Subtext Disclaimer: There is subtext here, too. This story deals with the growing attraction and eventual deep, profound love between two people who happen to be of the same sex. Although there are some scenes depicting the physical expression of that love, there are no graphic scenes here. If that is what you're looking for, you might want to read something else. This is simply a story about soulmates finding each other again.
Feedback: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. Comments are always welcome. Let me know if there's something you especially liked or didn't like. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Part 4It had gotten unexpectedly cold during the previous night. As Robin made her way inside the downtown office building, the slightly burnt smell of heated air lightly hit her, signaling the first day the building's heat generators had been turned on this fall. She made her way up the elevators to her office, closed the door and powered up her computer. Her mind, of course, was elsewhere, and the distraction persisted as she absentmindedly gazed out the window toward the lake below. I need to see Jess. Just then, she heard a light knock at her door.
"Come in." Robin sat at her desk, half expecting and more than a little hoping to see Jess walk in.
It was Paul. He opened the door and stepped inside her office. "Hi. I see you've fully recovered. The flu, wasn't it?" He awkwardly leaned against the interior of the door frame.
Robin sighed. "Yes, but I'm all better now." She smiled politely, then picked up her pen to begin to write. "Did you need something?"
"No, nothing, really. Just wanted to see if you were back." He fell silent for a moment. "Listen, Robin, I was wondering, if you don't have any other plans, if you'd like to go to the basketball game with me on Friday night. I have tickets." He looked at her hopefully.
Robin sighed again. Could this get any worse? "Paul, thanks, but I can't make it. Thank you for asking, though."
Paul looked at his feet for a moment. "Sure, maybe some other time." He smiled slightly. "Glad you're back." Another brief smile, and then he left Robin's office, closing the door again.
Robin mentally noted that she needed to have a nice, little chat with Paul, and then began to make her way in earnest through the pile of work that had built up during her absence. After hours of pouring through potential trial exhibits and preparing pre-trial affidavits, Robin glanced briefly at her watch to find that it was nearly lunch time. She had not seen Jess all morning, and Jess had not called or e-mailed either. Robin sat for a moment, idly wondering if Jess might be free for lunch, and then decided to make her way over to Jess's office to find out firsthand. As Robin turned the corner and walked down the hall toward Jess's office, she saw that the door was closed, which usually meant that Jess did not want to be disturbed. As Robin approached, she hesitated for a slight moment, then knocked lightly.
"Come in." Jess's muffled voice came through the thick wood door.
Robin opened the door slowly and peeked inside. "Hi." She smiled, slightly unsure. "Are you busy?"
Jess glanced up from her desk, an unreadable expression on her face, and motioned Robin inside the office. "A little. Go ahead and close the door."
Robin did so and took a seat opposite Jess, deciding it was best to just get straight to the point. "Um…..I was wondering if you'd like to go grab some lunch. Are you free?" She looked at Jess expectantly.
"No." Jess shook her head. "Thanks, but I'm really busy and I think I should just work straight through." She relaxed a little and let go a small smile. "I played hooky this weekend."
"I know." Robin returned the same smile. It was true, they had played all weekend, but Robin desperately needed to talk to Jess, and she just couldn't let the day pass without attempting her best to do so. "Can you come over tonight? I can fix something for dinner and then maybe we can talk a little bit." Robin was insistent, a bit of desperation coloring her voice.
There was a long silence. Longer than it should have been, and Robin was growing nervous. Jess's unreadable expression had not changed, and it was impossible to discern what was behind those extraordinary blue eyes. The silence lingered, and after another long moment, Jess finally spoke. "Tonight's bad for me, Robin. I really have a lot of work to do, and I really need to catch up on some of this stuff this evening."
Something's wrong. "Okay." Robin tried not to let her disappointment show and took a long breath. "Then, how about tomorrow night?"
Jess focused her attention out the large window and stared at the downtown skyline, her jumbled thoughts racing through her mind. She was trying, though a bit unsuccessfully, not to deal with the events of this past weekend. A part of her wanted to fall head first into the sea green comfort Robin provided, and another part was just plain afraid to take the risk. It was as simple as that. But they did need to talk, and it really wasn't something that could be avoided. Jess closed her eyes. She was considering perhaps waiting a few days, and then dealing with things when she'd had more time to think, but the question in Robin's voice seemed to hold more urgency. Jess shook her head and mentally berated herself. Don't do this to her, Jess. She doesn't deserve this from you. Deal with it now.
"Jess?" Robin broke through Jess's thoughts and looked over to see the apprehension on her face. It was then that Robin sensed what seemed to have been troubling Jess all along. She's afraid. Robin mentally noted to herself. I am, too. She cautiously asked again. "Is tomorrow evening, okay?"
Jess silently made up her mind and then slowly nodded, clear blue eyes now suddenly quite readable. "Yes."
Robin let out a relieved breath. "Great. Come over about 7:00, okay?" She stood up to leave, but suddenly and without thinking twice, she instead stepped around Jess's desk and knelt by her side, resting her hands lightly upon the arm of Jess's desk chair. Robin looked up and spoke softly, her voice quietly compassionate. "Whatever happens, Jess, we're in this together, okay?"
Jess gave her a warm smile and nodded slightly. ""I'm counting on that, kiddo." The smile tuned into a full grin. "Now go get some lunch before you starve to death."
Robin stood up and grinned back. "You are so mean to me."
"Just stating the facts, kiddo." Jess turned and pulled out an envelope from her desk drawer. "Here. I forgot to return this to you from last week." She handed it to Robin.
Robin took the small, white envelope, the one with the spare apartment key in it, and stood silently in place for a moment. She then handed it right back to Jess. "Keep it."
"Yes, keep it. You never know when it might come in handy sometimes." Robin headed toward the door and grinned. "Especially if you play hooky again."
At 7:00 sharp Tuesday evening, Jess arrived at Robin's place, a little tired but more than a little anxious. Talking was never easy for her, and this night would be no exception, though she had decided that, if they were going to talk, everything should be dealt with head on. She pulled up to Robin's apartment building, sat for a few moments in her car, and then, taking a steadying breath, headed for Robin's door.
