Disclaimer: All the characters in this story are my own creation. Any physical resemblance the people in this story may have to real people is coincidental and no infringement on anyone's rights is intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to physical relationships between consenting adults, who may happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.

Paradise Series #7.

Storyline: Hustle, bustle and headaches abound on a fictional Caribbean island as a recently, nearly completed resort is brought to life and we follow the lives of the people who are trying to make it happen. In the middle of it all is a closer look at two strangers, two women, who are thrown together by outside forces and struggle to contend with the problems they will have to share if the Paradise Beachside Resort is to open on time, and their own emotions as strange happenings make them question themselves, and each other.

Please send any comments to asdease1@gte.net

Enjoy, I hope.

Chapter seven

Written by FlyBigD

With the promise still fresh on her lips when Teddy left Holly's office, neither knew that that would be the last time they would have more than ten minutes to spend alone in each other's company for some weeks, but it didn't have anything to do with Jennifer. There were simply too few quiet moments and no more lazy days left to be had in the month Holly had given them to make the Paradise fully operational. Weekends became nonexistent and hectic was redefined on an hourly basis in everyone's work day. As queen bee in the hive of activity, Holly was constantly in demand and on the move playing traffic cop, fire fighter and all too often referee from before dawn until dusk, and when the sun went down, she chained herself to her desk to manhandle the mountain of paperwork that never seemed to get any smaller and Teddy wasn't much better off. Although she was the only person in her department until her bartenders arrived, there was the blonde barracuda to contend with on a daily basis and when she wasn't doing Jennifer's bidding, she was brow beating Bruce every other minute to keep the arbor project moving along. But all of this isn't to say the promise or the friendship forged on the beach was forgotten. It wasn't and what moments chance didn't offer of its own accord, they created. If one wasn't taking a detour to cross the other's path, the other one was and though the moments they stole were often brief, they were sufficient to keep them moderately happy and also satisfied Rolando's wary misgivings over Teddy working in close quarters with her former lover, Jennifer.

"Because," he told an interested Maria, "I am certain something is afoot with Theodora and Holly. As of late, Holly is becoming increasingly territorial where Teddy is concerned with this new arrangement and although I do not believe she is fully aware of her actions, I am confident she will not abide any infringements on Teddy's attentions by Jennifer that are not strictly business in nature."

"I see." Maria nodded slowly. "And yet you can't say if this change in attitude was prompted by a recognition of their affections?"

"This is where it becomes oddly complicated, my love." Rolando shook his finger as he paced.

"Oddly complicated?" She asked from her place on the couch. "How so?"

"I am almost certain a recognition of some sort has taken place." He said and paused to think.

Maria waited for a few moments, then threw a pillow at him. "Rolly."

"Forgive me." Smiling, he picked up the pillow that had hit him in the face. Tossing it back at her, he joined his wife on the couch. "You see, it appears as though Theodora has recognized her affection for Holly and unless I am gravely mistaken in my observations, I would have to say that Holly knows this as well, but it does not appear as though the affections are reciprocated, yet Holly seems to have no aversion to the knowledge Theodora is in love with her."

Maria blinked. "Teddy knows she's in love with Holly and Holly knows Teddy's in love with her, but Holly's not in love with Teddy, but this doesn't bother either of them?" She condensed with a frown. "Holly hasn't shunned Teddy at all?"

"Not in the slightest. In truth, they seem to have grown closer, but there is more." Holding up a single finger again, Rolando cocked his head to the side. "As I told you, from my inquiries, I have found no indication that Holly is gay and yet, as I mentioned a moment ago, Holly appears to be undergoing some type of transition in her feelings for Theodora, but to what end this will bring, I cannot say?"

"This is odd." She agreed. "And what of Teddy? How is she responding to all this?"

Rolando chuckled softly and put his arm around Maria's shoulders. "Our Theodora is ever the clever girl, my love. No one suspects she is hopelessly in love with the young Miss Curtis, except Holly and myself, of course."

Maria turned her head to give her husband a curious expression. "You seem very pleased. I thought you had reservations about Teddy getting involved with Holly because she's her boss?"

"I did and I still do. The rules are very specific and you know them as well as I." He pointed out, then he shrugged. "But I must admit that my reservations about Teddy's relationship with Holly are far fewer than they were with Jennifer. Miss Montgomery was trustworthy only to the point where it served her own self-indulgent motives, whereas Holly has no such motives and she is as equally protective of Teddy as she is possessive. If nothing else comes of their relationship, Holly has already proven herself to be a friend Teddy can rely on."

"Still," she sighed as she laid her head on his shoulder, "to love in vain, Rolando. That is no way for Teddy to have to live."

"This is true, but don't submit your sympathy for Teddy's plight just yet." Rolando nodded and pulled his wife a little closer. "She is quite contented at the moment and who is to say your instincts about the both of them are incorrect? Teddy has already proven you half right by recognizing her love for what it is, but Holly is under a great deal of pressure at present. Later, when things are not so stressful, perhaps she will come to the same realization."

"And if she doesn't?" Maria asked quietly.

"Give her time, my love." He murmured next to her ear. "Holly and Teddy have a good beginning to build upon and Holly is a bright young lady, you said so yourself. So, as long as Teddy is happy, let them take the time they need to put the resort in order and then we'll see what develops. If Holly finds she's in love with Teddy, I can't see her wasting any time letting it be known in some fashion or another. We just have to be patient and watch for the signs."

"You will let me know the moment anything changes." She said and closed her eyes.

"Yes, my love." Smiling to himself, Rolando kissed his wife's cheek. "I will phone you the very instant anything changes. Just remember it will most likely not be tomorrow."


