Mature Theme Warning/Disclaimer:The following piece contains some mention of violence, religious references and graphic depictions of women in love doing things you probably wouldn't tell your mother about so if you're under 18 or a member of the extreme right ...why are you reading this website again?
Thanks to my angel, who helped me realize that there are reasons to ignore reality and follow your heart… regardless of how difficult that may be.
Feedback: Hey there - let me know what you think...this is part of an ongoing series that began as a single short story, so obviously I’m a whore for feedback! You cared enough to read it (and have I said thanks yet?), so if you liked it, if you hated it... or if you'd like to beg me to never write anything again because it was just that bad, please drop me a line @ firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
“A Dance in the Desert”
Taryn looked over at the woman next to her steering the classic convertible through the serpentine roads of Northern Arizona’s highway system and smiled warmly. Somehow in the last year of her life the world of Taryn Osbourne had taken a turn for the better and she wasn’t about to question it. After a year on the road perfecting the comedy act that had gotten her onto the stage of “Late Night with David Letterman” and headlining the bill at Caroline’s Comedy Club, where she was lucky enough to run into her companion again, Taryn was on her way out west with Shelby to enjoy a much needed break from the world she threw herself into at the time when she thought for sure all hope was lost for the comic and her older traveling companion. They finished their stay in New York City in style at the St. Regis after what was, perhaps, the most phenomenal night of the young woman’s life. As she glanced over at the travel writer, a shudder ran through her as she thought of the glorious night they spent in the older woman’s private Eden behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Every touch, every motion Shelby made sent fire through Taryn’s bloodstream, and as her mind wandered to the feeling of the writer’s hands holding her thighs gently and locking her gaze with a pair of steely blue eyes, the young woman could feel her arousal growing.
The comic nearly jumped out of the car when her fantasizing was interrupted with the feel of a hand resting on her knee. “Are you OK?” The writer looked over at the passenger seat with concern. “You’re looking a little occupied. Want to talk about it?” The haze over Taryn’s eyes as she glanced back at Shelby, coupled with the seductive smile that spread over her lips let the driver know exactly what was going on in her traveling partner’s mind as they whipped through the tree lined road. Slowly sliding her hand up the comic’s leg and resting it on her thigh, she returned her attention to the road, not wanting to take the young woman’s mind off of her current train of thought. At least I know it isn’t just a phase, Shelby thought to herself, Because, for all the trepidation she had that first time in Chicago - she sure seems to know what she wants now. Lucky me.
As they headed down the hill from Flagstaff, the travel writer checked her books for the hotel reservations, and turned into the driveway of El Diablo Destination Spa when they hit the main road in Sedona. On her last day in New York, she let Byron know that she wasn’t going back to Ontario any time soon and proffered up her services to do any pieces that were still outstanding. Byron looked over at her, unsure of whether or not he wanted to entrust her with the story he was contemplating… Shelby’d always been an open minded woman, but he wasn’t sure if she’d be willing to go all out and pose as a lesbian for 2 weeks in the Arizona desert. In fact, he realized that he knew very little about the woman who had been working under him for the past 10 years…he didn’t even know if she had a woman friend who was close enough with her to pull it off. The piece was on gay-friendly travel destinations around the states and they’d gotten almost every other area covered. It was a travel comparison on the places that said they were gay-friendly versus those that really were. According to the feedback for the Times’ last piece on this topic, an owner could call themselves diverse but unless the staff complied with the statement, it meant nothing. The job posed to the writers working on this piece was to go to the resorts incognito as a lesbian and see how the staff treated them as a couple.
“So, do you think you could handle it, Shell?” Her editor’s lack of faith in her was astounding. “I mean, you’ve got to be convincing…” “I think I can handle it, Byron…trust me.” With that, she snatched the synopsis compiled by the editorial staff. Shelby had the choice between several regions of the country but after spending 10 long winters in Canada, the balmy fall of Arizona was incredibly inviting. After packing up the suite at the St. Regis, both she and Taryn had silently agreed that there was no chance of the two of them parting so soon. With her current tour over with, the comic decided to put her new work on hold and head out west to act as the journalist’s “undercover” partner. The two of them laughed at how incredibly simple this assignment was, but neither was about to send up the flares to shine a light on how happy they were together just yet.
Dropping the life you know and deciding to spend it with the woman you love was a far more complicated process than either of them had ever imagined it would be, and the two women were in the process of discovering themselves - the rest of the world would have to wait for the time being. As Shelby pulled into the parking space in front of the resort’s cabanas, she leaned over and nudged Taryn back into consciousness. “Ready to start the assignment?” With that, she handed the young woman the keys to the car and asked her to grab their things from the trunk while she checked in with the front desk staff.
The writer entered the lobby of the resort and went to the front desk which was, at the moment, abandoned. As she rang the bell and awaited service, the journalist took note of her surroundings… Enveloped in the deep reds only found in the Northern Arizona Desert, the resort had a comforting air enhanced by a large painting behind the front desk of Bell Rock, perhaps Sedona’s most famous formation. Scattered about the Lobby were vacationers relaxing in the large leather chairs set there for their comfort, and everyone she saw was completely at ease. She rang the bell again and picked up a brochure to begin planning the week before them. Mesmerized by the booklet detailing the spa, the facilities and most importantly the concierge’s services, she didn’t even hear the desk clerk make her way to the front.
