Incidental Tourist (Part One)

Copyright December 4, 1998 - January 25, 1999 by JLPeterson (Ruth2Naomi@aol.com)

DISCLAIMERS:

Xena: Warrior Princess and Gabrielle who have appeared in the syndicated series Xena: Warrior Princess, together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement was intended in the writing of this fan fiction. The story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be sold or used for profit in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use and must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.

WARNINGS:

THANK YOUS:

My heartfelt thanks to my beta readers M, N and S.

 

Incidental Tourist, Part One:

Los Angeles

By JLPeterson

 

Dee watched the agent expertly attach the "LAX" destination tags to her two matching scotch-plaid suitcases. Her mind wandered off to the time she was four and ate an entire box of Ex-Lax thinking it was chocolate instead of a laxative.

"You’ll be boarding at Gate 6... Miss?"

"Huh?" Dee’s memory instantly passed through fifteen more years and she realized she was looking quizzically at the ticket agent across the counter.

"Gate 6."

As Des Moines shrunk into the distance, Dee took several deep breaths synched to thoughts of "relax...relax...relax". This was her first time in an airplane and she’d had a minor panic attack at take-off.

The plane finally broke above the cloud layer. With the help of a Scotch, soda and a Sandra Scoppettone novel, Dee tried not to think about being in a huge heavy container with its tiny wings, thousands of feet above terra firma. Eventually she fell asleep.

… (While waiting to arrive you may want to visit www.lax2015.org )…

"Dee!" Dee tried to find the source from amongst the many faces that were greeting the arriving passengers.

"Dee?" This time the voice was right behind her.

"Denise!" She squealed as threw her arms around her taller, older cousin and gave her a big Midwestern bearhug.

"Gods, it’s been," Dee hesitated.

"Ten years, Dee. Can you believe it? I didn’t recognize you!" Denise wrapped her arm around her cousin’s waist and headed for the baggage claim.

Denise, now thirty, was explaining to Dee how she’d just started a new job so she wouldn’t be able to take any time off, maybe a day -maybe- to show Dee around Los Angeles. She gave the trunk of her Nissan a mighty push down over the luggage and smiled up at her cousin when the latch clicked.

Once they escaped the LAX airport loop it was a very quick ride to Denise’s apartment in Venice. The conversation en route was comprised of the obligatory inquiries as to relatives’ health, jobs, deaths, births, marriages, divorces, etc. And then there they were parked in the carport. It was almost 1:30 on a bright sunny mid-August Saturday afternoon. Denise unlocked the door to her apartment.

"Mi casa es su casa!" Denise invited. When she got a funny look from her cousin, she translated, "Spanish. Means ‘my house is your house.’ Your room’s through that door on the left. Bathroom’s directly ahead."

Dee was anxious to see and do everything she could manage squeeze into these next two weeks. She’d picked up a dozen Los Angeles-Southern California attraction brochures. Not only was this Dee's first time in California, it was her first trip out of the Midwest. She saw it as her chance to prove to her parents that she was a responsible adult quite capable of taking care of herself. She hoped to move into an apartment with a few of her friends who were also starting classes at the Community College in September.

The young woman walked through the door to the "guest" room, a suitcase in each hand and quickly realized there was barely enough space on the floor to set them down. The small room contained two six-by-three-foot overstuffed bookcases, a desk with a computer and printer, several dusty pieces of exercise equipment and a small couch. Dee winced at the sight of the couch. It was a kind of deep orange-brown with a few light-colored stains here and there, that the lumps in the cushions helped to hide.

"Listen hon, I know you just got here and all, but I’ve got to run," Denise stepped into the room and reached out to her cousin, "Here’s a key to the apartment. Get unpacked and make yourself at home. I’m only four blocks from the beach and believe me, it's an experience. Hey! You’ve never been to a beach before have you? You’re gonna love it! Um, I’ll be out real late - might not be back ‘til tomorrow - so don’t wait up for me." Denise leaned in and gently squeezed Dee by the shoulders before dashing out. No sooner was the older cousin out the door than Dee headed for the bathroom in search of something akin to Lysol disinfectant spray to use on the couch she’d be sleeping on.

Forget unpacking - it’s daylight! Dee left her luggage where she’d dropped it, and, making sure the key was in her pocket, slung her handbag over her shoulder and locked the door behind her. "Venice Beach. Here I come!"

… (As Dee walks the four blocks, check out http://207.155.120.13/venice/ and you'll see some of what she is about to)…

The way to the beach was evident by following the swarms of people headed to it. Dee realized she could smell the ocean before it came into view. She stood at the corner of a white stucco building where the street dead-ended at the sidewalk. She stared slack-jawed at the mass and variety of humanity on the sidewalk, on the bike path, on the sand and in the water.

Dee noticed some rapid movements on the sidewalk down to her left. There were three young men and a woman on rollerblades maneuvering through a makeshift slalom course. They were obviously very good at it and having a blast as they effortlessly skated, jumped and danced to the music of a boom box. While the guys were undeniably handsome with athletic bodies, Dee found it hard to take her eyes off the woman. She had long, tan legs that disappeared at the top of her thighs into what looked like short black boxer silks. A cropped gray T-shirt revealed a well-toned stomach and a sexy navel. She had broad shoulders, a beautifully sculpted face, and long dark-brown hair in a loose French braid set off by her striking blue eyes. Dee swallowed. Wow!

