~ With All of My Heart ~
by Catherine Burke

Author's Note:
Here we are again?.I thought I'd try this again.

Category: Orig. Uber Alt.

Rating: R / NC-17

Summary: Doctor Holly Graham was going through the motions. Taught to rely on no one but herself, she toiled through the medical school and settled into a position at one of Baltimore's top trauma centers. Tracy Campbell had looks, a career, a loving family and loyal friends. Yet, her love life was lacking. Pursued by many a suitor, she never found what she was looking for until a snowy night on a Maryland highway.

Comments/Disclaimer(s): This is an original story. The story and characters belong to me. They are not to be used or reproduced without my express written permission. I have posted an similar story on another site under the kato5568@aol.com email?.This is me. These characters are mine and not swiped from someone else. It good to know people are looking out for us!

This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it.

Special Thanks: To J Brownell for ideas suggestions and getting me to actually post this. Kerrie who was able to beta and get this story back to me a very short time. Living half way around the world does have its advantages. Time differences worked well for us. I'd like to give a shout to Powerbab, who actually writes about Cleveland where we live. We'll get together at the coffee shop soon.

I'm posting this in chapter blocks. Life gets in the way at times. Hope you enjoy.
You can reach me at burkcatherine@aol.com

Chapter 1

The exhaust from the school bus engine visibly floated into the January skies. The cold was a side effect of the massive winter storm currently pummeling the Baltimore area. Six inches of white fluffy snow blanketed every adhering surface. As the mercury continued to drop into single digits, every resident of the area tried their best to stay inside. Not so lucky were the coaches and players of Bayview High School.

Standing at the high school entrance, Tracey Campbell rubbed her leather clad hands together. She hadn't anticipated the severity of the storm. For the safety of her team, she wished she had taken the advice of the school board and cancelled the game against cross town rival Jefferson. As the stubborn and dedicated coach of the Girls Varsity team, she didn't want to disappoint the girls by canceling the championship game. Since their first practice, the girls wanted to make it to the state playoffs. The game was over, but instead of the usual excitement teams had about winning, the team was focused on the weather outside. During the time they had been inside, a winter storm raged outside. As the Bayview Senators ran the floor against the Jefferson Bulldogs, Mother Nature's wrath continued outside. Her patience was wearing thin as another fan told her of the number of white outs reported. She needed to load her victorious team on the bus and get home.

Looking out at the dark evening sky and the sheets of snow falling heavily, Tracey silently wished she the board had cancelled the Saturday match. Baltimore was not known to get heavy snow falls. The storm outside was making up the last four light winters. She didn't want to cancel the game either. In fact she enjoyed beating Becky Kramer's team. Going up against Jefferson and their All-State Center, Amy Lancing proved her team was able to take on taller teams. The line-up for Bayview was quicker and able to score on turnovers and breakaways. The six-two center didn't have an impact on the game. Instead, Zoey Pope, senior point guard for the Senators played the game of her life. Scoring a career high twenty-eight points and a season high ten steals, the small blonde was the catalyst for her team.

When a gust of cold air hit her face, Tracey turned to see a bundled figure hurrying through the door. Turning her silver eyes to the snow filled sky, she couldn't wait to get home. Tonight she was looking forward to sitting on her couch under a blanket with a book and a hot cup of café mocha near by. The stomping of booted feet on the entrance mat announced the driver returning to the school. A smile appeared on her face as Carl Parker, the bus driver, brushed the snow from his stocking covered head. He clapped his gloved hands together and shuffled in her direction, his movements hampered by the weather and age.

"Cold getting to you Carl?" Tracey teased the retiree. Carl was a favorite driver of the students and staff. He teased saying he took the driving job to "get out of Millie's hair." For years Tracey had heard of the infamous Mille, but she hadn't met the driver's spouse. His unassuming manner with the high school kids went a long way. Quick with his advice or words of wisdom, he was respected by the students, staff and parents. There was a time or two when Carl stepped in to break up fights between students. A Veteran of the Vietnam War, he could hold his own. Last week, he stepped in to break up a nasty fight between two senior boys over a girl.

"Ms. Campbell it's pretty bad out. And cold? my chest even hurts." He rolled his shoulders and rubbed his barrel chest. "We should get going as soon as we can." The bus driver smiled back at the attractive teacher. He liked the friendly way Ms. Campbell treated everyone. She was well respected by the faculty and students. She never used her feminine attributes to get her way, although almost every male on the campus would love to be the subject of her affection. From the comments and groans the bus driver heard over the years, Ms. Campbell only needed to bat her eyes and there would be people falling at her feet. The dark wavy haired, lithely built woman's sparkling smile and clear silver eyes made his heart flutter. Although Millie held his heart, he didn't mind the smile Ms. Campbell flashed his way on occasion. He would venture to guess that the young Biology teacher had many young men thinking about the subject, although not in the academic manner.

"I'll get the girls and Andy. Let's just take it slow. I don't like this weather." She turned towards the locker room to get her team moving. Dressed in a fitting dove gray v-neck sweater that mirrored her eye color, pressed black slacks with matching dress boots with a heel that gave her a couple of inches on her five seven frame. Her long black leather jacket was draped over her arm. The Weather Channel predicted snow for the day but the raging storm outside was not in the forecast. Knocking loudly on the locker room door, she opened it a few inches. "Let's go ladies! It's Saturday. I don't think you want to be spending it with me or Coach Morgan!" Tracey let the door fall closed and walked into the gym. Andy Morgan, her assistant coach stood talking to Becky Kramer, the head coach of Jefferson. Tracey sighed. She needed to brace for the conversation with Kramer. The opposing coach had been asking her out for years. Tracey did everything in her power to avoid the woman, yet not be rude about it.

"So you did it again." Becky called as Tracey moved closer to them. "Well, we seemed to work out the kinks in the team over the last few weeks. Your girls gave us a run for our money." Jefferson really only got close once in the game. "Zoey and Michelle have stepped up." Her team had stepped up today. Her two best players Michelle Stanley and Zoey impressed her with their leadership on the floor. At first, Michelle tried to take everything to the hole by herself. After getting rejected twice by the Jefferson center, she began to pass and get her teammates involved. As the game went on, they were able to get the ball into the key for Michelle to score ten points. Glancing back at the falling snow, Tracey's eyes sought Andy's. They needed to get on the road.

"Has Zoey Pope been on varsity before?" Kramer was trying her best to keep Tracey engaged in the conversation. Tracey looked at the coach as if she were crazy, knowing the reason behind it was to ask her out again. Her team had made the comment that Jefferson's coach looked like a redheaded Goofy. The reference to the Disney cartoon character was an accurate description. Every time Tracey spoke with the woman all she could envision was the coach saying, "Ah..yuck. .a yuck."

"She's been hurt last couple years. Her senior year has been really good." Andy jumped back in, saving Tracey. He knew his co-worker did not want to talk to Coach Kramer, although he was enjoying her discomfort in the situation.

"Andy, we need to get going. Carl has the bus warmed up and the snow is starting to come down again." Tracey watched her assistant coach hide the smirk on his face and felt Coach Kramer's eyes watching her. "Good game Coach." Tracey turned to make her escape. Andy moved away with her. She elbowed him in the side cursing him silently. "That's for putting me there in the first place."

"Coach Campbell." She heard Kramer's voice call out to her. Andy let out a chuckled. Tracey turned back to the woman and Andy continued towards the exit. "Coach? Tracey." Redhead closed the space between them. "I'd really like to take you to dinner." Tracey looked over her shoulder to see if any of her students or parents in hearing distance. "Becky? look, I really think you're a nice person but I don't mix my work and social life." Tracey tried her best to let the older woman down. Becky just wasn't her type. If she did date, it certainly would not be with someone she couldn't carry on a conversation with. Her social life consisted of her friends, Yvonne Piper and Maxie, Maxine Kendall, her one time girl friend and teammates from college and recreation. For a short time, she dated Maxie. Tracey felt they were better off as friends. The friends could usually be found playing softball in the summer months and out together on weekends. Tracey tended to go out more once school was out. During basketball season, she rarely ventured out with the dynamic duo, her nickname for her friends when she was not able to venture out. "I hope you understand." Tracey turned making a bee-line for Andy. His standard buzz cut settled against the brick wall as he leaned back watching the show.

"You just crushed her." He mumbled as she swept by. "Doubt it? she's a big girl." Tracey's heeled frame was dwarfed by at least four inches. "Let's go ladies! And you?" She pointed at Andy as he pushed off the wall and stepped in front of her, beating her out the door. For the last three years, Andy Morgan had worked as her assistant coach. She met the Elementary Science teacher at an open gym during her first year at Bayview. Andy was former military and teaching for his first year. He was having trouble adapting from the military demands to those of a sixth grade teacher. The teachers bonded right away. Tracey's family moved multiple times through her childhood, finally ending in Washington DC when her father, a career navy man took a post at the Pentagon. They talked as they shot basket after basket. Andy reminded Tracey of her father, or at least his hair did. The standard high and tight was a quick fix in the morning, both men confessed to her. Sometimes during her morning preparation, she understood why her father and Andy continued to sport the style. Since meeting six years ago, they were very close colleagues, even having rumors spread regarding them dating. Last summer, Andy and Allison got married. Tracey was asked to be the best man. According to Vonnie Piper, her best friend, she was dashing in a tuxedo. He was the natural choice to ask to be her assistant coach when she took the team over three years ago.

The line of girls walked briskly on to the bus as Tracey followed. Standing at the top of the steps, she winked at Carl and began to count heads. Two short? she looked at Andy and held up two fingers. He stood to recount. He confirmed her number with a nod of his head. She tightened her leather jacket around her waist and went back into the school. In the lobby, Zoey Pope was bent over zipping her duffle bag. She looked as if she had been crying. Tracey took in the redness in her eyes and the track marks of tears. Placing a hand on the player's shoulder, Tracey gestured for Zoey to go to the locker room. The small blonde wiped her face with her forearm, then grabbed her bag and followed her coach. Her steps were small in comparison to the long strides of the coach.

Tracey went in first. Not stopping at the empty benches, she continued to check the alcoves, making sure no could overhear their conversation. Gesturing to the player to take a seat on the wooden bench, Tracey took in the small blonde with the expressive blue eyes. Injuries had plagued Zoey's career and finally in her senior season, she was healthy.

"Are you okay?" Tracey's voice was gentle and soothing. Today's game was the teen's career best. Tears were not the result of her play. Teaching at the high school level for a number of years, Tracey learned ways to get the students to talk. Dropping her voice to the tender caring level a parent would use with their child, she approached Zoey. Watching the young woman shake her head and tears began to flow. "Are you hurt?" Another shake. "Do you want to talk about it?" Tracey watched the mix of emotions play on the senior's face. "Sometimes it helps to talk about things that are bothering us." The blonde bit her bottom lip and Tracey winced, thinking it looked painful.

"Have?" Zoey stopped. "Have you ever had someone you cared so much about not believe in you or care about you in the same way?" Tracey processed the question her player posed to her. Her family was always supportive. The only girl from a family of four children, she never had to worry about her brothers or her parents not believing in her. When she blew out her knee in her sophomore year of college, her brother Tommy was at her side working out with her during her rehab. She was never able to play the same after the injury. Her movements a little tentative, she moved to the recreational side of sports. She played slow pitch softball with a group of her friends and left the world of competitive sports, giving up the high impact abuse of her knee.

"I can't say I have. My family is very supportive. Maybe this person who?" Tracey paused, she could see the girl was hurting. "Who doesn't believe in you, is a person you don't need in your life." Knowing her words weren't helping the young woman, Tracey got to her feet and gathered the blonde in a hug. "You'll get through this honey. Right now I know it hurts, but in six months when summer hits you'll forget all about it and get on with your life." She felt the blonde's head nod against her shoulder. "It gets better? You promise?" Zoey said in a muffled voice. "You're young and just starting to become an adult. Zoey? I promise. It will get better." Tracey pulled back and looked at the player's face. "You are a beautiful, talented young woman, whoever they are, they're a fool." She got a slight smile from the blonde. "Take your time, but we need to get going. I don't think any of us want to be stuck in Towson overnight." Zoey chuckled and wiped her face. Tracey ruffled her hair then went out the door. She ran right into Coach Kramer.

"Tracey. I thought you'd be long gone." Kramer smiled as she pressed a clipboard to her chest.

"Trying." Could this day get any worse? "A little issue with one of the players." She looked towards the door as a very concern Andy Morgan was walking in the building.

"Hey..I got Michelle." Andy called out information regarding the missing player.

"I got Zoey." Tracey replied. "See you later, coach." Tracey brushed past the redhead knowing full well the woman purposely stood in her way slightly.

Witnessing her discomfort again, Andy inwardly winced at his co-worker's ability not to show her distaste for the woman. Tracey drew attention. She was beautiful, rich chestnut hair hung just past her shoulders and bright silver eyes shone when she was happy and stormed over when her temper got the best of her. He knew she dated on occasion but there had been no one special since he had known her. When he started dating Allison seriously, she wanted to meet Tracey. Andy thought she was jealous of his relationship with the head coach. After dining out with Tracey, Andy asked Allison what she thought of Tracey. Allison chuckled and said she really liked Tracey and she wasn't concerned with Andy spending time with her. Andy looked at her for a moment. This was not the reaction he was expecting. Allison let him stew on her answer until they got to her place.

"You know she's gay." Allison said as Andy walked her to the door. The blanched look on his face conveyed his disbelief.

"But she's?"

"Hot?" Allison shrugged her shoulders. "It's what's inside Andy. Not the outside image. The only person I saw her give a second glace too was the Sous Chef, the blonde who came out to the table to ask how our food was."


"Really." Allison let Andy open the door and waited for a moment at the threshold. "Does it bother you? That Tracey likes women?"

"Umm.." The teacher pondered his thoughts for a moment. "No. It doesn't matter to me. She's just Tracey. I never really thought of her any other way. She's a friend of mine. I really don't care who she sleeps with."

"Good." Allison grabbed his hand and pulled him into her apartment.

Months later, when Andy met Allison's very flamboyant brother, Simon, he realized how important his answer to her question was.

"Sorry for teasing you earlier." Andy murmured as she pasted by. "Zoey coming?" Just as the words were spoken the small blonde appeared from the locker room, her toboggan cap pulled low on her head, covering her ears. The player brushed past the coaches and settled in the seat right behind theirs. Tracey glanced back at the senior, knowing this was not her usual spot on the team bus, Zoey usually sat farther back with Michelle. The coach raised her eyes to the lanky form of her center straddling her legs between the aisle way and the seat across from her.

"We're all here Carl. Let's head home." Tracey lowered her eyes and silently prayed that they would make it home safely.


A soft breeze carried through the tall palms as the bright sunlight beamed on the woman lying face up on the beach. Running her fingers in the sand at the side of the towel under her, she felt the grains and granules course over her fingers and across her skin. The hard packed earth under her back was irritating, but being in the sun was worth it. Times like this she savored the peace and quiet with the sunshine of a tropical paradise. If only she had the company of a lovely woman to share this with. Her mind immediately flashed to a woman's head thrown back as she kissed her way down her throat, over her sun kissed shoulders, down to the heaving breasts and strained nipples waiting for her mouth to savor. She smiled at the fantasy of wanting to be in the middle of one of those cheesy romance novels. The women meet in the middle of a tropical paradise and have mind-blowing sex for hours, or maybe it was a porn flick. She felt wetness pool between her thighs. There was no deep bass line music playing in the background just a soft sound of birds singing in the trees. The tell tale sign of a trashy romance novel. Now she needed was a beautiful woman to stumble upon her. A small noise got her attention, followed by the soft murmuring of her name.


Dragging her lazy hand through the sand and up her sun kissed thigh she looked towards the light as a shadow of a woman appeared at her side. The motion of her hand continued reaching out to the woman beckoning towards her. Sure she could do this. A smile passed over her lips as she moistened them with the tip of her tongue. Dark hair. She could tell the woman was a brunette as she reached to touch the woman's bare shoulder. Closer?closer. She wanted to fist her hand in the woman's hair and crush her mouth to this stranger. To taste the sweetness of her lips to touch the softness of her skin. Run her hands and mouth across the smooth plane of her stomach. Teasing her nipples into hard peaks and savoring them like water in the desert. She wanted to have life altering sex and escape every relationship she had been in. Escape to forget the heart wrenching turmoil her ex put her through. Escape to forget about her family. Disappear from her lonely life into the arms of a soft, caring and loving woman. To climax over and over as this woman clung to her, screaming her name.

