Love/Sex Disclaimer: This story depicts a loving relationship between two consenting, adult women and contains scenes of intimacy, but nothing explicit. 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. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
Hurt/Comfort Disclaimer: Major angst ahead. But have faith and remember, I love a happy ending!
Thanks so much to my beta reader Barb.
No copy write infringement is intended in the use of the lyrics to the song "At Your Side".
This is the sequel to my first story, "At First Sight". I would recommend that you read that one first.
All comments are welcome at email@example.com
Part 1Silvery moonlight peaks between slowly passing clouds, casting the palest of shadows across the gritty surface below. The bluish, lunar sphere pulls the foamy Pacific waves in to meet the sandy shore as it has a million times?and more. Tide is eternal. As are the questions, what is fate? What is destiny? Do we make our own when life is at it's worst or are we gently guided down a path that best suits our soul?
A chilly winter wind swept over the ocean waters and up the beach to fall against the large, white structure. Inside the beach side home, the two occupants praised the seasonal temperatures. Though not cold by any means, it still allowed them to enjoy the romanticism of a warm, sparkling fire. They cuddle closely on the soft, comfortable sofa and make plans for their future.
"How about April 11th?" asked Erin, as she climbed onto her lover's lap and began absently playing with the long tresses adorning her lover's head.
It was three days into the wonderful New Year, the first year of a new millennium. Erin Casey and Jamie Sheridan had hardly gotten out of bed since the author had accepted Jamie's marriage proposal. The tall, dark haired woman had been so romantic, asking just at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. Erin had, of course and quite enthusiastically, said yes, hence the reason for the three-day celebration. But now the task of choosing a wedding date was upon them.
"That way you'll never forget," teased the blonde.
"You think I'm going to forget something this important?" Jamie asked with a hurtful tone.
Erin brought a hand to her love's face and stroked the soft skin. "Sweetheart, I was kidding," she said gently. After all the progress Jamie had made in the previous six months, there were still times when her insecurities reared up and kicked her in the butt.
When Erin and Jamie had met in June of the previous year, the dark haired chauffer had been living in a lonely world of guilt for past mistakes. Erin Casey was a famous author who was also lonely. They had met at a party and a strong friendship was born. Only after many struggles and much determination on Erin's part, did Jamie finally accept the love that had blossomed between them from the very beginning.
Jamie pulled the angelic face in for a soft kiss. "I'm still doing it aren't I?"
"That's okay honey, I understand. So how about it?"
Jamie chuckled. "The 11th? I don't think so, not on my birthday. Besides that's in the middle of the week."
Erin carefully stood from her place on Jamie's lap. "You're right," she said as she went into the kitchen for more coffee. "I guess it does need to be on a Saturday. But I don't want to wait too long. If we're going to have it outside, I don't want everybody to be hot and uncomfortable."
Jamie walked in behind the smaller woman and grabbed an apple from the bowl on the counter. "Just how many everybodys are we talking about?" she asked before she crunched into the red fruit. "I thought we wanted to keep this small."
Erin let her nose guide her to the sweet aroma and snatched a juicy bite for herself. "Darling, small is a relative term. To you, small would be you, me and the preacher."
Jamie snorted. "Not quite. I know your family has to be there. So that's five, but who else is there?"
Erin grabbed the tall woman by the hand and led her back into the living room, shaking her head as they went. "First of all, half of my family will be in the ceremony. I want Bridgett to stand up for me. Caitlin can be the flower girl and Conner can be the ring barer. Unless you have a problem with that?"
"No, of course not," said Jamie, as they retuned to their favorite spot in the corner of the couch. "I'm just not up on wedding procedures. But you're right, I do want your..." She heard the clearing of a throat. "...our family involved."
Erin kissed the hand she still had hold of. "Thank you."
There was a comfortable pause in their conversation as they just enjoyed the warmth of each other's touch. The fire in front of them crackled and shimmered as Jamie mulled over another thought. "I don't suppose you are going to ask your father?"
Erin huffed. "I don't think so."
