Disclaimers: Here we are again to continue the saga of Jac and Kara. 10….9…..8…7 the count down begins. We are nearing the end and I for one will miss hanging around these ladies. Hope you will too. .Once again all the characters and situations depicted are products of my fevered brain and I don't share. Any resemblance to any one living or dead is purely coincidental. June 2006 ©.

Love and sex: OHHH so close.

Violence: Never.

Acknowledgments: To my incredible betas thank you once again. To my readers, thanks for hanging in there with me, I promise it will all be worth the wait.

I love visitors, so please come and see me at: kaysladyj@hotmail.com or ladyjsalsbury@aol.com. You can also find me hangout at TheRisingPhoenix-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. You're welcome to join us.


Business Trip
Part 12A
Lady J



            It was not surprising to anyone that I spent the morning dozing on and off. I did join in the conversations when I was awake, but other than that I didn't move much once I had lain on the couch. Hell, why would I? My head was nestled comfortably on my favorite squishy pillow and Jac rubbing my feet and calves. It doesn't get much better than that.

I was happy, truly happy and that was very rare for me. Not to say I spent my days being a morose mess, but this type of contentment doesn't come around every day, so I. Didn't want to miss a moment. But no matter how hard I tried to stay awake I would invariably drift off.

However there was one bonus to falling asleep and that was waking up to see Jac and Patty chatting amiably. Whenever I opened my eyes that wondrous sight made me feel safe, warm, and most definitely loved.

Seeing Jac especially made me feel absolutely marvelous. I mean, let's face it, for the last 36 hours or so I haven't been at my most attractive. I wouldn't have blamed Jac for taking the first flight back to California and never looking back. But, here she was, chewing the fat genially with my best friend while absently stroking my legs and feet. As I watched Jac, an overwhelming sense of belonging descended upon me. Jac belonged in this house. She always had. Not that I didn't love Tim because I did. But what was developing between Jac and me was very different in so many ways. What we had was so all encompassing it was at the point of being overpowering. On some levels it frightened me, ok on a lot of levels it was utterly terrifying, though at no time did I ever doubt that Jac and I belonged together. She belonged here at my side or me at hers. Whichever as long as we were together.

The only serpent in my paradise, and you knew there had to be one, was that each time my eyelids would flutter open after a short nap those two were speaking in hushed tones about something. You would think I would be happy that my best friend and the woman I hoped to spend the rest of my life with were getting chummy wouldn't you? And actually, I was very happy that Patty and Jac seemed to be getting along so well. But I was still raw and way off balance so seeing these two with their heads conspiratorially together all the time unnerved me.

I wanted to know what was going on so I figured why not use the direct approach. I would just ask what they were whispering about. Did it work? Pffftttt! Of course not. Patty explained that they were just talking about nothing in particular and since I was sleeping they kept the volume down so their conversation wouldn't disturb me. Jac even patted my feet in an -it's ok you just go back to sleep baby- kind of way that was infuriatingly condescending.

Talking about nothing in particular my ass. I wasn't born yesterday. I thought.

They were up to something I could feel it, but whatever they were plotting would be kept a well guarded secret.

Humph, I guess I'll have to slip in the back door. Time for some plotting of my own. Maybe if I close my eyes and pretend to fall asleep again they will start to flap their gums loud enough for me to hear. Did that plan work? Of course not. Oh well, nice try no cigar.

            When you are unconscious time certainly flies. Before I knew what was happening Ashley arrived home from school. She bounded in and gave me a big hug and kiss. "Momma, should I go and get my things ready for tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow?" I asked. What about tomorrow? I thought.

"Yes, Ashley, why don't you go ahead and do that," Patty answered the child. She clapped her little hands together excitedly before she skipped happily off to her room.

What did I miss?

            "Home all safe and sound." Marilyn blew into the room that Ashley had just vacated. Patty placed her hand to the side of her face so Marilyn couldn't see her roll her eyes. I thought I saw Jac's lip draw up into an Elvis snarl.