"Hey." Robin answered the door. "I'm glad you're here. Boy, it's getting cold out. Come on in."
Jess stepped inside and took off her light jacket. "Thanks. It smells good in here. What did you make?"
"Spaghetti. I thought it would be simple." Robin led Jess to the sofa and sat down. "You know, I thought you said it never got cold in Florida. I think you might have some explaining to do." She wagged a playful finger at Jess.
"What I said was, it hardly ever gets cold in Florida and that I wished it was cold more often." Jess sat down.. "I never said that it never got cold in Florida. And for you information, it's not cold out. It's a little cool, that's all."
"Cool, yeah, right. Well I guess I'll have to drag out some of my sweaters to wear after all." Robin chuckled.
Jess shook her head. "The problem is, tomorrow it'll be warm again. The cool air only sticks around for a day or two before it warms back up." I can't believe we're talking about the weather.
"Right." Robin frowned. "Dinner's ready. Let's eat." She furrowed her brows. "You do like spaghetti, don't you?"
Jess gave her a bright smile "It's one of my absolute favorites, next to shrimp, of course." She laughed and followed Robin into the dining room, idly noting the carved centerpiece still displayed prominently in the center of the table. "You seem to always do all the cooking. You'll have to let me cook dinner next time. Deal?"
Robin grinned widely. "Okay, deal."
Dinner was quite informal and relaxed, the conversation light and comfortable. No matter whatever else, Jess and Robin seemed to fall into the content and familiar pattern of easy and gentle banter, both of them happy simply to enjoy each other's company. When dinner was finished and the dishes washed, they retired into the living room to talk.
"Come sit down." Robin patted the sofa and gestured for Jess to sit. "Thanks for coming over tonight." She watched in silence as Jess came over and sat down on the sofa next to her. "Um…..Jess….." Robin bit her bottom lip lightly, trying to decide how to best start. "I want you to know something, first." Robin took a deep breath and steadied her voice. "If you'd like to keep things the way they were, you know, before, then I want you to know that we can still do that."
Jess was quiet for a very long moment, appearing to contemplate that statement at length and in great detail. She swallowed and softly whispered. "Is that what you want?"
Robin sat motionless. How do I answer my own question? There were so many things she felt, and none of them was easy to explain. She mostly felt fear and then a bit of guilt, as if by charging forward into uncharted waters with Jess, she was also perhaps betraying David's memory. But the question was, did she want things to go back to the way they were before? No, definitely not. "No," Robin finally whispered back. "I don't want that. But I'm not the only one here, and I would respect whatever you wanted to do."
Jess nodded and looked directly into sea green eyes. "I don't want things to go back to the way they were before, either." She reached down and took Robin's hand gently in her own. "I've thought of little else these past couple of days. I'm a little nervous about this, as you probably can see, but I do know that I want to be close to you."
"Jess, I want that too." Robin looked over at the far wall, not really seeing anything in particular. "I have to be honest with you about something." Her voice became shaky. "I've never felt this way before, not even with David. I'm a little bit afraid of these feelings. I've never um….." She paused trying to collect her thoughts and then whispered, slightly embarrassed. "I've never kissed a woman before." Her voice trailed off.
Jess closed her eyes and nodded. "I know what you mean. Neither have I." She opened her eyes again and stared intently at Robin. "I've never wanted to do that…..before now. Before you." Jess fidgeted a little. "If we were to go forward, would you be okay with it?" She gave Robin a crooked smile. "The kissing part, I mean."
Robin smiled back a bit shyly and nodded. "Yes, I would definitely be okay with it."
Jess sat a little closer. "So how was it?" Her voice was a bit unsure.
"How was what?" Robin stared into blue eyes.
"The kissing part." Jess whispered. "Was it okay?"
Robin swallowed and moved closer to Jess. "Yes." She took a breath. "It was very okay."
"Would you want to maybe…..try it again?" Jess's warm breath caressed Robin's face.
"Yes." It was all Robin could say before Jess's lips lightly brushed hers and then made firm contact, the softness exquisite and the sensation indescribable.
It was a chaste kiss by all standards, but Jess was spellbound just the same. Robin's lips were so soft, and the electrified jolt was enough to make her dizzy. She brought her hand up and placed it behind Robin's neck, pulling her in closer, while Robin lifted her own hand and caressed Jess's cheek with her fingertips. The kiss turned into several more kisses, each more confident than the previous one, but yet, the kisses were also slow and gentle, and lingered over the span of several moments. Both Robin and Jess were all at once very lost in the new sensations, and more than a little overwhelmed by the intensity. Finally, they broke gently apart and leaned back against the cushions, both trying to calm the speed of their racing hearts.
"That was…..um.….wow." Robin shook her head in wonder. "I can't describe it."
Jess smiled. "Amazing."
"Yes." Robin smiled back. "Amazing."
Jess grew serious. "There's something I need to ask you, Robin, but I don't want to upset you."
Robin sat very still. "Okay."
Jess's voice was slightly above a whisper. "You mentioned David. I know his loss is hard for you, and the pain you feel must be very great." She glanced away for a moment then turned her attention back to Robin. "I just don't want you to do anything that you wouldn't be comfortable doing in light of that." She paused. "You once said that it was too soon for you to be involved with someone. What I mean is, are you sure you're okay with this….with us, and our going forward?"
What is it you're really asking? Robin looked at Jess, trying desperately to understand. "Are you asking if I would feel like I was betraying David by feeling the way I do about you?"
"Something like that." Jess turned her gaze downward toward the floor, unable to look at Robin directly, and almost afraid to hear the answer.
"Jess, will you look at me, please." Robin brought her hand to Jess's chin and gently lifted it up. "I will be honest with you." Robin spoke softly. "Sometimes I feel that I would be betraying his memory, yes. That doesn't mean that it's right for me to feel that way, or that I will always feel that way. I know in my mind that I have to move on with my life. My heart sometimes just has to catch up. I can't promise that I won't fall backward sometimes, but I'd like to count on you to be there for me if I do." Robin looked intently into apprehensive blue eyes, piercing the veil that shielded them. "I want you to know that the things I feel for you, Jess…..I've never felt them before, with David or with anyone else. Just you."
