~ Cherish ~
by Ambrosia

Top 25: May 17, 2004
Disclaimers: The people portrayed in this story belong solely to me. Any resemblance to those living or otherwise is purely coincidental.

Sexual Situations: If intimacy between members of the same gender offends you, then you may want to read something else. Also, if you're not at least 18 years of age, you should move on.

Strong Language: Most of these characters can't be described as potty mouths, but unsavory language will appear at times.

Violence: Nothing extremely graphic.

Hurt/Comfort Warning: I won't go into much detail here, but this is the type of story where if I've done my job correctly then you'll be in need of some Kleenex ;-) So, if boohoo stories aren't your thing, then you should bow out now.

Feedback: You wanna send me some? Ah gee, thanks! Please send your comments to SumrBrezze@aol.com.

To my dear friend Kerrie, one of the best gals I'm lucky to know. Thanks so much sweetie for helping and motivating me to commit this story to?electronic paper *smile*


One could successfully bounce a quarter off that thing. Georgina Anne Franklin's fascinated eyes watched as the rear end a few feet in front of her twitched from side to side as its owner inspected the recently installed plush cream-colored carpet, running a palm along it. Usually, Georgina didn't gawk at other's body parts, but this one had her almost spellbound and the tight blue jeans covering it, only made it appear that much more appealing.

Yum, yum gimme some. Instantly, Georgina's cheeks colored at the thoughts going through her mind. She's a client, not a piece of meat! What is wrong with me? Before she could answer her own question, the jean clad person before her stood to their full height and stretched. Georgina snapped her previously gaping mouth shut when that stretch caused the area she was fascinated with to flex.

Turning around, the woman sporting the best ass Georgina had ever encountered, smiled at her. "I'll take it."

Emerald eyes grew wide. She must have heard incorrectly, though the other woman sounded quite clear. "What? What did you say?"

"I said that I'll take it."

That was definitely what she said. Okay, so in that case this must have been a dream. "What?"

Evidently having a great abundance of patience, Georgina's client continued to smile. "I'll take the house. I'd like to purchase it." Glancing over her shoulder toward the lower deck, which ran the length of the two-story house, she admired the ocean view. "It's perfect Ms. Franklin."

Georgina tried to make sense of what she was hearing. It was too good to be true. Walking forward, she came to a stop next to her taller client. "Let me see if I understand you correctly. You want to purchase this house?" The woman wordlessly nodded. Georgina's eyes then opened wide enough that she nearly chuckled at the comical sight. "B?but this is only the first house we've looked at." Jabbing a finger at the clipboard in her hand, she added, "I had six other houses that I wanted to give you a tour of today. Plus, this is one of the most expensive!" She must have been losing her mind. Was she trying to sabotage her commission? Georgina hadn't sold a house in three months and never one that was priced this much. It wasn't that she was a shabby realty agent, just an unlucky one. Being one of the few and youngest female members of Martin & Samms Realty Inc., the more experienced and older male agents received the better opportunities to help clients in either selling or buying a home. So, here she had a highly interested buyer and it appeared that she was trying to deter them from buying this fabulous multi-million-dollar beachfront home. Again, I ask, what is wrong with me?

This time the client did chuckle. "Ms. Franklin if you want to show me the other homes then you may--I've got nothing else to do today. However, I assure you that my heart lies with this one. I want this house. I love this house. Money isn't an object." She didn't sound pompous, just matter of fact.

"It's five million dollars," Georgina whispered as though afraid to speak in her regular tone. She needed to be pinched because this was hard to believe.

Leaning toward her, the client whispered, "I'm fully aware of that and yet I still want it. Please?" When she grinned, Georgina felt as though she could have melted into a puddle on the cream carpet. It then occurred to her that she was talking with Jaden Connelly. With the kind of money Georgina figured she made, she could easily afford this beautiful house, which was so close to the beach that one could hear the waves crashing in the water from inside. But still, it was only the first house. Who in their right mind bought the first house they toured? This was one of the biggest investments a person would make during their lifetime and it wasn't to be taken lightly. Georgina had to guarantee that her client understood this.

"Though I can see how enthralled you are with this house, Ms. Connelly you shouldn't just jump into this. You should let me show you the other houses I have listed and then if you decide at the end of the day that you still want this one I'll relay your offer to the seller. I want you to be careful and 100% positive that this is the right home for you. Buying a house is not like purchasing a toaster. If you take the toaster home and it burns your bread, you can take the toaster back to the store and swap it for another or get your money back. If you're not satisfied with a house it's not that easy." Georgina inwardly winced, hoping that it didn't sound like she was giving a lecture. To both her confusion and relief her client laughed. I hope that she doesn't think I'm a nutcase!

Meanwhile, Jaden was thinking what a lovely person her Realtor was. How refreshing to have an agent that didn't seem anxious to get her to buy as quickly as possible! Before making any serious moves to buy a home, Jaden had done extensive research on realty agents to learn that a lot of them could be less than noble. Georgina didn't fit into that category and therefore she couldn't be happier about having chosen the younger woman to represent her.

However, the toaster story wasn't going to sway her. Jaden was confident that this was the right home for her. Still, when she observed the cherubically serious face before her, a smile tugged at her lips. Though she knew next to nothing about Georgina Anne Franklin, she had a feeling that the agent would worry if she failed to heed her advice about looking at the other houses first before making an offer on this one. Nodding, Jaden allowed the smile to flourish. "Okay, let's do it your way. You're right. I should look elsewhere first."

Jaden's smile increased when her agent seemed delighted by her reply. "Alright," Georgina said, already heading toward the front door in heels that gave the illusion that she was a couple inches taller than her actual height of 5'4". "The next house we'll tour is two miles north."

Following, Jaden admired how well Georgina could walk in those shoes.

She also admired how well those curvy hips switched from left to right.

I may not be buying but I do love to window shop.

Pulling into the driveway leading to the first house they visited on Pacific Coast Highway, Georgina shut off the ignition to her burgundy Kia Sorento. Nearly three hours later they were done with their tour and she already knew what the verdict was before her client spoke. Now she was happy since she was assured that the other woman truly wanted this particular house.

"So, you want me to take your offer to the seller Ms. Connelly?" Georgina inquired, her lips curved upward in a slight smile.

Jaden nodded with her eyes riveted on the house. "You bet Ms. Franklin. Five million."

"I'll make it happen."

Tearing her eyes away from her possibly new home, Jaden winked at the realty agent. "Of that I'm confident."

Sitting behind her desk at Martin & Samms Realty Inc., Georgina picked up the phone, dialing the cell phone number that she knew by heart. It rang twice before being answered. Nervous, she subconsciously played with the short curly cord leading to the base of the phone.

"Hello," said a deep yet oh so feminine voice. "Connelly here."

"Yes, Ms. Connelly this is Georgina Anne Franklin, your real estate agent from Martin & Samms Realty Inc."

"Yes, I remember you from just yesterday Ms. Franklin." She chuckled and Georgina had to smile despite her embarrassment over having sounded so formal and precise. "What's going on?"

"Well." Georgina sighed into the phone, hating to announce why she had called. "Someone outbid you for the house. I'm so sorry."

There was a brief pause. "Does that mean that I don't get it?" Jaden suddenly sounded like an 8-year-old who had just been informed that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were only myths.

"It doesn't have to mean that. You could make another offer. The seller hasn't accepted the other prospective buyer's offer yet. That's 5.5 million." Georgina winced at the steep price. The most she had ever sold a house for was $160,000 at a 4.12% commission. If Jaden purchased this property, she would be looking at a commission of 6%. She had already punched the numbers into her calculator and the share that she would receive from that commission caused her head to swim.

"Okay," Jaden sounded jovial again, "then let's up our bid to six million." Missing her agent's soft gasp, she kept talking. "Tell you what. If the other person tops that or someone else does, you have my permission to increase to a maximum of ten million." This time she heard the gasp. "What's wrong?"

