The lyrics of the song Elsewhere by Sarah McClachlan are reproduced in part without permission.
This story is entirely mine, and any reproduction except for personal use without my permission, is not in keeping with current copyright law. Placement and inclusion of this story in any fan-fiction sites for reading is welcome, but please email me as to your intent.
Thanks to Maureen and kt for their suggestions and editing my errors and omissions. Thanks as well to The Bards Village for their unflagging encouragement and kindness.
Feedback and helpful suggestions are always welcome.
It was a night like so many others. The bar, The Corner, was crowded with noisy customers. The tables were full. The mood was of drunken happiness. Sara did not mind the work. The money was good, and the hours flexible. She could still attend college and have time to finish her assignments. Her classes were all after eleven, so she could sleep in, or work in the morning if she had to. But as the only waitress, it was not easy work. If it was too busy, tempers flared, as customers waited for their drinks, despite her best efforts. If the bar crowd was a little too rowdy, she would have to fend off leers, touches and the occasional groping, all of which irritated her as the night wore on. The kitchen closed at ten, and only drinks and chips were served after that. It seemed though, as the evening progressed, the crowd drank faster. Ironic that everyone's thirst increased as her energy waned.
It was one in the morning on a Saturday. She looked around at the room and smiled to herself.
'Everyone is content at the moment.'
All drinks were fresh. All tables had snacks. She stretched her neck and shoulders, sitting down to drink a cup of coffee. She had one more hour to work for the night. Jake Lamaroux, the cook-owner, was cleaning up the kitchen. She enjoyed the break, looking around the room. Her relaxation was interrupted by a sense of someone staring at her. She caught the amused appraisal of a woman at table 12. She raised her own eyebrow, asking silently if the woman wanted anything. The strange woman looked away instead, and returned her attention to the three men at her table playing cards. They seemed like good friends, enjoying some rivalry.
Sara could not help her gaze from returning to the woman. She was not someone who frequented the place. Actually it was uncommon to see women here at all. She took the moment to study her, when before she had only barely registered her presence in the bar. Lakeland was too provincial despite the university in Milton, only ten miles away. Women just did not relax in bars, play cards or shoot pool here. Not to mention that it was too late for most women to be even out and about.
The young waitress studied the woman a moment more, appreciating her tan and the long black hair gracing her back in a long braid. She was attractive, seemed spirited and very independent. Her persona seemed to exude a sense of competency, strength; her attitude almost superior, if not arrogant, as she interacted with her companions. Sara could not help wondering who she was, what she did. This woman was no housewife, of that she was certain.
She was caught up in her thoughts, and had not heard the demands for service from a nearby table.
"Say, darlin' wake up! Sugar, your dream man is calling you."
She smiled patiently at the clown, waving his beer bottle and shouting too loudly. She approached the table.
"All around the table, darlin'. How about one for yourself?"
"Come on, now," the middle aged man continued, slurring slightly with his come on. "It's almost closing time. A few drinks and you can come home with me."
She just politely shook her head, saying "Let me go get your drinks, fellows."
Another man at the table grabbed her arm.
"Now, don't go so fast. We're just getting to know each other."
This man was younger, leaner, and despite his friendly banter, seemed somehow mean.
"Now, let go, or you'll never get your drinks. " She continued in a sisterly and more businesslike manner, pulling her arm loose, only to have him stroke her thigh as she moved away.
"Oh, so nice!" He almost crooned, laughing to his friends.
"Hands off, boys." She moved out of reach, returning to the table with four beers. She delivered them, however, from the other side of the table between two better behaved men, avoiding these overly friendly two. After a few more crude comments, she managed to pull away, and serve a few more tables.
Sara was used to this banter, but still resented the unwanted attention. Sadly, as a young attractive woman, she almost expected the behavior from the men there. She knew her long blond hair, slim figure and deep brown eyes were a nice combination. Some even considered her beautiful. She considered herself average in appearance, always preferring to be recognized for her accomplishments, rather than her looks. In fact, she had always excelled in school and planned of graduate school in the future. If all went well, she envisioned possibly teaching and writing philosophy, although she had yet to declare her major during her undergraduate program. She was ambitious and hard working. Despite her friendly behavior at work, however, she was serious and more of a loner in any other setting.
Her thoughts turned from this self-analysis to again meet the gaze of the dark haired woman at 12. She approached her, intrigued despite herself. Laughing eyes met hers as she neared the table.
"I'll take another. And some more chips, if you don't mind."
"Sure. Anything else?"
"I suspect I can suggest a sure-fire way to keep the boys at bay."
"And what would that be? I can always use a new approach to that old problem. Some of them can strain a girl's patience." Sara smiled back at the woman, again fascinated by her manner. Just as compelling were the woman's eyes that seemed to hold her attention. They were a striking shade of light blue.
"Just let them know you're not interested." And with an unexpected move, she captured her waist, pulling the startled girl into her lap, and kissed her lips. Sara was shocked at the gesture, more than annoyed at the satisfied look on the woman's face, and the jeers that came from the other men at the table.
"Go get her, you animal!" A tall blond man next to her laughed heartily at the woman's antics. The men seemed used to her behavior. Not being one to give up on a challenge, Sara decided to turn the table on this stranger. Why she wanted to put this woman in her place, when she tolerated all the hassles from the men in the bar, she could not understand. Still she was determined to respond in a forceful manner.
'No one makes a fool out of me.'
She moved to quickly straddle the woman's hips, and with a courage she found in reserve, smiled in a condescending fashion. She pulled the woman closer by her hair, and kissed her quite roughly on the mouth, pushing her own hips tight against her.
'Thinks she can shock me, does she?'
Sara pulled away, and stood to walk off. "Like that? I can deliver the message all by myself, thanks anyway. Now, I'll get your drinks." She continued as if nothing of any consequence had happened. She could not help but feel a little proud of herself for a fleeting moment, at the startled look on the woman's face and the snickers from the three men with her.
"She showed you there, Lee!"
"Don't mess with that one!" another man chimed in.
Sara walked confidently away, and didn't see Lee's eyes darken or her expression become very intense, to be replaced finally by a jovial snarl and laugh. The younger woman was too busy trying to calm her racing heart, both from the effrontery that she had actually tried to outdo a show off, a stranger, to behave so shamelessly, and to have kissed a woman! She was more than a little shocked at herself. The enormity of her actions suddenly made her blush.
'Where did that come from? I usually don't respond to a challenge quite like that. To act so childishly.'
But she was even more surprised at how the woman had felt, with her hands tangled in her hair, pressed against her. And just how amazing her lips and mouth had felt.
'Well, there is a first for everything. But no more for tonight. I don't think I can take it.'
The last long hour passed slowly. Sara watched with relief as the woman and her friends left without further incident, along with the other patrons who trickled out. Jake and she cleaned up for the night.
"I'll lock up, Jake. You look tired."
"Don't stay late, Sara. I'll finish this in the morning." "OK. I'm just going to wipe the tables and go, then." "Night, Sara."
Jake was a good man, always kind to her, and not demanding. He himself had tried to establish a relationship with her early in her employment. Sara had kindly drawn the lines and they had remained friends since. She felt comfortable working with him, and was always willing to go the extra mile to return his kindness and friendship. And so, at 2:45, she put out the lights and exited the bar, locking the door behind her, before turning toward her car.
She was suddenly frozen in her tracks however, to see someone sitting on her car's hood, staring at her.
'Now what?' she wondered, both annoyed and alarmed. She reached in her purse for her can of mace, only to find it missing.
'Great!' She squared her shoulders, trying to decide if she should approach the car, or go back inside the bar to relative safety.
'Well, this is the last time I lock up. Idiot! I am such an idiot.'
Before she had decided which way to move, the parking lot was suddenly dark, as the sound of breaking glass disturbed the silence, and the overhead light went black.
'Shit!' She grabbed her keys and tried to open the bar door only to feel a hand on her arm.
"Not so fast." The sultry voice of the woman from 12 sounded too close to her ear. " What's the hurry?"
"Look, " Sara spoke nervously without turning around, afraid what this woman must think of her. "I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. But you did embarrassed me first. I thought I'd..."
"You should never start something you're not prepared to finish," she purred, sending a chill down Sarah's back.
"You've got the wrong idea about me. Really. Now, if you'll..."
But her words were cut off by a finger on her lips that then moved slowly down her chin to her jawbone and neck. The touch frightened her, but she was more disturbed to feel something else: heat where the hand touched her, and that her pulse was racing. She pulled away, only to be held in place by strong hands.
"I really liked your kiss." The woman's breath was near her ear, sending goose bumps across the girl's neck. As the woman spoke, her hand moved lightly across Sara's shoulder. The woman moved close behind her.
"Just stop this!" Sara finally spoke up in her best commanding voice.
"No," Lee spoke softly, and molded her body up against the young blonde, pulling her back against herself with an arm around her waist. Her head moved down to place her lips on Sara's neck, and to kiss her with slow delicate insistence.
"Stop this. I'm not..."
"No." Lee let her hand slowly move up to brush against the blonde's breast, and smiled silently to feel a hardened nipple.
Sara felt herself melting. The woman's touch was maddening. There was almost a tingle where their bodies met. She felt herself press back into the woman, despite her better judgment, as her earlobe was gently kissed and sucked.
"Stop." Sara spoke with less certainty.
"No," the woman whispered, and again let her hand wander, pulling the waitress's shirt out of her slacks, sliding her hand slowly under it, to touch silken skin, caressing finally the underside of the girl's breast, and then cup the breast gently in her palm.
Nothing was happening quite as either woman had expected. Lee had wanted to talk to the young woman, to sound her out. She suspected she was straight, but that kiss! Maybe she was into women after all. So she waited, a little drunk, a little too hopeful. She could just as well have come back some other night, but she rarely came this far from her home and job. And she couldn't lose contact with this fiery beauty. Then to find her alone, with the light in the lot breaking, had been too much for her to ignore. A surprise greeting had turned more sexual than planned, and somehow, the nearness of the other woman, the feel of her skin incited her. One touch lead to another. When the blonde had not pulled away in earnest, and seemed to enjoy their closeness, she could not stop what she wanted to do.
Sara was more than disturbed. First there had been fear of an unknown attacker, then relief to hear the woman's voice. She was tired, and anxious to go home. But it soon became apparent the dark beauty had more on her mind, and seemed to have some irresistible power over her. Time seemed to stand still as long fingers caressed her face, and warm lips, full and soft, moved against her neck. The breath so close to her ear, the hands that explored her, filled her senses and thoughts. Soon there was only the woman's nearness, her touches, her kiss, pushing any resistance from her mind. Her own body betrayed her, craved more, needed this dizzying pleasure, and she pressed backward. The woman's breasts against her back, the palm pressed against her own hardened nipple made her groan.
It was the surrender of the girl, her neck stretched to the side, her breathing rapid, the moan, that made Lee suddenly sober, and consciously attempt to still the intoxicating passion that flooded her.
'What am I doing for heaven's sake? This is insanity. Seducing this young woman in a parking lot in a strange town!'
Sara felt the woman's muscles tense against her own back, and sensing a pause in her sensual assault, came sharply to her own senses.
Oh, God! What's happening to me? She spoke her thoughts out loud without realizing it.
Lee stepped back, suddenly awkward, uncertain, hearing panic in the girl's voice.
"You've never done anything like this," she spoke quietly.
Sara turned to face the woman who had just moved her like no one ever had, and studied her face, dimly viewed in the darkness. " No. I have not. I don't know what the Hell I was thinking or feeling."
"I'm so sorry. I never intended to get so far out of hand. I wanted to talk to you."
"Talk to me? I think you nearly raped me. I should hate you, scaring me like that, and then taking advantage of a weakness I didn't even know I possessed."
"Don't hate me, please." The woman's sincerity was apparent in her low voice. "I am just so drawn to you. I don't normally seduce strange women. It started out as a joke, in the bar. You were just so cute, and those guys were so obnoxious. I was a little drunk. I know that is no excuse. You must be so sick of drunken antics. It was just a play on an old joke, kissing you to discourage the men. And then you kissed me like you owned me. I wanted to have a chance to really meet you. God, I've blown it, haven't I? You're so beautiful. I got close and I couldn't stop touching you. There is no excuse for what I did. I was forcing you. I'm no better than..."
"Shhh. Do you always talk this much?" Sara continued speaking finally when she got no reply. " I said I should hate you." She paused a moment before continuing. "I should apologize too. I was insane to jump on you like that in the bar. What could you have thought? I never even thought of a woman in a sexual way before. But that kiss felt so amazing. I admit I've been thinking of you ever since. And when I knew it was you so close to me. I ...really didn't want you to stop. Maybe you should hate me. I hardly helped the situation." She laughed self-consciously. "Maybe we should just shake and say goodnight."
But neither woman moved.
"We can't just stand here ." Sara finally spoke up again, trying to be logical and calm, her heart still racing. "I don't even know your name," she continued, filling the silence nervously.
"Do you always talk so much?" Lee joked, repeating Sara's earlier question.
"Only when I'm nervous or scared or both."
"Nervous or scared or both?"
"Yes, both." Sara sighed deeply, "and completely bewildered," she added more softly.
"Bewildered?" Lee smiled kindly at the young woman's honesty.
"Maybe startled might be a better description, startled that I am so turned on by a woman."
"Well, not just any woman." Lee scolded softly with mock outrage.