The young tourist realized that she could openly watch the skater and her friends go through their routines and no one would give it a second thought. She leaned up against the corner of the building and decided she’d just admire the tall beauty on skates until she got bored or until the skaters left, whichever came first.

"Shit!" Dee was yanked away from the wall and pulled abruptly forward. On her way down to the pavement she saw a teenage boy on skates start to weave into the crowd with the straps of her handbag in his left hand. She had managed to break her fall and quickly stood up to run after him. The female skater she’d been fascinated with had already started pursuit. Dee ran through the throng of people as fast as she could but she soon lost sight of the skaters who were now way ahead of her.

Meanwhile, the purse-snatcher had gotten onto the bike path. When he finally took a quick look behind him he was terrified to see that a woman on skates was obviously after him and closing in. With a fresh burst of adrenaline he bolted down the path.

Not quite fast enough. A pull on the handbag landed him on his butt. He relinquished it immediately, looked past the woman, then bolted again. The female skater turned around in time to see two policemen on bicycles bearing down on her. She had just enough time to stand tall and sideways as the bikes zoomed past within inches of her. The thief left the path, crossed the sidewalk and was off down a sidestreet with the cops on his tail. Jay relaxed and skated back to find the owner of the bag.

 

Dee could easily see the tall woman heading in her general direction and was immeasurably relieved to see the familiar handbag slung on her shoulder.

"Here! Over here!" Dee raised her arms overhead and called out from within the group of people around her on the sidewalk. Jay acknowledged Dee with a tilt of her head and a broad smile and started towards her. As she approached, the skater casually inspected the woman starting with her Nike jogging shoes, up the faded denim jeans and zippered fly to the white sleeveless top that exposed the tourist's pale but strong shoulders and arms. Her hair was the color of sand, parted slightly to one side and it fell loose to just below her shoulders.

The shy tourist now realized that her heart was pounding louder with every foot of distance disappearing between them. God, she’s gonna think I’m a dork. Dee wished she’d brushed her hair, changed her clothes, put on higher-heeled shoes and some make-up. She wasn’t sure why, but she sure as hell knew that she wanted to look as good as she could. The vision stopped before her and reached out to return her handbag.

"I think this is yours," Jay said. With a twinkle in her eyes and a flashing grin, she handed the shorter woman the bag. With the skates on Jay was a good eight inches taller than Dee who stood at about five foot six.

"Thank you! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate…" Dee couldn’t believe those squeaky high sounds were coming from her, "I really appreciate you going after…" The embarrassed tourist knew she was still babbling her gratitude but she wasn’t paying attention to the words anymore. Then she thought she might have been interrupted.

"Are you alright?" Jay asked, "You seem to be pretty shaken up."

"I’m sorry," Dee said, "this is my first day in California, you know, and I’m -I’m... Perhaps I’m in shock… How can I thank you? Can I, ah, buy you something to drink? Maybe?"

Jay was about to say ‘No thanks’ and return to her skating buddies when she felt a twinge of compassion for this young tourist who was obviously alone and bewildered.

"Okay," Jay agreed, "follow me."

Jay's favorite bar in Venice was only a block away from the Sidewalk Cafe. Jay walked into the crowded room in her skates and saw a couple preparing to vacate their stools at the counter. The two women approached and when the patrons stood to leave, Jay gestured for Dee to take a seat. The young tourist knew she wasn’t of legal drinking age in this state, but sat down silently allowing the older woman to continue her lead. Jay waved to the bartender at the far end of the counter.

"Hey Bill!"

Bill looked back with a smile.

"Hiya Jay! Be there in a minute!"

"Let me guess," Bill addressed the skater, "a Mai Tai."

"Drink of the month," Jay replied with a crooked little grin.

Bill then turned to Dee. She hesitated and looked at Jay.

"She’ll have the same," Jay said.

Bill turned to Jay with a questioning expression and then brought his eyes back to Dee’s.

"I’ll have to see some ID, miss."

Jay quickly interjected "Her wallet was just stolen - I’ll vouch for her."

Dee gave a small affirmative nod to the bartender.

"Hmmm. Alright, Jay. If you say so." He then left to fix the drinks.

When Dee decided the bartender wouldn't be able to overhear, she whispered "Thanks."

Jay answered back, "Well, you seemed a bit shook up so I figured a drink might help settle your nerves."

The tourist smiled and nodded and wondered if she looked like she was flirting with this woman. She hoped she didn’t. An almost imperceptible blush came to her cheeks.

Bill returned with the drinks, "Here you go. Six dollars."

Instinctively Dee went to take her purse out of her handbag but she was stopped when Jay lightly placed her hand over Dee’s and said, "No, my treat." The tourist then recalled the ‘stolen wallet’ story and replied, "Thanks, I forgot for a moment there."

Jay lifted her glass to the young woman, " A toast."

"A toast!" Dee exclaimed, "to my knight in rolling armor!"

"Rolling armor?" Jay laughed back. "To the damsel in distress!"

***

The laughter disappeared as they set their drinks back down on the bar. Jay and Dee's eyes spoke volumes, effectively pushing the surrounding sounds of the large crowd into a low far off humming. Closer now, Jay observed that the young woman's hands were an average size with long fingers, and short, neatly trimmed nails which were longer on her right hand. She also wore what appeared to be a high school graduation ring on her right ring finger. Her perfectly white teeth were almost even except for a very tiny chip off a front top tooth, and she smiled with rosy lips of even fullness. Jay followed the slightly upturned nose until Dee's hazel eyes were caught -no- embraced by Jay's clear blue ones. It made the smaller woman uncomfortable. What does she see?