Georgina had to bite her lip to keep from asking the person she was talking to if she was crazy. "Um, Ms. Connelly here is a valuable tip for you. Never ever tell a real estate agent the highest price that you'll pay. I could call you back this afternoon and tell you that the seller was willing to accept your bid of ten million dollars when they really would have been happy with six. I'm working on commission here therefore my goal is to get the most money out of you that I can. At least, it could be."

Again, Jaden paused before giving an answer. However, this time the pause was twice as long. Georgina almost laughed when she asked, "Are you crazy? You have got to be the most honest person that I have ever met."

"I have no intention of taking advantage of you or any other client. I've made it my duty to make you happy by getting you the house that you want at a reasonable price."

"I'm already happy and I haven't even gotten my house yet."

At this, Georgina had to smile.

"Hello. Connelly here."

"Hi, it's me Georgina again."

"Ah, succinct this time. You improve quickly grasshopper," Jaden teased. She never knew that her agent stuck her tongue out toward the receiver.

"Haha. I have good news. Are you sitting down?" Georgina promptly detected a loud thump and laughed.

"I am now."

"Congratulations, the sellers accepted your offer of six million. You're on your way to owning a gorgeous beachfront home in Malibu, California!" Since Jaden's ensuing holler carried enough decibels to possibly shatter her eardrum, Georgina pulled the phone away from her ear until it was over. Grinning, she said, "I take it that you're excited."

"Oh, yeah baby! How much longer will it be before I can move in?"

"So far, everything is sailing smoothly, so I'd say no more than three or four weeks. We should get an inspector to make sure that all repairs have been taken care of by the seller though I don't expect any mishaps."

"Excellent. In that case, I'll be able to move some of my belongings into my new house--that sounds so good to say--before I go on tour. Thank you for all your help Ms. Franklin."

Blushing, Georgina glanced around to see if anyone was watching her. "Oh, I didn't do anything. I'm still surprised that you didn't choose a more experienced agent." Why would Jaden Connelly choose her over anyone else? She wasn't even close to being successful. Well until today.

"Regardless, you're the perfect agent for me. You're virtuous, cordial, and sweet as apple pie--that's the sort of person I want representing me." Short pause. "I would like to take you to dinner in order to celebrate. And I think we should have this dinner at a restaurant in Malibu, my new city of residence. What do you say?"

Georgina's jaw nearly dropped to her desk. What did she say to dinner with a celebrity who had just made her a six-figure 'thousandaire' and graced her with three consecutive complimenting adjectives?

"Um, you don't have to do that," the agent softly replied though it had been on the tip of her tongue to say yes.

"I know," Jaden said, adopting the other woman's tone. "But believe it or not, I really really want to."

"Certainly there is someone else that you'd rather dine with."

"If there were I wouldn't be asking you now would I?"

Georgina thoughtfully bit her lower lip. You have a point there. Should she just accept? Sure, at first being in Jaden's presence was a bit disconcerting considering who she was, but the older woman had quickly put her at ease. Getting through a dinner date with her should be a piece of cake, right? No big deal. Just two women--a mostly unsuccessful real estate agent and a famous multimillionaire professional singer enjoying a meal in each other's company.

Uh huh.

"So are we on or are we on?"

Throw caution to the wind girl. Just do this! "Yes."

"You'll go to dinner with me?"

"I'll go to dinner with you." Georgina smiled as her client hollered again, though with much more restraint than her last one. Continuing their conversation for a few more minutes, they decided that Jaden would pick the real estate agent up at 6:30 at her Los Angeles apartment. Planning ahead, Jaden had already secured them a reservation at a seafood restaurant in Malibu for that evening. Luckily, Georgina happened to love seafood. However, just to be on the safe side, Jaden had also made reservations at a Chinese, Italian, Mexican and an all American cuisine restaurant. When they ended their conservation, she would have to call and cancel those.

"Georgina--may I call you that?"

"Sure, but I prefer Georgie. It's my nickname." Having the distinct feeling that she was being watched, the agent looked up to catch a pair of inquisitive blue eyes. A barely audible groan started in her throat as the suit with a dress shirt perfectly matching those eyes headed toward her desk. What did he want?

"I like Georgie even better. Hey Georgie I was just wondering?pure curiosity?who was it that outbid my first offer?"

The agent managed a grin despite her looming visitor. "I'm not at liberty to go into much detail, but let's just say that the party has in recent years won an Academy Award."

"Ooh, I beat an Oscar winner. Very cool!"

Laughing, Georgie raised a hand, letting her now arrived visitor know to hold on. When he perched on her desk, she had to resist the urge to push him off. What did he think the two chairs placed in front of her desk were for? Decoration? "Yes, you did. Congrats again. Okay, now I must get back to work. Want to close escrow for you as soon as possible."

"I wouldn't want to hold you up then!" The agent could practically feel her smile through the phone, therefore one slipped onto her own lips. "I'll see you tonight, Georgie."

"Bye for now." Replacing the phone on her receiver, Georgie silently instructed for Vince Pregger to have a seat in one of the instruments specifically designed for butts. Only after he did so, did she speak. "May I help you Vince?"

The smile he offered having all the charm of a rattlesnake, Vince smoothed his already wrinkle-free tie with an open palm. "I was thinking that I could help you."

Not very likely. "Really? How so?"

"Word around the office is that you closed the deal for Jaden Connelly."

Georgie maintained a pleasant expression though she wondered how 'word' spread so quickly. "And?"

"And I decided to offer my assistance."


His smile at full wattage, Vince leaned forward in the chair, his arms resting on the edge of the young woman's desk. "Yes. Million dollar home sells and celebrities are an entirely different ballpark for you Georgie. You don't want to screw this up and I can help you. I have a proposal."

I have half a mind to wrap my hands around your neck and throttle you. From somewhere deep inside herself, she produced a smile. "Which is?"

"You allow me to take over closing this deal--I'll do everything from this point forward and afterward I'll give you 30% of the commission. So you'll take 30%, Martin & Samms 10% and I'll keep the rest."

"You expect me to give you the majority of my commission? You expect me to hand over one hundred thousand dollars to you?"

"Like I said Georgie, I'll do all the work. You may sit back, relax and wait for your cut." His smile failed to erase the frown on her face. "Listen Georgie, your client deserves an experienced agent. She's making a substantial purchase here."

"My client came to this firm and chose me to be her agent and that's what she'll get. I realize that I don't have 10 years of experience like you, but I'm confident that I know what I'm doing. She wants me and she's going to have me--not Vince Pregger." A.k.a. Bastard Extraordinaire.

Vince smirked. "Believe you me, you don't want to be gotten by Jaden Connelly."

Though puzzled, Georgie decided not to question his comment. "Contrary to what you may believe, I am not an active member of Club Idiot Vince. You have no desire to help me--you just want to get your filthy hands on my commission and let me tell you that it'll be a frigid day in hell before that happens. I am perfectly capable of handling escrow on my own--which means without you. So you can take your proposal and shove it where the sun never shines. Now please vacate my space." Making it crystal clear that she was dismissing him, the young agent turned to her computer and began to furiously tap on the keyboard, although she really wasn't working on anything. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Vince standing and straightening his tie before leaving in an obvious huff.

Her hands resting on the keyboard, Georgie looked toward the window that her desk was positioned next to. From six floors up, she watched the cars zooming along the busy L.A. streets and the pedestrians populating the sidewalks. She wondered what her number one--okay only client was doing at that precise moment.

Believe you me, you don't want to be gotten by Jaden Connelly.

Green eyes fell on a couple taking the opportunity to share a kiss while they waited for the signal to walk across the street. She faintly smiled at the display of affection though there was a touch of envy.

But what if I do?