Sara swatted her arm. "And startled that I am not the moral pillar I thought I was. I'm not a girl for one night stands, you know? I let this happen and I enjoyed it."
"Yeah, me either. Believe it or not, I haven't had a lover in a long time. Oh, I have had my share, but lately the risks, the hurt seemed too much. And here I am spilling my guts to a stranger. Yet I feel so drawn to you, an attraction that I don't want to ignore."
Silence stretched between them.
"It's late." Sara finally spoke softly.
"Right." Lee stepped away. "Can I call you? I mean, I don't want to involve you in anything you're not ready for, or don't want."
"I'm not sure of anything right now. But I can't pretend this didn't happen. " She paused, but continued with a bravery she was surprised by. "Or pretend I don't want to see you again."
"OK, then. I'll call you." Lee smiled almost shyly, and turned away toward her own car, a new 1965 Mustang convertible. She heard footsteps following her, and turned back around.
"Hey, what is your name anyway?"
Lee smiled and laughed nervously. "I feel as awkward as a teenager on a first date. I'm sorry. I'm Lee Campbell."
"And I'm Sarah Lewis." The blond smiled, suddenly delighted at the mixture of traits revealed to her: a commanding power and nervous insecurity. She shook her head with mock seriousness.
"What am I going to do with you, Lee Campbell?"
"Oh, anything you want, of course." She answered with a wicked smile.
"Ha! Let me give you my number? I have a notebook in my car."
"OK. I can't believe I forgot to get it. I should have walked you to your car, anyway. Least some crazy attack you in the parking lot," she added, embarrassment and regret again filled her mind.
"Hey, no harm done, OK? And what a rush," she added, still amazed at the turn the night had taken.
"Yeah. It was a rush. What you do to me, Sarah Lewis, would make a grown man blush."
"Well, what would he know, after all?"
Lee laughed out loud, so pleased by everything about the beautiful young woman. They stood by Sara's car a moment, as Sara wrote her number on a pad, ripping a page free and handed it to Lee. Sara purposefully let her fingers linger too long as their hands touched. She looked up and studied the stranger who had so overwhelmed her senses. She was a good five inches taller then herself, breathtakingly stunning as she stood in the moonlight. Lee caught her staring.
"Kiss me?" Sara asked hesitantly, needing something more, not wanting her contact with this woman to be over.
"I thought you'd never ask." Lee joked. Still relief was apparent in her facial expression and posture. She rubbed Sara's lower lip gently with her fingertip. "Why don't we sit in your car for a moment? In case someone drives by?"
"Ok. I'm new at this woman-woman thing. I guess we need to be careful."
"Maybe. Yes. We do need to be somewhat careful. I've been so foolish all night around you."
"Oh, to hell with it. Kiss me." Sara stepped close, and was quickly met by lips that moved to gently brush against her own. Soon the kiss deepened, each woman communicating something that words could not, until both were breathless from hungry kisses and demanding tongues.
"Come home with me, Lee."
"We're rushing things, I think."
"Come home with me."
"We'll have plenty of time."
"Lee, have you had a better offer tonight?"
"I haven't had a better offer in my entire life..."
"And you need to come to terms with all this.....women together like this."
"And then I'll come home with you. And you might not get rid of me at all."
Sara didn't answer, but rather pulled the tall woman toward her car door.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm taking you home with me."
"You need to..."
"I have...come to terms with all this. Nothing has ever felt so right before. I've never been one to have problems with making decisions. I know what I want. Come home with me ."
She stopped and waited for an answer, but instead was crushed in an embrace that left her weak kneed, and met lips that delivered another searing kiss.
"Let's go somewhere more private." Lee's voice was husky with desire.
Sara unlocked the car and let Lee in. They drove in silence. Sara hesitated as they finally approached her front door.
"Hey, I'm not here for the real-estate. I'm here to be with you. I can't believe I'm here with you. I'm going to wake up any minute and..."
The door closed behind her, and Sara's mouth cut off her rambling with a kiss, her hands cradling Lee's face gently.
The moment lingered between then, until Lee spoke softly, their breaths mingling. " Come here."
She folded the blonde in her arms, just holding her, enjoying the closeness, the feel of the woman. She let her hands wander across Sarah's back, and touched her hips and buttock softly. Feeling no resistance, she kissed her harder, again lost in the passion so easily evoked by the other woman's nearness. She found herself propelled along a forgotten road,one of mystery, power, pleasure, union. She felt her skin tingle and warm, and felt her center melt with desire.
She caressed and touched the blonde, each movement bringing her desire and passion higher. She kissed Sara's neck, sucking the warm flesh, feeling Sara open herself more, head back, neck bared, and felt hard nipples press into her. Sara moaned from her attentions. Lee pushed her back against the door, holding her there with her eyes, both breathless. She saw hunger in the girl's eyes searching her own.
"I want to see you, to feel you, Sara."
"Yes. Please, Lee. I want..."
Words were again smothered in kisses, while Lee's hands unbuttoned Sara's blouse and bra, baring her shoulders, freeing her breasts. She bent to lick and kiss each nipple, and finally capture one in her mouth, sucking gently.
"God, Lee. Please. I need to lay down."
"Where is your bedroom? We didn't even put on a light." Lee paused in her kisses, but her hands continued to explore the woman before her, slipping her long fingers beneath the waist of Sara's slacks, and lightly touching her abdomen, and brush against her pubic hair.
"Take them off." Sara spoke urgently.
"You are so hot." Lee whispered, unbuttoning the slacks, and slid them slowly down, dragging her briefs as well, leaving the young woman naked before her. Sara kicked free of the clothes by her foot, and pulled Lee close again for more kisses. She licked Lee's lower lip, then explored her mouth. Sara broke the kiss feeling Lee's hands squeeze her buttock, and her jean covered thigh push between her legs. She groaned.
Lee felt Sara's wetness against her leg, and again was propelled further on in her sensuous attack, swept away by a desire so strong it frightened her.
"I want you. I need to touch you, taste you."
With the urgency in Sara's plea, Lee's own hunger soon consumed her lingering doubts. She bent again to kiss each breast and slipped her fingers gently into Sara's wet softness, feeling the silken center, smelling the scent of Sara's arousal, feeling the blonde shudder as she slowly rubbed and explored her, sucking on the nipple in rhythm with each stroke of her fingers. Sara's hips responded with gentle thrusts to meet fully each sweet invasion of her fingers.
Lee pulled her fingers out, only to slide herself lower, moving her lips across Sara's abdomen, kissing her apex, as she knelt before her. She whispered in a husky voice.
"Open your legs for me. I need..."
Sara reached both hands to tangle in Lee's black hair, pushing her harder against herself, as Lee's tongue slipped into her. She trembled as Lee licked and caressed her nether lips.
With these words, Lee pulled her down, and lay Sara gently on her back. She remained kneeling beside her, heard her ragged breathing. The girl was responding so passionately to her.
She was so free and wild, more than she hoped for. Lee let her hands again caress the girl's neck, her breasts, and bent to kiss her again, sharing the taste of Sara's own musky desire.
"What do you want, Sarah?"
" I don't know. God, Lee, please. I need... you."
Lee growled in response, turning back to Sara's wet center. She knelt between her legs, kissing and tasting the softness. She pushed her fingers deep within after bending her knees up. Sarah grunted, and then rocked her hips against Lee's hand, pulling her deeper into her canal. Lee's lips and tongue continued to taste each fold, tasting her depths. She could feel her young lover tremble on the brink of orgasm, and gently sucked on her clitoris, pushing harder, and felt her still, then cry out with release, her flesh shuddering against her fingers, as she urged waves of pleasure again until the blonde lay spent, breathing hard. She slowly removed her fingers and lay down beside Sarah, holding her gently in her arms until her pulse slowed and her breathing returned to normal.
"Lee, I've never felt anything like ..."
"Shhh. Let me hold you a while. Please. You feel so wonderful ."
Sara turned, rolling closer until she faced Lee, their lips close, and moved to kiss her softly.
"Let's go to bed."
"In a minute. I don't want to move."
Instead Sara snuggled closer. Before long, both women fell asleep, comfortable in each other's arms, despite the carpet's rough weave and the hard floor.
It was near dawn when Lee woke, stiff from sleeping on the floor, and was surprised to feel Sara's eyes studying her.
"Have you been awake long?"
"No. But I almost woke you. The bed is more comfortable, and you have way too many clothes on."
"Yeah. I guess I do."
"Come on. We can sleep awhile in a nice soft bed. It's only 5 am. And I have so much to learn."
"About you, and loving you like this."
"You don't have to do anything." She gently stroked the blonde hair so close to her face.
"I know, but I want to. Come on. The bathroom and bedroom are just down the hall. I'll be right back." With those words, she rolled away and vanished into the bathroom, emerging to find Lee watching her from the doorway. She walked past her to turn the bed down. The young blonde was illuminated only by the dim bathroom light.
"You are beautiful, truly beautiful, Sara."
Sara climbed between the sheets and studied Lee in turn as she approached the bed.
"Bathroom and bed."
Lee still stood at the foot of the bed, her gaze like a soft caress. "Do you need help undressing?" Sara scolded her gently at her apparent immobility.
"And you are waiting for what?"
"Just looking." Lee smiled at her, her voice once again husky, deeper with desire.
"And I'm coming." She sighed happily, and disappeared into the bathroom, emerging a few moments later to stand silhouetted in the doorway. She had removed her clothes, standing only in her panties.
"Come here. And take those off too." Sara commanded, pointing to the white silk panties and smiling teasingly.
"I told you I have a lot to learn..."
"Let's sleep a while, Sara." The tall brunette moved with a dancer's grace to slide into clean sheets and rest close beside her.
"OK, but then it is my turn." Sara murmured softly, and moved closer still, letting her head rest on Lee's shoulder. She moved a leg across Lee's thigh, and snuggled. "This is like heaven. You are so soft and warm, so smooth. You smell so good."
Sara let her hand roam across Lee's chest and abdomen and draped it across Lee's waist. "Let's sleep awhile. Then I want to make love to you." Sara murmured, as her breathing slowed. Soon she was asleep again, and Lee, relaxed against her warmth. She couldn't help but smile in quiet amazement at how the night and her life had changed so unexpectedly. And at the simple act of ownership the girl demonstrated as Sara's limbs wrapped around her in her slumber. She gladly gave herself up to sleep.
Sarah woke slowly, stretching lazily, rested and sated, content with a rare sense of completeness and happiness. She opened her eyes to find herself alone, and became suddenly very wide awake and sober. And, as always, she looked around her with momentary disorientation. The dream had been so real. It took her a while to settle her unease, to swallow the loneliness that threatened to engulf her wholly.
"Damn! Always the same dream, and I am always the worse for wear!"
She couldn't shake the longing she felt for the tall black haired woman, her imaginary lover. Maybe, she thought for not the first time, this woman was why she remained alone. She had dabbled in relationships with other women as she had gotten older, but no one lived up to this Lee. No one made her feel such excitement, heights of passion or tender love. So she had dismissed her attempts with women as experimentation. Even her brief affair with Danny, another medical student, seemed doomed to fail. She had loved him in a way, but somehow his attentions seemed half-hearted, a sweet gentle man who was a good friend, but could not really be more. And this Lee...no doubt she had seen her somewhere, and her subconscious mind had constructed quite an elaborate fantasy, complete with 60's cars and 60's clothes. She still felt somehow that she was the other woman in her dream, and yet strangely was separate from her.
At twenty-five years of age, Sarah had never worked as a waitress. Rather she came from a monied family, old money in fact. Her father was a successful lawyer, her mother an artist. She herself had gone to the best schools with some merit scholarships and finished medical school, her internship and was now settled into a residency in pathology. She had always preferred the quiet scholarship of the laboratories, wanting to be a doctor's doctor, as the pathologists called themselves. She could read, study and offer expertise in tissue analysis. Anatomic pathology, rather than lab medicine, was her true love.
In a way, she seemed like the lone student of her dreams, separate and apart from the people around her, always an observer of her life as well. She was not unhappy, rarely discontent, except on mornings like this, when the dream made her own solitude more evident, her life seem somehow empty, aware at such times how precious love must be, and how lucky those who knew it truly were.
She sighed, shaking the mood. She was on vacation after all! She silently scolded herself. Two more weeks to explore Greece and then Crete. Not a time to be wasted in melancholy!
As always she traveled alone, avoiding tour groups like the plague. She had rented a VW, and was just about through with Athens. The city was nice, the view of the Parthenon, the open markets and restaurants and harbor nearby were spectacular. But she had seen and shopped enough. It was too crowded for her taste, or to hold her interest for long. Now it was time to see the other areas about which she had read. And the islands. She had her Frommer's to guide her in recommended points of interest and restaurants, which hotels to patronize. She preferred to travel simply, avoiding large hotels in favor of simple small inns, and those especially scenic locales. In her dining, she preferred to sample from a variety, seeking the quaint and unspoiled cafes or open air tavernas.
With these thoughts, and her adventurous mood restored, she finished dressing and went down to the dining room, a small room filled with white clothes covered tables each graced with flowers and four simple wooden chairs, the windows and shutters open to the morning sunlight and the air cool behind the thick walls of the inn. She sat down to enjoy the standard fare of plain yogurt and honey, white bread and jam, and the strong coffee that was included in the price of the room. She read her travel guide quietly as she ate, carefully planning her next stops.
She hadn't noticed the person standing next to her table until a low voice disturbed her reading.
