Sweet Surprise
By Colleen


This is an alternate uber story. The physical descriptions of the two lead characters may remind you of two others we all know and love, but all characters in the story are from my own imagination. This story is an original work and is copyrighted by the author. It cannot be sold or used for profit in any way.  Copyright 2009.
Feedback will be welcomed at coleen30@webtv.net

Author’s note: This is a prequel to my Halloween story The Haunting.


     Lane McKay walked into the house of her good friend, Nicole Sawyer. “Sorry I’m late,” she said. “We had a last minute meeting.” Lane wiggled the two bottles of wine she held in her hands. “I wasn’t sure how many were going to be here,” she said, “so I just brought my own.” Lane laughed at her friend’s odd expression. “Just kidding Nic.”

     Nicole laughed and punched her friend in the arm. “Oh I know. I just hope you can find someone who will put up with your sense of humor.”

     “Well, I thought that’s what this party was for, so we could all find the loves of our lives.”  Lane was, of course, joking. The all lesbian, Valentine’s Day party was Nicole’s idea to get all of her single friends together to celebrate the hope for finding love. Lane snapped her fingers. “Oh, I forgot, I already know everybody here, so I guess that lets that out.” Lane removed her black suede jacket and hung it on the coat tree with all the others. “Oh well,” she said, turning back to her friend, “let us party anyway.”

     Nicole accepted the wine and took the bottles into the kitchen, while Lane moved through the familiar house and greeted her other friends.  Six women, ranging in age from twenty-five to forty-two, sat sharing stories and laughing in the brightly lit sunroom. The mid February day was sunny, with a normal, Midwest winter’s chill in the air. The large room had a pass through to the kitchen and Lane saw several bodies bustling about, but without seeing faces, she couldn’t tell who else was attending the party. The women around her chatted on while snacking on sandwiches, cheeses and raw veggies. Lane had grabbed a beer from the tub of cold drinks and had polished off a fair amount of food before Nicole stepped back into the room.

     “Lane could you come here for a minute?” the blonde asked.

     The tall, dark haired woman hopped to her feet, thinking her friend needed her help with something, and she was always glad to oblige. Lane followed her to the kitchen, where a petite woman of Hispanic heritage, carrying another tray of sandwiches, met them almost head on. “Whoa!” Nicole said, relieving her small pal of the loaded tray. “Lane McKay, I’d like you to meet Maria Rojas. We went to college together.”

     “Nice to meet you,” Lane said, extending her hand.

     “You too.” Maria returned with a jolly smile. She immediately retook possession of the tray. “Maybe we can find time to talk later Lane. I hear hungry woman out there.”

     Lane was amused as the tiny lady dashed off on her mission. Nicole explained, “We call her Taz Maniac because she rarely ever stops.”

     Lane chuckled as she followed Nicole into the kitchen. “Well, I guess we’ll have to take a jog around the block if we want to have that talk.”

     Gesturing toward another tall woman with a closely shaved head, Nicole introduced her as Jac Brewster. The woman tipped her beer bottle in Lane’s direction and greeted with a simple, “Hi.”

     “Back in school,” Nicole explained, “Jac, also known as Brewski Brewster, taught us the joys and sorrows of the drink.”

     And with that, Jac downed another swallow and asked, “Can I get you one Lane?”

     “Actually, I’m still working on one back in the other room. Thanks anyway.”

     Jac nodded.

     Nicole looked to the other side of the room, where the final member of their college foursome was concentrating on something. “Madame Chef, may we have your attention please?”

     Lane certainly didn’t mind waiting for the woman to turn around. She spent the few seconds admiring the shapely backside, spotlighted so well in the snug fitting black jeans. The red sweater hugging her top half wasn’t hard on the eyes either.

     “You know, Nic,” the mystery woman said, “you asked me to make this cake. And an artist takes her time.” She scooped up a finger full of the homemade icing and took a taste, just as she turned around. “Mmmmm,” she murmured and froze as she locked gazes with a set of mesmerizing blue eyes. The digit slowly slipped from her, otherwise, silent mouth.

