Disclaimer:This is an uber story. The characters, however, do bare a striking resemblance to our two favorite heroines.
Violence:Yes, there is some in this story.
Maintext:This is a story about two women who find each other and fall in love. There is nothing overly graphic, but if the idea makes you cringe, (a) Too bad for you, and (b) Go read something else.
Thank You:To Mary D at AUSXIP and to Laura at Whiteshadow38.com for posting my stories. And to my Ginny------for being the one who made me truly understand that love is love. You are my Anam Cara and my partner for eternity.
E-Mail:I do love to hear from readers. If you care to tell me what you think, you can reach me at RoseXena@aol.com.
June 13, 2003
It was going to be a beautiful day. Alex Hawthorne could feel it all around her as she stood on the front porch of her small rustic ranch home. Leaning on the wooden railing of the front porch, she was a striking figure in the early morning sun. Her almost waist length black hair that was drawn into a ponytail glistened in the sun. The slight breeze in the air, delicately moved the bangs that cascaded over her forehead. Her face had a somewhat chiseled look; her deep-set eyes as blue as the cloudless sky above. She was an unusually tall woman, with broad shoulders, and strong hands.
Dressed in black jeans, black boots, and a black leather jacket over a dark blue denim shirt, she exuded an air that told the world "Don’t mess with me." And that was just the way she liked it. It wasn’t easy being a woman alone in this world. And Alex had learned long ago the advantages of strength.
She took a deep breath and allowed the smells of the morning to take over her senses. There was the hay that had recently been cut in the field next to her home. The honeysuckle that grew wild in the woods behind her house. The smell of manure from the paddock beside her vegetable garden. Yes, even that brought a smile to her full, red lips. She loved her spotted grey mare. That horse was one of the few who did not care who or what she was, and loved her anyway.
Alex allowed a small contented sigh to break the quiet of the morning. Sauntering down the three steps of her porch, she removed a jet black motorcycle helmet from the handlebars of her black and purple Harley Davidson and pulled it over her head. Mounting her other faithful steed confidently, Alex Hawthorne boot kicked the engine to life, and headed down the street; the two chrome mufflers roaring as she gunned the throttle. Yes, it was going to be a very beautiful day.
The small town of Taylorsburg wasn’t much different from any other rural small town in America. There was plenty of farmland and open space. There were wide tree lined streets dotted with small cozy homes, some of which dated back to the turn of the century. There was a reasonably efficient, albeit small hospital; one local doctor who still made house calls; two schools (one for the children up to eighth grade and then the high school); and a movie theatre that now boasted 3 screens. There was a bus depot, although most people used it to go somewhere outside of Taylorsburg----hardly anyone ever came to Taylorsburg, unless it was to see family. There was a garage that sold gas, a diner, a small general store still owned by the original family. There was a bookstore that doubled as a music store and rented videos, and a clean bar that actually served some of the best chili around. There was the newspaper office that put out a four page paper every afternoon. There was a police station manned by a force of three, with two jail cells that were seldom used.
Taylorsburg was one of those places that you either loved or hated. For those who craved excitement, it was hell on earth. For Alex Hawthorne, it was the world she had been seeking all her life.
The black and purple Harley roared to a stop in a parking place beside a white Ford Explorer emblazoned with County Sheriff’s Department printed in blue down its side panels. Alex Hawthorne flipped the kickstand down and swung easily off the seat of her bike. She removed her helmet and shook out her black hair as she hung the helmet on the handlebars. It only took her long legs a few steps to reach the door of the Main Street office of the Sheriffs Department.
She had no sooner stepped inside, when a small woman seated behind the counter began to speak hurriedly. "Alex, you forgot your radio again! I’ve been trying to get you for twenty minutes!"
Alex closed the door and asked calmly, "What’s up, Linda?"
The middle aged woman’s eyes were wide with excitement as she said, "Dan’s at the hospital. He found somebody on the road just outside of town. Pretty beat up."
"Anybody from town?" she asked, her voice firm with concern.
Linda shook her head of slightly graying hair. "Nope. But you better get down there."
Alex sighed and looked at her watch. It wasn’t even 7 a.m. yet. "Knew I should have had my coffee before I got here," she thought. "Okay. Tell Dan I’m on my way." She turned to go back outside when Linda called her name. As she looked back, Linda tossed something shiny and pointed into the air. Alex caught it and smiled. "Thanks." Pinning the gold badge that said SHERRIFF to the pocket of her denim shirt, she continued on her way.
Alex Hawthorne walked into the hospital and saw Dan standing at the reception desk. He was wearing a light grey uniform and there was a formidable gun strapped to his side. He was Taylorsburg’s Deputy Sheriff. At twenty five, he was married and had a beautiful wife and two adorable sons. He was almost as tall as Alex, but at over 6 ½ feet, it was hard to find anyone in Taylorsburg who could top Alex.
He smiled as she approached. He had a lot of admiration for the woman in black who walked with authority and strength toward him. When Alex had been assigned as Sheriff, he had had his doubts that any woman could do a mans job. Alex had proved him wrong more than once in the last five years.
"Forgot your radio again, huh Alex?" he chided, his brown eyes twinkling. Dan didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but he loved to kid his boss about her little mistakes.
The woman in the black leather jacket shoved her hands into her jean pockets. "You know I hate that damn thing. Anyway, not much ever happens around here anyway. What’s up, Dan?"
He lifted a clipboard off the counter and began to speak. "I was on patrol. Found her laying on the side of Sharon Road." He handed the clipboard to his superior. "She was unconscious. Pretty beat up. I called for the ambulance."
Alex looked at the forms on the chart. There was no patient name. "She have any ID?"
"Nothing." He replied.
She continued reading the police report silently. "Female. Age: approximately 25. Height: 5’5". Weight: 110 lbs. Hair: Blond. Eyes: Green."
Dan watched her deep blue eyes scanning the page. "Doc Evans says she’s lucky to be alive. The way I found her, she must have been dumped out of a moving car. She was lucky she rolled to the edge of the road whe she hit."
Alex shook her head and sighed. "I thought I left crap like this in the city." She handed the clipboard back to her deputy. "I’m gonna find the Doc. You go back out, Dan. You did good."
The young man smiled. "Thanks, Boss. See you later." He gave her a friendly salute, and started toward the door. Alex headed down the hall to Dr. Evans office, but was stopped short when the door to Room 4 opened, and Dr. Ben Evans stepped out. He was a portly, middle aged man with a warm smile and a good heart. A "country doctor" most would call him. Alex knew he was far better than the city doctors she had come to know.
"Alex," he said quietly, "I’m glad you’re here." He pulled the door closed slightly. "She’s in here."
Alex hooked her thumbs into the pockets of her jeans. "How is she?"
He sighed. "Battered and bruised. Looks like somebody used her for a punching bag. Two broken ribs. A concussion. Cuts and scrapes…..but that could have been from landing on the road."
"Is she conscious?"
"In and out. I gave her a shot for the pain."
"She tell you anything?"
Dr. Evans shook his balding head. "Nothing. She seems confused."
Alex ran her hand across the back of her neck. "Yea, well, beat me up and throw me out of a car and I’d be confused too. Can I see her?"
He nodded. "Just don’t expect much right now."
Alex nodded, pushed open the door and entered the room. What she saw made even her hardened heart gasp. The blond was laying in the hospital bed looking like a small rag doll. Her arms were black and blue. Her face swollen and bruised. One eye was almost swollen shut. As Alex approached the bed, she felt her anger rising. "No one should have to look like this!"
The small woman in the bed stirred as if she felt Alex coming near. One eye opened completely. It was the most beautiful shade of green that Alex had ever seen.
"Hi," Alex said quietly. "My name is Alex Hawthorne. I’m the Sheriff here. Can I ask you a few questions?" The blonde tried to nod her head, but a look of pain flashed across her face. Standing beside the bed, Alex reached out and gently lay her hand on top of one of the blonde’s hands. "I won’t make this hard on you. What’s your name?"
The battered woman closed her eyes. When she opened them once again, Alex saw a tear run from the corner of her unbruised eye. With a voice that sounded like a frightened child, she whispered, "I don’t know."
Alex’s dark eyebrows drew together tightly. "You don’t know your name?" The blonde moved her head slightly to signify that she did not. "Can you tell me what happened to you?" Alex asked.
She wet her lips slightly with her tongue. Alex found her gaze falling to her swollen upper lip, feeling an unusually strong sympathy for this young woman. She quickly drew back to reality when the woman said, "I….I don’t know……I don’t know……anything." The tears began to flow more freely. "I……..I………can’t……remember."
Alex suddenly understood. Whatever had happened to this poor young woman had left a deeper wound than those on the surface. She had seen it before. Amnesia. She pulled a clean handkerchief out of her back pocket. "Sshhhhh, it’s okay," she said, gently dabbing at the tears staining her face. She flashed her most sincere smile. "I’ll come back when you’re feeling stronger."
A bruised hand reached up, fingers gently touching hers. "P….please….stay." she whispered. "I’m……I’m…scared."
Alex felt a huge lump in her throat, and swallowed hard. The pleading look in those beautiful green eyes had reached in and touched a place in her heart she had long thought dead. It had been a very long time since anyone had truly needed her. And for some reason, she felt needed at this moment by this small, broken little blonde.
Alex pulled a chair up beside the bed and sat down, her blue eyes never leaving the gaze of the blonde. The woman in the hospital bed managed a tiny, grateful smile, and her eyes slowly closed as she drifted off to sleep.