"May I join you for breakfast?"
Sarah looked up to find a tall woman standing close to her chair. She took in tan slacks and sandals, a colorful Greek blouse. As her eyes moved upward to focus on the woman's face, she suddenly spilled her coffee, her fingers tremulous.
"I'm so sorry..." a cultured English voice continued apologetically "I didn't mean to startle you like that."
"What?" Sarah asked, more than a little disconcerted.
"I said that I was very sorry to have startled you. Are you all right? You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Maybe I have." An uncomfortable silence stretched between them.
"Well then, sorry again." The English woman spoke finally in a flat voice, one which did not quite hide her disappointment in the reception she had gotten. " I saw the tour book, and just thought talking with an American would be fun. Didn't mean to intrude." She turned away at the woman's continued silence to sit at another table across the small room.
Sarah jumped up as the woman sat down, as if suddenly coming awake. She approached the other tourist in a rush.
"You must think me very rude or completely mad. Please join me. You looked so much like someone... I know. I was simply startled. Well, speechless really. I would love to have your company. Really." She smiled at the brunette with simple charm and honest interest. "Please join me."
The English woman smiled at the young woman in spite of herself.
"All right. Let's start over, shall we?" She rose to stand beside Sarah, and then followed her back to her table. Both women sat. Sarah filled in the slightly awkward silence.
"Would you like some coffee?"
"Yes. Something to get my brain awake. I'm just here overnight. I'm off to the Peloponnese today. But let me introduce myself. I'm Leah Donbridge. I'm a professor at Oxford, Ancient Studies."
"I'm Sarah Reed. I'm finishing a pathology residency in the US."
"An MD then?"
Sarah nodded in agreement.
"Are you here on vacation, like me, or work? How long will you stay?"
"Two months, actually. I am doing some site work for a course I teach."
"How wonderful. I'm jealous. I'm only here two more weeks, three weeks in all. You have your tour all planned, I'm sure."
"To a point. I flew in yesterday. I've been to Athens before, so I didn't want to waste time here in the city this trip."
"I was gong to tour the mainland for a few days, and then go to Crete."
"Are you on a tour, per se?"
"No. I hate to be herded like sheep. Are you?"
"No tours, thanks."
"Are you traveling alone?"
"Me too. Have you rented a car yet?" Sarah added as an afterthought.
"No. I need to find one today, and then take off."
Both women ate quietly, yet not uncomfortable in the other's presence.
"So," Sarah spoke slowly, thinking as she phrased her question, "you planning on heading north?"
"Yes. I plan on touring the Peloponnese as I said, spend a few days at each site, and then devote most of my time at Delphi."
"Well, I was wondering..." Sarah continued almost shyly.
"Yes and no."
Sarah smiled puzzled at the unexpected answer.
"Yes, I'd love your company."
"And no, you wouldn't be intruding. "
"You are very nice." Sarah spoke up, surprised a little at her own lack of self-consciousness, and the words that spilled out without her caring. Both women smiled easily at the other.
"I'm sure I could learn a lot from you." Sarah continued hopefully.
"Maybe more than you might want." the professor laughed.
"And I do have a car." Sarah offered happily.
"And when you've had enough of the ruins and Greek history, you can take off for Crete, or another island of your choosing. It will be delightful to have you along."
"Sounds like a plan. Are you sure I won't be in the way?"
"Really not. It's nice to have such intelligent and charming company."
"Well, I don't know about the charming part. I'm actually very quiet, usually. And rarely so spontaneous. "
"Myself as well. We'll be a perfect match."
Both women smiled warmly, and returned to their breakfasts.
"Meet you at the desk at ten o'clock?"
"Right. I'll be waiting."
It was with unexpected excitement that Sarah packed her last few things in her single travel bag, and walked to the steps and down to the lobby . Suddenly the vacation had taken on an entirely different air. She was off to see more of Greece. She seemed to have found the perfect traveling companion, knowledgeable, and pleasant, and very attractive, she added. Life was so odd at times.
There was no doubt about it. She sighed out loud at her thoughts. This tourist looked and sounded like the woman in her dreams, except for the accent, and the obvious culture and education she reeked of. Now what were the odds she was unattached? Gay? And interested in her? Small at best. And she wasn't even sure she wanted to start something with the attractive professor. Still, it should be fun for a week or two, to share the woman's company. She'd learn a lot, and have the time to find out more of this tall dark haired woman who had arrived magically at her table that morning. Quite an adventure, no matter what.
What would her mother say about her taking off with a total stranger?
'Too trusting. Too gullible. Oh well, it just feels right. What could happen? If we don't get along, I'll be long gone. I have no valuables to be stolen. I have no definite
plans. And I can certainly take care of myself. So, enough worries. Off to the Peloponnese!'
The next week passed quickly for both women. Leah felt an instant connection to the young doctor that she could not explain. It was nice to have a friend for a change, not just an acquaintance. She did feel a real friendship evolving between them. Her life was filled with students, co-workers, but no one with whom she could relax and be herself, to just open up and talk and laugh with. She found the young doctor delightful. Sarah seemed interested in the ruins, seemed to appreciate the information she shared with her.
But the week had been more than just an opportunity to lecture on a subject she knew and loved . Rather, Sarah continued to surprise her with her unique perspective of Greece, its history and culture and especially in her ability to see beauty everywhere. And so, through Sarah's eyes, Leah experienced more of Greece than she ever had in the past. It seemed that the most memorable times were often the simplest: sitting on a hill, looking at wild flowers, finding an abandoned church with the sky as a roof filled with birds, waiting for a woman and her donkey to pass so they could drive down a dusty road, or sitting on the roadside cutting oranges for lunch and sipping wine, eating pistachios together. Sarah seemed to have a talent for finding the best inns and restaurants, and desserts. Leah hadn't had so much fun in years, too long actually. She stopped her thoughts to look over at the young woman driving, chatting about something they had seen. She smiled despite herself at the happiness that just seemed to radiate off the blonde.
"I thought you said you were actually very quiet."
Sarah suddenly stilled to turn and catch her companion's expression.
"Am I bothering you? I'm not thinking. Just babbling I suppose." She was suddenly embarrassed. She pulled the car off the road to continue the conversation for a moment.
"Hey there. You do know i was just joking with you, I hope. I was actually thinking, while you were babbling away," she smiled kindly at Sarah to soften her words, "that I have had such a wonderful time this entire week. Really. I can't thank you enough for keeping me company, for listening to all my pedantic discussions of Greek history and myth with such graciousness, for adopting my agenda for your few weeks here."
"Thank me? You're kidding, right? I'm the one who should be thanking you. I've never seen so much, learned so much. You'll think I'm crazy, but I hate to see the 18th approach. I wish I could stay awhile longer, travel more with you. This vacation, for so many reasons, has been unforgettable."
"Yes, I know what you mean. " Both women smiled almost shyly at each other.
"You know, we still have five days together, before you fly out," Leah spoke up. "I feel guilty you did not get to Crete or any of the islands."
"I can always come back. Frankly I preferred to spend the time with you. But you know that, I think." Leah smiled again at the young woman, charmed by her honesty, as she continued. "Maybe we could do the islands some other time? I mean, how many women get a professor of Greek history , proficient in the Greek language and customs, to fend for them? Can I tempt you to think about another tour with me?"
"What do you say...rather, let's abandon Ancient Greece for your last few days, and be bums? Do some beaches and get some sun? I have six more weeks to finish my tour, but only a few days more I could spend with you. It would please me very much
to do such with you."
"Well, you don't have to, on my account."
"No, it would be fun. I am being selfish in this. Why Crete, if I may ask?"
"Don't know. Just picked it."
"Well, " Leah continued, "I have some friends who own a hotel on an island. It's supposed to be very beautiful. I was thinking about going later on. Are you up for a rustic hotel on an unspoiled Greek island?"
Sarah smiled at her happily. "Sure. Why not? The unexpected is always more fun. Sometimes my life is so ordered, my days so routine. Well, to summarize: I am definitely up for some adventure. Tell me about your friends. From Oxford?"
"Actually from my undergraduate days. But you may not be so sure when I describe the place a little more."
"What? No electricity? No indoor plumbing?"
"No. Nothing like that." Leah laughed at the face Sarah was making. "No really, I'm not sure how open minded you are, is all." She added more seriously.
"Open minded? As in?"
"Well, my friends have been a couple for several years now."
"That's nice. And?"
"Well," Leah hesitated a moment more. "You see, they are two women."
"Ah. And the hotel is..."
Leah continued, answering the unspoken question. "...gay friendly, shall we say?"
Sarah could not help raise an eyebrow at this admission. She continued, fascinated by this revelation from her new friend. "And are they good friends of yours? How good friends are they, in fact?" Sarah teased the professor gently, who actually blushed under her scrutiny.
"I've never been ...involved with them, in that way, if that is what you mean to ask."
"Only kidding you, Leah. Don't get sensitive on me. It's OK. Might be interesting. Gay men, or just lesbians?"
"I've never been. But women oriented, I believe. It won't bother you, or anything? It is your last few days of vacation. I just thought...well, it is not far from here. And some swimming and relaxation might be a nice way to end the vacation. And I know they are very good cooks. The food should be excellent, which is important, as you seem to love to eat and all."
"Well, don't you?"
"Guilty as charged," Sarah laughed but became a little more self- conscious, realizing she had been staring at Leah while she thought of a hundred things.
Leah interpreted her embarrassment differently.
"Not a good idea?" Leah asked hesitantly, seeing the odd expression on Sarah's face.
"What? No, I'm sorry. I was just thinking. Let's go. You can educate me about Sappho and her role in Greek history and the Arts. I do need to get a tan before I go back to the labs, or I'll never hear the end of it."
"And the women's thing? You don't mind?"
"Well, we ARE women. It will be relaxing, and no doubt educational. So, which way? Do you have to call them?"
"Let's stop for lunch, and I'll give them a ring. See if they have some rooms for us, on such short notice."
"It's a plan."
Sarah was finishing up her baklava and sweet Greek coffee when Leah returned to the table.
"Well, it is very close." Leah sat down, collecting her thoughts.
"And they would love to have us come."
"And it is actually an entire island to roam."
"They have a launch they run back and forth to the resort. Very private. But you might get more of an education than you want."
"Why is that?"
"Well, it is more like a private club, so I gather. Women only."
"Well, a hotel, a bar, a dance club and the beach."
"Sounds nice. Why the hesitation?"
"But more topless or nude bathing, actually. I'm not sure if I can handle it myself....nude bathing alone is one thing, or with someone special. But an island full of strange women into nude bathing and each other..."
"Don't worry. I will defend you."
"You'll defend me?"
"In case someone hits on you. " Sarah winked at her playfully.
"And you'll defend me how?" Leah smiled in pleasure at the blondes words and mannerisms.
"I'll just claim you as mine. That should keep all those lesbians at a distance."
"Sarah, you are too much!" She laughed again at the outrageous statement and logic behind it.
"What? You don't think I could defend you? Or you don't think you could pass as mine?"
The conversation was getting too convoluted, and almost had taken a serious bent.
"Sarah, I think we should go to Crete."
Sarah put her hand gently on Leah's arm. " We should go see your friends. And we will be fine."
"I don't want to get you involved in something you don't want, Sarah."
Sarah's eyes were suddenly intense, despite the gentle smile on her lips.
"And who said I don't want to get involved, Leah? We never did talk about anything personal. You really don't know all that much about me. For all you know, I could be as queer as a duck. " Sarah kidded the black haired woman gently.
"Queer as a duck?"
"I could be, I said."
"Why don't you ask me?" Leah spoke softly.
"Ask you what?"
"Whether I am as queer as a duck."
"Leah, I don't mind if you are or aren't. I really enjoy spending time with you, and it would be fun to swim and relax. Let's just stop analyzing, and worrying. And have fun. OK?"
"I think we should get this out in the open."
"They only have one room. We'd have to share."
"We've done it before this week. "
"But, god, this is embarrassing. It's not a good idea."
"There is only one bed! And they'll assume...."
"Your friend and her partner?"
"Yes, and everyone else there."
"And would you mind if they assumed we were together? A couple?"
"Actually I would not mind."
Sarah smiled at her uncommon embarrassment.
"Would not mind if they thought we were a couple? Or if we were a couple?"
Leah looked seriously at the woman who had become so close to her in such a short time, saw again for the hundredth time the beauty in her face, her trim muscular frame, full breasts, enchanting eyes and lips, all that had so appealed to her from the first day she had approached her in Athens. Sarah caught the lingering look.
"Leah, you are so busted!"
"God, Sarah. This is not turning out like I intended. I just wanted your last few days in Greece to be special."
"Are you making fun of me, Sarah Reed?"
"Me? " Sarah's eyes sparkled with mischief. "Am I making you uncomfortable talking about all this in the open?"
"I don't want to spoil our friendship, Sarah. This time with you has been so wonderful. Really. I..."
Sarah took Leah's hand in her own and gently stroked her long fingers. She spoke without looking up to meet her eyes.
"Leah, let's go to the beach. And nothing will change how I feel about you, OK?"
"And how do you feel about me, Sarah?"
"Are you sure you want to know?"
"Tell me. Please."
Sarah shifted close, letting her leg touch Leah's thigh, and continued her sensual caress of Leah's hand and forearm.
"I'd like very much to get to know you better, Leah."
