WARNING: This is a Uber story. All characters are figments of my imagination, any similarity to living or dead individual are unintentional.
VIOLENCE WARNING/DISCLAIMER: The violence in this story, is not into gross or gory. There are fight scenes. Please feel free not to read if violence of any kind bothers you.
LOVE/SEX WARNING/DISCLAIMER:This story depicts a love/sexual relationship between two consenting adult women. If you are under 18 years of age or if this type of story is illegal in the state or country in which you live, please do not read it. If depictions of this nature disturb you, you may wish to read something other than this story.
Dru was very aware of Iggy's attention towards her, but chose to ignore it. She was more interested in the proofreader than the platinum blonde. But she also noticed the younger woman appeared upset, and had a good idea as to why. She knew exactly how Kasey felt, and decided to make a point to prove how completely enamoured she was with her when she had a chance. Already she was making plans for the next time they were alone. Dru sipped on her scotch and relaxed a little more in her chair. The sky faded into orange and gold ribbons across the horizon as they enjoyed their refreshments. A young lady carried a tray stacked with appetizers out to them by the pool. She went around the table offering tasty morsels. Dru caught emerald eyes watching her, which made her smile. Gods, she loved those eyes and the way they sparkled and danced. The writer could feel her chest tighten with all the emotions building there.
"Are you working on another book, Dru?" Mason asked as he snagged himself a cracker with some gray goop squiggled on top.
"I'm doing research now for something I have in mind. Kasey is helping keep track of those things I'll consider using from the area. Jackson has a great deal of richness to create an ample back drop." Dru could see much of the story now unfolding in her mind as she spoke. This was what made her creative juices flow, but she forced herself to keep the main ideas to herself. She locked eyes with the strawberry-blonde giving her partner a lopsided grin. No matter how she tried to keep from doing that, she found it happening whenever Kasey was near. She enjoyed being with the proofreader, watching her, and being able to reach out, if she wanted, and touch her. To make sure Kasey was real and not just some dream she had conjured up made her have faith in the world again. The same world who took everyone she loved away from her.
A sharp pain like a knife passed through her heart. Involuntarily she reached for her chest, all the while watching Kasey. This time, if the curse came to pass ... she wouldn't be left behind to endure another broken heart and the nightmares. There was only so much a person could handle of that kind of hurt, and she had hit her limit.
"I take it then it's going to be another mystery?" Iggy suddenly sounded very interested in what Dru was saying.
"Yes, I'm thinking about using the gold mines in the area as the setting."
"Oh, really? Well then, Mason here might be able to help you, he works in the gold mining business." Iggy gave the man an encouraging smile.
"Ah, I guess I could. It all depends. What are you looking for?" Mason concentrated on his drink as if he discovered some hidden treasure at the bottom of the glass. "We do have a mine that's no longer in use if you would like to take a trip to explore it? No one goes there anymore. I would have to get special permission from my boss, but I don't think there would be any problems."
"To tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for, but I will know when I see it." She paused and thought seriously of the suggestion. A visit to a real gold mine would be perfect fodder to collect. "I think I would like to take you up on that exploration of the mine, Mason. If things can be arranged?" Dru stretched a little. Iggy caught the movement.
"Sure thing, I'll get back to you when I have arrangements made." The bald man appeared rather preoccupied.
"Carla isn't it about time for dinner?" Carla took the hint, and immediately rose, going to the kitchen to check. Not long after she returned.
"Dinner is ready. Would everyone would gather in the dining room?" Carla led the way.
Dru and Kasey found places next to each other before Iggy could get between them. The proofreader was close enough to hear the writer chuckle deep in her chest. The taller woman felt a hand on her thigh under the table and covered it with her own, squeezing the fingers lightly. She leaned close, "I'm glad you're here."
"Me too." The strawberry-blonde agreed, "I would be happy to be anywhere with you." Dru felt she could have handed her heart over to the young woman right then and there. It was hers so completely. The woman's words wrapped themselves around her heart anchoring them forever into her soul.
Half way through their meal the phone rang. Carla went to answer it. She brought back the handheld for Iggy. "This is Ms. Pinkerton. Yes doctor, thank you for calling. Yes that is very good news. We'll be over in a short while." Iggy put the phone down. Everyone watched her. Mason leaned forward.
"Robby is doing better." There was a collective sigh of relief around the table. "Mason, we can visit with her as soon as we finish." A look of thankfulness was exchanged between Iggy and Mason.
"That's wonderful news, Iggy." Kasey told the publisher. The platinum blonde nodded.
"Yes it is," the obviously relieved publisher replied before giving everyone a large smile. Dru thought that one smile was the most beautiful she had ever seen from the woman. It was as if the world lit up. Years dropped off Iggy like magic. She almost looked like a child. Why didn't she allow that side of her to be seen more often?
Dru and Kasey begged off from going to the hospital. What the writer really wanted to do was curl up in bed with her lover. After Iggy and Mason left, Carla disappeared leaving them alone for the first time in hours, which felt like a lifetime to Dru.
"Hey," she said, pulling the younger woman into an embrace.
"Hey," replied the shorter woman, allowing her body to meld into Dru's. "Do you want to go upstairs?" Kasey looked up hopefully.
"Sure, but I have to do something first," She kissed Kasey's forehead, "I'll be up shortly." Kasey gave her an extra squeeze before heading up stairs. Dru strolled to the kitchen and discovered the cook and kitchen help cleaning up. A burley man, with a white chef's hat, eyed her as she entered his domain. She gave him her most winning smile.
"Hi, I need some help." Dru instantly saw the man relax when the cook realized his expertise was being called upon. Ten minutes later Dru was headed up stairs with a covered tray, leaving a very pleased chef in the kitchen. When she explained to him what she wanted, the man had opened up. He was a hopeless romantic and knew exactly what would set the perfect mood. He winked and then set to work.
First she wanted to stop off to clean up and change. It didn't take long. She exited through the French doors onto the balcony that ran the length of the house. She tapped on Kasey's door. Her eyes grew wide when she noticed Dru standing there holding a tray.
"What's all this?" Kasey asked, as Dru placed the tray in the center of the king size bed.
