Disclaimers: This is a love story with two women. There is consensual sex between two women, but it isn't very graphic. This is the extended version of the story I wrote for the Bard's Challenge. I had an enormous crush on my high school coach and health teacher all through high school. I came out years after I had seen her last and wondered what it would have been like if she were my first. I think we all have at least one teacher or coach that we daydream about. That's where I got the idea for this story. I tried to find her, but I never have. As always, feedback is always welcome. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Coach T., wherever you are.
They say you never forget your first love. I know they're right. I could never forget mine. It was the most amazing summer of my life and she was the most amazing woman. I was eighteen years old and had just graduated from high school. I was scheduled to spend my summer in Corpus Christi, Texas working at the Texas State Aquarium, just like I had the last few summers. I've wanted to be a marine biologist my entire life. I love the water and everything in it. I guess it's the Pisces in me. My parents gave me the use of their condo for the summer, before I headed to California for college.
I arrived two days after graduation. I couldn't wait to start my summer. Spending the summer scuba diving and working with the animals sounded like heaven. I didn't know at the time, quite how profoundly that summer would impact my life. I went to the grocery store to stock up, and there she was, my high school swimming coach. My breath caught, and it felt like my heart jumped into my throat. I had been in love with her for four years. She was thirty, tall, long dark hair, and gorgeous blue eyes. We spent countless hours together over the years and had developed a friendship. During my Senior year, we started working out together. It was everything I could do to control myself as I stood over her when I was spotting for her on the bench as she pushed the barbell up and down. Hiding around another aisle, I watched her for a few minutes. Finally, I swallowed hard and walked over to her.
"Hey Coach, what are you doing here?" She looked in my direction, her face lighting up.
"Now Quinn, I told you. You've graduated. You can call me Carol. I always spend my summers here. What are you doing here?"
"I'm working at the aquarium. I have for the past couple of years." I tried to control my joy in seeing her again.
"Well, I'm surprised I haven't seen you in town before. Are your parents with you? I'd love to say hi."
"No. They usually come, but they're both swamped this summer. I'm staying by myself in their condo." The coach smiled.
"Well it looks like we're both here on our own. I'm glad I ran into you. Its so nice to see you Quinn. How 'bout we get together for dinner tonight? My treat. We can celebrate your graduation." A huge grin spread across my face.
"I'd like that. Let me give you my address and number." I tried to write as legibly as I could with shaking hands. She wrote down her contact information and handed it to me.
"Here, Quinn. I'll pick you up at seven. If something comes up or if you get a better offer, give me a call and we can reschedule." Her chuckle and smile made my knees weak.
"That would be impossible, Co...umm I mean Carol. I'll see you tonight." We locked eyes for a minute, I was unable to speak.
"See you tonight. Dress casual." She walked off and I was left standing in the middle of the frozen foods, staring.
That night, I must have changed outfits a hundred times before she arrived. I wanted to make a good impression. I didn't want her to think of me as a kid. She picked me up right on time. I thought I was going to fall over. She looked beautiful in a soft summer dress and sandals. I just prayed I wouldn't do anything stupid. We sat at dinner, laughing, and talking. Her blue eyes had me spellbound. Her laugher was like music to my ears. Her smile was like sunshine. We talked for hours about everything and anything. I decided to be bold and daring and to take a risk.
"I have a confession to make Carol." She looked at me quizzically.
"Ok, go ahead. You can tell me anything. You know that." I took a drink of my water. I couldn't look directly into her eyes.
"I've had a crush on you for the last four years." I reluctantly looked at her. She had a gentle smile.
"Quinn, I know." I was shocked.
"But, how?" She put her hand on mine.
"I've been teaching a long time. You're not the first." Feeling a bit deflated, I sat back in my chair.
"Oh." She continued, carefully choosing her words.
"I'm quite a bit older than you, and your teacher. It's natural to have feelings of hero worship." I protested. This could be my only chance and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to grab it.
"It's more than that Carol. You know all of those races I won, all the medals? I did it for you. I wanted you to be proud of me. I've felt this way for the last four years. I'm an adult and I'm not your student anymore." She had not moved her hand. She paused and took a deep breath.
"Quinn, while you are not the first to have a crush on me. You are the first one I have had feelings for as well. It was so hard at times, trying to keep things from getting too personal. There were so many times, like when you won the freestyle at State, that I just wanted to take you in my arms and kiss you. I tried to put distance between us more than once. You are not like any other student I've ever taught. I find myself being irresistibly drawn to you. " Now I was blown away. I had to take it in.
" Why didn't you tell me?"
"I was your teacher. It would have been inappropriate. Honestly, if I hadn't run into you here, I would not have told you." I nodded my head in understanding.
"Carol, I've only got ten weeks before I have to leave. I don't want to waste time playing games. Would you go out with me....on a date?" She stroked the back of my hand with her thumb.
"I would love to go out with you Quinn." I couldn't keep the grin from consuming my face. Her smile took my breath away.
"I have a graduation present for you. I thought I was going to have so send it to you." A giddy feeling erupted through my entire body. I had to hold back a squeal.
"Really? You didn't have to do that. Being here with you, having you hold my hand, that in itself is more than I ever dreamed of." She leaned down and pulled a small box out of her purse and set it on the table. I opened it carefully. It was a gold necklace with a golden shark pendant.
"Oh wow Carol. It's beautiful. Thank you so much. I love it."
"Do you really? I know how much you like sharks." She was grinning with amusement.
"Yes I do. This is so amazing." We left the restaurant and held hands in the car. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. I hated to see the night end when we drove up to my place.
"Thank you for everything tonight. It was beyond what I could have imagined." She smiled and lifted my hand to her lips.
"There's one more thing." With that she leaned in and held my chin and brushed her lips against mine. The tentative kiss grew until our tongues were moving in a dance of passion. I became lost in the sensations. She pulled back, leaving me in a daze.
