By KG MacGregor
"I bet this is pretty in the daytime." Anna couldn't resist.
"Don't go there, Amazon!" the driver warned. "I practically lied to a judge to get a hearing postponed so we could leave early and there you are, in the middle of selling a car!" It hadn't actually been a complete lie. Lily had told Judge Johnson that she had travel reservations that would be difficult to change. Since Yosemite National Park closed for vehicle traffic at 10 and the LA exodus was unpredictable at best, the lawyer reasoned that her excuse was sort of true. As it was, they would just make it, slipping into the park at 9:45.
"But selling cars is what I do," Anna rebutted, knowing well that they needed to have this out so they could get on with the business of having a good time.
"No, salespeople sell cars. Bosses boss. Bosses can tell salespeople to sell cars so bosses can leave early." Couldn't they?
"Yeah, I guess. But Harry is a really good friend of Dad's."
"What do you want to bet that George sent him by this afternoon just to ruin our trip!"
"Dad wouldn't do that!" Would he? "Besides, our trip isn't ruined already, is it?"
Lily didn't answer; she was still pouting.
Still no response, but Anna could see the lips in question starting to form a reluctant smile following that endearment.
Sugar Tongue? Lily looked away so Anna wouldn't see the grin that outrageous moniker brought out. "No, it isn't ruined," the blonde finally admitted. "But I'm putting this down in George's book in case he tries it again." Lily and Anna had a running joke about keeping score of the ways they imagined that Anna's father tried to thwart their relationship.
"There it is," Anna pointed to the red 4Runner with Washington plates situated between two giant redwoods. Lily's headlights shone upon a bright blue two-person tent nestled against the underbrush nearby. Two women, both in jeans and sweatshirts, sat in the darkness atop a weathered picnic table, obviously on the lookout for their friends. Lily pulled the X-5 into the space behind the other vehicle, and turned off the engine. The seven-hour drive from LA to Yosemite had been a chore when she last drove it three years ago in her old RAV4, but the power and the luxury of this BMW put those memories to rest.
"I would never have believed it in a million years! It's Anna Kaklis in hiking boots and blue jeans!" Carolyn Bunting beamed at the site of her usually chic friend stepping out of the X-5. "Next, you're going to tell me you brought a flannel shirt!"
Anna gestured over her shoulder to her partner in the driver's seat. "She makes me do crazy things!" Anna crossed the campsite quickly to embrace her longtime friend.
"Then it must be true love!" Carolyn declared.
Lily slowly exited the car and walked shyly to the picnic table where her lover greeted her friends with warm hugs and kisses on the cheek. Carolyn was just as Lily had pictured from her partner's description-almost as tall as Anna, with short curly hair, its deep red tint by L'Oreal, Lily guessed. Vicki was petite, her wavy brown hair pulled tightly into a ponytail. Both women had that healthy "outdoorsy" look. In a way-maybe it was their size difference-they reminded Lily of Anna and herself.
"It is true love," Anna said as she turned and held out her arm for her partner to join her. "Carolyn, Vicki, I want you to meet Lily Stuart, the woman who can make me do absolutely anything on earth."
Except leave work early! "I'm glad to finally meet you both. Anna has told me quite a bit about you." Lily put out her hand, but the redhead ignored it and pulled her in for a hug. Vicki did the same, and Lily's typical nervousness at meeting new people immediately started to recede.
Carolyn was genuinely excited about seeing the woman who had so obviously won her friend's heart. "I've heard all about you, too! Good things, of course." After a 10-year hiatus in which they saw each other only once, Anna and Carolyn had easily renewed their friendship. On the heels of the car dealer's sudden visit last year, they now traded emails or talked on the phone at least once a week. This excursion to Yosemite had been Carolyn's idea.
Vicki offered to help Lily set up their tent while the old friends caught up. The Seattle Seahawks' communication director liked Anna the instant they met five years ago at a Cal Poly reunion. Any lover would feel a tinge of jealousy at meeting their partner's first love, but those feelings passed quickly for Vicki. She couldn't help but wonder if Lily had a similar reaction to seeing Anna with Carolyn. "Look at them." She gestured toward the pair by the fire. "You'd never guess that they went the better part of 10 years without seeing each other."
"I'm really glad they reconnected. Anna thinks the world of both of you. She's glad to see Carolyn so happy." Lily had been looking forward to this rare chance for them to spend time with another lesbian couple. The fact that Carolyn was a special friend of Anna's was an added bonus. Though they occasionally got together with Sandy and Suzanne, both Anna and Lily were relatively shy when it came to socializing, so they hadn't really cultivated friendships with the other couples they had met at parties or outings. Neither of them was really comfortable showing affection around others, even with Kim and Hal, Anna's sister and brother-in-law, whom they considered their closest friends. But with their few lesbian friends, they could be affectionate, flirtatious, even risqué.
Lily hauled their camping gear into the small tent, stacking most of it near the zippered door at the foot of her sleeping bag. Anna would need the extra room on her side for her long legs. Since they weren't backpacking into the campsite on this trip, she had brought along a few luxuries, like extra blankets and pillows. Lily was convinced that Anna's comfort was her sole reason for being on this earth.
"Wow, she's a cutie, just like you said," Carolyn offered. "Got you pretty whipped, huh?"
"You got that right! I swear, she's got my number," Anna sighed dreamily, her eyes following the little blonde as she worked efficiently to organize their things. "Wait till you get to know her. She's amazing."
"Well, she'd have to be to win somebody like you." Despite Carolyn's deep commitment to her partner of seven years, Anna would probably always be "the one that got away." Consciously or not, she knew she would measure Anna's new love to see if Lily was worthy of the prize she held.
"What a sweet thing to say. So unlike you." the dark haired woman teased. In college, Carolyn had used humor to downplay the seriousness of her feelings for the tall beauty. As a result, Anna had never known that her friend had carried a torch for her.
"Very funny. You'll be happy to hear that Vicki has retrained me. She makes me talk about my feelings," Carolyn groaned the last word.
Anna chuckled. "That must be torture for somebody like you. You've always kept things so deep inside."
"Yeah, well, I have to admit being able to talk about things has helped us get through some hard times over the years."
"Hard times? From the looks of you two, I'd have trouble believing you ever had any trouble at all."
"Hey, I think everybody hits bumps. Ours wasn't serious. Vicki's work schedule is pretty demanding during football season, and I had a little trouble adjusting. But we worked it out."
"I'm glad for you. Lily and I talk about everything. She's just so easy to be with." They rarely argued because they rarely disagreed. Sure, there were the occasional skirmishes over little things, like today when the car dealer finished up late at work. The toughest thing they'd dealt with was the disparity in their finances, and Anna had finally told Lily to just get over it.
"Believe me that will serve both of you well in the long run."
"What's this about you two serving us?" Vicki asked. She and Lily had finished organizing the new digs. "I'll have hot chocolate. How about you, Lily?"
The taller pair headed off to do their partners' bidding. "Does your woman boss you around like my woman does?" Carolyn sulked.
"All the time," Anna answered. She loved it.
The foursome talked until the fire died down, then Carolyn got up to store their food in the bear-proof bin. "We'll see you two in the morning. Vicki promises her famous breakfast burritos." With that, the two couples retreated to their respective tents.
"Oh, this is nice," Anna said softly as the beam from the flashlight revealed the layout of their small quarters. Lily had spread out their sleeping bags on top of two thin air mattresses, covering both bags with two thick blankets. "So we're not actually going to sleep in our sleeping bags, is that it?"
