Disclaimers1: Xena and Gabrielle belong to Renpic. And, this being an Uberish tale, the main characters will bear a physical resemblance to them, but thats as far as is goes. Oh, and two supporting characters will be named after them. But its meant strictly as a tribute; nothing more. J
Disclaimers 2: There will be a tiny bit of violence scattered through the story, including one piece dealing with domestic battering and attempted rape. Nothing really intense though. There will also be some swearing scattered throughout the story.
Disclaimers 3: This is an adult alternative romance, which means that there will be sex between two consenting adult females later on down the line. If this bothers you, or is illegal where you live, then please read no further. You have been warned!
Copyrights: All characters mentioned in this story belong to me. Please do not use them, or any portion of this story without talking to me first. The song "Like We Never Had a Broken Heart" belongs to MCA Nashville, Garth Fandis and Trisha Yearwood.
Thanks: I would like to offer sincere and heartfelt thanks to the bestest <g> beta reader a bard could ever ask for. Thank you, Maggie Sheridan. Without your skills, patience, gentle guidance
And boundless encouragement, this story would never have seen the light of day. JChapter Twenty-nine
Bleary, outraged green eyes glared at the annoyingly bright slice of sunlight that, despite her best wishes not to, seemed intent to drag her into full wakefulness.
"All right, all right already," she growled to the intermittent rays that splashed across her face. "You can quit with the peek-a-boo crap now. I'm awake."
Almost as if it heard her, the sun chose that moment to slide behind a large cloud formation, inspiring an even deeper scowl on the grumpy writer's face. "I liked you better at the beach," she groused as she threw her legs off the side of the bed and sat up. Within moments, her attention was drawn to the barely perceptible sounds of some rather upbeat music radiating from somewhere down the hall. Hmm, somebody's in a mood today, she grinned. Let's just go check it out.
Megan scanned the room for something more to wear than the panties and T-shirt that currently, just barely, covered her body. She smiled when her eyes landed on an item of clothing that lay sprawled across the arm of the big chair. Ooh, her mind cooed happily as she ambled over and grabbed the large, brightly checked flannel shirt that Randi wore yesterday. On impulse, she held the shirt up to her face and inhaled deeply through her nose, imprinting her senses with the smell of woodsmoke, hyacinth, and just plain…Randi.
Satisfied with her aromatherapy, she slipped the shirt on and buttoned it, giggling when she had to roll up the sleeves a few times just so she could utilize her hands. Using her fingers to give some order to her disheveled, shoulder-length hair, she exited the room.
The closer Megan got to the kitchen, the louder the music got, and the sight that greeted her when she approached the entrance of the kitchen made her stop in her tracks.
Randi, clad in only boxer shorts and T-shirt, danced and strutted her way around the kitchen as Wynona belted out "Rocking to the Rhythm of the Rain" on the radio. Megan barely stifled a giggle as the doctor, using the egg whisk as a microphone, added her own voice to the song, mock serenading the small, golden canine who hopped and wriggled in jubilant appreciation of her friend's antics.
Movement to her right caught her attention, and Megan stifled another giggle as she observed the big, black animal staring at her with a pathetic, do-you-see-what-I-have-to-put-up-with look. You love it, and you know it, you big, furry fraud! she mentally directed at the canine, who huffed an indignant snort and sprawled out on the floor. God! If I didn't know better, I'd swear she heard that.
Turning her attention back to the dancing duo, who were still oblivious to her presence, she leaned against the doorjamb and emitted a happy little sigh. God, she looks like a teenager ¾ so happy and carefree. I'm glad. She didn't deserve the pain she was in. I'm happy that I was able to help her get past it, and I was really glad when she let me take her to bed and hold her for a change. God, that felt so seamless, so…right. As if we've done that through hundreds of lifetimes. Megan rolled her eyes and shook her head. Get a grip, Galagher! Keep thinking like that and next thing you know, you'll be writing sappy stories about soulmates and destinies.
And down on the floor, timeless blue eyes twinkled briefly before closing.
As the song wound down, Randi's final dance move was a spin that ended abruptly with a yelp as she noticed the grinning blonde standing there. A crimson blush stole up her neck and past her eyebrows, as she stood, wide-eyed and frozen to the spot ¾ much like a doe caught in a very bright spotlight.
Finally, the brunette cleared her throat. "Um, hi," she squeaked. "I was…we were…um."
"Being absolutely, unequivocally, undeniably adorable," the blonde finished as she sauntered into the room and right up to the abashed beauty.
"Really?" The brunette breathed in childlike wonder.
"Yes, really," the blonde confirmed, her hand, with a mind of its own, reaching up and stroking a silky, soft cheek.