"Doctor Graham!" The scream careened through Holly's unconscious mind waking her from a deep slumber and a semi erotic dream.

Shooting up from the lounge couch and into a sitting position, her hand still extended towards the floor's head nurse, Sandra Rollins.

"Doc!" Sandra's voice penetrated through the foggy dreamscape of Holly's awareness. "Doc!" Again the call vibrated through her senses. With a shake of her short blonde hair, Holly finally registered the figure by the couch. The short African American with a solid girth and ample bosom stood in front of her with her arms cross waiting impatiently for the doctor to wake.

The overhead florescent lights were in full force beating down on the doctor. Holly came to her senses and put her hand up to block out the brightness of the lights. Her tropical dream was a farce. She was at work. Another fantasy ruined by the reality of being an Chief Resident in the emergency room. She gathered from the look on Rollins face, it was going to be a long shift.

"It's alive!" Rollins teased. The nurse knew Dr. Graham had fallen asleep a few hours ago when the storm was just starting. After the morning lull, the Emergency Room was on the verge of all hell breaking loose as the storm outside raged. Jessup County and the Maryland Department of Transportation had not declared a state of emergency. Who knows what the politicians were thinking?

Rollins gave the attending physician a hard nudge on the arm. Wide alert brown eyes stared up at her. She had worked with Holly for close to a decade and recalled the first day those big brown eyes surveyed the ER. Fresh out of medical school, she looked like a frightened child. She wasn't quite as old as the other interns, but there was a maturity about the twenty four year old. Through conversations and small comments, Sandra knew Holly graduated high school early and immediately enrolled at university. Fast tracked to medical school, she started her residency as soon as she could. In a matter of weeks, she knew the tall blonde would be a natural. A workaholic and overachiever by nature, Holly never seemed to mind the long hours and double shifts. She was quick to pick up a shift if needed. In fact, Rollins couldn't remember the last time the doctor took any time off. Where some residents never made it past the first six weeks, let alone the years of training they were required to go through. The well balanced young woman did not succumb to burnout or depression. The only falter in the good doctor's step had been four summers ago, when a strange woman showed up in the ER asking for Holly. The glare of anger Holly sent to the woman still sent shivers down the head nurse's spine. She knew the blonde was extremely private and rarely spoke about her family or personal life. Well respected and easy to work with, Holly was a favorite of the staff and the interns.

"Let's go sleeping beauty. We have incoming." Rollins made certain Holly was aware of her surrounding before she left the lounge. As if in slow motion, sleepy woman swung her feet off the beaten faux leather couch onto the square white and gray vinyl tiles. She hung her head, staring at the flecks of blue and red spattered like a Jackson Pollock painting. She needed to wake up and fast. Stretching her lengthy arms above her head, she felt the tension release as her spine popped. To a bystander, the sound would seem to inflict pain, but Holly felt the relief as her back loosened up. After decade of working at Jessup Hospital, she should know better than to fall asleep on the unforgiving cushions. For her residency, she specialized in Emergency Medicine and matched at her first choice Jessup Community Hospital, an offshoot of the Maryland University program. After residency, she was offered an attending position at the prestigious Maryland hospital.

Rising to her feet, her almost six foot frame came to its full posture. Grabbing the stethoscope from the table, she headed to the coffee maker and poured herself a tall cup of java. Smelling it, she pondered if she wanted to know how long ago it had been brewed. The smell of roasted beans took her back to freshman year in college when she first dabbled in the brew. She turned sixteen that fall and learned what pulling an all nighter was about. Her first tasted of the bitter roast, she needed cream and sugar. Now, close to twenty years later, she drank it black and by the pot full. As a medical professional, she knew she should switch to decaffeinated but it went against the purpose of the dark liquid. She learned to use the breakfast staple as a crutch during her school years. Accelerated through her high school and college studies, she landed at the University of Maryland Medical School at the prime age of nineteen. Her classmates teased the awkward teenager, who stood a head taller than most of them. Yet when it came to study partners or groups, Holly was the student in demand. She was focused on practicing medicine and no amount of teasing would interfere with her goal.

Emancipated from her parents at the age of sixteen, just prior to her father's death, Holly's drive and determination were the skills she learned to survive on. For most of her undergrad, she was a minor who rarely got into trouble. Living on her own with scholarships to cover schooling, she barely had two nickels to rub together. On occasion, a memory would trigger. The smell of Pine Sol reminded her of the dorms during holiday break. These were lonely, tough times when five bucks felt like a fortune. Her bank account rarely slipped above the fifty dollar mark. She spent most of her free time in the school library. On the holidays, she'd go to the train station to people watch. Her form of free entertainment, she tried to guess the stories behind the travelers. An easy escape from her reality, she'd watch the families coming and going. Travelers hustling through the terminal trying to catch the connecting train. When the reunions happened in front of her, she'd watch as loved ones reconnected with hugs and kisses. Her life wasn't filled with hugs and kisses. She watched like a voyeur, imagining what life was like for people with caring families. Maybe she'd have that one day. To have a relationship where there was no holding back.

Love and trust were the two things her relationship with her parents and her former lover lacked. Her solace for company was found in a hot cup of coffee. During Christmas, co-workers asked her to trade shifts. She did without a second thought. She had nothing better to do for the holidays. It was just another work day for her. With the Styrofoam cup on hand, she pushed open the swinging door to the main hallway. Any thoughts of lying on the beach sunbathing were quickly erased by the amount of snow piling up outside.

"Where did you go this time Doctor Graham?" Musah, the dark skinned admissions clerk asked his thick Ghana accent filtering through the hallway over the scream of the sirens entering the emergency bay.

"South Beach!" Holly said with a big smile. Rollin's must have been yapping as she passed by his station. Running her fingers through her short-cropped blonde hair, she closed her eyes for a moment and relived the dream of Florida. Smiling at the thought of a beautiful woman rubbing oil on her back, a quick elbow from Rollins brought her to the center of the ER. She glanced at the clock then back to the falling snow. A long night was ahead of her.

"Next time you go there you take me with you. Beats Baltimore in the winter any day. Here we go!" His large black finger pointed towards the emergency entrance doors as two EMTs roared in on a gurney.

"Anyone page Martinez?" Holly asked hoping there was a surgeon on call.

"He's on the way. Called from the car. I think he is stuck on 295." Musah could see the relief flash across her face as she headed towards the trauma room. Her white lab coat flapped open and closed with her movements. Taking a small breath, she entered the room. Mel Watkins, the EMT and one of Holly's closest friends was straddled across the patient, her hands pumping on his chest as her partner, John Dillon pushed the air bubble for ventilation. Blood saturated the bandage on the patient's forehead.

"How we doing kids?" Holly asked as she caught John's sky blue eyes. If she was straight she'd consider the handsome EMT. The deep frown of concentration on Mel's face was a tell tale sign of bad news.

"Well mom?" John started but one look from his partner's rich hazel eyes stopped his sarcastic remark. "Got a sixty eight year old man, head trauma with possible heart attack. Stopped breathing in the field. Resuscitated twice on the way in and can't seem to stabilize."

"Did we get any history or is there a family member here?" Holly asked as her eyes scanned the heart monitor and her ears picking up vital stats as the nurse rattled them off.

"No. The scene is still a mess. Too many victims. We took the critical ones first." Mel labored voice called out.

"Out!" Holly ordered the spunky auburn haired EMT, they staff readied the victim's chest and probes were set in place. "Charging." The call came out followed by the standard "Clear." All hands went up.

Defibrillation paddles in hand, she waited to see all the staffs' hands away from the victim. Her lithe body loomed over the older man. She thought about the family he had waiting for him. A well tarnished wedding band was on his left ring hand. She couldn't let him go. The impact of the paddles on the victim's bare chest caused his loose skin to bounce up and down. She looked at the monitor, a faint blip appeared, followed by a series of small but steady pulses. Once the patient was stabilized, Holly continued her exam. Running her fingers along his ribcage and abdomen, her main concern was for hemorrhages. When she passed over the upper abdomen, she stopped and retracted her path. Finding signs of internal bleeding she hoped did not exist, she called out. "He needs to go up. Alert Surgery."


Chapter 2

White knuckles curled over the seat back, Tracey stole a glance at Andy who had moved closer to Carl in order to support the bus driver. The back end of the bus slid and a chorus of screams filled the air. Tracey leaned on the seat in a half sitting, half standing position. Her attention focused on the scared faces of her players. One of the freshmen was actually crying.

"Ladies, please remain calm. We'll be home soon and then we can all forget this ride." Turning, she looked at the windshield wipers flapping wildly but not seeming to help clear the snow. Andy shot her a look of concern. Carl let out a swear word and down shifted the large yellow vehicle. There were a multiple number of red lights and emergency vehicles in the road way ahead. The bus slowed as the gears of the transmission strained and fought the powerful engine.

A flash of lights from the left hand side of the bus caught the occupants by surprise. A large black Cadillac Escalade barreled along side the large passenger vehicle at high speed. "Crazy son of a bitch!" Carl called out to the driver of the passing car. At that moment, the driver must have seen the emergency response trucks ahead and quickly changed lanes, cutting off the bus.

"Hold on!" Andy screamed, his voice high and full of fear. All eyes darted to the front of the bus where the SUV was sliding across the snow covered highway. The icy roads and the high rate of speed caused the SUV to spin, doing a number of pirouettes and finally hitting the guardrail on the right hand side median. The black truck careened off the center divider, bouncing back into the lane in front of the bus. With the diesel engine roaring and the air brakes screeching, Carl fought to slow the twelve ton bus down.

Tracey watched as the scene in front of her played out in slow motion. Carl steered the bus to the right in an effort to avoid the out of control SUV. The bus's front driver quarter panel connected with the Escalade's front passenger side bumper. Sounds of crunching metal and screams of teenagers filled the air as the passengers lurched out of their seats. Tracey landed against the metal frame of the windows. Her teeth rattled as upper and lower jaw clamped together. She felt pain as she touched her fingers to her chin, coming away with a burgundy stain. They were in trouble.

Smoke bubbled from the smashed front end of the SUV as it spun out of the path of the bus. Sparks and metal against metal scraping flew from the passenger's side as the vehicle slammed against the tri-level barrier rail. The rail peeled away from the posts like the skin of a banana. Carl jerked the wheel to the left with such force his head hit the window to his left. Blood poured out of the gash and down his face. His adrenalin pumping, he overcorrected the vehicle. The error sent the bus into the left lane of the two lane highway. The side of the bus rode on the cement barrier, scraping and screeching as it finally ground to a halt about twenty feet from the emergency trucks. Taking a deep breath and verifying they were actually stopped, Carl slumped over in the driver's seat clutching his chest.

Gray eyes watched as a number of emergency personnel ran towards the crash site. Standing on wobbly legs, Tracey looked at Andy's stunned face as he knelt next to Carl.

"Andy?" Tracey called over the screams and cries from behind her. He nodded and gestured towards the players. She quickly turned to see the scared shocked faces of her players. "Zoey?" The coach placed a hand on the senior point guard's shoulder.

"You're bleeding." Big blue eyes filled with tears. "Ms. Campbell." Zoey reached out to touch her face, but the Biology teacher stopped her. Tracey knew she had a nice contusion and would be sporting shades black and blue for a few days.

"I'm okay. What about you?" Zoey held on to her right shoulder. "Did you hit the side?" Zoey nodded knowing her tears were from being scared rather than the pain. "Let me check on the rest of the team."

Commotion at the front of the bus grabbed her attention. EMTs were at Carl's side, administering treatment. Tracey saw the emergency exit at the back of the bus open up. A police officer stood at the open passage way with more EMTs. Tracey saw the blood on the broken window next to Tabitha Timmons. Tabby sat holding her left hand in her lap. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks. Tracey grabbed the scarf from around her neck and wrapped the junior's hand up.

"Hey Tabby." Tracey eased into the spot next to the freckled faced player.

"It hurts." The player cried and leaned a shoulder against the coach.

"Keep pressure on it. Just like First Aid class?remember. There are people here to help. Just be strong for a little while."

"I want my mom." The girl cried out and began to sob. At a lost of words to comfort the student, Tracey found Zoey standing next to her.

"I'll sit with her." Zoey took Tracey's place. As the coach continued down the aisle way checking on players, she stopped half way back when she saw Michelle Stanley holding her leg, wailing in pain, her jaw tensed as her hands wrapped around her upper thigh. The odor of fuel and burning hit her senses as she looked out the window. Outside against the backdrop of falling snow she watched as sparks flew from the Jaws of Life as it cut through the metal frame of the black Escalade. The firefighters shouted at each other as the frantic chaos of the scene unfolded.

"We need everyone out!" The tall dark skinned officer yelled from the back of the bus. "Just like a routine fire drill kids!" His soulful eyes reached Tracey, the only adult standing in the back of the bus. His gaze went to the SUV and back to Tracey.

"Okay, one at a time." Tracey addressed her players. "You've done this hundreds of times. If you need help, just stay put." Tracey watched as Zoey led Tabby to the back of the bus, helping her teammate out the exit. Counting the heads left in the seat, there were six people on the bus. Carl and Andy had been taken out the front entrance.

"Lady you need to get off. Now!" The eyes of the officer in front of her spoke of the dangerous situation unfolding outside.

"Not until they're all off." Tracey held her ground. She had gone up against men like the officer in front of her before. "You are wasting time, sir. Let's get them off."

"Lady!" The cop persisted.

"My father is a Rear Admiral and I will not leave my team behind. Understood!" The inflection in her voice reflected her years of growing up in a Naval household. The police officer backed away, focusing his attention on the injured students on the bus. Tracey stood in the seat in front of Michelle as she was placed in an immobilizer. Odds were the star center's leg was broken. Tracey turned and ran up the aisle to her seat. She needed the briefcase the staff carried just in case of emergency.

"Coach, don't leave me!" Michelle's frantic voice filled the interior of the bus. Finding the briefcase on the floor, she rushed back to her player's side. There was no way she was going to leave her side. The EMTs quickly removed Michelle from the bus and loaded her into a waiting ambulance. Tracey finally exited the vehicle as the officer she had confronted helped her out the exit.

"Rear Admiral?" He asked with an eyebrow raised in question.

"And three brothers?" Tracey flashed him a smile and heard the small escaping of a whistle. Her father was a retired CFO. The rank of Admiral delivered the punch she needed at the time.

"That's one woman you don't want to mess with." Lyle Sands commented to his co-workers. He actually felt sorry for the players if they ever pissed off this woman.

Tracey found Andy engaged in a heated conversation with a Lt. Eckhart from the fire department. The Lieutenant pointed towards the SUV and back to the bus.

"Mr. Morgan, we need to split up the students. There is just no way can one hospital accommodate all of the injuries. I've spoken to Dr. Graham at Jessup. They took the bus driver. County is handing the driver of the SUV."

"Andy, he's right there. One ER can't treat the victims. I'll go with Michelle to Jessup. You go to County. We can figure out a game plan from there." Tracey pulled her jacket tighter around her collar. It was getting colder outside and arguing with the Lieutenant was not helping.

"Thank you, Miss. You may want to get your chin looked at while you're at Jessup. Ask for Dr. Graham to coordinate anything you need between the hospitals." Tracey absently touched her chin. She had forgotten the cut and bruise with everything going on.

"Once you get there figure out what girls you have and fax over the releases to County. I can start calling the parents. "

With a plan set in place, Tracey headed towards the ambulance Michelle was being treated in. She swore the female EMT she passed by checked her out.

Giving the attractive coach the once over, Pam Farmer stood outside the bus doors waiting for her services to be needed. The dried blood on the woman's chin did not detract from her beauty. Hair the color of cinnamon with a mix of red highlights was wind blown and swept back from her face. Her high cheek bones were flushed with color from the low temperature. Now she was sitting in the EVR, holding the teen's hand, whispering words of encouragement and strength. Pam milled outside the ERV doors waiting for an opportunity to speak with the woman. After overhearing a few words, she knew they were heading to Jessup. She was assigned to County and would not get a chance to meet the woman.

"Rich?switch runs with me." The female asked her co-worker as he scrambled to shut the doors. The bald man looked back at his patients and shook his head.

"Back off Pam. I swear you're worse than a guy." The bald EMT shut the door and the truck sped off to Jessup.