Sarah looked up finally, meeting Leah's incredible blue eyes, and let affection and warmth show in her own. And something more. There was no doubt in her own mind what she felt for this dark beauty, from the moment she had stood beside her at breakfast that first day....desire.
Leah saw all she needed to see in the brown eyes that studied her.
"This can't be happening, can it?"
"Why not, Leah?"
"It's too good to be real." Leah continued softly.
Sarah pulled Leah's hand toward her lips, and kissed her palm softly, and smiled at the confused emotions visible on Leah's face. She continued to smile as she tugged Leah up, and started walking leading her toward the hostess.
"Let's pay our bill, and get out of here, OK?"
"All right, then. I'll drive. I know the directions"
"Good. I'll follow your lead," hearing as she spoke the subtext in her statement, and unable to change the fact that her voice had become slightly husky. Both women felt suddenly warm.
They drove in relative silence about forty minutes, both women caught up in her own thoughts, looking periodically at the other, when they weren't observed.
"So, this should be the place." Leah spoke up, as she slowed the car in a small parking area near a boat launch. "Meg said she'd meet us here in an hour or so. She needed to come across for some supplies, and would wait for us, if we wished."
"Good. I'll get the bags. We can sit on the dock and wait."
Sarah spoke up after another fifteen minutes of almost strained silence and tension. "Leah, are you all right? We really don't have to do this, if it makes you uncomfortable. Nothing has to happen between us either, you know. We're both adults. We've just expressed a mutual attraction, but we can stay friends. No pressure. I don't feel any. Smile, please?"
Leah smiled despite her own fears. "We really should talk about it." Leah finally spoke up.
"Fine. So talk," Sarah added kindly. " You first. It's your turn. I am usually the one to do the gabbing."
"I still feel awkward about all of this."
"What could you tell me that I haven't heard about or seen? We can talk. What are friends for?"
"Alright." Leah sighed. " Well, I am."
"Queer as a duck?" Sarah teased her.
Leah looked at the young woman sitting beside her on the dock, and saw only affection and respect in her eyes, the expression on her face open and nonjudgmental.
"Well, yes. That is one way to say it. I haven't been with anyone in a few years. I used to be quite a flirt in college. That's how I met Meg and Beth. We used to do the bar scene. But they got very serious about each other, and I got burned too many times, never found the right someone, you see. So I stopped trying in the last few years. Just closed that chapter in my life, you know? I've dated a few men recently, but nothing serious, escorts to faculty parties, and such. More for appearances sake."
"They don't know about your preferences at Oxford? Would they mind, the administration?"
"Don't know, actually. I'm such a privacy freak. I don't mix business with pleasure. And my life has been mostly business of late, at any rate."
"I didn't realize how much until I met you, Sarah."
"That is sweet to say, Leah. I feel the same way, actually. Like I said before, I hate the thought of going back home. This really has been a wonderful vacation."
"I've had such fun. And more importantly, I do care about you, Leah. More than I expected I could in such a short time. And I feel so comfortable with you, you know?"
"Yes, I do know. So tell me, Sarah Reed, MD...are you into women? Or toying with the idea of experimenting?"
"Well, isn't any relationship an experiment of sorts? Scientifically speaking of course." Sarah added, half serious. "Trial and error?"
"I suppose so But there are relationships and RELATIONSHIPS, as in casual good time, without caring? and then something more in contrast."
"What would you like our last few days to be, Leah? " Sarah asked softly, without looking up.
"Well, you have not talked about yourself yet. Not fair, you know. Getting me to open up, about my past and my friends."
"I know. Just feeling you out a bit, before I make a fool of myself."
"Never, Sarah. Not with me." Leah added, touching her cheek softly, lifting her chin gently to turn the blonde's face to look up at her. "So?"
""Well," Sarah sighed herself. "I'm not sure what I'm all about, Leah. I have never been in any serious relationships before, with men or women. I've somehow never connected with anyone in that way."
"Have you had lovers?" Leah asked softly, studying her face as she talked.
" A few." Sarah laughed self-consciously. "Not a virgin, if that's what you mean. "
"Men or women?"
"A few of both actually. I mean, I have not been promiscuous, or anything. But nothing clicked. I did not feel any magic or passion, I guess. Never really been in love." she added almost sadly.
"Love is harder to come by then most people think. I can attest to that. Sarah?"
"I don't want us to be just a fling. What I feel for you is already more than I have felt in so long for anyone. I really care about you. I don't want to hurt you in any way."
"I'm a big girl, Leah. And isn't life about taking chances? I'm not worried. We've not had any pretense between us from the start, right?"
"You're very beautiful, Leah."
"You're kidding, right? You do know everywhere we go, people stare at you. Men and women."
"No they don't."
" Oh, yes. You look like some exotic model."
"And when you smile, I get weak in the knees. Time just stops somehow when you look at me."
"Have I been that obvious? I thought I was being good."
" Oh, you have. You just affect me so."
"The feeling is very mutual."
"I want to touch you. May I? " As she spoke, she slowly reached over and touched Leah's face felt her turn into her palm, and smiled when she observed Leah close her eyes at her gentle caress.
"Where is that friend of yours anyway? I'd like to carry on this conversation somewhere a little more private."
"Yes. Probably not a the best idea to hold you in my arms or kiss you here." Leah added. " But God, I want to feel you near me. Greece IS really very backward in a lot of ways. Not open to women being more liberated, shall we say? Big into Catholicism, the family, children, all the traditional values. Open lesbian relationships are just not done here."
"How do your friends manage then? And to have a woman's resort?"
"Well, they are foreigners. I suppose the western mentality is radical in many ways to the locals. But more than that I don't really know. Unless what goes on on the island is kept there. Which is what I suspect. How about in the States? Things are not that out , are they?"
"No. Although I am hardly the expert on the subject. I do know that gay couples aren't recognized anywhere but Hawaii and Canada. And Vermont, of all places. Same sex couples don't do PDA, in mixed crowds. But I've never really done the gay scene.
Never came out. My bisexuality has been very private."
"Are you sure you're up for a women's resort where I'm sure PDA are very evident? Are you up for some scrutiny?"
"With you I am."
"Excellent." Leah leaned over and kissed the top of Sarah's blonde hair. Both women sat quietly, feeling the bond between them grow.
A car's horn broke the easy silence.
The professor turned to find Meg parking a small car, and then hauling some groceries toward the dock.
"Meg!" Sarah watched as the two women embraced, and smiled at Meg's inspection of both Leah and herself.
Leah spoke up. "Meg, this is my friend, Sarah Reed. This is Meg Gleason."
"Nice to meet you, Sarah. So happy to have you and Leah stay with us for a few days, and happy as well to see Leah looking so content." Meg added, hitting Leah on the arm with friendly camaraderie.
Leah colored a little under Meg's careful inspection.
Sarah interrupted the moment, to ease Leah's discomfort.
"Do you have more bags to carry over?"
"A few more boxes of supplies."
"Let me help?" Sarah jumped up and was soon carrying a large box of paper goods toward the dock and the two waiting women. Meg watched the young blonde approach, and spoke quietly to Leah.
"She is lovely, Leah."
"You deserve a little happiness. I'm glad for you."
"Well, we're not...."
"Not yet, you mean. Who's kidding whom?"
"Yes, well, perhaps..."
Sarah had moved closer. "Where shall I put this?"
"Oh, sorry. We were just gossiping. Come on. The boat is down here."
"Let me jump on board and Leah can hand me the luggage and the staples. Shall I lock up the car? There is one more box to fetch."
"I'll get it." Leah spoke up quickly, shaken out of her thoughts.
"Don't be silly. I'll be right back." She turned and walked back toward the car, checking their own rental and locking it, and lifting the last box out of Meg's car, carrying it as well to the dock. " Are the cars safe here?"
"Yes. This is our parking area. The cars here are our other guests."
Sarah had noticed the ten or so cars parked about.
"How big is your hotel?"
"Twenty rooms. And our quarters. Let's go. I'm sure you want to get settled."
The three women had boarded a small launch and soon were headed out across a calm Aegean sea. Sarah was surprised at how long they had traveled.
"Where exactly is this island? " She spoke loudly over the engine noise.
"Not much further. Really."
"Good. I get sea sick."
"Are you all right now?" Leah asked, concern in her voice.
"OK for now." Even as she spoke, however, her stomach rumbled. She was very pleased to see an island appear before them, and to feel the boat slow.
"Home sweet home." Meg called over her shoulder.
Before long, the boat was docked and supplies and luggage sat in a wooden cart.
"A donkey cart?" Leah asked incredulously.
"Well, this is Greece. And we are on a small island. Fuel is at a premium."
"You do have electricity?" Leah asked, suddenly concerned about what she had gotten Sarah involved with.
"What?" both guests asked in unison.
"We do have generators, but we live very simply here. And we do use lanterns and candles. Actually very romantic, if I do say so. But come on. Let's get along. You can ride or walk."
"I'll walk, thanks. " Sarah spoke up quickly.
"It is not very far. Maybe half a mile."
As the two women walked along side the donkey cart, deep in thought, they each felt content and peaceful. The island and it's simplicity seemed like it belonged to another time. Timeless really. The scenery was beautiful, the air filled with the scent of flowers and the sea. The sky could not have been bluer. A pleasant breeze cooled the air. The sound of birds and the steady rhythm of the donkey's steps was almost hypnotic. Sarah looked up at Leah beside her and smiled.
"What?" Leah felt her eyes upon her and smiled back.
"Just happy, that's all. "
Leah reached over to give Sarah's hand a passing squeeze, and was surprised when Sarah did not release her.
"OK? " Sarah asked shyly.
"Very OK." The taller woman held Sarah's hand gently but firmly, and let their fingers intertwine. The doctor's hand was smaller than hers, soft and delicate. Meg smiled to herself as she watched the couple. Leah looked up and grinned at her, like a happy child, and then shook her head in amazement, overcome with a strong sense of deja vue, as if they had walked this road before, so many times together. She suddenly felt better than she had in her entire life. The awkwardness and hesitation she had felt in suggesting this visit, at revealing her interest in Sarah, vanished. She wanted to love this woman, to share all of herself and trusted her heart to lead her wherever it would.
They passed a few stucco houses scattered on low hillsides, the stark white of each softened by flowers at the windows and doors, and the bright shutters and doorways, blues and reds and brown tiled roofs. Before long, the hotel itself was in front of them, another one story stucco building overlooking the sea. The interior was cool, between thick walls and tiled floors, the windows open to allow the ocean breeze free reign.
"Let me show you around. I'll bring your things in later after I get the supplies."
Meg had changed little over the last ten years, Leah thought, as she followed her down a long hallway. She was short, muscular, dressed in her standard jeans and sandals. Her brown hair was loose down her back, though now highlighted by a little gray and her skin well tanned. She looked healthy and happy, her eyes bright and her step confident. She had always been attractive, and the years had only softened her features, rendering her even more appealing.
"Here's the only dining room. And the club is below here. We eat outside whenever we can. And usually have music and dancing at night on the patio as well. The rooms are around back."
She led them through the building, to another long patio, parallel to the cliff and surrounded on three sides by rooms.
"The beach is down below. We have stairways down, plus that road there winds down as well. The beach is great. You can explore later."
Sarah noticed a few people strolling by: couples who walked past clad in sun wraps or shorts, a few topless and tanned, all friendly, nodding in greeting. She was surprised by the variety of women, from their 20's to 60's, but all somehow sharing Meg's confidence and grace. It seemed a wonderful place. She separated herself from Leah and her guide to walk to the edge of the patio, and look down the rocky cliff to the sea. They were thirty or forty feet up the cliff side. Below were coves, rocky beaches where women sat lounging or swam. The water was aquamarine and so clear, shimmering in the sunlight. There were small sail boats on the water. She could see fishing boats past the rocks and watched them bob quietly on the waves.
"It is beautiful, Meg. Leah, thank you for suggesting this visit."
"Let me show you your room." Meg smiled easily at the compliment. She was used to their guest's reactions to her own piece of paradise. She was only too happy to share it with other appreciative women. Meg led the way across the patio to open a blue door. "We don't lock our doors. We all tend to know each other. People come back year after year, or know us from our former guests. No locks at all. And everything is very low key. We are all family. Hope you don't mind?"
Leah answered without hesitation. "I'm sure it will be fine, Meg. Thank you again for accommodating us on the spur of the moment."
"It is our pleasure to have you here. You know how welcome you are. But anyway, we all respect each other's privacy here as well. Each of us appreciates the freedom and acceptance here of our lifestyle. You can do whatever you want, and no one is judgmental." She turned to Sarah. "Leah did tell you about the beach? You can use suits or not. Whatever you are comfortable with. The sun is hot though, I should warn you. Use sunscreen especially between 10 and 3. The water is warm, no strong currents. Nothing in the water to worry about. You'll need mats for the beach, not really sandy, you see. Rather the beach is made up of small rocks and gravel. Not a problem to walk on, but rough to sleep on without a mat. The mats are down on the rocks to the right. Help yourself. There are chairs scattered about as well."
"Dinner is late...usually 8 or so. Any questions?"
"I don't think so."
"All right then. I'll bring your luggage around in a bit. Enjoy."
"Thanks, Meg." Leah hugged her again. " Great to see you after all these years. We'll have to visit later, get caught up on our lives."