Breezing into the apartment, Georgie waved at the young woman sitting on the couch reading a magazine. "Hiya Van! Bye ya Van!" Walking into the bathroom, she shut the door behind her. It was almost five o'clock, which gave her an hour and a half to get ready. Butterflies in her stomach, Georgie turned on the faucets in the bathtub. She was waiting for the water to get warm when the door burst open, revealing Vanessa Martin her roommate since college and best friend since they became lab partners in Mrs. Bigelow's 7th grade biology class.

Vanessa looked at her strangely. "Thank you so very much for asking about my day. And how was yours friend?" She deliberately added a lot of emphasis to the last word.

Sheepish now, Georgie dropped a plug into the drainage and added a capful of lavender scented bubble bath before facing the other woman. "I'm sorry Van. That was rude of me. How was your day?" With one look into Vanessa's usually jovial hazel eyes, she could tell that her friend had been crying. They were puffy, red, and filling with a fresh set of tears. Don't I feel like the biggest jerk. "Honey, what's wrong?"

Vanessa sharply inhaled and then burst into sobs, which shook her entire body. Gently pulling the woman to her, Georgie held her in a tight embrace. After a few moments, Vanessa managed to speak, but the crook of her friend's neck muffled her words. Asking her to repeat, Georgie's eyes widened when she successfully heard.

"What? How can that be? You were just talking about how he asked you to be his seventh wife yesterday."

"I know!" Walking over to the toilet, Vanessa grabbed a handful of toilet paper, dabbing at her dampened cheeks. Taking a seat on the lid-covered toilet, she looked up at Georgie. "I found out when I arrived at the clinic this morning that he had a massive stroke sometime after midnight. The only consolation is that it was quick." Sniffling, Vanessa shook her dark head. "He was fine yesterday?flirting with me as usual. God, I miss him. I loved him you know? Heck, I could have been in love with him had he been at least 40 years younger." She chuckled and Georgie immediately joined in.

Turning off the water in the bathtub, Georgie kneeled in front of her friend, placing a hand on her knee. "As trite as it may sound, Albert did lead a long, happy, fulfilling life which was shared among six lovely wives. And in his final couple of years he had a great girl like you to flirt with on a daily basis." That earned her a smile. "He'll always be here." She touched the left side of Vanessa's chest.

"Gee Georgie, you'll say anything to cop a feel." Vanessa grinned to let Georgie know that she was only teasing. The other woman laughed. After the laughter ceased, Vanessa planted a tender kiss on the agent. "Thank you. I feel better now."

"Did you come home early? You should have called me."

"No, no. A CNA's work is never done. I didn't leave until my usual time--three o'clock." For the last four years Vanessa had worked as a CNA, this was short for certified nurse's assistant at a rehabilitation center for the elderly. More often than not, it was difficult and tiring work, but Vanessa loved it and her patients. Ever since losing her mother to breast cancer at the age of twenty, Vanessa had an urge to help others and had promptly chosen this line of work in the medical profession.

"So do you have a hot date tonight?"

The moment Vanessa started crying, Georgie decided that she was going to reschedule with her client. They could go out to dinner and celebrate another evening if Jaden was still interested. "No, I just felt like taking a bath."

Vanessa looked skeptical. "And you were in a hurry to take a bath?" At Georgie's silent nod, she smirked. "Yeah right. What's the truth? You have a date don't you?"

"It's not really a date; more of a congratulatory dinner. That's all."

"What are the congratulations?"

Georgie started to smile as she replied, "I sold a house today and the buyer wants to celebrate with me."

A broad grin split Vanessa's lips. "Georgie! Oh my God! Congratulations indeed!" Standing, she helped the realty agent to her feet before hugging her petite frame. She was thrilled that her friend had finally sold another home because lately Georgie had slipped into the slightest bit of depression over her stroke of bad luck. Many times, Vanessa wanted to suggest that perhaps it was time to discover another type of employment, but Georgie always seemed so determined to triumph in real estate. Maybe this latest sell was the beginning of a brighter and more lucrative future at Martin & Samms Realty Inc., the company part owned by her father Jacob Martin.

Still smiling, Georgie thanked her friend. "But I'm not going. I'll call her and ask for a raincheck."


"Because I want to be here with you," Georgie explained, briefly touching her friend's cheek.

Vanessa arched a brow. "Dude, I've told you several times that I don't swing from that tree. First you try to grab my boob while comforting me and then you make an obvious play for me. I swear if you keep this up I'll be forced to file sexual harassment charges."

Laughing now, Georgie playfully nudged her shoulder. "From now on I'll try to keep my hands to myself."

"Well, okay. I'll give you another chance." Vanessa winked and grinned. "Sweetie, I'm fine--really I am. You should keep this dinner invite. Who knows, she might be the one."

"No I doubt it."

"Dang. She's not a lesbian? You know Sharon the LVN still asks about you?"

"Yes, she's a lesbian." The agent flashed her a grin. "Or in your words she swings from that tree. And I'm still not interested in Sharon."

"Why? Because she's a little butch?"

Softly snorting, Georgie began to unbutton her blouse. "Little is a vast understatement. That woman is the epitome of butch lesbian stereotypes. I've counted about three tattoos, her hair couldn't get much shorter, she wears flannel shirts with the sleeves rolled up, and big black boots. And I could deal with that, but it's her I'm so rough, tough and bad to the bone attitude that really turns me off." Raising an index finger, Georgie added, "All I needed was one date."

Vanessa chuckled. "Okay, okay. I won't bring her up again. So what about this buyer? Why don't you think she's date material?"

With a soft sigh, Georgie removed her blouse and proceeded to fold it. It along with a few other items would be taking a trip to the dry cleaners tomorrow. "Because I'm out of her league."

"Excuse me?" Hands placed on her hips, Vanessa looked at her friend in bewilderment. "I think you have that backwards. You're the catch of the century. You're not out of anyone's league."

Georgie smiled. "You're just saying that because you're my best bud."

"I'm saying it because it's true. Who is this chick anyway?"

Reaching behind her, the agent unzipped her skirt before shimmying out of it. "Jaden Connelly."

Because her legs had turned to jelly, Vanessa's rear found the toilet cover again. "Th...th?the?THE Jaden Connelly?" Her expression was incredulous. "You sold a house to THE Jaden Connelly? The singer who some have suspected can hit a note so high that it rivals Mariah Carey? I have all of her CD's and I can assure you that she succeeds in at least a handful of her songs."

The high decibel holler Georgie heard over the phone could be evidence of that. I wonder if she would be that loud in be--whoa. Girl don't go there! Refocusing on the conversation, Georgie nodded. "Yes, THE Jaden Connelly."

"Oh my God! I love her!" Vanessa was practically bubbling with excitement. How cool was this?!

Chuckling, Georgie undid the clasp on her bra. "You love a lot of singers. That's why you own over two-hundred CD's."

"Yes, but Jaden is in my top all star five!" Vanessa thrust an open palm into the air and lowered a finger each time she mentioned a different person. "Mary J. Blige, Madonna, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Jaden Connelly! How long have you known her?"

Georgie added her pantyhose to the growing pile of clothing on the sink. "About a week." And before Vanessa could ask continued, "And the reason I didn't tell you was because I wanted to see if I could sell her a property. Then I would tell you that I sold a house and the buyer was none other than your top all star five member Jaden Connelly." The agent grinned. "Of course, before a moment ago I didn't know that."

"Wow." Vanessa shook her head in amazement. She hoped that she didn't wake up and discover that this was all a dream. "She is six feet of gorgeous--"

"Actually she's not six feet tall. I mean she's tall, but not that tall."

"Really? 'Cause most of the profiles I've read on the Internet said she was about six feet."

"No, I'd shave off about two inches."