"Call me, I'd like to see you soon." All I could do was nod. Her kiss stole my voice. I got out of her car with a silly grin on my face. I called her the next day and we began dating. We spent most of our time together. We went cycling, sailing, running, and I even taught her to scuba dive. We spent long evening talking, watching the waves crash on the sand. She would come visit me and watch me work with the dolphins. I would wave to her from inside the observation tank during the fish feeding exhibition. It was the most amazing time of my life and we were falling more and more in love.
About a month after we began seeing one another, I came over to her place and was greeted with a romantic setting. She had candles lit, flowers, and a beautiful dinner. Soft music was playing in the background. I smiled at her.
"Carol, what is all this?" She wrapped her arms around my neck.
"I wanted to have a special night with you." I kissed her deeply.
"Everything looks beautiful, including you." Her softness and warmth were overwhelming. She looked at me with such love and desire, I had to look away before I began to cry.
"I want this night to be one that we always remember." I swallowed hard. Part of me was jumping up and down with joy. The other part of me wanted to run out the door. It was obvious she wanted to make love. But, I had never done that before. I worried that I wouldn't be good enough. She was so beautiful and loving during dinner and I could barely say a word. Inside, I was panicking. After dinner, we sat on the porch swing outside. We cuddled and watched the waves as they came in on the beach.
"Quinn, is there something wrong?" I looked at her and brushed the hair off her face.
"No of course not. Why do you ask?" She knew me well enough to see through my silence.
"You barely said anything through dinner. You seem so far away. Please talk to me. Have I done something wrong? Have I come on too strong? I think we can both see where this night was supposed to lead. I want to make love with you. I thought you wanted to make love with me as well." I could see the questions and the hurt in her eyes, and it was killing me.
"Everything is so perfect. You are perfect. It's just that.....well....I've never...ummmm....been with anyone before. And I'm kind of scared. I don't want to disappoint you. I'm not sure what to do." She looked at me tenderly, with compassion. She kissed me softly.
"Quinn honey, sometimes I forget you're only eighteen. Do you love me?"
"Of course I do," I said.
"Well then, you won't disappoint me. Believe me, you will quickly figure out what to do. Plus I'll be there to help you every step of the way. I love you Quinn, and you love me. That is all that matters. Everything else will fall into place. I'd like to spend the night with you, we don't necessarily have to make love. I don't want to pressure you." I pressed my lips against her forehead and placed my hands on the side of her face.
"Baby, there is nothing I want more than to make love with you. You have not come on too strong. I love you and I'm dying to show you how much. Like I said, I am scared I won't be able to please you. Do you think you can be a patient teacher?" She smiled and took my hand.
"Haven't I always?"
She led me to the bedroom. It was the most romantic thing I had ever seen. The bed was covered in rose petals, Joni Mitchell was playing in the background, and candles softly lit up the room. She sat me down on the edge of the bed. She stood in front of me and slowly removed her clothes. Her skin glowing in the candlelight took my breath away. I had never seen anything so amazing in my short life. She walked toward me and I wrapped my arms around her, laying my cheek against her skin, breathing her in. She laid me back on the bed and showed me love like I had never known before or since. It was passionate, loving, strong, wild, slow, and easy. It was magnificent.
We were completely attached after this night. We spent few nights apart. I even took her down to Florida with me on an expedition to tag some sharks. She stayed in the boat though. She wasn't too thrilled when I went in the water. In fact, she was quite upset.
"Do you have to go in the water?" I chuckled slightly and kissed her on the nose as I got into my wet suit.
"Yes, it's my job."
"But you could get bit." She had her arms crossed against her chest.
"Honey, I'm going to be fine. I've done this before. I am just going to attach the radio transmitter to the dorsal fin using this pole as the shark is going by. It's no big deal. It's what I love, you know that."
"I know. I guess I never really thought about it before. Just please be careful. I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you." I smiled at the loving sentiment.
" I'll be careful, I promise. But I love you for worrying."
I strapped the tank onto my back and got into the water. Soon, there were over a dozen black tip sharks feasting on the bait we planted. I even fed a couple of them by hand. I'll also never forget that night. Carol and I made love from dusk 'till dawn. It was almost like she was possessed. I thought to myself. 'I should risk my life more often.'
As our time was growing shorter, we began to treasure every minute and spent every night together. I was sure that Carol was the great love of my life. I was ready to throw California away for her. She wouldn't let me though. We were lying in bed after making love one night. She was holding me close.
"It is going to kill me to leave you Carol." She kissed the top of my head.
"It's going to be rough on me too, love." I got up on my arm to look at her.
"I've made a decision. I don't want to be so far away from you. I love you. I will always love you. I am going to stay here in Texas and go to A &M. After my first two years, I can transfer to their marine biology school in Galveston. We'll only be a few hours apart. We can still see each other all the time." She sat up.
"Quinn, have you lost your mind? How can you even talk like that? You would throw away an opportunity of a lifetime. How hard did you work to get this spot in California?" I was confused as hell.
"Wait a second here. Don't you love me? Don't you want us to be together?" I began to cry. She held me tightly.
"Darling, of course I love you. You are so young and you have so much to experience. You haven't lived enough to commit to a lifelong relationship. I am your first love. You will have so many more. You need to have more. You need to make your dreams come true." I was bawling at this point.
"It doesn't mean anything without you. I can't live without you Carol. I want you to marry me. I'll never love anyone else. I don't want to." She lifted my chin to look in her eyes.
"Quinn, I know you love me. It is because I love you that I have to let you go. I can't marry you now. You are not ready. It would be so easy for me to say yes and have you stay here with me. This last couple of months has been like a dream. You make me feel so wonderful and alive. This is tearing me apart, but I have to let you go because I love you so much. I know this hurts, but it's the right thing to do." We were both crying at this point.
