Disclaimers: None, really, though f/f loving does of course come into play. Some mildly offensive language.
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BIG JU JU
Copyright © Saggio Amante 2004
All rights reserved.
I knew she was there the minute her scent reached my nostrils. I had dreamed about that scent for over ten years. I turned from the people I was talking with and felt an adrenaline rush that threatened to throw me to my knees. She hadnt changed much. A little older, but still the same. Dark brown eyes like melted chocolate, honey blonde hair, pulled back - wispy curls dancing at her temples, dimples kissing the corners of her lips. And those lips - Jesus, those lips. I could still feel them searing my forehead when she said good-bye. I wondered - would she recognize me, too? I held out my hand.
"Kay Bresler," I said, my name hanging like a golf ball in my throat until I was finally able to push it up and out in a nervous rush.
"Hi, there. Lynne Taylor," she replied, reaching out to enfold my hand with her long, slender fingers. She held my hand just long enough to be welcoming but not too long. Her dark eyes looked into mine, and she smiled that soft smile I remembered so well, the one that gave rise to those dimples at the corners of her lips. I couldnt breathe.
She stood for a minute or two as though trying to remember something, then slid her hand from mine with the practiced ease of someone used to shaking hands and extricating herself from an overeager fan.
"Thank you for coming, Ms. Bresler, " she said as she stepped away. She moved through the crowd with ease, turning once to peer back over her shoulder at me with a quizzical look. I wondered if she, too, had long buried memories. Then she disappeared from sight, swallowed up in the crowd of adoring fans.
I stood there dumbstruck ... not moving ... every cell in my body fully aware that it had waited for this moment.
Christ, you ass, I thought. Why didnt you tell her who you are?
I wanted to tell her, to blurt it out and see her reaction. I had loved her for a summer, though I didnt know then what it meant or just how much I loved her. I had waited for ten years to find her again and yet, a part of me didnt want to find her. Perhaps subconsciously I was afraid that the illusion of Lynne Taylor might somehow be better than the reality. So, even though I had my chance, I didnt speak and she once again disappeared from my life, leaving me with my scrapbook and my memories.
It was five years before I saw Lynne Taylor again. And this time it was under less auspicious circumstances. You see, my firm represents her publisher, and Lynne Taylor had decided to sue their asses off. Well, one ass anyway by the name of Byron Nelson Richards. According to Ms. Taylor, Byron Nelson Richards (and thus Richards and Cohen Publishing) had sexually harassed her, treated her less than equal to other writers when she refused to cave in to his sexual demands, failed to properly edit and promote her books, and refused to release her from their over-reaching publishing contract. Also, according to Ms. Taylor, her career was languishing on the vine all because of one Byron Nelson Richards and Richards and Cohen Publishing.
My boss tried to assign the case to me but I declined. "Conflict of interest," I insisted. "Maybe we should hand the case off to another firm."
I explained that Lynne Taylor had been my babysitter one summer when I was a kid back in South Carolina.
"Are you out of your frigging mind!" my boss yelled. "Richards and Cohen is one of our biggest clients. Ill handle the damn case myself. Christ, you havent seen the woman in over fifteen years, and all she did then was change your diapers."
"I was a little too old for diapers," I responded testily.
"Whatever. And it was only for one summer, right? I doubt she even remembers you."
Tell me about it! I thought.
"Youre one of our best litigators. I need you on this case. If you wont try it, then you will damn well do the grunt work."
His emphasis on "grunt work" was not lost on me. Id be in the background drafting motions, prepping the clients, reading through reams of paper, interviewing and prepping witnesses - the stuff thats done in the trenches by legal interns, underpaid paralegals, and first year hires - the stuff that makes the trial attorney look much better than he or she actually is. I would be the invisible weapon waiting to kill Lynne Taylor. A vice tightened around my chest at the thought. If I had any guts at all, I would quit. Guts? Hell, if I had any scruples, I would quit.
"Yes sir," I managed to squeak out.
I was on a partnership track. There was too much at stake. And, besides, Lynne Taylor was only my long ago, one summer, babysitter. Right? Yeah, right!
I walked out of the office with a heavy heart. I would do it, but my heart would definitely not be in it. Well, maybe my heart would be in it . breaking.
Im sorry, Lynne, I thought, wishing she could hear me and forgive.
I left work early and headed to the nearest watering hole or rather, the furthest watering hole. I wanted to drown my sorrows in something more than my usual mocha latte so I went down to Reds place, a local members-only dyke bar. I knew I would be safe from prying eyes and Red would make sure I got home all right.
I acknowledged Reds wave and slid into the booth farthest from the door, hoping that none of my cronies would see me. Red waived the server away and came over to the table herself, glass in hand.
"Here ya go, babe," she said, setting a well salted, straight-up margarita in front of me. "Rough day?" She sat down across from me, placed her elbows on the table, and propped her head in her hands.
"Rough many weeks, Im afraid." I licked the salt, scarfed the drink down in one long gulp, and sat the empty glass on the table.
"Damn, girl! If you can drink it like that, you must be having a rough time. Wanna talk about it?"
I know that Red is the soul of discretion. Id trust her with my life and all my secrets, and I have - well, almost all of them. But this was something I couldnt share. I never talk business with anyone. Never! Theres this thing called confidentiality, and I take that very seriously.