Everything about Marilyn was lager than life. Her southern accent as well as her vibrant personality filled every inch of the room we were in. From her perfectly quaffed hair, to her freshly pedicured toes, she was a perfect example of a beautiful southern belle. Her slender body was always swathed in the latest in designer couture. Scarlet O'Hara had nothing on this Georgia born daddy's girl. The similarities between Scarlet and Marilyn didn't stop with just outward appearances, Marilyn was every bit as stubborn and willful if not more so than the southern icon she emulated. She never takes no for an answer.

"Are you feeling better suga?" The tall woman seductively sauntered over to where I was lying. She pressed a cool hand to my forehead. I thought I heard someone growling from Jac and Patty's direction. I could feel Jac shift under my legs. Her body language had changed dramatically when Marilyn touched me.

            "Yes, I feel much better, thank you. Oh, and thanks for taking care of Ash last night. I really appreciate it."

            "It was my pleasure darlin'. I'm just sorry you were not feelin so well yesterday." Marilyn tilted her head slightly to the right obviously considering my face. "You're still a little pale, darlin', you sure you're ok?"

            I smiled up at the willowy brunette. "Yes, I'm fine I promise." I couldn't keep the smile from my face.

"Good. Well, Ashley was a delight, but then she always is. You know I've never had a lick of trouble with that beautiful little girl of yours. So don't you ever hesitate to call me if you need someone to tend to little Ashley. We single moms have to stick together."

"I suppose you're right." I just couldn't keep that nervous grin from lighting up my features. After all Marilyn is very attractive. "You know you can always count on me for anything you need Lyn." The moment those words left my mouth I had made a huge blunder. Patty took a double take and Jac noticeably frowned. I had only intended to say she could count on me for babysitting, but that's definitely not how it came out. Welcome to Malapropism 101.

"Really." Marilyn rasped huskily. Marilyn bowed at the waist, her mouth pouty and her intention clear. She was going to try to kiss me right there in front of Jac. Reflexively I frantically flayed my arms and legs so I could push my body up into a sitting position as quickly as possible there by avoiding Marilyn's advance. I prayed I didn't kick Jac in the process of abruptly changing my position. "Ha..Ha..Have you met Ms. Drakkon?"

I had not idea with those few words I had fired the first shot in a war that was about to unfold before my very eyes.

"Yes, I have had the pleasure." she sneered in a most ungenteel way. "Yesterday as a matter of fact when Ms. Drakkon informed me you were not well enough to receive callers." She extended to her full height before she turned to look pointedly at Jac. There was a tattle tale gloat to the inflection of her words. The looming brunette searched Jac's angular features for any sign remorse for the actions she had taken the day before. But Jac simply stared blankly back at the southern belle.

When it became painfully apparent that Jac wasn't going to give Marilyn any type of reaction she continued, "I had dropped by to pick up a few things for Ash. I didn't realize I would have the sheer joy of your company again, Ms. Drakkon." Translated, why the hell are you still here?

"It's wonderful to see you again too," Jackie replied icily. Translated, why don't you get the hell out of here you shameless hussy?

I pushed off with my feet again to try to distance myself as much as possible from this fray. Patty on the on the other hand leaned in so she wouldn't miss a word or gesture that passed between these two strong women. That's Patty for you, she loved a good fight even one as subdued as this one.

Marilyn was unmoved by Jac's forbidding posture. "It's so nice that you could extend your visit to enjoy the wonderful weather we've been having. By the way, when was it you said you were heading home?" Marilyn said. Battle lines were being drawn and the artillery being aimed. General Marilyn was comfortable with her position.

"I don't believe I mentioned when we would leaving," Jackie replied. Those words froze the air in the room instantly. I felt the temperature around me plummet drastically within seconds. Every exhaled breath seemed to create a puff of fog. I shivered and pulled the thin blanket more tightly around me. The Dragon Lady was slowly emerging, cold and calculating. Marilyn had no idea how out of her depth she was.

Marilyn stared at Jac who contemptuously glowered right back. Neither was going to give an inch of ground they thought they owned. The atmosphere between the two women was statically charged. Even without my mitt I knew there was a battle going between Marilyn and Jac for my affections. The mere thought of this completely stunned me. I mean I had never had anyone fight over me, much less have two beautiful women who were now lobbing icy barbs at one another.

I don't have to tell you how much my ego was being stroked at this point. Hey, I know I'm no Helen, and wouldn't be launching a dingy much less a thousand ships, but war had been declared and to my amazement I was actually the prize. How trippy is that?