     Nicole grinned at the obvious sizzle passing back and forth between her friends. She let them have their moment before making the introductions. “Lane McKay, meet Allison, call her Allie, Peyton.”

     Lane moved forward, since the awe struck blonde seemed to be stuck to the floor. “It’s very nice to meet you Allie,” Lane said, a bright, charming smile sliding across her face.

     Allie matched the smile. “Yes, very nice to meet you.” Lane took her outstretched hand, and then Allie remembered that her finger probably had some messy icing left on it. She gently pulled it away, instantly missing the connection.

     Lane licked away the tiny amount of pink fluff on her hand. “You were right,” she agreed, “mmmmm. I can’t wait to taste the rest.”

     Nicole had tried to busy herself, looking for something in the cabinet in the corner. When she had found out that her college friends were coming to town for the party, she had secretly hoped there might be a little matchmaking done. But then again she knew that three of those friends would be leaving in a week. “Okay,” she finally said, “enough talk about eating.”

     “Yeah,” Allie concurred, “dessert comes later.”

     “Absolutely,” Nicole added. “Let’s go back in and…eat.”

     The three returned to the party and indulged in more food and conversation. Lane and Allie tried hard to keep their attention on the group and succeeded most of the time, even through the rousing game of Pictionary, and the even more arousing x-rated version. But even though they stayed in the conversation and the games, Allie and Lane kept sneaking glances at one another, with a few winks thrown in for good measure.

     It came time for coffee and dessert, when Nicole announced that Allie’s Chocolate Raspberry Coconut cake had recently won a prestigious baking contest. Lane savored the delectable confection, trying to conceal the grin that kept springing to her face as she remembered her first sight of the blonde baker, remembering that it was just a few hours earlier. Lane hardly knew anything about Allie, but she certainly wanted to know more.

     The party started to break up when three of the woman had to leave for various reasons. After saying goodbyes, Lane saw Allie standing alone in the sunroom and took the opportunity to approach her. Allie’s attention was directed outside to the backyard of Nicole’s house. The small area was enclosed by a six foot, wooden fence. One tall, sturdy tree filled a corner of the yard, no doubt preparing to provide living quarters to families of winged friends as spring was approaching. They’d had a relatively mild winter and Nicole kept three feeders full of seeds and suet. They all showed definite signs of recent munching.

     “Something’s awfully interesting out there,” Lane stated.

     Allie didn’t jump as her quiet, contemplative moment was broken. She let the smooth voice pour over her like warm milk chocolate. “It’s very interesting,” she answered. “I’m watching the birds. See the red one near the base of the tree.”

     Lane followed her directions. “He’s impressive,” she agreed.
     Allie turned to face Lane, starting just a bit at being so close to the very attractive, tall woman. You’re impressive, she thought. But she kept her verbal comments more neutral. “I love nature,” she said. “I go camping at least three times a year. I have a closet full of photographs from all of the parks and preserves I’ve visited. Have you been to the Southwest?” she asked.

     The dark head swayed slightly from side to side. “I was in Arizona for about a day once, but I was just passing through and didn’t get to see much of the landscape.”

     Remembering and nodding Allie said, “It’s beautiful.”

     “So are you.” Lane didn’t often keep her thoughts to herself, especially where a gorgeous woman was concerned. At Allie’s blush, Lane added, “Please don’t think that’s a line, because it isn’t. It’s just the truth.”

     “I didn’t really think it was. I just didn’t expect you to say that. And thank you.”

     Others started to drift back into the room disrupting their alone time. “This is a lovely view,” Lane whispered, “but could I possibly pull you away?”

     Whispering back, Allie admitted, “Maybe. What did you have in mind?”

     “Well, I know we just had coffee…your cake was incredible by the way... but I was hoping we could go somewhere a little more private and talk.”

