Sitting in her office pouring over another clinical chart, Teela looked up as the receptionist walks in carrying a large bouquet of lavender roses. Teela smiles as her office is instantly transformed with the smell of the beautiful bouquet.
"Wait, who are these from?"
"If you don't know," the receptionist winked, "then I don't know."
"You mean you didn't read the card?"
"Of course not Teela. Besides, it's taped shut." She left laughing.
Teela stood and reached for the card. She opened it reading:
I am thinking of you and wanted to brighten your day
as the thought of you has done to mine.
A blush colored her face. That is so sweet. She swooned leaning over to smell the beauties and moaned with delight. It had been a long time since she received flowers, almost four years. She took them and put them across the small office atop the large four drawer file cabinet. They would sit up high for her to look at and enjoy. Giggling to herself, she returned to the paper covered desk and tries to concentrate on Ferdinand's assessment.
She didn't get too far when her telephone buzzed. "This is Teela."
"There is a Pax Baldwin here to see you," the receptionist informed her.
"Oh, okay. Send her back thanks." After fussing with her hair, Teela tried to straighten her unruly desktop.
"Teela," Louanne came running into her office and sits in one of the chairs. Smiles broadly and says "Remember that tall, dark, and magnificent creature I told you was visiting with Maureen a few weeks ago?"
Louanne bounced in her chair with excitement. "Here's your chance. She is walking down the hall. Aren't you excited?"
Teela smiled and shook her head just as Pax stepped up and knocked upon the door.
Pax was dressed in her khaki uniform with the shorts. Teela's eyes fell upon the woman. Magnificent creature indeed Louanne. You have never been more right in your life. Her eyes scanned from the well-used work boots tied around firm muscled calves upwards. Her thighs were shaped like runner's quadriceps bulging beneath the short fabric. Teela felt the flush and couldn't help herself. When her eyes finally traveled to the owner of those thighs' face, she noticed the light flush there as well.
Running a nervous hand through her hair, Pax had forgotten it was pulled into a pony tail. She swore she heard the social worker sigh audibly when she removed the hair scrunchy and shook her raven locks free. Pax smiled broadly and instantly prompted Teela to do the same.
Louanne was grinning herself sensing what was hopefully happening. And I caused it. If that isn't love at first sight, I have no idea what is. Wish my old man looked at me that way. The asshole. "Listen Teela, we can talk later about that thing we were talking about."
"I don't want to interrupt. If you are busy I can come back later."
"Oh nonono," Louanne reassured. "It's no big deal. I can always speak to her about it later." She inched her way to the door, turned and smiled to Teela. "I'll find you and we'll talk later."
Teela wasn't sure she wanted to be left alone with this woman. Her pulse was racing at an uncomfortable rate. Always the consummate professional, she could withstand any onslaught, or so she thought. "Please, Pax, have a seat."
She looked at the bouquet on the cabinet. "Those are beautiful." Who gave them to you? Pax felt a stab of jealousy.
"Hmmm, they are." And so are you. She watched the tall woman fold herself into the chair. "What can I do for you today?"
What the devil is wrong with me? She questioned wiping her sweaty hands upon her shorts. Pax glanced around the office at the little things everywhere. She pointed and smiled at the ceramic statues of the seven dwarfs on the bookshelf. "Where is Snow White?"
Teela grinned, "She was a hussy and ran off to the big city. Country life wasn't doing it for her anymore, and she was sick to death of cleaning up behind seven little men. They never put the toilet seat down."
Pax laughed and Teela noticed that when the smile reached her eyes they sparkled. Each felt the magnetic pull. It was some time before Pax finally stammered "Have you heard from my brother yet?"
"Yes actually. I have spoken with Damian. And since he and Zander share Durable Medical Power of Attorney, he gave the okay to place you on the Admission Contact Sheet and the Disclosure Form." Finding a scrap of paper, she handed it and a pen to Pax. Pax quickly wrote down all of her numbers where she could be reached.
"Try the cell first."
"I'll add it to the clinical chart. If you don't mind me saying so, I don't recall seeing you when Maureen arrived."
"I was living in Berkley when mother fell ill. I have just recently moved back to town."
"Well now, you didn't have the nickel tour of the ARCC. Would you like one?" Ooh please, please say yes. Don't go yet.
"I would thanks." Anything to spend more time with you.
She began the tour by explaining the division of the facility into three units with a Social Worker and an Assistant Director of Nurses, or ADON, overseeing the units. The ADONs reported directly to the Director Of Nurses, the person in charge of the entire Nursing Department. There were only two social workers on staff, Nica and herself. Pax liked the easy flow and cadence of Teela's voice. She watched the natural friendliness of the social worker as she often greeted the residents passing or sitting in the hall. Several times during their tour, Teela stopped and brushed someone's hair back, and call to a CENA, to remind them someone was missing their glasses or teeth. Pax watched the tenderness the little blonde showered upon the patients, somehow knowing that it was genuine and not just for her benefit.
Pax listened but was not paying particularly close attention to details about the staff training, certification and the like. Teela pointed out and explained the safety systems in place for wanderers and those trying to escape. No Pax was more interested in the sway of the reddish gold mane and the cute ear holding back the strands of hair. She took in the slender hips and round buttocks. It all made her want to spend a lot more time, personally with the social worker.
The PA came on announcing the beginning of Ladies Corner. Pax asked, "What is that?"
"Come on. I'll show you on the way."
Pax now knew about the resident vegetable garden, where the other flower courtyard was located. Next to the beauty shop was a small universal-purpose room. They stopped just outside the door and saw women in wheel chairs lined up waiting for their turn to get their nails trimmed and painted.
"We have a large volunteer base and these particular women love to paint nails and do hair. So it's first come, first serve with this activity, and they generally are lined up pretty deep. One of the things about this population, is that most of the women are used to getting their hair done weekly and looking their best. So we try to maintain that standard as much as possible."
Belle walked up mumbling, "There she is." She went straight to Teela for a hug. Belle was talking non-stop.
"Excuse me a moment Pax. Belle, do you want to get your hair and nails done?" Teela wrapped an arm around the thin woman and led her into the room. Pax noticed her caring spirit and was touched.
You are an amazing woman. So full of compassion. I wish I had your spirit. Knowing that she was the opposite. Withdrawn, reclusive, detested crowds. Then why the hell am I working in a zoo?
Teela returned to Pax's side not missing a beat "The opposite is Men's Corner. Every other week they come down to get nose and ear hairs trimmed, or their mustaches if they have one. We have a retired barber and his son who comes in and does this for the guys. It's great. He brings in lightweight replica of the old striped barbershop pole, sits it right outside the door and turns it on. The men really enjoy themselves."
"Sounds like they would."
"In a couple of months we will be having our annual Fall Ball, or gala," Teela explained full of excitement.
"That's when the band comes in. The resident's who want to, get dressed up in the best outfits and go to the dance."
"Really? Sounds like a prom," Pax couldn't help being swept up in the social workers zeal. Her animation was almost seductive.
"It is sort of. See many of these people may not have had a chance to go to their senior prom. So this kind of re-creates it for them. In a way."
Pax chuckled, "Instead of chaperoning their children, the children chaperone them."
"Something like that. They have food, non-alcoholic beverages, and the like. Of course, some do have alcohol as long as the physician says that they can have it. You know with their medication."
"Sounds like fun. Will mother go?"
"If she wants to, or you and your brothers want her to. You can come and take her if you want."
"Maybe I'll just do that."
"It's something that the resident's look forward to twice a year." Her eyes glanced behind Pax. "Uh oh. Excuse me a minute."
Seeing Liz enter Andrea's room, she immediately walked down the hall a short distance. She intercepted Liz just as she was about to lay down in Andrea's bed. Thank goodness Andrea was not in her room. Pax walked and peeked into the room watching as Teela gently explained to the confused woman that she was in the wrong room.
Erin walked up to Pax. "Do you need some assistance?"
"No. Teela is helping me." Pax turned towards the voice not seeing anyone. She looked down, chin nearly touching her chest. Pax grinned at the tiny woman and held her snicker at bay.
Teela turned at the sound of Erin's voice in time to see the questioning look given by her supervisor.
