Something to be Thankful For

Part IV

By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers: Yadda, yadda, yadda. You've heard them all before, they haven't changed. It's still turning into a more-than-short story. We'll have to wait and see how long it goes.

Again, there is a theme of two women who like each other - we may even get the "L" word used, you never know (depends on them, not me <g>). There are a few naughty words, probably no nudity, and we'll get to see more of the nasty relatives and other fun people to play with.

This story is for all of those wonderful folks on the CarriesCrossing chat and email list. ( Thank you for all your support and patience, you are all fantastic! I want to especially thank my wonderful editor, Day, whose magical touch with the grammar and punctuation wand makes this story look so good.

All comments, suggestions, or just notes to say hello can be directed to -

As always, my writing and my life are dedicated to my AJ, the brightest star in my universe.

Copyright December 2001 by Carrie Carr


Chapter 11

Wednesday morning, Randi was enjoying a cup of coffee with Kay before she left the apartment, when the phone rang. She looked at her watch and sighed. "Who on earth would be calling here at six o'clock in the damned morning?" She picked up the phone. "Hello," she growled into the phone, upset at having her time with Kay interrupted.

"Randi Suzanne, don't you dare bark at me like that!" Her grandmother's tone wasn't much friendlier. "I've been waiting to hear from you for days, now. Why haven't you called?"

Shit. I completely forgot about leaving the funeral. "Hello, Grandma. I'm sorry, but we've been shorthanded at work, and I- -"

"Nonsense! Amy tells me she saw you at the market last week, days after your uncle's funeral. Which I find rather odd, since you seemed to have disappeared during the graveside services."

"Grandma, I can explain," Randi rushed, trying to cut the older woman off before she got completely immersed in her complaining. "A friend of my fell and broke her ankle, and I had to get her to the hospital."

Not listening, Edna Meyers continued. "And then to find out that you stayed in town longer, without even bothering to call or stop by. I would have expected it of your brother, John, but not from you. I thought that you loved me, Randi Sue. But I guess you don't have time for an old woman like me," she sighed dramatically.

Randi covered her face with her free hand, dropping her elbow to brace it against her thigh. "Of course I love you, Grandma. And I'll be back for Thanksgiving." She peeped through her fingers at Kay, who was watching the exchange in amusement. "Did I mention I'm bringing a friend?"

"Oh, really? Is it that roommate of yours?" Edna asked. "Because if it is, I'm afraid that -"

"No, Grandma. Melissa doesn't live with me any longer. I told you that months ago."

"Good. I never liked that girl. She always wore her clothes too tight, and I think she flirted too much with your brother, Augustus." Edna abandoned that train of thought and went into her next sermon, one that Randi had been subjected to for years. "And speaking of Augustus, when are you going to settle down and give me some great-grandchildren? You're not getting any younger, Randi Sue."

Jesus. The woman has a one-track mind. "Grandma, you've already got four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Isn't that enough?"

Edna laughed. "There's no such thing as enough grandchildren, girl. It's a status symbol, don't you know." She lowered her voice. "All I want is for you to be happy, dear."

"I am happy, Grandma. You don't have to worry about me." Randi looked at Kay and smiled. "I'm happier now than I've ever been, as a matter of fact."

"You could have fooled me, Randi Sue. You're smoking too much, and by the looks of you, you're not eating right. When are you going to settle down?"

Randi studied the young woman sitting across from her. "Soon, I hope. But I don't think I'll be having any children. At least any that I know of." She winked at Kay, who covered her mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

The older woman sighed. "Oh, you! Well, that's something, I suppose. As long as you're happy."

"I am, Grandma. Very much so," Randi assured her. "But, I've got to get to work. I'll call you this weekend, all right?"

"You'd better, young lady."

Randi smiled. "Love you, Grandma. You take care of yourself, okay?"

"Of course I will. Can't depend on your worthless cousins to do it, can I?" Edna laughed. "I love you, too, dear."

"That old woman never ceases to surprise me," Randi admitted, hanging up the phone. "She can be such a tough old bird, but then she acts as if she genuinely cares about me."

Kay smiled. "Of course she cares about you, Randi. She's your grandmother." She had vague recollections of her own grandmother, who had died when she was only ten years old. Not as big as Kay was now, the gray-haired woman seemed to live in her kitchen. Her fondest memories were of sitting on the kitchen countertop as her grandmother mixed and baked. I can still taste her cookies and smell that lilac water she always wore..