Holly checked through her agenda to make sure she hadn't forgotten anything, which she hadn't, then she looked up at the expectant faces lining either side of the conference table. "Rolando, if you could wait for me in my office before you go home, I'd appreciate it. Jennifer, Teddy and Mike, I need to see you right after the meeting, but other than that, if anybody doesn't have anything else?" She asked to give them one last chance. No one made a move, so she closed the folder in front of her. "Then let's get to it. Two more days and we're down to single digits."

As the mediocre scramble began, Rolando stood up from the table. Looking as fresh and crisp as he had eleven hours before, when his work day started, he took his time tidying up his paperwork. "Theodora, Serena wishes that you were not too busy to call her." He said with a casual smile. "I believe she has some important matters she wants to discuss with you."

Teddy looked up from her paperwork and saw the smile. Donning one of her own, she sat back in her chair. "Oh, she does, dose she? Is it a new boyfriend or has she lost another tooth?"

Shaking his head in feigned ignorance, he picked up his papers. "You know I am only a messenger where my daughter is concerned. You will have to call her this evening and find out for yourself."

"How old is she now?" Jennifer asked from her place across the table.

"My daughter is precociously approaching nine." Serena's proud Papa replied.

"Nine? Good heavens." The blonde sat back and looked at her assistant. "Were we into boys at nine?"

Tossing a thumb in Rolando's direction, Teddy shook her head. "She takes after him. According to his mother, he's been a smoothie since the day he was born."

Rolando showed off a winning smile as he nonchalantly smoothed down his tie. "Ladies and gentleman, should anyone have further need of my services, I will be in Holly's office." He said to politely excuse himself from the table.

"See. What did I tell ya." Teddy proffered as evidence. "Smoooooooth."

"Smooth?" Holly asked as she rounded the table to join them. "You must be talking about Rolando."

Mike, the human resources manager, chuckled to himself as he got up to take the seat next to Jennifer. "What I'd give for that kind of rep."

Smoothly ignoring all three comments, Rolando gave his attention to his boss. "Do you mind if I wait for your arrival by the pool? It looks as though it will be a very nice day today."

Rolling her eyes, Holly nodded her consent. "Go ahead." She sighed. "I'll come find you in a few minutes."

Bowing slightly from the hip, he flashed another smile. "Thank you." He said, then nodded to the other three at the table before he turned and left.

The four smiling faces watched Rolando glide out of the room, then Holly turned back and sat down in the chair he'd vacated beside Teddy. "Alright." She said, laying her folder on the table. "We've got eleven days to go, so would someone like to tell me where the hell Teddy's bartenders are?"

"According to their records," Mike turned to look at Jennifer, "they're all on vacation and in transit."

"Jennifer?" Holly asked.

Jennifer shook her head and pointed at Teddy. "Talk to their fearless leader over there. I could have had most of them here already, if she hadn't talked all of them into taking vacations, so they'd all come in at the same time. On the same flight, which wasn't easy, I might add." Adding a glare for good measure.

Swiveling her chair to stare at Teddy, Holly propped her head in her hand. "This had better be good."

Several very creative excuses came into Teddy's mind as all eyes turned her way, none of which qualified as good, per se, so she went with the something close enough to the truth to keep herself out of serious trouble. "I wanted to wait to bring them all in until I'd have something constructive for them to do. If they'd straggled in, they would have gotten bored and a bored bartender can be very creative when it comes to keeping themselves occupied."

"I hate to back her up on this one because of all the trouble it caused me," Jennifer spoke up, "but Teddy's right, Holly. The last thing you want is that bunch of crazed loons getting creative."

Teddy smiled at Jennifer. "You should know."

"Shut up." Jennifer shot back.

Covering her closed eyes with her hand, Holly held up the other to interrupt. "Alright, I don't want to know the details. Just tell me when they're going to get here."

"They fly in this Sunday." The head loon said and nudged Holly's leg with her foot. "Hey, I'm going to need somebody to drive the other van. Wanna do a resort manager meet and greet with me?"

One green eye appeared between spread fingers. "Why do I feel like I'd regret saying yes for a very long time?"

"Woman's intuition." Came a grumble from the barracuda. "Go with it."

Teddy waved off the comment. "Come on." Leaning forward, she smiled invitingly as she pulled Holly's hand from her eyes. "I'll make them play nice and you can read them chapter and verse from the employee handbook."

Holly thought Teddy was being a little too eager for her liking. "You're setting me up, aren't you? Have you asked Rolando?"

"Holly, come on." Sighing, Teddy shook her head. "It will only take a couple of hours and you might just like them." Snapping her fingers, she pointed a warning finger in Jennifer's direction, though her eyes never left Holly's. "Not one word from you."

Jennifer threw her hands in the air, then shook her head sadly as she began collecting her things. "She's been warned, my hands are clean."

Just to get another opinion, Holly glanced at Mike. "I don't know any of them personally. What do you think? Am I taking my life in my hands?"

"Sorry, Holly." Mike smiled his apology. "I have to plead the fifth. One of the crazed loons is my nephew."

One nay sayer, one no sayer and one suspiciously eager leader of the pack didn't add up to one overly enthusiastic Holly when she agreed. "Alright, I'll do it." Was her disgruntled answer. "What time Sunday?"

"The flight arrives at 1:55 pm and I'll leave word that if you're not back by three o'clock to send out a rescue party." Jennifer said and smiled an insincere smile as she continued. "I'd do it myself, but I won't be here Sunday." Letting her eyes fall on Teddy, her expression was barely masked disdain. "I'll be home with a headache installing burglar bars on my garage."