Teela shooed Liz out of the room. "Erin Barden, meet Pax Baldwin." Both women crinkled their noses as Liz walked by them. Teela looks at Erin and said "Yeah, I know. Excuse me a minute Pax." She turns and walked with Liz a short distance, locating a CENA sitting on another resident's bed talking to her co-worker. "What are you two doing? I found Liz in Andrea's room and she is ripe," Teela hissed extremely annoyed. The CENA sighed loudly and stood, acting as if it was a burden for her to take care of Liz. She lazily took
Liz's by the hand and led her out and down the hall.
"I suggest you get to work and not sit on the resident's bed."
"Hilda is in the bathroom and we were waiting for her to finish." The CENA explained pointing at the open bathroom door. "She is a two-man transfer."
"Really? I don't recall physical therapy saying that. At any rate, you may consider yourself lucky I walked in and not Erin down the hall."
Not wanting Pax to suffer in the presence of her supervisor for too long, Teela hurried as she returned to the zoologist's side. As she approached, Erin stuck out her hand towards Pax saying, "I am sure that Teela will be able to meet your needs and answer any questions that you might have. However, if Teela is unable to, feel free to telephone me at anytime. I will be glad to help."
Pax didn't want to touch her hand. She didn't like her, but she made herself do it. When Erin turned and left her standing there, Pax absently wiped her hand on her shirt until she heard the chuckling.
"I'm sorry. You weren't supposed to see that."
"A lot of people around here have the same reaction to Erin."
I can't remember when I have smiled so much. What if? "Teela, would you like to have lunch with me? If you don't already have plans that is."
Sure, I had plans with left over meatloaf and a bag of chips. "Sure. That sounds like a good idea." You shouldn't be doing this Teela. This is not good. You could be in trouble here and you know it. Oh bite me. She warred with herself.
Releasing the breath she didn't know she was holding Pax asked, "When can you leave?"
The tour ended in front of Maureen's door. "I'll be here. Just come get me when you are ready.
"Another good idea." She took several steps backward before turning and walking briskly towards her office. She passed Louanne standing at the desk and winked.
They decided to have lunch at the little restaurant across the street from the facility, the Hawkins Inn.Given that the community had a substantial older population, and that this restaurant had been in existence since before time itself, it tended to be the hub for the older crowd to meet and dine, and more likely to gossip.
Sitting down, Pax picked up the menu and began to peruse it looking for something good. She was really not hungry, but she wanted to spend more time with the little blonde. It was all she thought about for the past week. After placing their order, neither knew where to start.
"So you have recently moved back to Michigan from Berkley. What did you do there?" Teela dove in.
Their conversation was light. Until, Teela's curiosity could not be quelled any further, "I know this is imposing, but I am curious as to the scars."
Laughing Pax said, "You and my little nephew. A Bengal Tiger wanted me for lunch, and I did not feel like being lunch that day. I wanted to stay at the top of the food chain."
Teela was horrified. "Are you toying with me?"
"No, I wish I were. I have three more on my back and a permanent limp to prove it."
"Your job is so dangerous. How did you end up choosing a career as a zoologist?"
Pax grinned "Animals are easier to understand than people. I always felt more comfortable with animals than humans. Well until you that is." Her mouth fell open. I can't believe I just said that! True. But I still can't believe I said out loud.
I can't believe she just said that. You feel comfortable around me. That's sweet. She smiled at the blushing, dark haired woman.
"What about you? How did you come to work with older people?"
Teela told her that she had always been interested in working with people "Ever since I watched the movie Flowers For Algernon I knew I wanted to help others. So while I went to school, I started out at the Assisted Living Facility working with chronically mentally ill adults. Then took a job with the State of Michigan at the State facility for the Developmentally Disabled, then went to work in a State Hospital for the mentally ill. When lay-offs came, I enjoyed the summer, finished my last year and graduated. The hard part was also trying to work, go to school, do homework, and field placement all at the same time."
"Wow. Sounds impressive."
"Not really. I merely followed the job until I figured out what I wanted to do."
Lunch was smooth and easy-going. Time flew too quickly before Teela realized what time it was. "I hate to say this Pax, but I must get back."
"I hate for you to say it too, but I truly understand. I must be going myself."
Pax drove Teela back to the building and parked a short distance in an open spot. "I had a great time.
Thank you for going to lunch with me." She hesitated, her lips moving but no sound coming through. "Can I see you again Teela? Outside of this place, I mean."
Don't do it Teela. It would be more than lunch to try and explain to the powers that be if they find out. Shut UP! "I would like that." Teela returned the zoologist's mega-watt smile.
"Would tonight be alright?"
"Yes...No. I can't."
"Oh." Unable to hide her disappointed. "Some other ti..."
"Nonono, tonight is my golf night. How about Friday?"
Pax groaned, "I'm meeting my brother and his girlfriend on Friday. How about Saturday midday?"
Teela thought for a moment, "I think we have a winner ladies and gentleman."
"Great. Do you like jazz?" Teela nodded. "There is the jazz festival going on we'll plan on going there for a bit. Does that sound ok?"
Neither wanted to leave the other at this point. Lunch has been so relaxing and pleasurable. The company fabulous. "I aahh guess I will see you Saturday at noon." Pax drifted into the green gems gazing back at her. "I'll need your address."
"Huh?" Teela didn't understand. She was concentrating on the fullness of the lips that were moving and the tongue jutting out from time to time.
"Ooh yeah. Sorry. Blonde moment for a minute." She took the pad of paper and pen Pax handed her from off the dashboard. "I hope you can find it. I wrote my number down too just in case."
"That's even better. 'Till then then."
"Bye." What about Tanesha? What about her? She gave you the flowers? And?
Pax watched her walk with the slight sashay of her hips. Her southern region twinged in admiration. She blew out a breath just as her cell phone rang. "Baldwin." She sighed, "I told you not to call me." She started to pull out of the parking lot. "No, I am busy tonight. Tomorrow night too. I told you Celeste, I do not want to see you again. Now stop calling me. You are wasting my minutes." She clicked off and returned the cell phone to the carrier on her hip.
Teela walked into the ARCC elated and lost in thought. Nica saw her and meets her halfway into the lobby.
"Must have been a good lunch to leave a look like that on your face."
"You can tell me about it later. Right now, Mrs. 666 is wanting us in Conference Room."
Teela groaned and snickered at the new name Nica came up with for their supervisor. Nica swore that Erin was the devil's spawn. "What does Triple 6 want now?"
"T-6, her new code name by the way," Nica walked with Teela down the hall towards her office. "has been doing a random audit of our charts and wants to powwow with us on what she has found."
Teela grunted, "This ought to be interesting, especially since I have only seen her snooping in my charts."
"I agree. T-6 has been getting more and more frantic about the survey coming up."
"She and Hazel both. They feed off one another."
"Now that we are in the window period," Teela mimicked T-6, "we must stay focused and make sure we document everything. That woman has not done any documentation direct resident involvement since she has been here. She is too busy trying to tell other people how to do things in their department." Sighing, she asked. "When does she want to meet?"
"After lunch, which is about now."
The two of them headed to the conference room to see several charts on the long tables. Teela knew right away the meeting was going to focus on her. The majority of the charts present were from her unit. Each hall had a different color notebook or chart that they use for easy identification. The blue and burgundy charts were Teela's. The few pink and green charts sitting in one of the extra chairs were Nica's.
"I'm so glad you could make it despite your busy schedule." Erin grinned coolly.
Like we have a choice in the matter.
"As you know we are in the window period for the annual survey. I have completed chart audits and have found some things that may very well raise red flags or should be corrected." She consulted her pad of paper and pulled the first of Teela's charts to her.
"Lila Ranson. Eighty-two year old female admitted 6 months prior with diagnosis of Alzheimer's Dementia. She is on the psychotropic mediation Haldol 1mg every morning and 2mg every night, Ativan 1mg nightly and as needed, Celexa 15mg every morning. She has been restless, agitated, and has diminished food acceptance." Erin looks at Teela. "Can you see anything wrong with this picture Teela? The woman is on too much Haldol and she is showing secondary effects from the drug." Clenching her jaw, Teela waited. "I have not found any supporting documentation regarding continued use of these medications or why a dose reduction has not occurred."
