Disclaimers : See Part 1

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Part 4 of Loose Change Series - The Addy and Karen series.
(01) Turning on a Dime
(02) New Quarters
(03) One Little Bit
(04) Joint Venture

 

Joint Venture

By

K-Morgan

kmorgan.5674@yahoo.com

(Feedback is appreciated)


Part 2

The following day, Addy was thrilled to have a regular day, at least as regular as any of Addy's days could be. As she was driving Alex home from school she reflected on the face-off she had with Elizabeth 's mother at the school playground some time ago. Since then, there had been no more incidents. Life had gone back to normal and there was peace. Addy felt good about having confronted Elizabeth 's mother. She was outraged that an adult had vented her prejudice on a child. If Elizabeth's mother had anything against lesbians, she should deal with it or perhaps talk it out with whoever she had the problem with, but to tell a child not to play with her friends because her parents were lesbians was plain wrong, and she would not allow it.

Whether Elizabeth 's mother spoke or not with the principal was never known. Elizabeth remained at the school and Addy and Karen noticed a change in demeanor in her mother. Maybe the principal had straightened things out. After all, Addy and Karen were well-known in Altee and were very well thought of in the community. Since the lesbian subject never came up again, Alex had no more questions about it.

All through pre-school and kindergarten, Alex enjoyed going to school and playing with her friends at school. After school, she was always involved with her karate and other activities and that took most of her time.

“Mommy, I asked Elizabeth if she wanted to come to my house to play and she zaid that her mom zaid no because of what goez on in our houze. What goez on in our house, M'Addy? What did she mean, M'Addy?”

Addy felt a sudden rush of blood to her face. It was anger. That woman! That awful woman! Again, poisoning the hearts of the young. What right did she have to judge others? Who did she think she was?

“I don't know, sweetie. Elizabeth 's mother has her own way of thinking and nothing will change that.”

“I don't like Elizabeth 's mother. She looks at me funny.”

Addy almost agreed with her, but refrain from saying anything thinking that since Alex was a child, she might say it forward. Then she looked abruptly at Alex, in a somewhat concerned way. “Funny in what way?” Addy was wondering if the woman had been mean to Alex. If that was the case, she was going to have a piece of her sooner rather than later. A chunk of her!

Alex shrugged. “Zhe never smilez. Zhe haz a mean face.”

“Alex, has she been mean to you?”

Alex nodded. “No.”

“Alex, promise me something.”

“What, M'Addy?”

“That you will tell me about any time Elizabeth 's mother looks at you funny, or talks to you, or if she's ever mean to you.”

“Okay, but why?” Alex asked.

“Because you are my daughter, and I care about what people say to you, or if they are mean to you, or if they look at you in a funny way. That is why!”

Alex shrugged again. “Okay, but zhe iz very weird.”

Addy felt a sudden sadness come over her. She realized that Alex, through no fault of her own, would always have to deal with people who would always be judgmental about her parent's lifestyle. She tried to cheer herself up thinking that, on the other hand, Alex was a very fortunate child because she had parents who adored her and who provided a loving environment for her development. Nevertheless, she wondered whether that would be enough in the future. As Alex grew up, she would be more aware of people's prejudices and she wondered how Alex would be affected and react. Why was the world so unfair? Why would Alex have to live under such circumstances? Laurie and Joey didn't have to! Why should she? The uncertainty was unsettling and she drove home troubled by her thoughts.

The minute Alex got out of the car she ran inside the house looking for Peanut Crunchy. She then ran with him upstairs to change and then came down to eat her snack. This was always the same routine. There was just enough time for her to eat something and play with Peanut before, either Karen or Addy, took her to her karate class.

When Karen saw Addy she immediately detected that something was wrong. Addy was a very emotional person and she had trouble not showing her feelings. Besides, they never needed much explanation to know when something was wrong with the other, they just knew. Sometimes they didn't even have to be together to know something was wrong, they could just feel it.

“What's wrong?”

“We'll talk later. It's nothing that can be fixed.”

Karen stood in front of her, looked her in the eyes and studied her face. Her examination confirmed that it was not an urgent matter. “Okay. I'll be back in an hour and we can talk.

Karen and Alex left and Addy made some tea and sat by the window looking at the early blossoms in her garden. She was mad and she felt her eyes filled with tears as the anger inside her grew. She thought of her adorable, darling child and her heart ached. “A lot of love! That's what goes on in this house. Good love! The kind people search for all their lives and most never find. That bitch! I bet she fights all the time with her husband, or she hates him or maybe even has an affair going on! Bitch! Picking on my innocent child!”

When Alex and Karen came back, Addy had already calmed down some and was fixing dinner in the kitchen. “M'Addy I kicked butt today! We got to spar and I got this kid who was bigger, and I did this and this,” Alex was showing Addy the karate moves, “and then I won! I won! I woooon!” She was running all around the room with Peanut Crunchy barking behind her.

Addy smiled and then looked at Karen who was also smiling, but looking at her with a concerned look.

“So, love, what happened to you earlier?” Karen came closer and brushed Addy's arm with her hand.

Alex took off for the family room with Peanut Crunchy.

Addy told Karen about Alex's question, while Karen opened a bottle of Merlot and poured the wine into two glasses and took out a cheese block from the refrigerator.

“And you are upset because?”

“What do you mean because?! Because that bitch is—.”

“Addy we knew all along this was going to happen. At least I did. I don't know about you because sometimes you live in a world of your own creation. Which I love to be a part of because it's wonderful but, baby, it is not the real world!” She came close and ran the back of her hand down Addy's cheek. “The real world is dam hard. It's critical and judgmental and Alex is going to have to deal with all that crap. I told you how things are. You lived in a different world when you were raising Laurie and Joey. But this kind of thing was my every day shitty world growing up. And why? Because I'm a lesbian.”

“It's not fair! You are better than most people. You are unique and wonderful and—.”