“Can I help you?” Standing before Shelby was an absolutely adorable young woman, no older than 23, wearing a nametag that said “Candace: Assistant Manager” prominently displayed on her standard-issue Indian-print vest. The clerk look harried and her short brown hair had the tousled look of one who made it to work straight from the shower. Luckily for the exhausted young woman, it was a good look on her. Smiling warmly, the writer offered up her credit card. “Room for Macgregor…Shelby. I had a cabana booked for the week.” “Oh yes, yes of course…. I’d be happy to…” As Candace turned around, there was a crash that caught the attention of every person in the lobby heard from the work area behind the front desk. “Um… could you hold on just a second?” Without waiting for a reply, the tiny assistant manager ran through the doorway and headed for the back end of the resort. Snippets of her conversation were heard from the lobby, but most of the patrons opted to avoid the drama and return to their rooms, where they could bask in the peace of Sedona they had paid such a handsome price for.
“I told you not to….”
“But I was just trying to fix it before…”
“I know…but look at it! Brigitte is going to have a heart attack when she…”
“…I’m trying to help out, you know! It’s not like I couldn’t…”
“Just leave it alone, I’ve got to …”
After several minutes of the argument between Candace and the woman behind the scenes, the Assistant Manager returned with a faux perkiness that was amusing to Shelby.
“I’m terribly sorry about that, but sometimes things just come up. You know how it is…”
“Definitely. Don’t worry about it. Anyway, I’d like to check in, if I can. I know I’m a little bit early, but…”
“Oh that won’t pose a problem, Miss…” the younger woman looked up and down the journalist, appraisingly.
“Macgregor, Shelby… and I’m here with…”
As she was finishing up her thought, Taryn walked into the lobby, embracing Shelby from behind and planting a kiss on her cheek. “Hey, Hon, are you building a hotel for us, or just checking in?”, she said with a laugh. Upon hearing the comic’s comments, Candace stuttered an excuse… “I’m so, sorry, ma’am…we’re just….” “Don’t worry about it, really”, Taryn replied, “I’m just giving the old woman here a hard time, don’t take it personally.” As soon as the words were out, the journalist feigned irritation. “…and I guess you can see if there’s another room open for Ms. Osbourne… she seems to be a bit ageist.” After processing the fact that the writer was joking, the clerk finally relaxed and grabbed Shelby’s credit card. “I don’t think we’ve got any left”, she winked at Taryn, “looks like you’re stuck with her.”
As Candace swiped the card and got the keys, she looked over at the couple wistfully. Now THAT is love… and then she remembered her own girlfriend, a liberal arts major at ASU who at the moment was in the back of the resort desperately trying to repair the ceiling tiles, and smiled. Well, at least she’s trying. “Here you go, Ladies, enjoy your stay and if you need anything, my name’s Candace.” As soon as she handed over the keys, there was another crash from the background. “Now, um, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fire someone!” , exaggerating the last two words for the sake of the woman behind the door.
Laughing at the start of their vacation at El Diablo Spa and Resort, the two women joined hands and headed back to their car, grabbing their belongings and heading toward cabana 127, overlooking a tiny canyon behind the resort. Once their belongings were deposited in their respective closets the two women collapsed exhaustedly onto the bed, worn out from their drive west. After napping for an hour or so, Shelby awoke to the sound of a storm outside and looked over to her companion, laying peacefully atop the covers of their shared bed. Beautiful…my god, she’s so beautiful, the older woman thought as she watched the redhead’s chest rising and falling peacefully with each breath. Not wanting to disturb her companion, Shelby got up from the bed and softly planted a kiss on the young woman’s forehead before heading to the shower to wash off the grit of the long drive. Stepping into the bathroom, the writer shed her clothes and, before climbing into the large spa shower, took a look at herself in the mirror before her. It wasn’t something she could recall doing often but being with Taryn; feeling her form melting into another woman’s, she wondered what she looked like to another. Blue eyes scanned the frame of their owner, taking in every imperfection…and yet, she thought to herself, there’s something she sees…Dear god, I’m lucky. What was, to Shelby, an imperfect form was to Taryn a temple and the writer tried to look at herself objectively in the eyes of her young lover. Her long brown hair graced her shoulders, toned from working out her marital frustrations at the gym back home; her arms were well defined from hundreds of pushups done in the computer room desperately trying to stave off writer’s block; her long legs were sculpted from hip down from hours pedaling through the streets of Vancouver, pumping the distaste for the life she was leading out of her system as Johnny Lang, Etta James and Howlin’ Wolf sang the blues in stereophonic syncopation on her headphones. As she stretched out her arms before the mirror, she laughed at the sight before her. Well, I guess I’m not that bad…but what I wanna know now is - what’s going to KEEP me this way? All her workouts were done out of frustration, out of the need to get away from her life, get away from herself. Now the writer wanted nothing but to jump right into the life she’d finally been given and couldn’t imagine the want for escape to come anytime soon.
As she stepped into the steaming shower, Shelby felt the streams of water pelting her back with a welcome force, lulling her into a relaxed state as she turned to stand face forward into the jets of welcome liquid running down her chest and thighs. She was so enveloped in the thoughts and images of the last year of her life, her husband, her life in Canada and the fact that she was there in a shower in Northern Arizona, willingly tossing it all for a young redhead in the next room that she didn’t hear that same young comic entering the bathroom and sliding back the doors to join her there in her respite. As the writer leaned forward to grab the shampoo from the shower shelf, she felt a pair hands reach through her arms to grab it for her and a welcome body pressing against her back. Sighing into the younger woman’s embrace, the journalist trembled as she felt a pair of small hands caressing her hair with the shampoo, a pair of sumptuous lips nipping at her neck and the delightful feel of Taryn’s sex pressing against her rear. Bracing herself against the wall with both hands, Shelby found herself unable to move from the overload of exquisite sensations. The younger woman continued what the writer had begun; spreading soap across her lover’s frame; slowly lathering the older woman with suds and massaging in the bubbles from toe to tip, the comic laughed lightly as she heard moans of pleasure escape pursed lips. Slick soapy hands slid to Shelby’s waist and guided her around and into the arms of her companion, where she was greeted with a tight embrace and the hungry lips of a young woman on a mission. Their mouths met and it was evident that Taryn was driving this adventure.