Vanessa wore a devilish grin. "Well no biggie. She's still hot. Dude, she's the only woman--'sides you, but you refuse to experiment with me--that I'd be willing to jump in the sack with!" Her expression became thoughtful as her amused friend slipped into the bubble-topped bath. "Sometimes I forget?I couldn't though."

Georgie took notice of Vanessa's suddenly troubled expression and her last statement. "You couldn't what?"

"Sleep with Jaden. Are you going?" Leave it to Vanessa to switch topics at the drop of a hat. Often, Georgie had a difficult time keeping up with her. One moment they could be discussing what to have for dinner and in the next Vanessa would be fussing about how high gas prices were.


"Then why are you taking a bath?" She was also very skilled at asking questions.

"Because I don't want to waste a perfectly good bubble bath."

Vanessa slowly nodded twice. "You're going."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes, you are. If you raincheck Jaden Connelly I'm going to commit homicide," she pointed at the bathing woman, "on you. Georgie, I already told you that I'm fine. It's not necessary to stay here and baby-sit me when you could be out and about with THE Jaden Connelly. Let me tell you if this situation were reversed, I'd totally ditch you." Though she looked serious, Vanessa could have been teasing. "If I came home to find you laying on the couch with a 102 degree temperature, sore throat, runny nose and a cough, I'd make you a bowl of chicken noodle soup, get you a big glass of orange juice and then after getting ready as I walk out the door promise that I'll call every thirty minutes to check up on you."

Georgie gaped at her. "You'd truly do that?"

"Of course. That is unless you rather have some other type of soup. We have an assortment of Campbell's soups in the kitchen." As her friend smirked, she grinned. "No seriously, please don't cancel this?congratulatory dinner. Go. Please."

"Are you sure?"

"I couldn't possibly be any surer."

"Then I'll go. Why couldn't you sleep with Jaden?" Hah! Georgie could do it too!

Vanessa looked shocked by the inquiry. "You don't know? How could you not know?"

The soaking agent frowned in confusion. "Know what?"

Without another word, Vanessa left the bathroom only to return less than a minute later with a hardcover book in her hand. Not giving it to her friend since her hands were wet, she merely showed her the cover. A picture of Jaden resting on a windowsill and thoughtfully gazing through the clear pane greeted her. She looked much thinner and less vivacious than the woman Georgie had been in contact with for the past week. Her lips silently moved as she read the words scripted beneath the picture.

"All About Me by Jaden Connelly?" Georgie glanced toward her friend curiously. "She wrote a book?"

Leaning against the sink, Vanessa nodded. "I insisted that you read it when it first came out but you never did, although you said you would."

"I did?"

"Yep. In 1994 she published it, I bought it, read it, said it was awesome and offered to let you borrow my copy. You didn't take me up on my offer." Looking at her book, Vanessa lightly traced it with a finger. "This is an incredible read. I admit that some parts of it are disturbing and it's not meant for anyone who isn't old enough to vote yet, but?it's worth it. I've read it three times and it made me cry each of those times."

"Did she?have a rough life?"

Walking toward her, Vanessa tweaked her friend's nose. "Dude, just read the book. I'll put it on your nightstand and you can start it either tomorrow or when you get home later tonight. Are you supposed to meet her or what?"

"She's picking me up at 6:30."

"WHAT!? She's coming here?" Vanessa proceeded to pace back and forth in the small bathroom. "Oh my God, Jaden is coming to our apartment! I'm gonna meet her?" She looked at her friend for confirmation and squealed when she nodded. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I just did."

She glanced at her outfit in the mirror--sweatpants and a T-shirt, which she had changed into after arriving home from work earlier that afternoon and taking a shower. "Dude! I have to change. I look horrible!" Vanessa bolted from the bathroom as Georgie laughed.

"And I thought I was nervous."

At 6:28, the doorbell rang and an excited Vanessa hurried to answer it while Georgie put the finishing touches on her hair. Taking a couple of deep breaths, she opened the door to find a smiling Jaden Connelly. Vanessa thought that she looked even more beautiful in person and Georgie was right. She wasn't six feet tall. Vanessa waved and was deliriously happy when the singer smiled in return.

"Wow?Jaden Connelly. It is so nice to meet you." She stretched out a hand, beaming when Jaden's warm palm greeted her own.

"Also nice to meet you?" She looked at the younger woman questioningly.

After a couple of seconds passed, Vanessa figured out what she wanted. "Oh! My name is Vanessa Martin and I am your biggest fan. I know a lot of people say that but in my case, it is so so very true! I just love you and your music touches me more than I could ever explain to you." She was blabbering but she didn't care. How often would she get this opportunity? "You are an amazingly beautiful talented woman and I want to thank you for sharing your gift with the world. So thank you." Tears shown in her eyes as she forced herself to release Jaden's hand. "Though aware that I don't know you personally, it's so obvious to me that you have a resplendent soul and I'm so happy that you rediscovered your true path."

It wasn't often when Jaden was rendered speechless, but this was one of those times. Yet to speak, she reached into her pocket for a handkerchief and handed it over to a softly crying Vanessa. Apologizing, the smaller woman dabbed at her cheeks with the delicate cloth.

Smiling, Jaden shook her head. "No need for apologies. Thank you for the kind words Vanessa. That's one of the best compliments anyone has ever given me. You don't know how much that means to me." Blinking away her own tears, the singer reached out to hug Vanessa relieved when the overture wasn't shunned but wholeheartedly welcomed.

Choosing that moment to enter the living area, Georgie found her best friend wrapped in her clients' arms. Or vice versa. It was impossible to figure out who had initiated contact. She wondered how the embrace came to be. "Would you guys like some more time alone?" She teasingly inquired. "I could retreat to my bedroom for a little while longer."

Surreptitiously wiping at her eyes again, Vanessa turned around to face her friend, a mischievous grin on her lips. "Would you be a doll and do that? Jaden and I would really appreciate it."

Behind her, Jaden softly chuckled. "Yes, we never get enough time to spend alone together these days. And I deeply missed my little buttercup."

The agent had to bite her lip in order to keep from laughing. "Really? I had no idea you two were dating. And you Van," pausing, Georgie wagged a finger at her friend, "when were you going to tell me that you had joined the team? I thought we were the best of pals."

"So you can make trying to seduce me a full-time quest? I don't think so." While Georgie finally laughed, Vanessa glanced between her and Jaden. "Okay ladies I know you have reservations so I won't keep you. Have fun and stay out of trouble or I'll be forced to spank you both." Before either of them could reply, Vanessa cupped Jaden's cheeks and standing on her tiptoes planted a kiss on her unsuspecting lips. She winked at the singer's startled expression. "Wow, I got to kiss Jaden Connelly. This is my lucky night." Looking back to her open-mouthed friend, Vanessa waved as she walked out of the front door. "Bye bye kids. I've got a date of my own with Craig since I'm dressed now. He just doesn't know that yet."

Recovering, Jaden questioned her. "Are you stepping out on me woman?" Demonstrating her acting abilities, she looked completely serious. She could have made it as an actress if she'd had any inclination to truly attempt that. As it was, Jaden had only appeared in two films early on in her career though the small roles that she had in each movie had been impressive.

Placing her hands on her hips, Vanessa raised an eyebrow. "While you go on your tours, photo shoots, music video shoots, interviews and whatnot what am I supposed to do? Sit around the house and wait for you to pay some attention to me? Oh no, I don't think so Ms. Connelly. You are not the only bee that visits my flower. Now give me one last kiss before I leave."

Suppressing a chuckle, Jaden did as she was told. "See you later buttercup." She grinned, as did Vanessa. Once the enchanting brunette was out of sight, Jaden closed the door as a laugh erupted from her mouth. Looking at Georgie she said, "I'm loving your friend. She's a trip!"

Georgie smiled. "Yes, sometimes bumpy but always great."

"By the way, you look gorgeous tonight," Jaden commented as they walked down the two flights of stairs.