"Chicken." Teddy smiled and stuck out her tongue.

Getting more of the details she didn't want to know, Holly raised her hand to cut off Jennifer's retort. "Thank you for the warning and don't worry about Sunday. Somehow I have a strange feeling I won't be far behind you." She said dryly.

Shrugging noncommittally, Teddy smiled as she started straightening her paperwork to avoid making eye contact with her puddle buddy.

Hmmmm. Holly thought. I think I need to have a chat with Rolando before Sunday rolls around. Rolando . . . "Oh, I almost forgot." She perked up and turned her attention to the other blonde in the room. "Jennifer, I'm going to need to borrow Teddy for a little while this morning."

"Please, be my guest." Jennifer answered in a flat tone as she pushed her chair back from the table. Standing, she tucked her paperwork under her arm and shot her assistant a glare. "In fact, why don't you just keep her the rest of the day? It'll save me the torture of having to listen her hum Rubber Ducky all day long and I might kill her if she starts rambling about the misadventures of those twisted twits from hell."

"I bet you can't say that ten times fast." Mike chuckled.

"Are we done?" She asked Holly as she back-handed Mike in the head with her paperwork.

Holly nodded her tired head. "Thank you and yes, we're done."

Well on her way to being in a snit, Jennifer gave Teddy one last glare before she left the table, then the room.

Teddy was unfazed by the display and made a distinctively pleased with herself face at Jennifer's back.

Mike just grabbed his stuff and chuckled his way out of the room.

Holly's cheeks puffed outward as a long sigh was released through pursed lips. "Is there anything you need to do before we meet Rolando?" She asked as she picked up her paperwork and stood.

"Yea, there is." On her feet as well, Teddy put her hand on Holly's shoulder as she walked behind her chair on the way to the door. "Just gimme a second."

"Sure." She said amicably and straightened the stack of folders in her hands.

Teddy continued to the door, grabbing the last chair at the end of the table as she went and rolled it behind her. After a quick check of the hallway outside, she closed the door, then propped the heavy leather chair against it.

Looking up when she heard the door close, Holly had a perplexed expression to match her confusion at the action, then her confusion was compounded when Teddy returned to remove the folders from her grasp and lay them on the table. "Teddy, what . . . ?" She started to ask when two arms wrapped around her from behind.

Now that she had her puddle buddy right where she wanted her, Teddy pulled her boss close in. "I missed you." She smiled over Holly's shoulder.

As the confusion lifted and Holly easily slipped into her comfort zone, she laid her head back on Teddy's shoulder, turning it slightly to the left to look up into tired blue eyes that sparkled through their weariness. "I missed you, too." Smiling through her own tired state.

"So, what have you been up to?" She inquired casually.

Holly drew her head back a little. "You mean since you called me last night?"

"Somethin' like that." Teddy nodded. "What did I miss?"

"The same thing you miss every night when you call." The blonde smirked and updated vini, vidi, vinci to match her job description. "I ate. I slept. I came to work. What about you?"

"Add in wondering when my bitchy slave driver boss is going to take a break and come help me set up my aquarium and ya got my night." Chuckling, Teddy made a face when she got an elbow jabbed in her ribs.

"I am not bitchy." Holly insisted.

"Hmmm." Looking around Holly's head, Teddy shrugged. "Sorry, I got you confused with Jenn. Must be the blonde thing. Ya'll all look alike to me." Taking another harder jab to the ribs, she held on as Holly tried to wrestle out of the hold she had on her. "Whoa, whoa. I'm joking. I'm joking." She laughed out loud and held on.

"I should give you back to her for that one." Holly grumbled as she struggled to escape.

Taking a step backwards, Teddy felt Holly's chair touch her knee and smiled when she tightened her hold on the blonde and fell backwards. "Oopsie daisy." She said when they landed in the chair. Leaning them both way back, she brought one long leg, then the other up to prop her size elevens on the table. "Now, back to the subject at hand. When are you going to come over to help me with the aquarium?" She asked, as if no disturbance had occurred.

When she got over the fact that her feet were no longer touching the ground, Holly's struggle then became to try to sit up as she was held firmly in Teddy's lap. Going through the motions for a second or so, she finally gave up when the question was asked and she slumped back to lay against her tormentor. "I don't know." She said in an exasperated tone. "Sometime after we get everything going."

Teddy didn't think that was an acceptable answer, so she threw out another suggestion. "How about this weekend? You can come over Saturday night or Sunday morning and we can do it before we go pick up my crew."

Holly came to the quick determination that she wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, so she got a little more comfortable and raised her legs to lay them on top of Teddy's. "It can't be this weekend." She shook her head. Sliding to her right, she laid her head back as she had before and turned it to look at Teddy. "The drilling rig gets here Thursday. Jennifer drills the holes Friday night and we're supposed to help Bruce put up the arbor Saturday and Sunday, remember?"

Staring at the ceiling, Teddy relaxed her hold, shifting both arms to rest across Holly's stomach as she thought about the plans they had laid out. "Well, what about this?" She asked and turned her gaze to tired green eyes. "What if ya come over Friday night after Jenn gets done and I'll make ya some ravioli, and then we can work on the aquarium before ya break out the cattle prod Saturday morning?"

"Slave away at your house before I slave away here." Holly looked doubtful. "You're such a charmer. No wonder you live alone."

"Okay, okay." Teddy chuckled. "How about this? How about I tell Bruce he's a big boy and we play hooky all weekend until we have to pick the crew up at the airport?"

"And your next suggestion would be what?" She asked as she folded her arms across her chest.