Sirens were in full gear as the ambulance took off from the crash site and Tracey held tight to Michelle's hand. The EMT smiled at the coach and asked for the teen's hand. Tracey loosened her grip, letting the man put an IV in. Letting out a deep breath, she leaned against the side of the truck. Closing her eyes, a flash of the bus hitting the SUV haunted her. They should have called the game. They should have closed the highway down. Thoughts were running through her head like a run away train, building steam until an explosion resulted. Cupping her hands, she rested her face against them. The pain of her chin injury caused her to flinch.

"Do you want me to check that out?" Mr. Clean as Michelle dubbed him asked as he saw the coach wince.

"I'll get it looked at Jessup." She turned her head and looked out the window at the white flakes coming down steady. Trying to empty her mind of the events that had happened in the past sixty minutes, she thought of her father. He would be proud of her today. Not leaving the ship until all the players were out. There was no way that cop was going to get her out of the bus with her players still there. A small laugh escaped from her lips as she thought of what Piper would say to her once she heard the story. The six foot hundred eighty five pound, eight year veteran of the Baltimore Police Force would have a few choice words for her friend. Even the large muscular mass of Piper would not have gotten her off that bus until her kids were safe.

"Did you see what happened?" Mr. Clean asked as he removed the blood pressure cuff from Michelle's upper arm.

"The SUV lost control. It cut into our lane and Carl." Her eyes misted up with unshed tears at the thought of the driver. "Carl tried to keep control of the bus but the SUV hit the wall and came back into the road." Tracey closed her eyes. She lost her thought pattern for a moment as she realized she may have knocked harder than she thought against the window pane. "Were you at the other accident?"

"No, I got to the scene just after your accident happened. I do think Melanie and John took the driver right away. I can ask them when we get to Jessup."


"Who's next?" Running her fingers across the dry erase board that served as the central nervous system of the ER, Holly looked up to see the desk clerk with two telephones up against his ears. The night of the blizzard was taking its toll on the entire staff. Nurses and doctors couldn't make the trip through the storm to get to work. Watching the snow continuing to fall, Holly wondered how the staff was going to make it home. The county emergency services decided in their ultimate bureaucratic wisdom to finally declare a state of emergency and close the highways down. Only medical personnel and protective forces were allowed on the roads. Once the state of emergency was declared, standard procedure was for Emergency Services to route the trauma cases evenly between the two area Trauma 1 Centers, Jessup and County. Holly wiped her last patient's number off the board, waiting to see what exactly was next on her list. Even the best of her administrative staff, Musah, whose usual demeanor was never affected by the chaotic environment, was hanging on by a thread. His long thin fingers hit a number of key strokes as he tried to retrieve information from the computer.

Loud angry voices came from the waiting room as the face of a patient was smooched up against the glass partition. Holly dropped the chart on the desk and headed to the source of the commotion. Her attention immediately focused on a tall muscular woman dressed in a police uniform who had a patient against the wall his arm pulled behind his back and high enough to dislocate the shoulder if the officer wasn't careful. Her partner was at her side urging the patient to continue his behavior knowing full well he was antagonizing the subdued man.

"Leave the macho shit in the street Xena!" Holly's voice boomed over the arguing cops. "I've got enough trouble tonight." The two stunned officers looked at the blood covered doctor in green scrubs. The man was immediately pulled from the plexiglas window. "What's his issue, Officer Piper?" Holly said as she got close enough to read the name on the uniform of the tall woman with the sandy blonde hair cut just above the neckline. The small snicker from the cohort was not missed by the doctor.

"States he's got a sprained wrist." Piper raised her eyebrows at the humorless physician. Angry brown eyes reflected the tone of the Emergency Room for the night. There was no additional stress needed.

"I'll have someone take him to radiology. Try not to batter suspects in my ER." Holly turned around and looked at the handcuffed suspect. She called an order to Musah who nodded his head and point to the two cops to bring the patient to the desk.

They walked towards the desk. Their hats secured on theirs heads and smiles plastered on their faces.

"That woman called you Xena." Darrell Williams slapped his thigh in a fit of laughter.

"She's clueless. I'm more like Gabrielle." Piper hissed through her teeth, she felt as if she had just been chastised by Sister Margaret Mary her second grade teacher.

"On steroids." Williams chimed in his teeth showing bright against his dark skin. The officers laughed as they escorted their charge to a private waiting area.

"Curtain 3!" Musah yelled at her as she passed the admissions desk grabbing the chart he held out for her. She was finished with the law enforcement officers. Give me a break, she silently thought. Enforcement, maybe. Holly adjusted the scope around her neck noting the amount of blood that covered her scrubs. With a sigh, she went to the locker room for a clean set. She didn't have time for this shit tonight.

Grabbing a new medium sized top from the bin, she stripped out of her soiled top and bottom and donned the clean garments. After a quick pit stop in the bathroom to relieve her bladder, she leaned on the sink, looking at her reflection in the mirror. This had to be the toughest shift of her career. Her short spiky blonde hair was in such disarray, it could have been fashionable. Her cheeks were sunken in and dark circles under her eyes were obvious signs of sleep deprivation. Splashing cool water on her face, cool brown eyes staring back at her, she wondered what waited for her on the floor. She needed sleep. She needed a life outside these cinder block walls. "My job is my life." her mantra for the past couple of years. No wonder she had no social life and her last relationship ended badly. She resolved to find herself a new mantra.

Her last relationship, a complete disaster which involved cohabitation with Pam Farmer, an EMT for the county, ended few months ago. The paramedic flirted endlessly and quite openly with Holly until finally the doctor agreed to go on a date. The charming blonde paramedic got her in bed on the first date. Embarrassed and eighteen months and at least two confirmations of infidelity later, Holly called a halt to the relationship. When Pam was telling her latest conquest her name was Dr. Holly Graham. Holly hit the roof. If Holly wanted to date the entire population of patients and staff, she'd do it on her own, not vicariously through her ex-girlfriend.

Her social life before Pam consisted of a number of women who she saw on and off for a few months. She never got overly involved. No one held her interest long enough to think about a possibility of long term relationship. Even in high school and college, she was trying to figure out where she fit in. Accelerated through grade school, she graduated high school by fifteen and tried to keep her life together. College was a nightmare. Because of the age difference with her classmates, she never received a second glance. By the time she was nineteen, Holly knew she preferred women to men. It was hard for a gawky teenager to get a date in college, even harder for a lesbian. Always a head taller than most women she met, Holly lived most of her academic career as an ugly duckling. She took up swimming. Every morning, she would venture to the campus pool. Before long, she traded in her long hair for a newer fresh shorter spikier style. Her long limbs filled out with new muscles. Before she knew it, she hardly recognized her image in the mirror. She started dating. Nothing ever serious, more or less a release of tension, she referred to it as. She liked the women she went out with, but was never into them. There was a little spark but not the "wow factor" she was looking for. A few dinners and some basic needs satisfied, Holly would break it off.

The women who she did spend time with seemed to report to their mothers immediately that they had landed a doctor. Most women found out she was a doctor and immediately tried to take advantage of her title and money. Little did they know she had loan after loan. She wasn't a millionaire. She lived very modestly. Her house was a fixer-upper house in a not so nice area of Baltimore. She was close to Mount Vernon but still not in the desired area.

In walked Pam, "Charmer Farmer" as the staff called her. Pam was different. She snuck up on Holly. Somewhere in the first six months of dating, Pam moved in. They had conversations around Holly's hours and workload. Together for almost two years, it was last summer when Holly noticed Pam was never around. They stopped sleeping together. Pam said Holly's hours messed with her sleep schedule,so she moved into the spare bedroom. Soon the routine became passing by each other in the foyer as one was leaving and the other was getting home. Holly began to focus on work and not the relationship. Pam's focus was set on a nurse in Pediatric Unit.

Fourth of July weekend, Holly switched her schedule and went home early to surprise Pam. Coming off a tough shift at the hospital, Holly felt the need to reconnect with her girlfriend. Walking in the door, she heard hot and heavy noises coming from the guest bedroom. Spread out on the queen bed, Pam was going down on her new girlfriend. The Peds nurse's legs were wrapped tight around Pam's head. Her cries of passion compared Pam to an almighty spirit were more than Holly could handle. Bowing her head, she should have listened to Mel, her best friend and EMT who worked with Pam. She should have remembered her pledge to her best friend not to get seriously involved with Pam. Finding the EMT and the nurse in the throes of passion was the final straw. Rumors floated around the hospital about the sexy charismatic EMT, but Holly refused to listen to them. Mel worked with Pam for a number of years, and tried to warn Holly to be careful. Mel harped one too many times about Pam's extra activities, causing the friends to have huge falling out.

The peds nurse was unaware of the relationship between Holly and Pam and screamed when she saw the doctor standing at the foot of the bed. A heated argument ensued, with Pam holding a sheet against her naked frame. The nurse made a quick exit, scooping up her clothes and out the door. When Pam tried to follow, Holly's temper got the best of her and she grabbed the sheet. She wanted Pam to endure the embarrassment she was. Pam held the sheet tight against her chest as she called out to the fleeing woman. When the woman's name was called out again, it occurred to Holly just how tired she was. Wanted Pam out, she just wanted her to leave. Preferably in her birthday suit. Finally conceding, Holly let go and held hers hands up. "Just take it." Were the last words she spoke to Pam.

Standing at the door, she watched as Pam climbed into her car with the nurse and left. The Egyptian cotton sheets had been a birthday gift from Pam, a gift that no longer held value. At the time Holly's words were referring to the sheet. Later she would realize that it was more, she let Pam into her heart and she broke it. Pam moved out that afternoon and Holly spent the 4th by herself, watching the fireworks on her back porch, crying and getting quite drunk. In the weeks following the break up, Holly made up for lost time by dating anyone she found the least bit attractive. When she started to date a nurse, Carmen in the cardiac unit, the casual fling became a full blown stalking case. Carmen would "stop by" the ER all the time, trying to spend time with Holly. Her possessiveness and jealousy of the ER doctor began to interfere with Holly's work and the care of patients. Holly filed a complaint with the Human Resources department.

Just before Thanksgiving, Holly heard Carmen was released for performance. She made a resolution not to date anyone affiliated with the hospital. She hadn't gone on a date since the Carmen incident. Paranoid and untrusting, Holly decided her best bet was to remain hopelessly single. It had been quite some time since she had slept with anyone. No wonder her dreams were becoming more and more erotic. She needed to go out and find someone to fulfill a weekend of anonymous, no strings attached sex. Glancing at her watch, the night was still young and the waiting room was still filled. She needed to get moving.

Dressed her third set of scrubs of the night, white tennis shoes covered her throbbing feet. She couldn't wait for this shift to be over. Holly grabbed the chart from the slot on the wall next to the door. Opening the heavy wooden door into a common room with four beds, she glanced up at the girl who was crying. The girl was around sixteen or seventeen. Just what I don't need. Holly was not very patient with crying females and this one looked like a piece of work. Lying in the bed closest to the window, the young woman stared outside at the snow falling.

"Hello. I'm Dr. Graham. Are you.." She flipped the chart to look for the girl's first name. The diagnosis was a broken left femur, Stanley, Michelle "Michelle?" Holly raised the film and placed the x-ray on the light box. The back light flickered on after a couple of seconds. She had the full attention of the teenage on the bed. "Are your parents here?"

"No. We were on the way home from the basketball game. Some moron cut us off and we crashed." The venomous remark and anger the teen projected took Holly by surprise. This teen had more going on than a broken leg.

"Did you win the game?"

"Yes." Holly's question was answered by the frazzled looking brunette who walked into the room. "Personally, I would have rather lost than see anyone hurt."

Holly stopped looking at the teen and turned to the figure who entered the room. The woman was in her late twenties or early thirties and very attractive. Long cinnamon brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail and hung to her shoulders. From the cut on her chin and the puffiness under her eyes, she was having a stressful day.

"From the film it looks like a clean break, but see this little speck here. This is a possibly a piece of your bone." Holly ran the tip of her pen over the line in the femur highlighting the break. The woman stepped closer to view the x-ray. The sweet scent of citrus and flowers filled Holly's senses. She guessed the source was from the woman's perfume or shampoo. Holly turned to see the concern in the stormy gray eyes next to her.

"Will I be able to play again?" The teen's voice cracked as she waited for Holly's answer.

"Yes, but not this year. Looks like it may have been your last game this season. I'm sorry." Holly knew it was not what the patient wanted to hear, but they rarely did. "I'm really sorry." Holly moved to the side of the bed and placed her hand on the teen's healthy leg. "Your mom." Holly gestured towards the woman standing at the end of the bed. "May want you to have a specialist review the films tomorrow or Monday."

"Excuse me." The woman looked at Holly. Her eyes were silver and seemed to dance over Holly's face and piercing her soul. "I'm her coach." Tracey stated she hoped the doctor did not think she was old enough to have a seventeen year old child.

"I apologize. I just thought that you were a parent or?" The doctor quit talking while she still had some sense of common sense. "It's been a long day, Coach." Holly extended her hand. "Holly Graham."

"Tracey Campbell." Tracey felt the warmth engulf her hand. She thought for a moment. "Dr. Graham?" Tracey watched as the tall blonde doctor nodded. "I was told to find you by Lt. Eckhart. We were in a crash. The team. The bus. Oh my God." Tracey put her left hand to her forehead. Holly was quick to notice that there was no wedding band on her ring finger.

Holly listened to the amount of words that were flying from the coach's full pouting lips. They did appear very kissable and Holly was having a hard time concentrating on what was being said.

"Wait?wait." Holly held her hands up as the brunette continue to spew large amounts of information is a very short amount of time. "Slow down. What do you need?" Holly questioned as her mind raced. Me? sure I'd be happy to oblige. Shaking the unprofessional thoughts from her head, she raised her brown eyes to meet the quicksilver color of the coach's. How quickly did they change color? They were still gray, but a lighter penetrating color replaced the storm clouds.

"I need to get these releases over to County." Tracey held up a stack of papers. The soft doe eyes of the doctor glanced at the pile.

"Certainly." Holly nodded and gestured for Tracey to follow her as she the door open for the dark haired woman to pass through. As they walked down the white tiled floor of the hallway, she studied the teacher. Her frame stood slightly shorter than Holly's stature. Holly was slimmer from long hours of work and not eating properly. Running on coffee and adrenalin became the norm, versus sitting and having a meal or a snack. The teacher looked healthy and fit. A narrow waist and broad muscle mass in an athletic body yet very feminine. "Are you here by yourself? Any other coaches?"

"Yes, Andy, my assistant coach. He went with the other girls to County. Is there a phone I can use? I know we can't use a cell phone in here, but I need to get a hold of the parents and?" A soft chuckle came from the figure next to her. Tracey stopped and placed a hand on her hip. "I don't see the humor in this."

"Ms. Campbell do you realize you said about thirty words with a run-on sentence without taking a breath?" She paused and looked at gray eyes boring into her. "You will be much more effective if you slow down for a moment and take a breath. Please tell me you don't teach English."

"Biology." The whisper of an answer came from the teacher. The answer made the corners of Holly's mouth turn upward. Their eyes met again. Holly could feel the heat rising to her face, through her body and into her loins. How long had it been since Pam moved out? When was the last time she had gotten laid?

They reached the admissions desk, which appeared to be in total chaos. "Not good. Come this way. We'll try Plan B." Holly held open the stairwell door and they climbed to the next level. Across the hall from the stairs and over three doors to the left, a plaque with Dr. H Graham hung next to the door. Sliding the key into the knob, Holly turned and pushed open the solid oak door, revealing a large comfortable office. Towards the window was a large desk and credenza made from cherry wood. Matching bookshelves housed numerous hardbacks and binders of medical information. Completing the set was a smaller round table with four chairs near the door with the latest AMA Journal in the center. Under the large window were numerous plants that could have been tokens of appreciation from families or patients. Holly walked towards the credenza where a small coffee maker and a pitcher of water were sitting. Along the wall with the bookshelf sat a large chair and a very large cushioned couch which could accommodate the frame of the doctor.

"There is a fax machine behind the wall there. A small bathroom is also in that cubby. Feel free to use the phone and the couch if you desire. If you want coffee, this isn't bad. It taste like heaven compared to the cafeteria slosh. "

"I don't want to put you out." Tracey felt like an intruder in the doctor's personal space.

"Tonight has been tough on everyone. I think my Admission Clerk is about to kill someone so please, I feel much safer with you here." Holly didn't hesitate to let the attractive coach use her private office. In the ten years at the hospital, she never felt compelled to let anyone use her office. Admit it, you think she's cute. Straight, but cute. Holly sighed, knowing her thoughts were true. "Make yourself at home. I think there is a club sandwich in the frig if you are desperately hungry. Sorry, that's all I have to offer." The pager at Holly's hip began to shriek. "Shit." Holly muttered as she looked at the read out. The ER was paging her. "I have to go." Holly gave the coach a wave and headed down the stairs to the sound of an Ambulance entering the bay.