"Can I at least see you when I am home on break? Can I call you? Can I write you?" She kissed me softly.
"Of course you can honey. I hope you do. But we need to promise each other that there will be no obligations or commitments. I want you to have the freedom to experience your life. You have so much ahead of you. You are young, beautiful, and absolutely brilliant. We have had an amazing summer together. But I don't hold you to any expectations. I hope you always treasure the time we've had. I know I will. Perhaps in a few years, when the time is right, we can have a future together. For these last couple of weeks, let's just concentrate on the here and now and make every moment count. Don't ever forget how very much I love you Quinn, truly." She rocked me in her arms as I cried.
"I'll never stop loving you Carol." She said one word.
The day I left was one of the hardest of my life. We made love most of the night before, crying, holding one another tightly. We watched the sun come up over the beach one last time. When it was time for me to go, she walked me out to my car. I wrapped my arms around her waist. I didn't want to let her go.
"I hate leaving you. My heart is breaking." She stroked my back.
"I know, mine is too. But this is the only way my darling. You are going to do many great things. I am so proud of you. I am so proud to be someone you love."
"I do love you. I'll never forget you. You'll always be with me." She smiled sadly.
"I know. And you'll be with me. I love you too. Please keep in touch and visit during semester break." I tried to return the smile.
"I will. You can always come to see me too." We shared one last kiss and I got into my car and drove away. Tears poured down my face.
She was right of course. I went off to school and got my Bachelor's, Master's, and my Ph.D. During my freshman year, I did an internship with the Oceanological Institute. I just stayed and worked and went on expeditions when I wasn't in class. I saw her for the first couple of years when I came home and it was as sweet as always. But I began to come home less and less and spent more and more time out in the field. It seems like some new expedition would come up every time I planned to go home. I've become very well known in the field of marine biology. There were other women over the years, but she was and is still there in every touch, every sound, every breath.
So, there I was ten years later, on my summer vacation, hiding in the lobby of the Hilton, trying to work up the nerve to walk into my high school reunion. I hadn't seen her in eight years. I wondered if she was in there. I was terrified, either way. I kept asking myself; is she there? Does she think of me? Is she with someone? Does she still love me? Does she miss me? I finally worked up the courage to go in. I checked in at the door and hugged some of my old friends. I scanned around the room and I spotted her and she spotted me. Our eyes met and it seemed like everyone else disappears. We both smiled and walked towards one another.
"Carol, its good to see you." I pulled her towards me in a hug. She felt like home. A flood of memories came back to me. She held me tightly. She pulled back slightly to look at me. She smiled and brushed the hair behind my ears. "God, I've missed you Quinn."
"I've missed you too. You look beautiful." She blushed.
"I'm getting old. My hair is turning silver. Look at you though, you're all grown up." I ran my hand through her hair. My heart was pounding in my ears. I smiled.
"I love the way your hair looks. How have you been?"
"I've been good. How are you?"
"I'm good." I motioned for us to sit down. She smiled at me.
"You're doing quite well. I've seen your documentaries. You're so fearless." I laughed.
"Fearless in the water only. Those are a pain in the ass. It's bizarre trying to do my work when there is a camera in my face. Although, they are very useful when it comes to documenting my research. Plus, my family freaks out at some of the things they see me do." We both started laughing.
"Your girlfriend must go nuts worrying about you." I smiled. Was she fishing?
"Actually, I haven't had a girlfriend in a while. It's hard to maintain a relationship when I am out on a boat for weeks at a time. I've spent the majority of my life on a boat or in classrooms for the last ten years. So tell me about you. What have you been up to? Do you have a partner? Why aren't you in Corpus?" I figured I could do a little fishing myself.
"I'm still coaching and teaching. I don't have a partner either, so it's just me and my cat. I've been in Corpus most of the summer. I came back this week. I was hoping to see you." I was thrilled to hear the words. Our eyes met.
"The only reason I came back was because I was hoping to see you. I was on the coast of Baja studying whale sharks and I needed a vacation, and I really wanted to see you. Actually, I needed to see you." She placed her hand on mine and squeezed lightly. The look in her eyes burned right through me. People kept coming up to one or both of us, talking to us, or hugging us. It was hard to really talk with so many interruptions and the music from the band.
"Would you like to go talk somewhere? I'd rather have this discussion in private." I smiled in response.
"So would I." I would go anywhere she wanted.
"We can go have coffee at my place." I nodded. "That works for me."
We sat on her couch, drinking coffee, she laid her hand on my arm as we talked.
"So tell me Quinn, you're so successful with your work, but have you had love in your life as well?" I smiled.
"Yes. I have loved and been loved. Unfortunately, my career has always come first. It is hard to be there when someone needs you when you are out looking after some wounded dolphin or trying to rescue stranded whales. When I get a call to go somewhere, its hard for me to say no. But I have had some incredible adventures. " She squeezed my arm.
"I bet you have. Where are you working now?"
"I'm still at the Oceanological Institute. I spend my time in the lab or field doing research, presenting papers, or giving lectures at different universities. The documentaries are the Institute's idea. It helps us get grants. So tell me about you. How is the swim team this year? Are you happy? Why is a gorgeous woman like you still single? What have you been doing?" She laughed.
"Your life sounds so exciting. I knew you would do wonderful things. The swim team is strong. I think they can win state. My classes are good. The politics is lousy. I am happy though. With all it's ups and downs, I love what I do. I love to see these girls compete and the looks on their faces when they come out of the water, knowing they won their heat. I love helping them grow from innocent, shy girls to strong competent women. As far as being single is concerned, I don't know. I lived with a woman for three years, but in the end, it just fizzled out. I've been traveling. There's a group of four of us who go together. I got my Master's a few years ago." I entwined my fingers with hers. I looked in her eyes and stroked her hair with my hand. We had been talking for hours.
