Disclaimers: The characters in this story are mine. This is a 'uber' story, set in today's timeline, and some of the characters may bear a more than a slight resemblance to certain other characters we all know, but which are not owned by me. Any similarity to real people is unintentional and purely coincidental. The location is Orlando, Florida. This story is character driven. As in my previous story, there once again is no plot. There is no violence, nobody is trying to kill anybody else, nobody is chasing anybody else, etc., etc. There may be some minor angst here, but nothing too traumatic. The backdrop is a law firm, and from first hand experience, law firms can be rather routine places to work. This story continues the tale of two people set in that environment whose lives are anything but routine.
Subtext Disclaimer: There is subtext, or maintext as the case may be, here. This story deals with the deep, profound love and devotion between two people who happen to be of the same gender. Although there are some scenes depicting the physical expression of that love, there are no graphic scenes here. If that is what you are looking for, you might want to read something else.
Continuing Story Disclaimer: This is the sequel to my first story "Undeniable" and picks up about one week after its conclusion. You may want to read the previous story prior to reading this one, otherwise it will probably not make much sense to you.
Feedback: This is my second attempt at fan fiction. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. Please feel free to let me know if there is something you especially liked or didn't like. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Written by KM
Emotions were still quite raw by the time Jess and Robin made their way back to The Ranch. To say it had been a stressful day would have been an understatement. They prepared a simple dinner of pasta with marinara sauce and ate quickly and quietly together as the full weight of the day's events settled heavily and uneasily upon them. Although there wasn't much by way of dinner conversation, neither Robin nor Jess minded the silence, instead taking a familiar comfort in each other's presence. It wasn't lost on either of them, as they silently reflected on what had transpired, that the day could have ended much differently, and quite unhappily. The more and more each of them considered that fact, the more and more disturbing it all seemed. Was their relationship so fragile and tenuous that someone determined to break it apart could succeed so easily? It was a frightening thought, and a question that, for better or for worse, preoccupied both of their minds as they finished their meal. As much as they might not have wanted to admit it to themselves, it was now becoming abundantly clear that while their bond and connection seemed quite strong, their commitment to each other was still a relative uncertainty. And that was something that would simply have to change, and change fast.
Once the dinner dishes were cleared away and washed, both women felt the effects of emotional exhaustion begin to claim them. Rather than watching TV or reading the daily newspaper, they instead decided to turn in early that evening. They performed their nightly rituals and readied themselves for bed, finally turning out the lights and slipping quietly underneath the crisp cotton sheets of the queen-sized waterbed.
After what seemed like an eternity of uneasy silence, Robin shifted toward Jess and broached the topic that was in the forefront of both of their minds. "We should talk."
Jess didn't move. "I know."
The smaller body inched closer, Robin's voice barely a whisper. "What are you thinking about?"
"I ..um .." The older woman suddenly turned her head and focused her gaze on the dim light of the digital clock on the nightstand. "I owe you an apology."
Pale eyebrows furrowed slightly. "For what?"
There was a very long silence as Jess continued to look in the opposite direction.
"Jess?" A petite hand reached up and turned Jess's face toward her own, feeling a bit of moisture in the process. "You're crying. What is it?"
The older woman took a breath to steady her voice. "I asked you a question earlier that was out of line. I should have had faith in you. I'm sorry."
Robin still wasn't sure what it was Jess was referring to. "What question?" She curled herself around the larger body and rested her cheek against the top of the dark head.
Even though it had been several hours, Jess's emotions were still very near the surface, and she found it difficult to speak. "I asked you if ..um ..you ever felt your job was tied to .." She hesitated, then continued. "Providing me certain favors." She closed her eyes tightly in regret. "That was way out of line of me."
Robin felt the moisture increase. "Shhh, honey. It's all right." Petite fingers wiped away the tears, as Robin hugged Jess close to her. "I will admit to you that for a split-second I didn't understand how you could ask me that, considering everything we've had together." She stroked Jess's cheek with her fingertips. "But then I realized that you probably had been tormenting yourself for most of the day over that. I knew you didn't really think it was true. You just needed me to say so."
"Yeah, but that was no reason for me to insult you like that." The older woman finally turned her head and looked up at Robin. "I am very, very sorry."
"It's all right. I understand." Robin continued to brush her fingers back and forth against Jess's cheek, then spoke very softly. "Do you know how much I love you?" She kissed Jess's forehead. "I know what you were prepared to sacrifice to protect me. I know how hard that was for you." Tears formed in Robin's eyes. "I didn't think it was possible, but I love you more now than I did before."
Jess felt small arms encircle her and hold her very close, and she sunk almost desperately into the embrace. "Can I ask you something?"
"What made you come back into my office?"
It really wasn't an easy thing to explain. Robin, nevertheless, attempted to put words to what she felt. "I just couldn't give up on us. I wanted to talk to you some more to try to convince you that we could work through this. I didn't think that everything we had together could just end like that." She caressed Jess's cheek, running her fingers down along her neck, then back up again in continuous motion. "But then I saw you, curled up on the floor, and I felt this horrible pain inside of me. I can't explain it, but it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt before."
The older woman was quite embarrassed to have been caught in such a moment of weakness. "I didn't mean for you to see me like that."
"I know." Petite fingers brushed across the dark eyebrows soothingly. "But the moment I saw you, I knew what you had done. I knew that you had given up the one thing you were most afraid to lose." Robin couldn't help herself. She let her tears flow freely. "You shattered your own heart to protect me."
"I'd do anything to protect you." Jess's voice was sincere, but then grew more somber. "But I'm not doing a very good job of that right now. Your father .."