"It's all your fault, you know," the brunette mumbled, leaning into the caress as her arms automatically circled a petite waist.
"Is it now?"
"Yes. You lifted a tremendous weight from my soul last night, and now I'm filled with such unbearable lightness that I've got to work it off somehow, or I'll just…float away."
"Well, we can't have that now. I'll just have to find some way to…tie you down," the blonde postulated throatily, smiling inwardly at the full-body shiver her words induced in the tall woman.
"Only to keep you from floating away, of course," the blonde reassured.
"Of course," was squeaked past an incredibly dry throat.
"Let's see if I can find another way to keep you grounded," the blonde offered as she threaded her fingers into raven tresses and gently tugged, bringing beautiful, full lips into contact with her own needy ones.
Unlike the kisses of the last few days, there was nothing tentative or shy about this one. The blonde, no longer hampered by the pain of her bruises, took bold possession of the tall woman's lips, deepening the precious contact as her body, following suit, molded itself tighter to the strong, supple form of the doctor.
It was a move wholly endorsed by the taller woman, as evidenced by the small, whimpering moan that originated in one mouth and vibrated through both. Two sets of hands wandered, caressed and stroked while two sets of lips pressed, pulled back and pressed again. Somewhere in between, one mouth opened slightly, inviting ¾ and was rewarded by a silky, pink tongue that entered, explored and reveled in the sweetness it found inside.
Several long, heavenly moments later, the need for air prompted a reluctant separation as the two women stood with foreheads touching, fighting to control their bounding heartbeats and basking in the sheer, light-headed wonder of it all.
"Thank you," Randi breathed into the fair hair she was nuzzling.
"For what?" the blonde murmured distractedly, enjoying the contact.
"For last night, for this morning, for being you."
Megan pulled back slightly and placed her hands on the tall woman's chest. "You're welcome, but last night I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right moment. And this morning," she stood on tiptoe and kissed a strong, angular chin, "was my pleasure," she purred. "And as for being me," she wagged her hand and made a face. "Well, the jury's still out on that one."
"Well this 'jurist' is hopelessly compromised in your favor," the brunette burred, grabbing the wagging hand and kissing the palm. "And as for last night, I think there was more than 'luck' involved." She raised a curious eyebrow.
Megan lowered her eyes and blushed prettily. Busted!
Randi observed the writer's chagrin with wry amusement. That's what I thought, she mused triumphantly. "Let's get some coffee and get comfortable, so you can tell me all about it," she declared, grasping the smaller hand and leading the sheepish blonde into the livingroom.
"All right, little bit, spill it," the brunette commanded from her position as backrest to the extremely comfortable blonde.
"There's not that much to tell, actually," the blonde remarked demurely, eliciting an impatient growl from the body behind her. "Okay, okay," she capitulated with a mischievous grin that faded quickly when she recalled the day of her departure. "That last day," she began in a subdued voice, "when I…when you walked out of Toby's store. A woman came and sat down at my table and said she wanted to tell me a story. I was already in a pissy mood and didn't really want to hear it, but she was pretty insistent." Megan shrugged. "Anyway the story she told me was about Casey ¾ and you ¾ and what…um…happened." Megan lightly stroked the arm around her waist, which had unconsciously tensed. "I'm not going to go into the crash course in shame I took from that encounter," she mused with a grimace. "Suffice it to say, she gave me a lot to think about. And I did think about it…a lot." She turned her head and kissed a conveniently close jaw. "And I ached for you. But I was also confused as to exactly why you blamed yourself. I was sure there were some things I was missing, but," she gave a small shrug, "with the situation being the way it was, I didn't know that I would ever get the chance to find out more." The younger woman turned sideways and wrapped her arms around the too-quiet doctor. "Which is perhaps another reason why what happened to me wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Because now I was in a position where I could find out more. Which is exactly what I did after you left yesterday. I made some phone calls," she affected a slightly embarrassed grin, "did a lot of groveling, and finally wound up with a complete picture." She reached up and stroked a tense jaw. "A more complete picture than even you had. You only knew that you got there too late, and that she was crying out for you. And your poor, grieving heart believed that she was crying out for you to come save her, and, by not being there, you failed her. But that wasn't the case. Every one knew that, except for you. And you," she grasped the other woman's chin and lightly shook it, "my sweet, tender-hearted, stubborn friend, refused to let anybody get close enough to tell you," she mock-scolded the sheepishly blushing beauty. "Well," she continued, "I was close enough, but now I had to figure out a way to tell you. I couldn't just walk up to you and say, 'Hey, Randi, guess what!' Luckily, you opened the door for me when you started talking about your parents." She smiled into glistening, grateful blue eyes. "So you see, it was just right place, right time luck."