Jess nodded, not taking her gaze away, and then continued. "If you couldn't do it, I mean, if you realized you didn't want to go forward after all, that this might not be right for you, you would tell me, right? You wouldn't just….." Her voice faded, unable to put words to the thought.
Robin closed her eyes briefly. I see it now. She's afraid I'll change my mind and then leave her. Damn you, James. I can't believe you did this to her. Robin wrapped her arms gently around Jess's shoulders and held her close. "I promise you, Jess, I promise you, I'd tell you if there was any doubt." She then pulled back slightly from the embrace, green eyes staring resolutely into blue, and spoke very clearly. "There is absolutely no doubt, Jess. None." She offered a slight smile. "Scared, yes. Doubt, no."
"Thank you." Jess nodded and then was quiet for a long moment. "You, know, Robin, I'm really glad we talked about this tonight. I'm sorry if it seemed as though I was trying to avoid it." She gave Robin a crooked grin. "Alright, I was definitely trying to avoid it. But thanks for insisting. Sometimes, you just have to kick me." She laughed softly.
"I'll have to kick you, huh? I'll definitely have to remember that." Robin chuckled and fingered the fabric on the sofa cushion. "Um, Jess?"
Robin looked up a bit shyly. "Do you want to cuddle for a while?"
Jess gave her a warm smile. "Definitely. Come here." She stretched herself out on the fluffy sofa. "I want you to know that cuddling is my specialty."
Robin cuddled up facing Jess on the inside portion of the fluffy sofa. "I agree. You're an excellent cuddler." She chuckled. "We'll have to consider adding this to your list of skills."
Jess nuzzled Robin's ear. "Yes. And don't forget to give me points, too. I need lots and lots of points."
"Why is it you need lots and lots of points?" Robin gently kissed Jess's temple.
"So I get my prize." Jess ran her fingertips slowly through Robin's soft blonde hair.
"I see. Do you know what you want your prize to be?"
Jess gave Robin a devilish grin. "Oh, yes. After all, you did tell me it would definitely be worth my effort." She winked.
"So I did." Robin chuckled and then laid her head on Jess's shoulder, releasing a contented sigh. "I like it when you hold me like this. I feel safe with you."
Jess smiled. "Me, too."
Robin closed her eyes. You are safe with me, Jess. I won't leave you.
Jess stared intently at her computer screen, planning the trial calendar. She looked up from her work in time to see Keith enter her office. He seemed particularly quite anxious today.
"Keith, what can I do for you?" Jess sat back in her leather chair.
Keith Miller, a fourth year associate, had been assisting with trial preparations in Robin's absence and took up some of her workload while she was out sick. "I wanted to go over the deposition status with you, if you have some time."
Jess nodded. "Alright. Robin's back now so she can pick back up with the trial preparation matters. What is it?"
"Well, I had a question and I wanted to run it by you." Keith seemed nervous. "I noticed in reviewing the deposition transcripts that apparently we haven't deposed Anne Carver. I know she's a key witness for the opposing side and I didn't know why we decided not to depose her."
Jess frowned. "What do you mean, we haven't deposed her? I thought you and Michelle were deposing all the witnesses?"
"She wasn't scheduled. I didn't know about it until now." He looked at the floor. "The discovery deadline has passed, so we can't even try to schedule her for a deposition at this late date even if we wanted to."
Jess looked grim and tried to control her growing anger. "You know very well we can't go into trial without knowing what that witness will say. How can I cross-examine her when I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to ask her?" Jess's raised voice was heard well down the hallway. "Why wasn't she scheduled?"
"I don't know. Maybe you should check with Robin and see why Anne Carver didn't make it on the deposition schedule." Keith stood to leave. "Let me know if you need me to do anything with this." He left Jess's office, practically on the run, feeling fortunate to have escaped in one piece.
Damn it. Jess swiveled her chair and stared out the floor to ceiling windows at the downtown skyline. Why didn't Robin schedule that deposition? Something just didn't feel right. Robin wouldn't let this slip. It wouldn't be like her to forget the discovery deadline. Jess closed her eyes. Ordinarily, she would have been fuming, and she knew it. Didn't she just get all over Mark's case for missing a deadline? Suddenly, Harry's words came back at her. 'We can't compromise the client's case for training purposes.' Damn. Jess dialed the phone to Robin's office. "Robin, it's Jess." Her voice was neutral. "Can you come see me? I need to talk to you about the trial." She hung up the phone, and after what seemed like an eternity, Robin poked her head inside the office door.
"Hi. What did you need?" Robin closed the door and sat in a chair opposite the large, cherry wood desk.
Jess spoke in an even, businesslike tone. "Keith was in here a few moments ago. He was covering some of your work while you were out." She paused. "He tells me that we didn't depose Anne Carver and she wasn't on our deposition schedule." Jess looked intently at Robin. "Was there a reason?"
Robin flinched. "I spoke to opposing counsel and scheduled all the other depositions. When we came to schedule Anne Carver, he told me that they would not be calling her as a witness at trial, so it was not necessary to depose her. She was not going to testify."
"I see." Jess rubbed her fingers against her eyebrows and closed her eyes. She opened the case file and pulled out a document. "Here. Take a look at their witness list." She handed the document to Robin.
"I don't understand." Robin read the document. "He said she was not testifying."
Jess frowned. "Well, she is, and now we don't know what she's going to say." Jess sat back in her chair and was silent for a long moment. A seasoned associate would have recognized what was happening. Harry's words came back at her again. 'There is no substitute for experience.' Jess spoke her next words carefully, making an effort to remain calm. "Robin, this is a very old trick which, quite frankly, most ethical lawyers don't use. They tell you that they don't intend to call a witness at trial so you won't depose the witness ahead of time. Then, once the discovery deadline has passed, they suddenly decide that they indeed intend to call the witness after all, and they amend their pre-trial witness list to include the new witness. That way, you won't know ahead of time exactly what the witness will say on the stand." Jess shook her head. "I've seen it done before, although the Court doesn't often let them get away with it." Jess softened her voice somewhat. "I should have warned you about our opposing counsel. He tends to be less than ethical."