Robin stopped her. "No. You protect me. You've always protected me, even from the very beginning." She took hold of one of Jess's hands. "I figured it out, Jess." She placed the larger hand on her own stomach underneath her nightshirt. "I figured it out. When you put your hand here, I feel it. I feel that you're protecting me. It's the safest feeling I know."
Subconsciously, maybe that's what Jess was doing, although she'd be hard pressed to explain it. "It just feels right to do that."
"Yeah." The younger woman smiled, a memory now coming back to her. "The first time you put your hand on my stomach was when we were in New Orleans on the riverboat, remember?" She grinned in the dark, recalling the moment. "For some very, very strange reason, which I really don't understand, you thought I was going to fall overboard."
Jess felt a little tension ease. "You were leaning half-way over the edge of the railing. How was I suppose to explain to Harry how I'd lost the new associate in the middle of the Mississippi River?"
A quiet chuckle. "I wasn't going to fall in, silly." A petite hand covered the larger one resting on her stomach. "But you put your arms around my waist, and your hand was on my stomach, and at that moment, I felt very protected." Another thought occurred to her. "Maybe that's why my stomach is my favorite place for you to touch me."
Jess cocked her head to one side. "Your favorite place?"
That brought another grin and a slight blush unseen in the dark. "No, not like that. It's more of a comfortable feeling. I feel a warmth inside of me because I know you're there."
It must be true, Jess decided. "I have a confession to make."
Confession? "Spill it." Robin combed her fingers through the dark hair.
"One time, right after we first knew each other, we were sleeping and I woke up before you. I realized that my hand was on your stomach underneath your nightshirt. I practically had a coronary when I thought of what I had done to get it there."
"That was before we .."
The dark head nodded. "Way before. I tried to take my hand away, but you grabbed it and held it in place."
The younger woman reflected on that. "See, even though I was sleeping, I still knew I wanted your hand there."
Jess became very quiet, and several minutes passed before she spoke again. "Your father gave me the weekend to .."
"I don't want to talk about him." Robin cut her off, her voice hard. It made her both angry and sick to think about what he had done. "He hurt you and threatened you, even though he knew that I loved you." Up until this point, she actually hadn't allowed herself to consider the ramifications of what had happened. Not only had her father hurt Jess, but he had hurt Robin in a most despicable way, disguising it as protecting her. She sniffled quietly and wiped away a few stray tears, then repeated her statement. "I don't want to talk about him."
"It's okay, sweetheart. We won't talk about him right now." Jess brushed the hand resting on Robin's stomach back and forth in a soothing motion. "But you know I'll have to go to Harry first thing Monday morning. You know that, right?"
"I know." Robin replied simply. "I'm going with you."
The dark head shook. "No, I'll handle it."
"Jess ." Robin inched herself down to look the older woman directly in the eye. "We're in this together. Remember?"
Even though Jess knew Robin was right, it just hurt so much to involve her in this mess any more than necessary. Finally, the older woman accepted Robin's wish and acquiesced. "Yes, I remember." She leaned in and gave Robin a soft kiss. "Together forever."
We're going to make it through this. Robin curled herself back around the taller body and resumed stroking the chiseled face. She felt the large hand still resting on her stomach likewise stroke her soft skin. For some reason, she became very melancholy. I almost lost this. "I almost lost you tonight."
"I know." Blue eyes closed again, trying to shake off the sadness. "I'm sorry for sending you away. At the time, I thought it was the right thing to do. I was wrong." The older woman was overcome with emotion again, finally unable to talk anymore. I almost lost everything. Our relationship should have been stronger than that.
It was one of Jess's character traits, Robin decided, to take the blame for something that hurt someone she loved. But at this particular moment that blame was misplaced. Robin slid down and raised herself up on one arm, looking at the older woman with a softening gaze. "Honey, you're not to blame for this. You're not to blame for loving me and wanting to protect me." She trailed soft, gentle kisses over the beautiful face, placing several more on Jess's lips in a gesture meant to offer comfort. "You always do the protecting." She bestowed another loving kiss on the older woman's lips. "Let me protect you tonight." She laid back and hugged older woman close to her, combing her fingers slowly through the dark hair. "You're heart is with me, Jess, and it's safe. I'm protecting it. We're together, and that's all that matters."
Jess breathed in Robin's scent, one which she always thought smelled like fresh raindrops, and let the soft touch relax her as she slowly succumbed to sleep's embrace. Her last thought was that although their relationship was certainly stronger after the emotional events of the day, it was still far too delicate to withstand the storm that was yet to come. And that was something that had to be resolved soon, one way or the other.
Swim or tread water. Fish or cut bait. Deal or shuffle the deck. Any way you looked at it, it still meant the same thing. As the petite fingers gently and lovingly stroked Jess's face, and her mind drifted toward slumber, the choice became obvious.
Quit procrastinating and make the commitment. Now.
Jess woke and blinked several times, adjusting her eyes to the early morning light. She had slept surprisingly well, better than she should have considering everything that had happened and everything that was yet to come. Perhaps her sound sleeping was due to the comforting presence that had surrounded her throughout the night, the same presence that surrounded her still with the start of the new day. Blue eyes subtly surveyed her companion's slumbering form. Tousled short blonde hair fell haphazardly just above closed green eyes, with a portion of the petite body draped casually over her larger one. It was a position her companion had occupied countless times before, except now, there was a new and interesting development. One petite hand was placed underneath Jess's Calvin sleep shirt so that it rested protectively on the older woman's bare stomach. A gentle smile twitched at the corners of Jess's mouth. She's right. It does feel good. A large hand securely covered the smaller one.