"Are you all right?" Randi had placed one hand on the younger woman's leg, and now squeezed gently. "You kind of faded out on me for a minute, there."

"Oh, sorry. Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking." Kay's smile grew wistful. "My grandmother used to let me help her in the kitchen all the time. I learned more about baking while sitting on her countertop than I did in a year of home economics in high school. The woman was amazing."

Randi smiled too. "Sounds like it." She glanced down at her watch and frowned. "Damn. I'm going to have to get to the office. We've got a couple of surgeries scheduled for this morning." She was about to stand up when Kay stopped her. "What?"

"Aren't you forgetting something?" the younger woman asked, leaning forward slightly.

She's too cute. "Well, I don’t think so," Randi said, being purposely obtuse. "I fed Spike, took him for his morning walk, talked to my grandmother," she ticked off the items on one hand. "There's plenty of stuff for you to have lunch, so I don't think--"

Kay grabbed the front of Randi's shirt, pulling her close. "You are such a brat," she scolded, leaning in and lightly tracing the older woman's lips with her tongue. She felt the body she was holding shiver, and Randi's mouth immediately opened to accept her kiss.

"Mmm," Randi moaned, scooting closer and tangling her hands in the blond hair. She could feel her heart begin to pound as small hands caressed her everywhere at once. Nimble fingers raced through her hair as Kay's tongue delved deeper into her mouth, causing Randi to feel faint from the sensations.

Several minutes and a rumpled shirt later, Randi stood up shakily. "Damn, you're good at that," she mumbled, trying to finger comb her hair back into some semblance of order. She was glad to see that Kay's eyes were as unfocused as hers felt.

"I," Kay mumbled, "I could say the same thing for you, Randi. We need to try this when we either have more time, or are not so tired," she joked.

"I don't know, Kay. If it got any more intense, you'd probably kill me," Randi admitted. She willed her hands to stop shaking long enough to tuck her polo shirt back into her khaki slacks. "But it'll be fun to try," she admitted with a wicked grin.

Kay inhaled deeply, trying to fight off the libido that kicked into high gear at her friend's smile. Does she have any idea what that smile does to me? "See you tonight, honey. Be careful." The innocent endearment slipped from her mouth without thought, but seeing the smile it produced on Randi's face made Kay decide to use it more often.

She did it again. Cool! "I sure will, Kay." Randi leaned down and kissed the top of the blond head. "Call me if you need anything, all right?"

"I will," Kay agreed. She gave Randi a tiny wave as the vet left the apartment. Looking down at the floor, she almost laughed at the look on Spike's face. "Well? You going to jump up here, or what?"

The tiny stub of a tail quivered furiously as the small dog leapt up onto the sofa. He snuggled up in his favorite lap, content to spend the day with his new best friend.


Kay looked across the table shyly. Less than two hours ago she had been sitting on the sofa, arguing with a silent Spike over how much hairspray Vanna White obviously used.

Randi had called about that time, and was dismayed to hear what Kay was doing. She requested that the younger woman get dressed in something "nice, but comfortable," and had hurried home from the clinic. After changing clothes, Randi drove the two of them to Dallas. Now here they were, enjoying a nice dinner out.

Fascinated, Kay watched as another pair of women sat down in the booth next to them, both on the same side. Her eyes widened when she glanced around the room. Everywhere she looked, same-sex couples sat—some holding hands, while one pair of men in the corner leaned close and kissed often. "Um, Randi?"

"Yes?" Randi had watched as her friend made the connection. You can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl. I remember feeling the same way the first time I came down here to eat.

"Is this a, um, gay restaurant?" Kay whispered.

Laughing, the dark-haired woman shook her head. "Not exactly. It's a restaurant in a predominantly gay section of town," she explained. "Why? Does it bother you?"

For an answer, Kay reached across the table and grasped Randi's hand. "Not at all. Actually, I feel more comfortable here than I have in years."

"I'm glad." Randi squeezed the smaller hand. "I know you're not quite up to dancing, but would you like to go have a drink after dinner? You've got a built-in designated driver," she joked.

Kay batted her eyes. "Are you asking me to go into a," she leaned across the table, "lesbian bar with you?" she finished in a stage whisper. "Are you trying to corrupt this small-town girl?"

"I dunno," Randi evaded. "Is it working?"

"It certainly is," Kay happily admitted.

"Randi laughed. "Great! Then it's a date." She looked up as their server brought their food. "Eat up, Kay. You're going to need your strength."