Letting out a long sigh, Teddy tightened her hold on Holly. "My next suggestion is where you work with me here, so I don't have to sick Maria on your ass to keep ya from working yourself to death. That's what my next suggestion is." Taking a no-nonsense tone, she heightened the intensity of her stare. "Now, come Friday when Jenn gets done, you're gonna have some clothes and a fire extinguisher packed up because you're coming to stay at my house this weekend and I'm gonna make sure you eat something besides coffee and doughnuts, and if you're lucky, I might let ya out for good behavior, so you can get some work done here, and we can pick up the crew Sunday."

"And if I say no?" Holly asked calmly.

Shifting to a one handed hold, Teddy reached to her hip where she removed her cell phone from its pouch. Five thumb movements later, she had dialed Rolando's house and smiled when she put the phone to her ear. "It's ringing. Last chance to keep your ears attached to your head."

Holly shook her head and took the phone to call Teddy's bluff. Placing the phone to her ear, she was unpleasantly surprised when Maria's voice came on the line instead of the local time.

Watching Holly's expression, Teddy spoke loud enough to be heard on the phone. "Hi, Maria. This is Tedsodmufph." Cut off by a hand over her mouth, she smiled beneath it as Holly fumbled with the phone.

"Sorry, wrong number." Finding the off button, Holly pushed it with her thumb, then held it to her chest. "Geez o Pete, I hope she didn't recognize my voice."

Ever so calmly, Teddy removed Holly's hand from her mouth and took her phone back, placing it in its case. "Now, then. Taking into consideration that I can make that call at anytime . . . what were you saying?"

Closing her eyes, Holly covered them with her hand. She hated being blackmailed, especially when it was supposedly for her own good, but the threat was not only valid, it was all too real. Holly had seen Maria in action three times since she'd stalked Teddy around her house that Saturday and each time it hadn't been a pretty sight. The woman had no qualms about putting anyone and everyone in their place when it came to taking care of her extended family and heaven forbid Rolando should suspect you weren't taking care of yourself. That was a definite no-no if you didn't want Maria camping out on your doorstep to make sure you did and it didn't matter one iota to Maria how old your were, or how tough you were supposed to be, and Holly could only imagine her fate if Teddy made true on her threat. "Alright, alright, alright." She said as one long sigh. "I'll stay with you this weekend."

"And you won't complain when I make you leave here before the sun goes down." Adding a stipulation, she raised one arm up to drape it across Holly's shoulders. "And no bringing work to the house."

Dropping her hand from her eyes, Holly laid there defeated and dejected in Teddy's arms. "If I told you that the reason I needed you this morning was so you, Rolando and I can plan a party for everybody when the resort is up and running, so everybody can take a weekend off . . . can I at least keep my beeper on?"

"Hmm, a party, huh?" Teddy moved her head closer to Holly's and tucked it downward as she considered. "I tell ya what. You tell us what you're looking for and let me and Rolando take care of everything, and you can bring your briefcase in the house."

Somewhere in the back of her mind, as of Teddy's warm breath on her neck sent a tremor down her spine, Holly wondered at how strange it felt to be unexpectedly consumed by a moment. Unlike the moments before, when they had first met, where she had gone with the moment without question, this time she wondered at how time could seemingly be triggered without notice to slowly grind to a halt and the only thing in the sphere of her consciousness was the breath on her neck and how hard that breath was making it to breathe. She thought it shouldn't be happening, that something so simple, something she had felt before, shouldn't be having this effect on her now. She thought the day on the beach should have put her past any tingling phase. She thought she shouldn't be susceptible to flushes running down the length of her body where it touched Teddy's and yet, there it was. As unexplainable as it had been the first day they'd met, when Teddy's breath had brushed against her skin, when she'd described the seductive sunrise Holly had yet to see, she felt time stand still as she turned to gaze into the bluest of eyes and found eternity waiting for her there.

The only thing Teddy was expecting when Holly turned to look at her was a yes or no answer to her party proposal. It never crossed her mind that she would fall into a gaze so deep it would steal the breath from her body. The thought that she could be caught off guard by a look this late in the game, this late in their relationship, had never occurred to her. They knew each other too well for it to happen anymore. They knew where they stood. They knew how they felt and there weren't supposed to be anymore surprises, anymore moments, anymore breathless descents into dusky green eyes peering into her soul. This wasn't supposed to be happening. They had had their day on the beach, they had had their epiphanies, so there were not supposed to be anymore times when Teddy had absolutely no idea what was going on and worse yet, there was never supposed to be a time when she let her sanity get so far gone that she would let herself think she was seeing what she thought she was seeing in Holly's eyes.

How long an eternity could last within the confines of a fleeting moment, Holly didn't know. Just as she didn't know why it was now, at the most least likely of moments and long after she had already searched her soul and found only a contentedness born out of friendship for Teddy, that she could at last put a name to a feeling that had been as forgotten as it had been a mystery. The flush of heat, the tingling, the labor it took to draw each breath had been there at the outset. As brief as the moments that inspired them, the mysterious primal emotions had somehow been transposed into the sense of contentment she now had. Somehow, in the process of finding the perfect shade of blue in Teddy's eyes, Holly had analyzed her emotions to the point where the sensations were no longer evoked by a moment, a touch, a look. The moments had ceased to exist and she'd never put a name to the mystery of how they made her feel, until now. Now, with her senses coming alive on the endless perfect blue sea before her, she knew the mystery for what it was. Desire.

