. Rising she went to Georgia. Without thought she reached for the robe, pulling it open further to see the expanse of the petite woman's ample breasts. Accidentally her hand skimmed the soft surface, and she felt Georgia's body respond. Suddenly blue eyes met brown. An intense but awkward moment ensued. Finally breaking it though, Torrance moved back to the foot of the chaise. The charged atmosphere seeped into the blonde's eyes, further fueling the intimacy they were sharing.

When the photographer completed another roll, Georgia inquired, "Do you mind if we move this over to the bed now? I want to get some pictures of that as well."

"No. Not at all. Lead the way," Torrance answered.

The small blonde went over to the bed and unceremonious disrobed, leaving her in absolutely nothing but naked glory. Being taken off guard by the action, the older woman blushed and quickly adverted her eyes. She hadn't expected to see all of the Southern woman. Seeing the discomfort on her friend's face, Georgia asked, "Tor, are you all right with this?"

Torrance shrugged. "Georgia, I've been doing this a long time, so I feel like I should tell you this. We can do this any way you want, but most of the time the most alluring pictures are not when everything is on display. It's those that create an illusion, those that spark the imagination, which are most seductive. I think you'd attain your goals with Blake if you were hiding just a little something," she explained, risking a glance at her best friend's wife.

"Whatever you think, Tor. You're the expert. Will a sheet suffice?"

"Yeah. That should be fine. Go on and get in bed. I'll come position you in a minute. I just need a moment to get the lighting correct." Torrance focused on the lights of the room in order to keep her eyes from straying to the display. This was turning out to be harder than she had thought. However, she knew nothing would become of what was so obviously beginning to happen in the room. She didn't think Georgia was intentionally trying to be seductive towards her. It was just for the pictures, but Torrance was finding it difficult to concentrate. The times she had photographed others nude had been in a much different environment. She had never been alone with her subject like this, so things were awkward and yet so enticing. Reminding herself what the intention of the photographs was though, she steeled herself against any more potential physical responses and turned to complete the project. Her eyes moved to the bed where Georgia lay covered by the white sheet. Coming to her Torrance started to rearrange it the way she thought most appropriate.

However, when she had backed away to study the creation, the writer spoke up and asked, "Could I show just a little something? I think Blake would like that."

"Whatever you want, Georgia. This is your gift. Show me what you had in mind."

The young woman immediately pulled the sheet down to expose both her breasts. "Just these. What do you think?"

"Cross at least one arm across them for me," Torrance bargained. "I still want to live when Blake sees these. If she knew I even saw you like this, she'd kill me. You do realize that?" she asked jokingly as her dark eyes instinctively looked at what was on exhibition. Seeing that her gaze was affecting the little woman physically as well, she snapped her head up to meet the blue eyes again.

"How 'bout just one of them?" Georgia countered. "And no covering."

Knowing she wasn't going to win the argument, Torrance conceded with a nod. "Fine. One of them. Pick your favorite."

The older woman moved to the end of the bed with her camera and looked through her lens at what Georgia had created. The writer was giving her the best bedroom gaze she had ever seen from anyone other than her own wife. However, she desperately tried to center her attention on the shoot instead of her model. Going into professional mode again, she moved her way around the bed taking pictures of the angelic and yet alluring blonde. Getting so into her work, she didn't even really consider the fact that she had crawled onto the bed with her best friend's naked wife. All that really mattered to her was the fact that she was getting incredible photos of the glorious creature in her presence.

It wasn't until Torrance was standing on the bed, her feet on either side of Georgia's hips that she realized the position in which she had placed herself. Her legs quavered slightly when she felt one of Georgia's naked legs bump into hers, followed a full body shudder when the blonde's hands found their way to her calves.

"Are you okay, Tor?" the writer inquired, holding on to the brunette's legs in a vain effort to keep her upright. The photographer came down onto her knees and continued to furiously click away with her camera until a petite hand came up and took it from her grasp. "I think you've done enough, Torrance," Georgia said softly, putting the equipment aside. Reaching back to the brunette, Georgia took hold of her by the front of her shirt. Torrance allowed herself to be drawn closer until their faces were only inches apart. She could feel Georgia's naked frame pressed into her own with only a flimsy sheet and the photographer's clothes between them, and yet she was paralyzed to do anything except stare into captivating blue eyes. A fair brow quirked questioningly.