"Just a little something," Dru purred then moved into waiting arms. The kiss was like drinking water from a cool refreshing well after a long drought.
"Let me see," Kasey said, twinkling green eyes twinkled in anticipation. Kasey eased herself down on one side of the tray as Dru made herself comfortable on the other. With a flourish, the writer whipped away the linen covering. Neatly arranged on a china platter were chocolate dipped strawberries surrounding a small bowl of whipped cream. Two crystal champagne flutes and a bottle of Dom Perignon completed the surprise.
"Wow! The height of decadence," her companion exclaimed with a wry grin. Dru nodded, her lips curving upward in a satisfied smile.
The writer picked up a large perfectly formed strawberry, dipped it into the white, fluffy whipped cream, then offered it to her companion. Kasey opened her mouth to take the proffered berry. As Dru held it she sucked the whipped cream off very slowly, all the while watching the writer watch her. Her own mouth opening slightly in response to Kasey sliding her lips down to the palm of the hand holding the remains of the berry. Dru placed the stem on the dish and poured the champagne. Blue and green eyes never breaking connection as they took sips of the light golden liquid.
The publisher hated leaving Dru alone with the proofreader while she went to the hospital, but there was nothing she could do about it. Mason was very quiet on the trip over, but Iggy didn't mind. She had some things on her mind that she needed to sort through. One, what was she going to do about Dru? She had taken Carla aside and asked her to set something up for her. Later, she would hopefully would have the time to indulge in a real life fantasy. She leaned her head against the headrest. She pictured cerulean blue eyes in the face that hid many things. Iggy wished she could read the writer better but smiled, remembering that she did get one up on the proofreader earlier that evening. It was obvious the younger woman hadn’t caught onto Dru’s mood. Maybe she did know the tall, dark, and dangerous one better than she thought. That brought a smile to her face.
Robby was resting, her blonde hair spread out on the pillow, eyes closed, and her breathing normal. As Iggy and Mason entered the room, the nurse finished filling Robby’s water glass before leaving. When she heard them enter Robby's eyes opened.
"Hi honey," Mason leaned down and kissed his wife on the cheek. "How are you feeling?"
The woman gave him a warm smile, "I'm feeling much better."
"Hey," the publisher gave her sister a kiss on the opposite cheek. Iggy studied her sister for any tell tale signs of the illness. She almost appeared normal, and the sparkle that hadn't been in her pale brown eyes for too long was back. This lightened Iggy's heart considerably. "So what does the doctor say?"
"He says I can go home tomorrow. There's not much else they can do here. Some test results won't be back for a few days, but he thinks I would be more comfortable at home." Robby gave her sister a small smile. "You see, I wasn't going to leave you alone."
"I'm glad you didn't." Iggy held her sister's hand.
"How's the retreat going?" asked Robby.
"It's not. I had Carla cancel it," informed the publisher.
"Oh but Dru is here." Mason interjected with a cheeky grin, "and she's got a cute little friend with her."
"Watch it chrome-dome." Iggy growled, then winked to her sister.
"So, Dru is here. Well, what are you going to do about it?" Robby said, a twinkle of mischief sparkling from her sister's eyes.
"Everything and anything I have to, I guess." She mused aloud.
A nurse poked her head in, "I'm sorry folks, but visiting hours are over. You'll have to leave now."
They said their good-byes and left.
"She looks really good, doesn't she?" Iggy stated happily while walking out to the Lincoln. The double beep of the car alarm sounded, before Iggy crawled into the leather seat. Mason didn't answer until after the car was humming down the street.
"She looks great, but you never know, it might come back worse if they can't figure out her problem." Mason's eyes caught the headlights of the oncoming traffic, giving them a wolfish glow.
Dread slithered into the publisher's stomach. "Why do you say that?"
"All I'm saying is don't get your hopes built up too high," he replied.
"So you don't think she's going to get well do you?" She turned to watch his profile, wondering to herself, for the very first time, why her brother-in-law wasn't happier at the prospects of Robby's recovery. This took her totally off balance.
"Let's just say, I'm holding off on the celebration until I have proof she's recovered." He turned his car into Iggy's drive and waited for her to get out. At least on the surface his explanation seemed understandable, but it still didn't sit well with her.
"Good night, Mason, I'll be by tomorrow." She waved and walked up the steps as the Lincoln pulled away. Iggy found Carla in the kitchen. The brunette was wearing a royal blue robe over a gown of matching color. The publisher, for a moment was seized with a tensing in her muscles when the young woman looked up from what she was doing and their eyes locked. She broke the trance by turning away.
"I'm going up to my room," she looked down on her hands and realized they were shaking. What was her problem? C'mon, Iggy, she told herself, you're the one who made the rules, now stick to the game at hand. The one that you've been playing ever since you set eyes on Dru. She heard Carla behind her.
"I've done what you asked," the secretary stated and breezed by her boss without another word, leaving the platinum blonde standing with a ball of confusion whirling in her mind. What did she want? That seemed to be the question screaming at her. She turned to see the tray on the counter, and picked it up. In her room she showered and changed into a red silk night gown. Standing before the full length mirror, she studied her svelte figure. The eyes, her own eyes, kept seeing something that she didn’t want to see. Picking up the tray, she made her way onto the balcony. The curtains in Dru's room were open, the interior empty. There was only one answer to where she was. Iggy looked down at the tray she held and decided she had to be the biggest fool in the world. Her steps took her down to Kasey's room. The curtains were closed, and gapped in such a way that, if one stood just so, they could see between a small opening. Dru was stretched out full length with the strawberry-blonde draped across her tanned body, their arms and legs entangled. Both asleep. The expressions on each face declared their happiness. Each thing she noticed about them shot another jolt of pain through her heart. For so long she had hoped, and she knew better. Dru had always been forthright in regards to her feelings toward her. Still, there was a part of her that had never given up hope. Now, looking with her own eyes at what love must feel like, was the cruelest testament.