Ethics are a terrible thing to have when the woman you're in love with is staring at you like you're the last piece of fried chicken at an all you can eat buffet at closing time and there's nothing you want more than to be picked clean down to the bone, but you can't let that happen because you know no matter what things might look like, she's really a vegetarian. It also doesn't help the thought making process when the woman with want in her eyes is laid out on top of you like Holly ala carte and you ain't no vegetarian, and every last one of your favorite delicacies are right at your tempted fingertips, and boy howdy did Teddy ever mean tempted. She'd dreamt of this moment a thousand times, of the moment when Holly would want her the same way she was wanted and except for one detail keeping the dream from being perfect, Teddy would have been a willing partner to whatever Holly had in mind, but there was that one detail.

Holly saw the doubt ripple in deep blue pools and she raised her hand to caress a smooth cheek to still the waters. Turning slowly in Teddy's arms to bring herself more face to face with the woman beneath her, her attention turned as well, to two full soft lips as they started to move. Brushing her thumb across them as she listened, she was drawn closer to the warm air drifting over her hand.

The doom, despair and agony on me Teddy had gone through that day on the beach was a day at the beach compared to the gut wrenching effort it took to stop Holly from kissing her. "Hol . . . Hol . . . Holly wait . . . wait." Teddy stuttered rough whispers from behind closed eyes.

Her lips were a thumbs width away from Teddy's when Holly paused, but she didn't retreat. She remained poised a breath away, her eyes downcast, staring at the lips she could almost taste. "Teddy." Was all she could manage between harsh pants.

"I know. I know." She moaned her regret. "But there's . . . there's something I gotta say here."

"Can't it wait?" Tilting her head as she asked, Holly cut the distance from her lips to Teddy's in half in case the answer was the one she hoped for.

Teddy squeezed her eyes shut. "So help me God I wish it could, but . . . it can't."

This still wasn't enough for Holly to lose hope, but she did lean back enough to focus on all of Teddy's face and not just her lips, though she left her hand where it was. "What is it?" She asked quietly. "Isn't this what you want?"

It was like looking in a mirror when Teddy opened her eyes. Desire had turned the green a darker shade and the dusky hue was now a smoky haze that reflected the heat building within herself. Still close, very close to what she longed for, Teddy moaned her regret at the other need she had. The one that went deeper than her desire. The one that came from the place from which she spoke. Her heart. "Holly, you can't imagine how much I want to lay you on this floor right here and now and not let you up for a month of Sundays." She said intently and then took a deep breath. Letting it out slowly, she used the pause to gather her thoughts.

Her look of want held a trace of confusion as Holly pulled back a little. "Then I don't understand. Don't you think that's what I want, too?" She asked and watched blue eyes fill with doubt again. "Teddy, I wasn't looking to be struck by lightning today, but that's what it feels like and you have to believe me. It may look like I'm being impulsive, but I'm not. I know what I'm doing and I know what I want. I want that month of Sundays. I want you." She whispered her conviction in a low husky voice.

Teddy nodded as a sad smile crossed her lips.

Holly was lost again and leaned back a little further as her hope of sweating bullets for a month of Sundays began to dwindle. "Teddy . . ."

Teddy shook her head to interrupt. "Holly, I believe you know what ya want." She said softly. "I've seen that look you've got in your eyes so many times I can't even count 'em all." Lifting her hand from Holly's shoulder as she spoke, she found the one cradling her cheek and brought it to her lips to kiss. "But you're not just anybody to me and you're not just a body that I can take what I want and walk away from, either." Lowering their hands, she looked down to place them over Holly's heart. "Ya see, there's a heart and a soul in there that means more to me than what they're wrapped up in." As she raised her eyes, she smiled again. "When I lay you down, I want to make love to you like you've never been made love to before, Holly. I want to give you all there is of me till there's nothing left and then do it all over again till the walls crumble down around us, but I can't do that, ya see. Because I'm in love with you mind, body, heart and soul, and . . . and maybe I'm being really selfish here, but until I know I'm getting as good as I'm giving, I can't give you what you want. I've done the physical sex bit and if that's what you want, that's fine, but that's not good enough for me, Holly . . . not with you. I've gotta know ya love me all the way," pressing her hand onto Holly's chest, "in here before I lay ya down. So, unless you feel that way right now and you're as much in love with me as I am with you, then all this hot and heavy going on isn't going anywhere today."

Holly looked down at their hands over her heart, then closed her eyes as the engines that were revved and ready to go before the word love had been mentioned, began to idle down. There was no soul searching to be done here. She knew before she even thought about it that the lightning had struck her libido and not her heart. She didn't love Teddy anymore than she did ten minutes ago and the realization of what a fool that made her, made her want to put as much distance between herself and Teddy as possible. "It's not fair." Swinging her body around, she threw her legs over the arm of the chair, hopped up, violently shoved the chair next to her out of the way and covered her face with her hands as she walked to the back corner of the room, where she stood facing the wall.

She knew she should feel mad or at least sad at ending up empty handed, but as the warmth of Holly's body was replaced by an unnatural chill courtesy of the air conditioning system, the only thing Teddy felt was detached and cold. The cold she could handle, that would be gone in a minute, but there was a problem with the detachment. People in love weren't supposed to feel detached. They were supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So, why wasn't she feeling all warm and fuzzy right now? Because she didn't like getting shot down when she wasn't the one to make the first move. She also didn't like having to be the one doing the chasing when she wasn't the one to make the first move, but one look at Holly standing there huddled in the corner like a five year old told her she was going to have to get up if she wasn't in the mood to talk to the back of Holly's head, which she wasn't.

Sighing as she slid her feet off the table, Teddy stood and made the short trek to the back of the room. Without saying anything, she fished around Holly's shoulder for her wrist, took a good hold on it and hauled her unwilling boss back to the table. "Sit." She said in a tired tone, pointing to the one next to hers.