"GSW to the head!" The call from an EMT filled the hallway as soon as Holly hit unit floor.


Chapter 3

Replacing the phone in the cradle, Tracey ran her hands through her hair in frustration. She winced as she hit the tender spot above her right ear. She must have smacked the window pretty hard. What was it her father said, good thing she had such a hard head? Finally she got hold of Andy through Allison. Very grateful she was at Jessup being treated like a Queen, instead of at County where Andy was accused of being a pedophile. The hospital staff raised questions about his relationship with the team. Why he was alone with all the under aged females.

The girls were shaken up for the most part, their injuries were minimal. Michelle's broken leg was the worse injury on the team. She was tucked into her hospital bed in a private suite. Her father, Geoff Stanley was some big wig with the county and was able to get to the hospital despite the roads being closed. From the report she received via Allison, Tabby needed six stitches in her hand and was in extreme pain. Zoey dislocated her shoulder, and they popped it back into place in the ER. Zoey passed out from the pain and was sedated. Tracey's main concern was Zoey. She knew Mrs. Pope was a single mother and worked more than one job. She hoped she could get to the hospital.

The Maryland DOT area closed the highways just after the accident happened. Tracey was thankful they were on I-195 and not I-95. The larger highway was said to be worse than the bypass they were taking on the way home. Parents frantically looked for ways to retrieve their children after finding out they were safe and sound. Most a little bumped and bruised, but for the most part healthy. Except for Carl. She wondered what happened to the bus driver. He was whisked away so quickly from the accident scene. She wasn't sure what hospital he was sent to. She recalled the EMT saying something about the driver being sent to Jessup. She hoped he was doing alright. He didn't seem to be doing well at the scene. His heroic effort saved them from seriously being hurt, the bus could have easily turned over or gone off the road. Maybe she would ask Dr. Graham to see if he was at Jessup.

Dr. Graham had been extremely nice to Tracey. Going out of her way to make sure the coach was taken care of. Tracey smiled for a moment. There was warmth in the doctor's voice and touch that made goose bumps rise on Tracey's arms. Again, she was thankful she was in heaven at Jessup not the hell Andy was going through at County.

After she contacted the parents, Tracey called her mother. The ringing of the line buzzed back in her ear. On the third ring, it was picked up.

"Tracey!" The frantic voice of Ellen Campbell came over through the receiver. "Mom, I'm fine." She felt a wave of dizziness pass over her for a moment. Gripping the edge of the wooden desk she waited for the odd feeling to pass. "A little scratch on the chin, nothing big. Some of the girls weren't so lucky." Tracey went on to describe who was injured and what happened.

"How are you getting home sweetie?" Tracey turned to look out the window. The snow had lightened up but still continued to fall. She really hadn't thought of that. Her car was in the parking lot at the high school with a foot or more of snow on top of it.

"I may see if Piper is on duty. She might be able to swing by in the morning." Tracey eyes went to the couch in the office. It looked comfortable. It was a hell of a lot better than the hard plastic chair Andy was sitting on.

"Well, stay there if you can't get home. Oh, your photo from the yearbook and some of the video from the holiday tournament ran on the news tonight." Tracey cringed. Thinking about the photo. It was not one of her best. One of her friends saw it, started laughing and ask if she flew in on her broom that morning. Her hair was very puffy. Not remembering when the photo was taken, Tracey knew it had to have been a humid day.

Ending the call with her mother, she stood up and went to the credenza. Did she really want to have another cup of coffee? The doctor was right, it was much better than the black liquid from the cafeteria. In her private space, Holly Graham didn't reveal much about herself. A few personal items were scattered about the office. A diploma from the Maryland State Medical School hung on the wall, below it an undergrad degree from Kent State University in Ohio, the university made infamous for the National Guard opening fire on student protesters decades earlier. Tracey ran her hand over the year of graduation. A quick math calculation, she decided that the doctor looked very good for her age.


Nurse Rollins entered the suture room and received a polite smile from Dr. Graham as she stitched up a nervous gang banger's head. "Rollins, can you do me a favor?" Holly batted her soft brown eyes at the older nurse. After ten years, she knew what requests she could get away with from the overbearing woman.

"Have you seen this place?" The response was what she expected but a quick flash of a smile over the kit placed in front of the doctor and patient.

"I've seen it Sandra. Which is why I'm stitching up Mr. Biggy here." With the comment, the young black man flashed his silver grill to the stout nurse. Holly chuckled as the nurse's reaction to the patient's teeth. "I have a special guest using my office. Can you check on them?" Receiving the request to go to Dr. Graham's office, the nurse looked at the doctor as if she was insane. When Holly flashed those big doe eyes at her with a raised eye brow, the nurse dismissed her with a wave of her hand.

"Just so you know I'll do it when I want to do it. Not going to be running your personal errands for you."

"She'll go right up there. Can't stand not knowing what's going on." Holly confided in her patient. "You need to stay out of trouble." She thumped her finger against the wound on the teen's forehead. "You got lucky this time." Holly had treated Biggy on more than one occasion. Dr. Martinez wanted to turn the teen into the police. After the incident in the triage area with the cops, Holly didn't want any more trouble tonight. Biggy was a good kid, just put in a place where his choices were limited. His mom, a crack addict, left Biggy in charge of three siblings. He did his best to keep them together and out of trouble and foster care. Unsure who his father was, he made do with his options. The street was where he made his living doing what he needed to keep a roof over his family's head and food on the table.

Rollins pushed her index finger into the center of the number two button of the elevator. Her white shoe tapped impatiently against the tile. Who would Dr. Graham let use her office? Tonight was crazy but the attending barely used the work space, let alone allowed someone else to use the workspace. When Rollins entered the second floor administration wing, she noted the eerie silence compared to the chaos ensuing every hour on the hour in the ER. Knocking lightly on the wooden door, she stuck her head in to see the guest sitting at the desk with the phone pressed to her ear. Rollins stifled a grin. The woman was attractive. Rollins cleared her throat as the woman leafing through a day planner raised her eyes.

As soon as Rollins laid eyes on the teacher, she understood why Holly offered her the office. Holly was smart as a whip when it came to treating and diagnosing patients. When it came to her personal life, the blonde was lacking in any sense. Pam Farmer was a no good piece of crap who dragged Holly and her name over the coals for the last six months. The no good player was messing with her favorite doctor. She couldn't wait to catch the EMT on the street somewhere. She'd give her a piece of her mind and a good smack to the back of the head.

"Miss?" She waited for the visitor to acknowledge her. "I'm Sandra Rollins." The head nurse watched as the woman naturally smiled a greeting even though she looked as if she had been run through the ringer. "Dr. Graham asked me to check on you. Do you need anything?"

"No, but thank you for asking. I've gotten a hold of all the students' parents and faxed the consent forms to County. Please let Dr. Graham know how grateful I'm for using her office."

"Can't say in the ten years she's been here she 's ever let anyone use her space. Got this office a couple years back when she got the staff slot. Consider yourself lucky Miss?" The question rolled out. Tracey stood and extended her hand in greeting.

"Campbell. Tracey Campbell, I'm the coach of the basketball team that was involved with the bus accident."

Rollins moved further into the room, taking the offered hand. She had been in the office a few times. A handful of pictures and a few personal items were scattered around the office. Sandra moved to the photos lined along the bookshelf. Mostly pictures of the staff and friends of the doctor. She picked up the one of Melanie and Holly at the lake. Both dressed in casual clothes, sunglasses popped on top of Holly's head capturing Mel planting a playful kiss on the doctor's cheek. It was well known that Dr. Graham preferred women. There were a few comments from the staff, but nothing that wasn't squashed once they worked for the well respected physician. "Believe me, I know. My assistant coach is at County on a hard plastic chair next to a payphone." They both started to laugh as Tracey swung the comfortable office chair back and forth in a nervous motion as she stood behind it. Sandra nodded in approval of the spunky woman by Holly's chair. She could see why the doctor offered her office to this woman. Maybe if the cards were right, the doctor would find some luck in her personal life. Tracey took in the information the nurse provided. "Doctor Graham has been working here for ten years? She doesn't appear to be that old." Tracey stopped swinging when she realized the nurse with the ebony hair and toffee skin was studying her.

"She's been here that long. She ain't a spring chicken. That woman knows her stuff. Been with her since the first day she set foot in the ER. All wet behind the ears." Tracey laughed whole heartedly with the vision of the captain of the ER young and vulnerable. She caught the wise gaze of the nurse.

"I find it hard to image Dr. Graham being wet behind the ears." Tracey joined Rollins by the bookshelf. The photo of the doctor with a cute woman kissing her cheek was beautiful. There was a sparkle in her eyes and mischief. She looked happy. Tracey wondered if the woman in the photo was more than just a friend. Her gaydar had begun pinging strongly when she walked into Michelle Stanley's room and saw the striking figure looking at the x-ray.

"Sometimes she still is when it comes to life outside this building." Rollins stated as she set the photo back on the shelf. "Not sure if Doc will get up here tonight. Still seems to be a full night ahead of us. Authorities have shut down the roads and County isn't accepting anymore patients. It's us." Rollins proudly carried the burden of caring for as many patients as possible. They never closed the doors. "You might want to take advantage of the couch. I don't think you're going anywhere for a while."

"Thank you Nurse Rollins." Tracey called after the exiting woman. She picked up the photo and sighed. The doctor, a gorgeous looking woman, was in a relationship. Examining the photo closer, she wondered where it was taken. The background reminded her of the area around Maxie's cottage. Her mother would approve of a doctor. It didn't matter who Tracey dated, Ellen Campbell rarely approved of Tracey's choices in dates. Maybe her mother would actually give a positive reaction if she started to date a doctor. Familiar faces of the staff and the ER area were in most of the photos. An extremely beautiful looking Holly dressed in a formal tight fitting sage colored dress, her arm wrapped around a very dashing looking dark haired man in a tuxedo. The Human Rights Campaign banner hung behind them with a date of two years ago in the lower right hand side of the photo. The man looked familiar but she couldn't place him. She glanced at the red digital numbers of the clock on Dr. Graham's credenza. Eleven thirty. Where had the day gone? She looked at the falling snow and then to the couch. She wouldn't be going anywhere soon.

Tracey slipped off her shoes and lay on the couch. She closed her eyes. The crash flashed into her mind's eye. She sat straight up on the couch. How could she sleep? Were the kids having the same trouble she was? Rubbing her gray eyes she tried again. Pulling her jacket over her chest, she settled on the couch and closed her lids, praying the visions would go away.


The light from the hallway filtered into the dark room as Holly slipped into her office. The digital read out put the day close to sunrise, if the sun decided to show up this morning. Her attention went to the form huddled on the couch. A leather coat covered the teacher like a blanket. Holly cursed, she should have sent a blanket up to the Coach to use. She went to the closet and found a clean lab coat. Crossing to the sleeping figure, she covered the woman with the lightweight coat. It wasn't much but it was better than nothing. Holly pulled her chair out from the desk. Slipping off her tennis shoes, she raised her stocking covered feet to the flat surface of the cherry wood. She closed her eyes and leaned back the high leather office chair and quickly fell asleep.


A scream filled the office, bringing Holly out of her slumber. Disoriented for a moment, she lost her balance in the tipped back office chair, falling flat on her back. "Oomph." A loud squeak escaped from the doctor's lips. The scream had startled her and her knee jerk reaction had her lying on her office floor. Slowly assessing her condition, when she was certain all fingers wiggled correctly and her back was intact, she rolled to her knees. The figure on the coach was rocking back and forth, releasing small sighs as she did so. Holly knew Coach Campbell had been involved in an accident yesterday. By late evening, she realized she had treated the most severe injuries from the bus accident. Tracey and the students came away with minimal injuries. When the cries got louder, Holly scrambled on her knees over to the teacher who was experiencing a bad REM cycle.

"Hey! Ms. Campbell!" Holly sat on the edge of the couch and tugged on the coach's arm. The teacher rolled over, her eyes wide in fear. She flung herself into Holly's arms and her frame was engulfed in Holly's caress. She held the scared woman in her arms, rubbing her hands down her back for comfort. The educator's body shook with fear as Holly whispered words to soothe the nightmares away. Leaning into the arms of the coach, she held the woman's shaking form until the quiet cadence of sleep took over. Sitting there with Tracey in her arms, Holly continued to stroke the span of her back, trying to memorize the soft landscape. Guilt tugged at her conscience, she was enjoying the moment and the feeling of the soft warm body pressed against hers. She pulled back to study the sleeping teacher. A small butterfly bandage was hastily stuck to the chin of her heart shaped face. Her eyes were closed, but Holly could visualize the stormy gray irises. As she settled against the arm rest, Tracey snuggled against her chest, sending an unfamiliar feeling of peace through her body. Holly relished the feeling and relaxed. She fell asleep the instant she closed her eyes.

A distant hum infiltrated the dream state Holly was enjoying, the persistent noise joining the slight vibration against her hip. Coming to her full senses, Holly felt the weight against her chest. A dark headed woman's face was pressed against the swell of her breast. She didn't mind Tracey's presence, but she knew the woman would be embarrassed at their current position. Trying not to wake the sleeping form, Holly lifted her hips slightly to create space. The teacher immediately pulled her back, sliding her thigh between Holly's legs pressing against her core. Jesus! Holly bit her bottom lip. Her libido was in over drive and the attractive woman wrapped around her torso pushing against her was not providing any relief. A gasp must have escaped as Tracey's head lifted as silver eyes bore into Holly's soft brown ones. There was a glimmer in the teacher's eyes that quickly disappeared when she realized where she was positioned and her body was pinning Holly to the cushion.

"Oh? I'm? how?"

"You were having a nightmare last night." Holly shifted as Tracey eased her body off her. "I just came over to make sure you were okay and well, exhaustion took over." Holly stretched her arm, trying to get the circulation back in the limb. Tracey sat up, running both hands through the long dark threads on her scalp. Her eyes went to the window and the light shining through. Her gaze dropped to the overturned office chair behind the desk.

"What happened?" Tracey asked as she turned back towards her seat mate.

"I was sleeping in the chair and you screamed?.last night?this morning. I fell over." Holly felt the rise of heat to her cheeks.

"Are you hurt?"

"Just my pride." Holly ran her hand along her hip, grasping the pager on her side. She yawned and looked at the read out. "I have to make a call." Holly stood up her back popped and snapping in her knees echoed. "I brought you some scrubs to change into if you want." Neatly stacked in the center of the table was a set of sea foam green scrubs.

"What time did you get into the office?"

"Four-ish. Not bad, three hours of sleep." Her eyes looked towards the digital clock. "If I can get home, I have a couple days off coming." Holly crossed to the desk and picked up the phone. "This is Doctor Graham." Holly listened to the voice on the other end. Her eyes went to the figure waking up on her office couch. "Thank you. I'll let her know." She chuckled and set the phone down. "You're a popular person. There is a cop and a parent looking for you. Not sure if you're in trouble or not young lady, but you may want to see who is waiting for you in the lobby." Holly turned to the window taking in the peaks of white that covered the landscape. For once she was appreciative of her gas hog SUV. She turned to Tracey. Would this be it? The teacher obviously had people concerned for her and waiting on her. A couple of hours of cuddling against the teacher would serve as a lasting image in Holly's memory bank.

"Well, if I don't see you, good luck with the season, Coach."

"Oh?" Tracey stood up the white lab coat slipping to the floor. "A...thank you Dr. Graham. You don't know how much this, you have helped me." She bent to pick it up just as Holly reached for it also. Their heads collided, each giving a little groan.

"That was a bad idea." Holly said as she pressed her hand to her forehead. Tracey folded the white coat and handed it to Holly. "I'm glad that you and your team are okay." Taking the coat, she put it in the closet next to the bathroom. "If you need anything, don't hesitate to call." Holly grabbed the stethoscope from the table and went to the office door. "It was very nice to meet you, Tracey."

"Dr. Graham?Holly." Tracey called out to Holly as she started out the door. "We are going to have a couple more games this season if you feel like?" Tracey rolled her eyes, knowing what person in their right mind would enjoy watching a girls' high school game. "Stopping by to watch us play."

"I'll think about it." Holly said as she looked at the teacher's chin. "I wish I had seen this earlier." Holly reached out and touched the wound. "Who ever did this needs to go back to school."