"I've thought about you many times. I wondered how you were and what you were doing. I can't hear Joni Mitchell without remembering that first night together. You were right you know. We did the right thing. I wasn't ready for a permanent commitment like that. But I've missed you." She smiled softly.
"I've thought about you too, nearly every day. Being in Corpus reminds me of you. I'm very proud of you. Stay here, I want to show you something." She stood up and walked into the other room. She returned with a photo book and videotapes. "Look at these Quinn. These are pictures of you and me from that summer, newspaper clippings, articles you've written. These videotapes are all of you. Last summer when the sharks in Florida were so concentrated, you were all over CNN. I taped some of those and your documentaries. You've grown into quite a woman." I sat shocked.
"I can't believe you've kept all of this. I am touched beyond words." We sat silently, looking into one another's eyes. She pulled me in her arms and held me. I melted into her. She lifted my face to hers. Our lips came together gently. I pulled on her lower lip. It felt so good, just like always. Our kisses grew in intensity and I felt my control leaving me. I removed my lips from hers. I kissed her face, her eyes, and ran my lips to her ears. I was no longer the inexperienced teenager I once was. I whispered, "I want you Carol." I could hear her quiet moans and her quick breath.
"Yes Quinn, I'm yours." I slipped off her blouse and pulled her against me, placing kisses on her neck as she opened herself to me. Her skin was like satin. She smelled like Jasmine. I slowly removed her slacks and panties. The quiet house became filled with the sounds of our lovemaking. I held her tightly as we rocked against one another. She was as beautiful as ever. It was amazing, even better than it was before. When we woke the next morning, I was in my usual sleeping position, with my head resting on her chest and one arm wrapped around her. She was looking down at me, grinning. I could hear the birds chirping outside. I looked up at her through sleepy eyes.
"Just what are you looking at?" She kissed the top of my head.
"At you. You are absolutely adorable. I was just thinking about all the mornings we woke up like this. I can't believe you're really here. I keep thinking it's a dream." I smiled at the thought and snuggled in closer.
"Those were the best. This is very real. I don't know how many times I would be lying on my bunk on a boat, or my bed in my apartment and think about you, wishing you were with me. More than once I dreamed of you and when I woke, I was reaching out for you." She ran her hands up and down my back.
"I thought of you too baby. I have team pictures in my office of all my teams. I look at your face all the time and remember how you light up with joy when you are excited. I remember holding you close, feeling you breathe beside me. How long are you going to be here?"
"I'm going to be here for a week, then I have to go back to Baja. I'll be there for a couple of weeks, and then we're going to Costa Rica for a month to study the feeding patterns of Orcas. I want to get some on film." Her smile dropped.
"I wish you were going to be here longer. That sounds interesting though." I had the most brilliant idea.
"Come with me Carol." I looked up at her, hoping her answer would be the right one.
"What? You want me to just pick up and go with you?" I began to get excited.
"Yes. You can be back before the school year starts. Get someone to watch the cat, get your passport in order and come with me. Please. I want more time with you. I haven't seen you in eight years. I've missed you. I know you want time with me. I can see it in your eyes. It'll be great. " She brushed the hair off of my face and kissed me gently.
"Alright. I'll come with you." I sat up.
"You will?" She giggled.
"Yes I will go with you. With that adorable look on your face, how can I tell you no." I covered her lips with my own. I pinned her arms above her head, assaulting her with kisses.
We spent the next week getting to know one another. I even took her to dinner with my parents. Surprisingly, they were pleased to see her again and to see us together. We were also both falling again. I couldn't wait to show her my work and my life. I wanted to make her a part of it.
We met the boat on the dock and unloaded our stuff onto the deck. I previously warned my research crew to behave. They're a great group. Brilliant, but they can be a little rough around the edges. To tell the truth, when it came to spending weeks out in the ocean, I could get a little rough myself. They welcomed her warmly. I led her to my cabin.
"So what do you think?" She looked around the small space and smiled.
"Well, its cozy. I like it." I laughed.
"Cozy's a good word. I'm glad you like it." I pulled her to me and reached up to kiss her. "Come with me, I'll show you around."
The next couple of weeks, we spent trying to find whale sharks we had previously tagged in the area to see if they were still here. I even persuaded her to dive with me. It was exciting to see her reaction to the mammoth animal. When we came back onto the boat, she wrapped her arms around me.
"Oh My God, Quinn. That was the most exhilarating thing I've ever experienced. WOW." She held me tightly and kissed me, hard, and right in front of my crew. I had to endure their catcalls. I pretended to shoot them a dirty look. In reality, I didn't care.
"Alright, alright, you Neanderthals, knock it off." They laughed and went back to business.
She became part of the group. As much as they teased me, they liked having her around. When you're out like that, you spend a lot of time just sitting around and waiting. She and I got to know one another very well. We were able to really connect. It was a wonderful time. We moved on to Costa Rica to observe the feeding habits of the Orcas. I was in paradise. I had my two loves with me in one place. However, the end was coming as always. I wasn't going to let the same result happen. We were standing on the deck one night, looking at the stars. The waves were lapping gently against the boat. She was standing behind me with her long arms wrapped around me. I ran my hands along her warm skin.
"I'm so glad you came with me. Have you enjoyed yourself?" She nuzzled against my neck.
"Yes. I have had such a wonderful time, sweetheart. Swimming with those whale sharks was such an amazing experience. I still can't believe I did that. I can see why this has such a pull on you. It's been so much fun to see how and where you work. I feel like I understand you better. " I turned around and wrapped my arms around her waist.
"Good. I want you to understand me. Carol, I've never stopped loving you all these years. Everywhere I've been, you've been with me. You've always been with me. I love you and I don't want this to end. I want us to be a regular couple." She leaned in to kiss me lightly. She held my chin in her hand.