A tinge of a blush staining her cheeks, Georgie thanked her for the compliment. She had been highly self-conscious about putting on the outfit that Vanessa insisted that she wear. Georgie was no stranger to skirts but this one went below--or should that be above--her normal length. Barely reaching mid-thigh, the soft leather butterscotch skirt with a matching jacket belonged to Vanessa. When her friend removed the ensemble from her closet, Georgie suddenly found it unfortunate that they wore the same sizes in clothing. Compared to Jaden who was wearing a pair of straight leg tan chinos along with a rust colored long-sleeved tee, Georgie felt a little underdressed.

"You don't think I should change?" The real estate agent inquired, wanting to run back up the stairs and throw on a pair of slacks. Since Vanessa had already left to visit her boyfriend, she wouldn't be able to stop her.

"Why would you?"

Georgie blushed again. "Um?this skirt is sort of?short."

Her feet coming to a standstill, Jaden focused on the smaller woman, baby blue eyes gradually roaming over her body. Instead of feeling the expected embarrassment, Georgie basked in the attention. The singer took a full thirty seconds inspecting before her eyes lifted to meet Georgie's.

"I wouldn't change a thing about you."

Just how much blushing could she endure before her face burst into flames?

Although at first overwhelmed by the sheer size of Jaden's vehicle, Georgie immediately fell in love with the powerful ocean blue Hummer after only a few minutes of being a passenger. She almost hated to leave it when they arrived at the seafood restaurant in Malibu, which Jaden had secured reservations at. However, a growling stomach made the decision much easier.

Upon entering the busy restaurant, Jaden and Georgie were quickly shown to their table, which afforded a terrific view of the Pacific. Ordering their drinks, Jaden insisted that Georgie have a flute of champagne though she settled for ginger ale. After the waiter left with the drink orders, Georgie eyed her companion curiously.

"Are you trying to get me drunk Jaden?" She asked in a tone that sounded much too flirtatious. Oh, please don't think that I'm hitting on you! Am I hitting on you? Since when was I so brazen?

The singer chuckled. "No, I would never! I just think that since this is a celebration dinner at least one of us should have some champagne. It's the congratulatory drink you know."

"So you're not drinking any because you're driving?"

"I don't drink period."

She would have inquired why, but something held Georgie back. She decided not to comment on Jaden's brief explanation, although her mind was reeling. "We should make a toast." When Jaden agreed with a smile, Georgie focused on her lips and wondered how it would feel to touch them. Lucky Vanessa! Her friend had succeeded in kissing the celebrity twice.

Within a few more moments, the waiter delivered their drinks and the couple made a toast, each saying a few words before gently tapping glass against glass. Afterwards, they began to peruse the menu, Jaden doing so after putting on a pair of oval-shaped glasses with basic silver frames. Grinning, the agent observed the other woman, watching her lips moving ever so slightly as she read. Though Jaden had worn the glasses on other occasions, she looked particularly adorable in them tonight.

"Might I help you with something Georgie?" Jaden softly questioned in a teasing voice, eyes still on her menu.

"Umm?no. Well yes?maybe. Um?do you have any suggestions on what I should get?"

Lens covered eyes lifted to focus on Georgie. "Funny you should mention that. I have a proposition. Let me order for you for the entire meal. And I don't mean that to be as controlling as it sounds. Based on a conversation or two we've had in the past I concluded that you don't treat your taste buds right."

"What conversations?"

"The ones where you stated that you were going to eat a Hungry Man or a Swanson's when you got home. I wanted to whisk you off to my condo and cook you a meal or at least take you to a fine restaurant then, but instead I kept my mouth shut. Until tonight. So do you dare allow me to order everything for you?" Jaden smiled in a way that was a bit alarming. What if she ordered something that Georgie had never even heard of? It was true. The agent was very cautious and simple when it came to her food. She might eat the same thing two or three times in one week.

"One condition."

"What condition is that?"

Yes, what condition was that? Georgie didn't have a clue what it would be when the words flew out of her mouth. "Um?you have to sing." She paused, glancing toward a small stage off to the left where a quartet currently played music that sounded classical, but she couldn't be sure. Indicating the stage, Georgie added, "On that stage. I'm sure that they'll let THE Jaden Connelly as Van refers to you, sing something for customers." She grinned and her dinner companion chuckled.

"Okay. I can do that if the owner permits it. Which of my songs do you want me to sing?"

"Oh, no?" Shaking her head, Georgie wore a smile filled with mischief. "Not one of your songs. I want you to cover another person's song."

It was now Jaden's turn to grow alarmed. "What and?whose?song?" She sounded as though she was afraid to inquire.

"Does Baby One More Time sound familiar to you?"

Jaden's distaste at the request was evident by her expression. "You want me to cover her? Aw c'mon Georgie, I know you can do better than that. Please, not her. She doesn't even register on the list of singers I just like." Even while begging, she realized that it wouldn't do any good.

"Have you ever met her?"

"Yes, I have. And though she seemed all right, something about Britney Spears just rubs me the wrong way. Also, in case you hadn't figured it out yet I'm not a fan of her music either. I can think of two of her songs that I like and Baby One More Time is definitely not one of them."

"Then it's the perfect song."

For a couple of seconds, Jaden just stared at the other woman before her eyes narrowed. "You are pure evil."

No hard feelings, Georgie laughed.

Deciding that Jaden would sing right before they left the restaurant, the two prepared to dig into the appetizers, which had just been delivered to their table. While Jaden admired the large platter of food, Georgie looked dubious. Telling herself that she was doing this for Britney, she reached out for one of the safer items. Dipping a fried mozzarella cheese stick into a small cup of marinara sauce, she bit into it. Mm, that was tasty.

Watching her, Jaden then pointed to another item on the platter. "Now try that." A shell with a tan colored substance in the middle. Two words Georgie could immediately think of to describe it. Slimy and gross.

"Uh, Jaden I'm not big on oysters."

"Ever had one?"

"Nope and don't plan on it."

"You will if you want me to sing." Grinning devilishly, Jaden picked up one of the six oysters on the plate and handed it to the other woman. "Put it in your mouth and suck."

The way she said that sent a shiver through Georgie. And she had to be referring to a yucky oyster. Bringing the oyster to her mouth, she was about to open when she noticed the Tobasco and seafood sauce concoction. Thinking that applying some of it would help with the taste, Georgie reached out for the miniature spoon sticking out of the sauce's cup when her hand was gently slapped away.

"Oh no you don't. Those oysters have been steamed and doused with garlic butter. That's the only sauce you need. At least for your first oyster. Try it like it is." Grabbing an oyster shell, Jaden sucked out the creamy core of it like a professional oyster sucker. She swallowed and then licked her lips clean of any garlic butter. "Delicious."

Doing that caused another shiver in her companion. Georgie silently admitted that the singer was turning her on, yet she didn't think Jaden was trying to.

Reminding herself that she would be receiving a check for $162,000 after splitting with the seller's agent and Martin & Samms Realty Inc. because of Jaden's purchase, Georgie figured that she could eat at least this one oyster. It wouldn't kill her. It might gag her but not kill her.

1-2-3 slurp!

Though wanting to grab her napkin and spit it out, the realty agent managed to keep the bit of mollusk in her mouth a few seconds before swallowing. Grabbing her flute, she drained the rest of her champagne, swishing it around in her mouth like she would Listerine.

"How can you eat those?! The garlic butter doesn't help much."

Laughing, Jaden lifted a jumbo shrimp by its tail and dunked it within some cocktail sauce. Bringing it to Georgie's lips, she said, "You might like this better."

Not commenting, the younger woman bit into the shrimp, leaving nothing between Jaden's fingers but its pinkish tail. After a moment of chewing, she nodded, pleased with the jumbo shrimp's taste. Georgie swallowed while wiping her mouth with a cloth napkin.