Teela asked for the chart. She turned immediately to the Social Services Section, scanning her pages. She turned to the second page of her section of the chart and read. "Discussed resident status with ADON Cassandra O'Neill and Dietician Dawn Juppas." She paused and looked at Eerie, "This was just a few weeks ago. Discussed the behaviors demonstrated for restlessness, occasional bouts of hallucinations, belief that we are poisoning her foods. Discussed that ADON will re-contact physician regarding a gradual dose reduction of the Haldol beginning with the night dose. Prior requests were refused by physician. See physician progress notes and nursing notes for details. Dietician to inform her staff that when preparing Lila's food for serving, that the food cart be turned towards Lila so that she may see how the staff are preparing her plate as well as serving her table mates from the same containers. The pouring of her liquids is to occur at the table as well as her table mates. Her liquids will then be placed on the table with a lid for her to remove when she wants." Teela turned the book back towards her supervisor and waited. The second page you bitch. Read sometime.
Erin, was not satisfied, "Lila has been in the building for six months and this is the only notation regarding those medications. This charting was unacceptable."
With more calm than she felt, Teela took the book back and scanned the rest of the chart. Not seeing what she needed, she excused herself and left the room. "Where is she going?" Erin asked Nica.
It wasn't long before Teela returned carrying another chart with Lila Ranson's name on it. She looked at Eerie and lays the book open to the page that she marked. Boring her eyes into Eerie she pointed to the page. "If you check the purged chart you will find the documentation I wrote about how Cassandra and I have repeatedly contacted the physician regarding her Haldol and the Ativan. He refuses to lower them or order a psychiatric consult to review her meds. Our efforts are double noted in Social Services and in the Nurses notes as well. If the Social Services section was not being purged every three months, then all of the history would be in one place." She smirked. "And easy to find."
Erin quickly scanned the pages and closed the book without further comment. "Besides," Teela went on, "Without a psychiatrist on board, we are being hung out to dry with psychoactive medications and mental health monitoring anyway. I know for a fact, that Cassandra has discussed this case with you and with Hazel, the Director Of Nursing about this doctor and these types of medications. It's hard to stick to the regulations when the doctors are not willing to abide by them."
Not so much as a flinch did Erin make except to pull the next burgundy chart towards her. "Steve Preminger. I do not believe that his behaviors have improved."
Teela leans back in her chair. "How so?"
"The CENAs are reporting that he is still wandering and entering other people's rooms. He is even up every night all night and is sleeping more during the day. I still believe that he should be admitted to the psychiatric unit for treatment."
You are so grasping at straws and getting on my last social work nerve. "I still am not in agreement with you on that." Very cool and casual, Teela. In a few hours you can just picture her face on the screaming gold ball as you whack the shit out of it. Keep smiling. "Steve's urine analysis came back positive for a urinary track infection and he was treated with a course of antibiotics. His aggressiveness has decreased. As for his wandering, restlessness is likely an effect of his Alzheimer's. On top of that he was a night watchman for 35 years. He is going to be up during the night. The care plan is specific as to what the staff should try to do with him. Activities has placed things in his closet that staff are to use during the night. It is up to the staff to use them. Cassandra got the physician to lower the Duragesic and his pain seems manageable according to Cassandra. She said that Steve recently had a Carotid Doppler study completed and there is blockage. She cannot recall the specific language, but the report should be in the lab section there in the chart. Cassandra is working with the son and the doctor on that one."
Erin looked at her "Be that as it may, I am not convinced other wise."
Try it Devil's Spawn, and I'll fight you straight to Frank. I'll turn you into the Ombudsman's Office if I have to. As politely as she could, Teela leaned forward "We seem to have a difference of opinion and maybe Hazel and Frank should take a look at the case and decide, because I do not believe a psychiatric admission is warranted." She waited for Eerie to answer. She turned to Nica and raising an eyebrow.
Erin pulled a thin blue chart towards her. "Ivah Steiggerweild is deemed competent. Yet the nursing notes talks about her confusion, increased anxiety, making bizarre statements. You coded her recent MDS Assessment a month ago, as no problems with memory or decision making skills.
Now I know what Joan Of Arc felt like at the inquisition. Today, I should have been a Bus Driver. Teela began by explaining that medical problems have been ruled out as a cause for the changes in Ivah the nurses documented. The physician had been updated and he gave the order for a psychiatric consult. The daughter was aware of the situation. The resident was going out for a neuropsychiatry consult regarding her sudden change in thinking and questionable competency in the next couple of weeks. "She is being treated for depression. Came in with meds. I don't believe that Mental Health will be doing a Level Two screening of her mental state until it is determined which is the primary diagnosis of depression or a cognitive disorder. The physician won't make that decision, I have already faxed and asked. That's how I got the neuropsyche consult."
Erin looked above their heads and saw someone at the window in the door motioning for her to come out. Without a word, she left the room closing the door.
Teela sighed heavily and looked at Nica. "What the hell is she trying to do? Everything is right there in my notes or in the nursing notes. She could easily find that stuff." She raked her hands through her short hair.
"Not sure Teela. But she is definitely grasping for something, Anything. Actually, she is making her self look foolish."
"You're right there Nica. You know, she is bordering on harassment. She is up to something. Three quarters of the charts in this room are mine. And I bet you all the questions on her little note pad are in there if she looks.
"I agree. I know you Teela. You aren't the type to be lax about things like that. Hell, you remind me most of the time. But I've got to hand it to you. I don't know if I would have been able to hold my tongue like you have."
"Well, I probably won't be able to eat for a week from biting it so hard."
They began to laugh until T-6 materializes back in the room.
Following their golf outing, Teela and Tanesha joined Jo and Boney at their place for snacks. They had been sitting around the living room drinking beers and thoroughly enjoying themselves laughing at Boney.
"Boney, tell me exactly how you were able to make the ball roll up the tree trunk, and hit a branch?" The three of them laughed hysterically while Boney pouted. Tanesha leaned over and kissed Teela on the forehead and then fully on the lips.
She smiled and whispered "I've missed you." Then she turns and sat on the floor between Teela's legs.
Teela looked up to Jo who gave an approving nod and smile. Only Teela does not return it to her best friend. She needed to speak with Jo and Boney alone soon about Tanesha . She was very nice, sweet, considerate, and passionate, but she could not keep doing this with her. With each kiss, she felt the changes occurring in Tanesha. It was nothing that Tanesha had done. It was something that Teela sensed after getting to know her a little better. Something just wasn't right. Besides, I have Bess to consider.
Jo nodded at Boney, "Listen up guys. Jo and I are going up to Nettles soon and we want to know if you want to join us."
Teela shot a cautioning glare at Jo and Boney. Boney saw excited look on Tanesha's face but remained neutral when she glanced Teela's way.
"What or where is Nettles?" Tanesha asked stroking Teela's leg absently.
"It's a women's campground," Jo started to explain ignoring the incinerating look coming from her friend across the room. "Northern Michigan is where we have our fifth wheel. We have all been members for years. Isn't that right Teela?"
"Sounds like fun then," Tanesha chimed.
"I would love to go as well, but I have made other plans for that weekend," Teela said. Jo and Boney look at her with surprise. "What? It's something that I've planned for some time. It's a mother-daughter thing."
Just as Jo was about to respond, the door bell sounded. Boney yelled "I'll get it." And Teela will get it from Jo for that stupid lie. She giggled happily.
Boney opened their front door to a young African-American woman in jeans and a short jacket over a t-shirt. "Hello. Can I help you?" So timid, the woman hesitated so that Boney was beginning to grow concerned that she opened the door to a crazy person. "Are you okay?"
"I'm...I'm sorry. Does Karasi Forrester lived here."
All humor drained from her, Boney felt her defenses rise and eyed the woman suspiciously. No one called Johanna that except herself and Teela. "What do you want with Jo?" Her voice lowered. Boney tilted her head looking at the young woman trying to determine why she looked familiar.
"My name is Deanna Abraham's. I apologize for the late hour, but I just had to see Karasi Forrester this evening." She rushed her words while twisting the shoulder straps of the satchel she carried.
Studying the woman unable to place where she may have seen her before, keeping her eyes on the woman, she took a few steps backward. "Johanna, can you come here please?"
Laughing, Jo arrived handing Bony her beer. She saw the young woman and then looks at Boney who shrugged. "She says her name is Deanna Abrahams and she is here to see you."
"Hello. Can I help you?"
"Are you...Karasi?" Deanna quietly asked. "I apologize for it being so late. But I just had to know if you are Karasi?"