She wanted to hate the two women who had found such happiness in each other, but she couldn't. She envied them their relationship, and hated herself for her lack of one, and her inability to give that one thing that might allow someone to love her, Iggy withdrew into a pit of loneliness. She turned from the sight of Dru and Kasey and returned to her bedroom. Taking the bottle of champagne off the tray, Iggy uncorked it and filled a glass, but when the bottle stood empty she was still very sober and flooded with very morose thoughts. That got her thinking about Mason and his comments earlier that evening. What had he been trying to tell her? She felt there was something he was edging around and not saying. Was there more to Robby's illness than he was saying? She sighed and looked out the window. The sky was changing from raven to the royal blue of false dawn. Another day, and still she couldn't find the peace or sleep, she hoped, at the bottom of the bottle.
Dru noticed the shadow by the window and watched through half closed eyelids. By the size and shape, she knew it had to be Iggy. She hadn't expected the publisher to investigate her whereabouts, but should have realized she might. Iggy stood by the window for a long time, and made the tanned woman wonder why to herself. The publisher knew her feelings. Oh well, this just ran it home where her affections were placed. It brought a smile to her lips as she looked down onto the strawberry-blonde who sprawled across her torso with arms and hands holding onto her possessively. It felt wonderful to have Kasey in her arms, and she knew, without a doubt, that she loved the smaller woman, which shocked her to no end. It had happened so fast and so completely. Her fingers played with a golden lock. There was something very special about the proofreader, and she couldn't seem to get enough of the woman. Dru wanted to know everything about her lover, her thoughts, dreams, and desires. There was this other thing Dru had, this intuition that Kasey was part of her. It was like she had found, in the strawberry-blonde, the peace and goodness she had been seeking. All the pain and hurt that were her constant companions slipped away when her lover was near.
She hugged the firm, muscled, body closer while watching the sleeping form. Kasey sighed loudly and climbed almost on top of Dru in her sleep, rubbing over the tanned skin under her lips. The movement sent tantalizing shivers up and down the taller woman's length, instantly arousing her. Dru tried to hold back the moan that rose in her throat as she ran a hand down soft pale skin. A small hand grabbed the wayward larger one and bought it to two very inventive lips, which sent Dru into the land of burning need. Green eyes mirrored the same need. They didn't rush. Each touch was relished and worshiped by the other. Two souls wrapped in each other merging into one giving all without fear or hesitation.
All too soon, the gray light of dawn claimed the shadows in the bedroom. Dru stretched and gently removed herself from her possessive lover, then headed for the bathroom. She could feel the bubble of wild happiness threaten to make her shout for joy. She bounced a couple of times on her toes to try and dissipate the temptation. This was ridiculous, she knew, but she couldn't help it. Before heading to her own room to dress, she leaned over her still sleeping companion and kissed her cheek. One green orb opened.
"Where are you going?" Kasey asked pulling her lover down to her.
"I'm going to get some exercise, or I'll explode," grinned the taller woman, before giving her another kiss.
An arched golden eyebrow questioned, "Oh?"
Dru nuzzled the woman's neck and tried to explain, "You make me feel so good and well… it's hard to explain. I have all this excitement in me ready to explode." Two small hands forced her to focus on the face that Dru realized she loved more than anything in existence.
"I'm glad I make you feel that way," Kasey stated in a quiet, amazed voice. She kissed Dru lightly. "Do you mind company?"
"Nope, don't mind at all. C'mon, let's get going before Iggy's up." The taller woman helped haul the smaller one out of bed, then swatted her on the butt, laughing. "Go on and get ready, I'll be back in a couple of minutes." She padded out the door to her room. To her surprise, Iggy was standing by the railing in a red silk gown. The light breeze catching it and forcing the fabric around the curves of the publisher's shapely form. Iggy looked up as she heard Dru emerge from Kasey's room. The writer noticed the slight tightening of the eyes. She didn't want to hurt the publisher, but she wasn't going to lie either. Things were what they were, and she had never indicated otherwise to the other woman.
"Good morning," Dru said as she moved to go into her room, but stopped when Iggy remained silent. "Something wrong?"
The publisher turned and leaned back against the railing, letting her eyes travel up and down Dru's body. "I guess I'm the biggest fool to you, right?"
The tanned woman moved to the railing beside the platinum blonde, "No, I don't think that at all." Standing this close she could smell the alcohol on the publisher's breath. Iggy's demeanor displayed discouragement and sadness. "Iggy… "
"Please don't pity me, I don't think I could handle it." Iggy rasped, viciously Iggy wiped at a betraying tear. Without thinking Dru pulled the woman into a comforting embrace.
"Oh God, Dru, don't please," the publisher begged, but she didn't pull away, and then the sobs came, wracking the publisher's lithe body.
"Shush, you'll be fine, honest. You've just been under a lot of stress with your sister," Dru whispered reassuringly. She could feel Iggy shaking. "I won't lie, you know my heart belongs to Kasey, and I'm sorry if that hurts you, but it would hurt worse if I wasn't truthful."
"I know, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept," Iggy answered before looking up. Dru could see the pain in pale brown eyes. "What was it that kept us from getting together?"
The writer shrugged, "Who knows? Maybe I wasn't ready for anyone in my life. I wasn't ready for Kasey, that's for sure. It just happened, and maybe you and I too much alike in some ways to be good for each other." Dru knew the truth. She hadn't allowed anyone to get close after Blaine's death. No matter what it took, she promised herself that she wasn't going to fall in love again. She couldn’t take the risk the curse would strike another person to whom she gave her heart. No, these things wouldn't mean anything to the publisher. How could she explain? She hadn't expected anything to happen, and then it happen so quickly that the fear gripped her heart like a vise, making her want to run away and hide. Dru knew this fear kept her from saying the three words she wanted so badly to tell Kasey. Again, these were things she kept to herself. Iggy would never understand. No one would.
"We're going for a run, you want to come along?" Dru released Iggy, giving her a reassuring smile.
"Nah, you two go on ahead. Breakfast will be ready by the time you get back. Then maybe if you and Kasey feel like it, we'll go and visit my sister. I would like you to meet her." Iggy brightened, "I've told her all about you."
Dru rolled her eyes, "Oh really, like what have you told her?" she asked with a wry grin.
"Everything. Everything I felt and hoped for." Iggy looked down at her bare feet.