"I did it." Tracey admitted. "It was crazy in the ER and I didn't want to bother anyone with this."

"It wouldn't have been a bother. You may have a scar." Holly pulled a pen light from her pocket. "Sit down." It was an order more than a request. "What aren't you telling me?" Holly directed the brunette to the chair. She took the small light and looked into Tracey's eye for reflexes. She took her hands and ran them along the sides of Tracey's skull. The teacher backed away as Holly hit a tender spot. "You hit your head?"

"On the window." Tracey confessed. She was feeling fine. The dizziness at the accident did not reoccur. "I was a little bit dizzy at the accident but I.."

"Tracey, you should have said something. You could have a slight concussion." Holly chastised her. "Do you have anyone at home?" Holly's face reddened. Her professional concern for the woman's well being could have easily been misunderstood.

"Nope. My folks live in Silver Springs. Got a couple brothers and some friends, but no one at home." Tracey smiled at the doctor teasing her. "What about you?"

"What?" Holly stepped back. She saw the glimmering gray eyes starting at her.

"I was looking at some of your photos and you look good with the red head." Holly looked at the photos on her desk. "I mean, you look happy."

"Oh?" Holly said as she remember the day she and Mel were at Deep Creek camping with a group of friends. "That's Mel. We're good friends. She might be downstairs. I think she worked at your accident last night."

"Carl." Tracey whispered the name of the driver. "The bus driver, he was taken away from the scene first. Do you think you can see what happen with him? He kept the bus on the road." Tracey began to shake thinking about the accident.

"Hey? hey..." Holly wrapped her arms around the emotional teacher. "I'll check on the bus driver. The kids are good. A little roughed up but not anything time won't heal." The warmth from embrace was intoxicating. Her hands ran the length of Tracey's back. What was she doing? This teacher had gotten closer to her in the past twelve hours than anyone ever had. Her heart beat fiercely in her chest. She needed for her brain to start working again. Sleep deprivation paralyzed her brain. In the ten years at Jessup, she never crossed the professional line with a patient. Going against moral and ethical standards could ruin careers and lives. A lesson she learned in a previous life. Yet the attractive woman in her arms made her want to forget the oath she took.

"I'll check for you. On Carl?" Holly disengaged her body from Tracey's with a groan of disappointment when her arm brushed against the coach's breast. "If I don't see you be careful going home. If you get a headache or the dizziness returns, I'd suggest seeing your physician."

The teacher nodded her head. Holly did not want to be a physician at this moment. She wanted to know this beautiful woman sitting in front of her. Their eyes met again. Intense was the only word that Holly could use to describe the feelings she was having.

"You have the most intriguing beautiful eyes I've ever seen?liquid silver." Holly realized she had spoken her thoughts aloud. Tracey blushed and turned away.

"Thank you. Some of the kids say that my eyes are evil looking." She laughed nervously. "I'm glad you don't think that way."

"I'm...not being very professional. I usually don't let patients use my office."

"I'm not your patient." Tracey chimed in.

"That's a fine line." Holly got to her feet. "Why don't you clean up? I'll go see if I can find information on Carl?"

"Parker?mid sixties white."

"I'll leave the information at the admissions desk." Holly pulled Tracey to her feet.

A wave of disappointment rolled over Tracey as she watched the tall blonde leave. She wanted to get to know the beautiful intriguing doctor who had been overly accommodating. Gathering her things, she placed them in a neat pile on the cherry table. Making a quick stop in the small bathroom in the office, she turned on the light and gasped at her appearance. A large yellow-bluish bruise ran along the length of her face, from under her hairline to her jaw. On her chin was a neat sterile strip holding the slice together. Her hair was fussed at every angle and standing on its own in the back. Now I know why she ran. Tracey ran the water, splashing her face and gingerly touching the discoloration. Out of her bag, she grabbed her brush and tried to tame the locks into a presentable style. Fixing the ponytail she wore earlier, she pulled her hair back into a long mane.


Holly found Musah running the administration desk when she ventured back to the ER floor. She waited while he finished up his phone call. When his tired blood shot eyes turned towards her, she offered a comforting smile.

"Going home soon?"

"More like finding a bed here. Power is out at home."

"Any word on the GSW?" She asked.

"He is out of surgery and stable."

"Good. On that note I am out of here." Holly pulled the stethoscope from around her neck.

"Hey Doc." Musah called out before Holly could escape. In his long fingers he held a slim piece of paper. "You got a note."


"I don't like being your messenger service." His smile broadened as he picked up the ringing line. Holly stepped away from the desk and unfolded it slowly. The handwriting was neat and scripted. Holly's chest pounded, she could only hope. Her eyes scanned the name at the bottom.


Go home and get some well deserved rest. I'd like to treat you to dinner.

Call me.


The phone number was written below her name. Holly smiled and suddenly didn't feel quite as tired.


"So what was with the mystery note passing at the hospital?" Yvonne Piper asked as she pulled her police unit down the freshly plowed street. Piper and Geoff Stanley waited for Tracey in the hospital lobby. Piper was taking her home or to her parents. Mr. Stanley ranted about the lawsuit he was filing against the school system for negligence. He spewed about his daughter's health and her college basketball scholarship being in jeopardy. Tracey was the coach and had never been contacted by schools recruiting Michelle.

"I met someone." Tracey repressed the slight giggle. She felt like one of her students.

"No shit." Piper said as she turned the wheel of the cruiser into the police station. She glanced at her passenger. "Any details to share?"

"Please Piper, I froze and have no details to share. I had to leave her a note at the desk. She may not want to call me." Tracey confessed. She didn't have the nerve to be turned down by Holly. If the doctor called, she would know her intuition was right. If not, she wouldn't have to face the rejection. They pulled into a clear spot in the garage, Piper's Jeep Wrangler close by.

"What ever you do, please tell me it wasn't Dr. Graham." Piper said as she got out of the car. The look on Tracey's face said it all. "Shit."


"She doesn't really care for me." Piper didn't want to let Tracey know about the incident in the ER. "She called me Xena."

"Xena?" Tracey raised an eyebrow like she did when her students were misbehaving. "Were you doing something you shouldn't been?"

"I'm a cop. I do what is necessary."

"Right." Tracey had heard one to many stories from Piper of the years to know better. "Where was Darrell?"

"Forging relationships?" Piper smiled at her explanation of her partners actions.

"God help us."


Chapter 4

Holly drove her beat up CRV through the streets and back roads of Baltimore. Most of the roads had been left untouched by the plows. She put the small SUV in four wheel drive and trucked down the alley that ran behind her house. She hit the button for the garage door and pulled through the knee deep snow. Holly had to put a shoulder to the main door to open it against the weight of the snow. Growing up in Ohio, she had seen her share of snowfall. Gripped in her hand was her over night bag, the one she usually carried back and forth between the hospital and home. She made certain no snow fell on it. The last thing she wanted was for the note she left on top to get wet and the numbers run. She did memorize the digits, but she wanted to keep the note.

She struggled through the snow and up her back porch. If one of the Rose boys was around, she'd pay him to shovel the snow off her walks. Stomping her booted feet on the back porch, she opened the door to her house. There wasn't much to the house. The back porch led to a mudroom off the kitchen, the sunken living room ran the length of the house and a small sitting room was in the front of the house. Upstairs had two bedrooms and a bathroom. There was another shower in the basement that creeped Holly out. She bought the house dirt cheap a few years ago from the county as they were trying to revitalize the neighborhood. Her kitchen was a demo from a home show that had been held at the convention center three years ago. A worker from the convention center got a little careless with a nail gun. Holly was stitching him up when he mentioned all the deals on the demos. She got the name of the contact and haggled with the guy over the kitchen. In the end, she landed a gourmet set up at a pauper's price.

Holly grabbed the receiver off the wall mount and dialed the number as she shed her coat and boots. Unwrapping the scarf from her neck she glanced at the clock on the microwave. Ten-thirty, she calculated sleeping time in her head. If she got hold of Tracey, she could see if the teacher wanted to meet around six-thirty for dinner. Her next shift was Wednesday so she had a few days to make up for sleep time. The ringing at the other end went unanswered. Crap. When Tracey's voice chimed in, Holly wanted to play it cool.

"Hi Tracey, this is Holly, umm Doctor Graham. I got your note. That was a very nice surprise. I'm not sure what your schedule is but if you're free this evening, I was going to stop by Johnny's Diner around sixty-thirty seven o'clock tonight. It's the old style silver bullet one off Eutaw Street. I'm pretty bushed so I'm going to catch a nap. If you want to meet up, that would be great. Call if you can't make it. My number is?" Holly rattled her cell phone number off. She hoped the teacher would at least call her back. She checked the thermostat and headed to bed. She silently prayed Tracey would accept her offer.


The small bell above the entrance way chimed as Holly pushed through the door. Pausing a second to allow her senses to take in the familiar sights and smells of the diner. Her mouth began to salivate from the smell of bacon sizzling on the grill. She picked the diner because Johnny's was always open. The owners, Jerome and Patsy Rankle lived next door to the restaurant. Johnny, the restaurant's namesake was Patsy's grandfather. His dream still lived on through the couple. Pasty stood at the formica countertop which ran the length of the kitchen. The older woman's eyes automatically lifted to the door when the bell chimed. The smile that formed on her face was not the practiced smile of a restaurant owner.

"Miss Holly! Visiting your old friends on such a cold evening?" Patsy took Holly into her arms and gave her a full hug. Holly towered over the small elder owner. "It's been too long. You have to stop more often." She started taking Holly's coat off. "Look at you still too skinny. You need to eat more. Put some meat on those bones."

"I missed you too Patsy." Holly said as her coat was hung on a metal hook near the kitchen entrance. In a booth away from the windows, Tracey sat with a steaming cup of coffee sitting on the table in front of her. "I'm meeting a friend." Holly gestured towards Tracey.

"She just got here. She's a cute one." Patsy took Holly's arm in hers. "Not trouble like that last one you had." She and Pam had breakfast once at Johnny's. Pam hated the diner. Holly winked at Patsy as she disengaged her arm from the owner's. She trusted Patsy's judgment. There had been too many days when the woman treated her to a meal when all the poor student could afford was a cup of coffee. Holly remembered almost crying when Pasty placed a plate of pancakes in front of her. She never forgot the owner who made certain she didn't starve.

"Hi." Holly said as she slid into the booth across from Tracey. The bruise on her chin was a deep blue with hints of yellows. "Ouch." Holly pointed to her own chin in reference to Tracey's injury.

"Hi. And yes, it hurts. I'm not kidding." She stated when she saw the smile creeping up on Holly's face. "I'm not taking another one of these for the team."

"How's the head?"

"Are you being a doctor? Because I thought I was meeting a friend?"

"Sorry." Holly held up her hands. "No medical questions will pass over my lips for the rest of the evening."

"Better." Tracey said as she took a sip of coffee. "They do have the best coffee." Tracey stared for a moment. The interaction with the small woman working the register and the tall doctor had her wondering about their relationship. "From the greeting you got, I will assume that you are a frequent customer to this fine establishment."

"I was here a lot during school. I spent many a night in that booth with a pot of coffee and a medical book." Holly pointed to the far booth in the corner. "Patsy is the owner and she looked out for me. I wasn't a punk kid. I never caused any issues."

"How old are you?" Tracey had been wondering the answer all night.

"Thirty five in July. You?"

"Twenty nine. You've been at Jessup for ten years." Holly nodded. Tracey quickly did the math in her head. "How old were you when you became an Chief Resident ?"

"Twenty-eight." Holly watched as Tracey struggled to figure out the years and education. "I finished high school when I was fifteen. There was some crap going on with my family so I didn't start college until I was sixteen. I finished my undergrad in three years and went into medical school."

"You knew you wanted to be a doctor?"

"Pretty much." Holly leaned back as Patsy placed a cup of coffee in front of her. She poured a little into Tracey's cup as a warmer. The menu in front of the women remained untouched. "Give us a couple more minutes." Holly let Patsy know. "Nothing else ever caught my interest. What about you? Always wanted to be a teacher?"

"I didn't at first, but I thought about people who I admired. My teachers were the first people who came to mind. Little pay, little reward, but they continue to do it."

"My dad was a teacher." Holly heard the bitterness in her voice. She didn't realize she still had strong feelings about the profession. It had been a long time since she had talked about her father. She could feel her stomach tighten and her pulse race. She tired to push the memory into the past where it belonged.

"English?" Tracey laughed.

"Mathematics." Holly felt the regret for letting the bit of information about her father slip.

"Is he retired?"

"He's dead." Holly swiped the menu from the table. She hadn't intended to let her emotions get in the way. She hadn't thought about her family in a long time. There was no point in beating a dead horse.

"I'm sorry."

"I'm not." Her harsh tone had gray orbs looking at her strangely. "I was emancipated from my parents when I was fifteen." She explained watching Tracey reaction the declaration. "I don't want to talk about. I don't know why I told you about my dad." Holly was angry for letting the information slip out.

"What's good here?" Tracey said sensing the blonde across the table was not comfortable. She picked up the menu and looked at Holly over the worn and grease stained parchment.

"I'm sorry." Holly sensed Tracey's withdrawal. "Maybe? I'll tell you the story but not today. Ok?"

"I'm gonna hold you to that Dr. Graham. Besides, this doesn't count as dinner. I was hoping I could take you out or cook for you."

"If you are offering a homemade meal, your offer is accepted." Holly pulled Tracey's menu down. "I'm a breakfast person so the French toast is great, but it's the thicker pieces of bread, Texas toast."

"Sounds great." Tracey said as she reached across the table and squeezed Holly's hand. Holly breathed a sigh of relief as warm fingers touched hers. She didn't want to scare Tracey off. This was their first meeting. Patsy took their orders and they continued to talk through their meal.

Two hours later, the women sat at the booth, Patsy stopping by to fill up the ceramic cups. When Tracey motioned to stop, she smiled at the owner. "I'm going to be up all night and I have school tomorrow."

"Maybe you'll get a snow day." Patsy chuckled.

"I wish, or play hooky."

"You did just go through a traumatic accident." Holly teased but she saw the flash of concern fall across Tracey's face. "Are you having troubles?" She thought about the nightmares in her office.

"That is a doctor patient question." She waggled a finger at her companion. "And you are never going to be my doctor."

"Why? She is a great doctor!" Patsy scolded from another table. Holly cringed. She knew Tracey meant that there was a fine line between patient and physician.

"There are lines I will not cross Patsy." Holly smiled at Tracey as she spoke to the nosey woman a couple tables away. "What about your next game?"

"Wow that's going to be ugly. Michelle is out. Zoey is out. There goes two of my starting line up. My back up forward has stitches. I seriously doubt anyone of us wants to set foot on a school bus any time soon. We're going to play but it's not going to be a pretty sight."

"I'd like to see the team play and you coach. I didn't enjoy my high school experience."

"Graduated early." Tracey recalled. "Did you get shoved into a locker?"

"Nope, too tall. Garbage cans are a whole different experience." Holly could laugh now but having tapioca pudding slide down your pants was an experience she would never wish on anyone.

Digging through her purse, Tracey pulled out a small tri-colored schedule, the Bayview Senators mascot printed boldly on one side. A number of dates and times ran along two of the rectangles. Scanning the schedule quickly, Tracey realized they only had a few games left. "There's a game Thursday." She handed the schedule to Holly.

"Not many options left." Holly looked over the dates. She would be working for most of the rest of the games. She glanced at the dates, noting Valentine's Day was a couple weeks away. Maybe she'd see if the teacher wanted to go to dinner on the special day. Get through tonight, she may not like you afterwards, Holly's thoughts rattled through her head. Her not so stellar track record with dating had her thinking negatively. "There is a Tuesday game I can probably get to." The date was over two weeks away but she could probably get out of work by the time the ball was tipped off.

"Let me see." Tracey looked for the date. "Glenn Bernie at home. That will be good." Tracey was a little disappointed she wouldn't see Holly for at least two weeks. Just meeting someone and wanting to get to know them was never really a priority for her. Today after she got Holly's message, she cancelled her plans to stay at her parent's house for dinner. When Ellen questioned who she was going out with, Tracey smiled and shrugged her shoulders. She couldn't remember the last time she cancelled family dinner for a date. Call if you can't make it. Holly had said in her message. Tracey wondered if the doctor was concerned about being stood up.