     Allie smiled. “I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

*    *    *

     They did take a short walk around the local park, but as it neared sundown the temperature was dropping. During that time Allie learned about Lane’s family and her position in the family’s construction business. Allie ended up talking more about her various travels, but when she shivered, Lane knew it was time to move to someplace warmer. They ended up at Lane’s new house…Lane’s new, one hundred year old, house that is.

     Allie was very impressed as they pulled up to the large, historic structure. “It’s absolutely wonderful,” she exclaimed.

     “Thanks. It just spoke to me the minute I saw it. The ad for it practically fell into my lap, even though I had just started thinking about moving out of my apartment.” Lane escorted her new friend up the walk as she explained more.  “I’m going to do some renovations inside; restore as much as I can.”

     Allie looked up to the top of the house. “I think those tower rooms are so interesting.”

     “Yeah. I was thinking of making that an office, but right now it’s just storage.”

     Once inside, and after a short tour, the twosome sipped more wine in front of the fireplace. Allie talked more about her recent year long stay in France, where she attended a wonderful cooking school, and her plans to one day open her own restaurant. They smiled at each other a lot throughout the two hour conversation. They both had been the object of and had done a fair amount of flirting before, but this seemed deeper than just an admiration of the physical form. Even though that was a strong consideration between the two very attractive ladies. But it was the something deeper that frightened Lane. She was afraid to ask a certain question. She really wanted to pursue more time with this wonderful woman. But what good would it do if she was going to leave town. 

     Lane watched Allie as the blonde stared into the flickering fire. The shadows danced in her shoulder length, honey blonde hair. The light from the flames illuminated not only her lovely face, but something special in her soul was also revealed. Lane finally had to know. “So, I guess you’ll be going back home next week,” she mentioned softly.

     “Yeah,” Allie answered. “I love Nic, but sharing her home, not to mention her bed, is not the ideal situation. She’s a cover hog.” Allie looked over with a twinkle in her eye as she observed the disappointment that clouded Lane’s features. “You know she just has the two bedrooms…the four of us drew lots and I got Nic’s room.”

     Lane’s eyes flicked up with renewed hope. “So…”
     “So…” Allie repeated.

     “So you and Nicole…in college…were you…”


     The dark head reluctantly nodded. But before Allie could answer, Lane said, “That’s none of my business; forget I asked.” The blue eyes drifted away again.

     Allie moved closer and cupped Lane’s warm cheek, guiding her gaze back toward her. “It is your business,” the blonde said. “Because if it was true, this might be a little awkward.” Allie leaned in and brought their lips together. The gentle kiss was the sweetest surprise Lane could ever have imagined. It was something she had fantasized about as they were walking through the park, but had vowed not to initiate unless there was a possibility of a relationship. But as their lips came together with just a whisper of passion, it was ideal. Brand new, yet familiar. Teasing and confident.  Momentary, but with a hint of forever. 

     Allie pulled away slowly and looked deeply into the glistening eyes. “Nic and I were never lovers,” she explained. “I’ve had a few, but I doubt you’d ever have a chance meeting with any of them.”

     Lane smiled lazily and gave Allie another soft kiss. Then it hit her in the gut and she looked alarmed. “You said you were moving back home,” she muttered sadly.

     Allie couldn’t pull her eyes away from the disillusioned set of blues. She suddenly fell into the extraordinary pair, tumbling into an exciting dimension that she could have sworn was her future. Another, subconscious admission tumbled from her lips. “I am home,” she whispered. The questioning dark head tipped to one side. “I mean, I live here in the city,” Allie explained, pulling herself back to the moment. “Or I will again. I’ve always lived here before I went to France. My new apartment is being remodeled, that’s why I was staying at Nic’s.”

     Lane took a heaving sigh of relief. “My heart can start beating again,” she admitted. “I thought we wouldn’t have a chance. I really want to spend more time with you Allie Peyton. A lot more time.”

     “And I want to spend a lot more time with you Lane McKay.”

*    *    *

     And they did just that.

     On their first official date, they had a quick Q & A session over several bowls of snacks.
     “Favorite food?” Allie asked, since she had already vowed to keep her new friend well fed.