"Are you sure she won't hate me when she finds out I'm with Kasey?"
"No, Robby's not that way." The publisher gave her a lopsided grin, " and if anything should split you and Kasey, hell, I might still have a chance." That made the writer smile sadly.
Dru left Iggy standing on the balcony.
Kasey ducked back into her room. She had walked out onto the balcony and found Dru and Iggy embracing. The sudden jolt of jealousy snatched her breath and made her knees weak. It took her a couple of moments to collect her thoughts. What was going on? Was Dru two timing her. Was there really more between the publisher and writer then Dru let on? Damn! Was this a game to her lover? If it was, she was going to end up with a large piece of the proofreader's mind. The quaking of anger and doubt caused a knot in the pit of her stomach. Let's look at this logically. They were embracing, well not exactly. Dru was holding Iggy. The publisher wasn't holding Dru, and it did appear that the platinum blonde was upset. Okay Miss green eyed monster, down girl. This is something other than what you're assuming. Might as well face it head on and get things out in the open. With that said, Kasey walked back out onto the balcony. Iggy was no where to be seen. Well that blew my chance. A moment later, the raven haired object of her affection appeared.
"Ready?" Blue eyes gleamed, then suddenly dimmed when she noticed the choleric stare from her lover. "What's up?"
"You!" Kasey blurted. Damn! She had told herself it was all innocent and here she was going off the deep end without so much as letting Dru explain.
"Whoa, what's gotten into you?" Troubled eyes searched the smaller woman's face, then awareness crept into the blue depths. "You saw me with Iggy?"
Kasey nodded. Dru exhaled loudly, pulling the younger woman into her arms. At first Kasey tried to hold back not wanting the contact because the close proximity made her unable to think clearly. Dust bunnies! She loved the feeling of the writer's arms around her.
"Iggy was standing out here when I left your room. She was pretty upset, and regardless how it was going to hurt her, I needed to tell her how I felt about you." The taller woman kissed the top of the blonde head tucked against her.
"So how do you feel about me?" She felt the tanned arms go still. Oh no, I've cornered her. I shouldn't have done that. A flitting thought that maybe Dru did care for Iggy darkened her thoughts.
"I.. ah… " Dru stuttered.
"You don’t have to say anything. I shouldn't have asked," Kasey stammered, regretting having stuffed her foot in her mouth.
"It's not that, I want to tell you. It's just… I'm scared." That hit Kasey like a shot gun blast.
"What about?" She searched the troubled blue eyes watching her.
"If I say it then… " Dru let the words hang in the air. The cerulean eyes turned away searching for the right words.
Kasey hadn't missed the strangled fear in Dru's eyes before the chiseled face turned away. "Hey look. Forget I asked," Kasey acquiesced before giving Dru a squeeze and patting her backside. "Are we going to run or not?" Suddenly, the taller woman's true feelings were obvious, and it hurt Kasey that there was something holding her back from expressing them. The proofreader could have kicked herself for wanting some kind of declaration from her. It had only been, what, two weeks, almost three? She chuckled to herself. Had it only been two weeks? Gads, and here she was expecting Dru to declare undying love after fourteen days. Excuse me woman, but that's moving a little fast. I'm lucky she didn't get a whip-lash from the experience.
The writer cleared her throat and tried to speak, but nothing came out, so she nodded. Together they headed down stairs. Her tall, silent partner began to relax as soon as they hit a comfortable rhythm jogging. Whew, Kasey thought, that was close. She could have whacked herself up side the head for cornering her partner. Still, if Dru told Iggy how she felt, why couldn't she tell her? There was more to this than she was aware of, and Kasey needed to find out what. A nagging feeling that she should know the answer haunted her, like having a word on the tip of the tongue and not being able to utter it.
Dru had to swallow a few times when Kasey asked how she felt about her. A tremendous war erupted inside. She wanted to blurt out everything, but the three words she wanted to say, and that the smaller woman wanted to hear, just wouldn't come. They were there, but she couldn't say them. It hurt when she saw the pain in the emerald eyes watching her. She had let the younger woman down, but she couldn't seem to help herself. Just as fast as she had asked the question, Kasey changed her mind. The flip-flop of emotions made Dru's head whirl. When Kasey suddenly asked to go jogging, she felt a huge reprieve and hated herself for feeling that way.
Her muscles worked into the rhythm of motion, stretching and pumping. Together the two women paced each other, though Dru felt like she needed to sprint off some of the tenseness. Her partner must have noticed.
"Say, if you need to go on your own, don't worry about me. I'll catch up with you sooner or later." Kasey gave her a reassuring smile.
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Go on with you."
Dru let the energy pulse down into her legs propelling her off in a dead heat down the road. She cut off into the wild forest, and let herself go until the landscape flew by. A small river came into view with a spread from bank-to-bank of at least twenty feet. Not hesitating, with a double hop, she leaped into the air and rolled forward, perfectly executing a double flip, landing on the far side without breaking stride. It felt good to let go. The last time was on the farm. Her body hungered for the familiar feel of her heart beating in her ears, and her breathing coming in deep even breaths. Carl said it was a dance between the world of her body and the earth. Each carrying a beat that echoes the other. Everything had a melody, singing in harmony with the universe. Her melody was wild and strong and as old as the ancients themselves. Carl said she had an old soul, and had walked many times on earth. Dru didn't know if she believed the old handyman, but she had to admit there was more about the world she didn't know than what she did. She would be a fool to say the old man was talking silliness. He had shown her many mysterious things on their outings into the mountains. More than once she had wondered how the old man knew the things he did.
Worry and fear slid away as she leaped logs and jumped bushes in her way. Suddenly, an overwhelming need to find her partner overcame her. Dru, needed that contact with Kasey. As soon as she thought of the smaller woman she was able to tune into her location. It was another one of those things Carl had taught her. With her rebellious nature, having control and training over her newly acquired skills was a must. They had to be in unity. Otherwise, it would lead to conflict within herself and with others. Just like what had happened with Kasey earlier. The inordinate fear she had of the curse caused her to react instead of facing the fear head on. Fear had a way of leaving a person paralyzed and ineffective. Carl had warned her of that before.