The next 4 days passed quickly for Alex Hawthorne. Life in Taylorsburg returned to its boring normalcy. Nothing more exciting for the Sheriffs Department than Dan pulling over an out-of-town speeder, and Alex being called upon to umpire the local Little League game. The Taylorsburg Tigers won 4-2.
For the first two days, the whole town was buzzing at the front page story in the newspaper. "WOMAN BEATEN. DUMPED ON HIGHWAY." But by the third day, the headline read "WILSON’S DEPARTMENT STORE HAS ALL YOUR 4th OF JULY FIREWORKS IN STOCK." That was the way life was in Taylorsburg.
For Alex Hawthorne, life had been anything but normal. She had been to the hospital every day, visiting the mystery woman in Room 4. Her physical wounds had begun to heal. The red bruises were turning into shades of purple and yellow, which actually was a good sign. The swelling had gone down in her left eye and she could now open it. Her swollen lip likewise had almost returned to normal, allowing for much easier speech. But she still had no memory or herself or how she had gotten on the side of the road.
Alex didn’t press her. She knew that in cases of amnesia there were two possible outcomes: she would either slowly regain her memory, or she would forever be a total blank----a slate wiped clean. So Alex kept their visits away from technical police questioning that would get her nowhere and focused on small talk: telling her about Taylorsburg, the weather, and anything to try to keep the small, short haired blonde’s spirits up.
Alex found herself looking forward to ending her day sitting in the chair beside the bed with her. Despite her injuries, she was intelligent, witty, and damn good looking. That part began to worry the tall dark Sheriff. When she arrived back at her modest ranch house after dark, she found herself sitting in her comfortable recliner and thinking about the mystery woman in hospital Room 4. Thinking perhaps a bit too much.
It had been a long time since she had allowed her stoic exterior to slip, even just a bit. She knew she could not allow it to happen. Not here. Not now. Not ever again. But there was something about her. Something other than that she was Case # 22874 at the Taylorsburg County Sheriff’s Department.
Alex knew it all really didn’t matter. It wouldn’t be long before she would be on a bus headed out of town. Doc Evans was almost set to release her from the hospital. It was decided that she would room at Emma’s Motel at the end of Main Street until she decided where she wanted to go. Emma was a good soul who ran a clean place. No funny business at Emmas! She never seemed to run out of customers, but they were mostly families or couples passing through the town on the way to vacation spots, or heading home to the big cities.
The people of Taylorsburg also had good hearts. Many had donated money for clothes and personal items for the young girl. And there was money for a bus ticket anywhere she wanted to go. But Alex couldn’t help wondering: "Where do you go when you don’t know where home is?"
That had been playing on her mind as she ended her shift on the fifth day. Linda, her faithful dispatcher, had gone home to have dinner with her parents. Dan was probably already home, eating his wife’s good cooking or rolling around on the floor with his two young sons.
Alex locked the door of the station and remembered to check her jacket pocket for the small police radio. It was there. Even though her office was shut down for the night, she could still get calls from neighboring towns, although she couldn’t remember the last time that had happened. Every now and then, someone would call just to say "Hi" and ask how things were going. That was life in small town America.
Mounting her bike, Alex strapped on her helmet and headed toward the hospital. The sun was still out, as it was almost July, but the wind on her face was cool and refreshing. Alex was going to miss these evening excursions to visit her little blonde friend. Friend. She sighed as she gunned the throttle with her right hand. She hoped with all her heart that she was not going to be making a very big mistake tonight. One that she would live to regret the rest of her life.
"Hi," Alex said as she entered the hospital room. The young blonde was sitting in a comfortable chair, loaned by Dr. Evans. She was wearing pajamas and a bathrobe, which hid all of the bruises except the one around her eye and her upper lip. Since Alex had never seen what she looked like without bruises, it didn’t bother her at all to look at her. Except that she would like to find whoever who had done this to her and ……..
"Hi Alex," The voice of the blonde shook Alex out of her rising black anger, and a smile tugged at her lips. She had no accent, but the words came out sounding warm and friendly.
"Did you have a good day?" Alex asked, unzipping her leather jacket and dropping into a nearby hardbacked chair.
She smiled. Her once swollen mouth now allowed her lips to draw into the most beautiful smile that Alex had seen in years. And those damn green eyes. They sparkled like emeralds. "Yes, I did," she replied. "I found a name."
Alex straightened in the chair. "You remembered something?"
"No, no……’fraid not. I mean a name………..for me."
Alex allowed her body to untense, her back settling into the chair as much as she could. She couldn’t help but smile. In the days that she had been in the hospital, the staff had called her "Jane Doe". That was so typical, but it made Alex want to gag. She refused to call her a name that she associated with tags on the toe of unknown women at the morgue. She hadn’t really called the blonde anything. When they talked, neither of them seemed to notice the lack of a name.
"Okay, what did you pick?" Alex asked, immediately feeling the vibrations of happiness in the room.
The blonde smiled. "You’re gonna think I’m crazy."
Alex allowed a full smile to cross her lips. "Well, we know from that psych exam that you’re not crazy. Come on, what is it?"
"Well, I was looking out the window last night. It was so beautiful. And all of a sudden I knew." She paused and then said, "Star. I want my name to be Star Taylor."
Alex’s smile turned into a grin. The little blonde looked happier than she had ever seen her. "Star Taylor," she repeated, testing the feel of the name on her tongue. "I like it."
The blonde with the new name suddenly frowned, and winced slightly from the bruised facial muscles. "Is the ‘Taylor’ part okay? I mean, I don’t want to steal the name of your town. It’s just that……well, this is like…it’s like where I was born. You know….I woke up here." Alex saw her body shiver slightly. Despite her brave exterior, there was still a lot of emotional scarring inside the battered woman.
Alex leaned forward and placed a strong hand on top of her small one. "Star Taylor is a great name. And now I don’t have to say ‘hey you’ anymore." Star turned her hand over and gently wrapped her fingers around several of Alex’s. She wanted to pull away. She didn’t want to feel the warmth of a hand in her own. But she couldn’t move. She didn’t want to move. "It’s been so long," she thought, looking at the small fingers clinging to her large hand.
"Dr. Evans says I can get out of here tomorrow," Star said, breaking the spell and causing Alex to return her gaze away from her hand. "I…..I’m a little scared."
Alex took the opportunity to remove her hand and lean back in her chair. "I know. But you know how to take care of yourself. The wounds are healing. And you remember everything except…….."she let her voice trail off, realizing she had been using her official Sheriff voice.
"Who I am." Star said, finishing the sentence.
Star pulled her robe closed tightly around her, as if to protect herself from the unknown. "I’ve tried to remember. I really have. I don’t know if I have a family, or who did this to me, or where I’m going, or if anybody cares."
"I care." The words escaped Alex’s lips so fast that she felt herself beginning to blush at the confession. She quickly rose from the chair and turned her back to Star, hoping she would not see.
"Alex, you’re the only real friend I have," Star said from behind her.
"Yea, well, having me for a friend isn’t that much of a bargain," she thought, her mind momentarily fleeting to her past. She shook off the image and turned to face the young girl. "Thanks," was her simple reply. She looked at the small short haired woman sitting there, holding herself tightly as if to protect herself from the world, and Alex felt her heart begin to melt. She didn’t want Star to leave. If she walked out of the hospital tomorrow, there was a chance that she would just get on that bus and be gone forever. She didn’t want that to happen. Not right now, anyway.
Alex knew what she was going to say made no sense, not even to her. "I should be out that door right now," she thought to herself. But instead, she said, "I had an idea. I mean….well, if you don’t want to, it’s alright."
Star blinked her deep green eyes at her, not knowing what to expect. "About what?"
"Well," Alex shoved her hands into the pockets of her leather jacket. "Instead of going to Emma’s Motel tomorrow…….." The little voice inside her head shouted, "You’re out of your mind, Alex Hawthorne!", But she pushed it aside and said, "How about coming to stay at my place."
Star smiled broadly, ignoring the pain in her upper lip. "Your place? Oh, but Alex, I couldn’t. I mean…..you’ve been so nice to me already. I…I’d be intruding."
Alex shook her head, her black ponytail swinging behind her back. Now that it was out in the open, she liked the idea even more. "Not at all. I’ve got an extra room. It’s a small house, but it’s quiet. Out of town. Nobody to hassle you with questions."
"Except you, huh, Sheriff Hawthorne," Star said with a warm smile.
Alex raised her hands. "None, I promise."
Star looked down at her lap, and then up again to meet Alex’s blue eyes. "I promise I wont stay long."
Alex felt almost giddy. "As long as you want. Anyway, Morgan will like the company."
"Is Morgan your boyfriend?" she asked, realizing that Alex had never mentioned a man in her life.
Alex laughed out loud. It felt so good to laugh again! "Morgan is my six year old grey Appaloosa mare."
Star’s green eyes grew wide. "A horse! Oh, I love horses! When I was a kid, I rode one on a nature ride……." Her mouth clamped shut when she saw the astonished look on Alex’s face. Then she whispered, "I remembered something, didn’t I?"
Alex looked into those beautiful green eyes and nodded. "You sure did," she said proudly. It was a first step. A good first step. Hopefully as the days went by, Star would begin to put together the pieces of her life. She smiled at her warmly. "Hey, that’s enough for tonight. You get some rest. I’ll come by and pick you up when Doc Evans says it’s alright." The tall woman in black turned to leave, but stopped at the door when Star called her name. Looking over her shoulder she asked, "Yes?"