Dee picked up the conversation from the counter top where their glasses sat and she smiled nervously at the tanned face next to her, "Thank you, Jay. This Mai Tai is very good." She couldn't think of anything else to say.

The skater tipped her dark head and softly replied, "You're welcome. You know my name but I don't know yours."

"Dee." She looked down to her fingers that were stroking the condensation on her glass.

Jay followed the young woman's eyes, "Okay, Dee… You're a tourist?" This was said as more of an acknowledgment than a question.

"It shows, huh?"

Jay nodded, her grin spreading at the sight of Dee's darkening cheeks.

"Where are you from?" Jay asked as she turned on her stool to fully face the tourist.

"What Cheer…in Iowa."

"What?" Jay wasn't sure she understood what Dee said.

"Iowa." Dee decided she shouldn't have mentioned the name of the town. It usually required an explanation and an admission that she didn't know its origin.

"What city in Iowa?" Jay didn't let her off the hook.

"What Cheer," Dee murmured.

"Okay," Jay looked at her incredulously, "So you mean to tell me you're from a town called 'What Cheer'?"

"Exactly." Dee lifted her drink to her lips thinking it might delay the next question.

"What kind of name is 'What Cheer' for a town?" Jay was curious by nature.

"What kind of name is 'Jay' for a girl?" Dee deflected.

"No, no, no. You can't answer my question with a question." Jay wouldn't be re-routed.

Dee surrendered, "Alright. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm probably the only person in all of What Cheer who doesn't know where the name came from."

As Jay brought her Mai Tai to her mouth she said, "Well, then, we'll just have to find out, then."

"Huh?" The tourist's face scrunched up in puzzlement.

Looking back at Dee, Jay explained, "You know, go to the library or look it up on the Internet."

"Oh." Dee had never been that interested in finding out but figured she probably should know the story behind the name.

After a moment Dee continued, "So how did you get the name 'Jay'?

"Well, it's half of a nickname I had as a kid. My mom and dad used to call me 'Bluejay'. When I got older it became just 'Jay'."

The tourist chuckled, "Why not 'Blue'?"

"Yeah, right," Jay smirked, "that sounds like a pet's name - like, 'C'mere Blue, c'mere boy - Good ol' Blue!"

Dee just smiled back and said nothing.

Jay assessed the situation. No comment was forthcoming from the tourist, two empty glasses sat on the counter and someone was eyeing their seats. She didn't want to leave Dee sitting at the bar or say goodbye to her at the door. She felt strangely compelled to stay with her at least a little longer. Jay hadn't any set plans for the rest of the afternoon so she decided to bait a hook and see what happened.

"How about I show you around Venice?" Considering what had happened earlier to the young tourist, she hoped Dee would agree to an escort.

They left the bar and started to walk the two blocks to Jay's car so she could swap the rollerblades for shoes.

As Jay stopped and reached to open her car door she was startled by Dee's exclamation.

"Wow! You've got a convertible sportscar?"

"Uh, yeah…" Jay replied with a proud grin and realized they probably don't have too many BMW Z3 roadsters in Iowa.

…(If you're wondering if it's worth going 'Wow' about, check out http://www.bmw.com/bmwe/products/automobiles/bmw_z3.shtml)…

The black beauty had a wet-look shine to it and was so new it didn't have license plates yet. Jay enjoyed Dee's adoration of the car. She proceeded to open the door on the passenger side and sat down in the seat to remove her skates. The tourist looked in as close as she could without bumping into Jay.

"Wow…it's beautiful…Cool…" Dee was softly exclaiming as she took its features in.

The tall woman finished tying the laces on her jogging shoes and reached behind the seat to grab a black light silk jacket that matched her shorts.

Dee sniffed the interior of the car, "Yeah, it's definitely got that new expensive sportscar smell." Then she moved out of Jay's way allowing her to get up from the seat and close the door.

"I'll take you for a ride later, okay?" The tall dark owner answered.

"That'd be great!" Dee couldn't believe her luck. She found herself thanking that purse-snatcher.

Jay pulled her mobile phone from a jacket pocket, "Gotta check my messages. It'll only take a minute."

Dee wandered around the car with her hands in her pant pockets, she was so afraid she might give in to the urge to touch the spotless finish.

"You have two messages," the automated voice announced, "First message…" The first message was that her clothes were ready at the cleaners. Jay pressed 3 to delete the recording. "Second message: Ingrid, this is Susan. Please call me at…" The phone displayed the caller's number and "Call?" Jay looked at Dee who was sufficiently out of earshot and pressed the "Yes" button. When Susan answered, Jay decided to keep tonight open and scheduled a meeting with her for Sunday night.

The tourist watched Jay put her phone back into the jacket pocket before approaching her and asking "Everything okay?"

Jay nodded yes and smiled. "How about a little walk in the Pacific?"

They strolled back to the promenade and started to cross the sand.

"This is weird," Dee observed as her feet sunk into the sand, "I didn't realize it would be kind of hard to walk in."

"You get used to it," Jay assured her as Dee took in the sight of scantily clad bodies littered about the beach.

"I'm so white I make the Queen look third world, " the tourist commented.

Jay had a lascivious thought about Dee's creamy skin that reflected in her smile.