Suddenly Torrance realized how close her lips were to the writer's as Georgia's sweet breath swept across her face. "Helen," she mumbled.

A blonde head nodded, repeating, "Helen." Still neither of them moved for a moment. Finally Georgia started to push the brunette away lightly, saying in a strained voice, "If you don't get off of me right now, Torrance..."

Immediately the tall woman rolled off of her and jumped from the bed. "Oh God," she whispered shakily. "We almost..."

"But we didn't, Tor," Georgia added, rising from the bed and wrapping the sheet around herself. "I could never do that to Helen. She was my first friend in New York. I could never do that with you because of her."

"I never even thought of you that way until tonight," the photographer confessed. "Blake and Helen are going to kill us."

"They don't have to know. Nothin' happened. We just got a little carried away with the pictures, but we didn't do anythin' wrong. There's nothin' to tell," she stated, putting a hand on her friend's arm.

Torrance looked at it and then its owner. Georgia still looked tempting, but she had her senses back enough to realize nothing would happen between them. Taking a deep breath, she nodded reluctantly. "You're right. There is nothing to tell other than the fact that we had a photo shoot. Nothing happened." Georgia gave a nod in affirmation. "Well, I should go though," Torrance said, quickly beginning to gather her equipment. The blonde didn't stop her. "I'll develop these negatives for you. I'm sure they'll come out great."

"I'm sure they will. Thanks for your help. Tor."

"No problem," the older woman answered, making her way to the door. Taking one last look at her friend, she said, "Well, good night, Georgia."

"Night, Tor."

That Friday evening Cindy came to stay with Lana and Luke, so Blake could take Renee out as she had promised. The three adults made sure the kids were settled before the attorney and the nanny took off together for the night. As soon as they were downstairs on the street, Blake smiled at her company. "So, where am I taking you this evening?"

"Well, we're having dinner in Soho, and then there is the club called Henrietta Hudson I want to go to. Some of my friends are going to be there tonight, and I wanted to meet up with them. Is that okay with you?"

"That's fine. This is your night. I promised to take you wherever you wanted to go. Your wish is my command this evening," she said with a sexy grin as she hailed a cab for them.

The two of them had a leisurely dinner down in Soho and then went to a local coffee shop after that, so they didn't even reach the bar until close to eleven. Going into the small establishment, Blake noticed that it was packed with many different types of women almost all of them dancing to the blaring music. Since it was difficult to hear over the sound, Renee just took the attorney by the hand to lead her through the crowd over to a small table where her friends were.

Blake noticed the contact but didn't complain. Instead she just went with the flow. Renee yelled over the music to introduce Blake to her friends before taking a seat. The attorney stood quietly observing the atmosphere of the club. It had been so long since she had been to such a place, and she felt a little too old to be amongst the company she now found herself. However, she had promised Renee a night of whatever she wanted, so she decided to make the most of it. Leaning down to the nanny's ear, she asked what she wanted to drink from the bar. When Renee answered, she went off to do the blonde's bidding.

Going over to the bar, Blake ordered two drinks and just watched Renee from afar as she waited on the bartender to make them. Seeing the blonde in this atmosphere helped her remember how young the woman really was. When they were alone in the privacy of the attorney's home, the nanny seemed so mature, but as she looked at her now, she was reminded that she was a handful of years removed from being a teenager. After paying for the drinks, Blake made her way back to the table. When she handed the blonde hers, Renee took it, her hand sexily caressing the attorney's at the hand-off. Hazel eyes glimmered playfully as the little woman thanked her.

Not too long after they had settled themselves, Renee and her friends got up to dance, leaving the attorney to just study them as they all moved seductively close to each other. Meanwhile Blake gulped down her beverage and checked her watch. She wondered how long they would be here and if her employee would be offended if she left her there with her friends. Blake was wondering about the best way to suggest that when she noticed the petite blonde coming back to the table.

Renee smiled and stretched out her hand in Blake's direction. "Dance with me, Blake," she demanded.