Next Tuesday, Holly thought. She'd try her best to make the game. For some reason, she wanted to spend more time with Tracey. She had a hard time settling after her shift, she couldn't stop thinking about the teacher. When she finally fell into a deep sleep, she recalled the feel of brunette in her arms. How in the morning, gray eyes danced over her face in slight confusion. Tracey's beautiful face marred by the nasty greenish yellow bruise on her chin close to hers as she fixed the bandage. It had been a long time since a woman caught her attention. Tracey Campbell just didn't catch it, she demanded it. Sitting across from the woman instead of enjoying her company, Holly was thinking about the ten days between. The game seemed a long way off.

"Can I call you?" Holly asked in a teasing manner. She knew Tracey had to work the next morning and didn't want to interfere with her schedule.

"Absolutely." Tracey offered her a quick smile. "I should get going. I have to grade tests and return them to the kids tomorrow. I promised them." A quick glance to the clock on the wall confirmed it was going on nine o'clock. They had been hogging the booth at Johnny's for nearly two hours.

"I got this." Holly said as she grabbed for the check from Patsy. "My invite, my treat." She explained as she pulled her wallet from her back pocket. Taking a few bills out she flipped it over and left it on the table.

"Next time is my treat." Tracey slid from the table. She was dressed in faded jeans and a caramel colored sweater.

"I thought you were going to cook for me?" Holly said as she slid out to stand next to the coach. "I'll take you up on it if the offer still stands."

"It does, but I may be a horrible cook."

"I'll take my chances." They slowly made their way to the coat rack. Holly pulled her Gore-Tex jacket off the hook as Tracey gestured to the leather bomber jacket. Holly helped her put it on and savored the feel of Tracey's shoulders beneath her fingers for a moment. "Thanks for meeting me out."

"Thanks for asking me." Tracey hesitated. She wanted to spend more time with the doctor but tomorrow was a school day. "Do you live in the area?" Holly smirked.


"So close I walked over." Holly explained. "I bought a run down house when the city was selling crack houses at auction. It's about five blocks away."

"Walked on a day like today?" Tracey was surprised that a professional like Holly would even think of walking and lived in a neighborhood like Mt Vernon.

"I didn't always have a car." Holly struggled.

"Let me give you a ride home. I wouldn't feel right letting you walk home."

"Thanks, that would be great." Holly was elated. She could spend a little more time with Tracey. Tracey didn't question why Holly chose to live in the inner city of Baltimore while most professionals fled to the safer suburbs. Very frugal with her money, Holly took the rundown stone front house and completely gutted it. Most of the renovation she had done herself. She hired a contractor for the electrical and plumbing. These areas, she didn't have the time or the knowledge to take on. She knocked down walls and rebuilt framework. The project took close to five years, but the payoff was worth it.

"So your house, is it redone?" Tracey pulled her hair from her jacket collar as she headed towards the door. She stopped suddenly and turned to Patsy. "The food and service was fantastic." She gave a small wave to the owner and headed out the door the bell chiming as she exited.

"I like her." Patsy said as Holly watched the brunette hop into the driver's seat of a red Jeep Cherokee.

"Me too."

"Don't mess it up." Patsy scolded her as Holly followed Tracey's lead and headed to the car parked on the street.

The interior of the Jeep was freezing. Tracey rubbed her hands together as she watched her breath swirl in front of her. Maybe she should have warmed it up. This was not the neighborhood to leave a car running. Her eyes followed Holly through the restaurant door, her jacket not zipped and a smile on her face. She was laughing at something Patsy was saying. Tracey watched as she opened the door and slid her tall frame into the passenger's seat, shutting the door quickly behind her.

"It's cold." Holly cooed as tendrils of breath circulated in the air.

"You should zip up your coat." Tracey said but her eyes were focused on Holly's chest. Her nipple peaked under her Under Armor jersey. Tracey felt the heat rush to her face and her center. Breaking her eyes away, she found Holly studying her in amusement. "You'll catch a cold."

"Yes, doctor." Holly smiled, knowing she had busted Tracey checking her out. It made her feel good. "Remember, I've seen your work before." Holly reached out and touched Tracey's chin. "You hit this pretty good. Wait 'til it starts with the purple and green shades."

"Great, I'll color coordinate my outfits." Tracey put the truck in drive and looked towards Holly. "Which way?" With quick instructions, they traveled the five blocks to Holly's house. Tracey pulled in front.

"Wow, this looks really nice." Tracey said as she took in the beautiful two leveled home. The front porch was large and mostly free from snow. The walk way was shoveled, but blowing snow covered it again. A few scattered lights illuminated the windows throughout the house. She was able to make out some details. The entire front of the house was made out of large sandstone pieces. Six stone steps led to a large oak door with a pewter glass window. The windows on the second floor were of the same design. A large bay window was next to the door, revealing a sitting room with an overstuffed settee and antique table. A number of house plants along window ledge let Tracey know the plants in the doctor's office were more than gifts.

"Do you want a quick tour?" Holly didn't want to push. If Tracey had to get home or felt uncomfortable, she'd let it go.

"Sure, if you don't mind." Tracey reached for her door handle before Holly could answer. Getting out of the car, Holly tried to remember the status of her house. She came right home after her shift this morning and fell asleep. Waking up she went to meet Tracey at Johnny's. She didn't know what she would find.

"No promises on the cleaning. Maid's been off since 2000." Holly tromped up the front steps, happy that her neighbor Joey Rose had shoveled the walk and steps. She quickly opened the multiple locks with her key and opened the door for Tracey to enter. "I have the lights on timers." She turned to a small white panel to push in the security code. "This way it looks like someone is home."

"I love the glass work." Tracey studied the integral craftsmanship. The hardwood floors ran through the entrance way and into the other rooms, another touch that added to the beauty of the house.

"I went to West Virginia to get them from a house they were tearing down. The pewter windows are one of the original home designs. You can't get them at Depot."

"I bet not." Tracey ran her hand over the matching oak staircase. The refinished spindles and railing curled up to the second floor. To the right of the foyer was a dining room with the bay windows and plants. Directly in front of the front door was the staircase, to the left a small hallway led to a sunken in living room with a fireplace. A flat screen television was positioned across from the sectional leather couch. A soft beige Berber carpet covered the floor.

"I like to sit on the floor a lot. Hardwood floors wouldn't work well. This room and the bedrooms upstairs have carpet."

"That big a couch and you'd rather sit on the floor?" Tracey questioned.

"It's a comfort thing." Holly confessed. At one time in her life, she had a chair and table. The chair was so horrible she'd rather sit on the floor. She still did to this day. "Do you want anything to drink?" Holly brushed past her on her way towards the kitchen.

Tracey followed, taking in the details of the crown molding and attention to detail Holly had encompassed in her remodeling. When she took a step up into the kitchen, she was amazed, as if a kitchen from a designer was placed into Holly's home. For someone who didn't cook, this lay-out was a far cry from that. A center island with a five gas burner stove top ran diagonally across the kitchen. A large number of cabinets, along with a pantry, were along the wall. A split window was over the sink with a great view of the backyard. It was a kitchen designed for a chef. "I'd love to have this kitchen." Tracey commented.

"I got a deal on it. There was a home show in town. I made some contacts and I was able to get a deal on it. Doesn't happen often." The look she received made her explain further. "That I get lucky."

"Maybe your luck is changing." Tracy reached out and touched her sleeve. Just as she was about to continue, her cell phone chirped loudly. Stepping back a few paces, Tracey looked at her phone. She smiled and lifted the phone to her ear. "Hey there. I see you survived." Tracey saw Andy's name on the LCD.

"God I wish I would have went to Jessup and you got stuck at County." Andy whined. "I didn't get home until one and I just crashed."

"Allison called to let me know you made it home and to give me an update on the kids."

"Yeah, she said that. Everyone is good from what I know. It took Mrs. Pope a while to get in to the hospital. She finally made it. I didn't get a call from her so I will assume Zoey is okay."

"Good to hear. I was worried about her. So what's up?" She leaned against the kitchen counter as Holly opened the refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water.

Holly held the bottle up as if to ask Tracey if she wanted some. Tracey signaled her to wait a moment. Listening to the person on the other end of the line, she shook her head. The conversation was brief and when it ended Tracey looked like the cat that swallowed the canary.

"What is it?"

"Do you have any wine?" Tracey asked as she moved closer. Holly visible gulped as Tracey's fingers touched her forearm. "It seems that school is canceled due to inclement weather tomorrow."

Taking a few seconds to realize what the teacher said. Holly put the water back and grabbed a bottle of Pinot Grigio. On the counter she had a nice Merlot resting. "Red or white?" Holly asked as she held the bottles in each hand. Tracey took the bottle of white an examined the label. She did the same with the red.

"Isn't that a Billy Joel song? Bottle of Red, Bottle of White?'

"I think it's a line from a song." Holly watched as Tracey put the white back in the subzero refrigerator.

"Red is good." She said as she handed the bottle to Holly. "You need help?" She asked as she took in Holly's shaking hands.

"How about you pour and I'll get the fire started." Holly put the corkscrew and glasses on the counter. She touched Tracey's shoulder with her hand. She liked this. Instead of saying goodnight, they had the rest of the evening together. "If you want me to pull your car into the driveway, I can. It's around back and a little tricky to find."

"Could you? That thing is finally paid off and if something happens to it..." Tracey confided. She held out the keys to Holly. Their fingers touched sending a jolt of electricity through them. Holly couldn't hold back the smile.

"What are you smiling at?" Tracey asked her.

"You." Holly moved closer and wrapped her arms around Tracey's waist. Holly was lusting after the gorgeous woman who stood in her kitchen and needed to get her libido in check. She wrapped her arms loosely around Tracey's waist. "Thank you for coming to dinner with me."

Feeling Tracey's arms come around her waist, Holly lifted her hand to touch her face. Her fingers traced along Tracey's jaw line to her lips. She looked for any hesitation from the teacher before she leaned in, replacing her fingers with her lips. A soft slow exploration began as their lips touched. They looked for their bearing in this new sensation. The kiss started slowly. Holly felt Tracey move closer and push her thigh between the vee of her legs. She wanted this. When mouths opened, sharing of a long, languorous kiss, Holly stepped back, breaking the spell. Her heart pounded against her chest as she tried to settle down. She didn't want to overplay her cards. This was their first date, if it was a date. Tracey's eyes were filled with question and concern. If just looking into those silver irises could set her heart pounding, Holly could only image what it would be like to touch Tracey.

"I'll start the fire and move your car." Holly stammered as she let her fingers touch Tracey's. Giving them a quick squeeze, she retreated to the living room to light the gas fireplace. A flick of the switch and blue and white flames engulfed the hearth. Slipping on her coat, she stepped on to the porch, letting the winter weather cool her body temperature. Shoving her hands in her coat pockets, she ran down the front steps to the truck. Knocking her knees on the steering wheel, she cursed as she slid the seat back. She'd have to remember to move the seat back if she ever drove Tracey's truck again. The truck rolled down the road and around the corner. Holly took the sharp turn carefully as she maneuvered the Jeep down the access road to her driveway and garage. Pulling the Jeep as close to the house as she could, she tried to mirror her steps in the snow from this morning's trek from the garage to the house. The foot steps she had made earlier were filled with fresh snow. Maybe she should send Tracey home, before the weather turned again. If not, maybe the teacher would be stuck overnight. Holly preferred the second thought.

The backdoor led into a mudroom off the kitchen. Slipping her snow covered boots off, Holly hung her jacket up and ventured into the kitchen. The wine cork was sitting on the counter top. She set Tracey's keys down on the table. She heard the soft sounds of music coming from the living room stereo. Walking with stocking feet across the kitchen tile and into the living room, Holly leaned against the door jam and watched Tracey looking through her CDs.

"Truck's moved." Holly said as she watched Tracey jump from the sound of her voice. "Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."

"It's okay, I didn't hear you come in." Tracey held a few CDs in her hands, an assortment of music. "I hope you don't mind." She held the disks in her hand.

"Not at all." She liked the fact Tracey had put on All my Life by K-Ci and Jo-Jo. The mood was set, a little romantic music, wine, a fire and a beautiful woman. Holly was living out a fantasy. She hoped this time Rollins would not be shaking her awake.

"Would you like to dance?" Tracey asked as a slower song was starting to play. Tracey was on her feet reaching for Holly's hand before she could answer. They held each other close in the center of the living room, moving slowly to the music, their clasped hands held high close to Holly's shoulder. Holly held on lightly at Tracey's waist. Tracey rested a hand on Holly's back.

"This is nice. I've never danced in my living room before."

"At my parents, my mom made my brothers dance with me for practice. I never got too lead."

"Do you want too?

"Not tonight, maybe another time." Tracey leaned in and pressed her cheek to against Holly's shoulder. "You're ?" Tracey didn't finish her thought, instead she turned her head and kissed Holly's shoulder. The music continued as they swayed back and forth. Holly's hand moved to the small of Tracey's back, making small circles. She liked the feel of this woman in her arms. "You have to be exhausted." Tracey murmured as she stroked a hand down Holly's back. She pulled back just a little to look at Holly.

Holly stroked her hair lightly, then leaned towards Tracey placing a small kiss on her waiting lips.

"I'm okay." She pulled Tracey closer and continued to speak. "I've seen thousands of patients and I'm really glad you weren't one. I'll always remember this storm. The shift you came into my ER. I'm so glad you came to Jessup."

"Eighteen hours ago I was going through the worse day in my life. My team was in an accident. My best player broke her leg. Carl was badly hurt. Now I think that everything was meant to happen."

Slow down, slow down, Holly repeated in her head. Holly placed her hands on Tracey's waist. The teacher's arms went around her neck. They held tight to one another staring into each other's eyes.

"This has never happened to me before." Tracey whispered. "You are making it very hard for me." She leaned forward and buried her face in Holly's neck. Holly held her tighter, savoring Tracey's perfume. Dancing silently until the song ended. Holly couldn't hold back the smile when Tracey leaned in on tip toes and kissed her. Holly twined her fingers with Tracey's and led her to the couch. The fire was giving off a little heat but for all purposes, it was for decoration. They sat in the corner of the couch with the best view of the fireplace. The bluish flames licked at the protective metal curtain. Holly basked in the warmth of Tracey curdled up next to her. Their fingers still meshed together.

"Any ex-girlfriends or boyfriends I should be aware of?" Holly asked as she pulled her hand free and wrapped it around Tracey's shoulders.

"A few girlfriends. Never had a boyfriend. I've been out since I was fourteen, at least to myself. I broke the news to my mom when I was sixteen. My dad a year later."

"That's pretty early to know."

"That's how I felt. It's how I've always felt. We were living in Jacksonville, Florida just off base. My dad was stationed there for a couple of years. When he was transferred to DC, I was crushed."

"A girl."

"Yes, a very pretty Latino girl with big brown eyes and a great smile. She was pretty stacked too as I think about it."

"You like 'em stacked?"

"No, I like brown eyes. Soulful gentle brown eyes." Tracey leaned forward and grabbed the wine glass off the table. She handed one to Holly and picked up the other. "A toast."


"New friendships."

"I like that." Holly smiled as she lifted her glass to her lips. She liked the feel of Tracey's warmth next to her.

Tracey clinked her glass against Holly's, grateful to the storm for not having to work tomorrow. There would be no way she could sleep tonight. She was wound like a top, feeling bold and brazen. It had been such a long time since she even found anyone she was attracted to. Here sitting next to her was this wonderful sweet woman who had been nothing but nice to her in the midst of chaos. She thought Holly was attractive yesterday while panic and hysteria were all around them. Sitting next to the doctor, she realized it wasn't just Holly's looks that attracted her. There was a strength and confidence the doctor conveyed at the hospital. Never once with all the activities around her did she loose her cool. From their conversation, she knew there was a bit of unrest regarding the doctor's family. Tracey wondered what could have happened to cause Holly to separate from her parents at such an early age.

"What about you? Any skeletons in your closet?"

"There are a few. As for ex-girlfriends, I got out of a semi-serious relationship last summer."

"What happened?"

"I caught her in bed with a woman."


"At least it was the guest room." Holly shrugged her shoulders. There wasn't much she could do about Pam. "I had a stalker at work for awhile. It wasn't very pleasant. I had to file a complaint against her."

"You worked with her?"

"She was a floor nurse." Holly felt Tracey relax a little bit more as the fire and closeness of bodies made a cozy environment.

They sat for a while in the stillness, only an occasional noise from the fireplace or the snow falling from the roof breaking the silence. Tracey moved so that her head was resting on Holly's shoulder. Wrapped in the warmth of each other's arms, they enjoyed the moment. There was no hustle and bustle of the ER. No pages or phones ringing, just two women enjoying each other's company.