Ok, I know I should have felt like a slab of meat, and perhaps I would've had it been a couple of men. Hey, don't laugh it could happen, I'm not completely lacking in allure for the opposite sex. But since it was two women in this struggle I felt like a treasure instead of simply a trophy. Unknown to Jac, though, was that she'd had already won the war, no need to worry about the small skirmishes. All that was left undone was to have Marilyn raise the white flag and surrender. Did I believe that would happen, not a chance?

"But we will be making our departure Sunday." Jac had pulled back, giving Marilyn the information she had been obviously searching for. Pull back, not a retreat. Jac was going in for the kill. A feral smile twisted Marilyn's lips though the smile didn't reach her eyes. Marilyn was poised for her polar retort when Jackie spoke up again, "After we all go to Disney World on Saturday. Then we'll leave Sunday afternoon."

Direct hit. Marilyn was aghast, unsure where to file this new bit of unwelcome information. Her lips parted slightly I'm sure to fling another frosty barb at Jac but then just as quickly she seemed to rethink her position. She closed her mouth. I watched with fascination as Marilyn composed her features. In my head I could hear the sickening sound of metal on metal as Marilyn nearly stripped her tactical gears. She had lost this battle soundly and she knew it. Discretion being the better part of valor, Marilyn's posture slipped from aggressive to genial.

"Wayell," Marilyn paused, "isn't that just wonderful. I hear' it's going to be a beautiful day tomorrow. Y'all have a wonderful time." She looked down at her watch. "I better be on my way. Things to do you know. Good bye, Patty. Ms. Drakkon, always a pleasure. And as for you.." She lowered her voice an octave and placed her hand on the back of the couch and leaned over me in such a way that her lips were mere centimeters from their goal. Her eyes tried to lock with mine, but I shifted them to the only other place I could look, her generous cleavage. I'm human and the view was nice but then I wondered if had been her plan all along. Jac painfully squeezed my ankles with strong fingers. "…I'll see you later."

GULP. Was the only response I could manage.

            We all turned to watch Marilyn's subdued though some what defiant exit. She was smarting from her defeat and I knew the woman could feel our eyes on her, but she didn't look back, just slipped through the door and was gone. We slowly turned and stared at each other, words evading us while we digested that little drama that had just played out before us.

It was Patty who finally broke the awkward, not to mention unending, silence. "Was that last comment supposed to be a promise or a threat?" It took a moment before what she had said sunk into our dazed minds. We took one more look at each other before we all dissolved into fits of laughter.

Disney. That was what Ashley was talking about. I had forgotten all about it until Jac said that to Marilyn.

Patty had made arrangements for this excursion long before Jac had arrived in Florida. The trip had been the collaborative brain child of Bridgette and herself. Originally, everyone was just going to meet at the park, which I thought would work out just fine, but Patty had other ideas. But then she usually does.

She planned that everyone would come over here after work on Friday to celebrate the successful conclusion of the Jamestown Project as well as my promotion. Patty knew that I wouldn't turn down the promotions even if I didn't at the time. The guest list included Jac, Sherri, and little Joshua, Patty and her family and Tim and his partner John. So Patty arranged for everyone to come over to my place to have a BBQ. Now you may think my friend was being pretty forward by inviting everyone over to my house instead of to her own. But Patty knows me. She knew that after such a stressful few weeks nothing would help me decompress better than throwing a party. Nothing I liked better than to get a group of friends together to have a good time.

I was relieved that I had already done all the shopping for the party over a week ago, so I didn't have to worry about that at all. As a matter of fact I already had the steaks marinated and in the freezer. I had also done my signature potato salad earlier than I normally would have. Didn't know why I was doing it so early at the time, but now I can see that Fate or Chance or one of those lesser goddesses must have taken pity on me and put that bug in my ear for which I would be eternally grateful. So everything was ready and when Patty's hubby arrived with the pony keg the festivities would really begin.

Patty had also co-coordinated the hotel accommodations and even the tickets to the park. One thing I have to say for Patty, she doesn't miss a trick. Actually, I really appreciated her getting all of us together this way. I'm not fond of going to the parks, but with a big group it was usually much more fun. I didn't know Tim or John very well and I was looking forward to getting to know them better. After we had dinner we would all caravan over to the hotel at Disney. Once checked in and settled in our rooms we would crash so we could get an early start on the parks.