Putting her empty glass aside, Blake decided a dance couldn't hurt, so she placed her hand into Renee's. The younger woman escorted her to the floor. Blake felt a little self-conscious dancing among the group of young women, but as the songs transitioned from one to another, she began to be more comfortable in her surroundings, especially when she realized Renee's friends all seemed to be interested in dancing with her more intimately. Obliging the small gathering, Blake playfully took turns with the younger women, but as she found herself paired with Renee, the music began to slow. The floor began to empty, but the nanny only pressed her body closer to the attorney signaling she had no intentions of vacating her spot. Accommodating the small woman, Blake slipped her arms around Renee. Swaying gently to the sounds of the music, hazel and brown eyes stayed locked. All too soon it was over though as the tunes shifted again. However, when Renee's friends returned to their sides, neither woman noticed them. Instead their eyes were only for each other as they continued to grind heavily against each other long into the night.

Arriving back at the attorney's place after three in the morning, they quietly moved through the foyer. It appeared as if Cindy had already settled herself in one of the guestrooms, so it was just the two of them awake. Blake checked her watch. "Wow. It's late. You're going to be tired tomorrow. That's a long flight to New Orleans."

"I'll be fine. Tonight was definitely worth any sleep I'm going to miss," Renee answered stepping into the older woman's personal space. "Thanks for the great night, Blake. I haven't had this much fun in ages."

"Me neither," the attorney responded, touching Renee on the arm lightly. They just looked at each other silently for a moment as if they were waiting for something else to happen. However neither moved. "Well, good night, Renee. Sleep well."

"Good night, Blake. See you in the morning," the nanny replied, rising on her toes long enough to place a quick kiss on the attorney's cheek. "Thanks again."

"You're welcome," Blake replied, watching her employee walk away toward her quarters with a little more sashay to her hips than she had ever noticed previously. Just as Renee turned the corner into the hallway leading to her room, she looked back over her shoulder and gave the attorney a sexy smile and wink before disappearing.

Saturday afternoon Torrance and Georgia went to the airport to pick up their visitors. Neither of them had spoken about what had happened between them, but there was an uncomfortable tension in the house ever since that night, so Torrance was glad her family was going to be there for a week. As soon as the Whitfield private jet came to a stop at the hanger Torrance had rented to house it for the week, the photographer moved toward the plane. When the door was opened, she rushed onto it.

"Mom!" Marta and John both exclaimed, hurrying out of their seats and toward her. She wrapped them both in a strong embrace. Looking at Helen, Torrance gave her most becoming smile. "Madame Whitfield," she uttered, stepping to her. She enveloped the tall blonde in her arms and kissed her with all the feeling she had.

"Whoa. Someone missed me, huh?" Helen teased with a flush when they broke.

Georgia boarded the plane a little slower than her friend, because she wasn't sure what to expect from the nanny. Seeing her children though, she smiled at them and gave them both hugs before addressing the youngest blonde. "Well, you must be Renee. I'm Georgia Erwin, Blake's wife."

"Nice to meet you, Georgia. Blake and the kids have told me so much about you already," she answered, extending her hand.

The writer shook it as their eyes met in a long stare. Georgia could tell Torrance's earlier assessment of Renee had been right. She was an attractive girl, making her wonder if Blake thought her that way as well. Looking back at her kids, she said, "Come on Luke and Lana. There are so many fun things we have to do, but we have to get home first. Let's go get in the car."

Eagerly each of them took hold of either of her hands to be escorted down the stairs of the plane and to the car. Torrance smiled at Renee and gestured for her to go first. When it was just the photographer with her family, she said, "I've missed you so much, Helen."

"You've only been gone a week, honey."

"It's been too long already. I'm so glad you all are here. Come on. Let's get back. I can't wait to get the kids to bed tonight, so we can have some time alone," she whispered with a sexy grin.

That evening after everyone had settled into their rooms and the children had been put down for the night, Torrance and Helen retired to their room as well. Helen stood at the window looking out over the street and thinking about the last time she was in New Orleans. Her wife had fulfilled her utmost wish by conceiving the child that now grew inside of her. She sighed in contentment as she felt arms embrace her from behind. Instinctively she rested her head back against the brunette's shoulder. "I love you, Torrance," she whispered.

"Je t'aime, Helen," the tall woman uttered nipping the blonde's ear lightly.