Karen embraced her. “It's how it is. There are a lot of people out there who cannot accept that some people dance to a different tune. It's how it is. I grew up in that environment and, although it is tough, I did well. Alex will do well also. She's a strong, confident kid. We are going to raise her to be a strong person, remember? Wasn't it you who said that? Plus she has two loving parents giving her all the support in the world.”

Addy pouted. “Yes. But it's not right.”

“No it's not and we must teach that to her, so that she does not grow up to be like those people, nor any of her children for that matter. And that will be our contribution to the world.”

Karen hugged her, as the little one reappeared.

“Is dinner ready? I'm hungry, M'Addy.”

Addy knelt on the floor in front of her and hugged the little one. Alex smiled and looked at Karen wondering what the hug was about. Karen shrugged and smiled. Alex gave up wondering and hugged her mom back. It just occurred to her that a hug was a hug and she loved Addy's hugs. “I like your hugz M'Addy. You are warm and zmell good.”

Karen grinned.

“I love you little girl! Don't you ever forget that!”

**

The summer after kindergarten, right before they left on vacation, Karen decided to cut her hair. Alex was the first one to spot her when she got out of the car. She went out to meet her and came back waltzing in, pulling Karen by the hand. “M'Addy, M'Addy! Look Mommy Karen cut her hair!” Karen's hair forever had been shoulder-length, this new cut was more of a page cut, still long, but a lot shorter.

Addy quietly looked up and immediately smiled. It was hard not to look at her.

“Doezn't she look beautiful, M'Addy? Do you like it?” Alex, still at five, talked pronouncing the ‘S' like a ‘Z'. The matter had been a subject of innumerable conversations between the women. Karen was convinced that there was a problem and that they should consult a speech therapist. Addy was of the opinion that it would eventually fade, but to calm Karen down she agreed to give it one more year and if ‘the problem' persisted then she agreed to take Alex to a speech therapist. Karen was not too happy, but at least, it was a compromise. “I don't want to hear her giving her Valedictorian speech in the ‘Z' tone!” Addy rolled her eyes and laughed.

Still staring at Addy, Karen spoke. “Alex, I think Mommy Addy likes it.” Addy had the goofiest grin and was still hypnotized looking at her. When she realized that Alex was looking for a response from her, she finally spoke. “Yes. I like it Alex. I was going to wait until later to tell Mommy Karen how beautiful she looks with her new haircut—.” Addy gave her a very seductive look. “But I totally agree with you. She looks absolutely gorgeous.” Alex was jumping around very happy about her pretty mom and about the fact that the other pretty mom approved and was happy about it. She always enjoyed the love she saw between the women when they looked at each other.

Addy continued to grin still looking at Karen. Karen came closer. Her eyes were searching Addy's face. “I guess you do like it, huh?” She was devouring Addy with her eyes. Addy knew this was a tease, a way to provoke her. Karen knew perfectly well the effect her eyes had on her and she used them to her advantage. Addy loved the teasing. She smiled. “Very much.” She bit her lower lip. She also had her tricks and knew well how to provoke Karen. Karen looked at her lips and grinned.

“Why did you cut it?”

“I thought it looked kind of dead and dry and you always say short is so much easier.” Then she felt worried that maybe Addy was not as happy as she pretended to be because she had done it without telling her. “If you don't like it, it will grow back soon and I won't cut it again.”

“I like it. I like it either way.” She put her hands around Karen's neck and whispered in her ear. “You are gorgeous no matter what.” She kissed her on the neck and Karen shivered.

Alex saw them and grinned. She loved to see her moms happy and kissing, but when there was a lot of smooching, she'd make a face, nod her head and run off. Being the little tornado that she was, she ran by them nodding and still smiling. “Peanut Crunchy needs to peepee. I need to hurry! When are we having dinner? I'm hungry.”

Looking at Karen still, Addy replied. “You can tell she's your child! Always hungry.” Then she addressed Alex. “We'll have dinner soon. We need to go to bed early tonight….we need to get up early tomorrow for our trip.” Then she came closer to Karen and whispered so that only she could hear “…and I need some time to tell my blondie how beautiful she looks with her new look. By the way, you didn't happen to get a Brazilian also, did you?”

Karen burst out a chuckle and spoke sarcastically. “Honey, There is no way I would put myself through that, so if you want blondie with a Brazilian look, you are going to take matters into your own hands!”

Addy smiled mischievously. “Good. I don't like the idea of anyone messing with my blondie, not even for a haircut. But the idea of me doing it sounds tempting.”

“You are not serious, right? You are not going to put me through that, are you?” Karen was worried now and she followed Addy around the kitchen expecting an answer.

Addy stopped and seemed pensive, then laughed. “You know, I've never seen one of those, so if I wanted to see one, I guess you'd have to be the one, or –.”

Karen pulled her closer and smiled. “No, no, no! There is no ‘or' when it comes to this matter! If you want to see one, it's going to have to be on me.”

Addy smiled wickedly. “So, you'd let me do it?”

“Honey, I had a baby for you, a Brazilian would be a piece of cake!”

Addy remained pensive and gave her an adoring smile. It was true. Karen would go through whatever for her. Karen still looked worried since Addy remained so thoughtful. She was really wondering whether Addy was serious or just kidding. Addy was a box of surprises. After so many years, Karen still couldn't believe that a woman, who had doubts as to her sexuality and had never been with any other woman but her, had turned out to be the greatest lover she'd ever had. It was only her ultimate luck in life that the woman she ended up with, and who she adored, was the hottest thing on earth in the sack.

“Be at ease, blondie. I'm not about to ruin a perfect thing. I like it just the way it is.”

Karen smiled breathing a sigh of relief. “Thank God! Sometimes with you I don't know what to expect.”

Addy was in the kitchen preparing dinner and Karen was helping out here and there. She chuckled. “Look out. I may change my mind.” Karen came close, breathed on Addy's ear, kissed it and took her ear lobe in her lips and sucked it. “Let's hurry that dinner. Blondie's gone wild. She might even let you go through with the Brazilian if that's what it takes to get attention.” Karen placed her hands inside Addy's pants and massaged her buttocks. She always liked to do that, claiming that there was plenty to grab.