     “Anything you want to cook for me,” the tall woman answered.

     “Lane, I’m serious.”

     “So am I.”

     “You are just trying to flatter me. And you really don’t have to just to keep me around.”

     “Well, that was the truth, but if you want more specifics, I really like chicken, fixed just about any way.”

     Allie wrote it down. “Okay, good to know.”

     Lane chomped on a salsa doused chip. “My turn. Favorite color?”

     “Orange,” the blonde answered immediately. “The many shades of the rising and setting sun.” Allie looked deep into her companion’s eyes. “Although recently I have come to greatly appreciate…blue.” Lane smiled at the disguised compliment. “Now,” Allie said, “what is your favorite holiday?”

     Lane popped a peanut, gave her a wicked smile, and without any further elaboration, merely said, “Halloween.”

     Allie was curious, but decided to continue on, instead of dwelling on the cryptic answer. “Do you have a secret ambition to do something that no one else knows about?”

     Lane propped her chin on her raised fist. “Um…I don’t think so. Do I need one?”

     Allie tried a chip. “I don’t know if you need one, but I’ve always felt everybody should try new things…advance your experiences. You should get everything you can out of your one life.”

     The dark head nodded. “You’re right. And I just bet I can come up with something. How about you, what is your secret ambition?”

     “I’d like to learn to play the piano some day.”

     Lane smiled. “Nice. I like music. Have you been to the symphony?”

     “Yeah; I love their outdoor, summer series. That’s actually where I got the idea for the piano.”

     Lane got excited. “Let’s make a date right now to go together. How about the 4th of July concert?”
     “That’s definitely a date.” Allie said, and then mentally reviewed her set of questions as Lane retrieved another beer. “What exotic place would you like to visit someday?” she asked next.

     Lane took a long draw from her beer bottle as she contemplated. “I’ve never really thought a lot about it,” she finally said. “Somewhere tropical I guess…but not any of the typical touristy places.” Lane stared off into the air as she pictured it. “I think it would be fun to find somewhere a little private and do some exploring. To see things that haven’t been seen by a million pairs of eyes.” She brought her gaze back to Allie’s face and noticed the somewhat shocked expression. “What?”

     “You might not believe this, but a few years ago I had just about the same thought. I’ve even started doing some research to find such a place. I’ve been keeping a travel wish book since high school.”

     Lane slid her hand across the table and took Allie’s. “Well, maybe it’s a bit presumptuous, but maybe someday we can take that trip together.”

     Allie grinned brightly. Silently she thought, I’m counting on it.
*    *    *

     Over the next few months, Allie and Lane saw each other at least three times a week, but tried to talk on the phone at least once a day. At the beginning, Lane had helped Allie move in to the new apartment. And since Lane was kind of still settling in to her new house, Allie reciprocated. Allie would cook them wonderful dinners at her place, and Lane became a willing subject for Allie’s new recipes. They also shared their favorite restaurants for a few meals. On one of those occasions, they treated Nicole to a fine dinner, as a thank you for introducing them. Lane and Allie had long talks, and when the weather was warmer, they went for long nature walks. On a Saturday morning in March, Lane visited while Allie volunteered at the local children’s hospital, which she did once a month. The perky blonde, along with another friend, performed puppet shows for the ill and recovering youngsters. Lane watched from the back of the room as the captivated children laughed at the silly antics. She couldn’t see Allie’s face, but she knew that the blonde was having just as much fun as the kids. Lane realized just then, that Allie Peyton loved bringing joy into other people’s lives, whether through laughter, giving of her time, or through her delicious confections. Allie was a most unselfish person. And Lane was quickly falling deeply in love.

*    *    *

      One Sunday afternoon had Allie meeting the family, Lane’s father, her brother and his wife. Of course they were just as charmed by her as Lane had been and welcomed her into their lives.

