Something to be Thankful For


By Carrie Carr

Disclaimers: Still using them. These characters are of my own creation, and I’m not sharing. (And I tend to run with scissors, too)

There is a theme of two women who love each other. After all this time, if you haven’t figured it out, you’re in worse shape than I thought. There are a few naughty words, but nothing really nasty – I embarrass easily. I'm still disclaiming the nasty relatives, too. If any of them recognize themselves, it's not my fault.

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 January 2002 by Carrie Carr


Chapter 19

Caught between wakefulness and sleep, Randi tried to snuggle deeper into her pillow, then realized it was warm, and…moving? She slowly opened her eyes and saw lacy white underwear. Somehow during the night, Kay’s nightshirt had ridden up, and Randi had made herself at home on the younger woman’s bare stomach. Oh boy. A quick glance up at Kay’s sleeping face assured her that she hadn’t been noticed, so Randi closed her eyes and relaxed.

Waking up lying next to Kay was one of the best feelings she had ever experienced, but Randi was still a bit uncertain about where their relationship was heading. Although, I guess I don’t have a job to worry about right now, she thought ruefully. Now that she was able to think more clearly, the vet realized that she wasn’t ready to give up everything she'd worked so hard for, so easily. I’ll worry about it later. Right now, I’ve got some serious snuggling to make up for.

It seemed as if she had just fallen back asleep when the blare of the alarm clock caused Randi’s eyes to pop open again. Her head was still resting comfortably on Kay’s stomach, and part of her wanted to stay in that position all day. Before she could move, she felt the gentle touch of fingers combing through her thick hair. Unable to stop a smile from spreading across her face, Randi felt her "pillow" move as Kay chuckled softly.

"Good morning," Kay whispered. She continued her light ministrations until Randi turned her head.

"Morning," Randi drawled, the soft tickle of her breath causing goose bumps to rise on Kay’s stomach.

Kay brushed the hair out of Randi’s eyes and then continued to caress her face. "You still look worn out," she observed. There were dark circles underneath the bloodshot brown eyes, and a resigned weariness that she hadn’t seen before.

"I am," Randi sighed. "But I guess I’d better let you up, huh?" She started to sit up, but was held down by Kay’s hand.

"No, don’t."

"But you need to get ready for work," Randi argued. "I don’t want to be the cause of you getting into any trouble your first week on the job." To her dismay, tears began to slide down Kay’s cheeks. "Hey, what’s wrong?" She quickly scrambled into a sitting position and pulled Kay into her arms.

"It’s stupid," the younger woman sniffled. The harder she tried to get her emotions under control, the further away she felt them slipping. "Damn."

Randi held the crying woman close to her chest, murmuring words of encouragement and rubbing Kay’s back softly.

After several minutes, Kay finally calmed down enough to talk. "Ever since I started that job, the other women in the office have been pretty distant. I thought they were just giving me time to get settled in my job before they started socializing, but then I found out last night that wasn’t the case."

"What do you mean?" Randi asked, getting angry. "What happened last night?"

"My supervisor, Lucy, asked me to join some of them after work. They like to go to a small bar for Ladies Night, have a couple of drinks, and get together for a bit of socializing outside the office."

No wonder she wasn’t home when I called last night. "That’s great, sweetheart. So you went out with the ladies for a bit of fun?"

Kay nodded. "I didn’t want to, but Lucy told me that the other women thought I was being stuck up." She looked up into Randi’s eyes and frowned. "Me, of all people." With a heavy sigh, she once again leaned against her friend. "So, Lucy promised me that we’d only stay for a few minutes, then she’d take me home." Here Kay started crying again.

"What happened?"

"It would probably be easier to tell you what didn’t happen. The entire night was a disaster from the beginning."

Randi held Kay a little tighter. "Go ahead, Kay. Let it all out."

"One of the women, Irma, started in on me almost before we sat down. She kept asking me all of these personal questions, which I wasn’t comfortable in answering."

"None of her damned business anyway," Randi grumbled. She looked down into amused hazel eyes. "I’m sorry. Go ahead." I may have to have a little talk with this Irma.

Patting her protector on the stomach, Kay continued. "Well, she and a couple of the other women got it into their heads that I was interested in Mr. Stone, just because he’s been so nice to me. Then they started asking if I had a boyfriend, and—"

"What did you tell them?"

"That no, I didn’t, and it wasn’t any of their business, anyway."

Randi snickered. "Bunch of dried up old prudes. Bet that went over well."