“Don't worry blondie, you'll get your attention, there's no need to get Brazil involved. Plus, if you don't get your hands out of my pants there might not be any dinner, and by the way, may I remind you that our daughter is in the next room?”

Karen smiled and kissed her. “Hurry that dinner, then.”

It was Addy's turn to read a story to Alex that night. Alex loved to read and Addy made the stories so animated, she never wanted her mom to stop. That night Alex insisted on a second story, and then the ritual proceeded with the prayer in Spanish to the guardian angel, the goodnight kiss and finally Addy tucking her in.

“M'Addy?”

“Yes, baby, what is it?”

“Don't forget you zaid you were going to tell Mommy Karen how pretty she lookz with her new hair cut!”

Addy smiled. “I haven't forgotten, sweetie, I will make sure to tell her, don't you worry. Good night, baby.” Addy kissed her again.

Karen had not forgotten either. In fact, she was quietly waiting for her in bed with the lights out. “What took you so long?” Only the dim light from the nightlight in the bathroom was on.

“Sssh! I had a request for a second story.” She spoke as she went into the bathroom.

“You are spoiling that child. Putting her to sleep takes longer every night.”

“I can't help it. I have a thing for blondes. Don't get jealous now!”

As Addy approached the bed from the bathroom, she could almost sense the expectant green eyes waiting for her. She was also craving Karen's touch. Addy took her t-shirt off while she was standing in front of the bed. She had already removed her underwear in the bathroom.

“Showoff!”

Addy smiled. “Just for you.”

Karen felt her heart pounding when the gorgeous brunette took her time to ease herself onto her. She engulfed Addy in her arms and whispered in her ear. “I don't get jealous. I know I have the real thing.”

Addy already knew that Karen was way ahead of her from the tone of her voice. She straddle Karen's thigh and began her subtle caressing and touches. “Merciful God! Thank you for all your blessings!” Karen's hands caressed Addy's back and buttocks while Addy snuggled and placed small kisses all over her neck.

Addy chuckled. “And for those you are about to receive.”

“Addy!”

Much later that night, a very exhausted and barely audible Karen whispered. “I love how you love me.” Karen's eyes misted.

Addy grinned as she combed back the golden strands of Karen's sweaty hair. “I love to see you like this, all sweaty and exhausted from my love.”

Karen smiled shyly, burying her face in the crook of Addy's shoulder.

“Sleep now.” They kissed, and held each other tenderly. Then there was silence. The silence of comfort, of happiness, of perfection.

**

The next morning, Addy woke up first and got up to go to the bathroom. Karen was sprawled on the bed belly down. When she came out of the bathroom, Addy stopped to admire the beauty on her bed. She chuckled. There were clear teeth marks on one of her buttocks. I'm going to pay for that! Addy left the room and went down stairs. It was early even for the little one who was usually an early riser.

It was normally Karen who woke up first, but whenever Addy beat her to it, Karen would come down immediately after claiming that she missed Addy's warmth. Alex had already come down when she heard the usual Saturday breakfast noises in the kitchen. She was in the family room watching cartoons and drinking her juice box waiting for Addy to make pancakes.

Because Karen was taking her time to come down, Addy got worried and went upstairs to check on her. When Addy came in the room, she found Karen sitting on the side of the bed and quickly pulling the flat bed sheet around her. The fitted sheet was pulled out of the mattress, the comforter was half hanging on the floor and some of the pillows were on the floor and others piled up in a corner of the bed. All evident remnants of the previous night's activities.

“Rough night?”

Karen grinned and pulled her down to kiss and hug her. “How about you? Was your date good?”

Addy gave her the bad-girl look. “My dates are always good. What's with the Roman costume?”

Karen chuckled. “I thought it was Alex coming in.” Alex had already caught them in awkward situations and they were always prepared to cover up.

Karen snuggled to her very sensually.

Addy smiled. “I came to check on you. Are you okay?”

“Yes, I'm fine.”

Addy pulled from the embrace and kissed her while patting her leg. “Come on get up, we can't do this now. Alex is waiting for her pancakes.” She started to get up to go.

Karen pouted. “Addy, I think I passed out last night.”

“Are you serious? Am I that good?” She raised her eyebrow in her usual sexy way.

Karen stood up and grinned putting her arms around her neck. “You have no idea how good you are, but I need you to know that if I were to die at that very moment, I would die the happiest of women!”

“Ker! Don't scare me! I'll ask Tiffany if such a thing can happen and if it's normal.” Addy tried to straighten the bed up a bit.

Karen was standing in the middle of the room with the flat sheet wrapped around her, still thinking that Alex could show up. “You've got to be kidding, right? You are not going to ask Tiffany, are you? You can't be serious!”

Addy looked at her. “I will not have you die in my arms, even if it's of happiness.”

“Oh God!” Karen chuckled sarcastically. “Why do I even speak in this house anymore? Anything I say is made into a huge deal!”

“I don't know, but passing out when making love is a huge deal! And it may even be a health issue.” Addy waved her off. “Don't complain for being extremely loved, woman! Go on, get dressed, make the bed and come downstairs.”

As she was leaving, she pulled out Karen's wrapped-around sheet leaving her very naked in the middle of the room. She smiled satisfied with her mischief. “Remember, you can't die for a very long time. I'm not done with you yet.” She winked before she left. Karen felt the pang in her stomach and that known feeling between her legs. “Maniac!” Karen said in a joking menacing voice.

Addy laughed as she left. “Hurry, we are making Mickey Mouse pancakes.” She yelled from the staircase.

When Karen came down, Addy grinned when she saw Karen's smiley face. Alex was already eating her pancakes.

“I put fresh sheets on the bed since I had to do the whole thing and I'm doing laundry also.” Karen said.

“Thanks, babe. Here are your Mickey's.”

“Look, Mommy, I ate an ear off already!” Alex had her mouthful.

“He looks kind of funny with only one ear, doesn't he?” Karen asked.