Suddenly, her companion stirred, sea green eyes fluttering open, only to squint in the relative brightness of the early morning sunlight. "It's too early to wake up." Robin's voice was rough from sleep. "You can't leave. You're my pillow." She closed her eyes again.
A deep chuckle. "Is that what I've been relegated to, your pillow?"
"Yes. Now don't talk. I'm still sleeping. It's practically the middle of the night."
Middle of the night? "Um ..Robin, I hate to tell you this, but it's most definitely not the middle of the night. The sun is shining, and the birds are singing."
"Mmmfph. That's lovely, Jess, but if you start quoting poetry right now, you're going to seriously regret it."
"Ooooh, I think I'm afraid."
"You should be. Now, shhh. I'm sleeping."
Another deep chuckle. "Okay, no poetry, but how about a song?" Jess began singing the familiar tune, her voice performing the rendition with a certain degree of gusto. "Zip a dee do dah, zip a dee ay. My, oh my, what a wonderful day. Plenty of sunshine heading my way. Zip a dee do dah, zip a dee ay. Mister bluebird's on my shoulder .."
That's it! "Jess." Sleepy green eyes opened, then narrowed. "You are so dead."
"What? You don't like the song or my singing?" Jess was goofing around, and it felt really, really good.
"Let me put it to you this way. The song is fine. The singing is fine. It's the hour of the song and the singing that is not fine. Are we clear?"
"Absolutely." Jess grinned, then after an appropriate amount of time, started humming.
Green eyes glared.
"Let me amend my previous statement. The song is fine. The singing is fine. The humming is fine. It's the hour of the song and the singing and the humming that is not fine. Now, are we clear?"
"Perfectly." It was really too good of an opportunity to pass up. Jess started whistling.
Robin lifted herself up on one arm and smacked her lips together, seemingly perturbed. "Must I clarify my previous statement yet again?"
"Only if you want to." Jess replied innocently.
"Fine. Let me make this abundantly clear. The only thing that is acceptable at this particular hour of the morning is quiet. Are there any questions?"
"Good." Robin laid back down and drew the covers around her. After a moment, she felt a rhythmic tapping against her back, decidedly in time to the tune of the previous song. A clearly unhappy groan followed. "You really are determined to drive me crazy this morning, aren't you."
The dark head shook vehemently. "No, I'm not."
"You are so. Is there some particular reason you felt compelled to play the drums on my back?"
"Um ..I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about."
Robin narrowed her eyes. "I think you do." It was useless at this point to try to sleep. The younger woman sat up against the headboard and looked pointedly at Jess. "Okay. Let's try this again. Is there something you want?"
Jess grinned. "Well, now that you're up .." Before she could finish her statement, a pillow came flying out of nowhere and landed directly on top of her. A large hand promptly removed said pillow in mock indignation. "Hey! Watch it there."
A petite finger wagged purposefully in Jess's direction. "That's what you get for waking me up." Fully awake green eyes then rolled playfully. "All right. Come on over here, Snoopy."
The older woman happily complied, scooting over and placing her head on Robin's lap. She stretched her tall body to the full length of the queen-sized waterbed, then rested her chin on her hands and looked up, her clear blue eyes sparkling. "Hi."
She's so hopeless. "Hi to you, too." Robin grinned and brushed the dark bangs. "To what do I owe this good mood of yours?"
Jess cocked her head slightly. "I'll have you know, Robin, that this is my usual pleasant self."
Robin chuckled lightly. "I see." It was absolutely amazing that all of the anguish and tension of the previous evening had somehow dissipated. Of course, the reason for that could have been the fact that they were safely tucked away in their own little corner of the universe far from the problems of the world. "Okay, then to what do I owe this usual pleasant self of yours?"
A long finger flicked the edge of Robin's nightshirt. "Well .." Jess drawled. "I slept really, really well, and when I woke up, you had your hand on my stomach, and I've now decided that my stomach is my favorite place for you to touch me."
A blonde eyebrow arched. "Is that so?"
"Yes." Jess had what only could be described as a terribly sexy grin on her face. "Of course, there are other places, too." She pulled Robin down underneath her in one swift motion, then waggled an eyebrow suggestively. "Wanna try them all out?"
Robin countered with a terribly sexy grin herself. "You're impossible."
Green eyes locked onto sparkling blue. "That too. And yes, I intend to try out all of your favorite places, one by one." Petite hands lifted Jess's Calvin sleep shirt over her head. "Starting right ..here." Robin rained kisses down the older woman's neck and bare chest.
"Um .." Jess suddenly lost her train of thought. "Those are ..really good places." She sat Robin up and gripped the edges of her nightshirt, lifting it easily off of the younger woman. "So, tell me Robin, aside from your stomach, which I know is your favorite place and which is my job to keep happy, do you have any other favorite place you'd like me to try out?" Jess lowered Robin back to the bed. "Or should I just surprise you?"
"Um .." It was Robin's turn to lose her train of thought as Jess's hands glided along the smooth skin of her stomach and chest, trailing goose bumps in its wake. "Surprise me."
The taller woman slowly leaned down and gave Robin an extraordinarily soft and tender kiss. She pulled back just a bit and gazed adoringly into beautiful green eyes. "I love you, my sweet Robin. I'm so very grateful that I woke up this morning and you were here. If I seem especially happy today, that's the reason why." She gave Robin another tender kiss. "What I'd like to do now is show you how much I love you, if that's okay."
Sea green eyes focused on crystal blue in quiet understanding. They both needed this intense connection after everything that had happened. "Yes." Petite hands entangled in the long, dark hair. "And let me do the same for you."
The gentle and reverent touches and kisses that followed served to strengthen even further their bond in the most intimate way. For both of them, every touch and every kiss was a treasure to be held dear, never to be lost or taken away again.