There was noise everywhere. Screams from kids, young and old, splashing in the surf. Hordes of seagulls squealed overhead, searching the beach below for whatever they could scavenge. The birds on the sand stool brazenly close to folks on their towels who were eating chips, drinking sodas or licking fast-melting Popsicles. Songs from radios and boom boxes competed with each other, although many sunbathers wore headsets plugged into their walkmans. Snippets of conversations overheard as Jay and Dee passed by added their own measures to the cacophony. The small waves crashing and the rushing back and forth along the shoreline had sounds all their own. Suddenly the notes came together in Dee's perception and created a natural symphony that played in harmony with the scene at the beach.

Jay broke the tourist's reverie by suggesting that they take off their shoes.

They sat on the warm sand a few feet from the wet stuff and unlaced. Dee then cautiously approached the water first, commenting to Jay on the coolness of the surface under her bare feet when she suddenly screamed. The ocean swirled about her ankles reaching several inches up past the hem of her jeans. "I guess I should've rolled them up!" she said to Jay, noting and admiring the taller woman's long legs and shorts.

The older woman was as amazed with Dee as Dee was with the beach. It reminded her of days gone by when such simple things were a joy. Jay had been coming to Venice for several years now and its newness had disappeared. Now she was experiencing it again vicariously through this young woman.

Dee bent down to roll up her cuffs just as another rush of water splashed up the backside of her legs, drenching her jeans up to the knees.

"Guess it's too late now, " Dee said, standing up and abandoning the idea of rolling up her pantlegs.

The tall woman gave her a crooked grin and said, "Welcome to California Dee!" Land of the Unexpected.

As they padded barefoot heading south along the shoreline, Dee explained that she was spending the next two weeks with her cousin Denise who lived there in Venice. Well, not exactly spending time with her cousin because of Denise's new job but staying at her apartment. The tourist was then headed back to What Cheer and on to attend Indian Hills Community College at the beginning of the fall semester…

While Dee spoke, Jay felt so much older than her 24 years. Jay hadn't been to college to study anything in particular. She'd take a class here and there but when added together they didn't apply toward any degree requirement. The local woman was spontaneous when it came to registering for a class and whimsical in her choice. However, she had always been devoted to individual athletics, mainly swimming and cycling, and martial arts. Her physique was testimony to her training. Jay really did consider her body a temple, and, while by no means fanatical about her health, she was enthusiastic about staying strong, healthy and alive.

…The tourist was planning to study foreign languages at college while working part-time at night - probably as a waitress because she knew the owner of a coffee shop in Ottumwa. Then she hoped to transfer to the University of Iowa in her junior year. She entertained ideas of working as an interpreter or translator for the FBI, CIA or the State Department upon her graduation…

The dark-haired woman was surprised that Dee had already planned out the next four to five years of her life. The young woman had laid out her future like a route on a map that merely needed to be followed. Jay's life was barely planned a month in advance. The goal was to make lots of money and retire early so she could…do something. The something she didn't have a handle on. The older woman grinned inwardly at the thought of her destiny being more like the map itself rather than any particular road on it.

"… And, if you don't mind my asking, what kind of work do you do? I think it must pay very well for you to own that sportscar."

Jay replied as if bored, "I work in customer service. I deal with expensive products and special orders. It's not really that interesting but it pays very well."

"What kind of products?" Dee asked, eyebrows raised in curiosity.

"Expensive ones," Jay reiterated, "Do you have plans for this evening?"

Dee was momentarily disappointed by Jay's curt reply to her question but was quickly thrown off-balance by the woman's question in return.

"Maybe watch 'Xena'," Dee shrugged her shoulders.

Jay was confused, "What's 'Xena'?"

"Umm… I think better to show you than to tell you. It's a television show and it airs on a local station here at 9 tonight."

"A TV show?" Jay was surprised that the young woman was so enthralled by a television show as to know when it aired here in Los Angeles. "Big fan, eh?"

"Well," Dee blushed, "Watch it and tell me what you think."

"Uh huh, " the local nodded. "Well, I was thinking perhaps we could have dinner together. I know of a most unusual restaurant whose motto is 'We season our garlic with food' - do you like garlic?"

"Sure," the tourist smiled. Dee was beginning to wonder why the woman was being so unbelievably nice to her but then shook such doubts from her mind. Why look gift horses in the mouth, right?

Jay pulled her mobile phone from her pocket, dialed a number and secured reservations at the restaurant for 7 o'clock. She figured Dee would be home in time for her TV show.

As the sun approached the horizon, Jay suggested they find a comfortable spot where they could watch it set. She told Dee that sunsets over the ocean were usually breathtaking and today had just the right type of high cloud scattering to be magnificent.

The tourist was awestruck by the water-reflected golds, oranges, reds and purples. Jay alternated between watching the sunset and watching Dee's profile. She was delighted.

The sun took the most of the day's warmth with it. The young woman wrapped her exposed arms around each other after getting up from the patch of grass they had made into their observation point.

"Where to now?" Dee asked the older woman as Jay stood up beside her and stretched.

Jay suggested that they should start getting ready for dinner by heading over to Dee's temporary home. After Dee had cleaned up and changed, they could stop at Jay's for her to do the same. Jay lived in a part of Los Angeles called West Hollywood and not far from the restaurant.

Dee and Jay entered Denise's darkened apartment. It took a minute for Dee to find the light switch.

"I don't know my way around the place yet," she apologized as she headed for her room, "I haven't even unpacked."

"No problem, " Jay reassured her as she followed the young blonde into the so-called guestroom. She noticed the couch and asked "Does it open into a bed?"