Feeling like an inch tall fool, Holly sat down on the edge of the chair, her hands clasped in a tight ball in her lap and her head bowed. "I'm sorry."

Spinning the chair around so it was facing Holly, Teddy sat down and leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. Staring at her hands as she sorted out her thoughts, as they came together, she started quietly. "I know you're sorry, Holly. So am I. Real sorry . . . but you're not the only one to blame, here." Nodding to herself, she raised her eyes to look at Holly's down turned face. "Ya felt something and ya went with it. That's natural. I can't blame ya for that cause I was right there in the boat with ya . . . but ya got to understand something, here. I'm only flesh and blood Holly, and to be honest, I'm not real happy with this one step forward, two steps back dance we do . . . but . . . then again, that's my fault." Lowering her head, Teddy stared at the space between her feet. "I shoulda just kept my mouth shut and left ya alone from the get go, and none of this woulda happened."

Holly closed her eyes. "Please don't say that."

"Why not?" Teddy asked. Lifting her head again, she shook it. "Where's spillin' my guts gotten us? Huh? You're not in love with me and look at us. The first stiff breeze that comes along and we're sitting around like we stole each other's lollipops. Where's the good in that, Holly?"

The frustration in Teddy's voice made her cringe. "I'm sorry." Holly whispered and the words sounded hollow in her ears. "I didn't . . . I wasn't trying to hurt you."

"I know that." Teddy blurted out, then immediately regretted it when Holly jumped. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it to come out that way." Going down on her elbows again, the only thing she could do was shake her head. "I don't know what I'm doing here." Sighing for the umteenth time, she propped her forehead on one hand and closed her eyes. "Five minutes ago I was fat, dumb and happy, and now I wanna be mad at somebody, cause you don't love me, but I can't and I don't know what to do about it." Bringing her other hand up as she spoke, Teddy covered her eyes with the heels of her hands. "It wasn't supposed to be this hard."

As the burden of responsibility for Teddy's pain brought tears to her eyes, Holly opened them. Studying her hands for a moment, she then raised her gaze to stare at that the woman before her. The woman who loved and desired her. The woman she desired, but didn't love and didn't know why she felt one and not the other when, in her heart, she knew Teddy was the best thing to come along in her life, male or female. It just didn't make sense and it wasn't a case of her missing the forest for the trees . . . no. Stop it. Holly shook her head. Catching herself starting to analyze her feelings, she stopped herself from going any further. "God, what am I doing?" She groaned and hung her head.

Dropping her hands, Teddy lifted her head. "What?"

"I don't understand you." Holly shook her head in short slow swings as she looked up. "How can you sit there, knowing exactly what you want and put up with me when I don't have a clue?"

Teddy shrugged. "I don't know what you're asking me."

"Look at you." Raising her hand, she held it out for a moment, then let it fall back to her lap. "Teddy, there's nothing wrong with you. You're perfect. You're drop dead gorgeous, you've got your head screwed on right and you've got a heart of gold. What the hell are you doing waiting around for me?"

Dark eyebrows knitted together as blue eyes darted back and forth in confusion. "I love you."

Shaking her head again, Holly leaned forward until she was eye to eye with Teddy. "Why? There are a million other women who wouldn't break your heart at the drop of a hat. Why aren't you with them instead of wasting your time on me?"

Teddy sat back. "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying I don't understand, Teddy." Sitting back also, Holly leaned on the arm of the chair. "You said it wasn't supposed to be this hard and you're right. It's not supposed to be hard, so why go through it? Trust me. I'm not that great a catch."

"Not a great catch?" Teddy sat up straight with a frown. "What the hell kind of thing is that to say?"

"I don't know." Holly sighed. "I don't know what I want." Rolling her eyes, she began to pick at the material on the arm of the chair. "Maybe I'm trying to save you some trouble in the long run."

"Trouble. Uh huh." Nodding and smiling, Teddy's blood began to boil. "And just what kind of trouble would that be?"

Shrugging with one shoulder, Holly looked down at what her hand was doing. "I don't have the best track record when it comes to relationships. I work too much. I'm never home. I don't know. It just seems like a lot of trouble to put up with to me."

Teddy shot out of her chair. Lunging forward, each knuckle on each hand turned white as it gripped the armrests of Holly's chair and a low growl emanated from between Teddy's clenched jaw as she lowered her torso so her baby blues were three inches away from a pair of surprised emeralds. "Ya think you're trouble?" She asked through gritted teeth. "Well, let me tell ya somethin', Holly. You're lookin' at trouble and you ain't never seen the kind of trouble you're gonna be in if I ever hear those words come out of your mouth again, ya hear me? I don't know who you're trying to sell that bullshit to, me or you, but I ain't buying it. Not now, not ever, ya got that?"

As blue fire burned the words into her brain, Holly nodded.

"And heaven help the day," Teddy went on, "if I ever find out somebody put that fool notion in your head, cause I guarantee ya I'm gonna be the last thing they see before the pearly gates. Do you hear me?"

Holly nodded.

"And let me set the record straight, just so we don't have to have this conversation again." Easing back a hair, Teddy didn't lose any of her intensity. "When I say I love you, that's it. There ain't gonna come a day when I think you're not worth waiting for and if I get tired of twiddling my thumbs . . . I'll just tie your little white ass to a lightnin' rod on the roof of this place in a thunder storm, so lightnin' won't miss ya the second time. Cause I'm gonna get that heart of yours, Holly . . . one way or the other."

Holly's eyes went from the golf balls they already were to baseball size as Teddy came closer.