Hungry for more, small hands made their way down the older woman’s frame as the comic knelt before her lover, unable to hold back her desire anymore. Leaning against the shower door, the writer held one hand on the railing to brace herself and ran the other through the short auburn locks of the beautiful goddess now kneeling before her. Just as she was about to say how stunning Taryn was, she was paralyzed by the feeling of a pair of skilled hands pulling her towards an eager mouth, a tongue desperately seeking her sex and the husky moan of her young lover leading her toward a rapidly approaching climax. Driving her tongue deeper, stroking her lover harder, the young woman reached upward, taking a pair of hardened nipples between her fingertips as she allowed her tongue to explore the slick folds of the taller woman’s sex, desperately craving all she could offer up to her. As Shelby bucked forward into the shorter woman’s embrace, she felt the heat of her lover’s touch radiating through her bloodstream; a bolt of lightning that originated at her very core, making it incredibly hard to remain standing. Lapping at the ambrosia which was brought forth from the older woman’s excitement, Taryn laved her chosen point of worship thoroughly as she felt her lover slowly losing control entirely and slipping down the side of the shower, collapsing gently before her and looking into her verdant pools with a deep blue gaze that signified the deepest devotion the young woman had ever felt in her short life. The water beat down on the couple, gently rinsing not only from them the exhaustion of the long drive, but the tension and heartache felt from a year apart. As the shower rained down on the two lovers, they held each other tight - each experiencing the joyous release of a dream finally realized and the pangs of curiosity about the road that lay before them.
Removing themselves when the water had finally turned lukewarm, the two ladies got dressed for an evening on the town. Sedona, though known mainly for it’s glorious landscapes and stunning vistas, was also home to some of the best restaurants in the southwest and more than one nightclub for the ladies to pick from. After calling the concierge to book a reservation for the couple at the Hacienda, a delightful little Mexican restaurant overlooking the train route that cut through Oak Creek Canyon, they sorted through their belongings to determine their evening attire. Opting for dress-casual, Shelby was finished within minutes, her perfectly tailored light khakis and crisp sky blue shirt accenting not only her well-earned figure but melding with her remaining summer tan to highlight her paralyzing blue eyes. Now, as for Taryn…well, the mission wasn’t accomplished nearly as quickly. Never having been to Arizona, she wanted the evening to be perfect and part of that included looking absolutely stunning for her partner… not taking into consideration the fact that Shelby would have been thrilled if she tossed on chinos and a t-shirt as long as it was she who accompanied her to the restaurant.
The young writer, however, didn’t see things quite that way and waded through the entire Ann Taylor summer collection packed away in her bag to settle on a black light knit top that tapered at the waist and accentuated her breasts along with a shocking pink skirt with a floral print gauze overskirt that ended just before the young woman’s knees. Topping off the ensemble was a pair of black 9 west platform sandals that brought the comic nearly to eye level with her taller companion. As she strode out of the bathroom, running her fingers through her locks, glints of gold apparent from the summer sun, she looked into Shelby’s eyes and knew her efforts were well worth it… the older woman was breathless.
Walking up to her date for the evening, Taryn slid her arms around the writer’s waist and took her lips in her own, kissing softly as she ran perfectly manicured fingertips in loving circles across her back. Pulling back, the comic said, “Mmm…I think I like this being the same height thing…makes this so much easier!” Groaning disappointedly from having her lover’s lips pulled from her own, Shelby heartily agreed, trying to discard her upset at having the young woman’s embrace end so quickly. Grabbing first the car keys, then the older woman’s hand, the young comic tugged the journalist to the door. “Now come on, you’ve got work to do!” Unable to ignore her companion’s excitement, Shelby’s disappointment was abated and the two headed out for their first adventure in the Northern Arizona night.
Unsure of exactly how to get to the restaurant from the resort, the couple decided to stop and ask the front gate guard for directions. As they pulled up to the gate, a uniformed man in his early thirties stepped out and leaned against the car door casually.
“Can I help you ladies?”
“Actually, yes.”, Shelby replied, noticing how his eyes kept wandering over to the bare legs of the young woman in the passenger seat. “Yes, we’re looking for directions to the Hacienda.”
“No Problem. You see, first you…” As he began providing the directions, he leaned into the car, placing his hand on the writer’s shoulder. “…head over to the exit for I-10, that’s your best route, then you…”
Continuing with his directions, the guard slid his hand further up her shoulders comfortably resting his hand on the junction where her neck and shoulder met. Trying to restrain her irritation at this cocky young employee, Shelby simply shrugged him off and listened calmly to his directions, taking mental note.
“…of course”, he nodded at Taryn lasciviously, “you know, I get off in an hour. I’d be more than happy to take you myself. After all, when in Sedona, you need someone who could show you a good time.”
10 years dealing with the ogles and irritating remarks of Andrew’s friends and co-workers at parties and functions had made the older woman desensitized to the comments of the guard, getting irritated only because he had the nerve to hit on the woman sitting right next to her in her car. However, old habits die hard and the journalist bit her tongue hoping to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. What she didn’t count on, though, was her young companion’s experience with ogling patrons and heckling audience members. Taryn wasn’t about to let the guard get away with making Shelby feel insecure around this neanderthal. Sliding over the bench seat and placing her hand on Shelby’s thigh, she nipped her neck playfully, tongue escaping her teeth momentarily…enough to get her point across, as she said, “Well thank you…” and looked directly at the guard, taking note of his badge ID, “…William. But, you know, I’ve got to say, the cabanas here are wonderful… be sure to tell management. And, wouldn’t you know it? Shelby and I have been having a wonderful time.” With the final comment, she slid her hand up the brunette’s leg, causing her to gasp at the sensation. “But thank you for the directions.” With that, the two women pulled out into the purple haze of the setting sun, leaving a dumbfounded and irritated guard muttering “goddamn dykes” in their wake as they laughed at his idiocy.