Another heavy sigh. "Not really. But then, I saw Beth come into the bar with a bunch of the guys she works with — didn’t take them long to get pretty wasted."

"Yeah, I know."

"What?" Kay looked back up at Randi.

"Nothing," the vet evaded. When Kay continued to look at her, she sighed. "I’ll tell you when you’re finished with your story, all right?"

Kay frowned, but nodded. "Okay." She thought for a moment. "Anyway, I was tired of the Inquisition, and asked Lucy if she’d mind taking me home. We’d almost made it to her car when Beth came up from behind me and stopped us."


"Yeah, uh-oh is right," Kay agreed. "She was on her way to being real drunk, and was pretty obnoxious. Grabbed my arm and threatened to hurt me and Lucy if I didn’t do what she wanted."

"That bitch," Randi growled, sitting up straighter. "Did she hurt you?"

Shaking her head, Kay showed her arm. There was a light discoloration, but it didn’t look serious. "She didn’t get a chance. Lucy waved her cell phone in Beth’s face and threatened to call the police. She took off after that."

"Lucy sounds like a smart lady."

"I thought so, too, until the ride home," Kay related quietly.

"Why? What happened then?"

The wounds from last night reopened, and Kay felt her emotions crumble again. "I thought she was my friend," she cried, "but she’s just as narrow-minded as the rest of them."

I’m definitely going to have to make a trip up to that damned office. Bunch of old harpies have nothing better to do than hurt innocent people. "What did she say?"

"After we left Beth, she asked me how I knew her. So, I told her the truth."

" I bet that went over well," Randi observed. "Did she freak out?"

Kay sighed. "No. Well, maybe. Actually, she got all pissed off because I didn’t tell her I was gay sooner."

"What the hell does that have to do with anything?" Randi asked, outraged. "Does she think we make it a habit of going around and telling complete strangers our life histories? What kind of fucked up ideals are those?"

"Exactly. I told her I didn’t think it was anyone’s business but my own, and then I asked her if she went around telling people she was straight."

Randi laughed. "Serves her right."

"Yeah," Kay agreed sadly. She brushed the tears from her face and released a heavy breath. "It really hurt, though. She was one of the only people in the office, besides Richard, who treated me nicely."

Okay, chickenshit, here’s your opening. Try not to blow it this time. Randi kissed the top of Kay’s head and squeezed her close again. "Do you like the job?"

"It’s okay. Not really what I’d want to do with my life, but I guess it’ll do until I find something else." Kay looked up into Randi’s face. "What?"

Taking a deep breath to bolster her courage, Randi smiled at her friend. "Kay, these past few days have made me stop and think about what’s important in my life. Up until a few weeks ago, I would have told you that my work was the only thing I truly cared about." Seeing the acceptance on Kay’s face, she continued. "Meeting you has changed all of that."

"It’s done the same for me," Kay admitted quietly.

"I’m glad." Randi bent her head and kissed Kay softly on the lips. "I love you, Kay. I have for a while, but I was too chicken to admit it."

Kay’s smile grew. "I love you, too, Randi." She laughed at the look on the older woman’s face. "Guess we’ve both been pretty chicken, haven’t we?" She was answered by another kiss, this one much longer.


Glancing in the bathroom mirror at the image behind her, Kay smiled. "Are you sure you don’t mind? I’d be glad to stay home with you today."

Randi shook her head. "No, you were right. If you decide to quit, do it on your own terms, not on the basis of how ignorant your coworkers are." She pushed off from the door frame that she had been leaning against and walked up behind Kay to put her hands on the smaller woman’s shoulders. "Besides, if they get too obnoxious, I can just kiss you good-bye at the front door and give them something to talk about."

"That could be fun," Kay admitted. She turned around and studied Randi’s attire. "You want to just strip and wash those while I’m gone?"

A smirk answered her. "You trying to get me out of my clothes?"

Kay reached up and laced her fingers behind Randi’s head. "If I was trying to do that, do you think I’d be getting ready for work?" She pulled the dark head closer and kissed Randi thoroughly. When she pulled away, she was quite proud of the dazed look on the older woman’s face. "So, what are you going to do while I’m trying to work?"

"Huh?" Randi blinked several times and licked her lips, but couldn’t seem to lose the silly grin that covered her face.

"I asked," Kay started for the bedroom, poking Randi in the stomach on her way by, "what were you going to do while I was at work?"

"Oh." Randi watched as Kay sat on the edge of the bed and put her one shoe on. "I thought I’d go pick up a few things, then come back here and change."