Oh, how I wish that were true, Kay thought wistfully. By unspoken agreement, both women seemed content to have the relationship progress at a slow pace. While it was fun and interesting, it was also wreaking havoc with Kay's libido. I want more she thought as she looked across the table at her companion. Maybe she does, too, but is afraid to ask. She looked into Randi's eyes and smiled. We'll just have to see about that.


"What would you like to drink?" Randi yelled into Kay's ear. She had found an open table near the dance floor, making certain to keep her friend's casted leg out of the traffic area.

"How about a coke?" Kay yelled back. "I don't want to drink any alcohol, in case I need a pain killer later," she explained. Actually, after hearing Randi talk about her problems with alcohol, Kay had vowed to herself to stop drinking as well. Since she rarely drank more than a glass of wine every few months, she didn't see it as a hardship. Although, she thought, even if I drank several a day, I'd give them up to keep Randi from being uncomfortable.

Randi nodded, and waded through the throng of people to get to the bar. The crowd was boisterous, and more than once during her trek, the dark-haired woman wished for a little peace and quiet. She wasn't much of a one for crowds, but felt guilty that Kay had to sit at home alone all day with only Spike for company. Once she made it to the bar, Randi waited patiently until the bartender stood in front of her.

"What'll it be, hon?" the heavyset woman asked. She grinned at Randi, who was trying her best to not stare at the multiple piercings adorning her brow.

"A coke and a ginger ale, please," the vet yelled over the pounding beat of the dance music. A sweaty arm reached across Randi's shoulders, and she turned to see a large woman in leather pants and a too-small leather vest leering down at her. "Excuse me, I think you've got me mixed up with someone else," Randi yelled, trying to squirm away.

The woman pulled her closer and leaned down into her face. "No, I don’t think so, babe. You into threesomes? I saw you and that pretty little thing come in a few minutes ago."

Randi grabbed the woman's damp hand and shoved it away. "No, thanks. But I appreciate the offer," she exclaimed, pushing by the woman and back through the crowd. She finally made it back to the table and placed Kay's coke in front of her. "Here you go," she yelled, smiling.

"Thanks," Kay yelled back, turning her head frequently to watch all the people. She saw a large woman reach for Randi's shoulder and frowned.

"Hey, I don't appreciate being brushed off like that," the big woman shouted, grabbing Randi and twisting her around.

The vet stood up and glared up into the drunken woman's eyes. "Look, I'm really sorry." She leaned forward where the woman could hear what she was saying. "This is our first date, and I really don't want to share her, if you know what I mean."

Understanding dawned on the woman's features. "Ah! You wanna test the pond before letting anyone else fish, huh?" She laughed and elbowed Randi hard in the stomach. "No problem, babe. If she's any good, bring her back next Saturday night, and we'll get together, all right?" She swaggered away, proud of herself.

Kay watched as the woman left, then looked down at her friend. "Are you all right?" she yelled.

"Yeah." Randi walked around to Kay's side of the table and leaned into her ear. "I'm sorry, but this place is driving me crazy. Do you mind if we go?"

"Mind? I was just about to ask you the same thing," Kay laughed, allowing her friend to help her up from her chair.


Chapter 12

Monday morning arrived with a vengeance. Cold, windy and rainy, it seemed as if it was trying to make up for the beautiful weather that had been predominant the days before. After an entire weekend of sightseeing, trips to the movies and quiet romantic dinners out, Kay found herself wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. This was the most exciting time in a relationship to her — getting to know Randi and sharing tidbits of herself. She remembered all too well this phase with Beth, and was somewhat leery of giving her heart too completely. To the vet's credit, Randi didn't act as if she was trying to make a good impression, and her actions appeared to come very naturally to her.

Kay leaned back against the sofa and sipped on her coffee. Absently stroking Spike's soft coat, she thought about her ex-girlfriend. Beth had been quite charming when they first met. Kay had brought her car to the shop where the muscular woman worked, and they had immediately hit it off. Beth had a forceful personality, and it never occurred to Kay to tell her no when she asked her out.

It wasn't long after they had started dating that Beth would leave some of her things at Kay's home—an extra change of clothes, in case she got too dirty during their walks in the woods; or a favorite book to read when Kay would be cooking meals for her. Before Kay had realized it, the other woman had practically moved in with her, and she didn't have the heart to ask her to leave. The first time Beth had stayed the night, Kay remembered feeling somewhat let down as the burly woman lay next to her sleeping. Her first sexual experience had left her wanting, and also wondering if this was what all the fuss was about. No sparks, no fireworks, and certainly no joyful screaming of Beth's name. Over time, she had begun to feel as if there might be something wrong with her, since she rarely found satisfaction in their lovemaking.