The little blonde with the new name and no real past except a memory of a horseback ride when she was a child, smiled the innocent smile of that very same child. "Thank you." She said, quietly.
Alex couldn’t find the words. She nodded her head, and quickly left the hospital room. Once outside in the light of the setting sun, she leaned back against her motorcycle and sighed. "Alex Hawthorne, you are a fool," she thought, and she raised her head upward, her blue eyes catching the twinkle of the first star of the night. "Star," she said softly, smiling up at the shining white light. Getting on her bike, she raised the kickstand with her foot, hopped the engine to life, and roared down the street. Her helmet was still hanging from the handlebars. Fine thing for the Sheriff to be breaking the law. But tonight, rekindling a long ago memory of her own, she wanted to feel the wind in her hair.
Alex Hawthorne lay on her bed in the glow of the moonlight, her hands joined behind her head. This had always been her favorite time of the day. Dressed in a loosely fitting grey tee shirt and boxer shorts, both emblazoned with SHERRIF on them, she felt at peace. There were the sounds of the night, the familiar smells, the cool summer breezes playing across her long lithe legs. And now there was also the other sound. The sound of Star Taylor snoring in the bedroom next to hers.
Alex couldn’t help but smile. In the month that Star had been staying with her, she had found herself smiling a lot. Once she got the woman out of that hospital room and to her small ranch home, she saw her blossom. It was like a wounded and timid animal learning to trust the world again.
Star seemed to fit right in. She took over some of the household chores while Alex was at work, and there had hardly been a day when Alex hadn’t come home to a home cooked meal. Even with amnesia, there were some things that Star just automatically did without thinking. Cooking was one of them.
The bruises, cuts, and swelling had all but disappeared. On the outside, Alex saw a beautiful young woman with magnetic green eyes and a smile that could melt ice. But she knew that on the inside there was a woman who was still lost. Sometimes at night, she heard her crying softly. Several times she had gotten out of bed and started toward the room. But she had always stopped. There would come a day when Star would want to move on. And she wasn’t about to make it any harder for either of them.
She had remembered a bit about her past. Mostly shadow figures. A city, but no name. A man who smoked a pipe----she thought it might be her Father because his voice sounded soft and old. An old Buick sedan. Nothing much for Alex to go on at all. She had sent a picture of Star to all the local police departments to see if anyone could recognize her. So far, nothing. Star Taylor was still a mystery.
Alex sighed. "A beautiful mystery," she mused. Oh, she had been on her very best behavior. She was always careful not to tell her too much, not to get too close, not to reveal the truth that she tried so hard to deny to herself. She had always been able to keep her promises, even to herself. And she promised that when the time came for Star to leave, she would let her go and never tell her just how much she loved her.
The hair on the back of Alex’s neck stood up, and instinctively she bolted upright, legs swung to the floor. But there, standing in the doorway was the little blonde, wearing a pair of summer weight pajamas. She looked frightened and whispered, "I’m sorry. I had a bad dream, Alex. Can I come in?"
The raven haired woman took her body off defensive mode and smiled. "Sure." She scooted way back to the headboard of the bed and motioned for Star to sit. Star climbed onto the high bed and sat cross-legged in front of her friend. "I didn’t mean to wake you up."
"You didn’t. What was the dream about? Did you remember something?" She never liked to push Star, but sometimes when she got her to talk about her dreams, little pieces of her life spilled out.
Star pursed her lips together in thought. "Big hands. Someone strong. A lot of yelling." She raised her hand to her cheek. "It hurt……a lot."
Alex sighed. It had been somewhat of a recurring dream for Star. A large person who was very strong, and apparently enjoyed hitting her. Probably the same man who had dumped her lifeless body on the side of the road. Star could never see a face or hear exact words. But she felt the pain, even after she was wide awake.
"One of these days we’re gonna find the bastard who did that to you, Start," she said, trying to conceal her anger.
Star nodded, gently rubbing her cheek. "Can I stay here with you awhile, Alex?"
The red flashing warning light went off once again in Alex’s head. This wasn’t the first time Star had asked. As long as she kept her distance, Alex let her curl up on the bed. And once she was sure that Star was asleep, she quietly left to go sleep on the sofa in the living room.
Alex pulled one of the pillows from behind her head, and tossed it to the edge of the bed. "Sure." But on this night, Star moved her body toward Alex instead of away, and suddenly Alex was aware that this night she intended on getting a little too close for comfort. Alex’s quick reflexes shifted her body to the other side of the bed quickly before Star was able to lay her head in the hollow of her shoulder. "No," was all she said. But it came out sounding as if she was angry. It wasn’t anger at all----not at the little blonde.
Star blinked at her as she sat up on the bed. "Why?" was all she asked.
Alex had not gone into her past with Star, and she was not going too now. She swung her legs over the far side of the bed, her back to the woman. "Just……no." she said quietly.
"Is it because you’re gay?"
The words hit Alex like a baseball bat to the back of her neck. She spun around to face Star, her eyes showing both fear and anger at the same time. "Who told you?" she said, her voice shaking slightly.
Star shrugged her shoulders. "I don’t know. I was in town last week and I overheard some people talking about me living here with you. They called you the ‘Lezzbean Sheriff’. I had to laugh, cause the way they said it, it sounded like something you’d grow in your garden!"
Alex didn’t notice that her mouth was hanging open. She shook her head to clear it. "Wait a minute…..last week? Why didn’t you say something sooner?"
She sighed and looked down, and began picking at the cuff of her pajama pants. "I thought you’d tell me."
Alex stood up and ran her hands thru her black bangs. "Oh yea, now there’s a great thing to drop on your friend…….Gosh I’m so glad you’re staying here with me, and oh, by the way…….I’m gay!"
"Am I your friend, Alex?"
Alex looked down at her. "Well, of course you are."
"And you’re really glad I’m here?"
"Well……….yea…..sure……you know I am."
Star looked up at her and Alex could swear she saw the moonlight dancing off her eyes. "Then why couldn’t you trust me enough to tell me?"
"I trust you…………."she said, pacing back and forth in front of the bed. "It’s me I don’t trust." She admitted. Suddenly Alex stopped pacing and looked at Star. "You knew…….but you stayed."
Star laughed. Gods but she had the most beautiful, melodic laugh. "Why not?"
Alex was not exactly sure what to say. She scratched the back of her neck, and shook her head. "I need a drink," she said, quickly walking past the bed and out into the small kitchen. "The woman has amnesia, for the gods sake!" she yelled in her head as she grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels out of the cupboard over the sink and poured a good shot into a water glass. As she chugged the shot, her head tilting back, all she could think was "She isn’t afraid of me."
She wasn’t aware that Star had followed her until she heard her bare feet padding lightly on the wooden floor. "Alex, talk to me," she said in a tone that was almost pleading. "I’ve told you everything I can remember about myself, which isn’t a whole hell of a lot I admit. But you’ve told me almost nothing about you." She dropped down onto the large sofa and muttered, "I had to hear from people in town that you’re a lesbian."
For some reason, perhaps is was that shot of good old Jack, Alex found herself smiling. She entered the living room and sat at the far end of the sofa, crossing her long legs beneath her body. "That’s ‘Lezzbean’, here in Taylorsburg," she said, trying to control the laugh that truly wanted to escape from inside.
There was no use. Star began to giggle, and Alex lost her fight. Both of them began to laugh out loud. And Alex found herself suddenly feeling so much better, so much freer now that she didn’t have to hide any longer.
Star slapped gently at Alex’s bare leg. "So…..what about it, Alex? Will you tell me a little about who you are? Other than the gay part."
Alex propped her elbow on the back of the sofa and rested her cheek against her hand. How could she resist this beautiful young woman that was sitting on her sofa in the cutest little pink summer pajamas she had ever seen. "She knows….and she isn’t afraid of me," repeated the little voice in Alex’s head. She smiled and nodded. "Okay, short story of my life."
"Don’t make it too short," warned Star, sitting in almost the same position as Alex, but not getting too close. She really did want to know about the evasive sheriff, and to get too close now might drive her friend away.
"I was born in Philly. Mom drank too much, and Dad liked to knock her around." Alex saw Star wince at the mention of being hit. "Well, you want the story, so you might as well hear the dirt," thought Alex. "When I was 13, I joined a gang. A girl gang." She grabbed the neck of her tee shirt and pulled it down in the front to reveal a crudely carved X above her left breast. She heard Star gasp. "This was my initiation. My welcome to the club." She released the collar of her shirt. "When I was 15, I was doing drugs. Got sent to Juvenile and then to a halfway house for teen abusers.
"There was a woman who ran the house. She said there was something about me that showed I was better than how I was treating myself. Got my high school diploma. Actually got accepted at the police academy. Within two years of being a police officer, I was promoted to Sergeant. I had the world ahead of me….." She let her voice trail off as all the distant memories came flooding back before her eyes.
"How did you end up here?" asked Star.
Alex sighed and continued. "Well, something happened. I…..I knew I was gay from the time I was a kid. I used to be pretty wild, but once I got my life in the right direction, I stopped that crap. Never could find a steady girlfriend. Then one day, I met Dianne." She smiled at the memory of the slightly older woman with dark brown hair who worked in the payroll department at the precinct. "Oh, nothing was ever gonna come of it. She was married. But we just hit it off, you know? Even when I told her I was a lesbian, she laughed and said she didn’t care, cause I was the only one who laughed at her corny jokes."