After the deaths of her parent's and brother's, Dru's first reaction was anger at herself for surviving. Then it turned to anger towards her family for leaving her. She was angry at the world for taking all she associated with love and safety away. Everything was anger with Dru. That's when Carl started the meditation and exercises with her. Of course, she didn't want to do any of it. She wanted to mope around complaining, but, between Aunt Flo and Carl, they got her to give in and try the different training moves. The first time took her by surprise, and she found she enjoyed the routines Carl ran her through. He would add props, like staves and swords, to keep her interest because she bored easily. He then would move her from one routine to another quickly, so that she wouldn't have time to think about what she was doing, allowing her body to follow the flow of nature that hummed through the earth, the water, and the sky. It wasn't easy, but, in time, she learned to use her training to rein in her more violent temperament.
Lately, Dru had let the training go, and she realized it had contributed to lack of control she displayed with Kasey. She should have been able to admit that she loved the woman. The thought sent a thrill of excitement through Dru. She found her prey jogging along at a comfortable gait. The smell of sweat and vanilla hit and flared Dru's nose. Kasey was to her right, so she edged over to intersect with her. Allowing another sudden burst of power to funnel into her legs. Dru shot into the air, tumbling into another forward flip. She landed face-to-face with the strawberry-blonde, startling the younger woman. Kasey didn't have time to respond, however, as she was lifted into the air, and swung around in a circle, held tightly to a tanned body with smiling blue eyes. Two very demanding lips found the smaller woman's. Kasey wrapped her arms around Dru's neck and went along for the ride, leaning into the sensual kiss.
Suddenly, a horn sounded, Dru took her time to breaking away from her captive. Looking up, she spotted a small, two seater, yellow Mercedes. Dru and Kasey were standing in the middle of the narrow road. The woman behind the wheel laughed and waved. The dark woman allowed a warm smile to wash over her features in response, as she settled Kasey on her feet. Then the smaller woman waved also. Arm-in-arm they walked over to the driver's side of the small car.
"Hey, yourself! What are you doing up here?" Dru asked her Aunt. Flo wore a royal blue, short sleeve, linen shirt and tan, linen pants. Her cerulean eyes danced in merriment.
"After you two left yesterday, I felt like I had ants in my pants, so I decided to take a drive up here in the foothills. Goodness, what a surprise running into you two," she teased. "Hi Kasey. Is my niece treating you right?"
"Oh yeah, a real surprise, except you knew exactly where we would be," Dru responded drolly, winking at the older woman. "Hey, how did you know where to look? You didn't know Iggy's address?"
"I'm having to work at training her, but she's coming along." Kasey winked, before blinking innocently at Dru.
"Honest, this is all a wonderful coincidence. In fact, I was…, " Flo hesitated, "kind of lost."
The young couple laughed. "So, where were you heading?"
"I was thinking about going over to Sutter Creek to check out that gift shop you told me about a few years ago."
"The Fine Eye?" Dru provided the name.
"Yes, that's the one. You've always thought they had some lovely items." Flo grinned happily, noticing her niece's arm draped possessively over Kasey's shoulders. Another milestone has been crossed it appears. Never had she seen her little girl so demonstrative, not even with Blaine. Maybe Dru hadn't realized she had held back with the first love of her life. Her heart warmed to the idea that Dru had finally found someone to give herself to. There was so much her charge had that was deep and strong and would benefit anyone to whom it was given. "Do you need a ride back to Iggy's?"
Dru shook her head. "No thanks, we're going to walk. Say, are you going home today, or are you staying somewhere?"
"I'm not sure yet. I might check out the bed and breakfast places. If I don't find what I like, then I'll head on home. Why?"
"Just thinking that maybe later we could meet, and have a cup of coffee or something?" Dru glanced at Kasey to see if she would mind the meeting, and noticed how happy her companion appeared. The sun reflected off Kasey's golden locks, giving the younger woman a halo of bright light. It almost hurt to look at her. She leaned over and kissed Kasey lightly on the nose, and then looked back to her Aunt.
"Sure, that sounds like fun. Where do you want to meet?" Flo answered, smiling warmly.
"There's an outdoor café at the beginning of Main Street." Flo nodded, "I'll contact you on your cell phone to let you know when we're free, ok?"
"Sure thing," Flo replied, clasping Dru's arm that was leaning on the car. "You look good." She winked, and a rose-color blush highlighted Dru's cheeks for a moment.
"Go on with you, and please try and stay out of trouble," Dru joked.
Flo waved over her shoulder as she drove away. The two women stood for a moment watching the disappearing vehicle.
"I like your Aunt," commented Kasey as she snuggled deep into the arms holding her.
"I'm glad, I think she likes you too." Dru stared into two pools of warm emerald, and lost herself in what she found there.
"C'mon, Iggy is going to wonder what happened to us." Kasey nudged Dru away, and started jogging down the road.
After showering and dressing, the couple discovered Iggy drinking coffee outside on the patio by the swimming pool. As they sat down, a young woman came out with cups and a pot of coffee.
"How was the run?" the publisher inquired. Whatever had happened between her and Dru didn't show now. The old mask was firmly back in place.
Carla ambled out, greeted everyone, and poured herself a cup of the dark liquid, sighing loudly as she took her first sip. She didn't exactly ignore anyone, but she didn't add to the conversation either, and, if looks could kill, Dru felt the coroner would have been taking her body away by now. Whatever was up between Iggy and Carla, the secretary didn't seem pleased over it.
"The run was very nice. There's some beautiful countryside up here." Dru sipped her coffee, watching a blue jay hop across the patio checking for scraps. "You should have joined us."
Carla tore off a piece of crust from her toast and threw it in the bird's direction. Suspicious the blue jay pecked at it a couple of times making sure it was edible. Then it speared the tidbit and flew off.
"No, I don't think so. Three is still considered a crowd," Iggy answered, locking eyes with Kasey. The younger woman held firm, and, finally, the platinum-blonde dropped her eyes. "I talked with Mason, and he says we can visit Robby after we're done here." Iggy stabbed at her fried potatoes, "Carla, if you're not busy, I would like you to join us." Startled, the brunette looked up from her plate.