Jo slowly nodded. "I am." She whispered.
Deanna hands finally stopped twisting the shoulder straps as she sighs heavily and sniffs holding back her tears. "I have rehearsed what I was going to say for some time and now I find that my mind is blank."
"Well the way that you are acting I can certainly believe that." Boney gritted through her teeth.
"I don't know how to say this..."
"You're right it's late and I do have guests to get back to," Jo felt her patience waning.
"If you are Karasi Forrester, then are my mother."
Boney dropped her beer bottle and beer sprayed all over the floor. Teela rushed into the area and looked at Boney frozen and staring at her lover who was staring at a young woman standing in the doorway. "Boney? Jo?"
"Excuse me?" Jo squeaks.
"You are my mother."
"Oh my god." Teela gasped.
Boney walks over to Jo aggravated beyond all reason. "Jo to tell this poor misguided woman that she has made a mistake." Jo remained silent. Boney looked at her wife and had never seen that expression before. She was crying yet chuckling in relief at the same time.
"Jo," Boney called to her finally getting her attention. The eyes that have always melted her heart held such pain and surrender that Boney did not recognize them. "It can't be true Jo." Her voice held the hurt.
Teela turned leaving to get something to clean up the spilled beer. She just shook her head as she passed Tanesha and motioned for her to just wait.
Could it be that time? My God, I lost track. Oh my God. Boney please forgive me. Jo finally responds. "Deanna, would you like to come in?"
"Yes. Thank you." She smiled.
"Jo?" Stunned, Boney remained standing by the archway looking at Jo and Deanna take a seat on the couch. It was then that Bony realized why the young woman looked so familiar. She looks like my Jo. But how?
"I apologize again for the late hour, but I just arrived in town and really wanted to know. Anticipation and all."
Boney hissed, "What makes you think that my Jo is your mother?"
"Maybe we should go," Teela hedged.
"Stay!" Boney snapped. She turns back to Deanna "Well?"
Eyeing Boney cautiously, "I was born September 28, 1983 in Flint. I was told that I was given up for adoption right after my birth and that my birth mother never saw me, but gave me the name Deanna."
Letting her frustration have free reign she stated, "You have the wrong person. I think you should leave our home."
Silently the shameful tears began to flow as she looked at her daughter. "Do you have proof of what you say?"
Deanna handed her a stack letters from her small satchel. "Those are copies. You can have them if you want. I got them from the attorney six months ago."
"What is it Jo?"
"They are letters."
"James and Cecile Abrahams. He was an accountant and his wife was a teacher."
"5695 Splendor Rd, Bay City Michigan," Jo supplied. She let the tears flow freely. Oh God Boney. I didn't mean to hurt you. She looked at her wife and then back to Deanna. "Your first dog was named Muffin, a golden lab your family rescued from the pound." Jo touched the reddening cheek to wipe the tears from her daughter's face. "I remember you lost your first tooth and the Tooth Fairy placed a five dollar bill beneath your pillow," Jo sobbed. "You played basketball until the eight grade and softball until the eleventh." She drew the woman into her tightly. Tears of relief flowed between them.
Teela and Tanesha looked at one another and back to the scene before them. Boney was agitated and trembling visibly. "Jo may I speak to you in the kitchen, now please?" With that she stormed away.
Left in the room with the stranger, Deanna looked at the two women sitting so close together and holding hands. She had expected her mother to be married or to have other children maybe. Never had she imagined that her mother would be a lesbian. Deanna glanced around and settled her gaze upon the two people looking back at her.
Teela cleared her throat. "I'm Teela Pheamster, a long time friend of your mot...Jo's."
Deanna quietly, "Nice to meet you."
"I'm Tanesha Evans, a colleague of Jo's at the clinic."
The three were trapped in an incredibly awkward silence. Finally Deanna says the only thing that she could. "Amazing huh?"
"Ooohh that's an understatement." Teela smiled.
"It took a lot of time to find her, but I did. Of course after mom and dad died it was really wasn't that hard. I guess they didn't expect to die so soon and have me find my real birth mother this way."
"I'm sorry to hear about your parents," Teela said just as a loud crashing sound erupted from the kitchen. Teela excuses herself and quickly walked to the kitchen door. Gently she opened it and sees her friends standing across the room from one another. "Are things fairly okay?"
Jo nodded. "We'll be out in a minute." Teela closed the door.
They stood across the room from one another. Her partner of 20 years was seething: she was a stranger glaring at her. Jo could understand Boney was angry. In the words of her lover's culture, she was horned-mad. Jo slipped into therapist mode and approached Boney with a question. "Can you tell me why you are so furious?"
"Why shouldn't I be? 20 years! Karasi, 20 fucking years and you never once told me that you have a daughter! You told me you never knew a man...Isn't that the words you used? You lied to me. Goddamn it you've been lying to me for 20 FUCKING YEARS!"
She jumped and clenched her eyes tight. "I am so sorry Boney."
"You...you have known where she was all this time. Are those your letters Jo? Which means you have been receiving letters from her parents all this time and you never once thought to tell me about it." She let the tears seep from her eyes. "That's what hurts the most Karasi." She whispered, "The secrets, the lies. You didn't trust me enough to tell me the truth. In all this time."
"Boney, I...There is nothing I can say that would be a defense. But please. I know..."
"You don't have a defense Jo. And I don't know how to react any other way." She couldn't look at her wife. Boney wiped her face with the bottom of her t-shirt. "I better leave before I say something stupid."
"Boney, don't go. Stay and work on this with me."
Boney left the kitchen and entered through the living room not seeing any of the shocked expressions following her every step. She grabbed her keys off the hall table, and her jacket and left through the front door. Jo came out of the kitchen and followed the same path as Boney. She reaches the door in time to see Boney back onto the lawn that she cherished to go around Tanesha's car in the driveway. The Escalade's tires couldn't get purchase and spun slipping in the grass. They finally gripped and Boney narrowly missed Deanna small car on the road before righting the truck and accelerating through the darkness.
Teela wrapped her arms around her friend letting her cry. After several minutes, she led her back to the living room and into her favorite chair.
"I didn't mean to cause any problems for you Karasi."
From a distance, Jo said, "No it was bound to come out sooner or later. I just kept putting it off and then lost track of time. I didn't know how she would react though. Could have been better huh?"
"A little bit," Teela added.
"Boney just needs some time to cool off. You know how she gets. Then she will come home."
"This is true."
"Deanna. It is rather late and as you can see I have very little emotional energy to spare at the moment. Can you leave a number where you can be reached. I will call you tomorrow to talk. Right now, it is all I can do to worry about my soul mate."
Deanna scribbled her number on paper placing it on the coffee table next to the trays of the uneaten food. "I will be staying at the hotel for the next week before I have to leave for New York."
"I assure you, Deanna. I will call."
Jo walked her to the door and they bid good night. She dropped upon the couch drawing her knees to her chest and hugging the throw pillow snugly. The tears begin of their own will and she was powerless to stop them.
"Boney please come home."
"Is there anything I can do for you sweetheart?" Teela comforted. Jo shakes her head no. "What the hell happened Jo?"
"I've made a mess of things is what happened." She hugged her best friend. "Hopefully she will calm down and then she will be ready to listen. But I can't talk about it right now. My wife should be the first to hear what happened. Right?" Teela agreed.
"I'll wait here with you until she returns."
"You don't have to. I'll be okay."
"Of course I don't and I know you will."
"You never seem to want to make love anymore."
"That is because I am tired Bess. I have days just as tough or worse as yours. You don't deal with death all the time. I do! This week alone I had to attend three funerals."
"If it is draining you so much, quit. Find something else. Especially if it is coming between us!"
"My job is NOT coming between us. Your inability to keep your fucking legs closed came between us!"
Teela broke away from the dream and snapped awake clutching the arms of her chair momentarily confused. as to where she was. Slowly the room came into focus. Jo lay on the couch, the cordless telephone captured in her grasp and tucked into her body. Tanesha lay by the chair on the floor. Gently and quietly, she shook Tanesha until she awakened. When she finally had her attention, she motioned for her to follow her into the kitchen.
Teela looked at the sleepy woman and thought You are so cute half asleep.
Tanesha with her eyes closed wrapped her arms around Teela and hugged her tightly. Kissing her neck.