"No," Randi whispered, using her fingers to guide the younger woman's face closer to her own. "It was the tenacity of a beautiful, thoughtful young woman who cared for me enough to sacrifice her pride in order to save my soul. I love you, Megan Galagher," she burred as she laid claim to the writer's sweet, soft lips.
Randi took her time, pouring her love, her gratitude, her very self into the contact as she explored, stroked and worshipped the mouth attached to her own. And Megan not only accepted, she devoured the older woman's offering, as one starving would consume a meal.
Finally, a panting, flushed Megan broke off the kiss. "Dear Lord," she gasped, "you keep kissing me like that, Dr. Oakes, and I'm gonna spontaneously combust right here on the couch." Every nerve ending in the younger woman's body was raw, and her libido was beating on the bars of its cage with an aluminum bat. Her groin throbbed painfully as she struggled to keep from grinding against the firm, muscled thigh that, somewhere in the course of the kiss, had insinuated itself between her own. Oh, I'm in so much trouble here.
Randi chuckled throatily. "I guess I should stop then," she said half-teasingly as her own raging hormones howled in protest. God, I want her so badly, but I don't want to push if she's not ready.
Megan's mouth opened as she prepared to inform the good doctor just how bad for her health stopping would be right at this moment.
The ringing of the telephone, however, pre-empted the verbal strike.
Randi grinned apologetically as she disentangled herself from the frustrated blonde and padded into the kitchen to answer. Returning a few moments later, the tall woman's expression was even more regretful. And the blonde knew, just knew, that a cold shower was in her immediate future.
Randi sat gingerly on the edge of the couch, flinching inwardly at the baleful glare she was receiving from the small blonde. She cleared her throat. "That was, uh, that was Toby. I promised him a while back that I'd help him move some shelving around in the store. And he just called to remind me that we were supposed to do it today." She hung her head. "I'm sorry," she mumbled.
"Don't be," the writer murmured, cupping the angular chin and raising the doctor's face. "I'm glad that you'll be there to give him a hand," she smiled affectionately. "I'd hate to think of him trying to move that stuff on his own and possibly hurting himself."
Randi smiled her relief at the young woman's understanding. "You could come with me, you know."
Megan snorted a laugh. "No, I don't think so. Toby may have said he's forgiven me, but I still think if he saw me right now, he'd be tempted to turn me across his knee just for general purposes." The blonde's grin was self-effacing. "And I really couldn't blame him."
"He wouldn't do that, and don't say that," Randi admonished. "You had your reasons for behaving the way you did." Randi held up a hand to halt the blonde's protest. "I'm not trying to justify anything here, sweetheart, or make excuses. What you…what happened was…harsh…and it hurt…a lot. But I understood. You were going through a lot the last few days you were here." She offered a half smile at the blonde's stunned expression. "You were dealing with a lot of questions and confusing emotions. The closer you came to leaving, the worse it got. That last night, you were…reaching out to me in perhaps the only way that made sense at the time. And I," blue eyes glistened with regret, "I refused you. I believed, and still believe, I was doing the right thing. But in your eyes, it was yet another rejection by someone that you had, against all personal conviction, come to care for. So you threw on your prickly armor once again and came out swinging, determined to make me hurt as least as much as you did. And you had no idea how successful you were until after I walked out of Toby's store."
"I'm so sorry," the blonde husked, tears traveling freely down her face.
"Don't be," the doctor murmured gently, wiping at the tears with tender fingers. "I didn't tell you this to make you feel bad. I told you this so you would know that I understood. And that, to some degree, Toby does too." At the blonde's bewildered look, Randi clarified. "I didn't go into detail because that's private. But I did make sure he understood that you were lashing out not so much at me, but at many things that were hurting you."
"Still looking out for me," the writer smiled tremulously.
Megan took that sweet promise and wrapped it around her heart.
And she immersed herself fully in the loving, crystal-blue gaze that accompanied it, capturing that look and imprinting it on her soul.
A half-hour later, both women stood loosely embracing in front of the open door.
"Are you sure you don't want to come along?"
"I'm positive," the blonde answered, smiling. "This will give me a chance to sit down and do some work on my new Samantha Steele novel. I'm introducing a new character, and I want to make sure I put her together just right."
"Put her together, huh? I dunno, that sounds a little Frankenstein-ish to me," the tall woman teased, straightening her long arms in front of her, blanking her expression and stiffening her body in a classic monster pose.
"You are a nut!" the blonde squawked in mock outrage as she backhanded the "monster" in the belly.
"Yeah, but I'm your nut," the doctor responded cheekily as she dropped her arms onto the blonde's shoulders.