"And just to give ya somethin' to think about if you're thinkin' about openin' your mouth with that trouble shit again." Teddy's voice sank to a husky whisper and she tilted her head to the side as she brushed her lips lightly over Holly's. "Ya better find something better to do, because I'm not having it." Releasing the armrests as she spoke, Teddy brought both hands up to cradle Holly's face and she hesitated only a heartbeat to smile before she closed her eyes.

The contrast between the ferociousness with which Teddy had laid into her and the tenderness of the kiss was staggering. Soft, warm and gentle, the kiss took a moment or two for Holly's mind to register it and it took another moment or two before she stopped trying to push herself through the back of the chair. Then there was a brief stray thought about being thankful she was already sitting down when the weighty combination began to send ripples of tingling heat over her body. Soon after, every inch from head to toe was a mass of aroused senses as all coherent thought ceased and breathing became secondary to being imbued by and imbibing in every savory sensual touch of Teddy's lips against hers.

'Just a taste. Nothing serious. Just a quick kiss to giver her that something she needs to think about' had been Teddy's thoughts before their lips met and to her credit, the thoughts didn't become famous last words until Holly started kissing her back. Up until then, Teddy's wits were a bit hazy, which was understandable under the circumstances, but she had them. After all, this was their first kiss and although it was intended as only a prologue of what could be, the succulent allure of fulfilling a part of her dream was just as strong. The supple sweetness of Holly's lips was just as she'd imagined and each enraptured dabble led inevitably to another, and then another, and so on as kissing the woman she loved quickly became an addiction. She was hooked from the word go and in her compulsion to claim Holly's lips just one more time before she quit, she forgot all about the lips being attached to someone with a mind, and a will of their own. That's when Teddy got into trouble. The addiction doubled upon itself when Holly became an active participant in their first kiss. That was a part of her dream she wasn't prepared to handle yet. That part was supposed to come later. Much later. Like when she hadn't shown the monumental restraint and conviction of the heart a few minutes before. Like when she wouldn't look like a complete hypocrite for wanting their first kiss to last for a month of Sundays. Then, as her temperature and sensibility reached the upper stratosphere, half the pair came crashing back down to earth, but it wasn't a proverbial knock on the door or a sudden pang of fear at getting caught that interrupted her straying intentions as one might suspect. It was Teddy herself, her romantic side, that weighted her sensibilitys' descent because, though her resolve was weakening, her dream remained solidly fixed in her mind and nowhere in her dream was there ever a time or place when more than a kiss would take place in a crummy conference room under crummy fluorescent lighting. In a room lit by candles and moonlight, on a bed with silk sheets covered in rose petals? Yes, most definitely. There would be no stopping her then, but on the floor of the conference room? Not in a million years.

So, with that thought in mind, Teddy's resolve was bolstered once more and she began the unenviable task of bringing their first kiss to an end. Easing out gradually, she took smaller and smaller morsels of honey from Holly's lips, regretting every moment she got closer to the very . . . last . . . damn damn damn double damn. . . one.

By the time it was all said and done, Teddy wasn't the only one cursing the fond farewell of their first kiss. Out of breath and reeling, Holly sat there with her eyes closed trying to recuperate from the incoherent state the kiss had put her in because somewhere between imbibing in sensuality and being left breathless, something happened. She had heard the words. She had seen it in blue eyes. She knew it was true, but until they kissed, the message that Teddy really loved her had never gotten through to Holly's heart. As hokey as it sounded in her own befuddled mind, it had taken the kiss to turn a kind of abstract idea of Teddy's love for her into an undeniable reality and for the first time, she felt it. The purity and simplicity of the love went all the way down to her soul and strangely enough, that's why she was cursing. She had never been kissed like that before, with that kind of love behind it and before the love reached her soul, Holly knew exactly what she wanted. She wanted Teddy, but as the message of love got through to her soul, it immediately superseded her lustful desires and the clarity of emotion that went with them. In a heartbeat, she lost the certainty that desire was the end all of her emotions, but before lightning had the chance to strike twice, if that was what was happening, their first kiss became no more, leaving Holly to reel from the kiss itself and the doubt it had created. I wonder if my horoscope said anything about not getting out of bed this morning?

Opening her eyes, Teddy's hands glided smoothly from Holly's face as she returned them to the arms of the chair. "There's ya something to think about." She said happily. "So just keep that in mind." Oblivious to Holly's doubt and beaming with the afterglow Holly was lacking, she leaned forward to steal three truly quick kisses, then she straightened upward with a broad smile on her lips. "See ya downstairs."

Holly still hadn't opened her eyes yet and she thought she was getting a reprieve from thinking with the other kisses, then she sank further into the chair to the sound of Teddy humming happily out of the room. Something to think about. Easy for you to say. Listen to her. She's on cloud nine and where am I? Lost. That's where the hell I am. She grumbled mentally. I hate people in love. They just grind on my nerves. God, my head hurts already.


Teddy made a detour to her office enroute to the pool to drop off her paperwork and to try to collect herself before joining Rolando. She was on cloud nine and she knew it showed, but she didn't want her silver lining to be snatched out from under her by a thousand and one probing questions she knew old eagle-eye would pummel her with if he got wind something was up. Not that she couldn't handle it, but then he'd probably call in reinforcements and the only thing worse than getting the third degree from Rolando was being tortured into confessing by Maria. That would be a very bad thing, she thought, which helped to tone down her ear to ear smile a bit, so she kept thinking about having parts of her body tweaked as she paced around her desk. "Ooo, oww, cha cha cha. Ooo, oww, cha cha cha. Ooo, oww, cha cha cha." Alright, so maybe she wasn't doing a great job of coming down to earth, but she was trying . . . sort of. "Cha cha cha."