"Oh Quinn, I love you too. I always have. But how can we have a real relationship if you are never around? I can't leave my career and I can't ask you to give this up. I can see how much you love it. " I could feel my eyes beginning to burn with tears. I was hurt and getting angry. I stepped away from her.
"God, I swear you are always the voice of reason aren't you. You're always so damned practical. How can you stand here with me, feeling the way I know you do and come up with these reasons for us not to be together? Damnit Carol. When I am with you, I feel whole. Do you feel differently?" She shook her head. I moved my face close to hers and looked in her eyes.
"Carol honey, you once told me that if we loved one another, that it was all that mattered. Why is this different? Why can't you even give it a chance before you write us off? I want you and I know you want me. Let's give it a shot. I'll be back in the states in a month. I'll be there for the next several months unless something comes up. I'm working on a major paper that I'm going to present in Paris in the Spring. We can see each other once a month. I don't want to lose this. We deserve the chance." She looked at me, wiping the tears from her eyes.
"What can I say? This time, you're right. I don't know how we're going to make this work. The phone bill is going to be huge. But we need to at least try. I love you too much not to try." I thought I was going to burst.
"Really?" Grinning, she nodded. We both laughed and held one another tightly. I kissed her and things became more serious as we began to explore one another with a new level of intensity, knowing that this was just the beginning, not the end.
Our time together was way too short. We were in Costa Rica for a couple of weeks and then she had to leave. We spent a few days alone before I took her to the airport. I loved showing her some of the sights of San Jose. My heart was breaking as we said goodbye at the airport. She had her arms around my neck. She was fingering the shark necklace that she had given me so long before. She tried to smile. I could see the tears threatening to fall.
"I hate saying goodbye to you Quinn." I put my arms around her waist.
"I know honey. I do too. But, I will see you in a month. Let me know when you get in please. I am going to be worried about you." She pulled me tightly against her. I could hear her sniffling. That was all it took to get me started. We were both crying.
"I love you Quinn. I'll see you soon. Please be careful. Email me daily to let me know you're ok. Call me when you can. I'll miss you." I reached up and caressed her face.
"I will. I'll talk to you soon. Thank you for coming with me. This has been a dream come true." She smiled and nodded.
"For me too. Be safe."
"I love you too. I will." She leaned down to kiss me softly and then walked off to her plane. My heart just fell as I watched her go. I stayed there with my hand pressed against the glass, crying until I watched her plane in the air.
I couple of weeks after she left, I finished that part of my study and went back to California. I counted the days until I saw her again. My heart ached for her. I was distracted in my work, having a hard time concentrating. All I could think about was her. We talked on the phone every night. I looked forward to these calls.
"Hi honey. How was your day?" Hearing her voice completely made my day. I could picture her smiling face when we talked.
"It was good. How was yours? What did you do today?"
'It was good. Basically, I'm analyzing months of research, trying to put everything in some kind of order before I start my paper."
"That sounds interesting. I gave the first test today. It was kind of a rude awakening for some." I started laughing.
"Ouch. I remember those. Do you still give as harsh tests as you used to?" Then she started laughing.
" Of course I do. I can't wait to see you this weekend. I miss you terribly." I felt a sharp stab in my chest at those words.
"Oh honey. I miss you so much. I can't wait to hold you. It seems like forever since I've seen you. I can't believe its only been a month. "
"I'm glad you're coming an extra couple of days."
"Me too. I just have to bring some of my research with me. I thought about you all day today. I'd give anything to have you beside me right now."
"So would I. But, we've got this weekend." I smiled at the thought of being with her. I was all wrapped in my covers, wishing I weren't alone.
"So tell me, are you in bed?"
Giggling, she said, "yes, are you?" The smile on my face was a mile wide.
"Yes I am. What are you wearing?" I was feeling lecherous.
"Nothing. What are you wearing?" I felt an immediate throbbing in my nether regions. I looked down at my shorts and t-shirt.
"Nothing," I choked out, lying. I stopped my train of thought for a minute. "Are you really naked?" She started laughing.
"Uh huh." I saw right through that laugh.
"You are not naked. You are lying to me." She started laughing hysterically.
"Ok. No I'm not. But I will be when you're here."
"Damn skippy. Listen sweetheart, it's late where you are. I'll let you go to sleep now. I'll see you in a couple of days. I love you Carol. I'll talk to you tomorrow. Goodnight my love."
"Goodnight Sweetheart. I love you too. I'll talk to you tomorrow night." My heart soared when I heard her words.
Two days later, I kept busy on the plane by working on my lap top. Although it felt like that damn plane would never land. I walked out to the baggage claim and saw her waiting for me, looking beautiful, her smile beaming. She was holding a bouquet of red roses. I walked right into her arms as she enveloped me.
"You my dear, are a sight for sore eyes. I've missed you so much." I could feel her quickened heartbeat as I laid my head against her breast.
"You feel so good Carol. Let's get my bag and we can go. " I grabbed my bag as it came around. As soon as we got into the car, she covered my lips with her own. I could feel the heat rise. We reluctantly pulled apart after a few minutes.
"Are you hungry? Would you like to go somewhere for dinner?"
I licked my lips, teasing her. "Oh I'm hungry alright, but not for food. I am going to get you back to your place and have my way with you."
She grinned. "Promises, promises." The entire way back to her house, I kissed her neck, ran my fingers on the inside of her thighs. I left my luggage in the car and we hurried into the house. Clothes flew off as we kissed and fondled our way to the bedroom. A couple hours later, we laid sated, lightly caressing one another with my head on her stomach.
"God Carol, you are so beautiful. I think you are even more beautiful now than you were ten years ago." She smiled and ran her fingers through my short, blonde hair.
"I find that hard to believe, but thank you. I don't think I've ever felt anything this good in my life." She ran her fingers along a long scar on my side.
"Where did you get this? You didn't have this ten years ago."