Star moved just a little closer to Alex, sensing the sudden tension in the air. She knew this was somehow not going to be a happy ending. "What happened to her Alex?" she asked quietly.
The corners of Alex’s mouth twitched. She hadn’t thought it was going to be so hard to talk about. But she had never spoken of Dianne to anyone since her arrival in Taylorsburg five years ago. She swallowed hard and continued. "The guy she was married to liked to get drunk and….well….abusive. She used to hide the bruises well. He never messed up her face. I tried to get her to tell. She wouldn’t tell. She wouldn’t even admit to me what was happening. But I knew……..I knew." Her voice trailed off as she remembered her own happy family life growing up in an abusive household.
Alex shook her head to clear out the images she did not want to remember. "Damn, I don’t want to remember this either!" But she pushed herself on to finish the story. "Got a call one night when I was out on patrol. I got to the house just in time to see Dianne laying at the bottom of the stairs." Her eyes were beginning to fill with long unshed tears. "He’d pushed her……..her neck…….." Alex could not continue. The tears began to flow.
Star reached out her hand and lightly touched Alex’s hand. "You loved her, didn’t you?"
Alex nodded, wiping her eyes on the bottom of her tee shirt. She felt like such a fool falling apart after so many years. But the guilt she felt was still there. "I should have done something. I should….I should have killed the bastard!"
"Is he in prison?" she asked.
"Yea----life." Alex forced out a harsh laugh. "He got life, Dianne’s dead, and my world fell apart. Who got the best deal?" She straightened her legs out from under her and dropped her feet to the floor. "I quit the force, took off on my bike, and ended up here. Wouldn’t you know, they needed a Sheriff. The last one was so old he just up and keeled over one day."
"And you’ve been keeping the peace in Taylorsburg ever since." Star said, trying to put a happy spin on what was the saddest story she had ever heard.
Alex nodded once again. "Everybody’s at peace except me." She admitted aloud without realizing her admission. There was a sudden long silence in the room that made her feel very uncomfortable. She suddenly realized that Star had inched so close to her on the sofa that it would be so easy to just lean over and……Alex rose quickly to her feet. "I think that’s enough about me," she said, moving slightly away from the beautiful blonde.
Star looked up at her with those beautiful green eyes and asked, "Why is it you won’t let me be close to you?"
"What----did you just get a second case of amnesia?" the voice yelled in her head. Alex held up her hands, palms out as if to keep Star at bay. "Look, I don’t want to hurt you, Star."
The small blonde slowly stood up and cautiously approached, her green eyes never breaking from Alex’s gaze. "I know you won’t hurt me," she said quietly.
Alex could not get her feet to move. It seemed as if her body would not obey her brain. She wanted to run. She wanted to back away, but she was lost in the beautiful green eyes and the trusting smile on the lips of this woman she had grown to love. Alex groaned aloud as Star reached up and gently brushed her cheek with the back of her hand. "Don’t." she whispered.
Star was still looking up into her eyes. "Why?" she asked, not removing her hand.
"Cause…..cause you’re not gay," Alex said quietly. "Oh, dear God, how I wish….."
Star let her hand move away slowly, but she was now standing so close to Alex that each could feel the warmth coming from each other’s skin. "I don’t know what I am. Hell, Alex, I don’t know who I am. But I know one thing…."
Alex swallowed hard. "What?"
"That I love you," she said with such honesty and conviction that Alex knew that all hope was lost to ever escape. But she knew in her heart that escaping was the last thing that she ever wanted to do.
In an instant of time, both women had joined in a loving embrace. Star had her arms encircled around Alex’s waist, her body pressed tightly to her chest. Alex had one arm around her shoulders, the other hand cradling her head as it lay against her chest. With their difference in height, Alex could rest her chin almost on top of Stars blonde head. She liked it. They were a perfect fit.
Alex gently kissed the top of her head and said the words so long unspoken. "I love you, Star." There was so much emotion running thru her body that her voice cracked as she spoke.
The petite blonde, raised her head to look into her beautiful blue eyes. Alex began to lower he head toward the beautiful red lips that awaited her. "Don’t ruin it, Hawthorne!," her inner voice warned. "Slow. Slow." And so for once Alex heeded her own advice, despite the fact that she wanted to devour those lips and enter the cave of desire that lay offered before her. She lowered her head further, and gently, ever so gently, touched her lips to Stars.
The electricity and desire that flowed through them both was almost overpowering. They both groaned at the warmth, the softness, the intimacy they were sharing. But when Alex felt the tip of Star’s tongue slide across her upper lip, begging for entrance, that was when Alex mustered all of her effort and broke off the kiss.
"Not yet," she whispered, breathlessly.
Star reached up and traced her lips with her index finger. "I want you." She said, her voice low with desire.
Alex gently grasped her fingers. "I want you too. Gods, how I want you. But I want to do this right."
"Kissing you isn’t right?" she asked, feeling somewhat hurt.
"THAT kind of kiss isn’t. Not right now." She stroked the short blonde hair lovingly. "I haven’t……I haven’t been with……anybody. Not for a long time. I want to show you love……..not just hot sex."
Star blushed, but a big smile crossed her lips. "Hot sex sounds pretty good to me!"
Alex reluctantly extricated her arms from around the young woman, and moved their bodies apart. "I want more. YOU deserve more. Star, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I want to wait."
Star looked up into the blue eyes she adored, her own eyes filled with tears. "You are so good to me."
Alex sighed deeply. "I want what we’ve found to grow. I want to show you real love. I want you to stay here with me, Star. Please don’t leave me." The Sheriff could not believe the tone of her voice. She had never pleaded like that in her life. She was strong. She was confident. She was so much in love with this woman who had literally fallen into her life that she was desperate to keep her.
Star’s beautiful green eyes gleamed with love and devotion. "Alex," she said quietly, "Is there anything in the ‘Waiting Manual’ that says we can’t snuggle in bed?" She dropped her eyes shyly, "I don’t want to feel so alone anymore."
Alex grasped her hand gently, raised it to her lips and kissed it softly. "You’re not alone. You’ve got me." She watched as Star entwined her small fingers around her much larger ones. She was smiling. "Come on," Alex said, leading her slowly back toward her bedroom, "We’ve got some serious snuggling to do." She laughed out loud, not believing her joy at the prospect of continuing to be celibate! "This MUST be love!", she mused. As she closed the bedroom door, she said, "I just hope you don’t hog all the covers!"
The next several months were pure joy for Alex Hawthorne. Having Star Taylor in her life now was life-altering. It had been so long since she had had someone to love. Much longer since someone loved her in return.
They kept to their agreement of no sex with very little conflict. Oh, it was clear to Alex that sometimes Star wanted more from a hug or a kiss. But she, being older, stronger, and slightly more in control of her emotions had always managed to keep the pact sound. The funny thing was, Alex was just so damn happy now. And maybe, for the first time in her life, she had discovered what love was all about. It wasn’t about sex---it was about sharing and caring and loving and being loved. And when the time was right for sex to enter the picture, she knew that she and Star would be finalizing the joining of their souls and their lives with their bodies. It was as close to marriage as they would ever get.
Star had blossomed! She had become a new woman. She radiated happiness, and found joy in every day and every little thing. The scars of the past were gone---both the physical and the mental ones. There was no more talk of trying to remember who she was. No more yearning for whatever was in the past. There was only Taylorsburg, and a small town sheriff named Alex Hawthorne, and a ranch house that had become her home.
She had taken a part time job at the Diner, just to have something to fill up her days. And it gave her a better chance to see Alex more often during the day. She started out waiting tables, and within a few weeks she was offering to cook up some batches of her favorite dishes. To everyones’ surprise, her chili was even better than what was served down at the Bar. And business had picked up strictly by word of mouth. Grant Baxter, the owner of the Diner, promoted her to assistant manager, and then manager. And Star took to her new career like it was made for her.
The people of Taylorsburg got quite used to seeing their Sheriff stroll into the Diner almost every day, sometimes several times a day. Sometimes Alex would eat, sometimes she’d just have coffee. Sometimes she’d just sit at the counter and watch her girl in action. And sometimes she became the official taste tester for something new that Star had whipped up in the kitchen. People couldn’t help but smile as the little blond held up a spoonful of something, and waited as Alex slowly sampled the offering. It was always good, and that pleased Star so much.
They didn’t hide the fact that they were very much in love. It was taking a big chance for both of them. But who was going to argue with the 6’5" Sheriff?? Alex didn’t carry a gun, but all she had to do with most of the people in town was give them "The Look", and they would back off right away. Actually, she hadn’t needed to even use "The Look" very much.
People still waved and smiled. Alex was still asked to umpire the Little League games. Both she and Star went to barbecues at Dan’s house and got along great with his wife and the kids. Oh there were always going to be some who avoided the town "Leezbeans"----but they had always stayed clear of Alex anyway. In the whole scheme of life in Taylorsburg, both she and Star had found happiness.
Alex dropped the newspaper that she had been reading into her lap and looked at her watch. It was just a little after 8pm. The sun hadn’t completely set yet. "Hey," she called to Star, who was putting away the last of the supper dishes, "How would you like to go somewhere?"
Star turned around from the cabinets and her smile melted Alex’s heart. Wearing a light blue tee shirt and faded jeans, she was so beautiful. "Sure," she said eagerly. "Do I need to change?"