"No, I don't think so," Dee replied as she lifted a couple cushions to sadly confirm that fact. "Good thing I'm shorter and smaller than you. I might be able to fit…if I keep my knees bent, that is."

As the tourist dropped the larger suitcase onto the couch, Jay caught a glimpse of the Sandra Scoppettone paperback on the desk by the computer. Well maybe she knows more than I thought…unless that's her cousin's book?

… (And just who is this Scoppettone person you ask? A beta-reader did and found out more at http://www.imt.net/~gedison/scoppett.html - thanks S)…

Dee suggested Jay wait in the living room, offering the tall woman a glass of water but that she'd have to fix it herself. Jay went into the kitchen and Dee opened her case, searching for a suitable outfit for tonight's "date". Date. It was a date, wasn't it?

The tourist closed her door, and pulled her smaller case up and onto the couch and fished out her toiletries and clean underwear. Damn. She smacked her forehead. I forgot to pack my robe!

The young woman opened her door and saw that Jay was sitting in the recliner, glass of water in one hand and a magazine in the other. She ducked out and into the bathroom, returning to her own room with the largest towel she could find. Dee undressed, wrapped the towel around her, grabbed her toiletries and made a dash to the bathroom.

Jay raised an eyebrow and grinned as the towel-clad woman ran from one room to the other. Dee hadn't even glanced in Jay's direction. The tall woman returned to last month's Cosmopolitan magazine and listened to the running shower.

After about ten minutes the tourist cracked open the bathroom door. Jay had turned around immediately at the sound and Dee found herself smiling shyly at the beautiful woman across the room. She had wrapped one towel around her hair and another around her torso. "Just a few more minutes," she said as she quickly stepped to her room.

Just as the digital time display on the dash flashed 7:00 p.m., Jay turned off La Cienega Boulevard and up to the valet parking at The Stinking Rose.

"You're gonna love the Brie and garlic pizza," Jay commented to Dee as they started into the restaurant's foyer.

…(While they enjoy dinner, care to peruse the menu? You'll find it at http://thestinkingrose.com/la/la.htm)…

***

"I'm sorry I got you home too late" Jay started to say as they walked up to Denise's door.

"Oh," Dee turned and gave the tall woman a small smile, "It's okay, really, they show reruns during the summer and," her grin widened, "I've seen them all."

The lock turned and the tourist opened up the door of the pitch-black room.

"C'mon in." The young woman found the light switch and started looking for the TV remote.

Dee couldn't find the remote so she went to the TV and spoke to Jay as she punched the Power and Channel buttons.

"I think you look a lot like the woman who plays 'Xena'".

"Humph," Jay grunted, "Yeah, sure." The tall woman thought she had a unique look.

The local returned to the recliner she'd occupied earlier in the day and watched the television ad. The announcer's voice was saying, "…and now for my forbidden dance." It was a candy commercial for godsake. Jay rarely watched television and could hardly tolerate all the advertising.

The next thing she saw onscreen was a leather-and-bronze clad warrior-like woman with black hair and wild blue eyes holding what looked like an unconscious younger blonde woman in her arms.

"There!" Dee pointed at the screen, "That's Xena. The blonde is Gabrielle."

Jay barely heard the tourist's remark as the scene on TV mesmerized her.

It was so quiet in the apartment you could have heard a pin drop. Then music soared into a triumphant crescendo when Gabrielle opened her eyes and took a gasping breath. Dee and Jay took a breath as well.

"Wow. That was pretty intense there," Jay observed.

"Yeah, this episode's called 'Is There A Doctor in the House' - it's one of my favorites."

Dee motioned, "OK, Jay quick get next to the TV screen-"

"What?"

"Please, get down by the TV screen - I want to compare your looks to Xena's."

"That's silly!" Jay gave Dee a look of disbelief.

"C'mon. Humor me. No harm done."

Feeling absolutely foolish, Jay got up and squatted next to the TV screen.

"I feel stupid."

"There! She's on the screen." Jay turned her head around try to see the screen but she was way too close to make out anything.

"No! Don't look at it, I want to compare your face to hers!" Dee exclaimed.

"Yes," the tourist said with self-satisfaction, "You do look a lot like her. You just need a black wig with bangs and maybe something to tone down the blue of your eyes."

Jay raised an eyebrow.

"And that too!" Dee laughed.

"What?" Jay said dryly. "Can I get up now?"

"Sure. Thanks for indulging me. You and she do that eyebrow-thing, you know, when you raise one eyebrow independently of the other."

Jay actually felt a little deflated. "If I look so much like her how come no-one's mistaken me for her?"

"Well…" Dee started, "You look a little intimidating because of your height and build, and… I don't know where you got your eye color from… but it's even a more brilliant blue than Xena's."

Jay was back to watching the show. "A baby centaur?" The tall woman shuddered at the thought.

"For what it's worth," the new fan commented, "I think you resemble the young blonde woman, the one Xena revived."

"Yeah, right," the seasoned fan replied with a roll of her eyes.

The theme song played over the closing credits, interrupted at one point by a commercial for the upcoming news at 10:00.

Dee had found the television's remote control on the living room couch and hit the Power off button. She eyed the couch and thought it would probably make a better bed than the one in her room.

An awkward silence followed. Dee didn't want to say goodnight to her new friend yet. Jay didn't want to leave unless they could see each other again before the tourist was scheduled to fly back to Iowa.