"We may have to if it gets cold, but this might be enough if we wear sweat pants and cuddle. And if you share the covers," Lily chided. It wasn't that Anna was a blanket hog; rather, those long legs of hers pulled the blankets loose every single night, usually leaving them piled on the floor by morning.
"Oooo, I like to cuddle," Anna crooned. She enveloped the blonde in a hug and brought her down to the blankets.
"Oh no, you don't," Lily protested. "Lose the boots, Amazon! You'll get dirt in our bed." Anna kicked off her hiking boots, setting them under the rain guard outside the tent. "Now put these on." She handed her lover a set of sweats.
"You treat me like a baby," Anna pouted, not minding at all that her partner seemed to take care of her every need.
"That's because you're my baby," Lily purred. Taking advantage of the naked window between the jeans and sweats, she circled her arms around her partner's waist and eased her back against the pillow. The hard kiss that followed signaled Lily's desire.
Anna was hesitant at first, but found herself oddly turned on by the nearness of the other tent and thus the need to be very quiet. It was almost?naughty. Sure enough, after three "oh baby's," each a little louder than the one before, Lily laid her fingers across her lover's lips to remind her of where they were. Anna bit down hard to stifle the cries as she rode out her climax. Twice in the night, Lily woke to pull the blankets across them both, finally tucking them underneath her on the side away from her partner. Snuggled together beneath the covers, their bodies acted as heaters, warding off the chill of the Sierras night.
Saturday was another cloudless April day in California. By eight o'clock, all four women had crawled out of their respective tents, mouths watering for hot coffee and the famous breakfast burritos. "Oh baby," Carolyn moaned. "Will you pass me the hot sauce?" Vicki responded with a scolding elbow to the ribs, too late to stop the twin blushes that rushed to the faces of their friends as they realized her reference.
Lily quickly dismissed her own embarrassment to rescue her partner. "Well, I thought the idea was to be happy campers. I'm certainly happy. Are you happy?" she asked, turning to her lover.
"Oh, I'm definitely happy," Anna smiled and responded with a quick kiss. The awkwardness of the moment was over, thanks to the nonchalance of Lily's reply. Since she and Lily had been together, the tall beauty had loosened up considerably with regard to discussing sexual things. She now talked freely with her lover about her likes and dislikes-what dislikes?-even sharing many of her feelings with her sister Kim, who finally blushed herself when Anna told her the details of how she liked to touch Lily. "How about you, Carolyn? Are you happy?"
"If she doesn't behave herself, it's going to be quite a while before she's happy again," Vicki cut in.
"Well, then I'd better start being good, because I really like being happy. Especially when I can make someone else happy too. I mean it's a real drag to make only yourself happy?."
"Okay," Carolyn said sheepishly.
Anna couldn't resist leaning over to add her dig. "And you said I was whipped."
After breakfast, the four friends set out on a six-mile hike to the meadow beneath Yosemite Falls, the majestic centerpiece of the national park. Lily fell in step with Carolyn on the point, while Anna and Vicki brought up the rear.
Lily found that she had already warmed up to both of the new friends, thanks to the Seattle couple's easy nature, and to her own. "I'm glad to finally get a chance to thank you for steering Anna my way," she began jovially. More than the others, the blonde was accustomed to the rigors of a mountain trail. No longer tied to house chores on Saturday-Anna had a cleaning lady twice a week-Lily took to the San Gabriel trails most Saturdays while her lover was at the dealership. She was going to have to curb her energy today in order to set a pace that was comfortable for the others. Twelve miles was a pretty long day for the occasional hiker. "She told me about her trip to Seattle last year. From what I heard about it, everything you said was right on. I was scared to death she'd freak out if she found out how I felt about her."
"Well, you know how I knew, don't you? Did she tell you that I went through the same thing with her 11 years ago?" The redhead looked back at her partner and the tall woman and smiled warmly.
"She told me a little, enough I think. I know she cared for you a lot back in college. And that she obviously still does," Lily added.
"Yeah, I knew she liked me, loved me even, but not in the way I wanted her to. I was just coming to terms with who I was, and part of that was because I couldn't deny the feelings that I had for her anymore. I tell you, those were tough times," she said wistfully. "What about you? When did you figure things out about yourself?"
"I guess when I was a freshman in high school. My friends were drooling over guys like Tom Cruise and River Phoenix; but I was thinking about Jodie Foster. I didn't just think about her movies, though. I thought about her. I wondered about how she took her coffee, how she kissed, that kind of stuff. I mean, I wasn't going to shoot the president or anything to get her attention," she quipped, her reference to John Hinckley's statement of his motivation for shooting Reagan. "But that's where my teenage fantasies started to go."
"So what was it like being gay in high school?" Carolyn would love to have those years back, knowing then what she knew now.
"Not a picnic, I have to say." Though the sting was long gone, Lily still remembered the painful betrayal of people she thought were her friends. "It was important at my high school to be like everyone else, in every way possible. I think being gay broke the cardinal rule, so I didn't really fit in anywhere. In hindsight, I don't think I really missed anything."
"What about your family? How did they deal with it?"
"It's just my mom and me, and she's always been really supportive. We had a close family friend who was a lesbian." Katharine Fortier was the lawyer who had helped Eleanor finalize Lily's adoption. Lily idolized her, and had followed in her footsteps as a family attorney.
"You're lucky. My parents didn't speak to me for about four years after I told them. It took a brother needing a bone marrow transplant to bring us back together."
"Wow, you donated bone marrow? I hear that's painful."
"Yeah, but I never gave it a second thought. I always loved my family, especially my little brother, even though they all pushed me out for a while. I'd like to think any of them would have done the same for me, but I'll never really know for sure."
Lily was fascinated by the tale. Though she hadn't faced any problems at home, Anna still struggled a bit with her father, who wanted his daughter to have a 'more normal' life. "Are all of you close again now?"
"More or less. They like Vicki a lot, so that's made it pretty easy to spend time with them. But we'll never get those years back."
George needs to hear that, Lily thought. She got along very well with Anna's father, but he still hadn't fully accepted Anna's relationship with her. The two of them had talked privately about it last year, and Lily assured him that she was going to dog him until he gave in. He genuinely liked her, and admired her determination to win him over, but he just couldn't wrap his head around his daughter being in a relationship with another woman. "I wish Anna's dad would give it up. I think it hurts her that he's withheld his approval for so long, especially after we moved in together last year."
"What about the rest of her family? How are they?" Carolyn remembered her visit to the Kaklis home back in college.
"Martine's great. Kim and Hal are wonderful, probably our best friends. And David's pretty cool with it. It's just George," she lamented.
"It's too bad he's like that. But it could be a whole lot worse. I'm sure he'll come around eventually."
"Yeah, that's what Martine says. I hope she's right."
"You two better not be talking about me!" Anna shouted from behind.
"God, what an ego!" Lily turned and rolled her eyes dramatically. "Did it ever occur to you that we might be talking about Vicki!"
The petite brunette frowned and arched an eyebrow at her partner. "And just what were saying about me, Ms. Bunting?"
"I was telling Lily how sweet you are. And how smart you are. And how happy you make me!" She winked at the last.