"I am sure Beth will want to visit. We can talk after dinner? I know she's cooking something wonderful for tonight. Don't forget, candles are needed for the night. You'll find them inside. We use the generator for the kitchen and dining room. All the rooms are without electricity. And at night, we use torches down to the beach and along the walkways. Peaceful, quiet and private. OK?"
"Everything is just perfect. Thanks again for having us." Sarah smiled as she spoke. Meg left them to settle in. Sarah stood in the middle of the spacious cool room, thick white stucco walls, open windows without panes, shutters open to let in bright sunshine. The few furnishings were simple: a large bed, colorful throws, benches and pillows beneath the windows, built in dressers, a small bath and cool brown tile floor. There were candles mounted on the walls in colorful sconces. She plopped happily on the bed and stretched out. Leah sat at a window seat and watched her, smiling in appreciation of the young woman.
"Leah, thank you, for everything. This place is fantastic."
"It is, isn't it? I would not have come, if you weren't with me."
"Well, I tend to just work, you see. This is too close to being nice to myself." She added trying to be funny about a fact of her life about which she was increasingly unhappy.
"You do deserve to be nice to yourself."
"Well, I suppose. And I would have felt odd coming here alone."
"I am sure women do come here alone."
"I suppose so." Leah did not sound convinced.
"And you could have visited with your friends."
"I know. But we were close such a long time ago. My life has taken a different path from theirs."
"Meg seems nice."
'What's nice about friends, no matter how long apart people are, good friends somehow stay just that. There is a bond there that's lasting."
"I don't have a lot of experience with friends."
"We'll have to work on that."
"If you want, that is. Or we can share friends."
"I'd like that, Sarah."
"What? More friends? Or sharing? And sharing friends, or sharing more?"
"You are quite a flirt, doctor."
"Just with you, actually. I can't help it. You bring out all sorts of things in me, professor, that I did not know about."
"What sort of things, doctor?"
"Nice things. Come over here and I'll show you." She patted the bed beside her. She watched Leah slowly approach, again simply overwhelmed by her beauty, her grace. She was tall and sleek, muscular, exuding a strong sexuality and charisma. Leah sat beside Sarah's reclining form.
"No. Down here." Sarah continued softly.
Leah stretched out beside her and turned to study the charming and attractive woman. She noticed that her cheeks were slightly flushed, her eyes darkened, her lips so full and so close. She wanted to kiss her very much.
"Maybe we should wait for the luggage."
"Professor, what did you think I was offering?"
"To share, like this?" Sarah slowly approached Leah, their lips close and each felt the other's breath. With exquisite slowness, Sarah closed the distance between them and brushed Leah's lips softly with her own. She pulled away and watched Leah as she opened her eyes.
"I like sharing." Leah murmured softly. She reached out to brush a lock of hair that had fallen across Sarah's face and took the opportunity to again touch her, letting her fingers trail across her cheek, jaw, neck and ear, feeling Sarah arch her neck to give her free access. Sarah mirrored Leah's touch, letting her own
fingers caress Leah's face and neck, and then let them outline Leah's lips.
"You are driving me crazy, Sarah." Leah whispered, her breath coming a little quicker, her pulse already fast. She kissed the fingertip lingering near her lips and gently closed her lips around it, pulling Sarah's finger into her mouth. Her tongue gently licked the finger.
At the touch, Sarah wanted Leah's lips and tongue elsewhere, feeling her nipples harden and her apex warm. She pulled her finger free to tangle both hands in Leah's hair, pulling her closer, and kissing her again, harder. She felt Leah's lips open, inviting more. She lost herself in the feel and taste of her
soft lips, her closeness. She gave herself up to the growing hunger that filled her. Sarah outlined Leah's lips with her tongue, and when she felt Leah's other hand move to her breast and gently outline her already hard nipple with her fingertip, she thrust her tongue deep into Leah's mouth, and swallowed the moan the woman made. She wanted to feel more of this beautiful woman. She rolled quickly, covering Leah with her own body, and moaned herself when she felt Leah's breasts press against her. Her legs opened to encircle Leah's hips,straddling her, feeling Leah push upward and slowly grind against her sex. Leah's tongue demanded entrance to her mouth, and she sucked greedily on the muscle. Leah broke away from the kiss reluctantly.
"Sarah" She could hardly talk, her voice thick with passion. "Sarah, we should close the shutters."
The young blonde let her hand roam across the fullness of Leah's breasts, her shoulders. "Don't want to stop."
"I hear people outside, in the courtyard."
"Ugh..." Sarah rolled off, and lay breathless on her back. " God, Leah, you are wonderful to kiss, to touch."
"It's not me. It's you, Sarah."
"I love when you say my name."
Leah smiled tenderly at her young companion, but rose to attend to the windows. Instead she stood looking at the woman before her, eyes half closed, her breath slowing. The blonde was simply breathtaking, and tender regard mixed with a strong desire for her filled her, startling her with the intensity of all the blonde evoked in her.
"I've never felt like this with anyone, Sarah. Not so much, or so sweet. I can hardly stand up. My knees are weak."
"I want you, Leah. All of you." Sarah almost growled. " Close the shutters, block the door and come back over here."
"This is so much more than I ever hoped for." Leah smiled a little sadly before turning to do what was requested. She hesitated before turning back. Sarah sensed the mood change.
"What's wrong? Too much too soon? You don't want to do this?"
Leah still did not answer or turn.
"I'm sorry. Maybe I assumed too much. It's all right to stop. No hard feelings. I just got carried away. I should apologize to you."
Leah spun around, alarmed at her words.
"No, Sarah. You don't understand." She spoke slowly, her voice husky. She wiped a tear from her eye. " I feel like such a fool. I am just so overwhelmed by this, by you. I don't want to...I just need a moment to focus." Leah knelt beside the bed, again touching Sarah's face gently. "You are so lovely. I have never wanted anything so much."
"Hey you. Don't go all mushy on me." Sarah spoke gently.
"I'm not used to being so open about my emotions. Or being so vulnerable as I feel now. Wanting you so much. Needing you like this."
Sarah sat up, and just embraced the dark beauty as she knelt by the bed, letting her arms encircle her, her thighs just touching her, and folded her into her warmth.
"I would never hurt you, Leah. Maybe we're going too fast. We don't know each other very well, perhaps. Let's get comfortable with each other. If this is meant to be..."
"No. I want to make love with you. If you will allow me." She looked intently into Sarah's eyes. "Let me love you."
Sarah lost herself again in the serious blue eyes holding her gaze.
And with permission, Leah crushed her lips to Sarah's, her tongue claiming her mouth, and her hands moving across the blonde's back, cupping her buttocks and pulling her hard against herself. She broke the kiss only to move her lips to Sarah's neck, kissing and sucking until Sarah moaned. Leah's hands moved to pull Sarah's shirt free and and then slipped it over her head, and unclasped her bra. She greedily cupped a free breast, rubbing her nipple with her thumb, and teasing the hardened pearl by pulling and squeezing it, until she bent to capture the nipple in her mouth. All the while her hands roamed to Sarah's back, to the expanse of silken skin of her abdomen and shoulders. Her feather light touches moved down to her buttock and teased her, moving ever closer to the blond's apex.
"Please, Leah. Touch me."
Leah moved again to kiss the blond, slow lingering kisses, both gentle but commanding. She pushed the blonde backward, so that her shoulders rested on the bed. Sarah moved her legs, bending them to allow herself to recline fully.
"No." Leah held her still, returning her legs over the side of the bed. Sarah allowed her to lead their passionate dance. Leah bent to remove first the blonde's sandals, letting her hands slowly caress feet and legs, kissing her toes. She moaned as Sarah moaned in response to the sensual touches and caresses. She kissed her way up one leg, stopping mid thigh where shorts stopped, to move to the other thigh.
"Leah, I need... you." Sarah could not think or talk with the overload of sensation she was experiencing. She was rapidly loosing control.
"Unbutton your shorts." Leah spoke quietly, her voice thick with desire. Sarah fumbled with the buttons, clumsy, distracted by the arousal and passion that filled her.
"Push them down to me, Sarah. I want to see you." Leah continued to speak in a low voice.
Sarah lifted her hips, pushing the pants down, taking her briefs with them, until the clothes were at her knees. Leah pulled them off, tossing them to the ground in a quick motion, forcing Sarah's knees apart. Sarah gasped at the sudden move, exposing her most intimate parts to Leah's hungry eyes, to the rush of air touching her heated center. She sensed before she felt Leah's face as it slowly approached between her legs. Her heart was racing. She could feel her own wetness on her thighs, and the heady fullness of her sex, the hunger and need deep in her. She lay still, just watching her dark lover, giving her complete control of what happened next. She surrendered to her, lost in a sensual haze. Her mouth was suddenly dry, pulse pounding, her breath ragged. She licked her lips. She wanted Leah's mouth on her. The moments stretched with Leah only caressing her thighs, teasing her pubic hair until she wanted to beg. But in a quick motion, her hips were lifted, and her legs draped over Leah's strong shoulders and Leah's hot breath on her intimate center made her shudder. Then Leah's lips and tongue were on her, were everywhere. Just to be so open and exposed almost pushed her over. But Leah's tongue teased her, licked her. Where she most needed her attention was avoided. The sensual purring Leah made as she made love with her mouth made the young woman melt even more. Soft kisses exploring her folds, her thighs spread open. And then Leah was licking along the length of her, circling her anus with her tongue's brush strokes.
"God, Leah. What are you doing to me? Just don't stop."
She lifted herself up, pushing herself harder against Leah's mouth and tongue, moving in a slow rhythm against her, needing more. She touched her own nipples, kneading her breasts.
Leah could feel Sarah start to tremble, knew how close she was to release, and suddenly plunged deep and hard into her center, filling her with long fingers, and at the same moment, capturing her clitoris between her lips, and pushing hard with the flat of her tongue. Sarah crashed into a powerful orgasm, slamming hard back onto the bed. Her flesh contracted in waves of pleasure, around Leah's fingers. Gently touching with tongue and lips, subtle movements of Leah's hand and fingers prolonged the moment of release, eliciting more rhythmic contractions that brought forth a wordless grunt from Sarah. Leah stilled her ministrations, resting against her thigh.
Sarah tried to sit up, but Leah stilled her yet again, and after a few moments resumed her attention to Sarah's center.
"Leah, I can't. You feel so good. God..."
But Leah's insistent kisses and fingers which had stayed in place were once again stirring arousal, forcing her to climb that pinnacle. Sarah found herself thrusting back against Leah's hand and soon was floating in a sea of pleasure and release. She lost track of time and space, knowing only of Leah's touches and the place they took her too. Someone cried out, and she wasn't sure if she made the strained moan she heard. She was only aware of Leah laying beside her, cradling her sweat glistening body in a strong embrace until sleep claimed her.
Leah watched her lover, enthralled by her beauty and loveliness. A few moments passed, with no sounds but their mutual breathing. Leah was surprised to feel Sarah jolt awake, almost startled, and speak out urgently.
"Don't let me fall asleep. Please, don't let me sleep."
"Hush, love. It's all right. I just want to hold you."
"No, you don't understand."
"What? What don't I understand? Are you afraid? Did I hurt you?"
Sarah's voice was small and frightened. "I can't sleep. You'll be gone when I wake."
"Sarah, where would I go? And why would I want to go? I think you are still half asleep. " Leah spoke soothingly, trying to comfort her distress without understanding it. She petted her hair gently. " We're all right, aren't we? You don't regret letting me love you?"
Sarah pulled a few inches away, to better regard Leah's face and eyes, and seemed to calm.
"I'm sorry, Leah. You'll think me totally mad." She made an effort to make light of her comments.
Leah sensed there was more to the moment than Sarah's dismissal of what happened. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"No. Not now. Maybe later. " She lay back down, curling up against Leah's breasts and draped her arm and leg across the still dressed woman. She smiled as she let herself relax, pushing away her discomfort. "God, that was incredible."
"Didn't disappoint you?"
"Leah...I think the earth shifted on its axis."
Sarah found herself getting sleepy again, nestled against her lover's warmth. She didn't realize as she drifted of, that her thoughts were voiced out loud in her half sleep state.
"So good. Hard to believe. Even better than the last time with you."
Leah couldn't help looking at the young doctor questioningly, but she was already asleep, her breathing slow and soft against her neck. She shrugged, still puzzled and oddly troubled by the comment, but did not want to move. She found herself drowsy and well, and gave herself up to her own sleep and dreams.
Sarah stretched, waking slowly, and rolled on her side, missing Leah's warmth and softness. A sinking feeling, a dread filled her as she found herself alone, yet again. She sat up, bewildered, looking around herself with haunted eyes. She dressed hurriedly and found herself gulping back tears. She thought hopelessly,
'I just can't. I can't take it anymore. It can't be happening again. NO!'
She flung the door open and was momentarily blinded by the brightness of the afternoon sun. She stood frozen like a deer in headlights, rubbing her eyes from the glare, and the tears that came despite her will.
"Hey." Leah's low voice near her made her turn, and she focused on the tall form sitting on a stone wall just watching her. Sarah surprised her, as she ran to her, wrapping her in a fierce embrace. "Are you crying? Whatever it is, I'll fix it. I promise."
Leah whispered to the woman, holding her tightly, as she trembled with a quiet sobs. Sarah struggled for control.
They stayed like that for long moments, until Leah felt Sarah relax and calm in her arms. She turned her face up gently, and kissed her eyes and tasted her tears. She continued a slow massage of Sarah's shoulders and back.