"Now that's seafood. My taste buds want you to know that they appreciate it."

Chuckling, Jaden started eating the remainder of the oysters, experimenting with the array of sauces on the platter. Her glass refilled, Georgie sipped more champagne.

"Is it true?" She asked, watching as the singer emptied another shell.

"Is what true?"

The alcohol must have been loosening her inhibitions, because ordinarily Georgie wouldn't have said, "I've heard that oysters can increase ones libido. You're an oyster eater, so do you?you know?feel anything like that?"

Amused, Jaden took a slow drink from her ginger ale before responding. "I've eaten oysters on and off over 10 years now, but I don't recall ever having a more a carnal appetite afterward." Until tonight, but I don't think that has anything to do with the oysters.

Georgie couldn't recall ever being so relieved as she was when the main course arrived. Since Jaden had decided that further torturing her would be so much fun, she had written down what their dinner choices from the menu were and had given the napkin to their waiter. This way Georgie wouldn't know what she was supposed to eat until it arrived. How exciting.

Her imagination running wild, she had a mental picture of the waiter returning with a huge plate containing ocean dwelling species, most of which was raw and slimy, having never found their way to a stove. Wondering exactly when the waiter would return with their meals, Georgie felt like she was in an episode of Fear Factor--one show that she would rather watch than participate on.

Evidently, Jaden no longer felt the need to torture her after the oyster escapade. Dinner was quite normal and something Georgie enjoyed so much that she left nothing on her plate except for garnish and the shell of a three-pound lobster.

Having switched to her dinner companion's chosen beverage, the real estate agent now sipped from her second glass of ginger ale while watching Jaden preparing to sing on stage. She had attempted to get out of singing a Britney Spears song by explaining that she didn't know the song well. However, hearing this since he was standing right there after having assured the two women that he would love Jaden to sing in his restaurant, the owner offered to print a copy of the lyrics from the Internet using the computer he kept in his office. Whereas Georgie was quite happy by this, Jaden wanted to toss him into the conveniently close ocean.

The classical quartet (they called themselves the Classic Four) having left, an early twenty-something band consisting of two men and two women took their place. Though awestruck that THE Jaden Connelly was currently in the same restaurant as them and asking them to play the music of Britney Spears's Baby One More Time while she sang it, the young musicians readily agreed to participate.

"Good evening everyone," Jaden spoke into the microphone. She intended to say more when the dining crowd interrupted with boisterous clapping. Someone sitting at the bar yelled, 'Jaden I love you. Marry me!' The singer grinned, but she didn't give the slightly drunken fellow an answer. Once the customers settled down in their excitement to see what she was about to do, Jaden was able to continue.

"My friend," she started while pointing a finger at the beaming Georgie, "and I had a bet. If she ate what I ordered for her then I would sing the song of her choice right here on this stage. So because she survived eating an oyster I'm going to sing a popular Britney Spears song. You might have heard of it--Baby One More Time." Based on a few resulting claps, at least those diners must have liked the song.

Removing the paper with the lyrics printed on it from her pocket, Jaden looked behind her toward the group, asking them if they were ready. Receiving four nods and delighted smiles, she turned to face the expectant crowd again as the musicians began to play their instruments. The other holding the lyrics, one hand wrapped around the microphone while Jaden told herself that if Georgie although grudgingly ate an oyster, she could get through one Britney song.

Her hips swaying in time with the music, Jaden opened her mouth.

Oh baby, baby
How was I supposed to know
That something wasn't right here

Scanning the crowd, her eyes came to rest on Georgie whose mouth was gaped open as she held up her forgotten glass of ginger ale.

Oh baby, baby
I shouldn't have let you go
And now you're out of sight, yeah

Show me how you want it to be
Tell me baby
'Cause I need to know now, what we've got

My loneliness is killing me
I must confess, I still believe
When I'm not with you I lose my mind
Give me a sign
Hit me baby one more time

They managed to leave the restaurant after Jaden signed autographs and took a picture with one woman who happened to have an instant camera in her large purse. After finishing the song, which she had to admit was fun once she got into it, Jaden spoke with the group impressed with their playing and their singing.

Referring to themselves as Harmony, the group had been together for close to three years now, yet hadn't gotten farther than performing in nightclubs, restaurants and the occasional wedding reception. So suffice to say, they were thrilled when Jaden showed interest by wanting them to meet her at her recording studio later in the week. She also mentioned that if they were interested, perhaps they could join her on a six-week concert tour that was to start at the beginning of May. None of the four young people were able to contain their excitement at the prospect of opening for Jaden Connelly.

"That was really sweet of you," Georgie commented as they drove along PCH.

Jaden took her eyes away from the road for a second to look at her companion curiously. "Not that I mind being called it, but for what exactly are you calling me sweet?"

"Harmony--is that the name of their band?" The driver nodded. "You're sweet for giving them an opportunity to further their career. I could tell that they were so appreciative. Especially when you brought up the idea of them singing on your tour!"

Jaden smiled. "Everyone deserves a chance and they are talented. I'm surprised that no one has discovered them by now."

"I did some research on you?"

"Oh, did you?"

"Yes, I did."

"And what did you discover in your research?"

"I remember you mentioning that you would be able to move some of your belongings into your new home before you went on tour so that was what my research entailed."

"You are a quick one. I just mentioned that earlier today."

For a reason that was unexplainable to her, Georgie turned sheepish as she admitted, "Well I did my research not long after my conversation with you ended." A smile her reply, Jaden indicated for her friend to continue. "I discovered that this is to be your farewell tour. You're 31, correct?"

"That's true."

"So what are you doing having a farewell tour at such a young age?" Suddenly noticing where the Hummer was, Georgie had a sneaking suspicion that Jaden wasn't on her way back to Los Angeles. In fact, the real estate agent knew exactly where they were headed. The smile forming on her lips was filled with amusement.

"It's more of a temporary farewell tour. I'm not certain when I'll have another concert, but it won't be for quite a while because I want to take a vacation. I've been busy non-stop ever since my first album came out back in '94 and I think it's time for me to take a break?a long break." She paused, turning the large automobile in a different direction. "I want to work on my new home and make it pretty so I can hold a housewarming party." Jaden shared a grin with her passenger.

"In that case, I think this is a good idea."

"Thank you for your approval." The singer winked.

"No problem. So?" Green eyes scanned the area seen through the windshield. "Where ya goin' J-Co?"

Jaden began laughing so hard that the Hummer swerved halfway into the next lane. Luckily, there were no other cars around them. Tears running down her face, she looked at a broadly grinning Georgie. "J-Co?!"

"You don't agree it has a nice ring to it?"

Jaden chuckled. "Uh, it could grow on me. But I just want you to use it."

"At this moment I feel so special." About ten seconds passed before she added, "Oh look where we are now!" Jaden pulled the Hummer to a stop. "It's a house?a seemingly vacant house with a sold sign in front of it." The blonde turned toward Jaden trying to look quizzical. "Apparently, someone just purchased it. Who do you think it might belong to?"

Her friend shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe we should check it out."

"You mean go inside?" Jaden nodded. "Wouldn't that be trespassing?"

"If we get arrested I promise to pay your bail."

"You'd do that for lil' old me?"

"That and so much more."

Georgie reached for the handle of the door. "I told you, you were sweet. Let's see if we can locate a key to get into the joint."

As they toured the beachfront home again, Jaden pointed out to Georgie some of her possible ideas for decorating. She mentioned that she might hire a designer to help if she started to feel overwhelmed. Georgie named a couple of skilled designers who worked closely with Martin & Samms Realty, often assisting buyers in decorating their new homes.

After their tour ended, Jaden grabbed two plush towels and a beach blanket from her car, suggesting that they head to the private beach. Less than five minutes later they were seated near the shoreline on the blanket chatting.