Lily waited for the pair, then tugged on Vicki's arm. "Why don't you walk up here with me for awhile? Let the Cal Poly nerds entertain each other. Tell me all about the Seahawks. Can you believe the second largest city in America doesn't even have a football team?" she groused.
"So we're the nerds?" Carolyn asked her taller friend as they lagged back.
"Pay them no mind," Anna said. "It's good back here. We can watch their butts." A sly grin played across her face.
"Good idea!" They did just that, commenting here and there on the curve and the sway. Both of the shorter women looked fine in their faded jeans. "So Anna, it looks like you've settled into this lesbian thing."
"I suppose. I've sure settled into Lily." Anna really didn't think much about the labels. She couldn't picture herself with anyone else, regardless of gender.
"I can see why. She's a prize." Carolyn admired the little blonde's backside.
She certainly is. Anna had been thinking a lot of late about her feelings for the beautiful blonde. "Carolyn, how did you know that Vicki was the one?" Anna's question was quiet, not only because she didn't want Lily to overhear, but also because the subject unnerved her so. Was Lily the one?
"I didn't." Carolyn could sense that her friend was struggling with this one, and she felt honored once again to be the one Anna turned to for help. "If you're looking for some magic sign, forget it. There's no fate. There's no cupid. It's really not something that's pre-ordained."
"I was afraid of that. I'm going to have to do something, aren't I?"
The redhead chuckled at her friend's resignation. "You and Lily both, if you want it to last. And that's the key, wanting it to last. Wanting it badly enough to commit to working for it. I decided one day that I wanted Vicki to be the one. I told her so, and she said the same about me."
"This sounds familiar?in a bad way." She and Scott Rutherford had exchanged vows like these. "What keeps you from throwing in the towel when it gets hard?"
Carolyn knew where her friend's head had gone. "You know the answer to that, Anna. Why did you give up on Scott? You have to want to keep it. Unless you really want it, you won't be able to bring yourself to work through the hard parts."
Anna considered her friend's words. Yes, she'd given up on Scott, knowing that she didn't want it badly enough to work as hard as she would have to in order to get past their problems. "That's the point, though. How do I know that?." She caught herself and lowered her voice so the other women wouldn't hear them. "How do I know that Lily is the one that I'll work for?"
"You're already working, aren't you? She told me about your dad. If you didn't want it pretty badly, I doubt you'd have let her come between you and your family." She watched the tall woman process this bit. "Am I right?"
"Yeah, but even that hasn't really been hard. She's got Dad wrapped around her finger, they just don't know it! Things with us have been pretty effortless."
"But it may not always be that way. Having a commitment of some kind gives you both assurances that the other is going to work through the problems. It's a pretty good feeling to know that somebody is going to love you, warts and all."
"What if she doesn't want it?"
"Then it won't work. Plain and simple."
"So I should ask her?"
"I think you should just tell her. If she feels the same way, she'll let you know. Once you both decide to make a commitment to each other, you'll be surprised at what a huge difference it makes in how you feel about your lives together."
Now there's the rub. Things were going fine with Scott until she accepted his proposal. As soon as that happened, she began to second guess herself. As it was, things were going fine with Lily. What if talking to her about some kind of commitment changed everything, caused both of them to raise their expectations or to start feeling pressure or anxiety about things? That fear alone was enough for Anna to accept the status quo. Maybe in time?.
They reached the falls just after noon, marveling at its towering magnificence and thunderous roar. Both couples posed for pictures, and a fellow hiker snapped one of the four together. Though neither knew it at the time, it would be a day Anna and Lily would long remember.
Lily fixed chicken stir-fry on the camp stove for dinner, one of Anna's favorites. As she cooked-rice took forever on a Coleman stove-the others took advantage of the time to rest, putting their feet up next to the fire. Lily was probably the only one in the bunch who wouldn't be sore tomorrow from their all-day hike. "Should I set the table or do you want to just fix a plate and sit by the fire?"
"I'll give you a thousand dollars if you'll fix my plate and bring it to me," Anna called out. She was serious.
"Keep your money, Amazon. I'll fix your plate. In fact, why don't you all stay put and I'll serve you." No one argued. Nor did they jump up later to help Lily clean up the dishes. Lily chuckled discreetly at her comrades' condition. Wimps! Somebody's going to need a massage later.
It was dark now, and the couples huddled together by the fire. Lily sat behind her lover on a log, opening her legs in invitation for Anna to lean back. When she did, the blonde promptly wrapped her arms around the broad shoulders and kissed the dark-haired woman softly on the ear. "I love you," she whispered. It was fun being able to show affection in front of others.
"Vicki and I have decided to let you guys in on a little secret," Carolyn announced. She took her partner's hand and continued. "We've gone for a few consultations with a doctor in Seattle about artificial insemination, and when we get back, Vicki is going to start trying to get pregnant." The two them simply beamed at their news.
"That's awesome!" Lily proclaimed excitedly. Carolyn seemed so proud. She'd make a great mom, Lily thought. She's so solid, just like Anna.
"Wow, it sure is," Anna agreed. "That's such exciting news! You guys are going to be great parents." Of that, Anna was certain. The way these two women interacted left her no doubt of the love in their home. Vicki had that nurturing quality so important to raising children. Lily has that too, Anna thought. Look at how well she takes care of me.
The happy couple regaled Anna and Lily with their plans for a nursery, baby names, and a part-time nanny-though Vicki would stay home for three months, then Carolyn for the next three. One of the things they were trying to work out was securing the anonymous sperm donor who would be available a year or two later, should Carolyn decide that she too wanted to have a child. That would make their children related by blood.
"Boy, you've really thought this out." Anna was fascinated by their plans. She and Scott had talked briefly about having a baby, but that idea was derailed by their marital problems. Anna knew though that a child would have tied her irrevocably to the man, regardless of their individual differences.
"Yeah, we've been talking about it and making plans for about three years," Vicki said. "We think we've got a lot to offer a child."
"Well, I agree," Anna spouted enthusiastically. She couldn't help but admire her friends for their commitment to one another, and to their decision.
The night air grew chilly as the fire died down. The redhead stood and stretched, pulling her petite partner to her feet. "I guess we should turn in. I don't know about you guys, but I'm really tired from that walk."
Anna and Lily took their cue and stood as well. "Oh, by the way," Lily stopped the Seattle pair as they hobbled toward their tent. "I promised Anna a massage tonight." Anna thought it peculiar that Lily would tell them that. "She, uh?sometimes moans when I do that." With a small smirk, she guided her lover to their tent.
Wriggling in the cramped space, the couple changed into their sweats for the night. "I think it's my turn to make somebody else moan tonight," Anna murmured softly, trailing her tongue sexily across her lover's ear.
"Well, you certainly know how to do that, Amazon." Anna's touch set her on fire. "But you better let me rub the soreness out of your legs first or you won't be able to walk tomorrow."
"I can hardly walk now," Anna admitted. She rolled onto her stomach as Lily kneeled between her feet. Her lover's fingers felt magical as they kneaded the tender muscles of her calves and thighs, rising occasionally to squeeze her tired buttocks. So relaxing?.
Lily gripped the calf muscles through the sweatpants and started to squeeze, gently at first, then with more pressure. Her busy hands traveled to the soft tissue at the back of the knee, where she tenderly caressed the spot on the side that was injured in the earthquake over two years ago. Next, she kneaded the tightened hamstrings until she felt them relax, finishing with the firm buttocks. God, I love this butt! It was very possibly Lily's favorite feature of Anna's beautiful body, though she noticed that her favorite feature changed often, depending on what she was admiring at the time. "Is that better?" The silence told her that her lover had fallen asleep. Sweet dreams, Amazon.