Noting the guard’s name and ID for future use in both her article and a conversation Shelby planned on having with management once their week was up, the journalist squeezed the knee of the woman sitting next to her playfully. “That was wonderful, you know. I never would have been able to do that.” “Don’t underestimate yourself, sweetie”, the young woman smiled, “besides, why wouldn’t I want everyone to know I’m with you? Heh, there’s a sick part of me that loves knowing every man and woman we meet is just a little bit jealous of me!” Laughing at the obliviousness her companion showed towards the guard’s advances, the writer drove off contentedly to their destination.
After enjoying a hearty Mexican meal on the patio of the restaurant, where the two women ate without incident, they were off to discover Redrox, a club that had been highly recommended by the online search engine the two used to help find clubs where they could openly display their affection while on vacation. Pulling into the packed parking lot, the women could see that the club was hardly a secret, and they planned on enjoying themselves without worry, at least until the club lights went up and they were back to the resort. Walking in to a pulsing orchestral beat, the couple saw men and women crowding the dance floor moving in synch with the DJ’s bass and could feel the energy coating the room. Shelby decided she would be the responsible one for the evening - leaving Taryn out on the dance floor as she made her way to the bar to procure her date a martini and herself a bottle of water.
When she returned to the dance floor, she saw the young comic fending off the advances of a rather butch young woman and decided to see how well Taryn could stand her ground. Frankly, Shelby enjoyed the thought of knowing she was going home with the woman everyone else wanted and figured that as beautiful as the young woman was, she should get used to fending off the advances of women - chances are, it’d be a regular occurrence. She smiled lightly as her date flirted politely and walked away from the denim clad young woman, rolling her eyes as she departed. Scanning the dance floor for the journalist, Taryn was becoming more irritated at the blatant advances being made upon her. Somehow, she had hoped that going to a club populated with women, she’d be spared the sexist comments she was normally subjected to whenever she bothered to put on a skirt.
Just as she was about to head in the writer’s direction, the redhead was stopped mid-turn by a hand owned by a rather tall bleached-blonde woman who had no concept of temperature, apparently, as she was wearing a pair of leather pants and a leather motorcycle vest with a denim shirt beneath. Trying to politely break free without offending her pursuer, Taryn found herself unable to avoid the woman’s advances and was getting more worried by the moment. Because the biker had been so aggressive, she had moved her away from the edge of the dance floor and far from Shelby’s line of sight - worrying both the comic and her companion. Putting a hand on the shorter woman’s waist, the biker tried to pull her closer, saying “Come on, baby…you’re not with anyone…” “No, actually, I am”, the comic replied, “She’s just…” “Well, she isn’t paying you the attention you need, so…” As she continued to make her moves on the shorter woman, the biker brought her knee upward, trying to feel Taryn’s thighs beneath her dress.
That invasion was the last straw. Prying herself free from the larger woman, the comic glared into a pair of gray eyes and stared down her pursuer. Not getting the hint, the biker still came towards the smaller woman, hands outstretched. “You know, most women would love to have an opportunity like this…you don’t know what you’re missing out on.” With that, a pair of mysterious hands came out of the crowd and swiftly guided Taryn away from her assailant as a tall, well-built woman stood before the biker now. “Actually she does, I’m sure, as does half of Cottonwood and Jerome, Sally. Now leave her be.” “Fine, I didn’t know she was with you, Rachel…”, the biker sneered, “someone ought to tell your woman, though, I don’t think she’d appreciate it.” Having her final dig made, the biker made her way back into the crowd, leaving a dumbfounded Taryn standing beside her mysterious savior. “Um, uh, er…” The young comic was at a loss for words, wanting to thank her protector but afraid she’d just gotten herself into another situation she couldn’t get out of with this one. Just as she was about to say more, cutting through the crowd was the tiny woman from earlier that day at the resort. Walking up to the women, she slid her arm around the taller one’s waist and extended her hand to the redhead. “Oh, hi, I think I’ve met you today…at the resort, right?” Realizing that her tall protector most definitely was spoken for, Taryn exhaled a sigh of relief and fell back against the nearest bar stool.
“Yep, Taryn’s the name…actually, I’m here with…” “Shelby, right?”, the smaller woman interjected, “I just saw her at the end of the bar. I was just chatting with her when Rachel here decided to play hero.” “And am I ever grateful”, the comic interjected, “I think I was this close to being shuttled off by that boar…” “Well”, stated the taller woman, “you looked like you could use some help, though none of us knew it was you Sally was toying with or I think Shelby’d have been there in a flash. She was getting worried about you and thought you’d gone MIA.” As she finished her statement, Candace waved to the end of the bar; alerting the journalist to their position, bringing Taryn the drink she so desperately needed at that moment.
“Having fun?”, Shelby asked innocently as her partner downed her martini within minutes.
“Loads.” Leaning over to take the writer by the waist, the young comic planted a kiss firmly on the lips of her companion. “But just for future reference…I never want to have that much fun again!” All four women laughed at their predicament and agreed that they’d be best suited for a slightly more subdued atmosphere. Somehow, Redrox was not fitting in to their ideas of a relaxing desert getaway. Heading outside, they began chatting and the vacationers discovered that the two women who worked at the hotel had lots going on above and beyond the resort - which explained Candace’s appearance earlier in the morning.