"Ah, sure. I haven't anything I have to attend to now that the retreat has been cancelled," Carla stated in puzzlement. A little smile threatened to spread across her face, which she obviously struggled to hold back. Dru thought Iggy was really being bullheaded if she couldn't see the unmistakable interest burning in the secretary's eyes. She hadn't caught onto that the brunette's attention was always focused on Iggy until she watched her the previous night. She hadn't said anything to Kasey, like she had planned to, to get her opinion. Now it all fell into place as she watched the two women. Iggy, with her usual business mask in place, not like earlier that morning when everything was on the surface. Now she was neutral, flat, nothing noted anywhere. No flashes of any emotion. Dru knew very well what Iggy was doing. She, had done it her whole life, so she knew the signs. The publisher had retreated back into herself for protection.
As they were getting ready to leave for Robby's, Kasey came up to Dru and said, "I'm going up to my room to get my purse, do you need anything?" The younger woman allowed her hand to rest lightly on the older woman's waist.
Blue eyes studied the proofreader in wonder. "No, thanks," she replied. For a moment they stood immersed in each other's gaze. Dru smiled, "Go on with you, we can't keep everyone waiting." Kasey grinned.
"Yeah, you're right." She winked as she turned away, heading upstairs.
A hand touched Dru's shoulder. She turned to face Iggy and raised an eyebrow in question. "What's up?" The writer looked around and noticed Carla was nowhere to be seen.
"I'm worried about something, and you're the only one I trust that might know how to help." Serious, pale brown eyes studied Dru.
She didn't really want to listen to Iggy's problems, but there was no avoiding it. The dark woman nodded. "Go ahead, what is it?"
The publisher dropped her eyes, seeing something very important in her shoes. "I'm worried about my brother-in-law."
Slightly dumbfounded, Dru asked, "What's wrong with him?" She found herself intrigued.
The other woman wadded a Kleenex she held. "That's just it. I'm not sure, but he's been acting odd ever since you showed up. Don't ask me for a reason because I don't have one." She looked up with hopeful eyes pinned on Dru. "Will you help me find out what's wrong?"
"Are you sure it isn't Robby's illness that's affecting him?"
Iggy shook her head. "It's not the illness. I feel sure about that."
"What do you think I can do? I'm only a writer, Iggy. I'm not a detective or anything close to one," Dru informed the publisher.
"Yes, but you have a suspicious mind, and you're able to think from the nefarious perspective." Iggy replied.
Cerulean eyes went hard. "Do I take that as a compliment or insult?
"I need whatever skills you have, Dru, so, in this case, take it as a compliment." Iggy's eyes softened measurably. "Please. I have no where else to turn."
The taller woman didn't know what to say. She felt somewhat embarrassed to have Iggy almost begging her for her help. This was not a position she liked being in. Carla walked into the room and Kasey descended the stairs.
"Ok. I don't know exactly what I can do, but I'll keep my eyes open." Damn, she hated this. Now what was she getting herself into? They all piled into Iggy's Mercedes. Dru could feel Kasey observing her and felt the woman's hand seek hers out. She felt a light squeeze, which she returned. Dru was troubled. What was she supposed to do? What would happen if she did learn something she didn't want to know or be involved with? Turkey droppings. This was getting complicated. All, she wanted to do was have a few days away with Kasey, now this.
An orange, long-haired dog raced down the drive to meet the car. He ran alongside the driver's door until Iggy brought the vehicle to a stand still. Dru didn't think a tail could move any faster, but it picked up speed as Iggy exited the car. A grin spread across the writer's face as she heard the publisher try to discourage the dog's affection.
"Mango, go dig a hole somewhere, will you?" The dog got his head up under Iggy's hand forcing her to pet him. His tongue lolled to one side as he panted in excitement. The writer enjoyed the discomfort of the publisher. It was good to note that animals liked this rough, hard-edged woman. It spoke volumes, at least to Dru. She believed in the ability of animals to know human nature. People look for outward actions to determine the many dimensions of a person's character, but animals just know. They seem to know the heart, good or bad, of an individual, regardless how the person acts on the outside.
Iggy's shadow glued himself to the woman's side, following her to the door. She used the brass knocker. Mason answered the door, a bright smile on his face. If there was something wrong, Dru couldn't see it on his face or in his actions.
Dru liked the airy feeling of Mason's home. Rich, teal carpet and rose colored furnishings enveloped the room. One wall was a multi-color blend of mottled teal and rose. What caught the writer's eye, however, was the ceiling, which exhibited an airbrushed scene of the palest, teal blue sky and wispy cloud formations. In the right light, Dru figured a person wouldn't even see the artwork. That was one way not to get bored, thought the writer, who usually tired of paintings quickly. A very delicate duplicate of the publisher jumped up from the chair in which she was sitting when they entered the room and ran to her older sister. Iggy, caught off guard, appeared dumbfounded to suddenly have her arms full of her sister. Just the day before, they could have sworn she was on death's doorstep, and… now…, here she was, full of life and energy. Kasey stood next to her lover, smiling at the scene. Dru felt a small hand on her arm. It was difficult for both of them to come to terms with Iggy having a family, that was so loving. Not exactly the side of her life that the publisher allowed others to see. That was just it. It, was this private side that she guarded painstakingly. Iggy protected her sister from whatever harm could come her way through her business dealings. Dru had some major opinion shifts to deal with here. The hardcore, calculating publisher back home was somewhat of a pussycat here with her family. This tickled the dark woman to no end, but she held the chuckle in. Her, partner appeared to sense what she was thinking, and a giggle escaped Kasey's lips, drawing Iggy's attention. The publisher tried very hard to scowl through the smile splitting her face in half. She finally gave up to the smile.
"Dru Warlord, Kasey Lovett, this is my sister Roberta." Iggy kept a strong possessive arm around her sister. Roberta extended a hand to Dru and then Kasey.
"It's about time I finally got to meet the famous Dru Warlord." A playful glint danced in the young woman's eyes.
"Goodness Iggy, what have you been telling your sister?" Dru questioned the platinum-blonde.