"Oh." Robin grimaced. "Is there anything we can do?"
Jess thought about this, and stared out the window for a long moment. Think, Jess. Then, it suddenly hit her like a ton of bricks. It was so glaringly obvious, it practically called out her name. Jess looked over to Robin. "I just thought of something." Jess paced around the room "This tactic is a desperate measure and is rarely ever used. There is some particular reason opposing counsel did not want us to depose this witness ahead of time. Something probably big. Otherwise, he wouldn't have resorted to such an underhanded tactic in the first place." Jess tapped her fingers against the side of her chin in thought. "We just have to figure out what that particular reason is."
Robin looked at Jess apologetically. "I'm sorry I didn't catch what he was doing."
Jess nodded. "Not your fault. Besides, you'll learn as you handle more and more cases. It was my mistake in not alerting you to the type of person our opposing counsel is."
"He's a weasel?" Robin tried to lighten the situation somewhat.
Jess nodded again. "He is definitely a weasel, and we're going to bag this weasel before he knows what hit him." Jess gave Robin an almost feral grin. "This is what we'll do. I want you to go back through each and every document that has Anne Carver's name on it. Have one of the paralegals run a background check and an asset check on her. Then pull it all together and see what shakes out. There's something there, I just know it, and we're going to find out what it is. It might require some late nights, though." Jess raised her eyebrows expectantly. "Sound like a plan?"
"You got it, boss." Robin grinned. "I'll get right on it."
"Good." Jess's expression suddenly turned very serious. "Now, I have one very important question for you, Robin, and I need you to give me an honest answer."
Robin nodded slowly and swallowed, a bit unsure and more than a little apprehensive. "Okay."
With a still serious expression, Jess asked, "What are you doing Friday evening?" She arched a dark eyebrow.
Robin opened her mouth, but nothing came out. She then arched an eyebrow of her own and responded in an equally serious manner. "Working."
Jess shook her head. "Nope, wrong answer." She pulled something from her top desk drawer. "You're going to the basketball game with me. See, I have these tickets." She flashed said tickets at Robin. "These tickets always used go to waste because I didn't often go. Now, you can go with me." She grinned expectantly.
Robin looked at Jess and teased. "But what if I don't like basketball?"
"Then, you would be weird. Everyone likes basketball. But if you don't want to go….." Jess didn't get a chance to finish the sentence.
"I never said I didn't want to go. I just asked what happens if I don't like it. Actually, I don't know much about basketball. Football, yes. Basketball, no." Robin glanced at Jess. "So, what would happen if I go, and then I don't like it?"
"Well, then, I guess I'll just have to make it up to you some other way." Jess winked.
"Such as you get to pick the next place we go. Deal?"
"You've got yourself a deal, boss." Robin got up and headed for the door. "As long as I get to be in charge."
"Alright, fine. You're in charge. Now get back to work. You need to be perfectly work-free by Friday night." Jess returned to her trial preparations as soon as Robin left her office. You're getting too soft, Jess. There was a time not so long ago when you would have chewed someone up and spit them out for less than what happened. She sighed to herself. I guess we know who's really in charge here, don't we?
Robin arrived back at her office and checked her e-mail, opening a mail message from the office administrator. November Birthdays. And there, in bold print amongst the other November dates, was the date that most caught Robin's eye. Jess's birthday. She smiled to herself. Next week. Robin sat back and considered for a moment just what it was she was going to do to celebrate that particular event.
"What row are our seats?" Robin stepped over to the sports arena's aisle stairway.
"Well, do you see those seats way up there?" Jess pointed her index finger toward the balcony seating.
"You're kidding. We're way, way, way up there?" Robin squinted to see the uppermost level.
Jess grinned. "No, I never said that. I just asked you if you saw them. We are way, way, way down there." Jess now pointed toward the lowest level seating. "Much better than those up there, huh?"
Robin gave Jess a playful swat. "You think you're so funny. You just like to torment me." Robin made her way down the aisle to the lower level.
Jess followed after her. "Yes, I think I'm funny, and yes, you're fun to torment." She stopped near a row of seats. "This is us. The law firm gets great seats, huh?"
"I'll say. This is a great view of the basketball court from here. You partners get all the perks." Robin took her seat. "You'll have to explain the basketball rules to me so I understand what's going on."
Jess sat down in the seat next to Robin. "Fine, but I have to warn you, it's a fast game and you're not going to learn everything all at once."
"Okay." Robin turned to look at the rows of seats behind her. "Oh no."
"What is it?" Jess looked around.
"Hide me." Robin sunk down into her seat and ducked her head behind Jess's shoulder.
"It's Paul." Robin pointed two rows back. "Don't let him see me."
Jess followed the direction of Robin's finger. "So what if he's here. He's probably using firm tickets, too. Why does it matter if he sees you?" A pause. "Oooops, sorry, too late. He saw you."
"Great. Just great." Robin shook her head. "He asked me to come to the game with him and I told him I couldn't go. He's probably thinking horrible things about me right now." She hid her eyes behind her hand.
"So, you changed your mind. It happens. Big deal." Jess smirked. "If you feel so bad about it, why don't you just tell him you're not interested." Then, Jess quickly realized how what she had said sounded, and rushed to clarify. "I'm sorry. That was awfully presumptuous of me. I didn't mean to assume that you wouldn't be interested if you wanted to, you know, see him sometimes." A little insecure aren't you, Jess.
A little jealous, huh, Jess? "I'm not interested, and you know it. There's only one person I'm interested in at the moment, and it isn't Paul." Robin looked directly at Jess. "And if you don't know that by now, then we have a serious problem."