"Nope," said Alex, pushing herself out of her lounge chair. "We’re both dressed fine." Alex, herself, had on her faded jeans and a short sleeve button down summer shirt in a check pattern.
Star approached her and grasped her hands around the back of Alex’s neck. "So, where we goin’?" she asked cheerfully.
Alex bent down and kissed the tip of her nose. "My secret. Come on, help me saddle Morgan."
"Oh, cool!" gushed Star. She loved going for rides on the spotted mare with Alex. She had become friends with the horse easily (well, an offering of apples helped). And she loved the closeness of sitting behind the woman she had come to adore.
Alex turned to pick up her small police radio from the arm of the chair. "I won’t tell her that ‘cool’ went out long before she was born!" she thought with an inner smile. When she turned around, Star was standing in front of her gently holding up her shoulder holster with her 15 round Glock inside. This small act had become routine for them both.
Anytime she and Star went out riding in the woods or the trails, Alex wore her gun for protection. She hated the damn thing, and kept it on the shelf under the lamp table. But there was always a chance of running into bears or even hazardess humans.
Alex raised her arms and allowed Star to fasten the buckle around her waist and make sure the holster was secure. This had become something of an intimate ritual that they both enjoyed.
Alex dropped the radio into the front pocket of her shirt and jerked her head toward the front door. "Come on. I want to get there before dark."
"Where’s ‘there’?" asked Star curiously.
Alex smiled, and there was a twinkle in her deep blue eyes. "A magic place," was all the clue she would give.
It was a leisurely twenty minute ride through the wooded trails. Alex guided Morgan at almost a walk. Star sat behind her in the saddle, her arms around Alex’s waist. It wasn’t that she needed to hold on, but they both enjoyed the closeness and comfort of touch. Every now and then, Alex would lay her hand on Star’s, reveling in the warmth of another human being. Especially this woman that she had come to love.
Alex gently pulled Morgan to a stop at what seemed to be the top of a hill. She dismounted effortlessly, and raised her arms to the little blonde, who gratefully accepted the chance for a warm embrace.
"So," Star asked, looking around the woods that surrounded them. "What’s so magic here, Alex?" she said as the tall woman tethered Morgan to a tree.
Alex held up her index finger. "Just wait." She extended her hand. "We have to walk just a little bit further."
Star grasped her hand, always amazed at how her small hand was swallowed up inside of Alex’s hand. They walked through a thick area of pines that suddenly opened up to a grassy clearing. There were rocks set up at what was the edge of a cliff, and one old tree stood guard.
Alex led Star to the rocks slowly, and smiled when the blonde gasped out loud.
There before them was a beautiful valley and hills that seemed to go on forever. The town of Taylorsburg lay below. From their vantage point they could see all the lights of the town. The sun was setting, and the sky was a beautiful shade of oranges and reds.
"It’s……it’s so……beautiful!" Star whispered, as if afraid to break the spell of the moment.
Alex smiled and perched herself on one of the large boulders. "Thought you might like it. This is my hideaway. The place I come to when I want to be reminded how beautiful the world really is."
Star sat on a rock near to Alex and just stared out into the setting sun. "I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so beautiful."
Alex was busy watching the wonder on her face. Right then and there she felt that she had it all---all that was important in life. The splendor of nature, and the love of a small blonde who had literally fallen from heaven into her world. She knew that she could never feel more happiness than she had since Star had come into her life.
"I wanted to ask you something," Alex said, suddenly feeing a bit shy. She had her head tilted slightly, her eyes looking up past her black bangs. "And….and I thought this might be….well….a nice place to ask."
"What is it, Alex?" she inquired, laying her hand on Alex’s leg.
"I have to stay calm," she thought, as she felt her heart begin to beat faster, both from what she was going to try to say and the warmth of Star’s hand seeping through her jeans. "Well…..we’ve been together for while now…..and I was thinking….well, I was wondering…"
Star released one of her melodious laughs. "How you can be so big and bad as Sheriff of this place and not be able to talk to me….."
"Hey, I talk to you all the time." She countered. "It’s just that….well…" Alex reached into the pocket of her leather jacket and removed something which she kept hidden in her hand. When she was sure that she had Star’s attention, she opened her hand palm up. Laying in her hand was a gold ring with two small diamonds set into it. "This was my Mothers ring. It’s all she left me when she died. I’d……I’d like for you to have it."
Star gently lifted Alex’s head so that their eyes met. "Is this what I think it means?" she asked, tears welling up in her warm green eyes.
"Well…I….we….I can’t marry you, damn it! Not legally. But…but I’m asking you Star……will you be my Partner…..forever?"
Star scooted her body close enough to Alex that their thighs touched. "Why Alex Hawthorne------I thought you’d never ask!"
The two women melted into each other’s arms in a solid embrace. Alex loved the way that Star, being shorter, just seemed to tuck perfectly beneath her chin. She closed her eyes and whispered, "I love you, Star."
The blonde pulled away slowly and held out her left hand, dangling her fingers. "Well, where’s the proof, Blue Eyes?" she joked.
Alex grasped her hand and slid the diamond ring onto her finger. It was a little loose, but that could be easily fixed. It looked beautiful on her slender short finger.
Star was beaming as she admired the gorgeous ring. "Oh Alex," she whispered, "I love you so much." When she looked up into her eyes, there were tears running down Star’s cheeks.
Very gently, Alex brushed at the tears with her finger, then found herself holding Star’s face in her hands. And very slowly she dipped her head toward the small blonde and touched her lips to hers. She was glad she was sitting down, for the softness in those lips made her legs go weak.
Star leaned into the kiss, and for the first time in months, gently touched her tongue to Alex’s upper lip. Alex Hawthorne had been the model of chastity for long enough. This was the woman that she loved. This was the woman that had just agreed to spend the rest of her life with her. Star had been given plenty of opportunities to decide if she wanted to stay or move on. And now, Alex knew for sure that they would be together always. She released the tenseness of her lips, parted them slightly, and accepted the gift of her woman.
"Oh, God!" her mind screamed in total bliss as their tongues met, and began the dance of the ancients. She rose to her feet, Star following, their lips still joined, tongues still exploring, and embraced, kissing each other with a hunger long denied. Their arms pulled their bodies together tightly, and each felt the warmth of the other.
It was Star who finally broke the kiss. Breathing heavily and with her voice now slightly deeper from growing passion, she said, "Can we?....Here?....Now?"
It was almost impossible for Alex to answer, as Star began to nuzzle and nibble at her neck. "I……" was all she could get out before she released a groan. There were feelings rising from deep within that she had not felt in years.
"I want you," Star whispered. "Don’t say no----------please."
That was the last thing that Alex was going to say at this moment. "Let me get a blanket," she said, kissing Star quickly. "Stay here." As she hurried to where Morgan stood, and removed the rolled up blanket from the back of the saddle, she whispered aloud, half to the horse and half to herself, "Am I crazy?" Alex’s face broke into a smile. "Oh, yea." She gave Morgan’s nose a quick scratch. "And it’s wonderful!" she said, turning to return to the grassy ledge.
Star silently took the blanket from her hands and spread it out on the ground. She sat down and held up her hand to Alex. Alex entwined her fingers with the tiny hand, and dropped down in front of her. Star began to move in to capture her lips once more, but suddenly Alex thought of something and held up her hand. "Wait one second," she said, "I don’t want you to get hurt."
Star frowned. "You’d never hurt me, Alex."
Alex smiled. "Not me." She slipped out of her leather jacket and began to unbuckle her shoulder holster. "This." She lay her weapon on top of her jacket, then unpinned her badge from her shirt pocket. "And this." She said putting it beside her gun.
Star folded her arms in mock frustration. "You know, Alex……I’d….I’d like you to take off more than THAT."
Alex lay down on her back and held up her arms to Stars. "In due time, my Love. We’ve got all night."
Star stretched her body out on top of the larger woman and began to place light kisses all over her face. "I feel like I’ve waited all my life for you," she whispered lovingly.
"Isn’t that amazing," Alex said, wrapping her arms around her, "I was just thinking the same thing." She raised her head and caught Star’s lips with her own, devouring her in a kiss filled with longing and passion. In one quick fluid motion, and with very little effort, Alex turned the tables on her little blonde, rolling her onto her back and pressing her body into hers. It was as if Alex needed to melt into this wonderful, warm, loving woman. She brought one hand between them, sliding it downward from Stars’ neck until it gently but firmly grasped her breast covered beneath the fabric of her tee shirt.
It was at that moment that Alex felt Star’s entire body grow rigid, and then shudder beneath her. It wasn’t a shudder of passion-----it was a shudder of fear.
She quickly pulled her head back, and saw in those beautiful green eyes a momentary far away look. A look that shook her so badly, she immediately removed her hand from Star’s breast and rolled her body onto the blanket. Alex’s mind was blank. What had just happened?
"Star, I’m sorry," she said quickly. "I….I thought you wanted this."
The small blonde’s eyes gleamed with tears in the moonlight. "Alex, I….I don’t know what happened."
Alex sat up. She had full control of herself once more. "It’s okay." She said, trying to conceal the aching hurt she felt inside. "It’s okay," she repeated.
Star sat up quickly. She felt so cold. She wrapped her arms around herself to try to quell the feeling inside of her. "It isn’t you," she moaned, "It’s me." She wanted somehow to explain what she herself didn’t really understand. "There was something…….I remembered something."
