Chapter 52



There was a gap in the stream of people, allowing Sam to see a strikingly beautiful woman walking towards them. She was wearing stylish clothing and her dark, wavy hair bounced in time with her long, graceful strides. The blonde couldn’t help but be impressed. She looks like she just stepped off the cover of a fashion magazine. Sam squared her shoulders and sucked in her gut. This ought to be interesting.


“Tina!” Andi smiled. “What a surprise. I didn’t think this was your kind of event.”


A shrug. “Things change.”


“So I see.” Brown eyes shifted to Sam. “Hello. I’m Andi.”


“Hi.” Steadfastly meeting the gaze, the musician moved closer to Tina and wrapped a hand around her bicep. “I’m Sam.” And she’s mine.


There was a moment of uncomfortable silence before Andi nodded, acknowledging both the greeting and the possessive stance. “You’re a lucky woman.”


“I know.” The couple replied in unison, looked at each other, and grinned at their like-mindedness.


“Honey,” Sam explained, “I think she was talking to ME.”


“Oh…” Tina blushed and shuffled her feet. Honey?


Andi watched her ex-lover. She’s blushing... incredible. Evidently, keeping my feelings to myself wasn’t the best plan. I was afraid she wasn’t ready and I’d scare her away. But I ended up losing her anyhow. “Well, I’ll let you get back to your shopping. I’m glad I got a chance to see you and say Merry Christmas.” She stepped forward, kissed Tina on the cheek and whispered something to her. Then, taking off rapidly in the opposite direction, she was gone.


Without a word, the accountant suddenly sprang into motion, heading for the parking garage.


“Tina… wait.” Sam hurried to catch up.


“Let’s go home,” Tina, clearly rattled from the encounter, implored. “Please.”


“Home it is.”


They walked to the garage and rode the elevator to the third level where they had prearranged to park.


“I’m over here.” Sam pointed to the left. “I’ll follow you.” Quickly throwing her shopping bag in the rear of the SUV, she got behind the wheel and trailed Tina’s car the short distance to Bayshore Palms. She used her new remote at the gate, impatiently having to wait for it to close after the BMW before being able to open it again. When she pulled into the empty space next to the silver car, her partner was already pacing back and forth in front of the elevator.


Sam jogged over and they went up to the condo. As soon as they got inside, the blonde put her arms around Tina. “It’s all right.”


“I’m sorry.” The taller woman reciprocated the hug.


“There’s no reason for you to be sorry. How about we sit on the couch and talk a little bit?”




“I could use a beer. Would you like one?”




Neither of them moved.


“Umm… T? You’re going to have to let go of me so I can get it for you.”


“I… I don’t ever want to let you go.” Tina loosened her grasp just enough to duck her head for a kiss. “Ever.”


“I like it when you think that way.” Especially when you tell me. Sam smiled and backed out of the embrace before they could kiss again, knowing where that would lead. And right now, more than anything, we need to talk. She turned on the lamp by the couch. “Why don’t you take off your shoes and relax while I get the beers?”


Tina took the advice and was sitting with her feet propped on the coffee table when Sam returned to join her. They were quiet for a few minutes, sorting their thoughts while they sipped their drinks.


Sam spoke first. “She’s very beautiful.”


“I guess so. I… it never occurred to me that we’d run into her.”


“It’s a small world. I’m sure you’ll meet an ex or two of mine somewhere along the line.”


“I don’t think I’ll like that.”


“It can be an awkward situation, but, if all else fails, you can always give them that glare of yours.”


“Uh huh.”


“Besides, I don’t have anyone from my past quite as… stunning… for you to meet.”


“I never loved her.”


“I know.” Sam gently brushed the trace of lipstick from Tina’s cheek. She’s in love with you, though.


“She told me she’s glad I’m happy… and… umm… she misses me.”


“Of course she does.” Sam had been extremely curious as to what Andi had whispered and was pleased that Tina had shared the information without being asked. “Do you miss her?”


“I… care about her. I’d like for her to be happy, too.”


She’ll have to get over you first. “Everybody has to find their own way… in their own time.”


Tina put her drink on the end table. “C’mere.” She gathered the blonde into her arms. “It may have taken me a while, but I found what I want.”


“Are you… sure?” Insecurity crept into Sam’s voice. “I mean… you’re so gorgeous, it’s a given that people… beautiful people… will flirt with you… want you. I don’t know how to compete with that.”


“I’m VERY sure. And there is nobody for you to compete against. With one look… one word… one touch… you’re in here,” Tina tapped her chest, “hugging my heart.”


An enormous smile lit up Sam’s face. “Really?”


“Really.” Tina smiled back, delighted her words had helped ease the woman’s doubts. I need to tell her stuff like this more often. Pulling the bottom of the polo shirt out of the waistband of Sam’s jeans, she slid a hand underneath. “It doesn’t hurt that you have an incredibly sexy little body, too. Soft… with curves.” Her hand cupped a full breast. “For me… you’re just right.”


The combination of compliments and gentle caresses had turned Sam a rosy shade of pink. “You certainly know how to flatter a girl.”


“Only you.”


“I’m going to hold you to that.”


“Good. I like it when you hold me.”


“So do I.”


Several minutes of contented snuggling passed.






“I’m sorry if I’ve been acting jealous. It’s not the most endearing of traits. The problem is, anything involving you seems to send my emotions into override.”


“I understand the feeling. The thought of losing you...”


“There’s NO chance of that.”


“I get a pain in my stomach just thinking about it.”


“I’ll never leave you.” Sam kissed Tina tenderly. “I promise.”


Blue eyes became moist with tears. “What if something… bad… happens?”


“We can find a way to get through anything.”


“I… umm… I’ve been having nightmares again.”


Sam was immediately worried. “About the accident?”


“Kind of.” Tina took and released a shaky deep breath. “But… it’s not Steven. It… I… lose… you.”


“That WON’T happen. Not if I have anything to say about it.”


“Steven and I said we’d always stick together. I told him I… loved… him.”


I bet you’ve never told anybody that since then. Sam considered carefully how to respond. She decided that, as difficult as it might be, she had to be realistic. “We can’t anticipate everything life has in store for us. If, as unlikely as it is, something happened, I’d fight till the end to stay with you. And, no matter what, even if I was physically… gone…  I’d be in your heart forever.”


“I… need… you. I don’t know what I’d do…”


“Promise me you wouldn’t run away again and close yourself off from everyone…”


“I can’t promise that.”


“What about Joshua?”




“Yes. If something happened to me, he’d need you to help him deal with it.” Almost as much as you’d need him.


“I… don’t think I’d be much help.”


“Just being there for him would be enough.” Sam used her thumb to wipe the tear trickling down Tina’s cheek. “Not that we have to be bothered with such thoughts, because we’re going to grow very old together.”


“I hope so.”


“For now, our main objective should be to get you a dream catcher.”


“The Native American thing?”


“Yeah. You hang it by the bed. It filters out bad dreams and lets the good ones through.”


“Does it work?”


“It’s worth giving it a shot, don’t you think?”




“I’ll pick one up tomorrow. But for tonight… I think I’ll hold you and see if I can keep all the bad dreams away.”


“I like that idea.”


“Well, it will take both of us to make it work.”


“What do I have to do?”


“You have to believe that I love you… that I’ll protect you… and I’ll never leave you. Can you do that?”


Tina looked into Sam’s eyes, seeing only love and devotion shining back at her. How can I NOT believe it? “Yes.”


That night Tina slept peacefully, wrapped securely in Sam’s arms. The next morning, she told the blonde not to buy her a dream catcher.


She already had one.



To be continued…




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