Jess stared at the far-end basket. "Oh." It was all she could say. After a few minutes, the announcer came across the speakers to announce the beginning of play, the deep voice booming throughout the arena. "Look, the game's starting now."
Robin tugged on Jess's shirt sleeve. "You won't forget to explain everything to me, will you?"
"Not likely, especially if you keep tugging on me like that." Jess grinned.
They watched the entire game, and the home team won in the end, with Jess dutifully and very thoroughly explaining all the key calls and rulings by the officials. Robin enjoyed the game fever, but still wasn't quite sure exactly how it all made sense. She did understand that when your team made a basket, it was good. After the game was over, Jess and Robin made their way back to Jess's car, since Jess had insisted that she should drive, primarily due to Robin's difficulty in navigating downtown one-way streets. They made their way out of the downtown area and headed back to what was now affectionately known as The Ranch.
"So, what did you think?" Jess opened the garage door via remote control and pulled her silver Mercedes inside.
"I think it was fun, but you'll have to explain it to me some more so I completely understand the game." Robin got out of the car and followed Jess inside the house. "Then, I think I might enjoy it better."
Jess went into the living room and sat down on the plush sofa, swinging her feet up onto the coffee table. "Well, it sure looked like you seemed to be enjoying the game fine to me." She raised both eyebrows in humor.
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing. Nothing. Only that you practically had everyone in the whole arena staring at you whenever you did that little dance thingy of yours every time our team made a basket." Jess laughed at the memory.
"I was just cheering."
"Oh, is that what it's called? Your cheer was complete with little arm pumping motions, and little twirls around in circles, and a little hip wagging thing going on. It was quite cute." Jess laughed harder. I liked the hip wagging thing the best.
"Like you weren't out there, Miss Basketball Expert, with that 'Number One' finger foam hand thing, waving it around in everyone's face every time our team scored." Robin wagged her finger playfully at Jess. "You almost knocked me over with it several times. I can't believe I was still standing by the time the game was over."
"You were too busy dancing around in between the aisles for me to knock you over. Besides, you nearly scared the poor guy in the fourth row half to death when you let go that yell half way through the third quarter. I thought he was going to have a heart attack."
"I can't help it. I'm a very enthusiastic fan." Robin grinned widely. "When I'm quite enthusiastic about something, I tend to be extremely loud." Robin laughed hard, then froze for a moment, realizing an alternative, yet quite unintended, meaning to what she had just said. She blushed profusely, and then turned to look at Jess, hoping Jess hadn't picked up on her little faux pas. No luck.
Jess sat there, staring over at Robin, eyebrow raised, trying very hard to suppress a mischievous grin. "Is that so? You're extremely loud, huh?" Jess winked and stifled a laugh. "I certainly can't wait to see that." She whispered quite seductively. "So, tell me, Robin, what else besides basketball might you be quite…..enthusiastic about?"
"Oh, God." Robin let go a loud and embarrassed sigh and then fell backwards on the sofa, hiding her face behind a large throw pillow. "I didn't mean it that way." Came the muffled voice. A green eye peeked out from behind the corner of the pillow. "And you knew that."
Jess was on the floor laughing herself silly. Robin was so much fun to tease, and Jess, it seemed, just couldn't resist. After a few long and giggle filled moments, Jess finally calmed herself down enough to wipe her eyes and sit up. "Boy, that was fun." She lifted herself back up on the sofa and took the pillow from Robin's face. "So how about you staying over tonight?" It was a lighthearted question.
Robin sobered quickly and snapped her head up, hesitation plainly written on her face. "Um, Jess…..I um….." She stammered.
"What?" Jess looked genuinely perplexed.
Robin turned away, unable to look at Jess directly in the eyes. "I um…..I'm just not ready to…..you know." She took a deep breath and whispered. "I'm sorry."
Jess stared at Robin for a long moment, her mouth slightly open, trying to figure out what it was Robin was saying. Then, it suddenly hit her, and Jess's eyes grew wide in silent understanding. Oh, no. In light of their previous, albeit joking, conversation, it wasn't surprising that Robin thought Jess was asking something other than what she was really asking. Jess leaned back against the cushions and turned to Robin, speaking very softly. "Robin, honey, look at me, okay?"
Robin slowly turned her head toward Jess and nodded. "Okay."
"I didn't mean that the way it sounded." Jess paused briefly. "I know you're not ready. I don't think either one of us is ready for more right now. It's okay. We're going to go very slow, here. If one of us isn't comfortable with anything, we just have to say something and we won't do it." Jess smiled gently. "Is that alright?"
"Yes." Robin gave a shy nod. A long silence passed and then Robin sighed heavily. "Jess, I um…..guess I really should tell you that I um…..I haven't, you know…..other than with David, and it was only very recently. We were going to be engaged and we….." Robin's voice became a little shaky and then trailed off.
"Shhhh, honey. It's alright. I understand." Jess whispered and gently grasped Robin's hand. "For me, it was just James and a few others along the way. No women." She gave Robin a crooked grin. "All I really want right now, Robin, more than anything else, is to hold you tonight. Would that be okay?"
Robin nodded and gave Jess a small smile. "Yes. I would really like that."
"Good. Now let's get ready. The waterbed's waiting for us." Jess leaned in and placed a quick, chaste kiss on Robin's lips. "And your personal nightshirt and personal toothbrush are beckoning you." She smiled warmly.
After they had performed their nightly routines, Robin and Jess snuggled down deep in the slightly heated waterbed and cuddled together. Robin laid her head on Jess's shoulder, putting her arm snuggly around Jess's waist. Jess reached up and put her hand on Robin's back and began gently rubbing back and forth over the cloth of the nightshirt with her long fingers, the simple touch calming and reassuring.
"Robin?" Jess trailed a finger up to the back of Robin's neck.
"I want you to know something." Jess brushed a strand of hair behind a petite, delicate ear. "If I never do more than hold you like this, that would be enough for me."
Robin smiled in the darkness. "Thank you for saying that." A moment. "But, of course, we wouldn't have to limit ourselves to that, right?"