"Do you have plans for tomorrow?" The tall woman asked with a hopeful smile.

"Golly," the younger one replied, "Well, you know, I was thinking I need to figure out how to get around without a car. There are so many places I'd like to see."

Jay thought for a moment. Just how much time am I willing to spend with her? Do I have any idea of what I'm getting myself into here?

"I have a suggestion," the local began, "How about if we bicycle up to Santa Monica tomorrow morning. You can tell me where you want to go, and, as I work at night, I can play chauffeur and tour-guide this week during the day."

Dee sat on the couch wide-eyed. Why is this beautiful woman interested in spending time with me? God, it would be so much easier not to deal with public transportation for a week. Let's see… A beautiful woman, a convertible sportscar, someone who knows her way around town -

"Deal," the tourist finally replied.

"Deal," the tour-guide confirmed, "I'll come by at, say, 10?"

Sunday was spent in Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Westwood. Dee was excited and impressed with everything. It was impossible for some of that joie de vivre not to spill over onto Jay.

As they wandered Melrose Avenue, the tourist would giggle and try not to obviously point out the people she thought unusual. Jay assured her, "Dee, they want to be noticed."

Strolling down Santa Monica Boulevard ("What's the 'Pleasure Chest'?" Dee had asked) the tourist attempted to hone her gay awareness skills. She would identify her guesses with comments like "With the tight jeans, bare chest and T-shirt tucked in the waistband" and Jay would nod yes or no in reply. The "No" nods always required explanation. The older woman noticed that the tourist did not try to ID any lesbians, nor did she give any hints as to her preference.

After a dinner at Canter's on Fairfax, where you go more for the waitresses (who all seem to have been imported directly from New York's Jewish Delicatessens) than you go for the food, the tourist and her guide returned to Venice. It was about 9:00pm when they arrived back at Dee's doorstep where they stood and exchanged a few words.

"Care to stay awhile?" Dee hoped.

"Sorry Dee. Working tonight," Jay wistfully replied. "I'll be by tomorrow at, what, 9 okay?"

"Nine is fine," the tourist agreed, "I guess it's goodnight then."

Jay almost brought her hand to Dee's cheek but turned it into a handshake offer on the way up.

The action surprised the young woman but she placed her hand in Jay's larger one.

"Goodnight Dee," the dark woman smiled down at her and gave the hand a small squeeze.

Dee's gaze followed Jay's form to the black shadow of her car. The young woman watched her drive away before she entered the apartment.

"Where on earth have you been?" Denise hissed as she clicked off the TV and rose from the couch.

Dee turned to face her older cousin and retorted, "What the hell are you so upset about?"

"I get back here at 9 this morning and you're nowhere. Did you even sleep here last night?"

"Denise, I was here at 9. I did leave just after and, yes, I slept here last night. I met someone yesterday and we spent today together."

"I hoped I could've shown you around today, Dee," Denise sighed, "I can't get off work this week. Hey, who did you meet?"

"I met someone who was skating over at the beach."

"Did you have some strange guy in my apartment?" The older cousin was bent on finding something to bitch about. She'd been fuming most of the afternoon because of Dee's unexplained absence. "You didn't leave me a note or anything."

"No, she's a woman," Dee answered, her response feeling a little strange, "and I'm sorry I didn't leave you a note."

"A woman?" the older cousin pondered aloud as she sat back down on the couch.

Dee just gave a small nod and proceeded to her room.

Denise clicked the remote and the TV buzzed back to life.

At 10:30 that night, Jay knocked on the door of Room 1123 at the Hilton Beverly Hills.

… (While waiting for someone to answer Jay's knock, you may wish to find out more about this hotel. Maybe not… But if you are interest you can visit http://www.hilton.com/^23779480537728/hotels/LAXBHHH/index.html )…

A woman of average height and weight peered through the peephole and opened the door.

"Ingrid," she said as she closed the door behind Jay.

"Susan," Jay replied, embracing the shorter woman.

The woman called Ingrid looked down at Susan's short dark brown hair and stroked her fingers through it, from the forehead over the crown and down to the base of her neck. The action caused the shorter woman to pull her head back and sigh with pleasure. Jay bent down and kissed her gently and then deeply. The couple, still entwined and lip-locked, moved toward the suite's bedroom.

Ingrid removed her jacket and draped it neatly across the back of a plush chair. She slipped her shoes from her stocking feet. Then Ingrid pulled the cover from the king-size bed, folded it in half and spread it out on a part of the carpet where she would be able to maneuver around it with ease. She placed a new white twin cotton sheet over it. Susan stood nearby silently watching.

Standing back up, Ingrid held out her hand to the other woman. Susan approached, taking the hand in hers and stood in the middle of the sheet. The taller woman began to undress Susan slowly as if according to some sacred ritual that involved worshipping every part of flesh exposed in the process. Once the shorter woman was completely nude, she was guided to lay face down upon the sheet…

With her eyes closed, Ingrid moved her hands sensually across Susan's skin. Jay's mind pictured Dee's creamy, flawless white skin. Ingrid bent down to lick and suck the back of Susan's neck. Ingrid, Susan, Jay and Dee moaned softly together.

At about 3:30 the next morning, Ingrid removed herself carefully from Susan's slumbering form. The woman was soundly asleep, breathing deeply, contentedly. Ingrid got up from the bed, quietly retrieved her clothing and dressed. She picked up the envelope left for her on the coffee table and silently left the room and hotel.