Alex’s eyebrows drew together tightly. "What?"
"Heavy. A body….big….on top of me," She began to rock, still holding herself. "Hands…..rough…." She closed her eyes from memories she didn’t really understand. "It hurt!" she groaned, rocking herself as she sat.
"What….what can I do?" Alex pleaded, wanting to reach out to her, but suddenly afraid to initiate any physical contact.
Star closed her eyes, tears running down her cheeks. "Please…..hold me……..just…..hold me."
Alex opened her arms wide and Star crawled into her embrace, burying her face against Alex’s chest. Alex held her tight, rocking her gently. "Damn whoever did this to you!" her mind screamed. "Damn them to Hell!" She dropped her chin to the top of Star’s head, and began to weep for both of them.
Alex Hawthorne opened the door to the Sheriffs Office and walked heavily inside. "Hey, Alex," Linda said cheerfully from behind her dispatchers desk.
"Morning Boss," said Dan, looking up from his desk where he was typing up a report on his computer.
Alex didn’t say anything, but she nodded to acknowledge that she heard them. She dropped into her desk chair wearily. She was tired. Very tired. It was more emotional than physical. Last night had certainly not been what she had been hoping for.
She and Star rode Morgan home in relative silence. Star held onto her tightly, still crying with her face pressed against Alex’s back. Once home, they went right to bed, but Star decided to sleep in her room. She had said she needed some time alone. And so Alex lay in her bed all night, drifting in and out of sleep, trying to think of some way to make everything alright. But in the end she knew there was nothing she could do. She could only hope and pray and dream that one day Star would be able to bury her fears and accept all the love that she longed to give.
"Alex, are you listening to me?"
The Sheriff blinked herself back to the present and looked over at her dispatcher. "What Linda?"
"Hello! I was telling you that Galton Country called about that court hearing you have to go to. It’s day after tomorrow. At 2:00."
Alex nodded. "Okay. Just remind me again later."
Dan had been watching Alex as he continued typing his report. Something was definitely not right. Alex looked like hell. And she had been sitting at her desk just staring down at the papers on it. Like she was in another world. Alex was the most efficient, perceptive woman he knew. She wasn’t prone to behaving like this. He pushed himself away from his desk, got to his feet and walked over to where Alex sat. Laying his hand gently on her shoulder he said, "Let’s go for a walk, Alex."
She looked up at him. "I don’t want……."
"This is one time I’m giving YOU an order. Come on." He smiled warmly at his boss.
Alex rose wearily, sighed, and followed her deputy out into the morning sunshine. She walked slowly beside him in silence. Dan stuffed his hands into his uniform trousers and asked, "So, what’s wrong?"
"Don’t give me that, Alex. I know you too well."
Alex looked over at him and managed a hint of a smile. "Yea, I guess you do."
"You look like you need a friend. Wanna talk about it?"
They crossed Main Street and Alex stopped by the stone wall that was the entrance to the town’s small park. She leaned against the wall and pushed her hands into the pockets of her jeans. "Don’t know if you’d understand."
Dan sat on top of the wall next to her. "Try me. I have a feeling this is something about Star. She isn’t leaving is she?"
Alex sighed. "I don’t know. Maybe she will."
"You two have a fight?"
"No," she said shaking her head. But then there was an uncomfortable silence.
Dan shifted his position on the wall. "Alex, I want you to know something. Maybe you already do…..I know you’re in love with Alex. Hell, I think the whole town does."
This made Alex smile. "Yea, well, I haven’t exactly been keeping it a secret."
"That’s one of the things I always admired about you," Dan admitted. "Before you hired me, you came right out and told me you were gay. Said you wanted me to know so I could go look for another job if I wanted to."
Alex nodded. "Yea, and you didn’t run away." She looked over at him and smiled. He was such a good, honest man. She had never regretted hiring him.
Dan folded his arms across his chest. "Never understood how you could like girls instead of handsome hunks like me," he laughed at his own joke. "But anybody could see how much you love Star, Alex. And I know she loves you. And you’ve been so different since the day I found her. It’s a good different, you know? So now here you are……and don’t tell me nothing is wrong cause you look like your world crashed on you."
Alex reached down, plucked a piece of grass and began to chew on it idly. "You know me too well."
"So? What is it?"
"We went up to Pierson’s Point last night," she said, staring off down the street. "I asked her to marry me."
Dan’s eyebrows knitted together. "Can you do that?...I mean…."
Alex couldn’t help but laugh. Dan seemed so sincere. "Well, not legally. Just a state of mind, Dan."
"Oh, that’s a shame."
She reached over and patted his leg. "Thanks, Buddy. I know you mean it."
"Did she say no?"
"Oh she said yes," Alex replied.
"Well, then what’s the deal?"
Alex didn’t want to get into details too deeply. Dan was her friend, but he didn’t need to know everything. "Lets just say I got too close. She….she freaked out on me…..Something from her past came out…..something about the person who hurt her."
"Anything we can go on to catch him, Alex?"
She shook her head. "Naww. But she remembered the hurt. And she pulled away from me." She released a big sigh, partly out of relief to be getting this off her chest. "I don’t know if we can ever be as close as I want us to be."
"You mean as in lovers, huh?"
Dan thought a second and then said, "I thought you already were."
Alex looked at her deputy and grinned. "Thanks Dan. No……we’ve been waiting."
"And now you’re not sure you love her anymore?"
Alex jumped to her feet. "I love her more than anything, Dan," she admitted, running her hands thru her black bangs. "I’m just not sure if she can ever get over what happened to her." She stuffed her hands in her jean pockets. "And I don’t know what to do to help her."
Dan got up slowly. "I do."
She spin around and looked at him. "You do?"
"Yep," he said laying his hand on Alex’s arm. "You show her every day just how much you love her. You stand by her, support her, hold her when she cries, don’t rush her into anything. And you never, ever give up." He smiled. "Cause that’s what’s kept me and my wife together for the last seven years, Alex. And just cause you’re both women…..it don’t make it any different. Not when it comes to love."
Alex leaned forward and planted a gentle kiss on his cheek. "Thank you, Dan," she whispered. "I’m so glad I hired you."
Dan’s face blushed a nice shade of pink, and he waved her off. "Awww----come on. Let’s get back. I gotta get out on the road and catch some speeders!"
Alex smiled and they walked side by side back to the office. She actually did feel a lot better. And she was going to do everything in her power to be the kind of partner that Dan was to his. Cause his wife was a very lucky woman indeed.
Star opened the oven door and checked the roast browning inside. It smelled wonderful. Perhaps it was the new herbs she was trying. "I hope Alex likes it," she thought. Of course, when it came to food, Alex wasn’t picky. She seemed to devour anything that Star put on the table with earnest.
But she had been trying so hard in the last few days to make up for her behavior up at Alex’s magic place.
She was still filled with so many emotions. An incredible desire to make love to the woman she loved. Fear from somewhere in her past. Shame at how she acted at the very moment when they were about to consummate their love. It didn’t have anything to do with Alex. It was something inside her. Something she couldn’t bring out from her memory, but that was keeping her from having the life that she truly wanted.
Alex had been so wonderful. So patient. So loving. She didn’t deserve anyone as wonderful as Alex. But she was doing everything she could, in the little everyday ways, to show her that she wanted to stay. That she wanted to work toward the day that she could find herself and be free.
Star looked at her watch. It was almost 5:00pm. Alex was going to be a little late getting home because she had to go to Galton for that court date. And Galton was about 50 miles away. Of course, since Alex took her bike, she shouldn’t be too late getting home. Out on the open road, Alex forgot she was a Sheriff and supposed to obey the speed laws.
There was a sudden knock at the front door. "I wonder who that is," she mused, walking to the door. Opening it, she was greeted by a large woman with very short dark brown hair. She was wearing jeans and a tee shirt that said HOT on the front. She smiled warmly at Star. "Can I help you?" Star asked.
The stranger nodded. "Hope so. My car broke down not far from here. I was wondering if I could use your phone?"
Star pursed her lips together, thinking about allowing a stranger into Alex’s house. "Well, I……."
"It’s so darn hot out today," the woman said, wiping her brow with her hand. "I’ve got my two kids waiting with the car. I just wanna call for a tow into town."
Well, even though she was big, she seemed honest enough. Her voice sounded genuine. And two kids shouldn’t have to be out in the heat. Star unlocked the screen door and held it open. "Sure. Come on in." The woman entered slowly, and followed Star to the counter that divided the living room from the kitchen. "There’s the phone," she said pointing. "And a phone book," she added.
"Thanks," the stranger said, flashing a grin that just for a moment had a feral quality about it. Star felt a sudden chill, but passed it off quickly.
She turned to enter the kitchen to check on her roast. Before she had taken two steps, a strong beefy arm grasped her from behind around the neck. Star screamed, but was choked off as the crook of the arm tightened around her windpipe.
The stranger’s voice whispered into her ear. "Hi, Babe!" No longer was the voice sweet and charming. This voice was close to being a growl.
Star struggled, trying to claw and twist away from her attacker, but it was futile. This woman was just too strong. "Who?........" she managed to gurgle as she felt the air being cut off to her windpipe.
The strong body held her fast. "Thought you were dead," she hissed menacingly. "Came to do it right!" There was a click, and Star felt the barrel of a gun press up against her forehead. It was cold. She was cold. She felt her life slipping away, and suddenly there was a flash of light behind her eyes, and she knew to be very afraid.