Alex looked at her pancake. “Yez. I'm going to eat the other one now.”

“Little girl, we don't talk with our mouth full. Chew and then talk.”

Alex nodded.

Karen then looked at Addy and grinned twisting her mouth.

“What?”

“Very funny.”

“What?”

Karen got up from her stool to get some coffee. She poured some for Addy also and whispered in her ear. “My butt tattoo.”

Addy grinned and had to turn to hide her face. She didn't want Alex asking what she was smiling about. Karen had apparently seen the teeth marks on her butt.

“You will pay for it tonight, you know?” Karen whispered in her ear again.

Addy grinned defiantly. “Name your price.” She bit her lip and held Karen's gaze.

Karen tried to hold her gaze, but couldn't. She had to look somewhere else to distract herself. Addy smiled still looking at Karen as she went back and sat on the kitchen stool next to Alex. Karen sat and looked at the Mickey Mouse pancakes, still smiling.

Alex caught her smiling and thought it was because she liked the pancake. “He lookz funny with one ear, doezn't he, Mommy?

“Yes, he does.” She agreed, as she raised her eyes to meet the ones still lovingly looking at her.

**

That summer they spent a weeks in Disney World. They rented a huge villa and Laurie and Joey joined them there with their kids, and the family had a fantastic vacation. After that, they went to Culebra for the rest of the summer. Alex already knew how to swim because she had been taking lessons for several years, so now she was into snorkeling, fishing and kayaking.

Every year, in the island, they contacted Captain Domingo to take them out on his sailboat. They had a small catamaran to do close shore sailing, but they didn't go out far because they weren't familiar with the water currents or the winds around there. So, when they wanted to go far, to nearby islands, they contacted the captain who often brought his granddaughter who was just about Alex's age. Over the years, they became familiar with the water and wind currents and ended up going out on their own. They never went too far, though. There were plenty of nearby keys to explore and the beaches and the snorkeling was good anywhere around there. The times spent on the island were precious to all and definitely enjoyed thoroughly.

**

Upon coming back, the women were talking in the kitchen very animated about the Marshall/Carol/Mary situation when Alex appeared in the kitchen. She had been in the rec room watching TV. “M'Addy, do you remember when we uzed to ride our bikez?”

“Yes, sweetie. We haven't done it in a long time. Have we?” Alex was referring to the times when both women rode their bicycles in the evenings, and Alex rode in the baby seat attached to Karen's bike. Sometimes they made it as far as the town to buy ice cream, or cookies. Alex loved the adventures and in addition she loved the wild life found on the trail. She'd call the animals her ‘pets'. There were always bunnies, deer or the baby birds.

“M'Addy can I have a bike for me? And can we ride and look for all the pets?”

Karen's face immediately became serious. She looked as if she was having trouble breathing, and looked at Addy with huge panicky eyes. Whenever she didn't know how to handle something with Alex, she' immediately looked to Addy for answers.

Addy smiled. "Sure pumpkin pie. Well get you one with training wheels and when you know how to ride it well, we'll all go and ride on the path. How's that?”

Alex was jumping up and down in pure excitement. “When are we going to get it?”  

With the excitement, neither Alex nor Addy had seen Karen's face. When Alex saw her mom's face of distress, she became very serious realizing that that her mom did not share her excitement. She knew from past experience that this was not a good sign.

Addy noticed the change in Alex's face and immediately looked at Karen.

Karen has not said a word yet, but she did when Addy looked at her.  “Aren't bicycles dangerous?”

Both Alex an Addy looked at each other with the same unbelieving face. Alex rolled her eyes.

“Mommy!” Alex looked sad and disappointed. She knew that the moms had to be in agreement or else nothing would happen. That's how it always was. She was about to speak her mind when Addy stopped her.

“Alex why don't you let me talk to Mommy Karen?  She winked at Alex and Alex immediately got the message and smiled.  They had done this before.  Alex knew about Karen's protective and security issues, but she also knew that Addy had a way to soften her up and convince her to accept things.

“Okay.”  Alex went to the rec room to play, hoping that Addy would work a miracle once again.

As Alex left, Karen immediately ran around the kitchen island to get closer and stood in front of Addy. She spoke in a worried, upset kind of tone, but whisper-like, so as not to be heard by Alex in the next room. Addy was already prepared for the onslaught. It was always the same.

“Are you out of your mind?  What are you thinking? She can fall! She can hurt herself! Or worst yet….she can break something again! I don't want to see myself in that hospital again!  Have you forgotten when she broke her arm? My heart nearly stopped that day when they called me from school! I was a nervous wreck.  I still remember my hands shaking. I don't think I ever shook like I did that day! I cannot take anything like that again! What if she falls and hits her head! Oh God! No. I refuse to!”

Addy remained quiet looking at the floor and biting her upper lip to control her grin.  When Karen was finished with her ranting and all the nonsense, Addy asked her usual question. “Are you done?”

Karen pursed her lips. She was also familiar with the question. As always, she had no answer and knew that she was about to get a full response. Her silence prompted Addy's response. “So, are you proposing that we lock her in her room, and never let her come out, so that we can keep her safe?”

“Addy, you are not being fair! You know that's not what I mean!”

“Ker, this is going to be the same as when she snorkels or kayaks with us.”

“But when she does all those things, she is with us, in a controlled environment and that only happens when we are on vacation, and we can both be with her all the time.”

“And it will be the same with the bicycle. Or what are you thinking? That she's going to be riding the bike to town on her own? She's five, for God's sake! She will be riding with us in the evenings. She's not going to be allowed to be on her own! Ker, she learned to swim. Now we don't have to worry that she will drown if she falls in a pool. There are things that children have to learn to do, and they have to do it as part of growing up! It's part of being a child! It's called having a childhood!”