"Yes, you are." And I can't possibly express how grateful I am for that fact. "Now go climb into your shell and roll on down to Toby's, so you can do what you need to do and hurry back home."
"Yes, ma'am!" the brunette barked, sketching a quick salute and ducking out the door, narrowly avoiding a slap to her backside.
Megan stood at the door, watching as Randi skipped down the stairs and ran around to the back of the Jeep, where she opened a back door and emitted a shrill whistle. Within seconds, a large, black bolt of lightning exploded from the woods, followed closely by her smaller, golden counterpart. To Megan's utter amazement, the ebony canine stopped dead in her tracks a few feet from the back of the vehicle and dropped to the ground just as the smaller dog approached. Without missing a beat, Gabrielle leaped from the ground, to her companion's back and into the Jeep in one, graceful motion. Megan stood, goggle-eyed and dumbstruck as the large dog, with all the nonchalance of her namesake, got up, shrugged off any remaining snow and leaped up into the vehicle. Oh. My. God! They did not just do that! Her eyes tracked to the smugly grinning doctor. "Did I mention that they do stunts just like 'em too?" the brunette winked as she closed the door and climbed into the driver's seat.
Leaving the blonde leaning against the doorway, doubled over in helpless laughter as the vehicle's taillights disappeared from view.
Randi whistled a carefree tune as she neared Cutters Gap, her spirits so high and her thoughts so fixed on a beautiful, green-eyed blonde that she paid no attention to the small, burgundy vehicle that passed her going the other way. Low growls and frustrated whines interrupted her off-key trilling, and she cast an impatient glare in the rearview mirror at the two animals that paced and stared out the rear window. "Don't even try that," she warned. "You guys wanted to come into town with me, so you're stuck with me until we head back." With that, she resumed her contented whistling, mindless of the still-agitated beasts in the back.
Megan stared at the computer screen, her fair eyebrows furrowed in mystified contemplation as she studied the neatly typed and spaced lines of text. Where in the hell did that come from? What started out as an attempt to add to her novel, swiftly turned into something quite different as her muse decided to take a small detour onto a slightly different, very virgin, path. She re-examined the lines with critical intent. Well, it's not bad…then chewed on her lip. I don't think…then mentally threw up her hands. Oh, how the hell would I know? I've never been into that stuff. Maybe I should give Charly a call and run it by her; she reads this type of stuff. Yeah, that sounds like a plan! Deciding on a cup of coffee first and phone call second, the writer headed toward the kitchen.
Randi turned off the engine and climbed out of the Jeep. A smile lit up her face as she saw the massive form of her adopted uncle heading towards her.
"Hi, Uncle Toby."
"Don't 'hi' me, young lady. C'mere," the big man rumbled as Randi found herself literally swept off her feet by the massive arms that engulfed her in a loving embrace ¾ one that she no longer felt herself unworthy of.
And it felt…so…good.
Finally, the big man released his delighted captive from the bear hug and held her at arm's length for a long moment. His gray eyes examined her with parental intensity, noting with approval the healthy tone of her complexion and the vibrant felicity in those sky blue eyes. "You look good, princess."
Randi's smile was serene. "I feel good, Uncle Toby."
"I take it our feisty little mystery writer got through to you then."
The tall woman blushed, but didn't lose her smile. "Yes, she did."
"Then I owe her a debt."
Randi's eyes glistened. "I think we both do, Uncle Toby."
A round of unhappy barks broke the moment as Randi was reminded of her passengers. "Oops, forgot about them," the tall woman muttered as she and the big man walked behind the Jeep.
"I'm surprised she didn't come with you today," the older man pondered aloud as Randi opened the door. "Though maybe it's a good thing she didn't."
"Why," the brunette inquired absently as she stared at the animals, wondering why they were standing there staring at her and not exiting the vehicle.
"She would have missed her friend."
Randi's eyes snapped to the storekeeper. "What friend?"
"A young man," Toby answered. "Clean cut, fairly good-looking. He said he was a writer too, and that, as he was in the area, he thought he'd look her up. He said their publisher gave him your address, but couldn't give him directions, so he stopped in here to ask."
The color drained from Randi's face. "Son of a bitch!" she growled as she slammed the back of the Jeep closed and ran around to the driver's door and whipped it open.
Toby grabbed her arm as she climbed into the vehicle. "Randi, what's going on?"
"Megan doesn't have any friends that write," she ground out as she jammed the key in the ignition. "That was her ex-boyfriend, Eric, and he's already attacked and beat her once."
Toby's ruddy complexion darkened as the implications set in. "I'm going with you. I'll get Kate to watch the store."
"No time," Randi bit out as she started the engine and threw it into gear. "Call the Sheriff's office and get Dave to meet me up there." And with that, she was gone.
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