            It wasn't long after Marilyn's Antietam that the boys arrived. Mark gave a quick Hi to everyone assembled then he went straight to his room to pack I assumed.

Mark, ever the strong silent type, much like his dad had been. I wondered what went on in that brilliant mind of his. He tested just this side of genius and he certainly acted as quirky as one. He could be warm when he wanted to but mostly he was just, well, Mark. At dinner he wasn't one to go on and on about his day the way Jarrod and Ashley would. He had received many awards for science fairs and academia, but when I congratulated him with a hug or a promise of a dinner out wherever he wanted to go he would simply shrug and say, "Mom, it's no big deal so stop slobbering on me."

We would never be as close as Jarrod, Ashley and I were, but that seemed fine with him. It took me a while to be OK with that, but I did come to terms with it. Alright, I never did come to terms with it, I want him to be lovey and huggy and all that good stuff, but it's just not him. However I'm never going to love the little guy any less.

"How you feeling, Mom?" Jarrod came over and kissed me on the forehead.

"Better thanks," I answered. There was a strange glint in his eyes. "What?"

He smiled broadly, "You know," he paused, "whatever you put in your body eventually has to come out. In the case of alcohol, especially when used to excess, alcohol will act like electricity. The alcohol will follow the path of least resistance to release its energy. Now this release usually happens in the most explosive and humiliating manner possible. So if you get drunk be prepared for the consequences." He was having trouble keeping a straight face. "Next time drink more water."

"OHHHH!" I tried to swat his ass, but he avoided me agilely. He trotted from the room snickering all the way.

My eyes narrowed and looked at Patty and Jac who were busily trying to compose their features. I reclined on the sofa again and crossed my legs at the ankle. I looked at both women, "Well that's what you get for imparting maternal wisdom to my children. It comes back to bludgeon you about the head and neck."

Laughter rang out, again at my expense, but I couldn't help but laugh right along with everyone else. He got me, and he got me good. Two points for Jarrod.


            There was a BBQ to throw and that was just fine by me. Standing behind the counter of my squeaky clean kitchen thanks to Patty, I felt rejuvenated. I was in full blown ‘Hostess' mode and loved it. I was in my element which soothed me. I bustled about the kitchen. I chopped, sliced, and thawed anything I could get my hands on. I threw an obscene number of ears of corn in the largest pot I had and set them to boil.

By that time Charles and the kids, Sherri and Joshua, had arrived. To my surprise Charles went straight to Jackie and gave her one of his signature bear hugs. I could hear Jac groan from the pressure of the embrace though her smile remained bright.

            "Ms. Drakkon, you are the BOM," Charles addressed Jac once he had set the tall woman back on the floor. "Thanks for everything you did for Kar."

            "It was my pleasure I assure you." Jac tried to downplay her contribution to my vindication.

"No, seriously, Kar is like my baby sister, so I owe you big for watching out for her." When he spoke to Jac his voice filled with such earnest thankfulness I'm sure that it surprised the VP. The way he looked at her with such gentle gratitude brought a tear to all of our eyes.

Charles is a big bear of a man which contrasted with the petite Patty. Tall, thick, stocky in a muscular sort of way, with an unruly mop of red and gold hair perched on his head. He had striking blue eyes that twinkled vibrantly and a well trimmed beard and mustache. Put it all together and Chuck actually reminded one of Grizzly Adams. And like Grizzly he is also a sensitive man. I guess you would say he is fully in touch with his feminine side though Patty has informed me on more than one occasion that he is a man's man. These revelations had me running from whatever room we were in screaming, "Pats way WAY too much information!" This happened on more than one occasion just because Patty likes to make me squirm.

"Hey girl, you want me to start the grill?" The touching moment had past and the man's man returned.

I smiled. "Sure that would be great."

"Well hello, girlfriends." Tim's voice rang through the house. I looked up from the steak I was flogging to see Tim flamboyantly waving his arm. His partner John standing at his side. And I thought there was a dichademy between petite Patty and burly Charles. But Tim and John out did them by a country mile. Tim was slight while his partner was one solid mass of muscle.