"I got that on the Great Barrier Reef. We were looking at the marine life and I got cut along the side. Sliced right through my wet suit. I started bleeding all over the place. There are Great Whites down there and the smell of blood attracts them. We had to drag me out of the water immediately. "
"Ouch. I bet that hurt." I laughed.
"Yes, like hell. I got a bad infection and ended up in the hospital for two weeks."
She kissed my forehead. "My poor baby. You've got all sorts of little scars now."
"Yes. I've had all sorts of little accidents. I don't have the safest job in the world. " I laughed. She wasn't amused.
"That's not something I want to hear."
I reassured her. "Oh sweetheart. I really am very careful. And now I have even more reason to be."
She was coaching a swim meet that Saturday, so I went and cheered her on. I loved watching her in her world. I sat in the stands watching these girls take off and swim as fast as they could. I had flashbacks of cutting through the water. She wanted her friends to get to know me, so we met them for dinner afterwards. It was a little shocking for me to be with some of my former teachers. But then again, I was dating one of my former teachers. It felt so wonderful to be a real couple and a real part of her life. The visit ended way too quickly. Yet again, we were saying goodbye. I kissed her softly before I got on the plane. She lifted my hand to her lips and kissed the inside of my palm. I walked away quickly before we both started crying.
We made arrangements for Carol to come visit the next month. I paced back and forth at the airport until I saw her. I felt complete again as she walked into my arms.
"God woman, it's good to see you."
I held her tightly. She kissed the top of my head. "Hello baby. I'm all yours for the next three days."
I laughed. "You're all mine anytime. I've got plans for you my dear." I wiggled my eyebrows.
"I hope they involve you and I both being naked."
I grinned and took her hand and led her out of the airport to my car. We made love as soon as we got back to my house. Afterwards, I made her a candlelight dinner, where I served her in bed, naked.
"This is really wonderful Quinn. I love all of this. I could get used to eating dinner naked with you in bed. " She placed her lips on mine. "You are so beautiful. I have missed you. I am becoming quite used to being with you." I showed her my lab, some of my favorite places. She even met my friends. I did everything I could think of to make her feel at home. I loved watching her around my place. It was amazing having her in my environment. I fell even more in love with her. But of course, the weekend would end and she would leave. The morning she was leaving, she held me close, gently stroking my bare back.
"I've had a wonderful weekend. It's nice to get a glimpse into your world. I like your apartment. I like your friends. This feels really good to be together like this. It breaks my heart to leave you Quinn." I wiped a tear off my cheek.
"Let's not talk about that now. Please just hold me. I just want to focus on this feeling right now, lying in your arms." We didn't speak or move from our positions again until it was time for us to get ready to leave the house.
Our nightly phone calls became a necessity for me to sleep. The ache for her was growing each day. We looked forward to our first holiday together. I spent Thanksgiving in Texas with her. We made dinner for her family and mine. Later that night, we sat together in front of the fireplace on pillows, sharing some wine. She leaned in and placed her lips on mine.
"So tell me my dear, what did you think of our first Thanksgiving together?" I looked at her and wrapped my arms around her waist.
"It was very domestic. I felt very much like a couple. I loved every minute of it. I like you being my girlfriend, my regular girlfriend, not just my summer romance." She ran her fingers through my hair.
"I loved it too Quinn. I think we're onto something very special here. My feelings have always been there for you. But since last summer, they've grown deeper and stronger. I love you Quinn. This love is what I am most thankful for." I had tears in my eyes. I put our glasses down to the side. I wrapped my hands in her hair and pressed my lips to hers, seeking entrance. I opened her robe, and began my worship of this goddess who owned my heart. I whispered words of desire and devotion as I made love to her in the firelight.
She came and spent two weeks with me at Christmas. We went to three different places looking for a tree. She completely exasperated me.
"What about this one Carol?" She looked the tree up and down. She checked out all sides.
"I don't know. It's a little bare on this side."
Laughing, I said, "we can turn that side to the wall." She came over and put her arm around me.
"This is our first tree together. We'll always remember this one. I want it to be perfect." I just grinned. How can one argue with that?
Finally we found one that we both liked.
"This is it Quinn. This is the one. What do you think?"
A huge grin lit up my face. "Yes, I love it. Let's get it."
We put it up and bought decorations. We both picked out a special ornament to commemorate our first holiday. I was never happier in my life. We spent Christmas Eve watching holiday movies and cuddling. We watched the tree, which seemed to get more beautiful each time we looked at it. It seemed magical almost. We made love by the light of that tree. She was my greatest gift. The next morning, we laid in bed and exchanged presents. I gave her a gold necklace and pendant with the Claddagh symbol.
"I love it Quinn. It's beautiful." I smiled and placed it on her, kissing her shoulder.
"I'm glad you like it. As you know, I'm Irish. I wanted you to have something to remind you of me. The Claddagh symbolizes friendship, loyalty, and love. Since I am not with you all the time, it is to remind you that you have all three from me. Although I can't be with you physically, my heart is with you always." She wrapped her arms around me and kissed me soundly.
"I love you so much. You are quite a woman. Now open yours." I grinned and opened up the box to reveal a new diving watch with all the whistles and bells. "This is so awesome Carol. I love it. Thank you. " I placed my lips against hers.
"Do you really like it?" She looked at me in anticipation. I put in on my wrist.
"Yes honey. It does everything. It's perfect and I'll use it all the time." She smiled.
"I thought you would. I wanted to get you some nice jewelry, but when would you wear it? You dress up when you are at fundraisers or speaking, but you spend most of your time in a lab or on a boat. I thought you would get more use out of this." I raised her hand to my lips.
"This is perfect. First and foremost, I've got you with me. Secondly, I have a wonderful watch. This is the best Christmas I've ever had. I love you so much Carol."