Timothy Casey had had a very adverse reaction to the news of his daughter's gay lifestyle. His vile words stabbed at her heart and his violence was nearly unforgivable. But after several months of estrangement from his entire family, he had a change of heart. On Christmas Eve he had sent presents and a touching letter of apology. The tears of forgiveness washed away most of the pain that the entire family had endured. But his words were not quite enough to reunite father and daughter. Until he completely accepted her love for Jamie, Erin would never again be close to her father.
Jamie rubbed her partner's back. "Maybe you should at least ask. He might surprise you."
Erin nodded. "Maybe." The tempting apple was placed in front of her mouth and she took another healthy bite. "Do you think we could use the tickets he gave us for Christmas? for our honeymoon?"
Jamie smiled and squeezed Erin's shoulder. "I think that's a great idea, sweetheart. A honeymoon in Ireland sounds wonderful. Maybe I'll get to meet your grandmother."
That thought put a bright smile on the author's face. "Oh, most definitely. And she will absolutely love you." Erin reached up and removed her dark glasses. Once again she wished that she could look into the ice blue eyes in front of her and see the love she felt reflected there. But the sense of sight that her eyes lacked had manifested itself in her heart and her immense imagination. She always saw the love of her partner. And she always felt that love radiating back.
Erin leaned in and floated around the face she loved. Whiffs of sweet aromatic shampoo filled her heightened sense of smell as she followed the hairline down the side of Jamie's face. She smiled at the moan she heard when she reached the spot just below the delicious earlobe. The kisses, nibbles and teasing licks were no longer experimental. Each knew the other better than they knew themselves. The intense physical and emotional sensations they both felt when making love or just holding hands, filled them with a sense of incredible wonderment. Could any other couple on earth begin to understand their connection? Could they ever begin to explain to any other human being just how strong their love was? They both knew the answer to that. No words in the human language could ever do it justice. Their eternal bond, past, present and future was a beautiful secret they both kept locked away, only to share with each other. Erin's lips finally drifted over to make contact with Jamie's. Once, twice. The feather light touch inspired Jamie to apply a firmer grasp of the cloth-covered flesh beneath her hand.
"Do you know what I want to do?" asked Erin.
"Yes," said Jamie, breathlessly. "But I want to hear you say it."
Erin moved aside the strands of raven hair and whispered in her ear. "Finish the guest list." She immediately felt Jamie's tension deflate. She pulled back with a teasing smile.
Jamie gave her an affectionate swat on the behind. "That's not exactly what I wanted to hear, you tease."
For a blind woman, Erin was always accurate with her kisses as she proved once again, landing right on the tip of Jamie's nose. "You can tease me all you want as soon as we're through here. In fact, I insist on it. But first things first."
Jamie groaned. She had meant it to be a silent one though. "I'm sorry, babe," she said when Erin slipped off her lap, back onto the couch. "I really don't mean to sound as if I don't want to make these plans. I want to marry you more than anything else in the world. You know that right?"
"I promise to do whatever we need to do to make this the best day of our lives. So back to the guest list."
Erin twirled her engagement ring around her finger, slightly disappointed that her enthusiasm wasn't matched by her fiancée's "We can finish this tomorrow? I guess." She finished with a shrug of one shoulder.
The pang of guilt pinched Jamie's heart like a vise. "No, we're going to finish it now." She lovingly kissed the side of Erin's head and lingered there. "I'm sorry for being such an idiot. This is important to me."
Erin finally smiled and leaned into the touch. "And I'm sorry for pushing so hard. Being a writer has made me a little compulsive to have everything perfectly organized."
Jamie pulled back a little, but still maintained their touch. "As it should be. I want this to be a perfect day. But I'm just not sure who else we need to invite."
Erin shook her head again. It was only a month ago. How could she have forgotten? "What was the last thing Mrs. Davis said to you when you moved out of your old building?"
Jamie's face scrunched together with the realization. "Yeah. I guess we'd better invite everyone there. Wouldn't want sixteen wrathful senior citizens beating down our door." They both laughed as Jamie grabbed a pen and paper and jotted down the names. "So that makes eighteen guests."
"Nineteen. I have to ask Anne." Dr. Anne Carson was a long time friend of Erin's, having been her roommate in college. So another name was added to the list. "Oh and Joseph and his partner." Joseph Hudson was producing the movie being made from Erin's novel, The Noah Factor. "And if I ask the producer, then I have to ask the director, Blair."