“I was only here for the summer, really, then back to Flagstaff full time, but we lost our entire staff the week before school was back in. No one wants to do the drive to Flag every day they’ve got classes so basically it’s Rachel and I, along with the year-round management staff running the place. You know, I’ve got the nametag but the fact is I’ve only been here a single season, if that tells you how well the place is run. So, what do you do?” Having posed the question to both ladies, Taryn answered first with her tales of touring the country with her act; giving the journalist a moment to decide whether or not to tell the young clerk what she really did for a living, thereby jeopardizing the integrity of the piece somewhat. Obviously Candace didn’t have problems with their sexuality - that much was apparent, but if the word got out that they were at the resort to do a piece, none of the service they received would be truly honest, as there would be the chance that the assistant manager would alert everyone to the presence of the resort reviewer.
“And you?” Rachel posed the question to Shelby when the couple was finished hearing Taryn’s tales of the road. “Oh, I’m a writer”, she replied basely, hoping no further explanation would be requested. “Really? Me too!” replied the assistant manager, “In fact, I’m majoring in creative writing and journalism…maybe you’ll let me read some of your stuff while you’re here?” “Um, sure”, the writer replied hesitantly, “I’ll see what I’ve got with me.” The comfortable banter between the 4 progressed as they dropped off Rachel’s jeep at the resort and headed up to Jerome to enjoy the relative calm of a newly opened wine bar overlooking the Verde Valley from the slopes of the old ghost town.
The bar had been opened by the same person who owned Redrox, a woman who frequented the spa at the resort. “It’s not a gay bar, per se…” Candace started out, “…but it is”, finished her girlfriend, smiling at the couple sitting in the front of the classic convertible. “Well, Northern Arizona is smaller than you’d think”, the clerk continued, “Sedona is one thing; you’ve got the tourists and the hippies all over the place. No one cares what anyone else is doing as long as it isn’t bothering them. Now, Clarkdale and Cottonwood…those towns are an entirely different story. You’ve got to realize these are mining communities… these folks’ grandparents slung copper and were there when the land went bare. These are people who, if they stay around, have to work in Sedona or Jerome in service jobs and they don’t like it one bit. Lisa knows that if she wants to stay in business outside the red rocks, she’ll make sure there are no pride flags in the windows of Bin 47 and the town council is handsomely paid for her liquor license to prevent problems.”
Always on assignment, Shelby took in all that Candace had to say eagerly; enjoying the chance to get the information from an insider instead of a government official. After sharing a delightful bottle of Cabernet on the patio of Bin 47 overlooking the starlight illuminating the vast valley below them, the ladies decided it was time to head back to the resort. After dropping Rachel and her girlfriend off at the employee housing, the comic and her companion headed back to their cabana, where they quietly disrobed and fell into a deep sleep; content merely to be in each other’s arms for yet another night.
Taryn awoke the next morning, still dizzy from the events of the night before. Silently, she exited the bed and threw on a pair of jeans, hoping to surprise her companion with breakfast before she even knew she was gone. As she sat in the chair facing her lover, she glanced over and was struck by the sense of calm radiating form the bed before her. Unable to stop herself, she wandered barefoot across the carpet to sit beside the older woman on the bed, leaning in to kiss her temple lightly as she slept. Trying to grasp onto living life with another woman, she reeled with the reality that was consistently threatening to close in on the couple. She still hadn't dealt with the fact that eventually she would have to make her family and friends aware of her affair with the writer that had, in fact, promised to be far more than just an affair. Since the first time she caught Shelby's less than subtle glances a! cross the pub at Printer's Row back k in Chicago, the young woman knew that there was something about the journalist that caught her attention. To date, she'd never once mentioned that she felt the warmth of the writer's eyes penetrating her as she wrote in her journals that day - saving the instantaneous reaction to her own memory banks for future use. I just don't know... Taryn thought to herself, I can't figure out what, if I love her so much, is holding me back. And then like a slap in the face, the word that hung over both of their heads came forward: Reality. Sleeping with women and loving them are two different things. While trying to recapture the feeling she had with the older woman over their long months apart, Taryn experienced her share of one-night stands, but none of the women she went home with mattered at all to her, and there wasn't a single one she'd consider telling her close personal friends about. True, it was her own best friend that told her that she needed to go out a and experience more women, but life on the road lent a feel of complete anonymity to her encounters, saving the young comic the painful admission to herself that she might just really be a lesbian.
She never thought about changing her life for someone - every man she had ever dated was incompetent enough to rely on her personality to get by, giving her the reigns of virtually every situation. Now, with Shelby, she wasn't thinking merely about the moment but about the next 60 years. Looking over at the supple frame resting peacefully beneath the soft cotton sheets, the young woman smiled as she ran her fingers lightly through the silken hair splayed across the pillow, brushing it from her lover's face to give herself a better view. Leaving this woman wasn't an option, Taryn knew, but the problem she faced now was bringing this woman into her world. The explosion of emotions felt between the two of them was virtually indescribable and if the comic took a moment to think about it, logic would destroy everything she knew to be true. Not having had any contact for over a year, the two women had, in actuality, only known each other for a bout a month. To date neither had talked about how, exactly, their lives would eventually make their way together - only that each knew they would.
There was no doubt about the fact that the comic was madly in love with the woman lying next to her - the question was whether or not she was in love with the life she was now choosing to lead. A confident woman, Taryn had always been able to handle herself in any situation; deflecting men in her path should they irritate her and women in her way should they cross her. Now, in the new world she had immersed herself the two were converging. She felt helpless for the first time in a long time as she tried to steer away from the biker in the bar and, for the first time in ages, found herself speechless. Dealing with the physical aspect of things easy, however, compared to the psychological ramifications of the life she realized she was choosing for herself. Last night, as she sipped red wine overlooking the valley with her companions, she was dumbfounded by how casually the two resort workers reacted to the need to hide themselves from the e general populous.