I gasped when I studied Tim's mottled face. My eyes were immediately riveted on the multi-colored bruises as well as his black eye and cracked swollen lip. Seeing his perfect feature mutilated brought a new and painful clarity to the extremes all my friends had gone to on my behalf. That wave of emotion hit me so hard that, for a brief moment, I forgot to exhale. I ran over to where the slender man stood and threw my arms around his neck. My voice cracked, "I'm so sorry." The damage was even worse now that I was close up. As a blind person reading Braille, I softly ran my fingertips across his misshapen lip.

Tim hugged me firmly though he teased, "Girlfriend, you have just got to stop that before you wrinkle my new Prada shirt."

I chuckled into the shirt. I knew Tim would take a punch for me, but he would never forgive me for crinkling his new shirt. "But your face." I stepped back from his embrace in order to gaze at his face. He tilted his head back and laughed heartily. "Don't you be sorry about a thang. My parents will be so proud." He dabbed pretend tears from his eyes. "Besides I have wanted to kick that guy's ass for years. Just didn't know I could actually do it." He struck a muscle man pose. Everyone shared in a good laugh with him.

Patty herded all the kids and adults out back. I looked up from my sink where I was washing salad greens to see everyone fan out in the back yard. The kids ran out of the screen enclosure to play on the elaborate fort/jungle gym/swing set and sand pit.

My eyes were trained on Jac of course, who gracefully sat in a chair that Tim pulled out for her. He then pulled a chair out for Patty before he took a seat at the table. I watched Charles walk over to check the grill with John in his wake. Once he was satisfied it was ready for me to put the steaks on he gave me a big thumbs up. Then he threw an arm over John's shoulders and both men disappeared out the gate that connected the front yard from the back. Within moments Charles crashed through the wooden gate carrying two large bags of ice on his right shoulder. His left hand was wrapped around the handle of a large plastic trash can that would house the keg of beer. John followed close behind with the keg balanced easily on one shoulder. I actually took a double take when he came around the corner of the house and I thought I heard a collective sigh from the ladies –including Tim- outside. I was so stunned that my mouth even dropped open. Oh give me a break, you would have drooled too if you had seen an Adonis in your own back yard. The man looked like he just stepped off a Grecian urn, it didn't take a whole lot to figure out why Tim found his partner so, so-mmmmmm oh yeah-for lack of any other verbiage.

He was bare chested now, I suppose so he wouldn't damage the expensive tee-shirt he had been wearing. He handled the heavy metal cask as if it weighed nothing, the only sign of strain was an occasional flutter of his pecks. John was a tall, dark, and handsome, literally. Hell the guy was built like a brick shit house with well defined chest, arms, legs, and a six pack abdomen that were clearly visible since the only thing he had on was a pair of shorts. His deep dark eyes almost matched the black of his always immaculately styled hair. His tanned olive skin completed the GQ look. It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who was the top in this relationship. Damn Tim you are one lucky man.

Charles played bartender once the keg was set up while I puttered around my kitchen. I smiled to myself as I listened to the adults excited chattering and occasional peals of laughter. I placed the newly thawed marinated steaks on a platter and stepped onto the lanai. I put the steaks on the grill for a nice slow cook then sat in the vacant seat next to Jac. The taller woman took my hand without losing a beat of the conversation. With my peripheral vision I noted Tim looking from me and Jac to John and back again. He was squirming with excitement. Inwardly I cringed waiting for him to say something dramatic like, "Welcome sista," and come and give me and Jac a big ‘welcome to the gay side' hug. But then John surreptitiously pinched Tim's side and put my fears to rest.

I blew out a breath in relief. I wasn't quite ready to be welcomed publicly into the gay community. Yes, we were all family here. Patty and Charles didn't have a problem with the idea, neither did Sherri – I assumed she knew – and obviously neither Tim nor John would have any issues with us as a couple, but I was very nervous about the whole out thing. I really wasn't sure how my kids would handle it much less anyone else. Frankly I wasn't sure how Jac would have felt about such a declaration either, though evidently small public displays of affection didn't seem to bother her. I squeezed her hand. She turned to me, smiled, and winked.

"Anyone need a refill?" I asked those who weren't drinking beer. A chorus of yes resounded.