Jamie just nodded her head as she wrote down more names. "And her boyfriend?"
"No. They broke up right after Christmas." Erin threw out that tidbit absently, while thinking of any others to invite.
Jamie had been jealous when Erin and the beautiful director had gone to a movie premiere together a few weeks earlier. Deep down, she knew her jealousy was totally unfounded. She trusted Erin implicitly. But still the green eyes lurked in her heart, ready to glare at any and all intruders.
Erin sat back and gave an internal sigh. She was about to suggest something and she knew it wouldn't be taken easily. "Jamie?"
"I'd like to invite...Megan. I went to her wedding and she and Karen just had a baby boy. I'd like to meet him and..." She felt Jamie stiffen at the mention of her first and only other lover. Erin and Megan had been together for a short time in college and parted the best of friends. "But if you don't want..."
Jamie pulled Erin closer for a hug. "It's okay, sweetheart. Go ahead and ask her. I have to learn to share your past." I never asked if she was in love with Megan, thought Jamie. But I guess I don't really want to know. Megan is in love with someone else now and Erin loves me.
"That's right, my past. And our wedding signifies the future. Our future." They sealed that comment with a long, heated kiss that lasted through the ten chimes of the clock in the hallway. They finally parted with huge smiles that that particular activity always produced. "We still need a date, don't we?" asked Erin.
Jamie reached for the calendar on the coffee table and flipped through to the right month. "How about either April 14th or the 21st. Both still comfortable, weather wise."
They had finally decided on the fourteenth, Erin citing some silly reasoning that it was the sum of their birthdays on the eleventh and the third. Jamie kissed her, sometimes quirky, but always cute, partner on the nose. Before the planning session was over they had also managed to add a few more names to the guest list. Mr. and Mrs. Phillips were giving Jamie the opportunity to fulfill a life long dream, by selling her their sixty-acre ranch. They had become like family, allowing Jamie's passion for horses to soon become a cherished career. She had to invite them as a thank you.
Ten thirty brought an end to their wedding plans, but signified the beginning of yet another practice session for their honeymoon.
On Thursday, after Jamie's workday was over, they drove to the house on Burnham Street in Brentwood. Erin had not set foot in her childhood home since the incident with her father. She felt the car pull into the circular drive and her thoughts were many. The hurt was still there, but much less than it had been on that terrible day in August. Her hand drifted up to rub the side of her face, where his hand had impacted.
Jamie saw the gesture and reached over to kiss the cheek that had bore the evidence of Tim Casey's violence. "Are you sure about this Erin? I'm know your mother would meet us somewhere else."
Erin turned a confident smile to her partner. "Yes, I'm sure. I should have done this long ago. I grew up here and this house holds so many wonderful memories. I won't let that one incident keep me from that part of my life." She turned back toward the big, white house. "Besides, I have forgiven my father for hitting me. As for the rest?"
Danielle Casey came to the bottom of the grand staircase just as the doorbell rang. "I'll get it Sarah," she told the housekeeper who was coming down the hall. She opened the door surprised to find her daughter there. "Erin?I?come on in," she stammered as she hugged them both. "What are you doing here?" She quickly realized how harsh that sounded. "I mean I wasn't sure you would ever come back."
"That's all in the past now Mom. We've come here today to talk about our future."
Jamie read the confusion on the older woman's face, but she also detected some nervousness as her green eyes kept shifting to the second floor. "Have we come at a bad time Danielle?"
"No, no of course not dear." She stepped in between them, linking her arms with theirs. "Let's go into the family room." Once inside the brightly decorated room, Erin and Jamie took a seat on the white sofa, but declined the refreshments Danielle had offered.
Now Erin had picked up on her mother's anxiety. "What's wrong Mom?"
Danielle took her daughter's hand. "Nothing is wrong dear. It's just?your father is upstairs," she said quietly, as her head dropped to her chest. "We are trying to work things out."
Erin reached out and hugged her. "Mom that's great!"
Danielle gave a surprised smile at her daughter's enthused reaction. "But I?"
"Mom, I have forgiven him. And I want you to be as happy as you were when we were kids. I know that's want you want."
"Yes, it is."