"Ooooh, something smells really good." Robin padded into the kitchen and peered curiously around Jess as she fixed breakfast. "What're you making?"
"Pancakes and bacon." The older woman threw back a look at Robin. "Hungry?"
"Me too." Jess mixed the pancake batter. "I seem to have quite an appetite this morning."
A petite hand patted Jess's stomach. "Yes, you were rather frisky earlier, weren't you."
"Frisky?" The taller woman snaked an arm around Robin's waist and whispered seductively into a perfectly shaped ear. "Let me assure you, Robin, you most definitely have not seen frisky."
Robin couldn't help herself. A bright pick blush crept up her face. How does she do that? "You're incorrigible."
"Yep." Jess poured some pancake batter onto the griddle. "You bring out the best in me, kiddo."
The blonde woman grabbed a cup of coffee, then sat down at the kitchen table. "So, is there anything on your agenda today?"
Jess sighed internally. She'd been debating with herself all morning about whether to phone Harry and request a meeting with him right away regarding her situation with Robin. And about Robin's father's threats. She considered the matter a bit further. Of course, then again, nothing was really going to change over the weekend. Robin's father wouldn't have a chance to do anything until Monday, at best. So, why let it spoil the entire weekend?
"Jess?" Robin looked curiously at the older woman. "Did you have anything you wanted to do?"
Jess skillfully flipped a pancake. "Nope, not today. Was there something in particular you had in mind?"
"Well .." Green eyes glanced idly at the morning newspaper. "I was thinking perhaps, if you wanted to, we could go back to that beach we went to before and watch the sunset again."
That could work. In truth, watching a sunset together might have a relaxing effect, serving as a kind of calm before the storm that was almost certain to come. "Sounds like a plan, Stan."
"Great." Robin grinned, then snagged a piece of bacon. "I'll pack a picnic."
Smiling blue eyes cast Robin a sideways look. "What is it with you and picnics, anyway?"
A green eye winked in return. "Wouldn't you just like to know." Robin poured herself another cup of coffee, then sat back down as Jess set a plate of pancakes in front of her. "Um ..Jess?" The smaller woman stared at her plate. "What are these?"
Perfectly innocent blue eyes glanced up. "What are what?"
A small finger pointed down at the pancakes. "These."
"They're pancakes, Robin." Dark eyebrows lifted almost comically. "Why? Don't you ..like them?"
"I'm sure they're delicious. I was just wondering why they happen to look like that."
The older woman bent down and scrutinized the pancakes in question. "Um .like what?"
Robin continued to stare at her plate in utter bewilderment, then narrowed her eyes considerably. "Jess, they look suspiciously like a particular seafood-related item." A frank look. "And we both know what I'm talking about."
Jess, unaffected, sat down with her own plate of pancakes. "I just thought, Robin, that it would be nice to have a little variety instead of the same old boring round ones." She poured syrup on her pancakes, then jabbed a piece of a tail and waved it in front of Robin, intent on making her point. "Wouldn't you agree?"
Robin couldn't help but stare open-mouthed. This is even more serious than I had originally thought, if that's even possible. "Jess, honey, listen to me. Pancakes are supposed to be round. They're not supposed to be shaped like shrimp." The younger woman looked Jess directly in the eye. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Yep." Jess took bite. "Pancakes, round, not shaped like shrimp. Got it."
"Good." Robin put butter and syrup on her shrimp-shaped pancakes. "Glad we're clear on that."
"Perfectly." Jess continued eating, then after an appropriate length of time, commented further. "I don't know what it is, Robin, but don't you think the pancakes taste especially ..good today?" She grinned happily.
Robin took a bite. "They taste like pancakes."
"Yes, but there's just something about them this morning that makes them taste ..better than usual, wouldn't you say?"
"They taste like pancakes."
The older woman, oblivious, continued further. "I think they taste very good."
A golden eyebrow lifted slightly. "Jess, there's nothing different about these pancakes other than the shape, right?"
"So you know that they can't possibly taste different. You understand that, right?"
It's not a hard question. "Jess?"
More silent contemplation.
Robin prodded further. "The shape of the pancake has nothing whatsoever to do with the taste. You do understand that, right?"
Contemplation now concluded, Jess finally answered. "What I understand, Robin, is that plain old round pancakes taste much more boring than my shrimp-shaped pancakes, which taste very good."
Robin shook her head in complete exasperation. "You are so hopeless."
An all-knowing sigh. "You just won't admit, Robin, that I'm right."
Good grief! A quick roll of the younger woman's green eyes. "Okay, Jess." A petite hand reached over and patted a larger hand sympathetically. "You're absolutely right. Shrimp-shaped pancakes taste much, much better than plain old boring round ones." Another eye roll. "Happy now?"
"Yes." A wide grin. "See, I knew I was right all along."
Robin threw up her hands. Oh brother. I see I definitely I have my work cut out for me, here.
The early afternoon sun shone brightly, tracking its way steadily toward the western horizon. Jess and Robin rode in near silence in the silver Mercedes toward the Gulf of Mexico beaches, both deep in their own thoughts. They had attempted their usual playfulness earlier on in the day, trying to recapture some semblance of normalcy, but as the daytime wore on, the weight of their situation settled increasingly heavier upon them.
Robin's eye caught the small good luck charm hanging from the rearview mirror, recalling when she'd put it there the previous weekend. "I see you kept Al up there."
Jess glanced at the plastic monkey, then focused back on the road. "Well, I knew you'd come back for him."
"Did you? Know that, I mean?"
"I hoped so." Azure eyes closed briefly, then reopened. "But then everything changed with your father."