The former model turned her head enough to meet Torrance's eyes with her green ones. The older woman leaned down to claim the sweet lips of her beloved. Helen moaned softly. "I've missed your arms, Torrance. I've wished you were there with me every moment you've been gone. My morning sickness has started."

"I'm sorry I haven't been. At least I'll be around for the next week, and then it's only one more week without each other. This week has seemed like forever though."

Helen nodded in agreement. "But it's getting much better now," she mumbled. Meeting her lover's eyes, she whispered, "I want to go to bed, Torrance."

"Anything you want, Helen. You know that," the older woman answered turning her wife around, so they were facing each other. Helen's arms came around the brunette's neck as they kissed more deeply.

When it ended, the blonde gently extricated herself from the strong arms that held her, suggesting, "Let's get ready for sleep first. I promise it will be worth the wait."

"It always is," growled Torrance, following Helen into the bathroom. Both of them got ready for bed, but as usual Torrance was finished first. She took the time to go into the bedroom and pull the covers down for her wife. Getting comfortable on her side of the bed, she just waited for Helen's arrival. A few minutes later the blonde came to the bed and slid into it. Turning out the lights, she rolled over toward the photographer and pushed her back against the mattress as their mouths came together lustfully.

Torrance groaned as her wife immediately began to grapple with their sleeping attire. The older woman loved it when her beloved aggressively sought out what she wanted. As always she was there to give Helen exactly what she needed and quickly took control of the passion between them. Leisurely they loved each other before finally being overcome with exhaustion.

Lying wrapped together, Helen took a deep cleansing breath. "That certainly was what I hoped it would be," she confessed. "I've wanted you since the day you left."

"I'm glad I can make you happy. Thank you for being my wife, Helen."

"Thank you for giving me all I ever wanted, Torrance. I love you."

"I love you as well, so much."

The following morning the whole house was up early. Torrance had arranged for them to have breakfast at the Court of Two Sisters in the French Quarter, so all four women got the children together for their outing. As Georgia and Renee worked together to dress Lana and Luke, the writer noticed that her kids listened to the young blonde well. In fact they did exactly as she instructed them, but Georgia didn't know if that made her feel better or worse. It was obvious Renee was good at her job, but she didn't like seeing her kids dote on the younger woman.

Breakfast that day was an affair within itself being that it was a buffet, but the four of them managed it by each of them taking charge of a child. After getting their food and getting the kids settled at the table, the waiter came around to get them beverages. When he offered them mimosas, three of the adults eagerly agreed, but Helen said she would be fine with only orange juice.

"Why aren't you havin' any champagne, Helen?" Georgia asked teasingly. "Tor got you knocked up 'gain?"

The thirty-five-year-old blushed gracefully. "We're still trying, so I just want to be careful," she answered, gazing fondly at her wife.

Torrance smiled at her and reached for her hand. Bringing it to her lips, she kissed it gently. Looking back at Georgia, Torrance joked, "Maybe one of these days I'll get it right again."

"Well, if the old sayin' that practice makes perfect is true, I don't think y'all will have anythin' to worry 'bout. Y'all are just 'bout the most practiced people I know," she joked, making both Torrance and Helen flush.

"Sorry, Renee," the photographer apologized. "Somewhere along the way this Southern belle lost her couth."

Changing the subject a little, Renee looked at her other employer. "So, Blake tells me that you're writing a novel. What's it about?"

"It's a mystery set in New Orleans. It involves an attorney, a crime photographer, and a criminal investigator. The three of them are tryin' to keep an innocent woman from death row. Of course there are other elements as well. There is a lot of Voodoo and supernatural happenings."

"That sounds exciting," Helen mentioned.

"I have to admit Tor gave me the idea."

"I did? How did I do that?"

"It came to me the night you got arrested for breakin' in the cemetery to see Marie Laveau's mausoleum. The photographer and the attorney in the book do somethin' similar. I'll admit I fashioned them after you and Blake as well. Publishers say you should write 'bout what you know, and well, I know my wife and her best friend."

"Well, how flattering," Helen mentioned, looking at her wife.

"Bein' here on location has helped so much. I can actually go to the places and see them as I write them. It gives the book real life. There's no way I could be doin' this in New York."

"Well, we all can't wait to read it," the oldest woman said, taking a sip of her mimosa.