Karen listened pursing her lips. She knew Addy was right. Addy was always right. It was just her usual fears and she knew it. Addy also understood where Karen was coming from. Karen lost her mother suddenly when she was young and found herself alone for a long time. She told Addy that she had never been afraid of things happening because she felt she had nothing to lose, but now things were different because she had the world to lose and on top of it all there was that hideous family of hers, lurking over their lives. Addy totally understood Karen's position, but she was also resolved that Alex would have a normal life. And it was up to her to mediate and make sure that she did.

“Look baby, she's for us to enjoy and protect, but we are making a person here. She should learn all she can and have all sorts of good experiences in her life.  We are raising her for the world, Ker, not just for us. We need to prepare her to be her own self. One day she will be a woman and we are going to need to feel that she can handle herself in the world!”

“I know, Addy. It's just that—.”

“I know, baby, I have fears too. But we cannot let our fears deprive us from living, or allow others to live!  The more she learns, the better prepared she will be to face life and the world. Plus a bit of biking in the evenings will do us well too.” She tapped her belly.

Addy bent her head and smiled a bit.  Karen looked at the sweet, loving, smiley face in front of her.  “How come you always convince me?”

Addy grinned and gasped. "Have you forgotten?"

“What?”

“That I have you wrapped around my finger?"

Karen sat in the kitchen stool and pulled her over between her legs.  "You do realize that most people wouldn't take that statement as a compliment, right?"  Karen was serious when she spoke.

Addy smiled and spoke softly looking into the depth of the green eyes she adored. "Yesss, but you are not like most people. And for that, I more than love you. I adore you, and you me." Addy brought her face to Karen's and kissed her under the ear then she leaned her forehead against Karen's, and pressed her body to hers.

“Addy!” Karen paused, and kissed her on the cheek. Then she repeated her name in a lower tone, and ran her lips down Addy's face to end with a kiss her under her chin. “Addy!” Addy leaned her head sideways in pleasure and Karen proceeded with her kisses down her neck. She leaned her head forward into Karen, as Karen continued to kiss her. “Addy!" With every mention of her name Karen's voice became deeper and deeper until it was barely audible and it became almost a gasp.

In their trance, their faces brushed against each other's. Addy looked for the bewitching green eyes that fed her spirit, but they were closed. When Karen's eyelids opened, her eyes weren't there. They were floating on another dimension. Addy loved to see Karen like that. Lost, vulnerable and transported tot that special place where only she could take her. She loved to see her sensuality, elegance, and grace exposed and then beauty of her passion when she came back from her high to devour her with her love.

Addy inebriated her senses in an irrational way. It was not metaphor when she'd say she was a woman possessed. She really thought Addy drew from her the essence of her soul. Addy's words, scent and touch filled her. Karen had no defenses with her. This was Karen in the raw. The vulnerable, tender, extremely sensual, erotic woman who gave it all to the one she loved. This was her Karen, and she adored her.

She rubbed her face to Addy's chest, and later slowly rubbed her face up her neck, taking in her scent with every breath, and placing what seemed like a million tiny kisses along the way until she finally reached the soft lips eagerly waiting for her.

Moments like that were intense and precious. Neither could ever explain how they came to that state of abandonment of self, but it was an amazingly overwhelming feeling that neither could ever understand, or control. They were one, in body and soul.

When they pulled apart from the kiss, Addy ran her thumbs under Karen's eyes to dry her tears and then combed back her hair.

“Gorgeous, save some for later. I want you bad."

Karen gasped and smiled. “Let's go to bed now.”

“We can't. The Little Bit, remember? She's in the next room?”

Karen chuckled and buried her face on Addy's chest. She had even forgotten about her own daughter!

It was then that Karen's phone rang and interrupted the moment. Addy chuckled and looked at it.  "It's JP. You better take it. Let's make a date for later. I'm going to go see our little Viking.” Addy often called Alex the little Viking because of the color of her hair. Addy thought that maybe Alex did have Viking ancestry since the sperm donor was from Sweden . Also, Karen's side of the family on her father's side had northern ancestry which also explained Karen's blonde hair.

Karen smiled and kissed her one more time before she took the call. "Hi, JP. What's with you?"

Addy went to the rec room to meet Alex.

Huge green eyes looked at her in wonderment and expectation from the other side of the couch. “Did she zay yez?  Addy sat on the sofa next to her and gave her a big smile. Alex, who was also sitting on the sofa, jumped on Addy's lap and hung herself from Addy's neck. "Thank you, M'Addy, thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you Mommy!" A million kisses followed.

Karen was on the phone with JP, and smiled when she saw the scene playing out in the rec room. It was one she had seen many times before in other similar circumstances, and one that would be repeated many times through their lives.  She loved how the two interacted. They were too much alike.

“Did you have to kizz her?” Alex asked.  Karen was astonished with the question and stopped paying attention to JP on the phone to listen to the conversation in the rec room.

"Yes. A lot!"

Alex smiled, nodded and rolled her eyes. Addy smiled also. The power of love! Live and learn little girl!

 

“She lovez you a lot.”

“Yes, Little Bit, and I love her too.”

Karen lost track of the conversation with JP.

“Karen? Are you there?”

“Yes, yes, JP. Sorry, what were you saying?”

**

On Friday night, they drove to Edinburgh to buy new bicycles for everyone. When they came back from the store, it was too late to ride the bicycles, but that didn't stop Alex from sitting on her bike the rest of the night pretending to ride it as they watched TV. Addy loved to see Alex so happy sitting on her bike.

Karen rolled her eyes and nodded when she came into the rec room and saw Alex sitting on the bike. “Crazy kid!” Both Alex and Addy smiled.

**

The lessons on bike riding began the next morning out on the driveway. Alex's bike had training wheels and Alex had her helmet on. Karen suggested that she wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt so that if she fell she would not hurt herself. Alex was so eager to get out and ride her bike that she didn't object to her wardrobe even though it was pretty warm outside.

Karen also bought knee and elbow pads for her. Addy smiled and leaned on the fence and watched as Karen suited Alex for the ride. As with any five year old, Alex was anxious to start riding but Karen seemed to be taking her time to make sure all was right. Alex kept looking at Addy who was giving her all sorts of reassuring looks. Alex probably thought that since Addy was looking at all that was going on she agreed that all of it was necessary. While Karen checked the tire pressure and the whether the training wheels were properly installed at the shop, Alex came over all excited to hug Addy a couple of times.