The younger woman watched the passing trees. "I'm glad you kept Al hanging there. I still think he's good luck. I mean, he's still there and we're still together." Green eyes tracked over to settle on Jess's taller form. "Right?"
A large hand reached over and grasped Robin's smaller one. "Yes, sweetheart. We're still together."
"So, as long as he's hanging there, I think things will be okay."
It took a moment for the complete implication of that comment to sink in. It was something Jess really hadn't considered before, but it was certainly worth thinking about in a serious manner. Robin's putting her faith in a small plastic monkey was a bit worrisome. After all, Robin had given up her faith in God and now seemed to have replaced that faith with her belief in a tiny good luck charm. We're going to have to talk about this. "Sweetheart, things will be okay because we'll make them okay. It certainly won't hurt to have Al around, but we'll work things out ourselves, together. You told me that, remember?"
"Yes." Robin grew pensive. "I just feel that we need everything on our side." She let go of Jess's hand and reached up for the good luck charm, pulling it down and studying it intently. "Sometimes, it seems no matter what we do, some things just can't be helped. They're out of our control."
Jess decided to take a chance and say something she wasn't sure Robin would take well, but nevertheless, she said it anyway. "You could say a prayer."
The blonde head jerked around, as green eyes locked onto cool blue for the tiniest of seconds before darting away again. "No, Jess." Her voice had a hard edge to it. "I don't think I could do that." Don't push me on this.
The older woman cringed inwardly. Maybe things weren't going well with Dr. Richmond. After all, Robin hadn't discussed her sessions, and Jess hadn't asked, wanting instead to give her all the privacy she needed in order to come to terms with things. But still ..Blue eyes watched as Robin hung the plastic monkey back in its place on the rearview mirror. We need to talk about this seriously ..sooner rather than later.
"Hey, Jess." Robin changed the subject. "When we get to the beach can we go looking for seashells?"
Let's just let it go for now. "Sure, if you want to." Jess turned off the main highway onto the gulfside boulevard." Any particular reason?"
"I was just thinking of making a collection, and maybe filling some glass jars with them to use as decorations."
The older woman arched an eyebrow. Not a bad idea. "Did you ever hear the story about putting a large conch shell to your ear and listening to the sound?"
"Um ..no, I don't think so." Robin glanced over at Jess. "What do you hear when you do that?"
Jess threw Robin a sly smile and then shook her head. "I'm not telling."
Green eyes narrowed slightly. "You are very mean to me. C'mon, Jess." Robin whined. "Just tell me. Please."
"Nope. Sorry." The older woman grinned playfully. "Here's the deal, kiddo. When we get to the beach, you go find one and then you can hear it for yourself."
Wary blonde eyebrows knit together. "You're putting me on."
A wounded look. "Would I do that?"
"Well .." Jess drawled, stringing out the sentence. "Fine, if you'd rather not know .." She tapped her fingertips lightly against the steering wheel.
"Okay." Robin jumped in, then pointed her finger purposefully. "But that's the first thing we're doing when we get there, and all I can say, Jess, is it had better be worth it."
Jess gave Robin her most sultry look. "Oh I can guarantee, Robin, it will definitely be worth it."
All Robin could do was close her eyes and swallow hard. It's amazing she can do this to me with just one look.
"By the way Robin, I was just wondering, how am I doing in the point department?" Jess glanced at the smaller woman expectantly.
"Well .." It was Robin's turn to drawl out the words. "You were doing really, really well up until this morning, when you deliberately woke me up with your frisky self." An exaggerated sigh. "Regrettably, I was forced to deduct points for that."
A playfully dejected look. "I see."
"Yes." The younger woman continued. "Fortunately for you, though, you do have an opportunity to redeem yourself today."
"Really now." A now more hopeful look. "So tell me then, Robin, just what is it I have to do in order to 'redeem' myself, as you say?"
A petite hand reached over and grasped a larger one, lacing their fingers together in a contact that meant more than the appearance offered. "Anything you want."
I'm counting on that, sweetheart.
"Take a walk with me?" Jess got up from the beach blanket once she and Robin had finished their picnic lunch.
"Sure." Robin stowed the picnic items, then stood up. "We still have to find one of those conch shells so I can listen to it." She peered up at Jess cautiously. "I'm gonna like this, right?"
"Trust me." Jess winked. "You'll like it." The taller woman gave herself a quick stretch, then grabbed her sweatshirt and tied it around her waist.
"It's amazing that there's hardly anyone else around." A petite hand reached over and grasped Jess's larger one, intertwining their fingers. "I kind of like that because I want to have you all to myself." It was true. Although it was a spectacularly sunny and mild day, there was absolutely no one out on their more secluded portion of the beach.
The older woman led them both down to the water's edge. "So, how are you doing?" They proceeded along the shoreline hand in hand.
"Good." Robin answered a bit too quickly.
Jess slowed and then stopped walking, her blue eyes gauging Robin's demeanor. "How are you really doing?"
Green eyes regarded her taller companion. "How can you always tell?"
Jess thought about that. "I just can." It was the truth, and there was no way she could even begin to explain it. "So, what are you thinking about?" She resumed walking.
Robin breathed in the slightly salty air, delighting in the sights, sounds and smell of the Gulf waters lapping gently just beyond their footsteps. "Do you sometimes think that things happen for a reason, and nothing really happens by chance?"
Jess contemplated that question for a moment, then answered. "I've thought that way sometimes, yes." She spotted a pelican perched on a piling from a washed out pier. "Why do you ask?"