I was gathering everyone's glasses when Patty jumped up. "I'll help Kar."

"I don't think I need help with a couple of drinks." I said holding up Jac's and Sherri's glasses.

She ignored my comment and followed me inside.

I walked behind the bar and picked up several bottles and mixers I would need to fill my guest's orders. I looked up to see Patty grinning at me. "What?" I asked.

The vivacious blonde set her elbows on the top of the bar and placed her chin on her thin fingers that were knitted together like a hammock. "So holding hands now hmmmm?"

I rolled my eyes. "Is that what that grin is all about?"

"Yes. And the fact that you two look perfect together."

"AAKKK! Patty you are incorrigible." I half growled. I felt a little embarrassed, but wasn't sure why. Well, really, I guess I did know why. Jac was a woman and this was still new territory for me.

"Yes, I may be incorrigible but I'm also right. Kar, you are just glowing."

I turned to look in the designer mirror behind me. I tilted my head this way and that. Hmm, she was right, I was glowing but I wasn't going to let her yank my chain. "Hmm." I tilted my head in the opposite direction before turning to face my friend. "Must be the new make up, the first time I'm using it. I got it on sale at the Estee Lauder counter at Macy's…" Patty cut me off as I expected her to do. Now came the hard work of keeping a straight face.

"Kara!" Shock colored her features. She snorted. "You know it has nothing to do with what you put on your face." She paused. I was paying attention to the drink I was pouring so I wouldn't have to look directly at her, but the pause in her tirade was ominous. I could hear the wheels of her mind turning. "That is unless we are talking about Jackie, being on your face that is."

"PATTY!!" I was so stunned by the comment my grip on the bottle released sending the bottle of Jim plummeting to his death on the tile floor. With a resounding crash the bottle shattered at my sandal clad feet. Patty jumped at the sound.

"Everything ok in there?" Chuck called. I saw both he and Jac heading to the sliding glass door while Tim and Sherri craned their necks in an effort to see what had happened.

"Sorry, just being clumsy. Everything's ok," I called. This seemed to be enough of an explanation. I watched Jac and Chuck return to their seats. "You so did not say that to me." I half heartedly glowered as I leaned down to clean up the mess at my feet.

Patty was instantly at my side with a kitchen towel in one hand and a paper bag to dispose of the shards of glass in the other. "I had no idea that you were going to react that way," Patty whispered. A contrite expression took over her features as she placed piece after piece of glass into the bag. "It was just a joke, Kar."

"I know." I smirked. I could feel the warmth of a blush crawl up my face. I did know she was just joking around, just the thought of being physically with Jac scared the shit out of me. I mean, I hadn't been with a woman before, and fantasizing about making love and actually making love were two completely different things. What if I sucked at it? I mean, well Tim never complained, but hell men are easy right?

"Then what's the matter?"

"I don't know." I stood and offered a hand up to Patty.

"Yes you do so talk." Patty looked at my face. "Why are you blushing? Ohh, ohh, ohh. I think I know what's going on." An annoying grin lit her face.

I placed my hands on my hips. "Ok, almighty Kreskin. Tell me what is going on." I was about as ferocious as a Chihuahua with a head cold.

She turned us so that both of us would have our backs to the lanai. "Sex." I looked at her waiting for more. She rolled her eyes. "You and Jac? Making love? Bumping uglies? Horizontal hustle??"

"Yes I get it, but what about it?" I asked wanting to see where she was going with this train of thought.

"Have you, ummm." She wagged her light eyebrows up and down.


"But you want to right?"


"Then why the reaction when I talked about her sitting on your face?? They do that don't they?"

I had to chuckle at this inquiry. "I'm sure I wouldn't know. I just." I could feel another blush take over my face.

"Not sure what to do with a woman in the sack?" Patty asked more gently. I felt so embarrassed all I could do was nod in agreement. Patty laughed outright.

"Gee, thanks for the support." I was grabbing Sherri's drink when Patty grabbed my hand.

"I'm sorry honey, you are just so cute."

"Not really what I was going for." I mumbled.

Patty chuckled. "I know. Let's see if I can help. First, you are a woman right?"