Jess swallowed. "Uh, right." Oh boy.
"Yeah, good." Another moment. "Goodnight."
Robin reached for Jess's hand and intertwined their fingers, bringing their joined hands up and placing them beneath her chin. "Goodnight, Jess."
As morning arrived, Robin woke to the smell of coffee brewing and bacon cooking. She got up from the waterbed and padded her way into the kitchen. Jess was standing over the stove, spatula in hand, cooking bacon and scrambled eggs.
"Hi. Whatcha making?" Robin peered around Jess's shoulder.
"Hi, sleepyhead. Glad you could finally join the world of the living." Jess flipped the bacon. "I'm making bacon and eggs. Hope you like it, because there isn't anything else around here to eat. I haven't had much time to shop." She looked at Robin accusingly. "Wonder why?"
"Hey, don't blame me for your failure to attend to your grocery shopping duties. If you wouldn't work so late most nights, and then play hooky all weekend, you might have time to stock up on your food-related items." Robin sat at the kitchen table and poured two cups of coffee.
"My point exactly. I was playing hooky all weekend with you." Jess pointed the spatula at Robin accusingly and then finished scrambling the eggs.
"Sorry, Jess. You cannot use that as an excuse for your grocery shopping neglect."
"Well, then, maybe I should get a grocery service to deliver my groceries." Jess grinned mischievously. "That way I can have food in the house and still reserve all my free time for playing hooky." She waggled her eyebrows at Robin and turned off the stove. She then filled two plates with bacon and eggs, retrieved the toast, and sat down at the kitchen table. "That reminds me, I have something for you." Jess got up again and removed something from a nearby counter, handing it to Robin. "This is for when you want to play hooky, too."
Robin took the item. "A key?"
"Yes, it's a key to this house. I mean, it's only fair. You gave me yours, so I'm giving you mine. That way we can each play hooky whenever we want." Jess grinned happily and sat down, taking a bite of her toast. "I'll write down the alarm code for you, too."
"Thanks. A key to The Ranch." Robin smiled. "I know it'll come in handy, because there's a minimum weekend hooky requirement now, you know?" She took a sip of her coffee.
A dark eyebrow shot up. "Is that so? And what would that requirement be?"
"At least one day and one night per weekend, minimum. That's just the minimum. The recommended weekend allowance is far higher. For maximum hooky results, the entire weekend is optimal." Robin munched on a piece of bacon.
"Sorry, kiddo. Got to work tomorrow." Jess took another bite. "And don't forget, you've got to do your Sunday chores, which you neglected last week."
Robin pouted. "You're no fun. Can you at least play today?"
"What did you have in mind?"
"The mall?" Jess poured herself a second cup of coffee. "And we would go there, why?"
Robin chuckled. "To shop."
"To shop for what?"
"We won't know until we get there. That's half the fun. You go there without knowing what you'll find, and when you find something you weren't expecting, it's fun." Robin was quite proud of herself for explaining it so well.
Jess furrowed her brows. "I usually go to the store knowing what I want. I go in, I get it and then I get out. End of story." Jess nodded to herself. "Seems very practical to me."
Robin shook her head. "No, silly. The idea of shopping isn't to be practical, it's to go and have….."
"Fun." Jess interrupted.
"Exactly." Robin chuckled. "I knew you'd see the logic."
Someone save me.
"Jess, what do you think of these shoes?" Robin stood at the floor mirror of the fourth shoe store they'd been to that day. "I like the heels."
"If you like them, then get them." Jess sat in the chair and played with the foot measurer.
"Okay, I will." Robin went up to the cashier. "So, what store do you want to go to next?"
"I have a better idea." Jess grinned enthusiastically. "Let's go ride the train." She jumped up from the chair and waited for Robin to finish paying for the shoes.
"The train?" Robin looked at Jess with the trademark 'you can't be serious' look and followed Jess out of the shoe store and into the crowded mall.
"Yeah. It'll be….." Jess looked at Robin and smirked. "Fun."
"The train is for kids. It doesn't go anywhere, just around and around part of the food court."
"Doesn't matter. I like to ride it." Jess spoke to Robin matter-of-factly. "You don't have to come along with me, if you don't want to. But you'll be missing out."
Robin let out an exasperated sigh. "Oh, alright. Fine. Let's go ride the train. You're such a big kid, anyway."
They went and rode the train, three times mind you, until Robin finally had to put a halt to their train-riding activities, primarily due to the smell of food wafting throughout the food court. Jess and Robin decided to get a bite to eat before proceeding on their way to do some more shopping. Robin, of course, had an ulterior motive for wanting to get Jess to the mall in the first place. There was this little matter of someone's birthday coming up in a few days, and Robin thought she could get an idea of what that certain someone may want in particular as a birthday gift. Jess, of course, was not cooperating, until they finally came upon a specialty shop of hard to find and imported items.
"Ooooh, look at this." Jess went down an aisle and stopped in front of some carved onyx figures.
"What are those? Robin peered at the items in question.
"They're onyx chess figures. This is a carved onyx chess set. See, the quality is impeccable and the carving is very intricate." Jess picked up a chess piece and fingered the smooth, slick texture. "A set like this is very rare outside of Mexico and quite expensive."
Robin took a chess piece in her hand as well. "Do you play, Jess?"
"No, not really. My father used to. But that was a very long time ago, before he left." Jess set the figure down. "I always thought it would be nice to have a set and display it."
"Why didn't you ever get one, then?" The wheels began to turn in Robin's mind.
"No point to it. I don't play, so there's really no reason to have one. I just always thought the way they looked was neat." Jess shrugged and then turned to make her way back out into the mall again. "So, is there anywhere else you wanted to go today?"
"No, I think I'm finished. We can leave now." Robin glanced over toward Jess and smirked. "Unless, of course, you wanted to ride the train again."
"You're just jealous because I got to sit up front and ring the bell, which I consider my personal bell on all train rides." Jess poked Robin lightly on the arm.