It was curiously difficult to explain. "Sometimes, I feel that I was destined to know you." The sun was steadily tracking toward the horizon casting long shadows along the sand as they walked. "I've thought about this a lot, and so many things just seemed to fall into place the moment I met you."
"I think I understand." The older woman watched the waning sunlight dance off the calm salt water as a small wave lapped perilously close to their feet. "I've always loved the beach and the color of the water. It fascinated me, even when I was a kid." She stopped again and gazed into Robin's sea green eyes. "I think it finally makes sense to me."
For her part, Robin looked up, her eyes locking onto the crystal blue ones beside her. "On a clear day, when I'd look up at the sky, I'd think how beautiful the color was. Sometimes, I couldn't stop looking at it." She turned fully and faced Jess, grasping both of the larger hands within her own. The feelings at that particular moment were very strong and defied all reasonable explanation. "I really, really love you."
The taller woman leaned in very close to Robin. "And I really, really love you." She brushed her lips softly against Robin's in a tender kiss, then pulled back and murmured. "Are you ready to find that seashell now?"
"Yes." Robin quickly scanned the shoreline, spying a large conch shell half submerged in the sand up ahead. She ran over and dug it out, then held it up for Jess to see. "Is this what you were talking about?"
"Yep. Now, put the opening up against your ear and listen."
The younger woman did as instructed, listening intently to the amplified sound. As she listened, her eyes grew very wide. "It sounds like waves crashing." She cast a questioning gaze. "But the waves here are too small to make that sound."
She's adorable. A very wide grin appeared. "It's amazing, huh?"
"Yeah." Robin was completely fascinated by the discovery. "I think we should bring this back with us. Would you mind if I gathered up a few other shells, too?"
"Nope. Let me help you find some really nice ones." As they scoured the beach for intact shells, Jess decided that it was really quite fun just to spend a carefree day together with no worries other than finding the perfect seashells. Fun. She mulled that thought around in her mind. Robin makes everything fun. It was something Jess hadn't even realized she was missing until Robin came into her life. She smiled to herself in true amazement. Whether it was Christmas trees or ice cream, grocery shopping or picnics, fishing or hunting for seashells, everything about life with Robin was fun. Absolutely amazing.
In a relatively short while, they had succeeded in gathering up a healthy assortment of varied and colorful seashells. Upon determining that they had collected enough, they used the bottom portions of their over-sized t-shirts to haul them back to their picnic area. The day was nearing its end, and after a leisurely stroll along the shoreline to watch the seagulls dip and circle the waves, Robin and Jess decided to head back to their beach blanket and sit and watch the sun slowly set into the sea. They both donned their sweatshirts to ward off the chill from the early evening's sea breeze, then sat together to await the day's main event.
After smoothing out the beach blanket, Jess positioned herself directly behind Robin's smaller form and snuggled in closely. "You doing okay?"
"Perfect." The younger woman nestled back against Jess's chest as long legs enveloped her in a cocoon of warmth. "This is really nice."
Long arms wrapped around the petite waist from behind. "Yes, it is." The older woman rested her chin on Robin's shoulder, then felt smaller hands come to rest directly on top of her own. "It's going to be a pretty sunset. I can already see the red sky."
Robin sighed in contentment. This was the perfect moment. Why can't everything be this simple? She looked back over her shoulder. "Thank you."
Jess cast a quizzical look. "You're welcome, but for what?"
"For everything you are and everything you do."
It was, indeed the perfect moment, Jess decided, as she smiled back at Robin. She closed her eyes and reveled in the warmth of simply being together. And it was good. Really, really good. It was exactly the moment she felt she'd been waiting for, it seemed, all her life.
Green eyes focused steadily on the horizon and admired the beauty over the sea in all its quiet majesty. As Robin sat and gazed at the orange, mauve and hints of purple painting the early evening sky, she felt a warm hand gently lift one of her fingers and slowly place something upon it. She swallowed hard and then looked down, now seeing the beautiful diamond solitaire ring gracing her left hand. Her heart sped up.
"I love you, my sweet Robin." Jess's low alto voice spoke softly into a nearby ear. "I want you to know that you're the best thing that's ever happened to me. You've brought so much happiness into my life." She hesitated for a brief second, then continued. "I know I'm not the easiest person to get along with, but if you'll let me, sweetheart, I'd like to spend the rest of my life with you, loving you." Her voice became raspy with emotion as she spoke her heartfelt appeal. "I commit myself and my love to you forever. I commit my mind, my heart, my body, and my soul to you, to take care of you, to cherish you, and to love you as long as we live, and beyond." She took a breath. "If you'll let me."
Robin took a moment to steady herself, trying desperately to calm her racing heart. She slowly turned to face Jess, her watery eyes glistening as she lifted a hand to reverently cup the older woman's cheek. "Yes." It was barely a whisper, and all she could get out before the tears spilled out onto her face.
"Sweetheart." Long fingers gently wiped away the fallen tears, then grasped the smaller hand and kissed the knuckles tenderly. "I love you so much."
Robin swallowed again, finally regaining her composure, then shifted slightly and reached for her bag lying nearby on the beach blanket. After a brief moment, she returned to her previous position and once again faced Jess, her voice soft, yet sincere. "I love you, Jess, very much." She held the older woman's left hand and slowly and deliberately slid a diamond cluster ring onto her finger, then voiced her own considerable appeal. "I want to be with you forever. I commit my mind, my heart, my body, and my soul to you, to take care of you, to cherish you, and to love you as long as we live, and beyond." Green eyes locked fervently onto blue. "If you'll let me."