The young doctor studied Leah's face and saw only regard, affection and concern. "We should talk." Sarah spoke finally with determination.
"Whenever you want, love."
"You'll discover what a nut case you've picked up in Greece."
"I know what a treasure I've found in you, sweet. Why don't you go wash your face. People seeing you will think poorly of me, to make such a beautiful woman cry."
Sarah punched her lightly. "Well, you have shaken my world apart."
"In a good way, I hope."
Sarah just kissed her slowly and thoroughly in response.
"Don't get me started again, Dear. "
"Revenge is sweet." Sarah winked. She pulled away and draped her arm around Leah's waist, and leaned into her strong shoulder.
"Shall we swim?" Leah asked to break the high emotions which Sarah seemed to be having trouble handling. Her growing calm seemed only surface deep to her.
"All right. But you better wear a swim suit. Otherwise I can't be held responsible for my actions, considering how you've rattled my brain so."
"Come on then. Let's change and take the long way down to the beach. It looks empty. I guess we're not the only ones who took an afternoon nap. What do you say? A swim, and nice dinner. Meg said there will be music tonight."
"How about the luggage?"
"Meg dropped it off earlier."
"I didn't even wake. Did she see me...ugh. How embarrassing for her to..."
"She's happy for us."
"I guess she's seen it all before."
"Love, she's done it all before." Both women laughed, the tension and tears banished for the moment. Sarah smiled over at Leah as she changed into her suit, a light blue color that seemed to match her eyes. Leah felt her gaze, looking over and pausing, seeing the admiration in Sarah's eyes.
"Come on, sexy. Let's go swimming. You look so good in that suit!" Leah wore a sleek one piece suit that showed off her height and shapely curves, and managed to reveal all the right things. "We can swim, but I don't think the water will help cool me off, if you know what I mean." Sarah could not disguise the desire she felt just regarding the dark beauty.
"Who said anything about cooling off?" Leah had moved close and bent to kiss Sarah's lips.
"What you do to me, Leah. I'm so wet, I'm afraid people will notice."
Leah let her eyes make a slow inspection of Sarah's body, resting her gaze between the blond's legs.
"We'll jump in the water before anyone sees anything."
"Can you tell?"
Leah laughed. "Only kidding, love. Really you look so beautiful. My heart is so full when I look at you. Come on."
She reached for Sarah's hand and pulled her out the door. "I really do need to cool off."
They walked toward the beach, hands linked, both of them thinking separately that neither had ever felt happier.
The couple had not escaped the watchful eye of Meg and Beth who stood outside the kitchen talking. They smiled knowingly at each other.
"Leah's lucky to have found her." Beth spoke quietly. She was an interesting contrast to Meg: slim and fair, almost waif like, with blonde hair and blue eyes, her face gentle and delicate. "They seem happy. You can feel the chemistry even up here."
"Give you any ideas, my darling?" Meg whispered playfully in Beth's ear.
"You're still the one." Beth kissed her gently on her lips. " Do we have time for a nap?"
"A nap? You old bag. I'll nap you!" She swatted her rear . "What I have in mind does not involve sleeping."
"You are terrible. And I love you, you old devil."
The beach was nearly empty when Leah and Sarah strolled down the rocky road to the sea. They took straw mats from a pile, and Leah stretched out, enjoying the sun and the smell of the sea. She looked up at Sarah who stood near the water's edge.
"Yes, I think so. Want to join me?"
"In a bit I will."
Sarah smiled back at her and walked out into the warm blue water. Compared to the surf stateside, the water was like a warm bath, soft and gentle and soothing. She floated in waist high
water for a while until she heard Leah swim out toward her. "Hey there beautiful."
"The water is heavenly." Sarah spoke her thoughts out loud.
"It is, isn't it. Do you want to swim out further?"
"Do you want to sail or anything?"
"No. I just want to float here, and worship the sky and the sea and you."
"Sarah, you are so wonderful."
They floated quietly side by side, hands linked until the water chilled them. On the beach, they let just the sun warm them again.
" The rocks are different. Gravel instead of sand." Sarah spoke absently. "But I could get used to this so easily. I think I am jealous of Meg and Beth. They have this paradise, day in and day out."
"You'd miss the hospitals and medicine, I dare say."
"Probably. Would you miss teaching?"
"Probably after a while I would. "
"But it is nice to dream, plan for something like this, when you've had enough, you know."
"I've never just enjoyed each moment like this, for the moment's sake. No purpose to it all, just to take it all in, savor it."
"Nice to share it with someone." Sarah added.
"I don't think it would be the same alone. Or without you, for that matter. I have been alone too much, Sarah."
"Do you want to have that talk now? " Leah asked kindly.
"I guess. Would you think it terrible of me to be falling for you, big time?"
"No. The feeling is very mutual. I've known you for what...ten days? Yet I feel so close to you, more so than anyone I've known, Sarah. "
"Which brings me to my confession." At her words, Sarah could see Leah tense visibly. She reached over to touch her arm. "Nothing that bad. No secret past. No attachments."
" Not a bicurious woman married to a football player? Out for adventure?" Leah joked, trying not to be nervous, not wanting to lose her new lover, or to suffer the hurt that seemed to follow any attempt on her part to find someone to ease her loneliness.
"No. What you see is what you get. Just me."
Leah looked at her very seriously. "Why did you cry? Why were you afraid to go to sleep after we made love? Did someone hurt you?"
"Here's the freaky part. Actually....you did."
"What?" Leah could not disguise the puzzlement and shock, a little outrage at the statement.
"I can't believe I'm telling you this!"
"Telling me what? Spill it, sweet. I know I've never met you before. Believe me. I'd remember. You are the most lovely woman I have ever seen."
"Do you remember when you first talked to me, at breakfast? I looked up at you and spilled my coffee all over the table? And you were still gracious enough to join me despite it?"
"Yes. You had the oddest look on your face. Like you'd seen a ghost, as I think I commented on at the time."
"Right. And I said...maybe I had." Her voice was soft and almost timid.
"Start from the beginning, Sarah. Please."
The blonde hesitated, but went on to tell the story of her recurring dream, or memory, or whatever it was, relating the entire encounter and finishing with the desolation she always felt on awakening, to find herself alone. Leah did not respond for a long while, looking quietly out to sea, lost in thought.
"I told you that you would think me mad."
"No, but I...I do wonder if you made love to me, or your dream woman." Leah spoke seriously, not quite concealing the sadness in her voice, or the disappointment that she tried not to feel. "Maybe this whole thing is too good to be true."
"Leah, are you saying you don't feel this between us, can't sense how I feel for you?"
"I know what I feel, Sarah. I only wonder about you."
"You can't imagine I wasn't responding to you, can you? I got over my shock at seeing a familiar face, and dismissed it all until I woke up in your arms. Then the dream seemed too close to the reality of loving you. Leah, I met a wonderful bright woman from Oxford, and found her a great friend and companion. And found I wanted more than friendship. With you, Leah. Not some 60's bar girl. Please believe me. I have no idea what the dream means. You aren't the same person as her. But you do kiss like her. And make me feel such passion and pleasure as she did. But you are real. What I feel for you is real. I guess I was just afraid I'd lose you too. God, what a mess."
Sarah could feel tears building again, and wiped them away with an angry hand.
"I am such a mess today."
"Don't cry, Sarah."
"I did not give myself to you, Leah, because I was fantasizing about some other woman. Please believe me."
"I do, Sarah. And please believe me when I said that I would try to make right whatever is troubling you. Let's talk about this a bit, if you can. Is there such a place, this town, this bar?"
"I have no idea. I never took it so seriously to investigate. Dreams are odd. I just know though, that the intensity of pleasure and completeness, and then the longing that I feel on waking are all so powerful. All my other relationships paled in comparison until you, Leah. Until you made love with me. And it felt right. Better than the dream. I should not be talking to you about disappointment and separation. We've never spoken of more than today, here and now. I know this. And I want so much to share the next few days with you. I can't ask for more than that. We've just met. I'm not a fool, Leah. I'm all grown up, been around the block a few times. I don't have any false illusions. We met in Greece on vacation. I'm going back to America, and a residency that is for two more years. You have a life and commitments in England."
"Do you always talk so much?"
"Only when I'm nervous." Sarah smiled contritely.
"Sarah, you are the best thing that has happened to me. I have never felt so alive or complete as when I hold you. I told you before. I want us to be more than just a fling. I think we can be. But we need to take one day at a time, yes?"
"I know, Leah. Believe me I do." They kissed softly and then were each lost in their private thoughts.
Leah broke the silence. "So, we should figure this all out."
"You do like a challenge, professor. It's all yours."
"It may not be so hard. You describe a town, a bar, a woman who looks like you, but isn't, with a name. And enrolled in a college program. "
"And with an apartment, a car, a job. Who the other woman is, besides a name, I never knew. Or don't remember if such information is in the dream. But I doubt it is. I don't know where she works, except that it is away, or who the other men are at the table in the bar. But I saw her car...a new black mustang convertible, 1965."
"Amazing really. The detail of it all. We should be able to find out if a Sarah Lewis really did live then, if such a town exists. If you want to. What state?"
"I don't know. All I know is just the name of a town, and a college Somewhere midwest or north east, I would guess, by the accents of the people. "
"Wouldn't it be strange if someone like that really did exist?"
"Kind of scary, really. And if she did, what does it all mean?"
"What? No, I don't have any relations like that. No one who lived in 1965 and was in her twenties at the time."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, I know my parents, and aunts and uncles and cousins going back two generations at least. No connections to my family that I know."
"No children up for adoption?"
"I don't think so."
"And you weren't adopted?"
"I look very much like my mother and sister. No, I was not adopted."
"Do you have any relations in the states? You are part of this mystery as well, you know."
"No. I had one brother. He died when he was twenty-two."
"I'm sorry, Leah."
"It's all right. I'm almost over it. What, almost eight years ago " She laughed a little bitterly. "My mother and father were both only children. I've never been to the States. Nor had my parents before they died."
"They died too? When?"
"Eight years ago."
"God, Leah. You've been so alone."
"It builds character, they say."
"You've accomplished so much on your own. You could not have been very old when your family died. You should be proud."
"Flattery will get you everywhere." Leah joked wiggling her eyebrows suggestively.
"We'll have to see about that, professor."
"Come on. I have had enough sun for one afternoon. Let's get cleaned up and have some dinner. It's late. I hear your stomach growling from here."
"Now be nice."
They showered and dressed casually, and were soon at a table outside on the verandah for dinner. The space where they sat was ringed by light bulbs that danced in the sea breeze. The other tables were filled with women, arranged two or four to a table. Everyone seemed content and happy. The dinner was delicious: fresh fish and vegetables in a pastry crust, Greek wine, plates of olives and fresh bread and the local cucumber and yogurt dip.
Sarah and Leah managed to put the seriousness of their talk aside, enjoying the evening, the food and especially the company. They both drank a little too much wine. Meg and Beth joined them for coffee. Altogether the evening passed too quickly.
"And now, my friends and quests," Meg spoke up from the table she shared with Leah and Sarah "I promised you music and dancing. Inside or outside?"
"Outside!" Everyone shouted happily all enchanted with the night, a cool breeze, and a star filled sky.
"It is a beautiful night. On to the festivities. We have joining us from Amsterdam a group of talented jazz musicians, all women of course." The crowd clapped. "The Inner Circle". Let them set up, and we should move the tables to make room for dancing. I have another special treat, a vocalist unique, to deliver her own brand of sexy moodiness, none other than Leah Donbridge from Oxford."
"Meg, I am going to kill you." Leah spoke sternly under her breath.
"Come on, Leah. For old time sake. I'm dying to hear you sing."
"I have been away from the clubs, Meg."
"Maybe Sarah can convince you."
The young doctor looked questioningly at Leah. "You sing?"
"I used to."
"Could I convince you to sing?"
"What enticement would you offer? For me to make a fool out of myself in front of a group of strangers?"
"Not strangers. Old friends, new friends, and one lover. And I'm sure I can think of something to tempt you with."
"She said maybe, Meg." She smiled happily toward the two owners.
"You'll have to tell me about this past of yours later, professor." Sarah whispered dramatically.
"After you hear me sing, you may not want to hear about that part of my past."
Finally the jazz group was set up: a keyboard played by a blonde woman in her thirties; a saxophonist who was a sultry black woman, and a drummer who seemed the youngest of the group. There was one additional blonde on acoustic guitar. They played well together, and soon couples were dancing to the sounds of light jazz, a mix of songs familiar to most of the women assembled. Leah and Sarah danced as well, enjoying the closeness and the pleasure of each other's company.
"This is new to me, dancing with a woman." Sarah spoke softly near Leah's ear.
"Do you like it?"
"I like being in your arms. I can almost forget everyone else is here."
"Coming out takes some getting used to. But what better place? This resort, these women are great. Everyone is proud of who they are, what they want. Does this feel wrong to you, Sarah?"
"No. Not at all. It feels perfect." She hugged Leah closer.
"Good. Let's dance another song. I have a feeling you'll have to listen to me sing soon. It's getting late."
"I have nothing else I want to do more."
After the dance they sat and sipped more wine, talking quietly, content to be in each others company. Meg approached the table with some trepidation.
"Will you hate me if I ask you to sing?"
"You should have done that before you announced that I would."
"If I had, you would have had the time to think up an excuse not to sing. And I know Sarah would love to hear you."
"Don't get me anymore in the middle of this, Meg. It's up to Leah."