We rang in the New Year by drinking champagne and making love at an inn in Mendocino as the clock struck twelve. We looked forward to the new year together. Unfortunately, after the new year, I became busy preparing my paper for presentation at a conference in Paris. The swimming season picked up as she got the team ready for the state competition coming up. Our schedules started keeping us from seeing one another. I even had to cancel my trip for our first Valentine's together.
"I'm sorry I can't make it this weekend Carol. I've got a fundraiser dinner that I am expected to be at. I was informed about it today. It was made very clear to me that I needed to be there. The Institute needs this grant and they think that I will have something to do with getting it. Can you come here?"
"No. I've got a swim meet. Damnit Quinn. It's Valentines Day, our first one. This is the second time you've cancelled on me. I can't believe you're doing this." I felt so guilty.
"I'm sorry Honey. There's nothing I can do about it. I know I am ruining our first Valentine's Day. We knew going into this, that there would be times like these. You've been really damn busy yourself. You've got a swim meet nearly every weekend. Please understand. I'll make it up to you. I'll see you for Spring Break if not sooner. " She sighed. It was not a good sigh.
"Fine. I guess I'll see you when I see you." I hated disappointing her.
"I love you sweetheart."
She was not happy with me. "Yeah, I love you too. I'm really tired. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
To make it up to her, I sent her two dozen red roses. She loved them, but it wasn't the same. The lack of one on one time was definitely taking its toll on us. We began to argue more and more. Then something happened that changed everything.
It was early March and I was in Paris with my two assistants and another biologist from the institute. I had brought video and numerous aids to present my paper. I was at a reception with the other speakers at a colleague's house when my beeper vibrated. It was my parents, and it said "911". My first thought was my father, who had previously had a heart attack. I walked outside and called my mother.
"Mom, what's wrong? Is it Dad?"
"No honey." I was confused.
"What is it then?"
"It's Carol." I didn't give her a chance to continue. I started to shake.
"What about Carol, Mom? Is she hurt? Is she sick? Is she ok?"
"Honey, just let me talk. The bus taking the boys and girls swim teams was in an accident. It was bad." I had to sit down.
"Mom, how is she?"
"We don't know. We're about to go to the hospital now. We're going to meet her parents there. There were some fatalities." I could feel myself getting nauseous.
"Quinn, we don't know. We were able to find out what hospital the kids and teachers are being brought to."
"I'll be there as soon as I can. Please tell her I'm on my way. Give her parents my love. Tell her I love her."
"I will sweetheart. Be careful and stay calm please."
I walked back into the house and got my team together.
"I need to leave."
They looked at me like I was insane. "What are you talking about? You can't leave. "
"Carol was in a bus accident. I need to go." My assistant, Joan looked at me with concern.
"Is she ok?" I shook my head.
"I don't know. I need y'all to present the paper. We did the research together. You will be fine. Let people know I had a family emergency." Sharon, the other biologist, and also a good friend wrapped her arms around me.
"Go ahead. We'll take care of everything."
I left and went to the hotel to pack up my things. I called the airlines to schedule a flight out. The earliest flight wasn't until ten the next morning, which was three in the U.S. I wouldn't be arriving until five in the afternoon. I felt like I was going to go insane. She needed me, she could be dying and I wasn't there. I suddenly hated my career. I couldn't sleep. The worst kept going through my head. When I finally got on the plane, so many memories ran through my head. I thought of the first time I saw her. I walked into her Honors History class, feeling cocky. I was a straight A student, so I thought the class would be a piece of cake. I also figured she'd get to know me on the swim team and give me a break. I was stunned when I read the syllabus. I thought, 'Oh shit, this class is going to be harder than I thought.' My mind continued to drift to all the times she cheered for me as I swam my heart out. I thought of the times she cried with me when I lost. My mind drifted to the first night we made love. I could still remember feeling her breasts against mine that first time. I remembered how her voice sounded the first time she told me she loved me. By that point, tears were streaming down my face.
I finally arrived late that afternoon and my mother picked me up at the airport.
"How is she Mom?" I was walking as fast as I could out of the airport.
"She has a broken leg, broken arm, ribs, some stitches on her face, and a concussion. She's in a lot of pain, but she's ok. She's been in and out of it. She's on pain medication that knocks her out. She's been asking for you." I felt my eyes beginning to burn with tears again.
"I hate it that I wasn't there for her." She patted my hand as we got in the car.
"But you're here now and she's going to need you. Three of the girls on her team were killed and her assistant coach."
"Oh no. She must be devastated." My mother nodded. "She hasn't quite taken it all in yet."
We finally got to her hospital room. My heart broke when I saw the condition she was in. I sat next to her and kissed her head tenderly and held her hand. Her parents were by her side as well. She opened her eyes and looked at me.
"Are you really here?" Her voice was ragged and barely above a whisper. I kissed her hand.
"Yes honey. I'm here." I began to cry.
"Thought you were in Paris." I nodded.
"I came as soon as I heard. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner." I raised her hand to my lips again. "I love you."
"Love you." She fell back asleep. I watched her. She woke up sporadically. I stayed until the nurses made me go home. I made a decision that night. I wasn't going to leave her anymore.
Early the next morning, I called my team in Paris. The paper was received very well. I had earned high praise for my work. I made a second call to head of the science department at the University of Texas-San Antonio. We had met and come to know each other fairly well at conferences.
"Susan, it's Dr. Quinn O'Brien. How are you?"
"Hi Quinn, I'm good. How are you? Are you in the states?"
"Yes. I'm in San Antonio actually. I just got back from Paris."
"I heard you were presenting your paper. How'd it go?"
"It went well. I had a family emergency, so my team had to present it."
"I hope everything's ok. I'm looking forward to reading it though. So what can I do for you today?"
"Well Susan, what would you say if I told you told you I was interested in coming back to San Antonio and teaching?"
"Are you really? You've been with the Institute for so long. That would be so fantastic Quinn."
"I need to be here in town. My partner is a high school swim coach. In fact, she was one of the teachers hurt in the school bus accident. My family is here and this is my home."