Looking back, she realized that she hadn't stayed with the mechanic out of love, but more out of convenience. Beth had frequently told her that she would never find anyone else in the small town, and that she should be thankful for what they had. The hurt she had felt at finding Beth in bed with what she thought was a close friend of theirs wasn't because she had loved her, but because her trust had been betrayed.

A sudden surge of emotion caused Kay to pick up the little dog and hold him close to her chest. "Oh, Spike. Just how dense can one woman be?" she cried, burying her face in his clean-smelling fur. The feelings that kissing Randi evoked in her were like nothing she'd ever felt before, and she now realized just what a difference there was in the two relationships. Even on their first few dates, Beth had never made her feel as special as Randi did with just one look or touch. The solicitous nature of the older woman made her feel loved and cherished, which was something that had been sorely lacking in her life.

A soft pink tongue began to clean the few tears that had fallen. Kay chuckled and kissed the top of Spike's head. "Thanks, cutie. You sure know how to make a woman feel appreciated." She smiled and sighed. "Must get that from your mom."


Randi walked into the clinic with a large smile plastered on her face. She had tried to hide it during the drive over, but had finally given up and allowed it to grace her features. "Good morning, Christina," she greeted the receptionist. "Beautiful day we're having, isn't it?"

The older woman glanced out through the door. Heavy clouds hid the sun, and the cold rain that had begun falling earlier showed no signs of letting up. "I suppose, if you're a duck," she teased the veterinarian. "Dr. Wilde is in his office already," she warned.

"He is? I thought he took the week off." Shaking her head to rid it of water, Randi unbuttoned her coat.

Christina shrugged. "Changed his mind, I suppose. Who knows with that man?"

"I know what you mean." Randi took off her raincoat and hung it on a peg next to the door. She grabbed her lab coat from another peg and pulled it on. "So, what's on the agenda for today?" she asked, walking around to stand behind Christina.

"Not much, at least for this morning," the receptionist offered. "I asked Dr. Wilde if I should call you and tell you to stay home until this afternoon, but he wouldn't hear of it." She was about to say more when the phone buzzed. "Wilde Animal Clinic, how may I help you?" Christina listened for a moment, then frowned. "No, we're not a wild animal clinic, ma'am. The clinic is owned by a Doctor Wilde."

Randi leaned down, trying to listen into the conversation. She couldn't make out the words, but could tell that the woman on the other end of the line was upset.

"Well, yes, I can let you talk to him, but I don't see -" Christina sighed. "All right. Hold on, please." She hit the transfer button on the phone and buzzed the owner's office. "Dr. Wilde, I have a woman on line one who insists on speaking to you, personally. Yes, sir." She hung up the phone and turned to Randi. "That was an interesting call."

"What's going on?" Randi asked.

Before Christina could explain, Dr. Wilde stormed from his office. "Dr. Meyers, I'll need you to come with me," he ordered, removing his suit jacket and slipping on a lab coat. "We've got a house call to make." The balding man gathered up some supplies into a box and shoved them at Randi.

"House call?" Randi asked, taking the box in self-defense. "Since when do we make house calls?" She exchanged looks with Christina, who had stood up and placed Randi's raincoat over her shoulders. "Thanks." Not getting an answer from the other vet, Randi took a deep breath and followed him out to his car.


As the Cadillac pulled through the electric gates, Randi glanced around with curiosity. They had driven for almost an hour and she had no idea where they were, except that it was far outside of town. A twelve-foot fence surrounded the property, and the several strands of barbed wire at the top made it clear that trespassers would not be tolerated. She looked through her window, and thought for a moment that she had seen a large animal disappear into the trees. The graveled road was well kept, and wound through the dense foliage until they could no longer see the main road.

Dr. Wilde drove his car up to the rear of a sprawling ranch-style house, apparently following instructions that he had been given over the phone. He parked next to a large pickup truck, which had a canopied top over the two rows of seating in its bed. "Let me do all the talking, Dr. Meyers," he ordered briskly, climbing out of the car. "Don't forget the supplies," her reminded before he closed his door.

"Right, Dr. Asshole," Randi grumbled. She grabbed the box from the back seat and rushed to follow him across the compound to a one-story building set away from the main house. Once inside, Randi shook her head to rid her hair of the rain, then looked around. They were in a massive infirmary, where different sized cages lined two of the walls.