     Two weeks later, when it was time for Lane’s family to make the yearly visit to the cemetery to honor their lost relatives, Lane asked Allie to go with them. She wanted to introduce Allie to her beloved mother Deidre and her grandmother. Allie sat quietly, beside her tall friend, listening as her lover spoke to the women just as if they were standing right beside them. But then maybe they were. Lane’s conversation wasn’t long, but it was heart felt. “Well, I’ll be back next year Mom,” she said. “See you then. I love you.”


     Two heads looked up into the stand of evergreens right next to the graves. “Back again I see,” Lane muttered. She turned to Allie and explained, “That owl…or some owl was here on the day we buried Mom, and it was here again last year. And you know I’ve started hearing the soft hoots outside my window at home.”

     Allie tried to imagine the big eyed bird, suddenly remembering something she had heard once about animal spirits. She took Lane’s hand. “Maybe it’s a message from your mother,” she suggested. “To let you know she’s still looking out for you.”

     The dark head nodded thoughtfully as she stared into the tall tree, not being able to see the bird, but knowing of its presence. “Maybe,” she agreed. “Maybe she’s giving her approval of the woman I’ve found to spend time with.”

     Allie liked that thought. She knew from Lane’s stories, just how close the carpenter and her mother had been. Family was very important to both of them…past, present…and future.

     All of Allie’s immediate family lived out of state, so Lane had to get to know them through photos and the blonde’s tales. Luckily, Allie loved her family and loved to talk about them. And she did for about two hours one Friday night, after dinner. Lane also got quite an eye full of young Allie. Thankfully, the chef was spared the embarrassment of the proverbial, naked baby pictures. But Lane loved the photos of her in her first, velvet Christmas dress, her toothless second grade portrait, her turn as Dorothy in the school production of The Wizard of Oz, and the many more Allie had kept through the years.

     Their relationship was starting out on a solid foundation of friendship and mutual respect. And they were both determined to build on it year after year, until they were old and gray. Even though forever hadn’t been mentioned yet.

*    *    *

      Often, they sat in dark theaters, holding hands as they watched movies. Or better yet, they snuggled together in the dark family room watching movies on Lane’s large television. It was on one of those nights, just a few weeks after meeting, that they had the first milestone of their promising relationship.

     Allie picked up a few pieces of chocolate covered popcorn and held them up to Lane’s mouth, where the white teeth nipped and then a questing tongue removed any chocolate residue. They traded sweet kernels as the chases, falls, punches and espionage played out across the screen, making for a fun Saturday evening’s entertainment.

     As the credits rolled, Allie took the empty dishes to the makeshift sink on the back porch. Lane had just started the demolition on her kitchen, making sure to keep one downstairs room in clean condition for her times with Allie. With the sanitary bowls put away in their temporary place, Allie returned to find Lane stretched out across the sofa. The blue eyes were closed, but Allie knew her lady wasn’t sleeping. Allie crossed her arms in front of her and studied the long legged splendor. I have never in my life seen a more beautiful woman, she thought. Her beauty is obvious to anyone who lays eyes on her. But knowing her like I do, it is the beauty of her gentle soul and happy spirit that I love most. Allie sighed with surprise. Yes, I love her. I am so deeply in love with her that it hurts to think of continuing to breathe if she weren’t in my life. I don’t care if I’ve only known her a few weeks. That’s more than enough for me to know where my heart lies.

     Starting at the feet, Allie slowly crawled up to lay on top of the fake sleeping beauty. She kissed the ticklish spot on Lane’s neck, and then the now smiling lips. “Am I…too…heavy for you?” she asked between kisses.

     Lane settled her hands low on the blonde’s back, running one hand under the loose fitting shirt, and skimming along the spine and with several fingertips. “You are light as a feather,” she whispered against the lips she continued to kiss.

     Allie grinned. “And you are a sweet liar.”

     Lane pulled away seriously. “Oh no. I will never lie to you. You deserve the very best of everything in a relationship, including honesty.”

     The smile on Allie’s face remained, but transformed from one of amusement into one of pure adoration. A drop fell from her eye.