I'm freezing! Anna woke to find the blankets tangled at her feet-How does that happen?-and Lily tucked tightly against her side. Reaching down, she pulled the two blankets up to her chin and fluffed them until they covered both women completely. In the darkness, she could barely make out her lover's silhouette, but she had memorized the shapely form.
I can't believe I fell asleep on her tonight. She'd wanted very much to connect with her lover tonight, the feelings of love that she'd voiced with Carolyn still fresh in her heart. Anna stared hard to discern the facial features, and couldn't resist reaching out. In that instant, she reached a decision that would change her life forever. She wanted Lily to be the one.
"Is everything okay?" Lily had awakened to feel Anna's gentle caress on her face.
"Yeah, it's fine." Anna ran her fingers behind her lover's ear to cup the blonde head. "I love you so much."
Lily recognized the intonation. Sometimes Anna would come to her, her voice low and thick with emotion, seemingly desperate to connect. These were some of her favorite moments. "Show me."
Without hesitation, Anna responded by pulling her close, reaching beneath Lily's sweatshirt, and running the heel of her hand hard across her lover's back. Meeting resistance from the tightened drawstring at the waistband of her pants, she pulled loose the tie, allowing her unfettered access to all that was below. Pushing the material down, she stroked the curve of Lily's hips, cupping her rear as she pulled her still closer. In moments, she was inside her lover, her thumb circling the already sensitive bundle of nerves. "You feel so good to me."
Lily pressed rhythmically against the hand that caressed her, amazed at her own body's rapid response. "Ahhh!" She stiffened and gasped for air as the climax rushed through her body. From zero to orgasm in four and a half minutes!
"I love it when you come for me," Anna whispered, a single tear leaking from the corner of her eye as she felt her lover still. It wasn't sadness; it wasn't joy. It was an undefined emotion that had nowhere else to go.
Anna was quiet on the drive home, lost in thought about the future she wanted with the small woman behind the wheel. So much had changed for the dark-haired woman in the past two years. Looking back, Anna knew that the seeds of love had been planted in the collapsed mall. How else could she explain the longing she felt for finding her friend again?
Anna had learned so much from Lily, especially since they moved into the big Brentwood home late last summer. She'd learned the give and take of everyday life with a partner, no longer needing as much of the private time that she used to crave. She'd learned the value of being able to talk about things openly-all things-and conversely, the senselessness of keeping feelings inside. But mostly, she'd learned about love: how to express it in words, in actions, and with her body; how to receive it without doubt or obligation; and how to nurture it to make it grow.
Don't ask her. Tell her. That was Carolyn's advice. I will, just not in the car! She'd plan a candlelight dinner for the weekend, with a long night and lazy romantic day ahead. Maybe next Saturday.
"You're staring at me, Amazon."
"Give me a break! This is Bakersfield. What else is there to look at?" Lily is so cute!
"Now there's a compliment! 'You're better than Bakersfield.' Be still my heart!"
"Although Bakersfield is quiet?."
"Aren't you funny!" Lily loved it when Anna showed her quick wit. "Did you have a good time this weekend?"
"Yes, I did. I'm really glad you got to meet Carolyn and Vicki. Aren't they great?"
"I liked them both a lot, but the best part of my weekend was being with you." All joking aside now, Lily wanted Anna to know how she felt about their time together. "I really appreciate you coming away with me this weekend. We've both been working a lot and I've missed you. It was special."
"For me too." Anna took the small hand on the console and squeezed. A long moment passed as she remembered her thoughts from a few minutes before. Yes, she definitely wanted Lily to be the one.
"So what did you think of Carolyn and Vicki's news?" Lily was nervous about bringing up the subject, strangely afraid that Anna might think she was trying to drop a hint. Having kids together was a big time commitment, and she and Anna hadn't yet moved past "living together." Not that she wouldn't welcome some kind of commitment, but she'd already spelled out that she wanted "everything Anna would give her," so the ball was definitely in her lover's court. In the meantime, she would relish what they had.
"I thought it was fabulous! Half the fun is seeing them so excited already. I just hope everything goes okay." Anna couldn't help but wonder if children would be in their future as well. "Have you ever thought about having a child?"
If you want children, I'll spit 'em out one right after another until you tell me to stop! "I don't know. I guess if anything, I always assumed I would adopt rather than have my own. You know, a family tradition," she joked.
"You were seven when you were adopted, right?"
Lily nodded. "And Mom was two when she was adopted."
"Wow, you never told me that before. So Eleanor is adopted too."
"Yeah, so I think she sort of thought about it a lot. Adopting a kid, that is."
"You never wanted to have a child that was part of you?" It was an innocent turn of phrase, a comparison of adoption versus what Carolyn and Vicki had chosen.
Lily was quiet for a long moment. She knew that Anna hadn't meant to say something hurtful, but Lily had been hearing things like this all her life. She needed to have Anna understand how she felt about being adopted. It was fundamental to who she was. "You know, I'd like to think I was more a part of Eleanor Stuart than of Lisa Parker."
Oh god, what an insensitive thing to say! "Of course you are. Sweetheart, I'm sorry. That was a really stupid thing to say. Of course you're a part of Eleanor, and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not glad of it." She squeezed the small hand again. "Really, baby, I'm sorry."
"It's okay. I know you didn't mean anything bad. It's sort of hard to explain, but it was like Mom and I needed each other. We fit together like mother and daughter from the very first day I moved into her house as a foster child. If I were to adopt a child, I would want to feel that need as much as I did when I was little."
Anna thought of Lily's school picture from her first year with Eleanor. That one, along with subsequent years on up to graduation from law school, decorated the stairwell in Eleanor's San Jose home. "You know baby, any child would be very lucky to find you."
Find 'me.' Not find 'us.' Lily couldn't bring herself to turn the question around for her lover. Everything about this conversation seemed to suggest that Anna didn't see herself parenting Lily's children. What does that say about Anna's feelings for where their relationship was headed? What started as an innocent discussion about their friends having a baby had left her feeling a bone-deep sadness.
"That's right, a Cinco de Mayo sale, weekend after next. A full color double truck," Anna used the newspaper lingo for an ad that stripped across two pages.
George Kaklis loomed in the doorway, waiting for his daughter to finish the phone order.
"No, just the usual for this weekend. I'll have Brad send you the VINs this afternoon." Anna waved her father in. "Thanks, Steve. So long."
George shook his head in admiration at Anna's professional demeanor. He had finally heard the story of the fiasco two years ago at the Del in San Diego, when Steve French had behaved so pompously. He was amazed that his daughter still spoke to the man, but she had insisted that the Del was personal, and she was over it. This was business, and as long as the Times brought traffic to the lot, she had no issues with Steve.
"What's up, Dad?"
"I wanted to ask if you'd join us all for dinner at Empyre's on Saturday night. I have some big news to share and I'd like the whole family there."
"Big news? Do I get a hint?"
"Sure. It's good news. But that's all I'm going to say."
"Okay, what about Jonah? I'm not coming unless Jo-Jo's there." Anna grinned every time she thought about her nephew. Kim and Hal had surprised everyone last year with the announcement in June that she was four months pregnant. After two miscarriages, they had sat on the news until she reached the second trimester. Now five months old, the little man was the center of the entire Kaklis universe.