"Good, because I want everyone to be as happy as I am." Erin flashed a smile at Jamie and took her hand. "That's why we came today. Mom, Jamie and I are getting married."
Danielle was momentarily speechless and she nearly fell off the couch as she smothered her daughters with hugs. The tears of a happy and proud mother continued to fall on Erin's shoulder as the three of them embraced.
Jamie heard the heavy footsteps walk away from just outside the door, but she didn't say anything to spoil Erin's moment. She was only glad that he had chosen discretion this time and left them to their private celebration.
Danielle dried her tears, but the realization finally settled in. "But I didn't think you could get married."
"Well, legally we can't," explained Erin. "But we want to express our lifelong commitment to one another in front of our family and friends."
The older woman nodded. "And that's what's most important. So have you set a date?"
Erin hesitated, wanting Jamie to join in on the conversation.
The tall woman easily picked up the cue. "April the 14th."
Danielle grabbed a pen and paper from a nearby desk drawer and began jotting down notes. "That's perfect. It gives us plenty of time to plan a wonderful wedding."
They spent the next hour discussing weddings and other things. When Erin stepped away to the bathroom, Jamie was able to tell Danielle about some secret plans she had. The older woman cried once again over the special woman Erin had chosen to spend her life with.
When the author returned, Jamie detected the slight sadness in her expression.
She stepped over and rubbed Erin's shoulder. "Is everything okay sweetheart?"
Erin threw both arms around her lover's neck. "Everything is wonderful because you are by my side." She planted a long, firm and possessive kiss upon willing lips.
Danielle subtly cleared her throat.
Erin blushed. "Sorry Mom."
"Never be sorry dear. I just didn't want you both passing out from lack of oxygen."
Without totally ending their embrace, they walked back over to the couch. Jamie looked at her watch. "I guess we'd better be going. You still want to go to Bridgett's tonight, don't you?"
Danielle kissed them goodbye. "In case you haven't noticed it, I want to tell you how very happy I am for both of you. I love you."
"We love you too," said Erin.
Jamie placed a very special kiss to the older woman's cheek and held her with warm eyes. "Thank you?Mom."
You guessed it. Danielle cried again at Jamie's love laden word. She scooted them both out the door before she flooded the entire house. She watched them pull away before turning back inside. And when she did, she met a pair of gray eyes coming down the stairs.
"I heard," he said as he moved passed her, down the hall and into the kitchen.
Danielle followed closely behind. The cook told them that dinner was ready and she set about taking the steaming dishes into the dining area. Neither Casey said a word as they sat at opposite ends of the long wooden table and waited for the maid to leave the room.
The burly man unfolded the yellow, linen napkin and placed it in his lap. "I don't think we should discuss this now dear," he said as he reached for his fork.
Danielle took a sip of her wine before asking why.
"Because this time is for us. We are rebuilding our marriage and this topic is the main reason for our troubles to begin with."
"You can't blame all our troubles on Erin. We were starting to drift apart long before that. Timothy, our marriage includes our family. Erin is not a topic, she is our daughter."
"I know that. I love her and I want her to be happy. I just don't see how she can be with that kind of person."
Danielle shook her head in frustration. "Jamie loves Erin. She worships her and I couldn't have wished for a better spouse for my daughter. And how could you know whether or not our daughter is happy, you've never spent any time with them. You don't even know anything about Jamie. If you could open your eyes for just one minute and look beyond the fact that Jamie is a woman, you would see that they are not just in love?they are a part of each other."
Suddenly the meal that he had been consuming lay heavy on his chest. He dropped the silver utensil and sat back in his chair with an audible sigh.
"Can you at least try?" she asked as she looked into his eyes through the candlelight.
The shame in his belly almost rivaled the weight from his partially digested food. "I don't know," he finally answered and excused himself from the table.
Danielle pushed away her still half full plate of food. She gave a silent prayer for guidance to help make her husband understand. After informing the maid that they were finished with the meal, she followed her husband to the darkened den.
Only one small lamp near the desk gave the room any illumination. Tim stood by the window swirling the amber liquid around in the bulbous glass he held in his right hand. She approached him carefully. Danielle wasn't afraid of her husband, even after what he did to Erin. But she knew that pushing him to fast would only make him retreat further.