     “Hey, why are you crying baby?” Lane asked, her voice laced with concern.

     “Because I love you.”

     Lane had been longing to hear those words. She had to hear them again. “What did you say?”

     “I love you. And I have never been happier in my life.”

     Lane caressed Allie’s face, gently wiping away the happy tears. Her own elated smile was beaming in the dark. “I love you too,” she confessed for the first time.

     The kisses and touches continued, soon sending the couple up to Lane’s bedroom, where they spent a long night exploring, learning and loving.

*    *    *

     At just before eight the next morning, Lane walked into her room, carrying a tray filled with bagels, cream cheese, strawberries and coffee. She took in the sight of her new lover, who was curled up around Lane’s discarded pillow. The cover was pulled up over her shoulder, obscuring the view of the lovely body Lane had worshiped the night before. But she knew it was just the first of many, many times they were to share in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

     Setting the tray aside, Lane spied the note she had left to explain her absence. She chuckled as obviously it was never seen. Sliding back into the huge bed, Lane slowly peeled away the brown striped cover to expose Allie’s peach tone skin. Her lips traveled down the arm, anxious, but patient for the woman she loved to open her pretty green eyes. “Good morning my beautiful Allie. I love you.” The naked body shivered once. “I need you.” Nothing else happened so Lane tried another tactic. “I brought something to eat.”

     The eyes suddenly popped open. Allie stretched as much as was possible in her current position. “Good morning Sweetheart,” she said, wiggling free of the confinement. Pulling Lane close, they shared a sizzling, good morning kiss.

     “Should I be offended?” Lane asked when they parted.

     “What do you mean?”

     “Well, I snuggle your luscious body, tell you I love you, kiss your perfect skin and it’s the mention of food that awakens you.”

     The blonde brows drew together. “Food? Oh. When you said you had something for me to eat, I was thinking of something else.”

     Lane laughed. “In that case I’m flattered. And I do believe I can indulge you…later.”

     Allie yawned as she got up to go to the bathroom. “I may need another nap later,” she said. “You, my insatiable lover, absolutely wore me out last night.”

     Lane snickered, moving the breakfast back to the bed. She continued to talk as Allie took care of her morning business. “Should I apologize?” she asked

     “Absolutely not!” Allie came back into the room, wearing Lane’s robe. “That was merely an explanation of my tired state. Now, since you mentioned food.”

     Lane offered a bagel topped with white cheese and a sliced berry. “You must have been in a deep sleep,” she said, “I got up an hour ago and went out for this tasty morning meal.”

     Allie crunched the yummy treat, watching as her lover did the same. “My subconscious missed you very much,” Allie said. “But I knew you’d come back to me.” It was a brand new day, and for Allie the start of a new chapter of her life. A life that was now fuller, brighter and happier than ever. “I love you,” she stated resolutely. “And I love saying that. So be prepared to hear it often.”

     “I’ll never get enough.” Lane leaned in and kissed Allie’s soft lips. “I love you too Sweets.”

     Allie’s green eyes twinkled as she questioned. “Sweets?”

     Lane nodded. “My new nickname for you. You are a pastry chef and you make the most delicious desserts,” she explained, whispering the rest in an ear. “And you taste so sweet, from your lips down to your…toes. And every spot in between.”

*    *    *

     As the summer months moved in, the couple spent more time outdoors. Bike riding and picnicking became regular events. Lane used one Saturday afternoon trying rollerblades for the first time. She fell only three times before finally getting her balance. And she released her silly side as she repeatedly zoomed in front of Allie, who sat on a nearby bench, merely a spectator. Lane made faces at her blonde friend as she rounded the park trail, entertaining not only her lover, but other spectators passing by. Allie laughed at Lane’s clowning, one time so hard that tears fell from her happy eyes. After doing a final, shaky pirouette, Lane disappeared behind her companion, re-appearing about a minute later, rolling over and flopping down beside Allie.

     “This is fun,” Lane huffed, just slightly out of breath.