Always the center of attention wherever she found herself, Taryn most definitely the type to hide anything. As she found herself recalling a story told to her the night before by Rachel, she shuddered in sheer horror. The taller woman shared the story of one of her close friends, an exceptional athlete at ASU who now possessed the IQ of a 12 year old boy.
"He was an attractive guy...everybody loved him - even the football players dug him, you know? He was relaxing with his boyfriend after a swim meet - one of those big regional deals - and they decided to take his truck out for a drive through the valley after checking out a gallery opening in Jerome. After passing through Cornville, they decided to head off road - Jason'd just gotten a new Jeep and they wanted to test it out... Well, about a 1/2 mile off the main road, I guess they got tired because they stopped. The way Mark said it, the two of them just stopped for a break and quick kiss - you know how it is... I mean, it's the Arizona desert! How can you NOT want to let the person you're with feel what you feel for it, you know? " Continuing her story, the student's fists were clenched in palpable rage as she tried to keep an even tone to avoid making a scene, "Well, they were there for all of about 4 minutes when this asshole in a bronco pulls up beside them and asks for directions. Just as they stepped out of the truck to help the bastard out, all Mark remembers is the bastard yelling "FAGGOTS" and the sight of his gun butt. Mark woke up in the ambulance on the way to Phoenix, but Jason...well, he made it to the hospital in one piece and can't really tell you much about what happened."
"I just visited him the other day", Candace continued, "and you know, I've got to say - he can kick anyone's ass in Tomb Raider"
"Yeah, too bad he can't kick their ass in the 400 IM anymore. Missed out on his senior season all because some hick decided he didn't like a couple of guys in an SUV nicer than his."
She tried to shake off the image of a tall, well-built child but try as she might, the thought stuck with her. Making a mental note never to travel through Cornville, the comic looked down at the woman beside her, needing comfort now more than ever.
Awaking with the vigor only a truly contented night's sleep could offer her, Shelby rolled slowly over to face the angel who shared her bed. As she wiped the sleep out of her eyes, she saw that her young lover was sleeping deeply, dressed fully for the day. Apparently the morning was too much for her, she chuckled, leaning over to plant a soft kiss on the sleeping woman's lips. The writer roused her partner with a light feathering of kisses across her eyelids, cheek and forehead, wanting to worship the goddess she found herself lucky enough to be graced with. Green eyes fluttered open with a twinkle, a glint of gold reflecting the growing fire she felt consuming her with every touch of the older woman's lips. As she felt Shelby’s hands making their way slowly down her side, there was nothing she could do to prevent the arching of herself into her willing partner's embrace, pulling the taller woman tightly into her.
Taking Taryn's lips in her own, the writer couldn't assuage her passion any longer, diving deeply into a kiss with the young woman. In that instant all semblance of tranquility was lost as the two women found themselves struggling to maintain enough composure to fully undress.
"Dear god, Taryn, I..." was all the writer could get out as the young woman deftly captured an already hardened nipple between her teeth through the fabric of her thin nightgown. Running her hands down the journalist’s side, she deftly slid the garment over her lover’s head in a single motion, returning to run her smooth tongue over Shelby’s pebbled flesh, as the writer leaned into her, feeling the young woman’s heat through the jeans that kept the two women apart. Fighting herself to stop her rapid caresses of the young woman’s flesh, Shelby’s hands moved deftly to the buttons on her lover’s jeans, removing them within seconds, separated now from the young woman’s fire only by a thin layer of satin. Feeling the comic’s excitement through the silken fabric sent bolts of lightning straight through the writer’s bloodstream, causing her to lose virtually all ability to think straight. As she pressed harder into her, she could feel the blood rushing to her core and knew she would not be able to last much longer in the younger woman’s clutches.
Bucking into the comic, Shelby’s mind was blank - consumed only with the white flashes of light that come when one is in the throes of passion. Her body was no longer her own, acting on it’s own volition as Taryn traced her frame with a skilled tongue, playing her limbs like instruments and bringing forth a symphony the older woman had never experienced before. As Shelby caught the young woman’s thigh between her own , she was recharged with the feel of her lover’s arousal, the quivering muscles of the younger woman’s body a sure sign that she was every bit as excited as the writer was. Pressing harder against the comic, Shelby moved her arms swiftly to the Taryn’s back to fuse the two women together. Looking into the now-clouded emerald orbs that stared back at her lovingly, Shelby thrust upward; breasts pressed tightly together, the two women’s hearts beat in synch as their movement became more liquid with each motion, fusing them together. With her lips mere inches from Taryn’s ear, she could no longer resist the urge to nip gently at the lobe and, when she felt the sure surge of orgasm tearing through her, she pulled her ear close, whispering, “Taryn, I love you.” just as the final shockwave tore through her and she fell back against their shared bed.
It was a statement Taryn wasn’t expecting. The two women had traveled across the country together and experienced many a breathtaking physical encounter but, to date, neither had admitted to their true feelings. The comic wasn’t sure whether to respond verbally or not - having been in her fair share of misdirected relationships, she knew there was nothing worse than an “I love you” shared merely out of obligation. It wasn’t that the young woman didn’t feel the same…she knew in her heart she would die without Shelby by her side, but voicing her feelings was something she knew would cement her life with this woman and she wasn’t quite sure how to deal with that just yet.
When she met the writer in Chicago, Taryn had figured her encounter would be a brief one, leaving her fulfilled for the experience and free to return to the life she knew. What she got, however, was the piece of herself she had been missing for 24 years and wasn’t quite sure what that meant. It was merely a moment and yet an eternity for Shelby as she lay there beneath the young comic, watching a storm run through her deep green eyes. Dear god, What have I done?! , the writer thought to herself, It’s too soon…oh my god, she’s going to think I’m insane! The redhead stared back at her with need and longing, but that didn’t necessarily mean love and the older woman was petrified that she had just committed an irrevocable sin, stunting their growing relationship right there.