"It won't be for awhile though. I'm almost finished with the bulk of it, and then I think I'm goin' to finish up in New York. As much fun as I'm havin' down here, I do miss Blake and the kids," she stated, giving Renee a glance. "I hope not to be away for more than another month or so."

"I'm sure Blake will be thrilled about that," the nanny piped in.

Over the next week, Torrance spent all her free time away from her community service with her family. It was such a pleasure for her to have them there even though Helen was constantly battling morning sickness. Nevertheless, they were able to hide that fact from the writer. Georgia equally enjoyed the time with her children, often visiting with them during the day instead of writing. After the first few days with Renee, she wanted some time alone with them to see what they really thought of her. She came to the conclusion that Lana and Luke were enamored with the young nanny. She questioned to herself if Blake found her that way as well. Renee was undisputably beautiful and seemed to have the personality to match, so she wondered if that had played a part in the job offer. Knowing her wife's dating past, she knew the attorney had been promiscuous up until the woman before her, so she contemplated the thought of the attorney pursuing someone else in the writer's absence. Georgia wasn't entirely sure Blake had it in her to be monogamous unless she was constantly at the brunette's side. She knew the older woman loved her, but the last year or so had been difficult for them, leaving her with doubts, doubts that had unconsciously surfaced when she and Torrance had done the photo shoot together.

Friday morning the photographer regretfully had to go to work, leaving her wife and children to get themselves to the airport. Georgia had left the house early as well, so it was just Helen and Renee watching after the four kids as they prepared for their trip back to New York. Since the older blonde had an easier time given that John and Marta were slightly older, she decided to take it upon herself to make breakfast for the entire crew.

She busied herself with bacon and eggs for all six of them while her two kids played around the first floor. However she instinctively knew when they were getting into mischief by the fact that she could no longer hear them talking with each other. Going in search of them, she found them in the small utility room on the first floor that her wife had been using for a makeshift dark room.

"John, Marta, you know better than to be in here. You aren't supposed to be playing with Mom's equipment," she reprimanded. "Now get out of there and come into the kitchen."

"Yes, Mommy," they both answered with their heads hung low at being caught.

Helen watched them proceed with bemusement that she didn't show, because it was always almost comical the way they reacted to the lightest discipline. She thought she and Torrance were lucky that Marta and John responded to words instead of harsher measures of punishment. She knew they both would have a hard time dispensing anything other than sharp retorts if pressed. Once she saw the two make the corner toward the kitchen, she quickly glanced around to make sure nothing was disturbed, but something caught her eyes.

Going into the room, the blonde walked over to where a stack of pictures lay on a counter. Her brows scrunched as she picked up the black and white photographs and examined them closer. Her heart sank a little lower with each one she flipped. There was Georgia captured, looking so glamourously seductive in a multitude of pictures, each one just a little more intimate than the one preceding it. When she got to the end and saw the writer, a woman she considered one of her closest friends, lying virtually naked to the camera, she felt anger invade her body.

It was true that Torrance was a photographer and an international success at it. However, these photographs were nothing like Helen had ever seen before. She had viewed her wife's work, even the nude photos of other people and never responded with anything close to the rage she was feeling. It was the fact that the subject was Georgia. Georgia was bare to the brunette's camera and eyes. Her wife had seen their good friend naked and by the looks of the photographs, in an extremely intimate setting. Not knowing how to react to what was in her hands, she put the photographs back on the counter and quickly left the room. However, Helen couldn't get them out of her mind though the rest of the day as they all made their way back to New York.

That night when Torrance returned from work, she called her wife to see that she had made it home safely. When Helen answered, the tall woman greeted, "Bon jour, Madame Whitfield."

"Hello, Torrance," the blonde quietly responded.

"I just wanted to see if you got home okay. You sound exhausted. Did the flight wear you out?"

"Yes, I am very tired, and I actually want to go to bed. So, if you don't mind, I'd like to hang up now," she snipped.

Hearing the shortness of her tone, the photographer was taken by surprise. However she passed it off as her wife's abruptly changing hormones. "Sure. Of course. Whatever you need, honey. Are you all right though? You sound upset."

"I'm not in the mood to talk about it, Torrance. I would appreciate it if you just let me get some rest."

"All right. Know that I'm just a phone call away though. I'll be home in a week. Just hold on for me. Good night, Helen. I love you."