     Allie set her camera aside and patted her lady on the leg. “I can tell,” she said, handing her a bottle of water.

     Lane sucked down a big gulp of the cool liquid. “But it doesn’t count as my secret ambition,” she said after. “I’m still thinking on that one.” Lane pulled her hidden hand from behind the bench and presented Allie with a bright yellow and orange flower. “One beauty for another.”

     Allie sniffed the brilliant bloom and smiled. “Thank you baby.”  Scooting close, they sat there quietly, just enjoying another exquisite day and each other.

*    *    *

     The view from the ferris wheel was spectacular. The treetops swayed at eye level, and off to the side, Allie watched the paddle boats on the lake below. That was definitely on her list of things to do. Lane snuck a kiss as the wide eyed beauty took it all in. It was Allie’s birthday and they both had taken the day off from work to spend a few hours at the county fair. They had just finished a gourmet lunch, in fair food that was any array of deep fried goodies. Thus the reason for the sedate rides. The thrills would come later on in the afternoon. When they had first arrived at the festive event, Lane ran right for the fun house, leading her companion by the hand. The tall woman proceeded to chase her lover through the wacky attraction, stopping to play with a few children along the way. Much later, they both tumbled from the exit and down the inflated slide with mile wide grins plastered across their faces.

     “Whoohoo!” Lane exclaimed. “That was exciting!” She pulled Allie to her feet and gave her a hug, which the blonde returned with glee. They started off hand in hand when Lane spotted a face painter. After perusing the available designs, Lane paid four dollars each for them to celebrate with a little temporary skin art. When both were done, Allie had brightly colored flowers and butterflies trailing down the side of her face, while Lane had chosen a set of rainbow colored feathers. Spying a photo booth a few feet away, they hurried in to preserve their memories on paper. Lane maintained her composure as long as she could, but soon the goofiness burst forth for the last set of pictures. Allie tucked the photos away into her pack for safe keeping, as they grabbed a bench before deciding what to do next. “You really are a big kid at heart,” Allie said to her energized lover.

     “Oh yeah! I figure, be serious when you have to, and have as much fun as you can the rest of the time.” Lane grasped Allie’s hand and gently squeezed with a non-verbal I love you. Aloud she said, “That’s one of the reasons I like being with you so much. You accept that part of me and make me feel good about it. It has been an issue in the past.”

     “I not only accept it, it’s one of the things I love most about you. It will never be an issue with me.”

*    *    *

     That evening they had a late, candlelight dinner at Lane’s. The meal was light and healthy, but very satisfying. As they snuggled in bed after eating, Allie thanked her lover several times for making it a perfect day and birthday. But it wasn’t over yet. Lane pulled a wrapped box from the nightstand and presented it to Allie, along with a kiss.

     Inside the box, the birthday girl found a wood carving of a dolphin riding a wave. She could tell it had been handmade from a piece of driftwood, and upon inspection she found the initials LM notched into the bottom. “This is beautiful sweetheart. You made this didn’t you?”

     “I did,” Lane confessed modestly.

     “Thank you very much. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Something from nature and carved by your precious hand.”

*    *    *

     The setting sun spread out across the sky in all of its multi-hued, spectacular glory. Lane and Allie stood near the hill’s edge, wrapped in each other’s arms, as they watched the atmospheric finale. In silence, they were mesmerized until the last, blazing edge sank beneath the horizon.

     Only then did Allie whisper, “I will never get tired of seeing that.”

     Lane captured the soft lips and with gentle motions, lingered until dusk settled around them, heralding an end. “I agree about the sunset,” she said softly. “But that is something I will never get tired of doing.”