She asked, "How are you doing?"
"A little stiff, but okay. Listen, I never thanked you for the lovely roses you sent."
"You're welcome. I saw how beautiful they were and thought of you."
"Thank you. But you shouldn't have." Teela considered saying more but decided to wait until another time when she could focus on one issue at a time.
"I wanted to. Anything for you."
Yes, we will definitely need to talk soon. "Right now I am more worried about Boney and where she could be. She did not come home last night."
"Where could she be?"
"Not sure. Anywhere really. This can't come between them. They have been through so much together. They are the most loving couple I know. They would be lost without each other." She paused. "Listen, why don't you go home and get some rest? I'll stay here with Jo until Boney returns."
"I can stay. It's not a problem. I just don't want to leave you."
"You're sweet. But it does not make sense for both of us to have kinked backs and stiff joints."
Tanesha grinned lasciviously wrapping her arms around the small social worker. "I could think of a better way to get those stiff joints." She kissed her deeply. "Your lips are marvelous and taste so good." She tried for another only to be stopped by Teela.
"This is neither the time nor the place."
"Sorry. Can't help it when I'm near you." But is there another reason you are pushing me away? I felt you pulling away from me since Jo and Boney's invitation to the campground. Obviously they had not discussed it with you first. "But if you want, I'll go. Will you call and let me know what's happening? I suspect Jo won't be going into the clinic today."
"Yes. I'll call and no she probably won't."
Touching her face and kissing her cheek, Tanesha looked into the gold flecked green eyes and tried not to fall into their deep pools. You can change me Teela, I know it. "Teela, about the camping trip. Don't worry. They should have asked you first before asking me. I understand that." Tanesha saw the relief swim across those green pools looking back at her.
"Thank you. We can talk about it later. Ok?"
Tanesha hugged her tightly and poured every ounce of understanding that she could into one more kiss.
At the door, Tanesha whispered, "If everything turns out ok, can I see you on Saturday?"
Teela kissed her cheek. "Let's get through one thing at a time." She could not bring her self to tell the psychologist that she had plans with a tall dark and very sexy zoo keeper. Instead, she closed the door and turned back to her friend sleeping on the couch. She sighed, "Boney where can you be?"
Jo slowly stirred to wakefulness. "Boney?" She called and did not hear an answer from her beloved. Rubbing her face to wipe the sleep away, Jo stood and made her way to their bedroom. She threw open the door to their bedroom and looked upon the empty bed. The tears returned and she lets them create new tracks down her cheeks. She quickly checked the bathroom calling for her hillbilly. No response.
"She didn't come home." She sat on the commode top and wept. After some time, she decided to wash her face. The water splashing across her skin cooled the burning in her eyes. She reached into the bathroom cabinet and removed the small bottle of Visine. "You may become my friend today." After brushing her teeth, she returned to the living room and her sleeping friend.
Checking her watch, Jo dialed Boney's cell phone. She let it ring until it stopped and went to voice mail. "Boney, I know you are mad. Livid probably. But please call home. At least let me know that you are safe. I love you. I never ever meant to hurt you. Please call home." She sighed and pulled her composure together as best as she could. The next call is the clinic. She left a message on her supervisor's voice mail, grateful that she did not have to speak to anyone but her sleeping friend in the chair. Oh Teela, you are going to be so kinked. But thank you for staying my friend.
Jo made her way to the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee. Knowing that her friend will be starving since none of them had any dinner last night, she brought out the bagels, cream cheese, and some fruit. Then went to wake the sleeping social worker in her living room.
Just short of yelling, she finally got the lightly snoring social worker awake. "Come on, coffee should be ready now."
"Bathroom first. Be there in a bit."
Teela checked her watch. She picked up the telephone from the couch where Jo had tossed it and dialed into her own supervisor. She said she would not be in to work due to feeling very ill. She gave her cell number in case they needed to reach her.
Teela made it into the kitchen and straight to Jo for a hug. "She didn't come home?" Jo shook her head. "Has she called?" She placed the telephone on the counter and traded it for the steaming cup of coffee, sipping the hot brew and then wrapped her hands around the large cup for warmth. One thing about Jo, she loved large coffee cups.
"How are you doing?"
"Not good Teela. I have never lied to my Boney before. No I take that back. I lied to her about what I paid for those motorcycle boots that she coveted so much. And sometimes about how much we spent when you and I went shopping, but never about something like this. God Teela, what if she never forgives me and doesn't want to come home? To come back to me?"
"She will be back Jo. She loves you so much. You two will work this out. Your love is stronger than this."
"I hope so."
"I know so. Hillbilly is hurt and angry and she needs time. She will come home."
"I hope so. We have had arguments sure. What couple hasn't? She has stormed off in a huff too. But she usually goes to her toy room and putters. Not like this, Teela. She has never stayed away this long. It just frightens me. She's my hillbilly, Teela. I couldn't live without her."
Teela rushed to her friend and held her tightly, supporting her through the sobs and groans. They held one another for some time until Jo found the strength to lean against the counter.
"Thank you. I guess, I never realized how much I liked being driven crazy by that woman until now," she chuckled.
"She is one of a kind," Teela grinned.
"Yeah she is. I just wish she would call. She has to know I'd be worried."
"Would she be at her cousins in Holt? Or to one of her fishing buddies?"
"Maybe, but generally Boney detests her cousins. I would hate to start calling people and get them all in a panic for nothing." She wiped at her eyes again. "Well, I guess I'll be doing this all day. Damn you backwater hillbilly. Where are you?" She chuckled at herself and then looked at Teela. "She cringes when I tell her she from Wrong Branch Creek." Teela nodded and sipped her coffee. "But she is my hillbilly and I miss her terribly."
Teela got up and embraced her weeping friend wanting, wishing she could absorb the miserable pain of loss ripping at her heart. She has been there. Her heart was already damaged; she would gladly take this from her dearest friend. "I miss your hillbilly too, sweetheart."
Teela borrowed Jo's car and went to her home to take care of Thumper. She showered and packed an overnight bag just in case Boney was still AWOL and Jo needed her to stay. They would come back for her car later or in the morning to drop off Thumper.
Naturally, Teela's curiosity was eating at her to find out how all of this happened. If Deanna was born in 1983, then she is 23. Jo is 44. So doing the math that places Jo was 21 or 22. But that is the age she was when she met Bony. Oh God. This is a mess. The telephone rang. "Hurry up Thumper." She yelled out the
back door. Hope it's Jo with good news, she opened her cell phone. "Oh hi, Tanesha."
"That is some greeting."
"I'm sorry, I was hoping it was Jo with good news about Boney."
"So she hasn't returned yet."
"No. I just hope that she does not do something stupid."
"I do too," Tanesha agreed. "How about having lunch with me today? I am missing you something fierce."
"I...I can't. I'm not at work today," Teela stammered. "I'm staying with Jo until she hears from Boney."
"That was a devastating way to have a secret revealed about your wife. Huh? Wow. I can't believe it. I can't blame Boney for being pissed though."
"It could have been handled better." Thumper finally trotted in and she latched the door securing the house.
"Honesty and trust are the foundations in any relationship. Should be there from the beginning and never waiver, or things will come back to bite you in the ass."
"This is true." Why you hypocrite, her conscious accused. Shut up! Came her own witty reply.
"Since lunch is out, I can come by Jo and Boney's and lend added support."
"Call first. Okay?"
"Sure. Until then."
With her overnight bag in the back and Thumper loaded slobbering all over Jo's car window, she headed back towards her friend's home. She didn't get far before her cell phone chimed again. Not recognizing the number, she hoped it wasn't Boney stranded or in trouble she answered in a panic.
"Good morning, is everything alright?"
"Yes. I'm sorry. Yes, everything is fine Pax."
"I stopped by to see you and mother before heading to work this morning. The receptionist told me you were out ill today."
"Well yeah, kind of sort of."
"I was just going to leave a message to say it was alright if you needed to cancel plans for Saturday, especially if you're feeling ill. Maybe I could bring you over some chicken soup to nurse you back to health."
Teela grinned at the warm thoughtfulness of the zoologist. "That is very kind of you Pax." You would make a wonderful nurse for me. Maybe a wet nurse. "But I'm not really sick sick. A very dear friend of her is going through a rough time at the moment and I want to be there to help her."