She joined his gaze out over the side yard where the thick shrubs rustled in the early evening breeze. Danielle eased an arm around his waist as she leaned against his strong body. He wrapped his free arm across her shoulder and placed a kiss to the slightly gray hair atop her head.
"I'm sorry dear," he said. "I know this upsetting to you. I don't want to do that."
She nodded her understanding. Danielle's eyes slipped shut and she snuggled closer, basking in their touch for several more minutes. "Can you just explain to me why you have a problem with Jamie being a woman?" she finally asked. "I mean is it religious? Are you afraid what your business associates might say? I just want to understand."
Tim closed his eyes and swallowed the last of his brandy. "I don't even understand," he whispered sadly. "I just know something is preventing me from accepting this. I'm sorry."
Jamie guided her blue SUV up the freeway onramp. "Do you want to tell me what happened when you stepped away to the bathroom?" she asked the quiet woman beside her.
Erin reached over and squeezed Jamie's knee. "You do know me, don't you? But it wasn't all bad. I had one of those happy memories that made me glad I came back home." She took a breath, remembering those very few seconds then related the story.
Erin dried her hands on the fluffy green towel. The fresh smell of the special laundry soap, that her mother preferred, brought a flash of her childhood.
Six-year-old Erin giggled loudly as she was engulfed by soft, brightly colored towel. The huge cloth wrapped her up like a mummy and she was carried off to her bedroom, where her mother proceeded to tickle her mercilessly as she dried the little body. Danielle pulled out a small blue nightgown and helped Erin pull it down over her head. As the cloth went passed her nose, Erin took a huge breath.
"I like the way that smells Mommy," she said as she was helped into bed.
"Me too honey."
"Will you lay down with me and tell me a story?" asked Erin.
The green, puppy dog eyes couldn't be denied. "All right, one story." Danielle snuggled her daughter close and proceeded to tell the tale of Snow White.
Erin never made it passed the eating of the poison apple before her eyes drifted shut. That same bedtime routine repeated itself many times over the next few years. Erin never remembered hearing a complete story, but when she learned to read well enough, she pulled the books from the shelves in her room and read the imaginative tales over and over again. That was what had sparked her passion for writing.
The smile was still on Erin's face when she stepped from the first floor bathroom. Then another smell assailed her and she sensed his presence at the end of the hall. Both stubborn people waited for the other to say the first word. The Irish stand off lasted many long seconds. She finally sighed and started to walk away.
She stopped, but didn't turn back.
The big man approached slowly. He placed a tentative hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry Erin."
There was a sincere tone of regret in his usually gruff voice. She turned and was engulfed in his strong arms. She didn't cry and she didn't say a word. She just loved the father that had been absent from her life all those months. He stroked her blonde hair, knowing he was forgiven?at least for hitting her.
"I've missed you sweetheart," he said when she pulled back.
"Me too Daddy."
"I?ah?was passing by the family room a while ago and?I heard what you were talking about."
Erin pursed her lips, knowing what was coming. But she was mildly surprised.
"I?you appear to be happy," he said softly. "But?"
"I know Dad, you can't give me away?because you already have."
"Erin, please don't say that. I said I was sorry."
"Stop apologizing! This isn't about you?hitting me." Her head shook in disappointment and she turned away. "I have to get back to Jamie. Goodbye Dad."
Erin finished her short story just as they pulled into Bridgett's driveway.
"Come on sweetheart." Jamie opened the car door and helped her out. "You know your sister will be happy for us."
And she was. Bridgett accepted her position as matron of honor with pride and Caitlin jumped up and down with glee, even though she wasn't quite sure what a flower girl was supposed to do. Conner reacted with a smiling "cool" when asked to be the ring bearer. Not wanting Bridgett's husband to feel left out, Erin asked him to be an usher, to which he replied with a smiling "cool". Like father, like son.
Danielle spirited Erin away for an entire Friday to discuss the important things, in her words, like clothes, colors, flowers and food. She amended her earlier statement and complained that three and a half months wasn't nearly enough time to prepare the grand wedding she had envisioned. But Erin's well-chosen words had finally convinced Danielle that they did not want a royal sized ceremony. Danielle did insist on having a special family dinner on Sunday, at their favorite restaurant for an engagement celebration.
Continued in Part 2.