"Yes, that's right, Jess." Robin humored her. "I'm jealous because you got to ring the bell. Which, of course, you rang extremely loudly, I might add."
Jess leaned in and whispered closely into Robin's ear. "I'm an enthusiastic train rider, Robin. When I'm quite enthusiastic about something, I tend to be extremely loud." She paused for effect. "And by the way, I'll let you ring my personal bell any time." Jess stood back and winked.
Robin nearly choked and then blushed tremendously. I hate it when she does that. And I walked right into it this time. "You are really a brat." She gave Jess a light slap on the arm and proceeded on to the car.
"Hey, don't hit." Jess yelled ahead to Robin in amusement. After a moment, they arrived at the car, with Jess still trying mighty hard not to venture a laugh, but failing in spite of the effort. She turned off the car alarm and unlocked the doors. "So, did you have fun shopping today?" Jess glanced over the car's roof to Robin.
Robin put her packages inside the car. "Yeah, it was a lot of fun."
"After all, the whole point of going shopping is to have fun, right? See, I learned that from you." Jess grinned proudly.
"Very good, Jess." Robin chuckled and then gave Jess a very sweet smile. "And the train ride was fun, too. Next time, though, it's my turn to ring the bell."
Jess, you are in so much trouble.
Robin and Jess returned to The Ranch and fixed a small dinner before deciding to go into the living room and relax. Though the weather, true to Jess's prediction, had turned a bit warmer by week's end, it was still not too warm for a fire in the fireplace.
"Would you like a fire tonight or just watch TV?" Jess entered the living room with Robin in tow.
"I think a fire would be nice. I really miss not being able to have a fire at my place. Not many apartments in Orlando come with fireplaces." Robin sat on the tile floor next to the hearth. "Do you have enough wood?"
"Yep, I have more in the garage. I use oak because it burns longer, even though the fire's not quite as hot as when you use pine." Jess lit the firelog and carefully placed several pieces of wood on top of it.
Robin sat on the floor, knees pulled up to her chin, and her arms wrapped securely around them. She stared at the fire and became mesmerized by the flames, as they started small and low in the fireplace and then grew to engulf the entire firelog, slowly catching the larger pieces of wood on fire in succession. The fire began to hiss and crackle. Save for the sound of the fire, there was complete silence, as Robin's mind drifted in quiet thought for a very long while. Jess slid down onto the floor behind her, and wrapped her long arms completely around Robin's shoulders, speaking in a low and gentle tone in a small ear.
"If you want to talk about it, I'm here." Jess's voice had a calming effect.
"How did you know?" Robin whispered.
"I just know." Jess rested her chin on Robin's shoulder and waited for a moment. "Come on. Let's go over to the sofa. It's more comfortable than this hard floor." Jess pulled Robin up and led her over to the plush sofa. She turned off the table lamp and stretched herself out on the cushions, opening her arms wide. "Come here."
Robin complied and curled up snuggly in Jess's arms, head resting gently against a broad shoulder. After a long moment more, Robin finally spoke. "Sometimes, I feel this overwhelming sense of guilt, and it comes over me when I least expect it. I feel very happy one moment, and then it sneaks up on me. I think sometimes that I don't deserve to be as happy as I am right now after…..everything that's happened."
Jess kissed the top of Robin's head. "You deserve to be happy, sweetheart. Don't ever think you don't. Your being sad will not change anything." She stroked Robin's soft blonde hair and then asked something that had been on her mind all week long. "Robin, are you really happy?" It was said quite unsure and with more than a bit of nervousness.
Robin turned her head and looked up at Jess and then brought her hand up to caress Jess's cheek, her fingers gliding over the smooth, angular features. "I have never been more happy in my life than I am right now. Part of that is what scares me so much. It seems like I have no right to be happy considering everything." She laid her head back down on Jess's chest. "I don't deserve you."
Jess sighed. "Robin, you've said that now several times. Believe me when I tell you that I'm no great prize, but you have to believe that you deserve every happiness that comes your way." Jess smiled gently and kissed Robin's nose. "Even if it's me, for whatever that's worth." She rolled her eyes in self-deprecation. In spite of Jess's playful tone, she was actually beginning to get slightly worried about Robin's state of mind and her inability to accept the good things in her life.
Robin quickly slid up Jess's body to look directly into blue eyes, resting her weight on one elbow. She lightly traced Jess's soft lips with her index finger and then leaned in and placed a small kiss on those soft lips, savoring the feel of the tender connection. Robin pulled back slightly, green eyes staring intently into deep blue, and whispered very softly, her warm breath gently caressing Jess's face. "You are what makes me happy, Jess. And it's worth more than you know."
Jess reached up with her free hand and pulled Robin down to her, placing a tender kiss on her lips. Robin returned the kiss with equal tenderness, as the one kiss ultimately turned into more. Their kisses became long and slow, but not deep, as their hands gently caressed each other's faces, feeling the smooth skin beneath their fingertips, and then lightly stroked each other's silky soft hair. They kissed slowly and leisurely for several moments more, the firelight flickering in random patterns off the walls, and the slight crackle from the wood the only sound in the room. After an undetermined period of time, they broke away, and Robin slid down to resume her previous position across Jess's chest, closing her eyes contently.
"How is it that just by being with you, I feel so many things, so many emotions, that I can't even explain them to myself?" Robin brushed her fingers lightly back and forth over the fine hairs on Jess's arm.
"I'll be honest with you, Robin." Jess spoke in a hushed tone. "I've never felt this way before either and I'm not quite sure what to think about it." She lightly stroked Robin's cheek. "It feels wonderful, though." Jess thought about that fact for a moment. It did feel wonderful, and right, like this was the most natural thing in the world and the way it was always supposed to be, a connection that defied explanation and was as ageless as the universe.
Robin slowly opened her eyes and stared blankly at the orange glow of the fire. "I admit that I was nervous at first about being close to you. Being this close to a woman was something I had never considered before, and I wasn't at all sure I wanted to become involved in a relationship like this.