"You are such a kind-hearted person, Teela. Your compassion steals my breath away." Teela blushed completely at the compliment and for once was at a loss for words. "I'm sorry, I was thinking that but didn't realize I had spoke aloud." You big ox, now she'll think you are some lovesick pervert.
"Nonono, that's quite alright Pax. Thank you." She cleared her throat. "So we are still on for Saturday then."
"Are you sure? Your friend may still need you."
"That may be true. I'm not sure really."
"Then why don't we make it contingent on whether your friend still needs you?"
"You'd do that Pax? I mean, I don't want to hold you up from taking som...aaahhh, going to the festival like you want to."
"I wanted to experience it with you. And no, there is no one else I would substitute your company for."
Ha! What do you think about that? "So just let me know. In fact, call anyway and let me know how things are going. Ok?"
"Thank you. I will."
Teela smiled and looked at her baby. "Thumper, there is someone I want to talk to you about. She is coming over Saturday and you are to be on your best behavior dog."
Pax returned the received to the cradle and twirled around in her office chair. After a couple of rotations she stopped and lets the daydream begin again. Like most of her fantasies of late, they included herself and one other person, the social worker.
In such a short time the little blonde had managed to open up a longing she had long since buried. Pax knew all too well that this was only the courting stage. People always put their best self forward when getting to know one another. Pax didn't think the social worker was like that. Nothing she sensed about her was a disguise. You can't manufacture that kind of benevolence. It seeped from the woman, and she found herself drawn to it, to her. Jen had something similar. A serene deportment that Pax had desperately needed at that point in her life. Facing her fears and the demons that drove her away before, she had been blessed to cross the path of another uncontentious entity.
Saturday could not arrive soon enough.
Pax shook her head forcing herself to focus on the reports on her desk, looking at the latest lab results from the chimps. One in particular had taken to Pax. Her name was Cloe. The 3 year old female chimpanzee clung to Pax when she first entered the chimp display upon her arrival. Since then, on occasion when she wanted company inside her office, she went and retrieved Cloe from the display. Cloe liked the attentions showered on her by Pax, and would easily entertain herself while Pax suffered through the paperwork she detested.
However, most of the chimp's self entertainment led to small disasters in Pax's office from time to time.
Being naturally curious, Cloe would pick up things, inspect them, toss them around and then move on to something else. Pax wanted the chimp to have fun, but more constructively. Pax had purchased some coloring books for her little friend.
Pax was amazed how easily Cloe picked up the activity. Pax chuckled watching her furry friend, "Wonder if I can teach you to talk like Helen Hunt taught the chimp Virgil in that movie." She looked at Cloe sitting in the chair next to Pax behind her desk. "Would you like to learn to talk?" Seeming to understand, Cloe looked at her friend and gave her a large chimpanzee smile before biting into the apple in her hand. Pax laughed. "Okay then. I'll see what I can do." There was a knock on the door. "Come," She bellowed. Cloe scampered from the chair crawled under the desk. "Sorry girl."
Celeste walked into the room, straight to the desk and tried to give Pax a kiss.
"Don't!" Pax shunned her, pushing her away. "What the hell do you want?"
"Pax. Please. Do you have to be so brutish?"
"With you it's the only way to be."
"I wanted to see you. To apologize for treating you the horrible way that I did. I want to ask you to reconsider us."
"I have changed Pax. Really."
"It wasn't working with us Celeste. It wasn't then; it won't now. We are too different." You are so far different from the Teela. You are too pretentious, calculating and definitely high maintenance. Teela is real. What I feel from her and for her is real. "The only thing I can offer you Celeste is friendship."
A pernicious grin spread across Celeste's face. She sauntered behind the desk and sat in the chair that Cloe had vacated. Pouting, she leaned into Pax ensuring that she could smell the perfume Pax had told her she loved. "Pax. Honey. I have changed my evil ways."
"It's not going to work Celeste."
Celeste sighed heavily and decided to relax a little. "Then as friends will you go with me to the Jazz Festival on Saturday?"
Pax heart skipped but casually informs her, "I'm sorry, but I have other plans."
Celeste moans sensually in disappointment but seductively caressed Pax's arm. Under the desk, Cloe
reached out and touched Celeste's leg. Her scream echoed painfully in the small room and she jumped up out her seat knocking the chair over backward in a loud crash. Cloe was startled and she too screeched loudly. Cloe did Celeste one better. Cloe jumped straight into Pax's arms. Celeste yelped again and ran to the other side of the desk.
Pax cradled Cloe rocking and gently stroking her friend. She whispered softly to her to calm her down.
Pax looks at Celeste. "Look what you've done? You've scared Cloe."
"I scared that...that thing?" Celeste shrieked offended. "It scared me! Gods Pax why do you have that in here?"
Temper surging, Pax sat Cloe on her desk. "That is a chimpanzee. A primate, just like you only a more intelligent one. Her name is Cloe. She has a right to be here. You don't." Celeste's mouth opened and closed but without a sound. Cloe looked at Pax and then to Celeste. Cloe then let loose a long and sloppy raspberry towards Celeste sending Pax bursting into gales of laughter. "Seems she feels about you the way I do."
Infuriated, Celeste stormed out of the room and slammed the door. Pax continued her laughter. She gave Cloe another apple. "You already know how to talk. Don't you girl?" And she laughed some more.
Teela released Thumper into the back yard at Jo and Boney's and then made her way into the house. Her friend had showered and dressed for the day. That was a good sign. Teela heard her talking on the telephone as she entered through the open backdoor.
"I'm sorry that after locating me I am having to tell you to wait. I know how awful it must be. But you must understand, Augusta Jean is my wife, my life. I needed to make this right with her before I can move on to the next step."
"I understand. Really. It's just that finally meeting one another had almost turned out like I'd hope. I mean, the accepting part of it.
"It is wonderful, to finally meet. I know a little about you, we can talk about these things once Bony and I have had a chance to talk.
"Thank you. I'll be in touch. Good-bye."
"Yeah. She didn't tell me much, but enough to know that she is headed for New York to begin an internship with a trauma team. She's a doctor." Jo smiled proudly. "She wants to be a trauma surgeon."
Jo suggested they sit on the back porch. Each was lost in her own thoughts as they watched Thumper roll around in the grass. "She looks very healthy Teela. So muscular, her coat all shiny."
"She is. I have been lucky."
"She needs someone to play with."
Teela snorted, "It is enough just taking care of her. I can't imagine getting another one."
"Maybe then it would be someone for her mommy to play with."
Teela eyed her friend warily. "Playing matchmaker again?"
"Maybe. I just want you to be happy. I have seen the way that Tanesha looks at you, pays attention to you.
I think it would be nice that's all."
"I bet you do."
"Have you slept with her yet?"
"Johanna?" Teela cried stunned.
"Come on Teela. We have been friends for how long and have shared our lives too deeply for you to play bashful at my asking."
"The night we went out to dinner," she conceded. "I don't know. I wasn't planning on it."
"Come on. We are not kids Teela. You have been single for how long?"
"I AM NOT SINGLE!"
"For all practical purposes you are. I commend you for taking care of Bess. You loved her. You still love her, but you and I both know that it is not in the same capacity you did 3 years ago."
"I love Bess. We were beginning to..."
"To what? To try again? Teela, before the accident do you remember what you told me? Do you remember?"
"I remember!" She hissed, then sighed heavily. "Jo I know these things. It's just that. We were really going to try and find that love again. I wanted to. She wanted to." She looked out and watched Thumper chasing a squirrel around a tree. "Why did she have to...It wasn't just her sleeping around with that woman. It was the whole lie she created in order to do it. It was using our savings for her little tryst in Vegas. More than that it was using our home." She begins to cry feeling the sting of pain as if it was happening for the first time.
"Teela honey, I'm sorry. I am not trying to be mean. Bess is my friend too. But that Bess no longer exists."
"You're a psychiatrist. You're supposed to ease people into things like this."
"I'm your friend and that means those rules do not always apply."
"Jo, some days I feel that I am ready to move on and try to find love again. I mean, that's why I agreed to start seeing Tanesha. She is a wonderful person." Holding her hand up, she said "Before you ask, yes, all that karate that she does pays off with wonderful thighs." She laughed.
"Oooh girl. I knew it," Jo laughed giving her friend a playful shove.