Jay pulled her BMW into her underground parking space a fifteen minutes later.

***

"Damn!" Dee yelled as she woke to the sound of hard knocking on the door. There was no clock in her room so she searched for her watch and something to throw on her body. "I'm coming!"

She ended up wrapping the sheet around her and rushing for the door.

"Like your outfit," Jay smiled as Dee opened the door to her.

The tall woman slipped inside.

"I'm sorry. I overslept," Dee said as she returned to her room and closed her door, "I'll just be a little while. Care for coffee?"

Conversing through the closed door, Jay made herself a cup of coffee while Dee dressed.

"So is 'Dee' your real name?" Jay addressed the door.

"Uh, oomph…yeah, well it's short for Deana, really."

"That's a nice name," Jay complimented as she wandered over to the couch with her coffee and sat.

Yesterday they figured out an agenda based on the places that were a "must see" on Dee's list. They decided to alternate amusement parks and tourist attractions with scenic drives. Today they were headed for Universals Studios Hollywood.

… (Ah yes, and you knew I'd give you the URL for USH did you? It's http://www.universalstudios.com/unicity2/ush-ac.html)…

The Monday-morning-after-nine traffic wasn't horrific so they made good time to the park. Dee and Jay exited the parking structure near the Cineplex Odeon and ambled through the CityWalk toward the park's entrance. Because kids were still out of school on summer vacation the theme park was busy. Jay used this as an opportunity to hold onto Dee's hand under the pretense of not wanting to lose her in the crowd. She ached for physical contact with the young woman and it scared her. The fact that it scared her made her even more anxious about what might be developing.

They made their way through to the Marvel Mania restaurant for a late breakfast. Dee bought a novelty soft drink cup there so she could have free refills for the day. The tourist persuaded Jay to join her on every ride and for every show, not that Jay needed any encouragement. However, she did enjoy playing the reluctant one.

They wound up in the front seat of the boat for the Jurassic Park ride, and were soaking wet by the end of it. A trip to an apparel and gift shop was a necessity. They left the shop looking like consummate tourists, Jay lamenting her lack of foresight when she had decided not to buy the plastic ponchos.

Five soda refills and restroom stops later, the couple headed back up through the CityWalk shops that were now dazzling in their neon splendor. The younger one remarked that they didn't have any seafood restaurants in What Cheer and pulled Jay into "Gladstone's for Fish", despite the local's protest that there were much better seafood places around. But Dee was hungry now, and would not wait, not even for a half-hour.

Jay looked across her half eaten seafood salad to see Dee wiping the last morsels of food and traces of sauce from her plate with a piece of bread.

"Done?"

Dee nodded yes.

They had eaten in near silence because there had been few moments the tourist had not had food or drink in her mouth. Her appetite was astounding. Jay had never seen anyone pack away so much and not suffer weight-gain or indigestion as a result.

The older one took a sip of water, grinned and asked "What now Mistress?"

"Mistress?"

"Am I not your slave today?"

"No. You're my," Dee thought a minute, "…knight in rolling armor, savior of my…"

The tourist halted in mid-sentence and looked into Jay's incredibly blue eyes. Dee was Jay's slave, didn't she know.

"One more stop before we leave," the young woman abandoned her prior comment, "We try that Emaginator thing."

"The what?" Jay didn't know what she was talking about.

…(You probably don't either. Find out at http://www.emaginator.com/)…

"Dee," Jay put her arm around the wobbly woman, "are you alright?"

The tourist took a deep breath, stood upright and replied, "Yeah, I'll be fine. Guess I shouldn't have done that on a full stomach."

When Jay dropped Dee off at Denise's apartment, Dee once again invited her in and Jay once again politely declined. The older cousin secretly observed the two of them through a window.

Jay drove on home. An hour later Delilah drove off to work.

Black: it was Jay's favorite color. Leather: it was Delilah's most loved material. It could be supple or hard, powdered skin soft or squeaky tight. Tonight was a black leather night. From the soles of her above-the-knee boots to the cap she pulled out from under her full-length cloak. Shiny black rubber covered every ring, button and snap. She stood tall outside the door, holding a small black case in one gloved hand and the handle of a riding crop in the other.

Upon entering the room and depositing her case, she was immediately offered a glass of wine. When her client insisted she take it, Delilah struck the offering hand and sent the stemmed glass and it's liquid contents to the floor. The glass bounced on the plush carpet without breaking.

"You're not in charge here," the woman said as she removed her cloak, walked over to counter where another glass of wine sat and brought it to her mouth.

"That's my glass," the servant began and, remembering the station, stopped… and stared at the dark apparition that had now begun to loosen the long gloves by tugging at the fingertips.

"Your drink's on the floor. You can suck it from the carpet."

This was a test of obedience. The slave got on hands and knees and bent down to the spill.

The Mistress tossed her cap across the room to land on the sofa and opened her case.

Mark, still on all fours, turned his head to peek past his shoulder. He watched as his owner gracefully slipped her large long-fingered hands into latex surgical gloves.

As Delilah snapped the elastic material against her wrist she trapped Mark's eyes and let a small sinister grin form slowly across her lips. Jay found it fascinating that nearly all her male clients sought domination while most of her female ones did not.

Her clientele consisted exclusively of married individuals with high-profile positions such as chief executive officers of publicly traded companies and members of Congress. These people with their huge responsibilities sought to avoid scandal as much as they sought her for escape and rest. She reasoned that the men usually had to be in control both at home and in the office. She, on the other hand, provided a place where they could let that entire burden go. Delilah was in charge. Mark didn't need to worry about a thing. He just had to follow orders…and enjoy.