Georgie glanced at the towels curiously. "What are those for?" Surely, Jaden didn't have plans for them to go night swimming. The water must be frigid by now! Plus, she didn't have a bathing suit. Georgie figured that she could use that as an excuse.

"I was thinking that we'd take a swim."

"But the water must be freezing!"

"You're gonna let that little detail dissuade you?" Grinning, the taller woman arose from the soft sand. "Come on Georgie. Where's your sense of adventure?"

"I don't recall ever telling you that I had any."

Jaden had to laugh at that. "Of course. Your obsession with eating the same thing over and over again should have keyed me into that." She began to remove her shoes. "Well, it's time for you to turn over a new leaf starting with joining me for a swim in the pacific."

Craning her neck to look up at the evidently deranged woman, Georgie shook her head. "New leaf? No thank you. I'm content with the leaf I have now. I like swimming but?" Georgie forgot what she wanted to say as she watched Jaden pull her shirt over her head, revealing the best set of abs she ever saw up close. And the round generous breasts tucked beneath a lacy bra weren't too shabby either. When Jaden started to loosen her belt after kicking off her shoes, Georgie asked if she intended to go swimming in her underwear. The singer's answer nearly made her swoon.

"No, I'm going swimming naked."

"Naked?" Georgie audibly gulped.

Blue eyes twinkled in the moonlight. "Yes. You know, naked as in without clothes on." The pants dropped to the sand showing Georgie the strong-bronzed thighs and legs they covered moments ago.

The blonde's mouth fell open as she stared. She couldn't help it. Jaden Connelly couldn't possibly be a mortal because she was a goddess. I would worship at her temple any old time.

"Heather and I used to go skinny dipping all the time," Jaden said, either failing to notice or choosing not to comment on the real estate agent's apparent appreciation of her body.

"Heather?" Georgie distractedly repeated.

Rolling up her socks, Jaden inserted them in her right shoe. "The sister I told you about, remember?"

Georgie halfway raised her arm to smack herself on the forehead when she realized that would look insane. "Oh! Right." She quickly nodded. "Heather--three children who you love to spoil, husband?Thomas of eleven years who you wholeheartedly approve of for your big sister."

Chuckling, Jaden reached behind her to unclasp her bra. "That's correct. Anyway, often during the summer our parents would take us to a cabin we owned and there was a lake near it. Sometimes in the evening we would strip down and go butt naked swimming. Of course, after we entered our teens we would put on bathing suits unless we went swimming late at night."

And the bra was tossed on top of the legless pants.

Georgie wistfully sighed while attempting not to gawk. It's a good thing I have a strong heart.

Hands on her hips, Jaden asked. "Are you going to join me of your own accord or must I toss you into the water?"

Green eyes narrowed. "You wouldn't dare."

"Are you quite sure about that?" As though getting naked in front of someone was something she did on a regular occasion, Jaden slipped out of her panties.

"Are you an exhibitionist?"

"You didn't answer my question."

"You didn't answer mine," Georgie half-heartedly argued.

"I asked mine first."

The small blonde blew out a loud breath. "No, I am not sure that you wouldn't actually toss me into the water without my consent. I wouldn't put it passed you. Your turn." She tried to look anywhere but at the neatly trimmed dark area between Jaden's thighs.

Grinning, Jaden showed gleaming white teeth that never required braces, which her parents were thankful for. "I suppose I am," she proudly replied.

The champagne obviously still very much in her system, Georgie retorted, "Then perhaps you should be a model for Playboy magazine instead of a singer. I'm sure men and even some women would buy all of the issues with you in them."

Snickering, Jaden asked, "Would you?"

"Would I what?" She knew what the other woman was inquiring.

"You know what Georgie."

How to answer? I guess honesty is best, the blonde hesitantly thought. "If I were into Playboy, then it's possible that I might."

"So yes."

Georgie smirked. "Yes J-Co."

"Oh boy. Why do I get the feeling that pet name is going to stick around for a long while?" A laugh escaping her, Jaden kneeled on the sand and began to tug at her friend's shoes. When asked what she was doing, she casually responded that she intended to rid Georgie of her clothing.

"J-Co I'm shocked! This is only our first date." Pulling her jacket off, she leaned back on her elbows, resigning herself to the fact that she was going skinny dipping whether she wanted to or not. A great part of her was actually interested in frolicking with Jaden in the ocean. She just hoped that it didn't earn them a bout with pneumonia because of it.

"Relax. I usually don't make my big move until the third," Jaden kidded as her hands slid up to Georgie's waist, fingers beginning to tug at her pantyhose. Barely suppressing a moan, the smaller woman helped her to remove them while she tried to convince herself that this wasn't a dream.

THE Jaden Connelly--the naked as the day she was born Jaden Connelly was truly undressing her.

Vanessa was going to freak.

Although they were shivering, the two women wore happy smiles as they slipped back into their clothing after having spent nearly half an hour in the water. It hadn't taken long for Georgie to realize who was the better swimmer. Doing so seemed effortless for Jaden as she easily glided through the water like a fish. She chuckled when Georgie remarked that she must have been part mermaid.

"Are you ready to leave?" Georgie asked, though she wasn't ready to end this most enjoyable evening with the charismatic celebrity.

Jaden cocked her head to the side so the water trapped inside her ear could escape. "Not necessarily. Are you?"

As she vigorously ran the towel over her damp blonde head, Georgie shook it in the negative. "No, I'm not."

Beaming like she had just won another Grammy, Jaden indicated for her friend to come closer. Settling down on the sand, they wrapped the huge blanket she brought around them, trying to create some warmth. Tying to decide if she would inquire or not, Georgie gave it about sixty seconds worth of thought before she arrived at a decision.

"Jaden, do you have a significant other?"

Unreadable baby blues glanced down at her. "I'm single. I haven't been attached to anyone in over ten years."

"Ten years! Why hasn't some lucky woman nabbed you yet?"

The singer smiled. "Because I don't wish to be nabbed."

"Ah." Georgie nodded as though she completely understood now. "So you're not ready to settle down?"

"Maybe I wasn't clear enough. I don't date?at all. I haven't been involved in a relationship that wasn't platonic in over ten years and I plan for it to remain that way."

"Did something happen a decade ago that was so catastrophic that it changed your wanting to be with anyone?" The blonde gently asked as she placed a hand on Jaden's knee.

"How much do you know about me Georgie?"

"I confess not much. Right off the bat I could name a few of your songs that I love--I even purchased a couple of your CD's-- but I've never paid much attention to the personal lives of celebrities." She briefly smiled. "Van is the complete opposite though. She might know more about you than you do. She could write your biography! And speaking of book writing, it didn't occur to me until Van brought it to my attention earlier that you are a published author. And when I get home, I intend to start reading it."

"All About Me." Jaden chuckled as she thought back to her twenty-two year old self feverishly typing out her autobiography with her older sister's much needed assistance. "My attempt to reveal my deepest darkest secrets before the paparazzi could print them. It was on bookshelves three weeks after my first album was released."

Georgie chuckled as well. "Smart of you J-Co."

"Thank you Georgie. I know it pissed them off because they didn't have any ammo against me. I was the new kid on the scene who ratted her own self out." She paused, deep in thought. "Georgie, do you want me to tell you my deepest darkest secrets or would you rather read the book first?" Jaden tried to ignore that her heart was beating incredibly fast at that moment. She hadn't been this nervous about telling anyone in years.

The real estate agent watched her, wondering about the thoughts roaming through her mind. "Which would you prefer?"

"I'd rather tell you now then to drop you off at home and then go to my place where all I would do is speculate on what your reaction would be. I prefer to know what it is immediately."

You're worried. "Jaden whatever it is I won't judge you. No one is perfect and I happen to believe that you're an awesome lady no matter what occurred in your past. I like who you are now."