Jess heard herself gasp. She truly hadn't expected a ring from Robin in return, and the fact that it now rested upon her finger was something she was still trying to comprehend. Suddenly, tears of her own welled up in her eyes, then fell onto her cheeks. "Yes." She gathered Robin tightly in her arms as they clung to each other in an embrace that seemed as though they couldn't get close enough. "Yes, sweetheart."
After a long while, Robin pulled back and rested her forehead against the older woman's. "I knew it all along."
The smaller woman closed her eyes, taking in the entirety of the moment. "That we're meant to be together." She smiled, then shifted herself back around to face the setting sun, grasping Jess's hands in the process and replacing them around her waist. "It's setting now. Let's watch."
For her part, Jess simply held Robin close to her, again resting her chin on the younger woman's shoulder. The sun slowly dipped below the horizon, creating a myriad of dazzling colors in the western sky. We're meant to be together. No one's ever going to keep us apart. Finally, once the sun had all but disappeared, and the sky had darkened its hue, Jess laid gently back against the beach blanket, bringing Robin alongside her.
It was absolutely magical and something more intense than either of them could ever have imagined. They belonged, not just together, but also to each other, joined and bound in every imaginable way. They laid side by side, staring silently into each other's eyes, carrying on a complete conversation entirely without words. Neither knew how long they stayed that way, but dusk finally settled upon them as the twilight slowly turned into the darkness of night. Wary of breaking the spell, they quietly gathered up their beach and picnic items and walked directly to the car, loading it silently and heading back in the direction from which they had come. If anyone had been watching, that person would have no doubt seen that neither woman lost physical contact with the other during the entire length of the two hour drive home.
Upon arriving at the house, the intensity of the evening hadn't diminished or waned, but instead increased in strength, as the significance of their mutual commitment flooded their senses and filled their hearts. The fact of the matter was, they couldn't get close enough to each other, and any separation, no matter how brief, was almost painful in wake of the perceived loss. They spent the remainder of that evening whispering quiet words of love to each other and declaring once again their undying and unyielding commitment. Robin, at one time, likened the sensation to their merging together, and for all intents and purposes, that's exactly what it was.
It was very welcome, very intense and very, very good.
The soft light from several candles strategically spaced throughout the living room, along with the gentle flickering flames of the fire in the fireplace, cast an ethereal glow upon the two figures as they lay entwined on the plush sofa. Soft jazz music emanated from the stereo in the far corner of the room, providing a relaxing ambiance to bring to a close their magical, and yes, mystical weekend. It was almost difficult to imagine that the weekend had ended the way it did, considering what had come perilously close to happening just days before.
Jess kissed Robin's blonde hair and held her close. "How are you?"
"Good." A petite finger drew tiny circles on Jess's cotton shirt sleeve, then trailed down and lingered on the soft fabric covering her stomach. "I don't want this weekend to end."
The older woman smiled. "Me either." She looked directly into green eyes. "But we do need to talk about some things."
Robin cast her eyes downward. "I know."
Jess really didn't want to spoil the mood, but they'd been avoiding the subject all weekend long, and understandably so considering their deepening relationship, but the matter simply couldn't wait any longer. The fact was, they now had to focus their minds on reality and deal with the issues that confronted them. While they had been at the beach, Robin's father had called and left a message on their answering machine indicating that he'd be in town Monday evening and asking to see Robin. Jess sighed inwardly, then cautiously broached the topic. "Have you decided if you're going to see your father?"
It took a moment for Robin to respond, her emotions warring between hurt and anger at his betrayal. Finally, she lifted herself up on one arm and brought her free hand up to stroke Jess's cheek. "Yes. I will see him, but he'll have to come here if he has anything to say to me." Her jaw clenched reflexively, the fine muscles twitching slightly. "I can't forgive him. He hurt you, and by hurting you, he also hurt me."
"I'm sorry." Blue eyes closed in regret, sensing the pain Robin felt.
She's not responsible. The smaller woman's voice was very soft and very gentle. "You know, you always do that." She brushed a finger across Jess's lips. "You always take the blame upon yourself."
"I just don't like to see you hurting." It was the absolute truth, but there was also something else about the situation that seemed to cut very deep. Jess thought about that for a long moment, then suddenly it became clear. What Robin was feeling, and what Jess knew was causing the deepest pain, was the betrayal, something the older woman was intimately familiar with. "I know what it's like to hurt like that, and I wish I could take the pain away, but I can't."
The blonde head merely nodded. "What my father did to you is unacceptable to me, and I'm going to tell him that. If he follows through with his threats, I'll make it clear to him that I will never, ever see him again."
The taller woman let out a heavy sigh. "I don't want to come between you and your family." That fact bothered her more than she let on.
"Jess, no matter what happens, you're my family now." A small thumb lightly brushed across the ring she'd placed on Jess's finger. "He'll have to accept that."
Long arms gathered Robin to her and settled the smaller body at eye level. "You are very, very brave, yourself, do you know that?" Jess watched the play of flickering light dance across Robin's fair features. "You'd risk your family for me."
"Because I love you." Robin leaned in and placed a soft kiss on Jess's lips. "Because we're meant to be together." She gave Jess another loving kiss. "Because you're my family now." Her lips met those in front of her own, bestowing another more lingering kiss, before settling her head back against the plush sofa cushion.
"Sweetheart .." Jess hesitated, resting her gaze on the ring on Robin's finger. "There's something else we need to talk about." She wasn't sure how to bring up the subject, and she wasn't quite sure how it would be received. "When we talk with Harry, we're going to have to see how he wants to handle the situation."
Perplexed green eyes followed Jess's gaze. "What do you mean?"