Patty sometimes had strangest trails of logic I had ever encountered, but this one was starting odder than most. "Yes, I believe I am."

She gestured with her hands. "Hang on with me for a second ok?" I nodded again for her to continue. "Being a woman you know what you like in bed right?"

"Right?" I said tentatively.

"Well then there you go." She smiled proudly like she had just discovered the cure for the common flu.

I was exasperated. "There I go?? Where am I? Pats, it's been a long time since I uhh, well you know, with anyone much less a woman. I mean I've only ever been with Timmy, what if I suck at it?"

Patty started to giggle again, I bet because I said the word suck. "Ok, my point is that since you are a woman that gives you a leg up. You know what feels good, and what to do to make things that feel good feel amazing. You already know how to touch and more than that you know where to touch which is something most men don't have a clue about. And boy do you know how to kiss." I looked at her confused, but she didn't elaborate. "Trust me Kar, once you are together, alone with Jac, the woman you love, everything will fall into place. Honey, sex is like riding a bike. Once you learn how you never forget."

"Sigh. But I feel like I'm going from a trike to a ten speed," I lamented, still frightened of the prospect of being and not being with Jac. How's that for being decisive?

Patty kissed my cheek. "Just think, if you fall off the Jac, you won't get hurt." She chuckled grabbing a Jac's glass and headed out the sliding glass door. I sighed again, and passed through the sliding glass door after Patty, Sherri's drink still in my hand. She was right, I was probably making way too much out of this.

The moment I took my seat Jac reached for my hand, I hesitated before I took it. Her dark brows knitted momentarily. "Everything ok?" she asked quietly into my ear. I smiled and gave her hand a squeeze. Her face relaxed into an affable grin.

We conversed amiably with Charles throwing in his corny jokes every so often. Jarrod sat next to Sherri, of course. He animatedly spoke with the older girl, all his ‘cool' had seemed to have evaporated before the young woman's beauty. Sherri was very attentive to the love struck young man.

After awhile Charles and John retired to the grill area to talk cars, fishing, and sports while Tim gossiped gaily with us girls. As we chatted my eyes were trained on our children and grandchildren who played happily in the yard. I watched them secretly envying their innocence and unencumbered contentment. I wanted that back, but those days were long gone never to return.

I reflected on everything that had gone on for the last twenty-four hours. It was still so hard to believe that Russell hated me so much that he had not only devised such an elaborate plan to destroy me, but expended so much time and effort to be sure my destruction would be complete.

None of this was my idea. I didn't want to have anything to do with this project from the get go. It was Russell who wanted me to manage the job, well actually he wanted me to bail his ass out and I knew it. I guess my first mistake was that I actually had a backbone for a split second and called him on it. That's one thing about backbones, they can't be trusted.

I can only suppose what started this time bomb ticking was when Joshua asked me to take over not just the managing of Jamestown but promised me the commission from it. But I don't think the bomb blew until I made my second mistake. That mistake was made when I grudgingly accepted the assignment. But Jason would have to take some responsibility for this explosion since he half quilted me into taking the job.

If I was being totally honest with myself, which I do on the rare occasion, I really wanted to take on this challenge. I wanted to prove to myself once and for all that I was a star. That I was really as good as everyone else seemed to think. Yes, God help me, I wanted to be a bull's eye the size of Texas.

But more than anything I wanted to get even with Russell. I couldn't count the number of times he had screwed me over, and I sat there silently like any good doormat would. I never said a word when he got patted on the back for my job well done, or when he got congratulated for a new and innovative idea that he had stolen from me. I don't know why this time it was different. Was it the straw that broke the camel's back? Maybe. Was it because there was no way in hell he was going to wipe his feet on me again? Perhaps. Mostly I believe it was the fact that I had a once in a life time chance to show Russell for the snake he was. Now that was an offer I couldn't refuse. For one brief shining moment to put Russell in his place, too bad it back fired on me in so many ways I couldn't count them.

Revenge is a dish better served cold, but no one ever tells you the price you will have to pay for that meal. I was just lucky enough to have friends who paid the price for me. And yes they paid with time, Herculean effort, tears, and even blood. Well that was Tim, but they all paid the debt that I owed Karma. I don't think I could ever repay them. Just the thought of all they had gone through brought a tear to my eyes again.