Leah smiled gratefully at Sarah, and squeezed her hand. She turned to face Meg.
"Let me talk to the group. See if they know any of my songs."
"Oh, they do. I already asked them. They are ready for you."
"You are awful, Meg. Devious as always."
"It is not often that we get such talent here, Leah. I have to take advantage of it when I get the opportunity. The hotel can always use a boost in its reputation."
"Smooth talker as always, I see." But she winked at Meg before leaving the table, and smiled over her shoulder. Leah proceeded to talk quietly to the jazz musicians on their break. Finally Sarah watched the women return to their instruments. Leah walked calmly to the microphone which had appeared for her to use.
Her deep voice stilled the crowd.
"I'm Leah. I am going to sing a few songs for all you ladies tonight, and for someone special in the audience. And I haven't done this for quite a while. So be kind."
The women applauded, encouraging her to continue.
The next thirty minutes were filled with haunting melodies, and a voice that had the audience spellbound. Leah sang in a sultry alto, the band following her lead, improvising to her solo work, the saxophone at times harmonizing with her melancholy strains, the piano and guitar as a backdrop of chords. She strolled between the tables as she sang such songs as...Don't get Around Much Anymore, Love for Sale, You Go to MY Head, Falling into You, Seduce Me. Night and Day .....presenting memorable songs from the thirties to the nineties. Each song was better than the last. It was apparent that Leah was very good at what she did, no matter how long it had been since her last performance. She captured the attention of the group, and kept it.
Finally Leah looked at Sarah and smiled.
"This is the last song for the night, dedicated to all you brave women who have the courage to be what you want, and to love whom you would. And especially to the beautiful blonde sitting at my table. This is a song that means something special to me, and I hope you all love it as much as I do, from the great
When she began, the crowd quieted. She looked at Sarah as she sang the second chorus:
I know love is passing time passing thru like liquid I am drunk on my desire but I love the way you look at me I love the way your hands reach out to hold me near. I believe, I believe this is heaven to no one else but me and I'll defend it as long as I can be left here to linger in silence if I chose to would you try to understand.....I've got to live my life the way I feel is right for me might not be right for you but it's right for me I believe I believe this is heaven to no one else but me and I'll defend it as long as I can...
When she finished, the audience was still, everyone awed by the voice and sheer talent of this dark haired woman with piercing blue eyes...as well as the emotions conveyed so well by her singing this affirmation of their lifestyle. The love directed at her companion was very evident as well in her glances and tone of voice. It was apparent that the audience found the whole an exceptionally moving performance. Slowly each woman stood, and clapped, until Leah finally had to sit down to break the moment, smiling a little, embarrassed by the effusive appreciation and applause showered her way.
She looked at Sarah a moment for reassurance. The young doctor sat and shock her head in amazed silence.
"Leah, I'm speechless."
"That bad? I have never heard anyone better, I think you are wonderful. I just can't get over it. You are so talented."
Meg and Beth approached the table. Beth kissed Leah lightly on the cheek.
"You are the best. Always have been. Always will be. Thank you for singing for all of us. No one will forget the magic of this night."
Meg squeezed her shoulder. "You heartbreaker, you!" She looked at Sarah and smiled. "Now do you see what you have here? Beautiful, smart, sexy, and so talented!"
"I can see very well. I'm still in a trance from that voice."
"Goodnight. We're going to turn in. Thank you again."
The tables were emptying, the other guests leaving as well. Most of them walked by to thank Leah or compliment her, as did the musicians before they took off. Finally just Leah and Sarah sat on the verandah, sipping what was left of the wine, enjoying the starry night.
"You have to tell me about your singing."
"I really haven't sung in years. Not in public like this. I worked my way thru university singing in clubs. That is actually how I met Meg and Beth. Seems like another lifetime ago, though."
"What did you say?"
"My singing days seem like another lifetime ago."
"Ironic that you should say that. That's exactly how I see my dream sometimes, like I lived it myself, in another lifetime. " Leah studied her silently and then smiled gently, as she continued. "Come on, sexy. I feel like a walk. How about it? Can I tempt you?"
"Definitely. A walk and then bed?" Leah gave her lover a sultry half smile.
"Or...we could just do bed. Your sexy voice does have me in quite the mood."
"Let's skip the walk. " Leah replied, her voice already husky with desire.
They closed the door to their room, but left the windows open to the night air. The room was illuminated only by the torches leading down to the beach. Neither talked, and stood close but not touching, just feeling the chemistry between them, the desire building from their nearness. With no words exchanged they slowly undressed, stepping together. The touch of skin on skin, breast against breast, thighs pressed close made each woman melt. They were on the bed, in each others arms, neither remembering how they got there. They made sweet love long into the night, each surrendering to the other, dropping all barriers and reservations, sharing the joy of each other's body and heart and the growing love they felt.
It was early morning when Sarah woke, covered by the sheet. and happily trapped by Leah's long leg. She could not stop the smile that appeared on her face. The bed smelled of Leah and flowers and musky desire. She could taste Leah on her lips , and even as she was aware of that, arousal stirred powerfully in her center. She wanted this amazing and beautiful woman yet again.
"I can't get enough of her." She mumbled to herself, but once again seemed unaware that her thoughts were spoken out loud.
"Can't get enough of who? I'll kill the harpy. I suddenly find I have a jealous streak where you are concerned." She smiled at Sarah, only love and gratitude visible in her eyes. "Good morning, love. Thank you for last night."
"Did I say that out loud? I can't help it. You drive me to distraction. I can't think straight when I'm close to you like this."
"Straight is one thing I don't want you to be. Kiss me."
Sarah smiled and did just that, kissing again and again the lips so close to her, before sliding out of Leah's grasp and rolling away.
"I have to go to the bathroom. Be right back."
"Don't be long. I'll be waiting."
Sarah smiled at her over her shoulder before she closed the door. When she returned, Leah was standing by the window, wrapped in the sheet, looking out at the sea stretched below and the sunrise that painted the water yellow gold in color."
"Let me in." Sarah tugged at the sheet from behind her.
Leah opened her arms and pulled Sarah close, wrapping them both in a cocoon of white.
"You feel so good in my arms, close to my heart where you belong, Sarah."
"Mmmm." Sarah snuggled even deeper in her embrace. "Isn't it beautiful here? I still can't get over the magic of this place, and what is happening to us." Sarah turned and circled Leah's waist with both arms, and let her head rest on Leah's breast. She felt Leah's chin rest on her head in turn, each feeling loved and comforted and not alone anymore.
"Come on. We better get showered and dressed. Or we'll likely spend all day in bed." Leah kidded her, but made no attempt to move apart from her lover.
"And that would be bad?"
"It's bad for your tan."
"Speaking of tans, I noticed you don't have any tan lines, professor. Where exactly have you been sunbathing?"
"Maybe someday I can show you." Leah kissed her.
"Promises, promises." But Sarah had never felt so hopeful about anyone or anything as she did about this tall brilliant and gentle woman.
The next few days passed happily, each day bringing them closer. Each time they made love seemed more intense, almost overwhelming in the heights of passion and pleasure, the sweet communion of spirits and flesh. Each time they slept, they felt again with gratitude the wonder of waking in each other's arms.
Sadly it was finally time for Sarah to get to Athens, and catch a plan to the states.
"I can't leave you, Leah."
"Hey now. We'll work something out. My schedule is flexible. I'll come see you sooner than you can imagine, if you want me to, that is."
"Do I want you to? Is tomorrow too soon? I wish you could come with me. Or better, I wish we could just stay here. You sing and I'll write. We'll be beach bums. We'll love each other until we are old. What do you say?"
"I say my voice isn't that good. And Meg and Beth will be sick of us, groaning out loud all night long. The neighbors have already complained about us making love until five in the morning."
"They are just jealous."
"You've ruined my reputation, you know...as a cold and heartless loner." Leah smiled warmly at her, but grew serious as the moments passed. "All joking aside, I'm dying inside, thinking about you in the states, and me elsewhere."
"Well, we're smart mature women. We can do this. We'll write and talk and use the net. And I'll visit you. And vice versa. We can do this, until we..."
"Until what, Sarah?"
She hesitated before answering, wanting only honesty between them. "Until...we see where we are headed. I don't want to presume."
"I want there to be an us, Sarah, with all my heart."
"As do I. I miss you already."
"And when you wake alone, don't cry. Please, Sarah. The thought of you upset... breaks my heart."
"Who said I would be sleeping alone?" She replied in a teasing voice, despite the tears that wet her eyes."
"What? You are terrible."
"Leah, you do know that I don't think I could be with anyone else after I've made such sweet love with you."
"Good. And thank you." Leah gently held Sarah's hand a moment before bringing it to her lips to kiss.
"Thank you for what?"
"For giving me something so special, so precious to me. I've always had my school, my work, but I've been alone, missing so much. Now I understand what has been absent from my life.
Really I think you are the only one who can make me feel this way: loved, needed, content. Thank you for caring, and trusting."
"Now I am going to start to cry. And I don't want to get mushy. We'll work this out. We'll come back here again. Still in love. I do love you Leah." They kissed again, a kiss filled with promise. Then they were headed back to the mainland, and at the airport.
"I'll turn in your car when I'm done today. And rent one for the duration of my stay."
"All right. Or keep it until you're done. It's all right either way."
"Have you got everything packed?"
"And then some."
"You have a killer tan."
"I bet you say that to all the beach girls."
"Have you got your passport?"
"Yes. And my tickets. This is so hard, Leah." She could feel herself tear up again.
"No tears. I need to see you smile and wave goodbye before you board the plane. Or I'll start to cry and I hate to cry."
"Write me? Call me?"
"I have your address, your home phone number, your e-mail, your hospital beeper, your mother's number. I'll find you."
"I did get your number?" Sarah suddenly panicked, so afraid to loose contact with her.
"I gave it to you. I saw you mark it in your address book. My home number, my office number at Oxford, my e-mail addy. I have my laptop here. You can e-mail me while I'm still in Greece."
"I'll do that. Count on it." She leaned in, taking Leah in a sisterly embrace in the crowded airport as they announced the boarding for her plane. Leah moved her lips close to Sarah's ear and kissed her neck, a discreet private kiss before kissing her chastely on the cheek, and finally stepping back away. And waved as Sarah went through customs and then slowly disappeared from view in the Athens airport. Leah stood and watched the plane take off, hoping Sarah would see her wave, and stayed there a long time after the plane had departed, feeling more alone than she had ever felt in her life.
The following weeks in Greece passed slowly for her. Leah tried to busy herself in the work. She traveled to Delphi. She worked on the book and lecture series she had come for. With long hours and incessant writing, she pushed thoughts of her young lover to a corner of her mind. She actually accomplished more than she had hoped. And by June, when the large tourist crowds descended, she was ready to go back to England. She had the summer to finish her book, and planned on writing a final draft by September. This was the end of a sabbatical year and she had plans for more scholarship: to finish up a lecture series on women in ancient Greece for the fall classes. She even hoped to write these up into a text, if all went well.
She left Greece behind her, having visited Meg and Beth once more before returning home. The hotel was still beautiful, but without Sarah to share it, Leah regretted the return visit. The young blonde was on her mind. She had sent her postcards from the various places she visited. She had called a few times, but managed to miss connections, with the international exchange being less than reliable, and the time change, and Sarah's schedule at school. It seemed that, as the summer passed, the time with Sarah was more imagined than real. Finally back at Oxford, she found mail waiting for her....five letters from Sarah.
She smiled at the chattiness and the small details of her life in the states. She e-mailed her greetings. They talked finally. But Leah feared they would drift apart. The very thought made her so uneasy, and miserable. With some hesitation she booked a flight to surprise Sarah with an unexpected visit later in the summer.
"I should let her know I'm coming over. No. I want to see her face as I walk in her office. God. I hope she'll be glad to see me. I've got to know how she feels. I've got to hold her again. "
She had to start teaching September 15th. She could stay a month in the states, if all went as she hoped. If not...then she'd use the time to see collections in various museums. She knew several curators well: Chicago, New York, Philadelphia. She had acquaintances in many others and several universities. The time would not be wasted, no matter what. All these work related possibilities however paled to her real desire: to see Sarah again. She let her mind roam to future possibilities...of them together, her arranging to teach a semester in the US. She planned on making inquiries, all depending on Sarah. So much of her future, it seemed, depended exactly on the young doctor.
Sarah, for her part, was miserable. She felt lonely, empty. Her residency progressed. She put in her time. She learned and became proficient. But suddenly the two years of training that loomed ahead, two years of fixed schedules, two years and two thousand miles from Leah were unbearable.
She had told no one her affair in Greece. Her friends would not understand. Her parents would be horrified. She almost confided in her sister, but changed her mind at the last minute. Her resistance to reveal her affection for Leah surprised her, and made her even less happy. How could she hope to spend more time, all her time, with Leah, if she could not discuss her feelings with others? With those who especially mattered to her?
'It will just take time.' So she told herself. 'I need to know we still feel the same way about each other, before I open myself up to criticism by homophobes and cynics.'
She wrote faithfully to Leah, e-mailed and called, and always felt, with each contact, a moment of peace and happiness that was almost foreign to her before she met Leah.
'We are all right still. I know it.'
She tried to reassure herself as the summer passed. But by late July, two weeks had passed with no reply from the Englishwoman. No calls returned. No e-mail. Her spirits took a downward turn. That familiar desperation, the hopeless abandonment of her dream-awakening seemed to come to life in the corners of her heart. Only now things were worse. Her unhappiness was pervasive, not confined to the occasional morning.