"Are you kidding? He's the only reason I invited Kim and Hal!" George and Martine were the epitome of doting grandparents.
"And Lily is invited, of course?" This was going to put a dent in her romantic weekend plans, but that would give her a little more time to plan everything so it would be perfect.
The patriarch gave an exaggerated groan. "I suppose so," he pouted. Anna wasn't quite sure when she realized that this was just George's shtick. She hoped he was ready to accept her relationship with the woman, especially now that she wanted to make it permanent. Lily had made it so easy for him, meeting his resistance with her offhanded humor. The little blonde had simply broken him down.
"Sounds good, but let me check with her first."
Business was slower than usual that week, as the LA area collected almost four inches of much needed rain. Anna welcomed the chance to catch up on paperwork, and was feeling pretty good about the state of affairs at Premium Motors.
She, Kim and David had pumped one another all week for clues as to what their father was going to share with them. Finally Saturday came, and the Kaklis family converged on Empyre's. George and Martine arrived last and were shown to the large round table in the corner of the restaurant. Mrs. Kaklis had only learned of this dinner yesterday, and was very annoyed at her husband for planning this behind her back. Furthermore, she had no idea what George was going to announce, and she was hurt that he hadn't told her first in private.
Anna quickly claimed the seat next to Jonah and his mom. In fact, she had arrived early on purpose, knowing that Martine or David would have chosen that seat had either been given the chance. Kim was more than happy to turn the little guy over to his cooing aunt, hoping in secret that he would choose this moment-and not the next-to reject the rice cereal he'd tried for the very first time this afternoon.
George took the vacant chair next to Lily and immediately gestured for the wine list, pointing out his choice quickly to the looming waiter. "Good evening, Lilian," he said formally, turning to face the blonde attorney.
"My, aren't we polite! I'm not moving out, George."
"You keep saying that. But it's going to get crowded when Anna's new husband moves in."
"Have you been skipping your meds again? You're delusional."
George tasted the wine and motioned for the waiter to fill the glasses. "Have some wine, Lilian. It will ease the heartbreak."
The attentive waiter filled their glasses again before taking their order, and at George's signal, brought two more bottles for the table. Chattering with George, the blonde was already getting quite a nice buzz from the merlot.
"He looks good on you, sweetheart," Lily whispered to her lover, who held a smiling Jonah in her lap. Very, very good, the blonde thought. "You're a natural."
"You want to hold him?" Anna offered. She really didn't want to give him up, but the sight of the infant in Lily's lap was a tempting tradeoff.
"No, that's okay. I mean I do, but he looks happy where he is." As if on cue, Jonah sputtered and laughed, waving his arms up and down as Lily made exaggerated happy faces. His delighted squeal commanded the attention of the entire table, further evidence that he was indeed the center of the Kaklis universe.
Once dinner was ordered, all eyes finally turned to George. No one had a clue of his impending announcement, and all were growing impatient.
"So what's up, Dad? Spill it!" David said eagerly. He had a date later this evening, but he didn't want to miss out on the big news.
George leaned back and smiled at the expectant faces one by one. "Well, where should I start?" He truly enjoyed and appreciated the devotion of his family, and he sincerely hoped that his news would be something they all would welcome. "I've been thinking lately about all my blessings. I have a wonderful family, a loving wife and a successful business. I've realized that I'd like to start spending less time with that business and more time with my family, especially this beautiful woman beside me and that little fellow over there." He nodded lovingly at his wife and the now sleepy infant. "And who knows, I might even play a little more golf." Everyone turned and exchanged astonished looks. "To that end, I've decided to step down as president of Premier Motors."
Martine was flabbergasted. Was George really giving up the business? No more late dinners, no more distracted conversations, no more sacrificing vacation and family time for the dealership! "George, do you mean it?" She was already out of her chair reaching for her husband.
"Absolutely, darling." They shared a hug and then a kiss so deep that it embarrassed all three of the siblings, especially David.
The patriarch turned next to his daughter, who was equally astounded. "Anna, I think you're ready to move up into the big chair now, but if you'll have me, I'd still like to serve the company in some lesser capacity. I know that's going to mean a lot more work for you, and I'll help with the transition. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think you were ready."
Martine could hardly contain her excitement. "Does this mean that I can start planning a real vacation?"
George smiled at his wife and took her hand. "Well, I'll have to ask the boss if I can have a little time off, but I'm in pretty good with her, so I think she'll say yes."
Anna was speechless. As Christia Kaklis' sole heir, she already owned all of the stock in the company, so it was no surprise that she would someday take the helm. But now that it was actually happening, she was almost overcome, eager to start planning the changes she would make. If she were indeed calling the shots, she would take the company in a new direction, one that her father would likely oppose. "I think a vacation is a great idea, Dad. Make it a long one. I have to order new furniture and get your junk moved out of the corner office." She handed Jonah back to his mom, stood and walked to the head of the table, giving her father a heartfelt hug.
"Congratulations, sweetheart. You're going to make a great boss." He knew that his stepping down would mean that Anna would be overwhelmed at the dealership until she surrounded herself with the right managers.
Lily beamed at the news, genuinely excited at what this meant for all of the Kaklis family, but especially for her lover, who she knew relished the opportunity. On several occasions, Anna had excitedly outlined her plans for the company if she were in control, including some very dramatic changes. Lily knew too that George would oppose some of the moves, but felt strongly that he would support his daughter in the transition. She took her lover's hand as the new president slipped back into her chair. "I'm so proud of you, honey. This is so exciting!"
Anna's mind was already racing about what she would do first. "Dad, will you be making the announcement public soon? I think we should call our agency and ask them to prepare a press release. You can let the staff know at the end of the day and it will come out in the next day's Times."
Kim and Hal were kicking each other under the table trying not to laugh out loud after Hal whispered "What's your hurry, George? Here's your hat."
Dinner progressed as Martine dreamily called out vacation sites for everyone's reaction. "Hawaii."
"Hawaii's a long weekend. If you want the islands or the beaches, try Tahiti or Thailand." Kim's friends traveled a lot.
A long weekend in Hawaii? What a brilliant idea! Anna immediately pondered a romantic getaway with Lily before implementing the changes at the dealership, one in which she would tell the beautiful woman beside her that she was ready to commit her life to their love.
"Okay, Australia then," Martine suggested.
"Now you're talking," said Hal. "I've heard New Zealand is beautiful too."
Anna hadn't offered any suggestions for vacation destinations, her mind obviously elsewhere. She shocked everyone when she suddenly turned to her brother-in-law and out of the blue asked him, "Hal, how would you like to be my right hand man in the car business?" Hal was too surprised to speak. "I've got some things in mind that could be fun for a bean counter. Think about it. I'll call you later in the week."
What on earth is she up to? George wondered. Surely she wouldn't turn the company on its ear right out of the gate.
The dinner turned into a celebration for both George and Anna, with each person at the table offering their accolades and best wishes. David was the first to depart, citing his late date with Heather. When Jonah got fussy, everyone decided to take their leave.
George stood and offered his hand to help Lily to her feet. To everyone's dismay, she ducked under his arm and twirled gracefully beside him. "You dance divinely," she said.
"Ha! Wait till you see me dance at Anna's wedding!" He resumed the gag.
"You're throwing us a wedding!" the blonde exclaimed excitedly. Lily was obviously tipsy, but adorably so, and everyone was amused at her antics with George.