Shoe tied, Kay stood up and tucked the crutches back underneath her arms. "That sounds like a good idea." She paused for a moment, then asked in a quiet voice, "How long will you be staying?"

Randi stepped into her shoes and then pulled them on. "Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d kind of like to take you out to dinner tonight to talk about that. What do you say?"

"Works for me."

"Cool." Randi followed Kay into the living room and bent to pick up Spike. "I’d better grab some chow for this guy, too. He gets grumpy if he misses a meal." She scratched the wriggling animal behind the ears. "Right, buddy?" Spike licked her hand and looked up at Randi with complete hero worship in his eyes.

Kay laughed and grabbed her purse, slipping the strap over her head. "If you two can be separated long enough, you want to drive me to work?" she teased.

"I don’t know," Randi deadpanned. "We’re pretty close." She walked over and held the small animal up to Kay’s face. "Think you can compete?"

Kay took Spike and kissed the top of his head. "Can you?"


A few minutes later, Randi had pulled the Corvette onto the main road when Kay noticed Beth’s tow truck. She stared at it as they drove by and frowned. "I can’t believe she parked that close to my house last night."

"You knew she was out there?" the vet asked, continuing down the road without another glance back.

"Not exactly. I knew she was out in her truck somewhere, because she called me last night from her cell phone. She refused to hang up unless I told her I loved her and that we’d get back together."

Randi nodded, but didn’t say anything. She continued to keep her eyes on the road, but carefully listened to every word.

Kay looked at her for a moment, the sighed. "She must have followed me home last night. She kept crying and begging for me to take her back. I kept telling her I didn’t love her, but she wouldn’t listen." The stony silence from Randi was beginning to worry her. "I’m sorry, Randi. If I would have just lied to her, she would have probably gotten off the phone, and you wouldn’t have had to drive down here in the middle of the night."

"Don’t apologize." Randi looked over at Kay and smiled. "The trip was well worth it."

"But what about your job?"

"It’s not that important," Randi assured her, turning her attention back to the road. "Besides, I think I’m going to have to find another job."

"What happened?" Kay asked, worried.

Her eyes still on the road, Randi shrugged. "Got into another argument with Dr. Ass, I mean, Dr. Wilde. I ‘borrowed’ his car to pick up a patient, and he got all bent out of shape."

"You what? Why would you do that?"

"Because," she snapped, "if I hadn’t, that dog would have died. And it was his fault."

Kay looked down at her lap. "Oh. I’m sorry, Randi, I -"

"No," Randi pulled the car over and reached for Kay’s hand. "I’m sorry. I guess I’m just tired and cranky. Forgive me?"

Smiling, Kay raised their joined hands to her lips and kissed Randi’s knuckles. "Of course. But why did you borrow his car?"

"Because it was a St. Bernard," the vet explained, smiling also. "There was no way I could have gotten her into my car."

"Ah. So, is the dog okay?"

Another reason I love her. She cares about animals, too. How did I ever get so lucky? Randi remembered how much grief Melissa would give her whenever she’d have to work late. "They’re just stupid animals. I should be more important to you than playing with smelly animals all day," she used to say. Very lucky. "Yeah. She’ll be just fine, as long as Dr. Wilde doesn’t try to treat her anymore," Randi finished bitterly. Becoming conscious of the time, she edged back onto the road.

They drove in silence for several minutes, Randi thinking about the argument with Dr. Wilde, and Kay worried about going back into work. "Which way?" Randi asked, once they got to a light.

"Turn left, then go about six blocks to Holiday, then turn right. It’s the first building on the right after that."

"All right." Randi followed the directions until they were parked in front of the accounting offices. "Do you want me to go in with you?" she offered.

Kay shook her head. "No, I’ll be all right. But thanks." She'd started to get out of the car when Randi’s voice stopped her.

"I’m going to Price Mart to grab a few things, then I’ll be back at your house. Shouldn’t take more than an hour, okay? So just call me if you need me."

Leaning back into the car, Kay smiled. "I'll always need you," she whispered. "But I think things will be all right." She winked and straightened up, closing the door behind her.

"They will be now," Randi murmured, watching the younger woman make her way into the building. "I’ll see to it."


Although she had only been there for an hour, Kay felt as if every eye in the room was focused on her. I wonder if Lucy told everyone my "dirty little secret." Or maybe they all still think I’m interested in Richard. She mentally shook her head. He’s old enough to be my father. Even if he were my type, he’s way too old.