"I mean, I knew that Bess and I were not destined to be soul mates or anything. But Still I loved her and she loved me. It worked. For a while at least. But I don't know if I can reconcile the feeling I have about being unfaithful to her."
"Because she is...the way she is...and we never resolved our relationship before things happened."
"Now I see. That is the main problem isn't it?"
"Yeah. You see, I'm sure Bess has some recognition of me when Thumper and I visit. The staff there tells me she seems brighter more attentive when we're there. So if there is that much...I mean, if that's the case, then..."
"Would she still expect you to be hers?" Teela nodded. "And you feel as though you should be." Again Teela nodded.
"Teela, what do you think Bess would want you to do?"
"I'm not sure."
"What would she do if the situation was reversed?"
"I'm not sure."
There was a long pause as Jo thought things over. "Teela, what do you feel?"
"Damn Jo that's just the point. I don't know."
"You do know."
"No I don't."
"Teela." She waited until she looked at her. "You do know. You also know you're gonna have to say it sooner or later before you can truly move on. We both deal with people, elderly, dysfunctional, or otherwise. We both know the steps to take towards inner healing. It's up to you my friend."
A long silence passed between them. Thumper continued to run through the yard chasing everything that she saw. Jo got them each another cup of coffee. Returning to her spot, she sat the telephone and her cell phone by her.
"Just in case. Damn it Hillbilly, where are you?" After a while she asked, "So Tanesha has good thighs huh?"
Teela smiled. "Good everything, really."
"Teela, are we gonna sit here and play twenty questions or are you just going to come on out with it?"
"God, you sound like my mother, you know. She came over a couple of weeks ago and was asking me the same thing. Only she wanted to know if black women were different than white women. Can you believe that?"
Jo laughs out loud. "Knowing your mother, I can."
"Sometimes, I really don't know about her."
"At least your mother talks about things. My mother prays to God daily for my repentance and that I see the errs of my yadda yadda yadda."
"They still don't accept you and Boney."
"No. After all these years, my sister still refers to her as 'my friend'."
"Hmmm. Every time we receive an invitation to something with my name and 'guest' written on it, Boney goes on a tirade about how that preacher and his spawn can bite her lily white Tar Heel ass." She chuckles.
"That's being from a firmly Baptist background darlin'. Of course, when we do show up together, they are polite, but not overly."
"Do you go to many family functions?"
"I think, it's a little more difficult for a black person to be lesbian or gay. I think there are unspoken expectations for behavior and what is acceptable and what isn't. The black mentality as my brother used to say. Maybe I say this because of what I went through to come out. I am a much stronger person now than I was then. Now if someone has a slip with their tongue has a unappreciative comment, I know that now I can walk away and have the choice to never return. But no we don't go to many together. I don't like putting my Hillbilly through that."
"Neither would I."
"So, are they?" Jo sips her coffee smiling over the rim.
"Are who what?"
Jo laughs as her friend spat her coffee over the porch. "That's gonna stain ya know."
"That is not funny Jo."
"I just asked a question, and I am still waiting for an answer."
She glared at her friend. "Wait a little longer. Besides you tell me. You've had other lovers before Boney I'm sure."
"Yeah, but I have always had me some vanilla. Never chocolate." Jo continued laughing at her friends open mouth. "Love you Teela."
"Bite me Jo."
"I needed that. Thank you."
"Glad to be your entertainment today." After a pause. "But there is someone else I am interested in Jo."
She sobered. "Oh? Now who is keeping secrets? Do tell."
"I seem to have drama following me lately. Her name is Pax."
"Pax? What kind of a name is that?"
"What kind of a name is Karasi?"
"African. It means Life and Wisdom." Jo says proudly.
"Well, I don't know. We haven't talked much."
"But you are interested in her."
"Yes. We are going to the Jazz festival this weekend."
"I forgot that was this weekend. Boney and I planned to go," she said sadly.
Teela reached out and touched her friend's hand. "You still can go this weekend. She'll be back."
"I hope so."
"Anyway, she works at the zoo."
"Does she belong there?"
"Jo, I am warning you."
"Sorry. I'll be quiet."
"Huh, fat chance. Anyway, she is very tall and has the most beautiful blue eyes that I have ever seen.
They seem to draw me in like a magnet." She paused. "What no comment?"
"I said that I would be quiet."
"You're a smart ass you know that."
"Boney tells me all the time. Where did you meet her?"
"Actually I saw her here at your party."
"Really?" She thought back. "I don't know anyone that looks like that nor works in a zoo."
"She was here with someone else."
"Oh, that explains it."
"Then I saw her again at work."
"She works at the ARCC too?" She was becoming confused.
"No, ah..." She stammered. "Her mother is one of my resident's."
"Teela," Jo warned her.
"I know, I know."
"You should know better."
"Maybe it will turn out to be nothing."
"Uh huh." She shook her head in disbelief.
"Weren't you the one just encouraging me to move on?"
"Do you want to go back there?"
"Not really. All I am saying is that I wanted to go out with her and I am. Like I said. It could be nothing."
"Is Tanesha nothing?"
She frowned and thought, "I am not sure."
"Does Tanesha know you are seeing other people?"
"I am not committed to Tanesha. She and I both agreed before we slept together, no expectations."
"Are we being unrealistic today or what? Teela saying and doing are two different things."
"I know. I know."
"You know, but you do it anyway."
"Something like that."
"You know that you are playing with fire right? Boney and I can see how Tanesha feels for you. That is why we invited you two camping."
"Yeah about that. You two should have talked to me first."
"Well, our intentions were good."
"Yeah and it helped paved the road to hell for me. I am just glad that Tanesha understands and has left the decision up to me."
"And that would be."
"I haven't decided yet. Things have gotten slightly complicated."
"I see. Pax."
Boney pulled the Escalade into the garage two days later. She was tired from all the driving. She was homesick for her wife. She dragged herself into the house and through the kitchen to the living room. Heart thumping, Jo heard the noise and shut down the TV she was absently watching. She stood just as Boney entered the room.
"Hi." Jo nervously wipes her hands on her slacks.
"How are you?"
Boney's face wrinkled and the tears poured down unhindered. "Miserable." She ran into Jo's arms wrapping them around her tightly.
"Me too sweetheart. I am so sorry. You have no idea how sorry I am." She began to cry herself.
"I don't care Jo. I was stupid. I love you so much. I just hurt. Jo. I want it to stop."
"Oohh baby, me too. I didn't mean to hurt you." She kissed her lover's forehead, her eyes, her cheek. "I have missed you. I was going crazy with worry." Through her tears she choked, "I thought that you would not come back to me. I was so afraid." She tightened her hold around Boney's neck.
"Ssshhh. It's okay now. Okay?" She held Jo's face in her hands and brought her lips to her. The kiss was sweet, forgiving, and passionate. Each poured out her love through that kiss, the sorrow for the pain caused by the secrets, running away, releasing her fears. "I do so love you Johanna."
"I do so love you Boney." Her lips met Boney's again reassuring her that their love had not wavered. "You look tired."
"I am. I've been driving a long time."
"Can I ask where you've been?"
"Bowling Green." She kissed her wife's neck hearing the familiar groan.
"Bowling Green? Kentucky?"
"How did you manage to get to Bowling Green Kentucky?"
"Don't know." She changed sides and began to suckle there as well.
Jo closed her eyes and let the lips do with her as they wished. She loved how Bonye would make the tingling start at her neck and race southward through her body. Only her hillbilly could do this to her. She wanted only her hillbilly to do this. Forever. "Wouldn't you like to talk or rest?"
Boney took her lips from Jo's and answered her with just the right amount of firmness to steal her wife's breath away. "No." She kissed her again. "I want to shower and then make love with you. I need to feel you Jo, more than ever. Please." The tears came again. Jo kissed and wiped each one until there were no more.
"Go take your shower and I'll be waiting in our room." She kissed her again.
"Come take one with me."
"I'll be right there in a minute."
"Nooo," Boney wined. "I don't want to be separated from you anymore. Come with me."
"I will sweetie, but I should call Teela and let her know that you are alright. She has been worried sick too."
"Ok ok. But not too long please."
"Only be a minute."