The man flinched as though he'd been slapped. "Perish the thought! Anna, perhaps you could lose this woman on the way home!"
The group's departure was typically chaotic. As usual, Hal was sent to order the cars, Lily ducked into the ladies room, and Martine retrieved the raincoats and umbrellas from the coat check. While she waited for Lily, Anna pulled Kim aside to ask how she felt about the offer to her husband.
"Are you kidding? I hope you're really serious about wanting him to work with you? He's going to say yes, I'll tell you right now. He's thought I don't know how many times about asking for the chance to work there."
"Look, I'm going to need somebody smart that I trust. Hal's that guy. It might mean some long hours at first, but I promise not to work him to death."
Lily's timing was perfect, arriving at the door the moment the X-5 appeared. Anna stepped in just as the blonde reached for the keys. "Oh no, you don't."
Lily acquiesced immediately and climbed into the passenger seat. Leaning out, she delivered the parting shot. "Hey George! You better be nice to me. I know your boss!"
Anna pulled out of the drive and turned toward their home. "Buckle your seatbelt, baby."
Lily did exactly as she was told, fumbling a little with the catch. "I love it when you call me baby."
Anna smiled at her lover. "You were on a roll tonight. I swear you're going to wear him down."
"That's the idea, sweetheart. He's putty in my hands," the blonde slurred.
Gosh, she was cute! "You and Dad looked like you were enjoying yourselves. So how many glasses of wine did you have, little pygmy?"
I can't believe I said that!
"'Little pygmy' is redundant, Amazon." Lily loved this game!
"Oh boy, here it comes," Anna groaned.
Anna thought a moment. "Feta cheese."
"Puppy dog." The car dealer was saving "kitty cat" and "bunny rabbit" for later contests.
Damn! "Bunny rabbit."
"Hot water heater."
The attorney had been storing these phrases in her brain since she was eleven. She collected them from a variety of sources, but her favorite was sports broadcasts. Usually, if sports announcers didn't outright deliver a redundant phrase-"painful groin injury" and "his x-rays were negative" came to mind-they made up for it by saying the exact same thing three or four times. She guessed their market research had described a largely dimwitted audience that required repetition.
Anna triggered the automatic opener for the garage door and pulled the SUV alongside her brand new cobalt Z8, BMW's sleek two-seater convertible roadster, longer and more powerful than the Z3 or Z4. The car dealer had personally imported it from Germany, as it would not be available in the US until next year. She had cajoled Lily into driving tonight to avoid taking her new baby out in the rain. "Stay there. I'll come around." Anna didn't want to risk Lily hurting herself on the rain-slickened concrete floor. Together, they huddled under the umbrella and hurried to the side porch.
Before Anna could even slip out of her wet shoes, Lily was covering her face and neck with passionate kisses. Happily accepting the greeting, Anna murmured. "Oh my, somebody's feeling sexy tonight."
Despite the intimacy they shared so freely, both women still harbored a few sexual inhibitions that they hadn't even discussed. Thanks to Lily's four, no five glasses of wine tonight, she was about to lose one of hers. Leading Anna quietly to their upstairs suite, she teased her with promises of a special surprise.
Lily hungrily removed her lover's clothing in a frenzy, kissing and nipping the naked skin as it was revealed. Anna anticipated that she would be taken hard and fast. She was bewildered when Lily abruptly stopped her touches and guided the woman to a lounging position on their king sized bed.
With excruciating stops and starts, Lily took several long minutes to remove her own shoes, her dress, her black stockings, and her black lacy bra and matching thong. Kneeling naked at the foot of the bed, in full view of her lover, the sexy blonde did something she'd never done before with another soul. She closed her eyes and began to caress her own body, her tongue making slow circles around her open lips.
Anna thought she would lose her mind as she stared at the most erotic sight she had ever seen. Unable to control her desire as Lily made love to her own breasts, she reached out and touched her lover's hip. Suddenly, the green eyes opened wide and directed her wordlessly back against the pillows. As Anna watched two fingers slide beneath the curly brown patch of hair, she shuddered as she mentally mapped where those fingers had gone.
Moaning, panting, gasping for breath, Lily climaxed, and within seconds, entered her lover with those same slickened fingers. The blue-eyed beauty was way past ready, and in only moments, it was over.
Anna set her coffee and bagel on the corner of the kitchen table as she spread out the Sunday Times. This was one of her favorite things to do each weekend, though she preferred to be out on the patio by the pool. The weather made that impossible today, but the open window in the breakfast nook brought in cool, rain freshened air that more than made up for the change in venue.
A shuffling of bare feet signaled her partner's arrival. "Must have coffee," the little blonde groaned.
"Good morning, my sexy beast," Anna purred. Last night had been a delightful surprise.
For no reason that she could understand, Lily was feeling a little embarrassed by her display last night. Even in the light of day, she was uncertain whether Anna was teasing her or genuinely voicing her approval. Go with humor, she told herself. "Yeah well, you've got to pull out all the stops when you're making love with a CEO." She made her way to the table, but stopped herself. "Must have aspirin," she groaned again, clutching the side of her head.
As Kim had predicted, Hal called Anna on Sunday afternoon and accepted her offer to come to work at Premier Motors. The following week was a whirlwind, with George announcing his departure at a special staff meeting on Tuesday afternoon and Hal coming in on Wednesday morning. To everyone's dismay, Anna immediately named her brother-in-law vice-president of finance and set him up in her old office. Behind closed doors, she quickly laid out her plan for growing the business and he was charged with working the numbers to get it done.
Brad, the longtime sales manager, was also promoted to the vice-president level, and would handle the day to day operations as Anna had under her father's leadership. He needed help though, something she knew from how much she had depended on him. Holly Martin, last year's hire from San Diego, was a natural to move up. She knew more about the cars than any salesperson on the lot, and she had a real gift for closing the deal.
"Anna Kaklis, you have a call on line one. Anna Kaklis, line one." If possible, Carmen sounded even more official as she called the new company president to the phone. Anna had been taking congratulatory calls from the business community all week after the press release in the Times. Fellow car dealers especially were anticipating bold moves from this up and comer.
"This is Anna Kaklis."
"And this is Anna Kaklis' love slave."
The car dealer couldn't contain the belly laugh that roared up at the image of a leather-clad Lily in chains. It was so not them. "Oh, I don't think so, Pygmy. I think it's pretty clear who the slave is at our house."
Lily smiled at her own remembrance of the scene last weekend in which Anna had done exactly as directed. "Maybe we should take turns," she suggested?suggestively.
"I'm for that," Anna said without hesitation. Anything for you. She had asked Carmen to track down a few Hawaiian getaway packages for Memorial Weekend, knowing that Lily would have that Monday off. She would choose the one that was most romantic.
"Listen, we just got an invitation to Sandy and Suzanne's for dinner. She's fixing something that sounds French. You want to go?"
Anna checked her watch, then the pile of papers on her desk. "You know what? I'd like to, but I've got a stack of deals on my desk that I need to look at. I tell you, we've been turning them over all day long." The sunny weather and the Cinco de Mayo sale had brought the car buyers out in droves. With George already on a golf trip with Martine in Phoenix, Anna felt the need to stick close to Brad and Holly as they adjusted to their new positions. In time, they'd pick it up, and she'd be able to leave them on their own. "Why don't you go, and I'll see you at home tonight."