"OK, babe," Red said as she stood. "Let me get you another drink and take care of the rest of the zoo."
One of the servers brought over my second drink, and I sat alone in the booth letting the sounds of the canned music waft over me.
I was startled when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up into the warm, smiling face of a stranger.
"Would you like to dance?" Her voice was hypnotic.
Dancing was the last thing on my mind, but somehow I couldnt refuse.
"Why not?" I said, slipping from the booth. I stepped into her arms and drifted off into a zone where the law and Lynne and the case did not exist.
"You are troubled," the stranger said to me as we moved slowly across the floor. She had a light accent that I couldnt quite place - a bit of island flavor, I think. It doesnt really matter. Her voice was soothing, and I definitely needed soothing.
"A little," I replied. "But Ill get over it. I always have."
"You have nothing to worry about," she said confidently. "It will all be as you wish."
"How would you know?" I sighed.
She laughed. "I have big Ju Ju. I know."
I smiled in spite of myself. Big Ju Ju? I wished it were so.
The dance ended, and I was almost sorry. There was something comforting about this woman. I felt safe and protected for those few moments in her arms. The stranger walked me to the booth and then left, fading into the darkness of the dimly lit room, but not before pressing something into my hand. I looked at it. It was a small piece of white paper which had been carefully scissored like the snowflakes we used to make as children in arts and crafts class. In the center of the paper, two cursive letters were entwined - L and K. There was a yellow-brown color touching the letters, almost as if the paper had been held over a flame to fuse them together.
I looked up; the woman was gone. I squinted my eyes and searched the room trying to find her, but there was no trace of her anywhere.
Odd, I thought.
Stranger things had happened in my life. I was almost used to them. Still, this shook me a little.
I stopped by the bar and asked Red the name of the tall, dark woman with whom Id shared a dance just a few minutes before.
"What woman?" Red asked. "I was watching you the whole time. You never left the booth."
I felt a shiver go down my spine and closed my hand around the little white piece of paper. At least that was real. I wasnt totally losing my mind.
The weeks before trial moved almost too rapidly. We won most of our pre-trial motions and things were not looking too good for the other side. And then I found it. The smoking gun, the one document you didnt want the other side to have, the one document you knew would be the deciding factor for them. Byron Nelson Richards had done this before, and Richards and Cohen had paid a pretty penny to hush it up.
Holy shit! I thought. The memo was burning a hole in my hand. What the hell do I do now?
I knew what to do. I had to disclose it. But how? Could I do it in a way that the other side wouldnt find it? Bury it in a thousand sheets of irrelevant crap, hidden in the bottom of a box of more irrelevant crap? Hah! I wanted them to find it. I wanted to give Lynne Taylor the one thing that would save her professional life. But I knew in doing that, I would be ruining mine. It didnt matter any more. It just plain, fucking didnt matter. I laid the memo on the top of the discovery we were about to send to opposing counsel, taped the box shut, and called the courier.
So there I was, back at Reds, sitting in the corner booth with my favorite margarita in my hand. I was out of a job, but who cared? Justice prevailed. Richards and Cohen settled for a tidy six-figure sum.
It burned my ass that the settlement was sealed and nobody could talk about it, but hell, thats the way the game is played. And Lynne was all right. She got the bucks and a new publisher. Word on the street is that the trial publicity was enough to assure that her book will shoot right to the top the minute its released. Yep. Lynne will definitely be all right.
I felt her presence before I saw her. I could smell that incredible scent that had lingered in my mind for fifteen years. I looked up and felt myself drowning in chocolate eyes.
"Would you like to dance?" she asked. "Kay," she added almost as an afterthought.
She knows! My mind screamed silently. She knows!
I put my hand in my pocket, my fingers curling briefly around that white piece of paper. I took my hand out of my pocket and placed it in hers, letting her pull me from the booth. My heart was beating out of my chest, and my knees were shaking. I didnt know if I would be able to dance, but I did know I wasnt about to pass up the opportunity to be held in those arms or to sway against that body.
We stood in the middle of the dance floor. She took me in her arms as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I put my arms loosely around her neck and let her lead me slowly in time to the music. I pressed my pelvis into her and felt her pressing back as we let the music direct our movements. She placed her hands on my butt and pulled me closer.
"Youre trembling, Kay," she whispered in my ear.
"I know," I said, moving my head back just enough to look into those damned eyes.
She moved a hand up my back and let her fingers settle on the curve of my neck. Then, without hesitation, she lowered her lips to mine, capturing my mouth in a kiss so intense that I thought I would come right there on the spot.
"Lets get out of here," she husked. I couldnt miss the urgency in her voice and knew that she wanted me as much as I wanted her.
If making love is magic, then making love with her is more than magic. She worshipped me with her mouth, her tongue, her teeth, her hands. She gave me her body, and I surrendered mine to her. She took me to heights I never believed were were possible and then did it again. She made me tumble into passion that I didnt know existed. I had dreamt about it. I had fantasized about it. But the real thing was so much better than the fantasy.
Lying here now next to her, breathing in her scent, touching her, tasting her, loving her is big Ju Ju - its very big Ju Ju indeed.
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