Addy crouched to check her. “Are you okay, Little Bit? You look a little flushed in there.” Addy checked her helmet, as Alex nodded. Then she kissed her daughter.

“There you go, baby girl! You are all set now.” Karen proclaimed satisfied with all the details of Alex's safe ride.

“Mommy, do I have to wear all these things? I've seen kids riding their bikez and they only wear a helmet. Why do I have to wear these thingz on my kneez and armz?”

“Protection, Alex. If you fall, you won't hurt yourself. We need to be safe. Come on, let's go.”

Alex started pedaling and Karen walked next to her. Karen did not take her eyes of the little one. Addy chuckled at the sight. They were incredibly cute. Every now and then the pair would stop and Karen would crouch to adjust the pads or the helmet. They stopped several times. Actually, they stopped a lot. On the way back, when she was almost near the cottage, Addy watched as she saw Alex got off the bicycle take off her helmet and throw and it on the ground, then she took off her knee and elbow pads and handled them the same manner. She then stormed walking up the driveway towards Addy and the cottage.

Addy saw the whole incident from the distance. She crossed her hands and brought them up under her chin as if in prayer, knowing that there had been some sort of problem. In the distance she could see the furious little one approach and she could hear Karen yelling and picking up Alex's gear from the ground. “And if you don't wear them you are not riding and that's that young lady!”

Alex marched up the driveway in fury while Karen still in the distance was pulling the bicycle and carrying all the gear. A very furious Alex stood in front of Addy.

“I don't want to ride my bike ever again!” Alex was making all sorts of gestures with her hands. She was also drenched in sweat.

“Why Little Bit, what's wrong?”

“It'z too hot! And I don't want to wear all that ztuff! It'z hot and I can't move and I'm going to fall because I can't move! It'z too uncomfortable! Pleeeease, M'Addy can you kiss her some more and tell Mommy I don't want to wear that ztuff?”

Addy pursed her lips and gave her a sympathetic smile. Alex was fuming, all red and sweaty. Then she pouted and started to cry. She hugged Addy who had crouched on the floor to loosen up her shirt and pants. “Aaww, baby, don't cry. Come here let me take that shirt off. Let's go to the house and get you freshened up.”

Karen was arriving at that precise moment. She looked mad. Addy looked at her expecting the discharge. “She doesn't want to wear protective gear and she's not riding unless she does!” Karen continued toward s the house pulling the bike and carrying all the gear.

Addy pursed her lips, but said nothing. Then she took Alex inside and upstairs. Mother and daughter were much alike when it came to stubbornness.

“Why? Why, can't I be like all the other kidz and juzt wear a helmet? Why, M'Addy, Why? I don't want to wear that other zruff!” She was mad and still crying.

“Baby, don't cry. Let me talk to Mommy Karen. Let me see what I can do, okay? But you have to understand Mommy Karen also. She loves you and doesn't want you getting hurt. She still hasn't forgotten when you broke your arm.”

“M'Addy! That waz when I was four! I'm five now! Other kidz don't wear that ztuff! They only wear their helmets.”

“Okay, but you have to wear the helmet, there's no negotiation there. I'll see what I can do about the long sleeves and the long pants and the pads, okay?”

Alex nodded. “Come on. Don't cry anymore. Want a bubble bath?” A bubble bath proposal from Addy always seemed to take all sorrows away. Addy brought all her bathtub toys and sat on the floor next to the bathtub to watch her daughter play with her toys.

**

Later that night, after Alex went to sleep, the women were still downstairs and they spoke about the events of the day. “Addy, before you start . . . I don't want to talk about the bicycle thing again. I'm still upset. I know will end up doing whatever you decide, so do whatever you want. You always get your way, so let's just save ourselves the talk.”

Addy didn't say a word for a long time. But she had not liked the way Karen talked about the matter. She understood that Karen was upset because she agreed to the bicycle deal and now she saw that her terms were at risk of being tampered and felt trapped in a situation she wanted to avoid in the first place. However, she also didn't like Karen's new laissez-faire attitude. Addy just waited, she knew that Karen had to get it all out.

Karen continued to talk. “I know I'm an idiot, but I can't help it. I'm sorry.” She was heading for the bedroom, but Addy stopped her at the foot of the staircase.

“You are not an idiot. You are a parent. You just have to understand that she has to have her scars, Ker. It's part of growing up.”

Karen pursed her lips and looked at Addy shyly.

“I need to tell you about the power of a band aid. Do you know that a band aid can actually work a miracle? I think I need to explain that to you.”

Karen pursed her lips and half smiled at Addy's attempt to lighten the mood. They made their way upstairs. “Yeah, yeah! I'd much prefer if you start explaining the miracle kisses. Alex apparently thinks your kisses perform miracles on me.”

Addy was the one smiling now. “Is there a problem with that?”

“No.” Karen had a contrite look. Karen tried to soften things up kissing her on the cheek.

“I think the real miracle is that no matter how stubborn you are, I can't help myself from kissing you.”

Karen smiled and leaned her forehead to Addy's. “Ms. Addy, don't give me the run around. You always manipulate me.”

“I think I'm insulted.” Now it was Addy who started to climb up the stairs.

Karen followed. “Why? In any event I'm the one who should be insulted! I'm the one being manipulated!”

They entered their room and Karen proceeded to remove the covers off the bed as if nothing was happening, but noticed that Addy sat quietly on the sofa in the sitting area of the bedroom. Karen came over and sat on the ottoman across from her. “Addy, what is it? I didn't mean to insult you. I'm sorry, if I did. I don't mind that you manipulate me. I don't care.”

Addy looked at her, but remained silent. Karen could never cope with Addy being mad at her and she was ready to throw herself on the floor and beg for forgiveness, if necessary.

“Addy—.” Karen looked worried.