Tears shining in her eyes for the second time that evening, the singer offered the sweet young woman a smile. "Thanks Georgie." A minute passed before she managed to coerce herself to continue. "The three major things I mentioned in my book were that I'm a lesbian." Georgie nodded, having at least know that. "And two, I used to do drugs?heavily." Halting, she glanced at the other woman noting that she didn't look too surprised.

"I figured drugs might have been a factor," Georgie gently stated. "You looked much too thin in the picture on the cover of your book."

"And I'd gained eight pounds after detox was finished when I took that picture. Um," feeling warm, Jaden pulled the blanket from around her body. "The third thing is that?uh?shit." Closing her eyes, she concentrated on breathing deeply while a hand settled on the middle of her back, gently rubbing in circular motions. Though her eyes reopened, Jaden couldn't look at Georgie. "Third thing is that I'm HIV positive. It was most likely the drugs but I could have contracted it from a woman, although there aren't many known cases of females passing the virus to each other sexually." When instead of pulling away the petite blonde scooted closer, wrapping an arm around her waist and planting the softest kiss on her cheek Jaden burst into tears.

It was close to midnight when the Hummer pulled into the parking lot belonging to Georgie's apartment complex. Unbuckling her seatbelt, she turned in her seat to face the driver and reached out to caress her cheek. Though they had talked for quite a while on the beach, Jaden hadn't said much since they began the drive back to Los Angeles. When Georgie asked her if she was alright, she nodded with a tiny smile on her lips.

"Are you absolutely sure?"

The singer's hand brushed against the smaller hand still resting on her cheek. "Yes. I'm absolutely sure. I was only thinking." While removing her seatbelt she asked her friend if she was ready to go inside.

"Yes, I suppose," Georgie replied. "Van is probably pulling out her hair by now. I never stay out this late." Chuckling, Jaden made to reach for the door handle when the blonde stopped her. "No, sweetie. You don't have to walk me to the door." She grinned. "I'm aware that this isn't a date." Leaning over, she hugged the other woman to her. "Thank you for tonight. It was very special to me."

Eagerly returning the hug, Jaden smiled against her shoulder. "Me too."

Georgie had just inserted her key into the lock when the anxious woman standing on the other side of it pulled the door open. Smirking, Georgie rescued her unneeded key and walked inside asking her friend how long she had been guarding the front door.

Vanessa locked the door replying, "I wasn't guarding. I was sitting on the couch watching TV when I heard your key in the lock." She grinned. "And then I bolted over here. Hey, why is your hair damp?"

"Jaden and I decided to go for a swim in the Pacific." Walking toward their small yet quaint kitchen, Georgie dropped her purse on the breakfast bar. Vanessa followed her, perching on one of the two stools positioned in front of the short bar.

"In your underwear?" She curiously watched as her fairer friend's cheeks turned crimson.

"Um no."

"Without your underwear?" A small nod was Vanessa's confirmation and just as Georgie had suspected, she freaked. She actually seemed on the verge of hyperventilating, which caused Georgie to question if they had any paper bags. "Nude?! You and Jaden went swimming in the BUFF? No clothes? Just?skin?!" No longer capable of sitting still, the curly-haired woman abruptly stood and began to pace. "What?how?how did she look? She's hot in her clothes, so without them she must be out of this world! Does she look awesome wet? Water trailing down her voluptuous yet athletic body?"

Her butt remaining on a stool, Georgie stared at her friend. "Are you positive that you're not a lesbian?"

"99.9%. Answer question please."

"Which one? You gave me a million."

Vanessa stopped pacing and leaned against the breakfast bar. "Is Jaden hot without her clothes on?"

Georgie thought about that for two seconds. "The word hot doesn't do her justice. She's a goddess. She must workout every or nearly everyday." Georgie covered her mouth as she yawned. "I know that you're dying for me to reveal every minute detail, but can it wait until the sun rises? I want to take a shower and go to bed because I'm very tired."

After Vanessa assured her that she would wake her up bright and early with a stack of waffles (an incentive for her friend to tell all), Georgie headed into the bathroom. Removing the borrowed outfit, she placed it on the counter before grabbing her toothbrush and completely covering the bristles with mint flavored toothpaste. As she brushed, her thoughts settled on Jaden and the pleasant evening they shared. Georgie just knew that she would replay this night on numerous occasions.

Spitting and rinsing, she walked over toward the bathtub and turned the knobs, water soon blasting through the showerhead. She leaned against the sink to wait for the water to heat up, which would take around thirty seconds.

Third thing is that I'm HIV positive.

That statement replayed in her mind three more times before the significance of it struck her with as much force as a speeding pickup truck would. Jaden had HIV. When the other woman opened up to her, Georgie hadn't allowed herself to think much about it. She instead concentrated on consoling her friend, who had begun to sob immediately after her declaration.

Third thing is that I'm HIV positive.

Having forgotten about her shower, the blonde started to softly cry. Those cries soon gained enough volume to be heard by Vanessa. Forgoing knocking, she burst through the door to find Georgie sitting on the floor with her back pressed against the side of the bathtub. Arms wrapped around her middle, tears streamed down her face.

Alarmed, Vanessa turned the shower off and sat next to her friend, placing a hand on her trembling shoulder. "Sweetie, what's what matter? Does something hurt you?"

Georgie shook her head. "Ja?Jaden?she?has?"

Detecting the whistling sound emanating from Georgie's chest, Vanessa hurried to grab her atomizer from the medicine cabinet. Removing the cap, she handed it to her, insisting that she take two puffs. Doing so, Georgie handed the atomizer back. Already she felt the tightness easing in her chest.

An arm wrapped around her friend's shoulders Vanessa asked, "What were you trying to tell me about Jaden? She has what?" The moment the question was out of her mouth, Vanessa suspected what Georgie might have been crying over. She had cried when she found out too and she had barely known about the 22 year old new to the music business with her debut song soaring to the top of the charts. "She told you about her virus."

Watery green eyes looked at her. "You knew?" Small pause. "Of course you knew. It was in her book. Van this is so unreal." Georgie slowly moved her head back and forth. "Why did this have to happen to her?"

"Unfortunately, a lot of people contract HIV. The numbers seem to be rising. Jaden probably contracted it when she shared drug paraphernalia," Vanessa gently explained. "But babe though HIV is a terrible disease, it isn't the death sentence that it used to be-- at least not if those living with it take care of themselves by exercising, eating right and taking their medications on a daily basis. I've read many times that Jaden is one of those people. You can tell just by looking at her that she now treats her body with respect. You know that Magic Johnson has it too, don't you?"

"I do."

"Well look at him. I think he was diagnosed in '91, two years before Jaden and I hear that he's in excellent condition. HIV usually develops into AIDS around the tenth year, but he's had it for twelve years. I heard a while back that because of his strenuous exercise program and taking his medicines as ordered by his doctors, that the virus is at an undetectable level. Because of the advances in drugs treating HIV and AIDS this is happening with more and more people infected with HIV today. And I bet if you were to ask Jaden, she would tell you the same thing about herself."

"That doesn't change the fact that she has it," Georgie replied in a whisper.

"No it doesn't, but Georgie she isn't going anywhere anytime soon. That woman is disgustingly healthy!" That made her friend laugh. "She has a lot more years to live. Now come on and dry those eyes. I don't appreciate seeing my best buddy upset." Vanessa pulled six sheets from the 2-ply toilet paper hooked on a plastic tube next to the toilet. Returning to Georgie's side, she dabbed at her cheeks with the soft paper while resembling a concerned maternal figure, a role she had taken on many times in the past with Georgie although she was only a little over three months older than her. When she was through she received a light kiss on the lips. "Dude, what did I tell you earlier when you made a play for me? I see that I'm going to have to make a stop by the police department tomorrow on my way to work. You are getting much too fresh."

Georgie rolled her eyes. "You're so crazy."


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