A thin woman rushed over from in front of one of the cages to greet them. "Dr. Wilde? Thank you for coming." She reached out and shook his hand. "I'm Eunice Grauwyler. We spoke on the phone."

"Ms. Grauwyler," Dr. Wilde acknowledged. He pointed to the woman behind him. "This is my assistant," he introduced brusquely. "Where's the animal in need?"

"Over here." Eunice led him to a cage at the back of the room. "Our private vet is on vacation and can't be reached. When I called Information, they gave me your number. I thought yours was a wild animal clinic, and you'd know what to do."

The three of them stood in front of the cage, peering inside. A large, pale-coated creature lay on its side and glared back at them through pained eyes.

Randi was the first to speak. "What are you doing with a white tiger? Shouldn't," she glanced at the animal carefully, "she be in a zoo?"

"My boss runs a private wildlife sanctuary," Eunice explained. "He rescues these poor animals from people who buy them illegally for pets, and takes care of them. Kendi here has been with us for almost two years, now."

Dr. Wilde glared at Randi and then turned his attention back to the slender woman standing next to him. "That's a very noble cause, Ms. Grauwyler. Do you have any idea what could be wrong with the animal?" His area of expertise certainly didn't cover tigers, and he had almost completely stopped practicing animal medicine altogether once he had hired Randi. Something told him that he was in way over his head, but he was determined not to reveal that to their client.

Eunice looked at the older vet in confusion. "Well, as you can plainly see, she's due to have cubs at any time. I've witnessed quite a few births in the time I've worked here, so I noticed immediately when something was wrong. She's in extreme pain, and I'm afraid that she's going to need some help."

"Very well," Dr. Wilde nodded. He swallowed hard and turned back to look at Randi. "After you, Dr. Meyers."


The frenetic jumping of the small dog almost caused Kay to fall as she struggled to unlock the apartment door. She had decided to take Spike out for a short walk, and trying to wrestle with his leash while using crutches wasn't as easy as she had originally thought. Thankful for the twenty-six foot retractable lead, Kay had ended up sitting on the front steps while the excitable little dog raced around happily.

Once inside, she unclipped the lead from his collar and placed it back on the table next to the door. Kay had just sat down on the sofa, when the phone rang. She glanced at her watch and saw that it was almost noon. "Hello?"

"Is this Kay?" an older woman's voice asked. "This is Christina, from the veterinary clinic."

Frowning, Kay nodded, then realized that she couldn't be seen. "Yes, I'm Kay. Is there a problem?"

"Well, it's not really a problem, dear. I mean, it is, but it isn't. But since you're staying with Randi, I thought you might want to know."

"Know what?" The tone in the other woman's voice was beginning to worry Kay. "Is everything all right?"

Christina sighed. "I think so. I didn't mean to call and upset you, but -"

"But what?" Kay asked, the feeling of dread spreading in her gut. "Please, tell me." She was thankful for the support of Spike, who recognized her distress, jumped up into her lap, and began to whine.

"Oh, dear. Let me just start at the beginning, all right?" The receptionist took a deep breath before continuing. "Dr. Wilde received a very strange phone call this morning. He raced from the office, dragging poor Randi along with him. Anyway, they had been gone about three hours when he called and told me they were at the hospital."

"Hospital? What happened?" Kay asked fearfully. "Is Randi all right?"

"I believe so. Dr. Wilde didn't give me any details, I'm afraid. I'm sure if it had been serious, he would have said something. I didn't mean to alarm you, but since you're staying with Randi right now, I thought you might want to know."

"Which hospital?"

"He didn't say. But I'm sure that…Wait! His car just pulled up. If you can hold on for a moment, I'll try to see what's going on."

A sudden click and the sound of cheesy instrumental music caught Kay off guard, and she brought a shaky hand to her forehead to forestall the headache that was beginning to emerge.


"Dr. Wilde, I'm so glad to see you," Christina placed the handset on the desk and stood up. "How is Randi, I mean, Dr. Meyers?" She knew that the older veterinarian disliked the casual relationship between his associate and the rest of his employees. He would often call the younger vet into his office and give her a stern dressing down for becoming too familiar with the "help."

The glowering man stripped off his jacket angrily. "Dr. Meyers will not be at work for a few days, Christina. Try to limit the number of appointments, since I'll be busy in my office." He stomped off to the aforementioned room and slammed the door behind him.