Suddenly I was brought from my reveries by a hand being waved before unfocussed eyes.


"Where did you go?" Patty asked.

"Oh, no where. Anyone need another?" I asked.

"I do, but I can grab it myself," Charles said, before he headed over to the keg he grabbed not only his empty glass but John's, Jarrod's-yeah I know, but hell he's almost eighteen and if he's going to be old enough to be drafted, elected, and get married he's old enough to have a beer in his own back yard-Patty's and my own to be refilled. Tim, Sherri, and Jac all held up empty tumblers and I went inside to play bartender once again. When I returned to the table Charles and John were tending to the steaks and laughing riotously about something. .

"Chuck! How do they look?" I asked while I placed Jac's drink down in front of her.

"They're almost there, sweetness."

"I'll go in and get the hotdogs and the rest of the food then."

"Ok." He turned back to the grill. Taking a knife that was on the side of the grill table he began to cut into the thick steaks to be sure they were done to perfection. John lurked next to him at the grill and the two continued their conversation.

I went in and grabbed my signature potato salad out of the fridge, pulled off the Saran Wrap, and placed it on the counter. I turned back to the stove and grasped the long tongs and began to pull the ears of corn out of the hot water and place them on a platter.

"Need any help?" A voice floated into the kitchen. I felt a rush of warmth surge through my body.

I turned to feast my eyes on Jac. She looked amazing in her white V neck tee and her navy blue shorts. A very delicate gold chain rested comfortably in her bosom. "Sure." My voice cracked. I cleared my throat. "Can you take out that tray with the buns, chips, paper plates, and silverware on it?"

"Sure." Jac smiled then grabbed the tray and exited. Patty wandered in next and grabbed the hot dogs and potato salad. She winked as she walked out the door.

Patty you are so going to be the death of me.

I felt a smirk tug at the edges of my lips. I couldn't help it. It felt not only natural, but comfortable to have Jac in my kitchen, in my house, in my life. Ok get all your minds out of the gutter. I know exactly what you were thinking when I said, comfortable in. So stop it. Though it's not something I can say I haven't thought of, but we are at a BBQ with the kids right now so we all need to go from hard R back to a G rating.

I placed the last of the corn on the platter, and made my way outside. It was a pleasant evening. A cool breeze lightly blew which cut the humidity in half so it was really nice to be outside. When kids didn't want any more to eat and the adults couldn't eat anymore the food was cleared to the kitchen and put away. Everyone pitched in to clean up. While the women-I'm including Tim-were in the kitchen Charles and John cleaned the grill, made sure that the gas was cut off, and put the remainder of the keg into the garage so it would be protected until we could get it back to the liquor store.

Before you could bat an eye everything was spic and span once more. We exited through the front door and I locked the front door behind us. With the roar of engines we were all on our way to Disney.

It wasn't long before we were in the parking lot of the hotel. I pulled in the front circle first followed by Tim and John then finally Patty and family. The kids all jumped out seemingly before the van came to a complete stop. They were excited and I could understand that. Sherri and then finally Jac disembarked.

"I'll go and park and be right in," I said to Jac. She nodded and slammed the door closed behind her. Jarrod had already unloaded our few bags on a cart offered by a smartly costumed bellman. In my rearview I saw a gaggle of friends milling about the entrance.

I found a good parking space not too far from the entrance of the building. I alighted from the car and was startled when not one but two arms slapped across my shoulders. On one side the Adonis John, on the other my big bro Charles. Both men were styling in their designer sunglasses and sporting very contented grins.

When we walked in, both Tim and Patty were just turning from the counters with room keys and credit card receipts. The children were in different states of sprawl on the pristine wicker furniture that littered the mammoth lobby. I untangled from the guys and was heading to the desk when I heard Jarrod call. "Mom! Over here!" When I looked up he was waving door keys that closely resembled small credit cards.

"How did you get those?" I asked. He shrugged and looked over to his left where Jac was cuddling both Ashley and Joshua in her lap.

I placed my hands on my hips. "Ms. Jacqueline Drakkon!"

She looked up from the giggling children. She shrugged. I was tapping my foot, but it was obviously the only answer I would receive. Nothing left to do but say thank you and head to the room.

Continued in Part 12 B

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