"I understand. What about going in the field?"
"I would limit it to the summers."
" I've got a great idea. Would you be interested in starting a program where you take students out on an expedition for the summers? Plus, there is a need for biologists here locally to study the flora and fauna in the Edwards Aquifer."
"That sounds interesting."
"Quinn, I'd love to have you on the faculty. You could help us build a decent marine biology program. You're more than qualified. Let me talk to the President and I'll give you a call. Having your name attached to this science program would be great for us. I don't think it will be a problem. I'm really excited about making this happen."
"Thanks Susan. This means a lot to me."
"You're very welcome Quinn. I'll let you know as soon as I hear something. Bye."
"Bye." I hung up the phone feeling great. I wanted to be here permanently so badly. I went to the hospital and held Carol's hand while she slept. She was in and out of consciousness, still recovering. I had no doubts that I was doing the right thing by coming home.
I received a call that afternoon from my friend with a meeting scheduled the following day. At the meeting, they offered me a full professorship at a higher than average salary. I would begin in the fall and they asked me to appear with them when they made the press announcement. I asked them to give me a week to tie things up with my current job before going public. I called the Institute and let them know what was going on and that I was leaving. I had been with them for a long time. They weren't happy, but they understood. I told them to call me if there was an emergency. I hated telling them over the phone, but there was no way in hell I was going to leave Carol. I also called some friends of mine at Sea World to let them know I was available this Spring and Summer and would be in town from now on. They offered me a temporary position until the semester started. They needed help with a pregnant beluga whale. It seemed that I had everything set up. I felt wonderful. The way everything fell into place, I knew it was meant to be.
I went back to the hospital with a big bouquet of flowers. Carol was awake and talking to the doctors, who greeted me and left.
"Hey sweetheart." She smiled slightly. I put the flowers down and leaned in to kiss her gently.
"How are you feeling?" She started to cry.
"I lost my girls." I put my arms around her. She sobbed against my chest. Her broken and bruised body shook with grief.
"I know honey, I know." I stroked her hair.
"It was so awful." I comforted her as best as I could. "They were so young. They had so much to live for. Why did this happen to them? It's just not fair." I began to cry with her. She cried and cried until she couldn't anymore. She pulled back and looked at me.
"Thank you for coming Quinn. I am so glad you're here. I need you."
I wiped the tears from her face. "And I'm here." I kissed her hand.
"What about your paper?" I stroked her brow lightly.
"Sharon presented it. It went very well."
"I'm sorry you had to miss it. I hope it didn't hurt your career." I smiled.
"I'm not sorry. There is no place I would rather be. Don't worry about it baby. When do you get out of here?"
"In a few days. When do you have to go back?" I was so tempted to tell her now, but I thought I'd wait.
"I'm not in a hurry. I've let them know that I had a family emergency and that I was needed here. I took some time off. I am going to help you when you get home and take care of you."
She smiled a little. "You don't need to do that."
I kissed her lightly. "Yes I do. You see, that's what people who love one another do."
A week later, she had come home and I was taking care of her. I still hadn't told her I was moving there. I made arrangements to move out of my apartment in a couple of weeks. She woke up every night crying. She was unable to make it to the funerals of her friend and students. The school had been very supportive. The house was flooded with cards and flowers from faculty, students, and parents.
I went to the University and appeared for the press release. The four local stations and the newspaper were there. That night, I sat with her on the bed, I had my arm around her.
Today, a very special addition to the faculty of UTSA was announced. San Antonio's own Dr. Quinn O'Brien, known for her work with sharks, has signed on as a full professor to the science department. The world renown marine biologist will begin teaching in the fall semester.
The President of the University spoke. "We're quite pleased to have a scientist of Dr. O' Brien's caliber join our faculty. She's a welcome addition. We will begin to add a whole marine biology department, including Summers at sea where students will get the chance to study marine life in the wild. In addition, Dr. O'Brien will be working on a study of the effect of pumping our water from the Edwards Aquifer on the flora and fauna. She has numerous published papers, articles, and her work has been the subject of several documentaries. We are excited about the growth of the University that her presence will bring. I know students will look forward to learning from her vast array of knowledge."
The reporters asked me questions. "Dr. O'Brien, why have you made the decision to leave your position with the Oceanological Institute?"
"San Antonio is my home. My family is here and I have always loved it here. It's just really important to me to be back home. I'm excited about the opportunity to teach and study. I plan on beginning a first-rate marine biology program here. I am also working with Sea World until the fall."
"Will you still be doing rescue operations?"
"Yes of course. Anytime a marine animal is in danger and in need, I will of assist in every way possible. Conservation of marine life has always been my goal."
The segment ended and she turned to look at me.
"Quinn, what's going on?"
I grinned at her. "I quit my job at the Institute, I signed on as a full professor at UTSA starting this fall. I'm working at Sea World until then. They have a pregnant beluga whale and they want help with that. I move out of my apartment in two weeks. "
She began to cry. "Why?" I gently put both arms around her.
"Because I love you. Because I've loved you since I was fourteen years old. Because I want to be with you. Because I am tired of a long distance relationship. Because you needed me and I couldn't get to you. I don't like that feeling."
"But what about your work. You love what you do."
"I'll still go out during the summer. Maybe you can come with me. Plus I have the study here. I'll still be involved in rescue operations. You are the most important thing in the world to me. You need me right now and I need to be here for you. I love you woman and I want to spend my life with you. " She was laughing. It was the first time I had heard her laugh since the accident.
"And why are you laughing?"
"I guess I'm just so happy. Where are you planning on living?" I smiled.
"Well, I hadn't thought that far ahead." She kissed me deeply.
"Move in here." I put my hands on the sides of her face.
"Are you sure?" She nodded.
"Welcome home Quinn." I covered her lips with my own. I was home.