Christina stared after him in confusion. She heard, rather than saw, the yellow Corvette squeal from the parking lot. "Oh, my. I wonder what that was all about." Seeing the flashing light on the phone, she quickly picked up the receiver and punched the button. "Kay? Are you still there, dear?"

"Yes, I'm here. Did you find out anything?" The young woman's voice sounded somewhat shaky, but clear.

"Not really. But I do believe that Randi is on her way home now. Her car just left the parking lot."

Kay exhaled a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness. I really appreciate you calling me, Christina. Thank you."

"No thanks necessary, dear. I'm just sorry that I got you all upset." Christina stared at the closed office door and lowered her voice. "I'm not sure what went on, but Dr. Wilde told me that Randi wouldn't be at work for a few days. Could you have her call me later on, and let me know how she's doing? I don't think I'll be getting any information out of him."

"I will, don't worry," Kay assured her.

"Thank you, dear. Good-bye." Christina hung up the phone and shook her head. "I can't wait to see what this was all about," she muttered to the empty room.


Kay dropped the phone back into its cradle and looked down at the dog in her lap. "Well, Spike. What do you think about that?" she asked. The little animal cocked his head at her in question. His ears suddenly shifted, and he turned around and stared at the door, his tiny stump of a tail wiggling furiously.

The door opened and a very rumpled Randi stepped into the apartment. Her dark hair was plastered to her head by the rain that had continued to fall during the day. She struggled for a moment with the jacket that was draped across her shoulders. With a heavy sigh, Randi hung up the damp coat with her right hand and turned to face the room. "Hi."

"Dear Lord, what happened to you?" Kay asked, seeing Randi's left arm held close to her body in a sling. She started to get up, but was halted by the other woman's raised hand.

"Hold on," Randi muttered, as she walked slowly over to the sofa and gingerly sat down. "Tough day," she admitted when she leaned back against the sofa and closed her eyes for a moment. The gentle touch of soft whiskers on her unencumbered hand caused her eyes to open. "Cut it out, Spike," she ordered softly, moving her hand out of his reach to lightly scratch the top of his head. She gave Kay a half shrug. "Ever have one of those days you wish you had just stayed in bed?"

Unable to help herself, Kay smiled. "Not recently, no. But then again, the last week or so has been pretty great, so I can't complain." She reached over and touched the top of the sling. "You going to tell me what happened?"

Randi looked down at the hand and smiled. "It looks a lot worse than it is," she assured her friend. "We got a call this morning from a wildlife sanctuary, and went out to try and help a white tiger deliver her cubs."

"A tiger? You were mauled by a tiger?" Kay asked frantically. "Shouldn't you be in the hospital? Why would they release you so soon? Isn't there -" Her tirade was cut short by a gentle hand covering her mouth.

"Calm down, Kay. The tiger didn't hurt me. Well, not intentionally, anyway." Randi removed her hand and leaned over to leave a soft kiss in its place. "Now, where was I? Oh, yeah. Dr. Wilde and I climbed into the cage to help the tiger, and we discovered that the first cub was not turned correctly. So, I reached inside to help him out." She raised the injured limb. "Anyway, Dr. Wilde was supposed to be holding the mother's head and keeping her calm. She yawned and scared him." Here Randi began to chuckle. If it hadn't been so frightening at the time, the entire incident would have been humorous. "He screamed and jumped away from her, causing Kendi, that's the tiger," she told Kay unnecessarily, "to jump up as well, with me still, um, attached to her."

Kay looked up into the brown eyes. "Is it broken?" she asked, her hand still resting on the sling.

"No, just sprained. But, I do get out of work for a couple of days." Randi smiled. "So, got anything you want to do?"

"Do? Good Lord, Randi. You could have been seriously injured. I don't see how you can be so damned lackadaisical about it." Kay pulled her hand away and shifted so that she was facing Randi. "We've just started to get to know one another. It scares me to think that I could have lost this," she waved her hands between them, "us, before we had the chance to explore our relationship."

Randi reached across and took one of Kay's hands. "It scares me, too," she admitted quietly. "But you have to realize that my job is rarely dangerous, unless you count cat scratches or dog bites. This tiger thing was a one-in-a-million shot. And besides," she winked, "I wasn't at the dangerous end, Dr. Chickenshit was," Randi joked. She saw the smile that began to form on Kay's lips. "You should have heard him," she continued, trying to get more than a smile from her friend. "I didn't know a man could scream that high without being kicked, or something."