For it had not been a man who had beat her severely and left her for dead at the side of the road-----it had been Brenda. Brenda whose fits of unreasonable jealousy and rage had almost once before cost her her life. And she was determined to not let that happen again!
Star mustered all of what little energy she had left and threw her body back against her attacker. Not expecting any resistance from the once meek little blonde, Brenda was knocked off balance just enough to let go of Star’s neck. Star fell to the floor hard, and scrambled the short distance to the lamp table, under which lay Alex’s gun holster. By the time Brenda spun around, Star was on her knees with the Glock Special pointed at her. Her hands were shaking, but she yelled, "Don’t come near me, or I’ll shoot, Brenda!"
The large muscular woman stayed where she was and grinned, her face a mask of hate. "Oh, so you DO remember me. Same bitch you always were, huh?" She still had her gun in her hand, but held it still at her side. "I wasn’t good enough for you……"
Star slowly rose to her feet, keeping the gun trained on her. "You wouldn’t take no for an answer! YOU HURT ME!" she screamed.
"And so now here you are screwing some other woman." She raised her hand slowly, still holding the gun. "Go on---------shoot me! Take your best shot, you teasing bitch!"
Star remembered all the beatings, all the misery, all the times she had tried to get away from this woman in the 3 months they had known each other. She had seemed so nice in the beginning. Kind, soft spoken. But she didn’t want love----she wanted sex. She wanted to hurt and torment. But Star wasn’t about to give in. In the end, Brenda had been the winner. Beating her viciously until by the grace of the gods, Star had been able to escape from her car miles from home one dark night. Star wasn’t going to let that happen again! She pulled the trigger---------and nothing happened.
Brenda’s grin spread even wider as she leveled the gun at Star. "Oopppps. Guess you forgot to take off the safety. Now it’s MY turn." And she pulled the trigger of her pistol.
The sound of the gun going off was deafening. The bullet skimmed the back of Star’s hand and Alex’s gun went flying in the air, bouncing and then coming to rest on the rug in front of Alex’s lounge chair.
Star screamed and fell to her knees, holding her hand. The bullet had grazed her vein just enough to cause the blood to begin to flow freely. It seemed as if Brenda had not meant to kill her just yet. She didn’t want to cry, but it hurt so much. And the tears began to flow.
"Ooohhhh, you poor thing," Brenda said in a voice full of mock pity. "Does it hurt?"
Star slumped onto her rear on the floor. Looking up at the overbearing, large, hulking, dangerous woman standing near her, she said one word: "Please."
Brenda clucked her tongue inside her cheek. "Don’t beg, Baby……I’m gonna do you soon enough…….and you’re gonna love it." She took a step forward, "And then…..then I’m gonna kill you!"
Both women were suddenly interrupted by the sound of a roaring motorcycle engine. Star’s eyes grew big with fear for the woman she loved, and she scrambled to her feet in a feeble effort to get to the door. Brenda grabbed her roughly by the arm and pulled her back toward her, again locking her neck in a tight grip, her gun pointed at the side of Star’s head.
When Alex Hawthorne walked in the front door of her home, the sight that greeted her almost caused her legs to buckle. There was Star, visibly in shock and wild eyed with fear being held in a death grip by a tall, muscular woman with a gun in her hand. Blood was running down Star’s hand, and pooling on the wooden floor.
"What the Hell……"
"Alex," Star shouted, "It’s her!....She’s the one…." But she was cut short when Brenda slapped the side of her head with the barrel of the gun.
"Shut up, bitch!" She bellowed. "So, your’re the one she’s been screwin’, huh?"
Alex knew without question what Star had meant. This was the one who had hurt her. This was the one who had almost killed her. This was the woman who had made Star so fearful of the touch of another woman’s hands.
"Whoa," Alex said, raising her hands away from her sides, hoping to show the woman that she was not armed. "Don’t hurt her……please." She was hoping to buy some time. Her heart was beating so fast, the adrenaline pouring into her system. Her eyes darted to the end table where she kept her gun……but it wasn’t there. Yet the gun this woman was brandishing was not hers.
Brenda grinned. It was the grin of someone who knew that she had the upper hand. "I like hearing you beg. What’s your name, Bitch?"
"Alex," she replied, trying to pick up some sort of information from Star’s eyes. The small, blonde woman couldn’t move her head. But Alex saw her gaze look over toward the lounge chair. Her heart jumped. "Good girl," she thought quickly.
Brenda raised the gun up in front of her. "Well, Alex, I’m so glad she gets to watch you die!" Her finger depressed the trigger. Alex wasn’t fast enough, and the bullet struck her left shoulder as she leaped over the sofa and fell flat on her face on the floor in front of her chair. The pain was intense, but she saw the gun laying where it had come to rest half under the chair. Alex grabbed it with her right hand, released the safety without a second thought, and bolted to her feet.
Brenda’s mouth dropped open as Alex opened fire, the first shot hitting her in the neck only a few inches from Star’s head. She dropped her gun and her arm released Star, her hands flying up to the gaping wound in her neck.
Alex fired a second shot, this one to her knee, and Brenda fell to the ground, a look of utter disbelief on her face. Alex kept firing until all 15 shots were discharged, and still she kept pulling the trigger, even though Brenda was dead by the third bullet. It was as if she was in a trance.
"Alex," Star said as she sat on the floor where she had crawled, far away from the bullet ridden body or her attacker. When there was no response, she hollered, "ALEX! STOP!"
The tall black haired woman blinked her eyes as if coming back to the present. She looked at the gun she held in her hand, and tossed it to the floor. Ignoring the pain in her shoulder, she dropped quickly in front of Star.
"Are you alright?" she asked, touching Star’s face, her arm, her leg, and then seeing the blood trickling from her hand. She ignored her own blood running out of the sleeve of her leather jacket, pulled her shirt tail out from her jeans and ripped off a strip of her shirt. She wrapped it around Star’s hand gently, tying it tightly over the vein.
"You….you saved my life," Star said, her voice shaking, along with the rest of her body.
"I love you, Star," Alex said, kissing her wounded hand softly.
Star smiled, reaching up to touch Alex’s cheek. "My name is Christine………Christine Webb……And I love you too."
The inquiry into the shooting at Sheriff Alexandria Hawthorne’s home lasted three days. During that time, Star Taylor, who was in truth Christine Webb, had been required to give testimony about the circumstances that lead up to the shooting of Brenda Hollister in the living room of Alex’s home. All of Star’s memory had returned, and for the first time Alex learned about the past of the woman she loved.
Christine Webb was a high school teacher in a city about 100 miles from Taylorsburg. She had met Brenda Hollister at a lesbian bar in town. It wasn’t that she was in the habit of picking up women. She enjoyed the friendship and atmosphere of the place. She had been going there on and off for years on a Saturday night just to kick back a few beers and talk with friends she had made. No one at work knew that she was gay. Here, she could be herself.
Brenda had seemed like a nice woman. She was big and tough looking, but she had a sensitive personality, and the two of them had quickly become friends----looking forward to their Saturday night meetings at the bar. Christine was not looking for a serious relationship, nor did she particularly want a sexual one. She was 26 years old, and had had a 2 year steamy romance at college that had ended when both women realized they actually had nothing in common but the sex. All that she wanted with Brenda was friendship, and that seemed to go well………until one Saturday night when Brenda walked into the bar and saw Christine laughing with another woman. It was actually one of her long time friends.
That had been the beginning of Brenda’s jealousy, and the end of Christine’s freedom. Brenda would fly into jealous rages, not in public, but once she got Christine outside and into her car. Often that was accomplished by force----squeezing her hand until Christine could feel the bones about to snap, or twisting her arm. No one else seemed to notice.
There were never any bruises that could be seen. Brenda made sure of that. But Christine was trapped in a nightmare. She felt she couldn’t go to the police. If it became public knowledge that she was a lesbian, she would surely lose her job-----a job she adored. And she became afraid for her life.
Brenda never forced her to have sex, but she made it clear that Christine was her property, and she had better behave herself. If Brenda couldn’t have her, no one would.
The breaking point seemed to come when Christine finally got up the courage to fight back. She would kick and claw at Brenda, who would still always win. But Brenda didn’t like Christine’s growing hostility.
One night, Christine arrived home from chaperoning the school dance to find Brenda waiting in her apartment. She had convinced the super that she was her sister. With her considerable charm, it hadn’t been hard to do.
With no provocation at all that night, Brenda beat her severely. Christine had never known such power or brutality. The only weapon Brenda used was her hands.
Somehow she ended up in the front seat of Brenda’s car. She must have passed out because when she awoke, they were in the country driving on a lonely stretch of highway. Nothing looked familiar about the area at all.
Christine knew that she was going to die that night. Not only was she physically broken, but her will to live had vanished. She could not escape this monster seated beside her. There was no way out but death.
And so, as Brenda sped down the highway toward some unknown destination, Christine pulled at the door handle. The door flew open, and she threw herself out into the night, praying for a quick end.
There was the question of why no one had tried to find Christine Webb during all those months. There were no missing persons bulletins, no concern at all. Brenda had covered all the possibilities before that night.
There was the letter of resignation sent to the school board and signed with a perfectly forged signature. There was 6 months rent paid in advance on her apartment in an envelope in her landlord’s mailbox. There was a large suitcase in the back seat of Brenda’s car that was filled with Christine’s clothes. To the world, she had just decided to take off for awhile----perhaps on a vacation. No one would bother to search for someone who wasn’t really missing.