Addy quickly realized that the situation was ridiculous and tried to make amends. “Ker, I'm not manipulating you. I'm just trying to mediate and find ways to deal with the little Viking who appears to think she can control both of us.”

“I know. And you are right about me. I'm over protective and I have to learn to let her fall and lick her wounds. It's just that it's hard. And I also think she controls us already.” She half smiled again.

“Okay, this is how it's going to play out.” Karen listened patiently as Addy laid down the rule. “She's wearing the helmet, but nothing else. If she falls and hurts her knees or elbows, she'll cry, we'll kiss her and patch her up. How's that?”

Karen rolled her eyes. “Addyyy!!! And when she starts dating, are you going to tell her to use a condom or are you going to let her ride without protection also?”

Addy smiled and pouted. “Neither. I'm going to sit down and tell her what could happen if she decides to have sex and if she decides not to use a condom. It will be up to her to decide what she is going to do.”

“You seem to have all the answers Ms. Addy.”

“No, but I will try to have all the questions, so that she can provide the answers.”

Karen nodded. “What am I going to do with you?”

Addy smiled. “I do have an answer for that one.”

“Let me guess?”

Before Addy fell asleep that night, spent in Karen's arms, she had some final words.

“You are a good guesser, Ms. Larsen and you do have all the right answers . . . for me, at least.”

Karen kissed on her forehead. “Good night.” When she got no answer she looked down to find Addy full asleep in her arms. She chuckled and kissed her. “I love you, manipulator.”

**

And so, it happened. Alex learned to ride her bike with the training wheels first, then with one wheel and finally with no training wheels. In the many trials she scraped her knees and elbows more than once. Karen always had a first aid kit with her. The routine was always the same. Alex cried, Addy gave comfort and Karen ran for the first aid kit and patched her up. She'd apply the first aid among her many lamentations. “We shouldn't have taken this path!” or “we should have stopped sooner, you are too tired,” or “if you had worn the pads!” or “how many times have I said not to go so fast!” Addy would then attempt to put an end to the litany. “Ker!” Karen would then give Addy the look and continue to administer her first aid.

**

Karen was always looking out for any possible thing or situation that could put Alex in danger in order to prevent it, or avoid it. One morning, When Alex already knew how to ride without her training wheels the three of them were out on the path. Every time they embarked on a bike ride, Karen would always call for God's blessing and protection.

“Here we go again! God help us!”

Addy chuckled.

It was a cool fresh fall morning and the day was beautiful. They were all having a great time, as was always the case. Once Karen forgot about all her preoccupations she actually began to enjoy herself. All of a sudden, out of the woods jumped a deer chased by a couple of small dogs. When Karen saw the animals running she panicked because she thought they would cross Alex's path and make her fall. So she began to yell out to Alex to look out for the deer and the dogs. In her worry about Alex, she failed to see the deer crossing right in front of her and she crashed into it. When Alex and Addy looked back at the screaming Karen, they turned around and jumped off their bikes to help her.

“Mommy, Mommy!”

“Oh my God! Babe, are you okay? Are you hurt?” Addy checked her all over and saw that she had blood on the palm of her hands and one elbow and one knee. Addy ran and got her water bottle and the first aid kit. She put some water over the bloody skin to rinse the dirt off, but hardly knew what else to do. Karen grimaced in pain. “Sorry, baby.”

“I'm okay. Just hurting like shit!”

Alex opened her eyes huge upon hearing the expletive.

“Oh! Sorry!” She managed to say in the midst of her pain.

Karen was on her butt after having landed on her hands, elbow and one knee on the pavement.

“Mommy you are bleeding!”

“I'm fine. It's just a little blood.” She was trying to regain her composure, but her pulse was still fast.

Addy was trying to clean the scrapes but there were too many and the conditions were not optimal. The dirt and gravel from the road was encrusted in the bleeding flesh and Addy didn't think she would be able to clean the scrapes as things were.

“Oh, baby! Can you get up?” Addy was kneeling on the ground holding her.

“Yeah, just give me a minute. That darn deer scared me to death! Where did it come from?” Karen leaned against Addy's chest for comfort and closed her eyes trying to calm down.

Karen's rhetorical question, nevertheless received an answer. “From the bushes Mommy.”

“I know sweetie. I guess I didn't see it.” Karen grimaced.

“Addy, help me up.”

“No, let me call Marshal she can come and get us on the pick-up truck.”

“Addy, I don't want the whole town knowing about this! We are not far I can walk back.”

Addy was already dialing. “Marshal—.”

Karen leaned against Addy again and rolled her eyes. Alex spoke. “Mommy, you can't walk like this. We have to call Ms. Marshal and take you to the doctor.”

Karen looked at Alex and then to Addy in horror because she already knew the next move.

“Dr. Naylor?—.”

Karen closed her eyes and gave up. These two appeared to be one and the same. She closed her eyes and decided to let them deal with her.

Marshal was there in five minutes. She loaded the bikes to the bed of the truck as Addy helped Karen and Alex into the cab of the truck.

“Marshal, please take us to Dr. Naylor's. He's waiting for us at the clinic.”

In Marshall 's truck Karen continued to complain. “I don't need to go to Dr. Naylor. I'm fine!”

“Hush woman! You took me when I fell from the horse. Why is this any different?”

“You fell from a horze?” Alex asked in amazement.

“Yes, Alex. It was a long time ago and Mommy Karen took me to Dr. Naylor and I was fine and Mommy Karen will be fine now.”

Alex looked at Karen. “Does it hurt, Mommy?” Alex had a worried look on her little face and didn't know what to do to comfort her mom.

“A little bit sweetie. Don't worry, I'll be fine.” She was actually holding back tears for Alex's sake. She didn't want to scare Alex more than she already was. But Karen was in pain and Addy knew it. When they got to the clinic, Dr. Naylor was already there waiting.

“Alex you stay right here with Ms. Marshal.”

They went inside Dr. Naylor's examining room and he took care of all the scrapes and took a few x-rays. Karen was in so much pain that she buried her face in Addy's shoulder so that the doctor wouldn't see her cry.