While Teddy was doing the Cha Cha in her office, Holly was dragging herself out of the chair against her better judgment. Sighing as she stood, she snatched her paperwork off the table and continued to grumble bad things about people in love as she trudged her way downstairs. Riddled with doubt, her day was already shot, so hiding her exuberance wasn't a problem because she didn't have any. What she had was a kiss induced headache named Teddy that wasn't going away anytime soon and a frown that wasn't either.

Making a detour to her office, too, she scrounged around in her desk drawers looking for something to put her out of her misery, but since she didn't own a gun, Holly settled for four non-aspirin pain relievers and a cold cup of coffee to down them with. Then she just stood there for awhile, eyes closed, waiting for the pills to take effect before she had to meet Rolando and the Happy Headache Maker at the pool.


Twenty minutes later, Holly's headache was gone, but the source of it wasn't and as she walked through the door into the patio bar, she felt a pain shoot up the back of her neck when she saw Teddy sitting on a bar stool with a shit eating grin on her face. "Oh, joy." She grumbled unhappily under her breath. "It's the woman with the hit and run lips."

"Reporting as ordered." Teddy chimed as she hopped off the stool.

"Great." Holly rolled her eyes. "Where's Rolando?"

Pointing to the pool area, Teddy shook her head. "Sunning his socks."

Holly looked to where Teddy was indicating and smiled when she saw a shoeless Rolando lounging underneath one of the resorts large umbrellas. "Why take your shoes off and leave your socks on?"

"Don't know." Shrugging as she dropped her arm. "Must be a 007 thing."

"Must be." Holly agreed. "Would you go get Mr. Bond, so we can get this over with?" She asked as she picked out a stool for herself.

Teddy took a single step forward, then cupped her hands around her mouth. "ROLANDO! PUT YOUR SHOES ON! HOLLY SAYS WE'RE DOING IT IN HERE!"

A yellow legal pad and a manila folder went plop on polished mahogany. "Was that absolutely necessary?" Holly asked as she climbed onto the bar stool.

"Saves on shoe leather." Teddy smiled.

"Cute." Holly was unimpressed. "And just for future reference, don't ever yell for me like that because you will not be happy with the results."

"Oh." The smile dipped. "Okay. I'll remember that."

"And another thing." Crossing her legs as she continued, Holly leaned back against the bar. "You've been humming Rubber Ducky to Jennifer?"

The smile sprang back up. "Yea. It annoys the hell out of her."

Holly folded her arms across her chest and gave Teddy an unamused stare.

"And it reminds me of you." Teddy tried with a hopeful smile this time.

"That's our song." She said flatly.

The smile fell back down. "Don't hum our song around Jennifer. Got it."

"Good." Holly nodded with mild satisfaction, then she thought of something else. "And while I'm at it. How come Jennifer has been giving you the eye, lately?" She asked and pointed at Teddy up and down

Teddy kept a straight face as she looked down at herself and smiled to herself on the inside. Oh, yea. Oh, yea. I got her thinking, all right. "Has she? I hadn't noticed."

"Yes, she has." Holly glared and uncrossed her legs. Leaning far forward, she grabbed the bottom of the front of Teddy's t-shirt and pulled on it as she sat back. "Every time I see her, she's looking you over like there's something there she can have and I don't like it." She said and looked Teddy over.

Letting her smile show a smidgen, Teddy gave way to the tug on her shirt and stepped forward until her thighs were touching Holly's knees. "Holly, they're her eyes. I can't make her keep them to herself."

"No, but you better not be on her list of things to do." Staring upward, Holly gave the shirt another yank for emphasis.

"I'm not," Teddy smiled a little more, "and even if I am, she's dreamin'."

"I don't care if she's dreaming or not." She said with all seriousness as she sat forward, and, spreading her legs as she did, her hands found their way under the t-shirt to the warm skin above the waistband of Teddy's shorts to pull her even closer. "She better keep her hands to herself."

Stepping another step forward, she stared down into dusky green eyes and nodded as she ran her fingertips slowly up and down the length of Holly's arms. "Yea, I think she better."

"You think she better?" Was not a suitable enough answer for her, so Holly slid her hands around Teddy's waist and up her back. "You better know she better." She warned.

"Ya think so?" Teddy asked and stuck out her bottom lip.

Holly's eyes narrowed to slits as she dug her fingernails into the ridges on either side of Teddy's spine. "I know so."

&quotYou know so, huh?" Looking intently down into dusky green eyes as she asked, Teddy saw hesitation in them. Then, as it passed, she saw she'd been waiting to see for what seemed like her entire life.

A whistful smile played on Holly's lips as the sound of distant thunder rolled in the reaches of her soul. Shaking her head just the very smallest bit in disbelief, there was little else she could do besides hope that one day it would all make sense. &quotYea, I do."

Oh, yea. Just call me bagged and tagged Teddy from now on. &quotBout time."


Once crudely hailed, Rolando put on his shoes, folded the umbrella and returned it to its proper place and made it half way to the patio bar before he stopped to call his wife. Standing in the morning sun, he shook his head at the two women in the bar as he dialed his home number on his cell phone. "Hello, my love. Yes, yes, I know I am late getting home, but Holly wished to speak with me after the meeting. No, I am not coming home at this moment. It appears as though Holly has been delayed. Yes, Maria. I know, but this is important. Do you remember our conversation yesterday, when I told you not to expect a call from me today saying there had been a change with our girls? Yes? Well, my love, I believe that statement may have been premature."


To be continued...Part 8

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