"Does that…..bother you, now?" Jess held her breath for a moment. She had very recently had these same thoughts and had come to the decision that she did indeed want Robin in her life. But what if Robin decided differently in the end? Jess's heartbeat sped up a little, waiting for Robin to give her the answer she was most afraid to hear.
"Hey." Robin could hear Jess's heart rate increase beneath her ear. She lifted her hand and put her palm directly over Jess's heart, feeling the strong, insistent beat, willing it to calm. "Jess, it's okay." She looked up and smiled tenderly. "It doesn't bother me, now. I've thought about this, and I believe that it's what's on the inside of a person that counts, not what's on the outside." She paused. "Although your outside is very nice." Robin chuckled lightly. "You're very beautiful, both inside and out. I mean that."
Jess gave her a very warm smile. "Thanks. You're very beautiful on the inside yourself, and your outside is very cute." Jess touched her finger to Robin's nose.
With sudden emotion, Robin reached up and grasped Jess's hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the knuckles gently. After a moment more, Robin spoke again. "It's the person's soul that matters, Jess, not the packaging. I believe that." She kissed the knuckles lightly again. "And I believe our souls are somehow connected, because I wouldn't feel this strongly about you if that weren't true."
"I think you're right," Jess whispered, also appearing to be caught in the tide of the existing emotion, unable now to speak any further.
They cuddled together for a long while, and when the last of the fire had nearly burnt out, Jess sat up and stifled a small yawn. "I have to go into the office tomorrow, you know. If you like, you can stay, or if you prefer to go home, that would be okay, too." Her eyes betrayed what she said. She most definitely did not want Robin to leave. The separations had become extremely difficult, almost painful, but she didn't want to pressure Robin into spending every moment with her either.
"I want to stay." Robin decided.
"But I have to leave early if I intend to get everything done tomorrow that I want to do."
"I want to stay." Robin confirmed.
"But I'll be gone when you wake up."
"I want to stay." Robin reaffirmed.
"If you'd rather go home, I would understand." It seemed now that they were really talking about something quite different than simply whether Robin should stay over that night. They were in reality speaking about a level of commitment to each other and to a relationship that they were both a bit afraid of, but which both of them wanted desperately to pursue."
Robin went over and gently laid her hand on Jess's arm. "I know, and I want to stay."
Jess smiled. "Okay." They walked toward the master bedroom. "Tomorrow morning you can stick around here as long as you want and then just use the key I gave you to lock up and set the alarm when you leave, okay?"
"Okay. Maybe I can meet you at the office later tomorrow and we can get some dinner together." Robin stopped inside the doorway. "I haven't met my recommended hooky quotient yet this weekend." She grinned.
"You're on." Jess grinned back. "Did I tell you that I'm really good at playing hooky. I think I should get a lot of points for my hooky playing skills."
"I'll take that under advisement. But remember, I am the one that makes the ultimate decision. I think it depends on what you do with your hooky playing time that determines what points you get." Robin winked. "So make it good." She gave Jess a quick pat on the arm and then turned to get ready for bed.
Yeah, so make it good, Jess.
Sunday found Jess dutifully working in her office, files and paperwork strewn about her desk and floor area, and much work yet to be accomplished. Her mind had wandered aimlessly on more than one occasion, causing her not to complete as much work as she had originally intended. As she sat at her desk, she idly swiveled her leather chair around toward the large pane windows and simply stared unseeingly out at the clear blue sky. A bird flew perilously close to the window, but Jess curiously appeared not to notice, as her internal thoughts overcame her mind once again.
Well, it seems you've been quite busy lately, and we're not talking about work.
'Don't you ever go away?' The alternate internal voice was quite annoyed.
You've plunged head first into this thing with Robin. Are you sure you can handle it?
'Yep. I'm handling it just fine, thank you.' The alternate internal voice answered confidently.
Perhaps, but there's more going on here than you think.
The alternate internal voice was dismayed. 'What's that supposed to mean?'
It's not hard to figure out. In fact, it's quite obvious. You're hooked.
'Don't be ridiculous. I beg to differ with you, Sherlock. I like Robin. That is all.'
Are you sure it's not more than 'like'?
'Yep, just like.' The alternate internal voice responded surely.
Is that so? Lets review all of the evidence and let the jury decide. You've kissed her very affectionately, for one thing. You can't stand to be separated from her, you, for all intents and purposes, have entered into a serious relationship with her, you've lost all objectivity when it comes to her, and you've been entirely too distracted lately. Does that sound like it's just 'like' to you?
'Yes' The alternate internal voice replied defensively.
'Okay, I like her…..a lot. Happy now?' The alternate internal voice was not amused.
Wrong answer, again. Let's ask the question a little bit differently. Can you think of your life without Robin in it?
'Nope, I like my life right now with her in it.' The alternate internal voice responded happily.
I see. And what about next month, or next year? Can you think of your life without Robin then?
'Nope, again. She's right there.'
Now, how about ten years or twenty years, or even fifty years, from now? Is Robin in your life then, as well?
Your answer, please.
Your Honor, instruct the witness to answer.
The alternate internal voice was reflective. 'We've never talked about a long term relationship or commitment.'
But that wasn't the question. Can you imagine your life at anytime in the future without Robin?
Silence again for another moment. 'No.' The alternate internal voice was barely a whisper. 'No, I cannot.'
So, now you've seen all the evidence. What does it tell you?
The alternate internal voice stalled for time. 'I don't know.'
Yes you do. The jury's in. What's the verdict?
'The verdict is that I more than like her a lot.' The alternate internal voice evaded.
Be more specific, please.
The alternate internal voice finally gave in and finally gave voice to the ultimate realization. 'I love Robin very much and I want to spend the rest of my life with her.'
There, that wasn't so hard, now was it?
'Speak for yourself, buddy.' The alternate internal voice became a bit defensive once again.
Okay, so now that you've determined that you love her and you want to spend the rest of your life with her, what are you going to do about it?
The alternate internal voice pondered that question intently. 'It seems, Holmes, that I have absolutely no idea.'
To Be Continued………..
© Copyright 08/19/2000