"Oh she's told me enough," Robby teased, her eyes falling on Kasey, "and this must be the best proofreader around I'm told?" Kasey blushed. "Please do come in and sit down."
They started to move into the living room, but Iggy stopped. "Why don't you show Dru and Kasey around the house. Allow them to see your artwork."
"They don't want to see my work, but I'll be happy to show them the house." Robby led them into a formal dinning room similar to Iggy's. The big difference was a mural of people sitting around at small tables in an outdoor plaza. Everything was in muted colors and, pale, with very little contrast. Yet the details were meticulous. The people appeared almost like ghosts, translucent in colors. Their facial features were such that you could see the expressions of happiness, boredom, and preoccupation. And then it stuck Dru. They were faces she knew. Iggy's was one, and she was stunned to see her own face staring back at her, sitting across from the publisher at one of the tables. This was too weird. Others were people in the publishing business.
"You painted this," she asked Robby.
Robby nodded, "I hope you don't mind?"
What was she supposed to say? "No, I don't mind, the likeness is uncanny." Might as well just let things go. As she looked about, she tried to picture the life Mason and Robby had together. Their home was nice and spacious, nothing great other than the painting, which made it stand out. It appeared there was a painting in every room, which depicted the theme of the room. The library was the piece de resistance. It consisted of two complete walls completely stocked with leather bound books. On the opposite wall from the bookshelves, another mural depicting a single individual leaning on a roll top oak desk, a lighted candle by the left hand, and a quill in the other. Parchment was trapped under the quill and forearm, and an unstopped inkwell at the top of the paper. It was Mason. He had a full head of rich, black, unruly hair. A lock fell over his forehead. It was a handsome painting of the man.
Though, for the most part, Robby appeared recovered, it still was her first day home from the hospital and her energy waned quickly. "Robby, Iggy will skin me alive if Kasey and I tire you out."
The smaller woman smiled warmly, "She worries too much but won't stop looking out for me. Iggy has been that way with me even before our mother died."
"Well, we're seeing a totally new side of her." Kasey informed. "And I like this side very much."
"Don't let her hear you. She'll, do her best to live up to her horrible reputation of a calculating, undermining dyke," Robby sighed loudly. "Oh, don't look so shocked. I know what people call her, though she doesn't think I do, and tries very hard to keep me insulated from her business."
"I, for one, won't be the one to tell her and wouldn't want to be the messenger who does." Dru responded, smiling wryly. Pointing to the painting, she asked, "Have you done anything other than your wall murals for your home? Do you have any in galleries?"
Robby shook her blonde head. "No, I don't think I'm good enough to put my work in galleries," she chuckled. "Iggy has been trying for years to get me to, but I do my paintings for myself and my family. It's not important for me to have anyone else like it." A glint crept into her eyes, and both guests saw it.
"Ok, what's up?" Kasey asked. "I can see you have a secret. Are you going to share it with us?"
Robby laughed lightly, "Yeah, I've been dying to show someone. You know I've been sick for awhile now," she paused, "and, well, I didn't think I was going to be around much longer." She motioned for them to follow her. The master suite was large and very cozy. Dru liked the fireplace and light wood paneling. There was a covered easel standing in the corner. Their hostess went directly to it and slid the covering off the painting. Dru and Kasey both gasped. Words were hard to come by to describe the two women in the painting. Obviously it was Iggy and Robby wrapped in a surreal embrace. Robby, with angelic wings and wearing a gown of white gossamer. The wings protectively held Iggy, who wore a deep midnight blue gown with brilliant stars dripping off the dress and scattering throughout the heavens. Airbrushed splashes of magentas of nebulas haloed Robby's head, With white starbursts for accents.
"Wow," breathed Kasey.
"Yeah, what she said," dittoed Dru. "I take it you haven't shown this to your sister?"
"She was going to get the painting if I… " She left the sentenced unfinished. "Now that I'm getting better, I don't exactly know what to do with it." Both Dru and Kasey looked at each other.
"Why not give it to Iggy now?" asked Kasey as she leaned against Dru, who, without thinking put an arm around her waist. Robby noticed and a small, sad smile touched her lips. The writer saw it.
"I don't know if she would be upset because of the content. It's a representation of my death, and I wanted her to know I would be looking over her always, no matter where I was." Her fine, boned fingers traced the face of her sister's image.
Iggy took that moment to enter the room, then stopped dead in her tracks as her pale brown eyes fell on the painting. A struggle danced on the elegant features of the publisher. Without a word she walked to the easel, stood and stared at the piece of heavenly artwork. Robby placed a gentle hand on her sister's shoulder. The publisher swallowed hard a few times before speaking. "It's the best work you've ever done, Robby."
"It's yours, if you want it."
"If I want it? Goodness Robby, it's breathtaking!" Iggy enfolded her sister in her arms. "I would be honored to have the painting, thank you." Kasey and Dru tried to find a way to leave the two sisters to their moment, but Iggy looked up and caught them trying to sneak out. "Hey, where do you think you're going?" she smiled. "So, what do you think of my sister's talent?" asked the proud publisher.
"Very impressive. I love the way the murals fade in and out depending on the lighting," replied Kasey. Dru couldn't have expressed it any better and gave her a small squeeze.
"I've been trying to convince her to put her work up in a gallery or allow me to open a gallery for her, but she wouldn't hear of it."
"Iggy, it's not important to me to have other people see my work, the only ones that matter are you and Mason, and, if my work gives you joy, that's a bonus."
"Well, it does give me joy." Iggy kissed her sister on the cheek, then turned to Dru. "Mason said he arranged for us to go out to the mine. Are you still interested?"
Dru exchanged looks with Kasey, "Yeah, I would love to see a real live mine."
"If I'm going to be outdoors, I best get some sunscreen or lotion on me. Robby, could I bother you for some, if you have any?" asked Kasey.
"Oh sure. Let me get it for you." Robby walked to the master bath waving Kasey to follow, who didn't let go of her partner, dragging the taller woman behind. Iggy followed. Opening a large cabinet, their hostess sorted through some creams. "Here. You'll like this one," Robby said, as she handed over a cream colored container.