"Do you have plans for your snow day tomorrow?" Holly asked quietly, her cheek resting on Tracey's head.

"One hundred and thirty tests to grade. If I am here tonight, I know I can get work done tomorrow afternoon. I'm having dinner at my parents' tomorrow night." She sat up a little, looking into Holly's eyes. "You're welcome to come over for dinner. One more person is not a big deal."

Holly felt the color fade from her face. This was only their first pseudo date and she was being invited to meet the family, she didn't know what to do. She shifted uncomfortably on the couch, she could feel the beads of sweat forming on her forehead and upper lips. Her stomach rolled as she debated the possibility of meeting Tracey's parents.

"You can pass." Tracey rescued Holly from her on-going internal debate. "Some days I don't even want to go."

"Maybe another time." Holly breathed a sigh of relief. She wanted to get to know Tracey a little more before she was put up for examination by her family.

"You were freaking out." She heard the laugher in Tracey's voice as she felt the brunette's body move with small chuckles.

"If there is one thing I know, we have a big difference of opinion on family." The doctor commented.

"I like mine. You don't like yours." Tracey said in a matter of fact tone. Sensing that Holly would rather not talk further about the family issue, Tracey let it drop. There was no hiding that for Holly to emancipate from her parents, she didn't have the best family life. She emancipated herself, yet her father was dead. Tracey wouldn't push the issue. If Holly wanted to tell her, she would. Pulling her fingers loose from Holly's hand Tracey stood up. Shocked brown eyes looked up at her.

"Are you leaving?" The disappointment of the night ending could be heard in Holly's voice.

"I like you." Tracey leaned towards the doctor and let her lips brush over Holly's. Holly placed a hand at the back of her neck and pulled her closer, increasing the intensity of the kiss as she did. Tracey placed her hands on Holly's thighs so she would not tumble onto the blonde. Tongues danced and Tracey could feel her knees starting to sway. Pulling away breathless, Tracey found her voice. "If I stay, we will continue what we were just doing." She touched her hand to Holly face. The doctor pressed her cheek into her palm.

"I know." The soft sexy voice responded.

"I'm not ready." Tracey gave her a weak smile. "I hope you understand."

"Oh." The single word reply had Holly back on her haunches. Tracey was being completely and brutally honest with her. She didn't share herself lightly. Holly felt her chest constrict for a moment. She saw the far off stare Tracey was giving her. She was going to blow any chance she had with her. "I understand. I mean. I do understand." She was crushed by Tracey's decision. Yet, she didn't want to just have a quick roll in the bed with the teacher. She wanted more than just one date with a fast sex and loads of regret the next day.

"You do?" Tracey met her gaze again.

"I do." Holly knew Tracey was right. It would be better for them if they took some time to get to know each other. The last thing she wanted was regrets. "I'd like to see you before Tuesday. If you want to, that is."

"I'd like that." Tracey stepped back as Holly got her feet. "I can call after dinner at my parents."

"Sounds good." Holly said as she watched Tracey get ready for the ride home. She stood at the open back door, not caring if the heat escaped into the January night. She wanted to make sure Tracey was able to get the Jeep out and be on her way. When the brunette lifted her hand and waved goodbye, Holly mirrored the action. Tuesday was a long way off.


Chapter 5

The sun peeked out from the late January skies. Holly leaned her tall form against the brick wall of the hospital. She had her arms wrapped across her chest as the lab coat she had on did not protect her from the elements. A smile crept across her face as Mel Watkins approached with two tall Styrofoam cups in hand. "If that is a caffe latte from the Grinder, I will marry you right now!" Holly said as Mel held up two cups.

"Promises, promises. You're too picky and you're not my type." Mel said as she handed her one of the cups. She had just come in on a run. She took the bus to Grinders while her partner filled out paperwork. "Besides, there are millions of women who have yet to have an opportunity with me." Mel put a hand behind her stocking covered head and struck a pose worthy of Madonna. Holly laughed as she tipped back the cup and took a sip. "What are you doing tonight?"

"I'm going to a basketball game." Holly looked up at the cool gray skies of winter. She had a long day ahead of her. Tonight she was looking forward to seeing Tracey.

"U of M?" Mel asked wondering if the University of Maryland had a game tonight. She usually followed the women's sports but couldn't remember.

"No, Bayview High School." Holly explained. She watched the confusion look sweep across Mel's face. Bayview was a small community outside Baltimore County near the shore of the Chesapeake Bay.

"Why the hell are you going to a high school basketball game?" Mel leaned her backside against the wall next to Holly. There was a gleam in her friends brown eyes. Mel met Holly a few years ago when she started working as an EMT for the city. They became friends after Mel had an extremely difficult case and lost her first patient on a run. A motor vehicle accident pinned a young woman about Mel's age against a cement pylon of a bridge. The woman was awake at the scene and spoke her last words to Mel, the EMT heard the fear in the woman's voice but promised her she would live. The victim died during transport. The small woman lost her composure and disappeared. Holly found Mel huddled in a fetal position in a supply closet, crying. She let the new EMT cry out her frustration, they went out later that week and Mel got shit faced. Since then the two women had been best friends. Holly was invited to a number of functions with the Watkins family.

"Do you remember the bus accident?" Holly asked the shorter woman standing next to her. Mel nodded and took a drink of her latte. "The coach invited me to a game."

"The coach." Mel nodded. "Is she cute?"

"God, yes. She's gorgeous."

"Good for you. Is she PLU?" Mel's code for "people like us" was a way to convey a person's sexuality without creating a stir in public.

"Yes, she came over last Sunday."

"Really? Did you go to church together?" Mel suppressed her smile.

"No, we met for dinner at Johnny's."



"What did Patsy say about her?" Mel asked knowing the owner of Johnny's had a soft spot for the doctor. Patsy treated Holly like a daughter. Mel knew Pasty hated Pam and gave Mel an ear full. Mel warned Holly about Pam, but her extremely intelligent friend was clueless with matters of the heart.

"Said she was better than Pam, I think she liked her." Holly thought about how Pasty complimented Tracey as she left the dinner. She recalled the feel of Tracey's hand on her arm. Her lips on her mouth, the way she tasted. Holly felt her core stir with desire. Tracey had put on the brakes, stopped the heavy petting session and walked away. Although Holly was frustrated, she still was frustrated, she respected Tracey and her decision.

"A felon would've been better than Pam. Is she a felon? God I hate that woman. What the hell were you thinking?"

"Who knows? I think it was lack of sex."

"And this coach?"

Holly let her thoughts drift to Tracey. A week ago she was sitting on her couch making out with Tracey like a teenager. Tonight would be the first time she would actually see the teacher. There had been a few telephone calls but with her schedule and Tracey's coaching schedule, they had only spoken twice. "She's a teacher." Holly said.

Mel immediately spewed her coffee across the snow covered pavement. "What?" Mel wiped her face with a glove covered hand. "A teacher! Are you kidding me?" Her face and voice was full of surprise.

"What's the big deal?" Holly was irritated by Mel's reaction. Mel knew about her parents. . About her father, Don, being accused of being inappropriate with a student and his suicide just before the trial started. How her mother, Rita, dumped the family and transferred to a bank in Chicago. Holly was fifteen when her life fell apart. If it wasn't for Jordan Norwood, she probably would have lost it. Instead, she picked herself up and forged on. She never looked back. Not even when Don committed suicide. Four years ago, Rita walked into the ER. Holly gave her the once over and walked away. When Rita ran after her, Holly told Rollins to call for security. She disappeared into a restricted area leaving her mother to stare at a closed door.

"Your dad?I mean you." Mel stopped for a moment to formulate the correct response. "Holly, your dad was a teacher and if you're interested in a teacher, it may bring some unresolved issues."

"My dad?" Holly looked at her best friend, confused. "What the hell does he have to do with Tracey?"

"Tracey?" Mel nodded her head at the teacher's name. "Nothing really, I just don't want to see you hurt."

"Mel, my dad was accused of fucking around with one of his students. Somehow I don't think Tracey has to deal with anything like that." Holly recalled Tracey backing away from her. Her stance on sleeping together was very clear. Holly didn't fault the brunette. If Tracey wanted to wait, she would wait. Jesus, it wasn't as if they actually had a date. Not every lesbian needed to fall into the sack on the first date.

"I just worry about you." Mel said as she gave Holly a light punch on the arm. "Oh my!" Mel whistled through her teeth at the tall blonde police officer walking towards the entrance.

"Oh great, trouble." Holly mumbled at the cop who roughed up the suspect in custody in the ER. "Officer." Holly greeted the blonde.

"Doctor Graham." Yvonne Piper met the brown eyes of the doctor, then shifted her gaze to the smaller EMT with expressive hazel eyes. There was a small upturn in the EMT's mouth.

"No trouble today." Holly warned the cop as she passed. The blonde nodded and turned her back to the entrance as the doors slid open.

"On my best behavior." The officer saluted the pair and walked into the ER.

"My heart be still." Mel placed her free hand over her heart and closed her eyes as she leaned her head against the wall.

"Oh no. That one is nothing but trouble. I caught her and her cohort slamming a guy against the glass." Holly recalled confronting the police officers. "I called her Xena."

"She doesn't look like Xena. D'Anna Biers..yeah."

"Who the hell is D'Anna Biers?"

"Number Three on Battlestar Galactica. You know Lucy Lawless, Sci-Fi channel."

"You watch too much TV."

"See what happens when your sister works for the cable company? I can't help it we get every channel under the sun."

"I don't have a sister." Holly stated. She had gone out with the Watkins sisters on more than one occasion. Mel lived with her older sister, Michelle. "When is the wedding?"

"July. There was no way Michelle was going to have another June wedding."

"Number three." Holly smirked as her beeper went off. "Shit. I've got to go. Thanks for the coffee." Holly headed for the doors.

"Number Three went inside. His name is Beau."


"It's a southern thing. They say third time is the charm." Mel said as she waved to the blonde disappearing through the doors. She waited a few minutes before going into the ER in search of her partner John. She hoped Holly was okay with the teacher. She was just happy to see her friend interested and dated someone other than Farmer. Throwing her cup in the trash container, Mel went in the hospital in search of John, but keeping an eye out for the infamous Number Three.


The clock on the wall had moved less than five minutes since her last glance. Tracey craned her neck towards the windows of her class room. This was the longest day of her teaching career. She glanced around the room at the students who were busy working on the Genetics test. She could see the panic as some students read over the questions. She knew number three would have some of them scratching their heads. She watched as Michelle Stanley tried to sneak a peak at her neighbor's paper. Tracey cleared her throat and watched as the teen shot her eyes back towards her paper. Since the accident, Tracey had noticed Michelle and Zoey Pope stopped talking to each other. Zoey, on the other hand, was working through the problems and started on the backside. The two teens were complete opposites, so it didn't surprise Tracey that their friendship didn't last. Michelle was the daughter of a prominent county official and Zoey was raised by a single parent. Michelle could afford to go to any college she got accepted to. Zoey, on the other hand, had the grades to get into the school of her choice. The financial aspect would be the only thing holding the little blonde with the pixie hair cut back. Tracey knew Sophie Pope. The single mother worked hard, holding down two full time jobs in order to make a good life for her daughter. Zoey worked part-time at the pizza shop a few blocks away from Tracey's apartment.

She wished this day would finish. She was as nervous as a bride on her wedding day. Tonight, Holly would be at the game. She didn't know why she felt the flutter of butterflies in her stomach. This was the first time she had a potential girlfriend come to one of her games. The abrupt way she left Holly could have the doctor running the other way. They were both adults, but if Holly was looking for something quick and easy, she better look elsewhere. Tracey had many admirers through high school and college. She learned quickly that most of her dates wanted to get into her pants as quick as possible. They weren't interested in her. She was a conquest for them. Tracey preferred the old fashioned slow and steady courting period. Her relationships were always kept at arms' length until she was ready to move to the next level. Holly was the first person she was interested enough in to bridge the personal and professional gap. Inviting the doctor to the school and game was a big step for Tracey. Holly was the first women she wanted her parents to meet, her brothers to accept, and the idea of the not having the blonde in her life was driving her crazy. Normally, she wasn't an insecure individual. She knew she was a confident, well adjusted person. Her personal life never was that important. She had women she dated. No one ever evoked the intense feelings Holly did. Ten days ago, she met Holly. She slept in her arms on Saturday night and returned to those arms the next day. She felt safe and secure in Holly's arms. An hour had not gone by where her thoughts didn't drift to the tall blonde doctor. She prayed Holly would show up tonight, she needed to see her. They spoke on the phone and the memories of being held were imbedded in her brain. She knew she would have to face the consequences of walking out last Sunday. She wondered what would have happened if she had thrown her old fashioned ways out the window and spent the night with Holly. Her conscience would be riddled with thoughts of what Holly would think of her the next day. Was she being a slut? Did she really like Holly, or was it the title of doctor that grabbed her attention. Instead, she drove home and woke up alone in her apartment to a snow covered landscape and tests to grade.

Her personal life was limited to her family and a few friends she had made while living in Maryland. Being part of a naval family, Tracey quickly learned not to get attached to people. Every four to six years, the family pulled up and moved to the next base. From Bangor to San Diego, Tracey had lived on every waterfront the US offered. The stint her father, Frank, did in Italy was without the family. Her mother, Emily, refused to have the children overseas. Instead the family stayed in Jacksonville, Florida so her brother David could finish high school. Emily put her foot down when it came to bringing up the children. The final stop for the Campbell children was Maryland. Frank had a position at the Pentagon and worked at Annapolis for a period of time. Chris, Tom and Tracey were able to go to high school in Bowie, Maryland. David enrolled at Florida State University. Chris quickly joined his older brother in Tallahassee when he graduated. Tracey and Tommy were a year apart and went on to attend University of Maryland. Tracey had a basketball scholarship as a Terrapin. There were a few out of state schools who were extremely interested in having her attend. Traveling for most of her childhood, she wanted to stay in Maryland and be close to her family.

Her family was such an important part of who she was. She loved them. She couldn't image being on her own at sixteen. She looked at the faces of her students. She doubted any of them could ever survive in the world without the support of their families. Yet Holly spoke of having no support and being emancipated from her parents at fifteen.

The doctor had found her way. Tracey wondered how smart Holly was. To graduate from college by the time most students were entering university. Holly was accepted into a prestigious medical program when she was nineteen and finished with her residency by the time she was in her mid twenties. Tracey recalled her mid twenties and how school was not her first priority. Her grades dropped during a semester and she was placed on academic warning. One look from Frank was all she needed. She stopped the late night social hour and found the library as a source to assist in her study time. Every weekend she went to her parents' for coffee or a meal. This last week she and Frank went to lunch at Gunning's and watched a basketball game. Holly had no family. No one she was close with. Pasty at Johnny's kept a watchful eye out for her and the nurse at the hospital seemed protective of the doctor. Somehow Tracey doubted Holly was the cause behind the separation from her parents. She would have to wait for Holly to feel comfortable enough to tell the story. She just hoped the doctor would tell her one day.

Her eyes dashed to the clock on the wall. "Ten minutes folks." Groans from the seniors filled the air. "Eyes on your own papers." Tracey said with a smile as she watched Cole Hanson try to look at Zoey's test. The handsome football player was shot down by the girl. Tracey laughed, the boy was clueless. "Problems Mr. Hanson?" "No Ms. Campbell." He mumbled as he scribbled an answer in the blank space.



Nine days, over two hundred and sixteen some hours. Holly thought as she pulled her six year old Honda CRV into the parking lot at Bayview High School. Time dragged by and it felt like forever since she had spoke to or saw Tracey . On her back porch a week ago Sunday, she waved goodbye to the teacher. Since then, there had been multiple phone calls but each time they missed each other. She fit the car comfortably between two large piles of plowed snow. She was late. A common theme in her life, but she really wanted to get to the game on time. A MVA just as she was ready to sign out for the night delayed her leaving by two and half hours. She glanced at her watch. Hopefully she would be able to watch most of the second half. She couldn't wait to see Tracey. There was a roar from the gymnasium as she entered the school building. An elderly gentleman was doing double duty of watching the entrance and the game. He stood at the open door watching the blue uniformed players put up a three pointer.

"I'm a little late." Holly confessed as she reached in her back jeans pocket for her wallet. She had on a vest with a red University of Maryland hooded sweatshirt under it. Her jeans were stone washed denim with a little bit of fray at the knees, inseams and cuffs.