“All is fine. Nothing's broken, just scraped here and there and there will be some bruising. You are going to be hurting for a few days from the fall, and we are going to need to change the bandages and apply the antibiotic ointment on the scrapes for a couple of days. Go home and rest, and no more biking for now! I'll give you a prescription for pain.” The minute Dr. Naylor left the room, Karen pouted and began to cry like a little girl.

“Aw! Baby!” Addy hugged her and Karen buried her face into Addy's arms. After she had a good cry, Addy gave her some tissue and kissed her. Then she helped her out.

When they came out, Alex immediately jumped from her seat. Marshall was reading a book to her. “Mommy! Are you okay? Doz it hurt?”

“I'm okay, baby, and I feel much better now. I just need to go home and rest.” She was in excruciating pain, but wanted to ease Alex's worries.

Marshal took them home. “Thanks Marshal. Can you do me another favor? Please, don't tell anyone. You know how things are around here. I don't want to spend the night on the phone talking to people asking about Karen. And you know Ms. Grouchy here is not going to be happy.”

Marshal chuckled. “No problem, Addy. I'll put the bikes away in the garage and lock the garage door. I won't call, but if you need anything, please—.”

“I will Marshal. Thanks, you have already been a great help.”

Karen also thanked her.

Once inside the house, Karen was going to sit on the sofa, but Addy didn't let her. “Upstairs, Ms. Larsen. Straight to the bedroom.”

“Are you in trouble Mommy Karen?”

Karen chuckled. “I don't think so, Alex. Why do you ask that?”

“M'Addy zaid to go to your room.”

Karen chuckled again, still in pain. “I think Mommy Addy wants me to rest.”

“Come on, come on! I have the ice pack right here.”

Going up the stairs was a killer. It went slow. When Karen sat on the bed she hurt all over. “Uuugh!!! I'm not going down those stairs for nothing!”

“Good, because I want you in bed resting.”

Alex looked at Karen then at Addy, she had a worried look on her face. “M'Addy, I think she'z hurting, maybe we should take her to the hozpital.”

Karen looked at her and tried to smile.

“No, Alex. There's no need to go to the hospital. Dr. Naylor already checked her. And yes, Mommy is hurting because she fell from her bike and that hurts, but she will be fine with rest. We need to make sure she is comfortable and has everything she needs.”

Alex seemed to relax with Addy's explanation. “Mommy, do you want ize cream?”

Karen smiled. “No sweetie. I just want to rest for a little bit now.”

“Maybe you should wear knee pads next time we bike.”

Addy bit her lip and turned her face to hide her grin.

Karen looked at her lovely daughter and smiled. “Maybe I will get some . . . for all of us!”

Alex was not too happy with that response. Addy had piled up a bunch of pillows on the bed and gave her the ice pack for her back and some ibuprofen. “Alex, let's take Peanut Crunchy out to the patio and I'll make some dinner and let Mommy Karen rest for a little bit. Get the leash.”

Alex jumped from the bed to do as she was told.

“I'll come and check on you when we finish walking the dog. We'll take him out to the patio only. I'll be right back.” Karen nodded and they left.

After dinner, Alex went to her room to read and play. Addy went upstairs to check on Karen. Karen appeared to be asleep. Addy came close and feeling her presence, Karen opened her eyes. Addy sat on the bed and combed Karen's hair back. Karen's eyes closed again in comfort.

“Stay with me. I hurt all over.” She pouted. Karen was a big baby when she was in pain.

Addy smiled. “Let me put Alex to bed and I'll be right back.”

A little while later, Addy was back in the bedroom. Of course, before going to sleep Alex came to say good night. “Are you going to be okay? Do you want me to zleep with you, Mommy, and take care of you?”

“Thank you, baby. I will be fine. I'll let you know if I need anything. Give me a kiss and go on to bed.”

She did. She left for her room followed by Addy. Addy tucked her in and kissed her good night. “Ummm! You are so soft and smell so good!” Alex smiled, pleased with the compliment. Alex always thought that smelling good was always very important in their house. “Good night, baby girl. I love you.”

“Good night, M'Addy, I love you thiz big.” She opened her arms as wide as she could.

“Awww!” Addy came back and hugged her again.

“Iz Mommy Karen going to be okay tomorrow?”

“Alex, I think she's going to be hurting for a while. She hit the ground hard.” Addy opened her eyes huge making Alex smile.

“Hey, don't mention the knee pads anymore, okay? We don't want to be wearing them next time we bike, do we?”

Alex opened her green eyes big and chuckled. “No, Pleeease!” She chuckled some as Addy tickled her.

“Good night, baby girl.” She kissed her daughter again and as she was getting ready to leave Alex spoke again. “I'll put lotz of pillowz around her tomorrow zo she can be comfortable.”

“Alright! We'll do just that. We are going to take good care of her tomorrow. To sleep now, okay?”

“Okay.”

Back in their room, Addy helped Karen out of her clothes, gave her more pain pills and another ice pack.

“Can you turn around a little bit so that I can accommodate the ice pack?”

“Hardly. I'm still hurting, Addy. I don't know how I did not see the fucking deer! It was so stupid!”

Addy chuckled at the use of the expletive which always sounded so cute to her in Karen's Scottish accent. “You were worried about Alex and not paying attention. Here, let me hold the ice pack.”

“Is it bruised?” She was referring to her right hip and buttock, where she had actually landed.

“Let me see.” Addy lifted her t-shirt on the side. “Remember my purple butt?”

“Oh no! Don't tell me it's like that?”

“Okay, I won't tell you. Do you remember what you did?”

Karen smiled. “Yes. I kissed your booboo.”

Addy smiled and placed gentle kisses on her hip and buttock, then she laid beside her still holding the ice pack while placing gentle kisses on Karen's back.

“I hurt all over, Addy.”

“I know, baby, I know.”

“I'm glad you are always there to pick up all my pieces.”

“Always, Ker, always.”

**

To be continued in Part 3.

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