'Why am I so insecure, so increasingly uncertain of her affection? God. I need to see her again, be with her again.'
She shook her head, turning her eyes back to a report she was working on, trying to concentrate on pathology, when her mind was anywhere but there. She needed to finish up a presentation she was to give at the hospital.
'Now, where did I put my pen?'
"Looking for this?" A quiet voice sounded from in front of her desk.
She jumped at the sudden interruption of her already distracted thoughts. "Excuse me? What did you say?" She looked up to see Leah standing there, a bemused look on her face. "Leah?"
"Did you forget me so soon? How many other five foot eight alto's with an English accent do you know?"
"I'm dreaming." Sarah stood up quickly, knocking over a stack of papers perched at the edge of her desk.
Leah chuckled, bending down to pick up the mess, meeting Sarah's face under the desk. She smiled tenderly at the flustered blonde.
"Slow down now. Breathe. " Her voice was soft and reassuring.
Sarah exhaled, not realizing she had indeed been holding her breath.
"I think I got them all." Leah handed her a pile of papers.
Sarah swallowed audibly, before she started talking.
"It is so good to see you. You should have called me. You should have told me you were coming. Let's get out of here. I can't even close the office door. I wish I could lock it right now.
I need to hold you."
Leah, still squatting down beside the kneeling woman, silenced her rambling monologue with a searing kiss, rendering the blonde speechless.
"I...we...shouldn't. Not here."
Leah just smiled at her with a twinkle in her eye.
"Can I give the cab your address? He's waiting outside with my luggage. I think he's waiting outside with my luggage."
"Yes, of course!"
Sarah stood abruptly, banging heads with Leah.
"Oh, I am so sorry! Let me walk you out." She continued, rubbing her head as she spoke.
"Your lipstick is smeared, Doctor." Leah winked at the flustered resident, standing her full height, rubbing her own head.
"Did I hurt you? Really? Is it smeared?"
"No, only joking. No one saw us kiss, by the way. I checked. The coast was clear," she whispered conspiratorially.
"You are so bad, Professor."
Just then, another resident walked in.
"Oh, sorry, Sarah. I didn't know you were busy."
"Cover for me a few minutes, Celia? I have to run down to the street a moment."
"Everything all right, Sarah? You seem upset."
"No. Everything is great. This is my good friend from England. She surprised me with a visit. I have to get my keys and tell the taxi where to go."
"Give me your keys. I'll be fine. I'll be waiting for you. Alright?"
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I am. You don't mind if I stay at your place?" she asked quietly,both for her own reassurance, as well as to quiet the increasingly curious looks from Celia.
"I insist. I have plenty of room. It will be fine."
"All right. See you later." The tall woman nodded and turned to walk away, out of the office and down the hall.
"Old friend?" Celia still looked puzzled by Sarah's behavior. She had never seen her anything but calm and collected.
"Yes. A dear friend. I'm just so surprised to see her here."
"Someone from med school?"
"No. She's a college professor, at Oxford, actually."
"Cool. Did you finish the paper? I need your opinion on a slide."
Celia chatted on, forcing Sarah to attend to her duties.
"We have that seminar at 3. Will you come look at that lung for me?"
"Sure. I'd be glad to."
It was 6:30 before Sarah drove home, and parked outside her apartment. She looked up to see lights on and smiled. It was so nice to come home to someone, to know Leah was waiting for her. She unlocked the door to smells of supper cooking, and found Leah standing in the kitchen doorway wearing an apron and a silly smile across her face.
"Hi honey. I'm home."
"Come 'ere, Luv. Give us a kiss, will ya?" Leah spoke in her best Cockney accent, hands on her hips, and just grinned at Sarah's approaching form.
"You are in so much trouble." Sarah tried her best to sound stern.
"Who me? What did I do? Can't I surprise you? Drop in unannounced? A little spontaneity and mischief are good for the soul." Leah stopped her banter and walked halfway to meet the blond, who looked on the verge of tears.
And then they were in each other's arms, just holding each other close for long moments.
"It's so good to see you." Sarah breath tickled Leah's ear.
"And just how glad are you to see me?"
"I'll have to show you. I can't seem to find the words right now."
"Show me what?"
"You are a tease, professor. Will you kiss me, you big oaf?"
"Yes, you big wonderful beautiful sexy oaf!"
They kissed gently, then letting their foreheads touch, still in each other's embrace. Sarah kissed her again before stepping back, to look up at her lover.
"You look so good standing here. I still can't believe it. And you made supper."
"Well, I started dinner. Sort of pot luck from what I could find."
"You probably didn't find much to work with."
"Are you hungry?"
"Verrry." Sarah replied in a sultry voice, then licked Leah's ear playfully.
"Well, we'll have to feed you, and make sure you are fully satisfied," she replied, spoken in a similar sexy tone, and followed her comments with a crushing kiss, her tongue battling Sarah's. Leah broke away reluctantly. "I have missed you so." She stepped away, and led Sarah by the hand into the kitchen.
"Something smells good. Besides you."
"Broccoli, pasta and garlic. I brought some Greek wine."
"You are such a romantic."
"Only with you, love."
They sat at the table in peaceful harmony while the food finished cooking, touching hands periodically or smiling.
"Tell me," Sarah asked. "How long will you stay? How did you manage to come?"
"I came because I missed you. I simply wanted to see you again. Letters and e-mail can only do so much."
"I know what you mean. You're always on my mind. I was trying to figure how I could get to England."
"My schedule is more flexible, at least until Fall, when my courses start up."
"And you can stay until then? " Sarah asked, hopeful but incredulous."
"We'll see. I should accomplish a few things while I'm here. Visit a few collections and libraries."
"I wish I had more time off, to show you some of the country."
"We can tour some other time, when you're free. If you would like to, that is."
"But you will stay a while?"
"None of my proposed tasks brought me here, Sarah. I needed to see you. So, if you can stand a roommate ?"
"I don't want a roommate." Sarah spoke with finality.
"You seem to have plenty of room. But I could stay in a hotel. "
"Definitely no roommate." She shock her head seriously, watching Leah's eyes reflect the uncertainty her words generated, until she could not continue her teasing. " What I want is a lover, a soul mate, maybe a partner, but no roommate."
"Part of the job description I know I can handle. The rest, I'd have to learn, with your help. And I'd like to try, Sarah. " Leah was suddenly more than serious. "I've never felt a desire for this kind of commitment before."
"We could learn together."
"I'd like that. In the meantime, are you still hungry?"
"Most definitely. We can talk later, yes?"
The next few weeks settled into a routine. Leah and Sarah would rise together, and breakfast. Sarah would report to work, and get home earlier than in the past. They would go out to see a play or a concert, or go to a club, exploring the area's women bars and a few restaurants that were run by and for lesbians, On weekends, they took in the sights in the surrounding countryside.
Leah used her days to write and research. Sarah's computer and the university's library offered her a good amount of resources. She was planning on supplementing her work in the city with a trip to New York and then Chicago, and had already spoken to the curators there. She would be gone a week, and then would rejoin Sarah for a final week before returning to England.
With each passing day, they grew closer, more confident and sure of what they felt for each other. What would happen in the future was still unsettled. But Leah knew that each day spent beside the young doctor only fortified her desire to continue as her friend and lover, needing this closeness and love. What they shared she had only dreamed about, never expecting to know first hand. She wasn't sure she deserved this happiness, but she would do everything in her power to protect it and let it grow.
Sarah, for her part, lived for the time spent with Leah. Yet always, lurking in the corner of her thoughts, was the inevitable separation looming ahead. They lived and worked in two different continents. She was engaged herself for two years at the university hospital. At times, the situation seemed hopeless. She'd not had her dream in a long time, but rather felt the real pangs of loneliness with the thoughts of Fall's approach. So she toyed with the notion of quitting her residency, only she had worked too long and hard to get exactly where she was, for her to abandon her career. In the long run, it would only make her unhappy.
She had to keep her relationship with the captivating professor in perspective. She did not know if Leah could make any long term commitment to her. She was struggling to understand two women together in their society, and was discouraged by the inherent difficulties faced when such a society
would not recognize the legitimacy of what she knew in her heart was right. She struggled with her own concerns of rejection by her family, and even with that part of herself that wanted children. Yet daily when she woke in Leah's arms, when they made sweet gentle or passionate love, when she saw the warmth and affection and quiet support in Leah's eyes across the table from her, she daily committed herself to this dark beauty, regardless of the consequences. She was happy and at peace with her lover for once in her life, and somehow so much more herself in her company.
It was while lost in such thoughts one night that Leah interrupted her.
"Hey, you. You look a thousand miles away. Troubles? Anything you want to talk about? Or that I can help you with?"
"Do you want to meet my family?" Sarah asked suddenly.
"If you want me to. I love you, with or without your family's approval."
"You're braver than me."
"I don't have any family to worry about. You are rapidly becoming my only family, Sarah. I'll do whatever you want."
"You are too good to me. I don't deserve...."
"Don't say that, love. I don't know how or why we managed to find each other, but I don't want anything or anyone else."
"Whether we are open about our relationship?"
"Whether society considers us immoral, perverted?"
"I've come to terms with my sexuality a long time ago, Sarah. Maybe you need time."
"I'm not as strong as you are."
"Are you afraid your family won't approve?"
"I'm sure they won't approve."
"Fear of their disapproval hasn't mattered until now, has it? It hasn't stopped you from examining who you are, having affairs with individuals from both sexes. "
"I've been trying to visualize a life with you, Leah. Not just an affair."
"It takes a certain courage to be openly gay. But one develops a different community in which to function. There is support out there, Sarah. There is a whole culture just beneath the surface, of very similar minded women. You might be surprised."
"You're being so understanding."
"I've been through the same doubts, had the same questions. None of us are really different in that regard. Anyone who goes against society's norms faces criticism and challenges. What is important is knowing what you want, who you want. The rest somehow matters less. I'll help you anyway I can. I don't want to lose you."
They sat close together, finding comfort in just their nearness. Sarah was silent with her thoughts.
"Have you been reading? There's lots of information out there, about women in the life. And different women's stories, both successes and failures.
"I have been. Maybe that's the problem. I'm letting the whole larger issue cloud my thoughts at times. But never any doubts when I'm with you, Leah. I do love you. And I'm dreading your return to England. I don't know how I'll get by."
"You worry too much. I don't have to stay at Oxford forever, you know. I could teach stateside."
"I don't have to stay in the states. I've thought about getting part of my training in England. I probably could. There are some good programs there."
Leah smiled gently. "You see. The future isn't so bleak. What is important is how we feel about each other, and that we want to stay together. You know there's nothing different in the long term relationships between women and between men and women. No guarantees. Think of the divorce rate in the US...50%. And how many couples break up before marriage is even considered. We are all searching and struggling for something more than ourselves. I really feel what we have is worth the effort."
"You are brave and loving and kind and brilliant and beautiful." Sarah hugged her fiercely. "I want you to be part of my life, Leah. I need you."
"Well, then, there isn't a problem that we can't overcome. We both want the same thing. It will work out. You decide if and when to talk to your parents."
Sarah nodded in silence. "All right. I do want them to meet you. And my sister. You are clearly the most important person in my life. They should understand why I'm thinking of following you halfway around the world."
"May I change the subject? For a moment?"
"I have been doing library searches while you've been at work. Do you know what I found? Lists of US cities and universities. And a central list of births and deaths."
"Birth certificates and death certificates."
"I don't understand."
"Your dream, your Sara Lewis. Age 25 in 1965, so born what 1940 or 1941 or so? There was such a person, born in Milton Indiana. "
"What?" Sarah sat up, excited yet afraid.
"And there is a university near there, a state university in Lakeland, Indiana. She was listed as a student there in liberal arts. "
"Stop. This is too scary."
"Weird, isn't it? Are you interested? Shall I continue?"
"I'm not sure."
"There is a bar in the yellow pages of Milton, The Corner."
Sarah just stared. Waiting.
"Sara Lewis, in l969 in a car crash. I found the newspaper article in the archives. Two passengers in a black 1965 Mustang convertible went off the road, rolled and burned. Both women died. I could not find out anything about the driver except her name: Lee Campbell."
"So she came back." Sarah looked at Leah. " She came back. She didn't just vanish from Sara's life."
"I guess not."
"They were together when they died."
"So sad. A tragic accident. Two lives cut short."
"Yes, but if I'm right, they were happy and loved each other."
"I don't think I want to analyze how you had this dream though."
"Makes one wonder." Sarah continued her thoughts out loud. "Makes one think how important it is to cherish the people you love, to enjoy them while you can."
"It does that."
"So weird. The whole thing."
"I haven't had that dream in a long time."
"I like waking up in your arms each morning."
"Yes. I like it too. Very much"
They sat quietly for a while, cuddling on Sarah's couch.
Leah finally spoke up. "So, what would you like to do, tonight?"
"Nothing special. How about you?"
"Nothing special. Nice just to relax. Can I get you anything?"
"I have everything I want," Leah spoke softly and kissed her blonde lover's hair. " And we'll take one day at a time."
"Sounds like a plan. Together."
Sarah found herself relaxing into Leah's warm embrace, and knew everything would work out. She closed her eyes and drifted off, secure and loved, and finally completely unafraid of what the morning would bring.