"Because of the uncertainty with respect to your father's intentions, and the delicate nature of the situation, I think it's very likely that Harry will want to keep this entire matter confidential." Jess never took her eyes from the ring. "Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Entire matter. Robin considered that phrase. Confidential. Sea green eyes fluttered closed in understanding. In fact, she understood all too well what Jess was saying. "We can't wear them."
It was a cruel irony, Jess realized, for them both to have taken such a step toward deepening their relationship only to have that step secreted away by perpetuating the existing deception. It was also not lost on Jess that it was extremely unfair of her to have given Robin the ring in the first place, only to realize later that it would be ill-advised to wear it. Damn it, Jess. You screwed up. Her remorse now became very intense. "I apologize to you, Robin. I didn't think this through. It was unfair of me." Suddenly, her eyes welled up. "I wanted so much to show you that I was committed to you, that I knew you were right that we're meant to be together. I didn't " She couldn't finish her sentence.
"Honey, shhh. I understand." Robin hugged Jess close to her. "It means so much to me to know that you love me enough to make that commitment." A petite finger wiped a bit of moisture from the older woman's eye. "You know that I feel the same way about you. You know that, right?"
"Yes." The dark head nodded solemnly. "I know."
"That's all that matters then."
Jess was quiet for a moment, then continued. "Um ..Robin, there's something else." Might as well get it all out in the open. "My guess is that Harry will take some action against me for putting the firm in this situation."
The smaller woman blinked, processing that information, then spoke very slowly and very somberly. "Will you have to resign?"
"I don't know. I might be able to convince Harry that I should take a leave of absence until this matter is resolved, or at least until we know what your father intends to do."
Robin closed her eyes, her own remorse beginning to take hold. "I feel like I'm hurting you." The blonde head fell forward onto Jess's shoulder. "I feel like I brought this on."
A long finger reached beneath the younger woman's chin, tilting it upward. "Robin, honey, listen to me. We both want to be together. We both assume certain risks so that we can do that." Jess knew it was a long-shot, but nevertheless, she tried to ease Robin's mind with the best possible outcome. "It could still work out okay. I've known Harry for a long time. He's a fair man."
Robin nodded, understanding exactly what Jess was trying to do, then glanced at the ring on her finger for a long moment. "It's all right if we wear them at home, right?"
That brought a gentle smile. "Yes, sweetheart. It's all right if we wear them at home."
The music in the background served to soothe and comfort them, allowing the anxiety of the moment to drift away on the harmonic notes of the light jazz melody. Robin nestled her body further between the sofa cushions and her larger companion, tucking her head underneath the strong jaw. She felt the loving touch of the long, slender fingers as they brushed the side of her face and combed through her short, blonde hair. And all at once, everything seemed to be all right. They were together, and they had each other. Whatever was yet to happen, that fact would forever remain true.
"I have a question for you." The low voice finally spoke again, a lighter quality coming through in its tone. "I was just curious about something."
Pale eyebrows furrowed slightly. "Okay. What?"
"At the beach, you had the ring with you. Did you always carry it wherever you went?"
"Um .." A small smile twitched at the corner of Robin's mouth. "I have a confession to make about that."
A broad grin appeared. "Spill it, kiddo."
"Well, it's like this. When I suggested that we go watch the sunset, I was kind of thinking that, if the timing was right, I'd give it to you then. That's why I brought it with me."
"Yes." Robin shift herself up even with Jess, her green eyes now twinkling. "But somebody, who shall remain nameless but who is also very hopeless, beat me to it."
"Is that so?" The older woman placed a tender kiss on Robin's sweet lips.
"Yes. That means, of course, that you have effectively earned enough points to make up for the ones I, sadly, had to deduct from you because of your frisky self waking me up."
Jess was thoroughly enchanted. "I thought I assured you, Robin, that you most definitely have not seen frisky."
The smaller woman gave Jess a very sly wink, then whispered into a conveniently placed ear. "Neither have you."
That caught Jess's attention. Oh boy. The tables had effectively been turned. "Why Robin! You .." She was quickly silenced by a petite hand covering her mouth.
"Shhh." There was an unmistakable gleam in Robin's eyes. "You talk too much." She then slowly and very deliberately bestowed dozens of gentle and loving kisses over every inch of the older woman's beautiful face.
Jess, as usual, melted in the wake of the soft contact. It was amazing. It was as if Robin knew her better than she knew herself, and knew exactly what she needed in advance of the turmoil that lay ahead.
Finally, the blonde woman looked up and gazed into magnificent blue eyes, a question now presenting itself in her mind, but curiously difficult to voice. She wrestled with herself in an attempt to find the right phrasing for what she wanted to ask, then leaned in closer and softly whispered her gentle plea. "Jess, will you let me take care of your heart forever?"
Cerulean eyes fixed on sea green as Jess considered the question. Hadn't they made their commitments clear? Then, what was it Robin was really asking? The older woman thought some more about that, until finally it registered with an absolute and complete certainty. Robin's question was a reaffirmation. It was declaration by Robin of her willingness to endure whatever lay ahead, and asking Jess in return to once again declare her commitment to do the same. Jess's answer was simple, but held more meaning than its simplicity revealed. "Yes." She brought her left hand up and stroked Robin's face, then grasped a smaller hand and entwined their fingers together, both rings now prominently displayed in front of each of them. "Yes." Jess repeated the commitment and gave Robin a heartfelt kiss, followed by several more, and several more after that, to reinforce her solemn vow.
It has been said that adversity makes one stronger. In Thomas Wilson's attempt to destroy Jess and Robin's relationship, what he didn't count on was the fact that his efforts would instead serve only to strengthen their bond that much further.
Poetic irony? Perhaps. Whatever it was, it surely was sweet.
To Be Continued ..
© Copyright 04/04/2001