That wasn't exactly the answer Lily wanted, but she knew her lover was swamped with work this week. "You're sure?"
"Yeah, have fun. Tell them both I said hi, and we'll have them over soon. Okay?"
"Alright, lover. I'll see you tonight."
The car dealer felt a little guilty about not getting home earlier tonight. Saturday nights had always been Lily Time, but she knew things would be back to normal as soon as everyone at the dealership got their groove. The mountain of paperwork kept her at the desk until almost 10. To her chagrin, she had found errors-mostly transposition of numbers-in eight of the contracts Holly had written.
Anna was disappointed to find a darkened house, a sign that Lily was still with their friends. But she didn't begrudge her lover having a good time while she was chained to her desk with paperwork. Truth be told, Lily's being out meant she was having a good time, and that eased Anna's guilt that she hadn't been home before 10 any night this week. This had been Hell Week, and next week didn't look much better. Worst of all, she was trying to think how to break it to her lover that she really needed to be on the lot for most of the day tomorrow as well.
The exhausted woman passed through the kitchen, staring for a moment at the contents of the refrigerator before settling on the old standby: This was her fourth late night peanut butter sandwich this week. Since Lily wasn't here to keep her company in the kitchen, Anna dragged herself up the stairs to draw a bath. She and Lily usually climbed into the hot tub out by the pool when they came home tired, but it wasn't much fun alone.
A ringing phone stopped the tall beauty just as she was about to step into the tub. The single ring confirmed that it was her line, since Lily's line emitted a double ring. Due to the nature of her work, the attorney felt she needed a private line with a professional sounding outgoing message on the voicemail.
"Anna! We missed you tonight."
"Hi Sandy! I'm sorry I couldn't make it. Did you guys have a good time?"
"We certainly did. In fact, some of us had a little better time than others."
Uh-oh! She presumed this meant Lily. "What's my little girl done?"
"Nothing, but we're not letting her drive home. Do you want to come get her, or can we keep her for the night?"
Anna thought about the fun they'd had last weekend when Lily had let herself go, and was momentarily tempted to dash out the door. On the other hand, she probably wouldn't have time to take Lily out to Sherman Oaks tomorrow to pick up her car, so the latter option made more practical sense. "Why don't you keep her for the night? I'm beat. I was just about to get in the tub. Would that be alright?"
"Of course. I'll have her call you in the morning."
"Is she there right now?"
"Yeah, but she's in the bathroom losing an excellent Chicken Lyon."
Out of the corner of her eye, Anna saw the familiar X-5 drive onto the lot and pull around back. No fewer than two dozen of the silver SUVs stopped in across any given week, but somehow the car dealer sensed when her lover was behind the wheel. Excusing herself from Holly's office, she made her way through the customer lounge to the back door, just in time to greet the cute little blonde. "This is a nice surprise," she said excitedly. "I missed you last night."
"Me too you, Amazon." She tugged the car dealer into a receded doorway so she could steal a hug and a quick kiss. On top of dealing with a formidable hangover this morning, she was more than a little put out at waking up alone in a strange bed. "You should have come for me," she pouted. "I would have made it worth your while."
Of that, Anna had no doubt. "I'm sorry baby. I didn't get home until pretty late, and I was already in the tub when Sandy called." A white lie.
"You're not going to work all day, are you?" It wasn't a question really, and they both knew it.
"No," the car dealer acquiesced. She needed time with the blonde as much as Lily needed time with her. "Let me finish up with Holly. I'll be 30 minutes behind you. What do you want to do this afternoon?"
"Just come home, Amazon. I'll worry about the entertainment," her voice was low and seductive.
Thirty minutes turned into 90 minutes, but Lily dismissed her irritation when Anna walked in and immediately pulled her upstairs to the master suite. Today was Sunday, and on Sundays, they took their time with one another, finding many ways to bring pleasure in the bright light of day.
Pauline made her way down the hall as soon as she saw Lily slip into Lauren's office. "Did you guys get a present yet?" The 21-year-old secretary hadn't had much experience in the social graces.
"I got them a set of sheets and towels from the web site where they registered." Lily prided herself on her efficiency and web shopping prowess. As far as she was concerned, the internet was the only civilized way to shop.
"I got them a place setting at Bloomingdales," Lauren added.
All three women kept their voices low so that Tony wouldn't overhear. Come Saturday at four o'clock, hearts all over town would break as their boss ceased being one of LA's most eligible bachelors. Colleen Turner, a young widow with two small children, had applied for an internship at the firm last fall, hoping to get some hands-on experience with the social services system. Colleen was fresh out of law school, and had always aspired to practice family law. Her skills and interests fit nicely with the firm's caseload, but she hadn't yet taken the bar exam. Tony had simply been blindsided when the woman claimed his heart.
"I'm a little confused," Pauline said. "I got them some of the crystal, but I don't know what to do for the shower tonight. Were we supposed to get another gift?"
"Technically, yes," Lauren answered. "Everything around a wedding is designed as an opportunity to give a gift."
"That's what I was afraid of. I'm going to have to rush out of here after work and pick up something else."
Lily knew the secretary lived on a budget, so she glanced at Lauren, who was already on the same wavelength. "We got a tablecloth and dinner napkins. Why don't you just sign our card? It'll be from the office."
"Aw, that would be great! Thanks."
"No problem," Lily said. "Say, Colleen's sister lives pretty close to my neighborhood. Why don't we meet at my house and go in one car?"
"Good idea! Is Anna going to come too?" Lauren really liked the car dealer. Anna had cut them a sweet deal on a 540i.
"No, she's covered up with work right now. Her dad stepped down last week and she's trying to get her new staff organized." Lily was glad for something to do tonight. The house had been pretty lonely these last few days. Except Sunday afternoon.
At six o'clock, the three women pulled up in front of Colleen's sister's home in Lauren's BMW. "Are these people movie stars?" Pauline asked, awed at the Brentwood mansion.
"Not exactly. But I think Colleen's brother-in-law is a big shot at one of the major recording companies." Lauren and Colleen had gotten to be pretty good friends, so she knew a little about the woman's family.
The women were greeted by a uniformed servant, who showed them into a lively party, complete with piano music and an open bar. No fewer than a hundred women filled the room, the chatter spilling over onto the patio. Lily spotted Colleen and they weaved their way through the room to say hello.
Pauline was sent to the bar, but came back empty handed. "They have no merlot. The caterer forgot to stock it. What's your second choice?"
"I don't care," said Lauren. "But I don't like sweet drinks."
Lily unconsciously made a face. "Me neither."
Pauline, the youngest of the three, spoke up. "I had a vodka martini once. It was pretty good, and it wasn't sweet."
"I'll try it," Lauren shrugged.
Five vodka martinis later, Lily was guided to the car and deposited in the front seat. "I like vodka," she slurred. "A lot."
"So we can tell." Lauren had watched her friend down three drinks hastily, and hurried to feed her the hors d'oeuvres. Two drinks later, she was smashed. "Your girlfriend's going to kick my ass," she lamented.
"She won't be home," Lily scowled. She was right. Lauren and Pauline helped their coworker to bed, and let themselves out.
Anna arrived shortly before midnight, dead on her feet. The little blonde was sound asleep, turned on her side away from her lover. Anna kissed her softly behind the ear, and drifted off immediately.