Jo watched her lover slowly walk towards their room. Her shoulders slumped in exhaustion, but her need to make love with Jo was too overwhelming to deny. Jo was sure that it was going to be okay, and desperately wanted to make love with her wife as well. Teela was right. Their love was stronger than the tribulation they had been handed.
Jo quickly dialed Teela number, waiting for Teela to pick up the receptionist's page. "Teela, it's Jo. Boney's home."
"Thank God. Is she alright?"
"Where has she been?"
"Kentucky?" How the hell did she end up in Kentucky?"
"Don't know, but I can't talk. She just walked in a few minutes ago and we need to go make up. If you know what I mean."
"Eeewww." She laughed happily for her friend. "Wait. Are you guys going to talk first."
"She doesn't want to. Listen I gotta go. She's in the shower waiting for me. I'll fill you in later."
"Jooooooo." Boney yelled.
"Bye." She clicked the off button and ran to her waiting lover.
Boney's lips never lost contact with Jo as she lowered her body into her. After so many years, each knew what the other wanted, but this time was different. The meeting of the caramel and ivory skin blended into a unified being moving as one. Their centers touched, twitched in elation at finding the other half of itself. Their scent wafted above the bed into the air increasing the sensuality of the moment.
"Johanna," Boney whispered in the small of her neck. "I love you so much. I missed you much. The way you feel beneath me." She let her full 135 pound weight sink upon her woman. She ground her center closer to the other.
Jo held her lover's head to her neck and felt the silky hair cascade across her throat. "Come to me baby. Love me."
Their lips met in a hard kiss. There was no need to ask for permission as their tongues expected the duel to begin, exploring one another's mouths with gentle abandon until the need to breathe could not be denied any longer. Boney shifted her weight but remained in contact with the skin she cherished. She moved down her lover's body planting open mouthed kisses along the way. Hands planted and squeezing firm rounded breasts in each hand. Alternating between suckling one nipple and softly biting the other.
"I love how you feel beneath me Jo. Like that I feel your wetness."
Jo pushed her nether lips into Boney's torso, which was resting between her legs. It was Boney's favorite position when she feasted upon Jo's breasts. Jo would do anything for her Boney as she swooned feeling her lover's wetness on her body, spreading the luxurious nectars in more places than just between her northern lips. Boney could feel the stirring of her own orgasm. Boney grounded herself more and more onto the bed matching the undulation of her wife's hips in response to her own arousal.
"You're hard Jo. Are you waiting for me?" She flicked her tongue across the hardened nipple in front of her mouth.
"Please Boney. Don't tease me. I have missed you so much.
Abandoning one breast, Boney reached beneath and cupped Jo's firm backside squeezing and pulling her harder against her ribs. Bony groaned and she increased the friction against Jo's nub and hearing her wife whimper. Boney knew she was close. Taking the nipple into her mouth she suckled harder fervently taking as much of her wife into her mouth as she could. Jo wrapped her legs around Boney and rode her ribs faster, harder. Their scent wafted above them in the air adding to the sensuality of the moment.
"I want to see you come for me. Let me see you."
Jo felt the burst of flame within her as it came forth, the silkiness as she moved against her open center on her lover's skin. Jo felt the flood pour from between her legs coating Boney even more. She let go as Boney had longed for her to do. She screamed her wife's name as both hands clenched into the head feasting upon her breasts. Boney watched her wife's face contort beautifully in the throws of her orgasm.
Just as the quakes were beginning to subside and her hips lowered, Boney shifted her position and lay full length upon her lover. "Again sweetie. Let me see you." She kissed her again deeply.
Jo moaned as she felt her wetness upon her lover's ribs and stomach. The heat of their centers touching ignited her simmering orgasm again. Boney shifted slightly so that her thigh was pressed against Jo's wet nether lips. Jo threw her leg over Boney's hip. Together they moaned in unison at each other's wetness and the firmness of their nerve bundles.
"Jo," Boney panted. "You're my everything. I am nothing without you. You have my heart, my soul, and you own my body. Take me Jo. Catch me. All of me."
"Boney..." She managed to say before their orgasms overtook them.
"I was scared Jo." Through the open window, Bony looked upon the half moon. She was stroking her Jo's hair.
"So was I." She planted a kiss in the valley between Boney's breasts. "Why Kentucky?"
"It's where I was when I finally came to my senses. I drank for a while. I know that. But mostly kept driving. Then I got real homesick Jo." She hugged and kissed the crown of her Jo's head. "Tell me how..."
"I don't know how to begin really."
"We have all night sweetheart. Take your time."
"Before I went to college, I was dating this boy, Jeremy. His parents were well-known members in my father's church. So you can imagine the pressure to get us two together."
"I can imagine knowing your family."
"So we dated for a couple of years, but I knew then Boney. I knew I didn't want to be intimate with boys. But in my family," she shook her head, "it was unthinkable. So I was glad when I got the chance to leave Minnesota and come to Michigan."
"I'm glad you did. I would have never met you otherwise."
"Me too baby. I had gotten away and had the chance to really explore myself."
"And women. I was twenty two, had started graduate school. That summer, I had decided to come out to my parents. I mean, I had four years to really discover what I wanted. I made up my mind to tell them. I got home and the first Sunday in church was a nightmare. The minister had preached a fire and brim stone message against homosexuality. He said the devil's work had been moving in our very own congregation. You can imagine I was terrified. I had been so careful and couldn't figure out how they knew what I had come home to say."
"How did they know if you hadn't told them yet?"
"It wasn't me they were talking about. It was another girl, one I grew up with. She came out to her parents and they horrified. Her parents, mine, several others, they would have prayer vigils and meetings about how to get her to change back to the will of God. I saw how they were acting and knew then that I couldn't say anything."
"I don't blame you sweetie."
"Mom started hounding me about Jeremy, when were we going to start dating again, getting serious, that sort of thing. Anyway. I went out with him one night. Needless to say, I guess I wasn't as strong willed as I had thought. I gave in to his pressure. He started ranting about maybe I was like that girl in church. Maybe my parents should be having a prayer vigil for me."
"Why would he say that?"
"Because he wanted to bed me and I kept refusing him. I gave in so that no one would suspect me."
"Oh Jo." she held hugged her wife again.
"And the result was Deanna a few months later. I had returned to school and started feeling horrible.
That's when I found out. If I thought coming out to my parents was terrifying, telling them I was having an illegitimate baby would have been devastating. So I didn't return to Minnesota until after the pregnancy was done."
"That must have been awful for you."
"It was. The hardest part was giving Deanna away without seeing her." She wiped at her eyes. "I knew that if I saw her, I wouldn't be able to. So I made sure that I didn't."
"But how did you know where you find her?"
"I had a friend working at the court at the time. I knew when she was placed for foster care and who was interested in adopting her. My friend helped make the arrangement for me to meet James and Cecile. I made sure that they knew I didn't want to take Deanna from them. They were very nice people and accommodating."
"So you exchanged letters with them over the years and were able to know about her."
"Yeah. I would send money sometimes for birthdays, Christmas."
"That box of toys you wrapped that year..."
"Were for Deanna. I'm sorry."
"Why didn't you ever tell me Jo? Why let me find out that way? Sooner or later you knew it had to come up."
"I hadn't heard from them in about three or four yeas. I wondered why the letters had suddenly stopped.
I should have suspected something then, but time soon got away from me and other priorities got in the way. I literally forgot until she was on the front step." She sat upright leaning on an elbow. "She is my daughter Boney, my 23 year old daughter."
"So that means you had her just before we met."
"She was born nine months before we met. I was just coming out of the depression I was in because of the whole ordeal when I ran into this striking woman name Augusta Jean Bonniker."
Smiling she said, "And she swept you off your feet."
"That she did." Their kiss was deep and stirred the passion to wake.
"Where do we go from here Jo?"
"That's what we have to decide Boney."
"What does she want?"
"Nothing as far as I can tell." She kissed her lover's chin. "I think we need to sit down and talk to her, if you feel comfortable enough doing that."
"Will you be comfortable doing that?"
"I think so. You?"
"I can do anything as long as you are by my side."
Jo let her tears drip down her cheek and onto Boney's chest. "I love you so much."
"I love me too. Ain't I grand?" She giggled at her lover, tickling her side.
"That you are hillbilly." Jo leaned down capturing a waiting nipple with her lips.
"Jo. You're starting me again." Her hips began moving of their own.
Continued in Part 4
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