Alex Hawthorne did not have any legal justification for why she had emptied her service pistol into Brenda Hollister. At the inquiry, her left arm in a sling, she just told the truth. She knew that unless the woman was stopped, they were both going to die that night. What she did not tell the board was that she finally felt as if she had made up for not helping her friend from the past. This time she had done the right thing. Christine would live, and no one else would ever have to suffer at the hands of Brenda Hollister.
In the end, the board placed Alex on a three month suspension, and released Christine from any charges that could have been brought against her. Alex was satisfied. Dan would be in charge, and she could have a much needed vacation.
As for Christine Webb, she stayed at Alex’s home for a few days until she was sure that the bullet hole in Alex’s shoulder was not going to cause her any serious problems. It had not shattered bone, and Alex would recover completely. She slept in her old room, seemingly uncomfortable around Alex now that her memory had returned, and her not so pristine life had been laid out for all to see.
Alex had not changed in her feelings for the small blonde. She loved her deeply to the core of her soul. But just as she had given Star space to come to grips with her life when she had amnesia, she now gave Christine that same space to look at her life and decide on which path to travel.
And so Alex was not totally surprised when Christine announced that she was going home. The word stung in Alex’s heart, because to her Christine WAS home. But she would never stop her from leaving. She had killed the woman who had done just that to her green eyed little blonde.
Putting on her most stoic front, Alex drove her to the bus station in the Ford Explorer. How she wished it could have been on the back of her bike. But one handed driving on a motorcycle was not such a good idea.
Christine had promised that she would return as soon as she got her life straightened out. And Alex held on to that belief and that hope up until Christine removed the wedding ring from her finger and pressed it into Alex’s hand.
"Keep this for me, will you Alex?" she asked, smiling up into a very sad pair of blue eyes.
"It’s yours," Alex said quietly, "No matter what."
"I’d rather you hold on to it," she said nervously.
Alex scuffed her boot on the pavement and looked downward. "You’re not coming back are you?"
"I don’t know." She answered honestly.
Alex’s eyes looked up into the beautiful pools of green. "I love you more than anything on earth," she whispered to the small blonde.
Christine sniffed back her tears and nodded. "I love you too. I just…..I just need some time…..okay?"
The Trailways bus pulled up in front of the station. Two locals got off, waved to Alex, and started up the street. All that Alex wanted to look at was the woman who stood before her. The beautiful woman that she had grown to love. The woman who she might never see again after this moment.
"Well, you take care of yourself, you hear me?" she said, trying to force out a smile. It was impossible. Christine put her arms around Alex’s neck and pulled her down for a gentle, warm kiss.
"I love you," Christine whispered in her ear.
Alex circled her good arm around her and pulled her into a loving embrace. She felt the hot tears welling up in her eyes. Releasing Christine, she sniffed, trying to force the tears not to show. "You go on. Driver’s waiting for you."
Christine nodded, turned and boarded the bus. Alex’s blue eyes followed her as she walked down the aisle and took a seat by the window. As the bus roared to life, Alex smiled and Christine gave her a small wave. And as the bus headed down the road and out of sight, Alex Hawthorne finally allowed the tears to freely flow.
Alex Hawthorn’s three month suspension passed quickly. She was actually glad for the time off. Time to go for long bike rides. Time to take her horse Morgan up into the hills. Time for her gunshot wound to heal. Since fall was settling in, it gave her time to fix up the house before winter arrived. And too much time to think about the small blonde woman she loved.
Christine called her several times a week. But it seemed to be the casual banter among friends. She gave no indication if or when she was ever going to return to Taylorsburg. Just hearing her voice on the other end of the phone gave Alex a reason to live.
The people of Taylorsburg missed her too. They missed her smile and her laughter, and the good food she had created at the diner. They missed the love that shined from the eyes of their Sheriff every time they were together. Granted, not everyone in Taylorsburg approved of the lesbian lifestyle, and there were some who voiced their opinion about the immorality of two women in love. But even they missed the sweet blonde with the beautiful green eyes. Star had a way of winning over everyone it seemed.
But the one who missed her most was the tall Sheriff with the long black hair and beautiful blue eyes. Alex carried a sadness and an emptiness in her eyes that everyone could see. And no one but Christine would ever be able to take away.
Alex was sitting at her desk in the office halfheartedly typing up a report about two local kids who had spray painted old Mrs.Grimsons picket fence. Actually Alex liked the rainbow colors.
"Alex," squawked the portable radio on her desk. "It’s Dan. You got the radio on?"
It was Linda’s day off, and instead of using the base radio, she preferred the little portable. "What’s up Dan?" she asked pushing the send key.
"Need a favor. Got a vagrant in the car. Kind of unruly. Bringin’ ‘em in. Can you meet me outside?"
"One of our regulars?" Alex asked frowning.
"Nope. Stranger. Made it clear they liked it here and demanded to stay."
Alex sighed. "Okay. Meet you out front." She set the radio on her desk and slowly rose to her feet. She picked up her gold badge and pinned it to her shirt pocket as she walked outside. The fall air was brisk and cool, and Alex zipped her leather jacket halfway. She was still wearing the one with the bullet hole in the shoulder. She wanted the reminder of how close she had come to lying dead on the floor in her own living room. When she removed her clothes, she had and would always have the scar of the hole in her shoulder. Oddly enough, she was very happy it did not damage the carved "X" she had had since she was a teenager. Both "symbols" would always have meaning to her. One being a reminder of her evil past that she had overcome----the other a reminder of her proudest moment when she had saved her Love.
Squinting down Main Street, she saw the white and blue deputy sheriff’s cruiser approaching slowly. Dan parked next to Alex’s bike, and slowly got out of the car.
"Got him cuffed?" Alex asked. Since her run-in with Brenda, she had been having a bit of a hard time trusting anyone she didn’t know.
"Thought you might like this one’s arms left loose," Dan said trying to control a smile.
The back door of the Sheriffs cruiser opened, and out stepped a small blonde with bright green eyes, wearing a black leather jacket, a flannel shirt and jeans. She was grinning from ear to ear. "Hi," she said, somewhat shyly.
Alex closed her mouth, and quickly drank in the sight of the beautiful woman not six feet away from her. She wasn’t sure what to do. "Do I hug, or run?" she thought. She decided to just stand still. "Hi, Christine……..good to see you."
Dan rolled his eyes. "Oh good grief, you two! Why don’t you at least give each other a hug!"
Both women seemed to ignore him. Christine smiled into the blue eyes of the Sheriff and reached inside her jacket. She pulled out an envelop and held it out to Alex. "Wanted you to see this." Alex unfolded the paper inside and began reading silently. Her eyebrows knitted, and her eyes bolted up to meet Christine’s. "I had it legally changed, Alex. I’m now Star Taylor---for real."
Alex’s hand was shaking. "Don’t get all excited…..she might just like the name." She handed the paper back to her. "Why?"
Christine, now once again Star, smiled and gently reached up to touch Alex;s cheek. "Cause I loved how you said my name. Cause I was happy as Star Taylor. Cause Star Taylor was happy being with you here in Taylorsburg."
"What about your life Christine----er, Star?" Alex shook her head and laughed. "Damn, this gets confusing."
Star smiled, her green eyes positively glowing. "I quit my job for real. The landlord let me out of the lease. Sold everything. Got two suitcases and a bus ticket."
Alex shyly looked down at the pavement. "What are you going to do?"
"Try to get my old job back," came the reply.
She looked up quickly. "The diner? But…..why?"
"I was happy there," she said, moving closer to Alex. The tall Sheriff wanted to reach out and embrace her, but she could not. Not until she was really sure that Star knew what she wanted. "I came back for something else too, Alex," she said holding up her left hand and wiggling her fingers. "Do you still have it?"
Alex’s heart skipped a beat. She knew immediately what was being asked of her. Reaching into her shirt at the neck, she pulled out a leather cord on which was the antique gold and diamond ring. Alex snapped the cord, and dropped the ring into her hand. "I was keeping it warm," she said quietly. With her hands still shaking, she carefully slid the ring onto Star’s finger.
"Will you ask me again?" the little blonde whispered.
Alex smiled down into her eyes. "Star Taylor," she asked once again, "Will you marry me?"
Tears filled her green eyes as she replied, "Oh, yes!"
The two women came together in a strong, tight embrace. Both women seeking and finding the warm soft lips of the other, then planting joyous kisses on each other’s faces. For some reason, probably out of sheer happiness, both began to giggle and laugh like a couple of children.
Dan, who had been watching this loving display scratched his head and said, "You two are nuts!"
Star grinned at the Deputy and then looked adoringly into the blue eyes of the woman she loved. "Yea-------we make a great couple, don’t we?"
Alex grasped her hand and led her the few steps to her motorcycle. "If anyone asks, Dan, just let them know the ‘Lezzbeans’ are back together!" Alex said as Star snuggled up against her back on the seat and wrapped her arms tightly around Alex’s waist.
"Where you going?" asked Dan, raising his arms at his side.
Alex kick started the bike and the twin muffler engine roared to life. She felt the wonderful warmth of Star’s body against her back, and glanced back over her shoulder at the woman she loved. "Where are we going, Star?"
Star tightened her grip around her. With a bright twinkle in her eyes she said, "Home."
Ignoring her own speed limit signs, Alex Hawthorne gunned the throttle, and sped down Main Street and out of town to begin their new life together.
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