"Oh," Kay laughed, covering her mouth with her free hand. "That's mean." She couldn't control the giggles that spilled through her fingers. "But funny."

"You want to know what's really funny? We had to stop by his house on the way back to the clinic. Supposedly so he could change shirts. But, when he came back out, he had changed his entire suit. I think he did more than scream, if you want my opinion." She winked conspiratorially.

Kay fell forward, laughing helplessly. "That's so evil, Randi." She hadn't met Dr. Wilde, but the things that she had learned from her friend caused her to not feel any sympathy for the man. Probably deserved to dirty his pants. Especially the way he treats Randi. She tilted her head up when she realized she was snuggled against the older woman's chest. The gentle touch of Randi's free hand could be felt tangling in her hair as their eyes met. Soft lips covered hers, and for a long moment, Kay felt everything else disappear.


Brown eyes blinked open in confusion as a wet tongue traced a path along her jaw. Randi looked around the semi-dark room and noticed two things — Kay was snuggled up next to her on the sofa, snoring softly, and a small dog was standing on her chest. With her uninjured hand, she gently pushed him away. "Cut it out, Spike," the groggy woman whispered.

"Huh?" Kay mumbled, sitting up also. "What’s going on?"

The younger woman’s hair stood in many different directions, and her clothing was rumpled and slightly askew. Randi thought she had never seen a more beautiful woman. She reached over and brushed a few stray strands away from Kay’s face. "I’m sorry, sweetheart. Spike decided it was time for me to wake up, and I was trying to talk him out of cleaning my face."

Kay wrinkled her nose. "Eeew. That’s not one of my favorite ways to wake up, either." Good grief. I can't believe we fell asleep on the sofa. She looked down at the little dog, which was sitting in Randi’s lap, unrepentant. "Are you jealous, cutie?"

For an answer, the excitable pooch jumped from his human perch, raced to the door and barked. He looked up at the table where his leash sat, then looked at the door again, barking louder to make his point.

"Demanding little monster, isn’t he?" Randi observed as she stood up and turned on the light. "Guess I’d better do as his majesty requests."

"He’s certainly got you trained," Kay teased.

Randi laughed while she tried to attach the leash to the bouncing canine’s collar. "No kidding. Calm down, buddy," she ordered, unable to capture the tiny clip on his collar using just one hand. With a disgusted huff, she set the leash down on the floor and pulled at the velcro strap on the sling. "Stupid thing," she muttered, as she pulled the material away from her splinted arm.

"Randi, don’t. You’re going to hurt yourself," Kay warned, reaching for her crutches.

"Nah, it's okay. Doesn't even hurt that much anymore," the dark-haired woman assured. She was able to hold the excitable dog still with her good hand, while she worked the clip with the injured one. "See? Nothing to it." Her left arm was in a splint from elbow to the knuckles on her hand, and the entire thing was wrapped with an elastic bandage.

Not entirely convinced, Kay stood up and hobbled over to where Randi was standing. She looked up and carefully studied her friend. The light-brown eyes were no longer dulled by pain, although she still looked tired. "Are you sure you're up to taking him out?"

"Sure. He's not that much trouble," Randi said, laughing as the little dog began to jump straight up in the air to get her attention. "Okay, Spike. I hear you." She tucked the retractable leash under her arm and opened the door. "Be back in a minute."

Kay nodded. "Okay. Hurry back," she whispered, leaning forward and kissing the taller woman on the cheek. A quick glimpse of a vehicle passing by in the parking lot caused her to look past Randi and frown. No, that's impossible.

"What's the matter?" Randi turned around and looked behind her. "Did I miss something?"

"I think my imagination's playing tricks on me," Kay answered. She pasted a smile on her face and gently pushed Randi outside. "Go on. I'm going to go see what we can scrounge up for dinner."

Confused, Randi nodded. "All right. We'll be back inside in a few minutes." She allowed Spike to lead her down the sidewalk.

Closing the door, Kay leaned against it for a long moment before making her way into the kitchen. "I must be losing my mind," she grumbled.

Outside, Randi watched in amusement as Spike searched for just the right spot to relieve himself. The small animal circled and paced, sniffing the ground. "C'mon, buddy. It can't be that complicated," Randi muttered, blissfully unaware of the angry eyes glaring at her from a distance.