"Good bye, Torrance," Helen replied, not returning the affectionate sentiment before hanging up the phone.

Hearing the dial tone instead of her lover's voice whispering her enduring love as usual, the older woman pondered what she could have done to be receiving such the cold shoulder from her wife. It was clear that Helen's anger was directed at her, but she had no idea why she was the recipient of the attitude.

When Blake got back from work that evening, Renee was already feeding the kids their dinner at the table. The blonde smiled at the attorney brightly as she came into the kitchen and dropped her briefcase. "Mom!" the twins exclaimed as she came to give them hugs.

"How are my children? I missed you," she said, kissing them both on the top of their heads.

"Let me get you something to eat, Blake. Sit down," Renee insisted, rising from her chair.

"You don't have to. I can do it."

"I'm already up. Just relax. I'm sure you've had a stressful day."

Blake did as she was told, taking her usual seat. A moment later Renee came to her with a plateful of food. The older woman felt the nanny's hand touch her on the back as she set the plate down in front of her. The brunette spared her a smile. "Thank you, Renee."

"My pleasure."

Looking back to her children, Blake said, "So, tell me. What did you do while you were visiting Mama?"

For the rest of dinner Blake listened to Lana and Luke talk about all the things they had done while they were in New Orleans. Both of them seemed as if they had a great time with their mother and had been sad to leave her, but the attorney wasn't sure what she could do to reassure them that Georgia would be home soon, because she really had no idea what her wife's plans were for coming back to New York.

Once dinner was complete, the brunette took her children to take their baths while Renee cleaned the kitchen. Kneeling by the tub, laughing with the twins as they played in the water, Blake realized just how much she had really missed them.

"You know, I missed you two while you were gone," the attorney said as Lana's dark eyes met hers.

"We missed you too, Mom," the little girl replied.

"Yeah. We missed you," Luke added, his blue eyes connecting with hers as well.

The attorney gazed at the two of them. They were as different as she and Georgia, one of them with dark features and the other light. However, they were the essence of she and her wife, and it left Blake with a bittersweet ache. She loved her children, but looking at them made her miss Georgia as well.

Suddenly her thoughts were broken by Renee entering and asking, "How is it going in here?"

The small blonde knelt next to Blake. The older woman looked at her and smiled. "We're doing fine."

"Here. Let me help," she offered taking the shampoo Blake had been holding. As their fingers brushed, hazel eyes met brown. "The kids missed you, you know," Renee said.

"Yeah. They were just telling me that."

"They weren't the only ones," the nanny continued. "Georgia, Helen, and Tor weren't any substitute for our conversations. I know Tor and Helen were always trying to include me, but it was so obvious they wanted to be elsewhere. I've never seen two people more in love."

Blake nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Tor is one of the luckiest woman in the world. It's too bad she's screwed it up. I always thought of Helen as the ideal woman since the first time I met her. Tor was lucky enough to snag herself a perfect woman. I had always hoped to do the same. Somehow it didn't quite work out the way I had planned."

"But you love Georgia. And what do you mean Tor screwed it up?"

"Of course I love Georgia, but people change, Renee, and sometimes they grow apart. I'm starting to wonder if that's what has happened with us."

"Well, if it makes any difference, Georgia said she was hoping to come home in about a month."

"I don't know if I can take it another month. I'm about ready to call it quits right now," she stated. "She's made a mockery of this marriage, running off, abandoning her children, sleeping with my best friend. That's enough to drive anyone to file for divorce."

Renee's eyes opened a little wider at the revelation Blake had just shared. "She slept with Tor? How did you find that out?"

"Helen told me. I could tell she didn't want to, but she was so upset over Tor that she had no choice. She's leaving Tor because of it."

Renee shook her head. "Oh, that's so sad. Helen is so sweet. How could Tor do that to her? How could Georgia do that to you?"

"I don't know, but I think it's over. I've lost my best friend and my wife. I don't think I can get over that."

Placing a hand on her employer's arm, Renee whispered, "I am so sorry, Blake."

"So am I," the attorney replied. Not wanting to upset her children though, she smiled at them and joined their play, effectively ending the conversation.



~ New York series ~
Love in Photographs
Georgia On My Mind
Stick to the Script
Vows of the Heart

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