"They're not doing too good. The wreck banged them up pretty good." The man said as he flip opened the small metal money box.

"I know I was one of the treating physicians." Tracey handed him a couple of ones.

"You're Dr. Graham?" Holly nodded. "Coach Campbell has you on the guest list. Go on in." He refused her money. His sharp tipped pen making a check mark next to Holly's name.

"Thank you."

"No. Thank you." The man said as Holly made her way into the gym. The florescent overhead lights glowed on the shiny hard wood floor. The brightness of the wide open area caused Holly to pause for a moment to let her eyes adjust. In the center of the floor, the Bayview Senator stood ready to do battle. The man's green and black robe danced under the glaring lights.

Standing to the side of the walkway for a moment, Holly tried to find the best spot to settle into without disturbing the game or the fans. Looking across the playing floor, she watched as Tracey paced the sidelines. The coach was yelling directions to her players as she tracked back and forth in front of her bench. At the end of the Bayview bench sat a number of players dressed in street clothes. Sitting closest to the action, Holly recognized Michelle Stanley. Her leg elevated on a chair, a large cast covered most of her leg as a pair of cut off pants covered her other leg. A smaller freckle faced girl sat near the end, an ace bandage wrapped her forearm. At the end of the bench sat a blonde with a sling holding her left arm in place. They were a very lucky group of young ladies. The accident could have seriously injured any of them. School buses were not designed with the safety of the students in mind. The bruise on Tracey's chin was still visible, but it looked as if the coach had tried covered it with makeup. There was still a brownish yellow tinge to her skin. The ugly mark did not deter from Tracey's beauty. Tonight, she was dressed in a navy blue skirt suit with a shiny silver blouse under it. Her three inch navy pumps clacked against the hardwood as she started to pace again.

On the bench, a man with a buzz cut reached out and touched her arm. The coach stopped pacing and leaned over to listen to what the assistant was telling her. He showed her a diagram on his board. Tracey nodded in agreement and turned to call the play to her point guard. After receiving the acknowledgement from her player, Tracey let her eyes wander towards the entrance to the gym. She flashed Holly a quick smile before she was back to business. If Holly hadn't been watching the coach closely, she would have never noticed the smile. She felt her insides warm. If the brunette could do that with a quick smile, Holly knew she was falling quick and hard. Just as Tracey had turned away, Michelle Stanley shot a look towards the entrance. Holly saw the teenager's cold steely stare boring through her. The girl had some issues. The blonde with the sling looked towards the entrance, although her gaze was more out of curiosity. She scanned the crowd, her eyes stopping on Holly for a little while, then moved on. The blonde did not have the same negative reaction to the doctor's presence.

Feeling a bit uncomfortable standing in the open, Holly ventured into the stands. The fans from both sides cheered for their respective teams, Holly moved to an area free from crowd. She climbed a little higher in the stands and sat down near a lone woman who occasionally rooted for Bayview. Holly sat down in the same row a few seats away. She pulled her hair free of her collar, checking the dampness. In her haste to get to the game, she did a quick towel dry for her hair after her shower. She ran her hand through the damp locks and looked at the scoreboard. She made it half way through the third period. She was late, but she didn't miss the game. She wasn't going to miss the chance to see the coach either.

Bayview was down by ten and by the way Tracey was waving her hands, she was frustrated by her teams' play. Just as the opposing team was about to launch a three pointer, a player from Bayview stole the ball and ran the floor to an open basket. The player threw up a lay-up which hit the bottom of the rim and ricocheted out of bounds. The crowd groaned in disappointment.

"It's okay Jill!" The woman near Holly yelled to the teenager who stood with her head bowed.

"Tough miss." Holly said aloud.

"She hasn't played much. With the accident, she is getting more time."

"How many were hurt?" Holly tried to recall how many of the students she treated, but there were so many patients in and out of the ER that night, they all blended.

"Michelle and Carl were the worse. I think about six were hurt in some serious manner. That's not including Coach Campbell. She said she didn't want anyone to bother with her."

"I tried to fix her chin but it was almost twelve hours later and her patch job was. Let's just say, she better stick to teaching."

"You're Dr. Graham?" The woman scooted closer as Holly nodded. "I'm Allison Morgan, Andy's wife." The woman extended her hand and Holly shook it. "Thank you taking care of Tracey. She was in Club Med compared to Andy's treatment at County."

"It was a pretty crazy day at all the hospitals. I'm sure they did everything they could at County."

"That is so politically correct." Allison let a small laugh out.

"Thank you." Holly knew she went out of her way to make certain Tracey was taken care of. A plastic chair pulled up to a pay phone would have been most people's options at any hospital.

"I heard Carl was recovering nicely. His wife Millie is waiting on him hand and foot. I told Andy not to get any ideas." She stopped mid-thought as a foul was called on a Bayview player. "Shoot, that's her fourth." Allison commented about the player. She put her elbow on her knee and fisted her hand against her chin. "Oh, Molly's going to have to go in. She's a freshman they brought up to varsity to help out."

"At least she can get some experience."

"You're very politically correct." Allison chuckled.

"Guilty." Holly smiled. "Too many years dealing with hospital bureaucrats."

"It was nice of you to come to the game." Allison kept her eyes on the movement on the floor. Andy made a comment earlier about Tracey being fidgety before the game. He said he chalked it up to the first game after the accident. Allison was betting the coach's nerves had something to do with the blonde sitting next to her. She smiled when Andy stuck his head up over the crowd to smile at her. She still got the tight feeling in her stomach when he looked at her. She played with the diamond on her left ring finger. She landed a great guy.

"Did you know Tracey before the accident?" Allison tried to engage the doctor in conversation.

"We met at the hospital." Holly eyed the woman with the Bayview jacket on. "We hit it off right away. Some times traumas connect people."

"Tell me about it. My parents met at a fire."

"Was anyone hurt?" Holly looked a bit shocked.

"I think the steaks my mom was cooking were lost. She was cooking dinner for her boyfriend and set the kitchen on fire. My dad was a fireman on the call. He does all the cooking, needless to say." Allison saw the doctor chuckling at her story.

"You're joking."

"God no, my mother is not allow near the kitchen. All the men cook in my family. My brother, Simone is head chef at Tuxedo's."

"Really, I've always wanted to go to dinner there." Holly thought about the trendy Baltimore restaurant near the inner harbor. Tuxedo's was the hottest place in town. Reservations were impossible.

"Let me know, I'll get you in. He's my little brother, I still have some pull with him." Allison teased.

"Seriously?" Holly felt her heart speed up just a bit. If she could pull off a reservation at Tuxedo's on Valentine's Day, she knew she would impress Tracey. "I'll keep it in mind." Holly said just as a loud horn sounded. The clock was glowing with zeros across the board.

"That's game." Allison stood. "Very nice to meet you Dr. Graham, hope to see you again."

"It's Holly and it was nice to meet you too." Holly said as she watched Allison start to walk towards her husband.

"Come with me. This way we can catch the coaches before they go into the locker room." Allison stopped at the bottom of the stands watching the teams and coaches exchange handshakes. Holly stood next to Allison as the team exchanged pleasantries after the game. Michelle stood at the end of the line, slapping hands with the other team. The girl with the sling smiled and spoke quietly with the other team as she used her good hand to shake. When the injured players came towards the locker room, Holly tried not to react as the girl on crutches looked her up and down. The hard look Michelle threw her way made Holly's defenses go up. The pure hatred of those green eyes on her made Holly wonder what issues the teen was dealing with. The small blonde behind Michelle gave her a smirk. Tracey followed close behind. After she shook the opponent's hands, she came to stand with Allison and Holly.

"Hey there. Sorry the game wasn't our best."

"I enjoyed what I saw. I had an emergency at the hospital." Holly explained. She was having a hard time looking directly at Tracey. She was afraid her emotions would be easily read.

"Did you eat dinner?"

"Not even lunch."

"How about getting some pizza if you're up for it? Allison, are you hungry?" Tracey saw the sparkle of a smile on Allison's face.

"No. Andy and I are good to go. Enjoy yourselves. Tracey, you should probably change?" Allison gestured to the coach's suit. "Why don't I give Holly directions to your place and you can meet her there."

"You're a doll." Tracey said as she gave Allison a one arm hug and a quick wink to Holly. "See you there." Tracey gave a quick wink to Holly and headed into the locker room. Holly felt her cheeks flush.

"Shit." Holly let the word slip out as she watched Tracey's rear.

"You're not that politically correct." Allison answered giving her a quick wink.

"Guess not." Holly smiled as she crossed her arms over her chest. "Allison, can you see if your brother can get me a reservation on Valentine's Day?"

"Got a date?"

"I'll let you know tomorrow." Holly smiled and followed the woman out of the school and into the parking lot.


The red Jeep Cherokee turned into the apartment complex driveway. Holly was leaning against her car waiting. She was thankful that Allison led her to Tracey's apartment. Allison said that she had a key to the apartment if Holly wanted to wait for Tracey inside, Holly declined, feeling a little weird about going into a place she had never been before. She did ponder why Allison had a key. Tracey pulled into an empty spot not too far from the door and got out of her car. Opening the rear door, she pulled out a duffle bag, hangers with dry cleaning, and a brief case. Turning she smiled at Holly.

"Did you find it alright?"

"Allison let me follow her right to the front door." Holly grabbed the dry cleaning from Tracey. "Give me this. How the heck do you open the door?"

"I can be resourceful." Tracey smiled sweetly as she swept past the doctor towards the main door. "I'm on the second floor." All the buildings were only two stories high and in a nice area of Linthicum. "Allison wasn't bothering you, was she?" Tracey looked over her shoulder to Holly carrying her dry cleaning.

"No, she was very entertaining. Thank you for getting me in for free. You didn't have to do that."

"It's a perk of being the coach." Tracey stopped at just inside the door of her apartment, opening a door quickly and throwing the duffle bag inside. She turned towards Holly and took the hangers of dry cleaning out of her hands. She stepped into her dining room and opening a closet door, she hung the clothes inside. Her briefcase she set on the small square dining room table. "Do you want anything?" Tracey turned to see Holly leaning against the door smiling. "What?"

"Your place is very neat and clean." Holly smirked looking at the spotless living space that reminded her of a photo in American Living magazine. "My place probably disgusts you."

"It doesn't." She walked up to Holly she ran her fingers up the center seam of the vest. "You want to know why?" Holly visible swallowed as Tracey continued to run her fingers along the vest. "Because you are the best part of your place." She leaned towards Holly, bringing their lips together. A tentative meeting of emotions and newness, as lips tasted and explored. Holly was pressed against the entrance door, Tracey pushing against the length of her. When they finally broke apart, they started at each other of a moment. "I missed you." Tracey said as she touched Holly's mouth with her finger.

"This has been a really long week."

"You're not kidding." Tracey stepped back. Holly pulled her back into her arms and kissed her soundly. Tracey pushed away, laughing. "How does pizza sound?" Holly nodded. "In or do you want to go out?"

"In, if you don't mind." Holly said as she regained her composure. Her head was reeling and her heart slamming against her chest. After Tracey's exit last week, she took matters in her own hands. Holly recalled the steam filled shower, her head slightly tilted as the hot water rushed over her body. She closed her eyes as images and thoughts of Tracey danced in her mind, the woman was the only thing she could think of. Tasting the water cascading over her lips she felt the rush of Tracey's kiss. She began to caress her body with a hand towel. She imagined the slight curve of Tracey's hip touching her hip as they danced together, Tracey's eyes staring at her intensely as they silently wondered what was going to happen between them. Touching her breast, Holly imagined how it felt to have Tracey's hands on her body. How she would caress and kiss her. She grazed her fingers over her nipples. They instantly hardened. With the gentle strokes of a new lover, she fondled her breast. Pulling and teasing as the aching and need was felt in her clit. She closed her eyes. Letting her hand wander farther south, she felt the slickness of her own need. She stroked with her fingers sliding over the smoothness and contours of her center. She ached and throbbed, rocking as she touched her clit again. She came hard ,calling out Tracey's name. Shuddering as quiver after quiver claimed her body. Gaining her bearings, she closed her eyes as she stood under the hot water, her head limp against the shower wall. She couldn't wait to see Tracey. She felt another wave of excitement ripple through her body.

Holly felt her face flush with the heat of her thoughts. She stood three feet away from the woman who haunted her all week. She was a bit embarrassed by where her mind wandered to. She repeated her shower experience more than once in the last nine days.

"You okay?"

"Yeah." Holly let out a held breath silently, wondering if Tracey could read her thoughts.

"In is better. Can you order while I change?" Tracey asked as she pulled a menu out of a drawer the kitchen island. Papa Nick's Pizza menu claimed they delivered until midnight.

"Sure." Holly watched Tracey's shapely rear disappear down the hall. Holly opened the menu and went over her options for pizza. She grabbed the phone from the cradle and stopped just before she went to dial. She took the cordless down the hall towards what she assumed was the bedroom. Knocking lightly on the slightly ajar door, it opened wider, revealing Tracey clad only in a lacey bra and thong. God! Was the first thought running through the doctor's head. She had seen many specimens of the female anatomy, Tracey was clearly in the top ten. "Ahh!" Holly stumbled on her words as she quickly turned her back towards Tracey. "Sorry, but what do you want on your pizza? I was going to order a veggie but I wasn't sure."

"No onion." A soft voice whispered in her ear, as she felt Tracey's hair slid across her shoulder. Her scent lingered in the doorway. The warmth of a hand pressed against her lower back.

Holly nodded and dialed the phone. She placed the order for delivery and when the guy on the other end asked for the address, her mind went completely blank. She felt Tracey pull the phone from her. The coach quickly answered the question. "We have forty five minutes." Her tongue lightly grazed Holly's ear. "What do you think we can do to kill time?" Holly turned to see Tracey standing close dressed in a white oxford her lacey bra still visible from the open buttons. Wind pants covered her legs.

"I don't know if I'll survive." Holly was honest. Their last meeting had her wanting Tracey. If they went into a hot and heavy make out session, Holly would surely not endure another nine days.

"I know." Tracey put her hands on Holly's shoulders. "It was a very long week." Holly couldn't hold back any longer. She pulled Tracey close and crushed her mouth to hers. Going with the momentum, Holly backed Tracey up to the queen size bed and pushed her down on the mattress. Their mouths never losing contact, Holly held her weight off the brunette with her arms. Their legs slipped between one another. Holly caught Tracey's lower lip between hers and tugged lightly. She heard a quiet laugh. As the heat in her gut was boiling over into full blown passion, Holly was quickly flipped on to her back. Instead of receiving a kiss, as Holly expected, Tracey hovered over her, staring. Shifting her weight to one hand, Tracey let her fingers explore Holly's face. They caressed every pore, leaving in their trail tingling flesh that yearned for more. Tracey's eyes sparkled silver, the color of mercury, clear and pure. Lost in Tracey's eyes, Holly felt as if the world had finally shifted in her favor and all was right.

"You're a beautiful woman." Holly said as she ran her fingers over a stray lock of chestnut hair, savoring the feel of silkiness between her fingers. She thought she saw Tracey's eyes start to tear up, but she wasn't sure. A woman as beautiful as Tracey had surely been told she was beautiful before.

"Thank you." Tracey said as she buried her face in Holly's neck. Fighting back the tears, she thought how sincere Holly's words were. She had been complimented on her looks many times, yet looking at Holly's face and seeing her expression was overwhelming. Tracey skimmed her lips over the hollow of her throat. Tasting the saltiness of skin and smelling the scent of lilacs.

"Tracey?" Holly's voice was strained.

"Hmmm." The response was a trail of kisses followed the up Holly's neck back to her lips.

"Is it to soon to make plans for Valentine's Day?"


"Good. Would you like to go to dinner with me?" Holly asked as she tasted the saltiness of Tracey's skin.

"Absolutely, I'd love to." Tracey felt a hand slip under her shirt and to the plane of her stomach. She wanted to feel Holly's hands on her skin. "God Holly?" Her head fell back offering more flesh to Holly's lips. Lost in the haze of feelings, the chiming of the buzzer reached the far recesses of Tracey brain. "No."

"Pizza's here." Holly chuckled as she rolled away from Tracey. Her heart was pounding and she needed to get her emotions under control. She was close to losing it. A groan followed by a hand on her belly, Tracey moved into a sitting position.

"I'm going to hurt someone." Tracey placed her feet on the floor and growled as she shoved off the bed to answer the visitors call.

"Me to." Holly replied to the empty room.


Index Page