The unseasonably warm day brought a lot of people to the park, Kay noticed. She was seated on a metal bench, watching from a short distance as Randi allowed several children to pet Spike. The dark-haired woman was wearing faded jeans and a black tee shirt that proclaimed "The Truth is Out There," and she had knelt down among half a dozen kids and held the thrilled dog. He scrambled from her good hand and onto the ground, bouncing and barking, to the children's delight. Another woman sat down next to Kay and watched the interaction between the dog and kids for several minutes.

"Looks like they're all having a good time," Melissa noted sourly, crossing her arms over her chest. She was dressed in peach-colored slacks with a matching top and jacket, and her strong perfume wafted into Kay's face.

Stifling a sneeze, Kay nodded. "They are." She turned and glared at the older woman. "What are you doing here? Are you following us?"

Melissa laughed and waved a perfectly manicured hand. "Get real, hon. When I found out that Randi wasn't at home or work, I figured she'd be here." She rolled her eyes as the woman they were talking about coaxed Spike into doing tricks, making the children laugh. "She's such a sucker for the little brats," Melissa grumbled. Her eyes cut to Kay. "She always wanted kids of her own, you know. That was one of the things we used to fight about."

Torn between knowing more and allowing Randi her privacy, Kay stayed silent. This is really none of my business. If Randi wants me to know these things about her, I'm sure she'll tell me in her own time. She decided to try and ignore the woman sitting next to her.

"A shame, really," Melissa continued. "She dotes on her nieces and nephews, the little time she gets to see them." She leaned back and sighed. "When she found out she couldn't have children, she asked me if I'd be interested." The redhead laughed. "Can you imagine me, pregnant? I mean, really."

Kay felt her heart break at the hateful woman's words. Poor Randi. She watched as Randi stood up and showed the children how to make Spike dance, laughing the entire time. Unable to help herself she asked, "You never answered me. What is it you want?"

"Are you afraid I'll steal her away from you?" Melissa purred, running a brightly-painted nail across Kay's thigh. "Or, maybe you're more afraid I'll steal you away from her."

"You're crazy."

"Am I?" Melissa scooted closer and caressed the younger woman's cheek. "You can't deny that you feel something for me." She leaned down and was about to kiss Kay when a strong hand clamped down on her shoulder.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?"

Melissa looked up into Randi's murderous glare. The dark-haired woman fairly trembled with anger, and Melissa had to fight to keep a smug look from her face. "Chill out, babe. I was just making conversation with your sweetie." She brushed the hand from her shoulder and stood up. A growl from Spike caused her to laugh. "He's getting more like you every day, Randi, dear." She winked at Kay and walked away, still chuckling.

Kay rubbed her arms and fought off the urge to run take a shower. That woman makes me feel dirty every time I see her. I wonder if she affects Randi the same way? She looked up at her friend, who was staring after Melissa. "Randi?"


"Why don't you have a seat?" Kay asked, patting the empty space beside her.

Damn. I really want to wrap my hands around that scrawny throat. Taking a deep breath, Randi sat next to her friend and pulled Spike up into her lap. The tiny dog curled up and closed his eyes, exhausted from his play. "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine. She was just being annoying," Kay assured her. She slipped a bit closer, until her left leg was touching Randi's. "Did you two have a good time?"

Randi nodded. "Yeah. Those little guys can really tire a body out, though. Did she happen to say what she wanted?"

"No. Just mentioned that she checked your office and then the apartment, then came here. I take it you come here often?"

"We do. Spike likes to come here and play with the kids." Randi looked up from where she was watching the children crawl all over the wooden play equipment. "When things use to get to me at home, I'd come here and just try to relax. The sound of children's laughter always calms me."

Kay reached over and squeezed Randi's leg, then began to pet Spike. "Melissa told me that you wanted children," she murmured quietly.

Fighting the urge to jump up and run away, Randi sighed. "Yeah, I did. But my body didn't cooperate." She looked back down at the tiny bundle in her lap. "So, poor Spike has to fend off my maternal instincts," she joked weakly. "It's probably for the best, anyway. I don't know the first thing about raising children."

"I think you'd be a wonderful mom," Kay argued. "You've certainly got the heart for it."

"Right," the older woman snorted. "I'd be real good at teaching kids how to beat the crap out of anyone who messed with them." She pulled the sleeping dog to her chest and stood up. "Come on. Let's go get some lunch. There's a drive-through burger joint not too far away, that Spike loves."

Kay allowed the change of subject, gathering up her crutches. This conversation's not over, my friend. Not by a long shot. She headed for the car, feeling Randi's eyes on her back.

To Be Continued - Part 5


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