     Allie smiled in her special way, the one that made her eyes dance with love. Still connected by hands, the couple walked back a quarter mile, into the thicket of trees where their campsite waited. It was the conclusion of the summer season and the couple had taken a camping vacation in the west. They had been there three days and were scheduled for two more. The land had welcomed them with open arms and gorgeous weather, fulfilling Allie’s prayers, wanting her partner to have a wonderful experience. While Lane was a novice at camping, her lover was expertly skilled and thankfully, believed in as much modern conveniences as available. It wasn’t the roughing it Allie liked, just the immersion into nature with its sights, sounds and smells. The air mattress they slept on was very comfortable, the tent roomy and complete with sky light for star gazing. The propane stove and iron pot, hanging near the fire, was providing some great meals. But the portable, private toilet was the best. Doing your personal business in the wide open spaces just didn’t seem right to Lane.

     Their days were spent exploring and enjoying the earthly terrain. A leisurely canoe trip through a nearby canyon was another entertaining first for Lane. Her arms had ached by late in the day, but it was a satisfying pain, a reminder of a great adventure. They had safely observed a rattlesnake and several other creatures living their wild lives. A nice hike had taken them to a phenomenal lake, which provided them with a hearty supper. Allie showed Lane how to carefully forage the land for natural nourishment. And Allie was especially proud of them, knowing they saved a life when they had reported an injured bird to a park ranger.

     The divine nights had them exploring and enjoying bodily terrain. The games of hide and seek with pine nuts had been particularly fun. Love making was enthusiastic and exciting, and sweet and tender. Sometimes a little silly, but always sincere. But the affirmation of their passion and love under the night sky gave them joy beyond anything previously known. Their soul connection was true and complete.

     So far the trip had been excellent.
     Even with the convenient stove, a romantic fire set the mood every evening, and a small blaze was soon flickering beneath Allie’s hands. Lane sifted through the box of food stuff and came out with a bag of white puffs. A few marshmallows were about to get a nice golden tan. She also popped open the sparkling cider that they had cooled in a running stream earlier in the evening.

     As their snack toasted, Lane put an arm over her lover’s shoulder. “Thank you Sweets.”

     Allie turned to look at her dark haired companion. “What for Honey?”

     “For arranging this wonderful trip. I’m having a lot of fun.”

     They shared a quick kiss. “Me too.”

     They laughed as a wayward marshmallow bit the dust and from the treetops, the familiar owl asked who did it. When the mirth faded, Allie added more wooden fuel to the fire and relaxed once again. The air and the earth smelled fresh and clean with just a hint of the pines surrounding them. The pop and crackle of the flames soon lulled them into a peace that just could never be duplicated in the busy, noisy city. Now matter how hard you tried, the world was right outside your door, waiting to intrude with hassles and time schedules. But there, at that time, beneath the expanse of black, with not a wall or a clock in sight, it really felt as if the whole world existed in just their little bubble of perfect.

     As the sticky treat was digesting, Lane watched the slight breeze lift the smoke up into the darkness. There she surveyed the diamond dotted sky, picking out the twinkling points of the constellations that she knew. All the while, Lane took great pleasure in the warmth of the petite body snuggled into her side. It was an ideal moment and the right decision. Lane adjusted her position, facing her lover and taking both hands in hers. She smiled widely, studying the green eyes she adored. “It has been thirty-three years,” she said softly, “and I have never had a better friend than you.”

     Allie melted at the admission then added one of her own. “And you have been the best surprise of my life.”

     Lane kissed the back of one hand and continued. “In this beautiful place, with only the trees and the creatures as our witness, I want to make a lifetime commitment to you Allie Peyton. I’m sorry I didn’t think ahead to bring a ring, but I want us to share everything, including my house…which will only become a home when you agree to move in. I promise to do my very best to relieve your sorrows and support you in everything you do. And I always want to make you happy. But when I can’t, I will be there to dry the tears and hold you tight.”

     Allie’s hands moved up to caress the beautiful face. “Oh Lane,” she said, “I want nothing more in the world than to move in with you and really begin our life together. Your love is wondrous. You make everyday we are together exciting and new. I promise you my lifelong devotion and undying love.”

     Raising their cups, they toasted their pledges.

     “To a long life of love and happiness.”
     “To the beginning of many adventures together.”

     Their lips came together, forever sealing their commitment and their love.


The beginning

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