… Delilah slipped the metal ring onto the middle-aged politician and drew it down to the base. Mark found just the thought of it stimulating, and now, he gasped.

It was a very foggy Tuesday morning in Venice. This time Dee was ready for Jay's arrival.

"You are much too cheerful for this hour," the local commented dourly.

"Haven't had your coffee yet, huh?"

Why was it that every time Jay spoke it was like slow motion? The tourist thought that perhaps she was enjoying Jay's company too much. But, what's the harm in that? Right?

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand,

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour."

Jay read aloud the print on the Earl Grey tea-bag wrapper.

"That's beautiful," Dee smiled, and, closing her eyes, repeated, "Infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour." She felt just that way.

"William Blake," Jay credited the poet. She gazed at Dee who had just raised her eyelids. Heaven in a nave tourist. The thought colored her cheeks. She smirked to hide her embarrassment. The young woman just smiled back.

The tourist and her guide where at a nameless caf waiting for the fog to dissipate a little -and for Jay to finish waking up.

"I say we go inland," the older one suggested.

"We were going to drive down the coast," Dee said, puzzled by the change in plans.

"This fog is so thick, it'll take hours to burn off," Jay explained, "it will be clear in the mountains."

"But the mountains are scheduled for Thursday," Dee responded. There aren't many mountains in Iowa, and what there are could really only be called hills.

They finished breakfast and Jay headed for the freeway. The tourist quietly daydreamed about their destination, places with names like "Lake Arrowhead" and "Big Bear".

… (The road trip will take awhile. For more about where they are headed for have a look at http://www.bigbeartouristbureau.com/)…

Several freeways later the tour-guide exited and headed the BMW uphill.

Jay and Dee soon discovered that winding mountain roads made the tourist very, very carsick. They had to stop at several pullouts so she could settle her stomach or puke.

The sad-looking tourist was mildly green by the time the couple reached Big Bear Lake and Jay promised to take Dee home using the "back route" which had fewer turns but was considerably longer as a result.

As Dee's normal coloring returned, Jay related stories about snow-skiing there as a child and "Old Miners' Days", a rowdy local celebration that included faux sheriffs and a mule race. There were also stories Jay would never tell Dee about this place.

Night fell before they started driving back down the mountainside, this time via a town called Victorville. It was much gentler on Dee and the surrounding darkness helped as well. She fell asleep in the warm black leather of the car seat.

Jay woke up the young tourist after parking the car in front of Denise's home.

Dee was only half-awake and barely coherent as the tall woman helped her out of the seat and to the front door.

The door opened while Dee drowsily fumbled for her key.

"What's with her?" Denise's suspicion was evident in her tone. She sniffed for any odor of alcohol or drug. It irritated Jay.

"She just fell asleep on our way back from Big Bear," the tall dark one explained.

Denise and Jay helped Dee into her room. She plopped onto the couch, falling to one side and asleep again.

As Jay stood upright Denise finally got a chance to fully see this mysterious woman her young cousin had been spending so much time with. Her gawk ultimately caused Jay to speak.

"Yes?" She said. It came out multi-syllabled.

"Thanks," Denise quietly answered.

Jay bid her a Goodnight and walked back out the door.

Time to go to work.

"Aaah!" Dee woke herself up at about 3am. Startled, she sat taking deep breaths trying to remember what she could of her dream. Three scenes came to mind.

In the first she was in high school. She was showering after track practice. Looking to one end of the long shower stall she saw two of her classmates. Their bodies were pressed together tightly and their were kissing. Suddenly one of them turned to her and looked at her right in the eyes. It wasn’t a cold look; it wasn’t warm either. It was short intense look that could have just as well have been a blast from a ray gun by the way it made Dee feel. She felt red, burned and trembled as she walked back to her locker. Dee had tried to avoid these two girls for the rest of the school year. Every time she saw or thought about them she’d feel a squeeze deep in her gut.

The second scene recalled a more recent event. It was about a week before she flew out to Los Angeles. She and her boyfriend, John, had been necking in the front seat of his car. He took her hand and gently guided it to the button at the waist of his jeans. Whispering in her ear, he pleaded, "Touch me." With his hand loosely resting on top of hers, she unfastened the button and lowered the zipper. When Dee returned from her vacation, she’d promised John that they’d make love. The idea of doing that had been thrilling and scary. But now, as she recalled the last part of her dream, it terrified her.

Dee was on a blanket on a beach at night. The moon was full and made a widening path from the horizon to the small waves breaking at the shore. A dark form rose from beneath the water and approached the shore. As it came closer Dee recognized it as Jay although her features were masked in shadow. Then the face came clear, the blue of Jay’s eyes generating a light all their own and adding the only color to this otherwise black and white dreamscape. Beads of water glinted reflections of moonlight as they cascaded down the long body. She stood before her like a statue of an ancient goddess. Dee moved her gaze from the eyes to the lips down the long torso and legs to Jay’s feet. The tall woman bent down over her on the blanket, not touching her but feeling her nonetheless. As each drop of water fell upon Dee’s skin, a splash of cool was followed by a goosebump in its place. Then Jay lowered her body.

Dee shuddered, sitting there on her couch-bed in the dark and alone in the wee hours.

***

END of Incidental Tourist Part One.

 

Continued...Part 2


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