Finally coming out of herself and back to the moment, the trembling of her legs and electric numbness that coursed through her system reminded Taryn of where she was and she stared down at the brunette beneath her, stunned still by the wonderment of her body’s innate reaction to her lover as well as her mind’s constant analysis of their situation. Seeing the pain in Shelby’s eyes, the comic knew she needed to do something to reassure her companion, lest she lose all hope right then. Swiftly and silently, she took the writer’s lips in her own and confirmed her sentiment wordlessly in a single motion. Clutching tight to her, Taryn realized that the breath that flowed in and out of the older woman’s mouth was her own, the heart within her ribcage a mere extension of her very own life force.
Pulling back to take in the glorious azure of her lover’s eyes, the young woman returned Shelby’s statement as a breathless whisper. “I love you, Shelby…” She trailed off as she finished the statement, realizing the weight she had just placed on their relationship. The brilliant smile radiating from the woman beneath her was enough to convince her of the beauty of their love, though not its’ feasibility. Try as she might, Taryn simply couldn’t allay the feelings of doubt that haunted her. Reality was a powerful force and she had never found reason in her life to fall prey to the hopeless optimism that seemed to guide so many people through their days. She knew, in the single statement she made to Shelby, that she was subjecting herself to a life of potential alienation. While she was very aware of the strides that have been made across the globe to propagate diversity, there were still those like her parents that held to their beliefs regardless of the world around them.
Taryn had just come home from college her freshman year, delighted to get a break from her studies and get to spend some time with her parents. They hadn’t been talking much but she knew that if she was home they would both revel in her presence and forget, for a moment, just how unhappy the two of them were together in their empty home. An only child, she was the center of all of her parents’ attention, and quite often used as a weapon in their arguments. She knew how to use it to her advantage growing up, tossing one’s negations into the air at the other, assuring herself whatever freedom was denied by the original parent. Neither truly cared what it was that the young girl was asking for, only that giving it to her spited the other.
The first night back from the dorm, she settled in to her room, inserting a Nine Inch Nails CD into her stereo and preparing for a decent night’s rest before her summer job hunt commenced the next day. It was then that she heard the sounds of shattering glass and the strains of broken hearts. Her parents were at it again, this time arguing whether or not she needed a car to get to and from her job. Meaningless…it was all meaningless blather slung between each of them, but it was a tune Taryn was all too familiar with. Taking her usual stance at the top of the stairs, the young woman gazed down to the living room below to take in the spectacle. She chuckled to herself as she walked away, realizing that nothing would ever change…her father would be distant, her mother would be needy and she would be left to care for whatever emotional wounds they inflicted.
19 years of arguing hadn’t convinced the couple of their unsuitability for each other and, even if the moment came where they realized that there was little left to work for, each was so bound to their morals that a divorce was out of the question. The student never realized how charismatic her parents were until she went away to school and discovered that not everyone has at least one priest in their family or a religious shrine visible upon entering their home. The last name Osbourne was a derivative of her father’s family name, Osbodovicz, which was impossible for the immigration official to pronounce when her great-grandfather emigrated from Czetochowa, Poland in 1907. While their name was Americanized, the Osbodovicz family most certainly was not.
Walking into her childhood home, one would be greeted with an 11 x 17 framed painting of the Sacred Heart on the right side of the door, a cross above each doorway and a shrine to the Virgin Mary on the mantle above the fireplace. Inserted into her mother’s arrangements of dried flowers were preserved palms from mass the Sunday before Easter, and there were bottles of holy water from various Christian landmarks on the bottom shelf of her mother’s curio cabinet. Divorce was out of the picture for the warring factions of the Osbourne house, if for no other reason than it’s condemnation by the pope.
Surely, if her mother couldn’t leave the man who berated her daily and her father couldn’t escape the woman from whom a single sentence could emasculate him completely, there would be no hope trying to explain to her parents the issues she was having with her social life at school.
Taryn sat silently as her parents shot icy daggers across their dinner plates and tried desperately to hold a civil conversation with her between their own verbal attacks. When she returned home from school all she wanted was a moment’s peace and perhaps a day or two to embrace her parents’ company. Having been the only child, the young woman realized that her parents needed her, perhaps, more than she needed them. Her love for them was palpable, but the moment they began to discuss anything remotely having to do with their marriage, Taryn remembered why it was that she had moved out in the first place.
Sitting on her daybed in a room still littered with the press clippings of her high school performances and trophies from past contests, the young woman closed her eyes and fell back against the afghan her grandmother had made her years before, settling herself with the familiar texture of a life she knew. When she went away to college, Taryn was sure that she would be the very same person in Chicago that she was in Middleton, Indiana - the shining star of everyone’s hearts. What she got instead was a year of barely eking out bit parts in student productions and realizing that she would never be the ingénue.
Too short, too perky, too anything but that which she thought a working actress should be…Life in college was one horrible epiphany after another for the once-cocky teenager. Retreating to the only thing she knew she could do definitively, Taryn began to steal the spotlight in social situations. Bars became her stage and her safe haven and as long as others were buying the drinks and everyone was laughing at the young woman, she felt secure. It didn’t matter that no one laughing knew why it was that they were so amused, only that wherever they went they wanted Taryn.