"Whoa, that smells wonderful," Kasey responded as she stuck the small jar under Dru's nose. Their eyes met, both pairs twinkling. "Vanilla, my favorite." While having it under her nose, the writer noticed another fragrance, but the source eluded her.
"Mine too," answered Robby, "Iggy keeps me in good supply."
"Nothing but the best for my little sister."
They met Carla and Mason in the living room.
"Dru would like to see your precious mine, Mason," Iggy winked.
"Great, then we should be heading out." He turned to Robby, "Are you sure you're going to be fine without me? I could stay. They would understand, I'm sure." Mason glanced around for affirmation. Everyone nodded.
"Goodness, I'm going to be fine. I feel better than I have in a long time. It would be nice to have some private time to do those little things I've been wanting to get to without interruptions. So go on with all of you. Enjoy your little excursion." She gave Mason a quick hug, then added, "When you get home, I'll have lunch ready."
Mango tried to attach himself, again, to Iggy's side but was told by his human to stay. So he sat down and whined, watching the platinum-blonde climb into the Lincoln.
It took them a half of an hour to arrive at the mine. A large shed was all that remained of a once bustling operation. Dust whirled about their feet. Mason opened the trunk of his car, grabbed some hard hats and passed them around. There were two lights on either side of the helmetss He then took out a couple of packs from the trunk and handed one to Dru and one to Iggy. The writer hefted hers onto her back and settled it into a comfortable position. "What's in these?" She asked.
"Oh, I thought we could have a small snack below, and it's always good to have water to drink. Then there's are the usual safety stuff if someone should get injured." Mason smiled, "First thing off I have to do is see to the generator. Give me a few minutes to get it started." Iggy's brother-in-law moved off to the sturdy wooden shed.
Carla hung close to Iggy with a small smile seeming to play at her mouth. It was obvious how the secretary felt about Iggy, and Dru thought the publisher blind as a bat if she hadn't noticed. But then Iggy always did march to her own drummer, and she was fast learning the publisher was hardly what she had thought her to be. Oh yes, she was hard edgy, and downright maniacal in her business, but the heads of most publishing houses were. The fact is, they are in the business of making money, and if that wasn't the main motive, then, most likely you wouldn't last long doing what Iggy did best, and that was publish inexpensive, popular, paperback books.
The roar of an engine starting up vibrated the air with its noise. Moments later Mason reappeared. He waved for them to follow him as he headed for the entrance to the mine.
"Are we ready?" He scanned his small group, then took out some keys, fumbling with them until he found the right one, which he, inserted into the large, round, American lock that secured the bar across the metal plate door. Dru helped him slide back the metal bar. Both of them pulled hard on the handle. It creaked and groaned before it moved, allowing them to enter.
Lights lined the tunnel. Timbers shores up the walls, and the ceiling hung heavily with cobwebs and dust. Their steps echoed on the hard-packed earth. Small skittering sounds ran from then into hiding places as they proceeded deeper into the tunnel. The air smelled and tasted stale, and the writer in Dru could feel the excitement of a tale beginning to unweave. Here dwelled the lives of men in the gold rush days. Leaving home to make their fortune in the new land of California where the streets were paved with gold and tales of nuggets laying on the ground just for the taking. Everyone was guaranteed to strike it rich. By the time they reached the gold fields, their money had run out and the cost of food was outrageous. Additionally, having to outfit themselves to mine the rivers and streams was more than some could bear. Dru almost could see the gold fever in the miners' eyes with the promise of riches just beyond the next hill, or next river, always the next something or other. The next shovel or pickaxe would be it. Like all gamblers, the losers far outnumbered the winners, but, everyone hung on the hopes that they would be the next to find the big mother lode.
A hand touched her arm. "Hey, where did you go?" asked her partner. "You looked like you were seeing something faraway."
The taller woman peered down into shadowed green eyes. "I was," Dru replied. "I was seeing the past."
"Okay, whose?" Kasey asked, perplexed.
"The '49ers' of course."
"Oh yeah, right. I should have figured that out first thing. I don't think so." She gave her lover a gentle shove with her hip. "I guess it's a writer's thing, huh?"
"For sure, only writers. You're null and void on seeing any of it. Only people with imaginations are allowed. Nope, not you," Dru grinned.
"You're horrible. I'll have you know I have an imagination," informed Kasey.
Two dark eyebrows hid themselves in raven bangs. "Do tell."
"Hmm, you thought I had imagination last night." Kasey added offhandedly. Dru choked and coughed, very thankful for the poor lighting. She could feel her cheeks burning regardless if anyone else could see her blushing, but she recovered quickly and added a little banter of her own.
"Yeah, you did," she purred seductively, which brought a nice, little, red glow to the strawberry-blonde's profile.
"You always have to have the last word, don't you?" stated the proofreader. Dru waggled her eyebrows at the smaller woman.
"Yeah," twinkled blue eyes.
"Hey you two, stop lagging behind," Iggy called back to them. The publisher, secretary, and now tour guide, Mason, were all gathered at a loader car, which took miners and machinery deeper into the mine.
"Go ahead. Climb into one, and we'll ride to the bottom of the track. In my haste to show you around, I forgot to throw the breaker for the ventilators. I'll run back and turn it on. It shouldn't take me but a few minutes," Mason said before jogging back the way they just came.
"Hey, will you look at that?" Kasey exclaimed before heading over to an unusual rock formation. Carla strolled up beside her. Dru and Iggy were sitting in the loader waiting.
"What is it?" questioned the brunette.
"Can't you see the face?" Kasey asked, pointing to the veins of color running through the wall. "See. There's the eyes, and this part is the nose, and right there is an ear."
"And here I said you didn't have an imagination," quipped Dru with a deep chuckle. Suddenly, everything rumbled abruptly and shook violently. The timbers shattered and boulders fell from the ceiling. Clouds of dirt bellowed into Dru's lungs. The loader tittered and fell into an open chasm that had just appeared beside the rail. "Kasey!" she yelled, as she felt herself and loader fall through dark nothingness.
"Dru!" she heard in response from Kasey, then nothing.
End of Chapter Three
Continued - Chapter Four
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