Anna was excited to finally have the evening away from her office. Things were going better, but she found that her strategy sessions with Hal were consuming the day, and all the paperwork was waiting for her when the doors closed and the sales staff went home. Holly was doing a great job managing the inventory and getting cars out the door, but Anna was growing more and more frustrated with the errors in her paperwork. She'd finally called her in on Thursday night to talk about it, and Holly told her of her problems with dyslexia. There were ways to get around it, she'd said, and if Anna would be patient, she would come up with a plan. In the meantime, someone would have to check all of her contracts.
"You'd better not be thinking about work, Amazon. You're mine tonight." Lily smiled at her partner's reflection in the long bathroom mirror as they readied for Tony's big day.
"You got it, sweetheart." Lily was right. Anna felt bad enough about being at the office so much lately. She wasn't going to make it worse by dwelling on work things when she wasn't there.
"Zip me?" Lily offered her back.
Anna seized the moment to kiss the back of the woman's exposed neck and shoulder. "This is my favorite dress," she murmured. "I remember the first time I saw this dress." It was the black one Lily had bought for her dinner with Anna at Empyre's on the day her divorce became final.
"That was the first time I wore it. I bought it that afternoon so I'd have something to wear to a fancy restaurant. In fact, there was something scratching me in the rib all night, and when I got home, I found the tag still in it." She chuckled at the memory. "That was also the first night that I knew that I could fall in love with you."
Anna turned her lover in her arms and kissed her deeply. "Well, if I'm really, really honest with myself, I think I felt it that night too. You were so lovely, just like tonight. I've missed you."
Looking into the sapphire eyes, Lily thought fleetingly of shedding the dress and leading her lover back into their bedroom. They hadn't made love in almost a week. "Let's go get Tony married so we can come back here and get reacquainted."
It was a lovely wedding, and Tony had never looked more handsome. "I can't believe you did it! Half of the women here are going into a convent tomorrow!" Lily hugged her boss excitedly then turned to Colleen. "It was a beautiful ceremony."
Lily could tell from Anna's quiet tears that her lover had been moved by the couple's romantic vows, but she had no idea that the dark-haired woman had begun scripting her own. I want to make those promises to you, Lily. Anna took Lily's hand as the rings were exchanged. She hoped Lily would want to wear a ring, but that was all dependent on whether she accepted Anna's promise.
The solemnity of the wedding was forgotten when the crowd entered the ballroom reception at the Burlington Hotel. Live bands on either side of the room took turns playing big band tunes and top 40.
"Would you like a glass of wine?" Anna asked.
Lily stopped to think a moment. That vodka martini had sure hit the spot the other night. But you did get shit-faced! "Sure, merlot if they have it." She went off in search of Sandy and Suzanne, who had joined the buffet line.
Lily polished off her wine before starting on her plate, washing down her meal with sparkling water. When they finished, she volunteered for the next bar run.
"Lily! How are you?"
"Andrew! Wow, don't you clean up well!" Andrew Shively was a sergeant with the LAPD, and Tony's racquetball partner. Lily knew him from Kidz Kamp, the volunteer group that regularly treated foster children to weekend outings in the great outdoors.
"You're one to talk! You look great! What are you having?" He gestured toward the bartender.
"Oh, I need two glasses of merlot," she said to the tuxedoed woman. "On second thought, make that one merlot, and one vodka martini." It was, after all, a celebration.
"Would you like that with an olive or a lime?" the woman asked.
"Lime sounds good."
"You should try a kamikaze," Andrew suggested.
"It's vodka, triple sec, and lime juice. You can get it on the rocks or as a shooter. Go ahead, try one. I'm buying."
"Okay, I'll try a shooter."
"Make it two." The bartender expertly poured the two liquors and added a splash of lime juice. Lifting his shot glass, Andy offered a toast. "To Tony!"
"To Tony!" Lily agreed. She threw her head back and slammed the shooter, not prepared for the clenching sensation in her chest as the drink reached its mark. "Wow! That was good." Turning back to the bartender, she amended her order yet again. "Okay, make it one merlot, and one kamikaze on the rocks." As the policeman walked away, she ordered one more shooter for good measure. It was after all a celebration.
As the guests were finishing their dinner, Tony and Colleen took to the dance floor for the ceremonial first dance. Gradually, couples joined them on the floor, but the four friends were hesitant, not sure if everyone in Tony's or Colleen's family would be cool with the idea of women dancing together. They finally got their answer when the beaming couple visited their table and encouraged all of them to hit the dance floor.
Lily weaved her way back to her friends just as the newlyweds were leaving their table. She hugged the pair again and took a seat alongside her beautiful partner.
"What have you got?" Anna pointed to the highball.
"It's called a kamikaze. Vodka, something and lime juice. Andrew Shively bought it for me. Want a taste?"
Anna shook her head. "No, I'll stick with my wine, but I doubt I'll drink all this. I hadn't even finished my last one."
Suzanne leaned across the table to interrupt the lovers. "Lily, Tony said we should get up and dance. He thought everyone would be cool with it." She was egging Lily on because she knew Sandy wouldn't do it unless the other couple did.
"I'd like that, baby. What do you say?" Lily wanted this sexy woman in her arms-now!
"I'm yours tonight, sweetheart. You want to dance, we dance." Anna was sure she was here with the most beautiful woman in the room. That skimpy black dress just pushed buttons all over her!
Lily stood up and drained her drink, then led her partner to the dance floor. The first song was fast, but in the spirit of the event, the next two were slow romantic ballads. Her hand pressed firmly into the small of her lover's back, the blonde woman pulled her partner close and whispered up into her ear. "I want to take you home and make love to you all night long. I want to feel your breasts in my face and this silky hair on my thighs." She ran her fingers sensuously through the long black tresses.
Anna loved the sensation of her lover's hands in her hair, but she couldn't help but feel a little uneasy about the reactions of all the people around them. "I'm going to hold you to that, lover girl. But you might want to wait until we actually get home. We wouldn't want to scandalize Tony's wedding," she joked.
The music stopped, and they reluctantly parted, but not before sharing a long look of heated desire. Both women shook it off and headed back to their table. Agreeing to stay for a respectable amount of time-perhaps a half hour more-Lily returned to the bar for one more drink. Of course, there was no reason not to have a shooter while she waited. What on earth took me so long to discover kamikazes?
She returned to find Anna and their friends extolling the virtues of big band music. Ignoring their discussion, the blonde leaned into her lover once again and whispered, "I want my tongue inside you when you come." She followed that with a wet flick to the ear.
Whoa! Anna thought she'd explode, right here in front of all these nice people. Of the two of them, she was the talker, though she rarely said anything as?naughty as the words her partner had just whispered into her ear. Taking in her lover's lustful gaze, the tall woman suddenly stood. "I think Lily and I need to be going. We've both got a lot to do tomorrow to get ready for the week." Even Anna realized how lame she sounded. Still, she wasn't going to let something like manners get in the way of what her lover had in mind.
Lily was surprisingly quiet on the way home, positioning herself in the front seat of the sports car to allow her lover's hand to creep underneath her dress and stroke the dampened thong. When they entered through the family room, she went immediately upstairs to get ready for bed. Anna turned out the lights and locked up, then followed quickly, anticipating a long night of decadent lust. Reaching the top of the stairs, she followed the trail of discarded clothing all the way to the king-sized bed. There she found her naked lover?sound asleep.
Go ahead. You know you're going to read this all night. Click here for Part 2!