She came to college secure in her talent but naïve about much else in the world. She wasn’t a recluse in High School, but she was definitely not the first person to show up at a party, especially if that was a party her parents had heard would involve anything inappropriate for young people…which, in the eyes of the Osbournes, was almost everything. Looking around at what she perceived to be the depravity of her classmates, Taryn was both intrigued and appalled. Sexuality in all it’s forms ruled the campus, nowhere more apparently than the theater department. Freshmen boys dallied with middle aged male professors; Female dance majors roamed the dressing rooms of the theater building ½ naked, if clothed at all, simply because they were just that comfortable with their bodies; Students studying scenes had lurid affairs merely to get “into character” , and all the energy, all the pheromones, all the lust came to a head on the weekends at Two Zoo, the off-campus bar that Taryn claimed as her kingdom that year.
Everyone loved to laugh with Taryn but when the sensual pulsing of the DJ’s bass began, the couples drifted off, the singles became coupled and the young woman was left to her stories and her shots. Sitting at the bar staring out at the crowds before her, the young woman felt as if she was missing some key element in her personality to make that scene seem inviting. While she wasn’t as fervent about her religious beliefs as her parents, she was always under the impression that when she finally did give herself to someone, it would most certainly mean something. 8 months of waiting for something to mean something, and building up and extremely high tolerance for tequila tore down the walls that Taryn had constructed between herself and the rest of her classmates. 2 weeks before school let out, she gave in to her drunken confusion and left Two Zoo at four in the morning to visit the apartment of the 23 year old bartender, Zachary.
It wasn’t special, it wasn’t miraculous, and it wasn’t at all what she was expecting. The earth didn’t open up and swallow her whole for her wickedness, and in fact, despite her partner’s obvious lack of consideration for whether or not she enjoyed herself, it was a rather pleasant sensation all in all. What troubled Taryn, though, was how easily she gave in to the wanton temptation of the world around her, and she came home to re-gather her thoughts and return to the world in which she felt comfortable.
That summer didn’t rekindle an innocence in the young woman, however, as she watched her parents comment on whatever political topics, social injustices and sexual improprieties happened to be on the six o’clock news as they sat down to eat their dinner. What she knew of the world was different, and she found it remarkably intolerable to sit still as her parents lambasted those they didn’t know merely because they didn’t fit into the scope of the world they did. Three months of listening to their shallow lecturing let Taryn know that, simply because this was where she came from, this wasn’t who she was.
When she went back to college Sophomore year, she tried desperately to open her mind and open her life to all the experiences that would come to her. It was then that she began performing comedy in clubs around Chicago and discovering that the thoughts in her head, as random as they may be, apparently were in others’ heads as well, and she struck a chord. After being booked to open for a Major comic at the largest theater in Middleton, Taryn was thrilled to finally get the chance to show her parents what she had learned while away from home and how she applied it to the career she hoped to build for herself. The young woman had been lauded by Chicago critics for her simple, sarcastic approach at examining the world in which she lived and it was that very frankness that had gotten her booked to do the tour during her spring break during her Senior Year. She touched on sex, race and politics in her act, intelligently blending the education she received with the experiences she had felt.
Finishing her set with a commentary on life as a modern woman, she looked out across the blue-collar crowd, wounded by their silence. The audience was full of people who had been encouraged by her parents to purchase tickets for the show, and it was obvious from their reaction that they were not thrilled to have done so. When she stepped off the stage, Taryn looked for her mother in the wings and caught sight of her resting on a bench outside her dressing room. The slump in her mother’s shoulders told the comic more than words ever could, and she could tell she was disappointed. Shuttling her into the dressing room, the young woman willed herself to get her mother’s reactions.
“It was…. well, did you have to… um….” Her mother searched for the words to adequately convey her thoughts about the performer.
“Yes, mom? Go ahead…” Taryn awaited the inevitable disappointment that was sure to be voiced in whatever it was that the older woman had to say.
“Well, it’s just, well, you don’t … Why does it all have to be like that? Such filth? Is filth funny?”
“Mom, I didn’t say anything about…”
“One night stands? Masturbate?! You said the word masturbate in front of all my friends, Ms. Osbourne!”
Taryn couldn’t help but laugh out loud at her mother’s reaction to the act…it was all exaggerated for effect and worded to be almost literary, but her mother was stuck on the fact that she had the gall to say the word masturbate in public!
“How dare you laugh at me, young woman!” Her mother seethed “I put you into college to act…to perform like Elizabeth Taylor, like Judy Garland! Not to…”
“Well mother…” the comic couldn’t resist a retort to her mother’s oblivious replies, “…if you ask Rock Hudson or Vincente Minelli, apparently Liz and Judy weren’t performing nearly as well as they should have been, eh?”
Taryn’s mother was silenced by the young woman’s newfound arrogance. “This is not humor, young woman, and if you think this is what the real world is like then you are sadly mistaken. Go ahead and spew your filth… go ahead… it’s you who has to deal with Joan down at the Hy Vee’s tomorrow, not me! It’s you who has to buy your gas from Alex down at the Turkey Hill… you go out into the world and deal with those people after telling them the things you did…go ahead…see how liberal you are then.” With that, the comic’s mother stormed out of the room, leaving the young woman to sit on the red velvet couch in the classic burlesque theater contemplated everything she had just been told.
She did everything her mother expected of her the next day and more; running errands, getting groceries, cleaning the outside of the house. No further mention was made of Taryn’s act or their argument, but the young comic could feel the tension her mother was referring to in almost every task she undertook that day. Strange looks were subtly thrown at the gas station and even more at the grocery store. It was as if she had appalled not only her mother but the entire town, and she made her self a pariah because of it. When she collapsed onto her bed that night, the only thought in her head was, This is the world….THIS is who I’m trying to impress. How depressing! As her eyes shut that evening, a part of Taryn Osbourne died…that part was any optimism that had remained buried deep within the young woman.
Continued in Part II (coming soon)
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