Kay looked up and saw Lucy standing by her desk. Still hurt from the previous day’s events, she decided to keep a professional distance. "Yes?"

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" the older woman quietly asked.

"Depends," Kay muttered, grabbing a stack of papers and shuffling them. "You come over here to enlighten me on the sins of my lifestyle?"

Lucy had the good sense to be embarrassed. "I guess I deserved that." She looked around the room. "Can we go outside to talk? Too many nosy people in here."

"Sure." Kay grabbed her crutches and followed Lucy out to the front of the building. She leaned back against the brick and stared at the other woman until Lucy looked away. "Well?"

With a heavy sigh, Lucy looked around until her eyes finally rested on Kay’s features. "This is hard for me," she started, but was interrupted.

"Hard for you? Lady, you have no idea what hard is," Kay growled. "Hard is growing up feeling responsible for your mother’s death, or getting a call at work and being told your little brother was killed by a drunk driver." She pointed an angry finger in Lucy’s face. "Hard is coming to terms with your own sexuality, and having it thrown in your face at every opportunity — even by people you thought were your friends." Kay took a deep breath to calm down. "Hard is finally finding the one person in the world that makes you feel whole, and living two hundred miles apart. Don’t try and tell me what’s hard." Emotionally spent, she grasped the top edges of her crutches and closed her eyes, until a light touch on her arm caused them to open again.

The older woman looked at her with tears in her eyes. "Look, I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. I’m sorry for the way I acted."

Kay frowned. "For the way you acted? Like I was some sort of leper, or something?"

"Kay, listen. You caught me off guard yesterday with that little bombshell. How was I supposed to act?"

"Like a friend?" came the soft response.

Lucy lowered her head. "I don’t understand you, Kay. I thought you were like me."

"And how’s that?" Years of being labeled "different" finally put Kay at the breaking point. "Did you think I was narrow minded and hypocritical? Or maybe self-centered and judgmental?"

"Hold on! You’ve got this chip on your shoulder, and when someone finally sees it, you get all militant and hateful. You’re no better than I am, Kay."

Kay raised sad eyes and shook her head. "But I’m no worse, either." She lifted one hand and wiped at her face. "No one’s the same. We just have to be able to accept each other’s differences and learn to get along."

"I honestly don’t know if I can," Lucy lamented honestly. "I really liked you."

"What’s changed about me? Is it because of who I decide to sleep with?"

Lucy frowned and backed away. "Please, I don’t want to hear about that."

Kay stalked forward. "Do you think it’s any easier for me to listen to all of you compare notes on your husbands’ lovemaking skills? Why is there such a double standard?"

"I don’t know!" Lucy cried, covering her face with her hands. "I don’t know," she repeated, more quietly.

Feeling sorry for the other woman, Kay reached out for her, but drew her hand back before she made contact. "All I want is to be treated with a little decency and respect. Is that too much to ask?" She waited until Lucy looked at her and held out her hands. "Just forget it." She started to walk back into the building.

"I’ll try," Lucy’s anguished voice followed.

Kay turned around at the door and looked back. "So will I," she agreed, going back inside the office. She just passed Irma’s desk when she heard a quiet voice.


Turning around, Kay glanced back behind her. All heads were turned away, although she had a pretty good idea who had said it. Disgusted, she ignored the dig and continued on to her desk.

Richard stood up from where he had squatted to look through the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet. He glanced around the room, and followed Kay’s progress with his eyes. Looking around again, he stood up and walked behind her. "Kay?"

She stopped just as she reached her desk and glanced over her shoulder. "Yes, Richard?"

"Can I see you in my office?"

Great. Just what I need. "Sure." Kay sighed and followed him, unsure of what was going to happen next.


Chapter 20

The body language of the woman sitting on the front porch should have warned Randi to stay in the car when she pulled up to Kay’s house. She had spent over an hour buying clothes, toiletries, dog food and the like, and all she wanted to do was get inside and feed Spike. She stepped out of the bright yellow vehicle with several plastic bags in her hands. "Excuse me," she muttered, trying to step around the reclining body. Getting the door open, she didn’t see her guest follow her inside.

"Where the fuck’s my truck keys?" Beth yelled, pushing Randi in the back and causing her to fall into the lamp, knocking it to the floor.

That’s it. I’ve about had it with Miss Manners. Randi slowly climbed to her feet and looked down at the broken lamp. "You’re going to have to pay for that, Beth."

The muscular woman stood a few feet away, her arms crossed over her chest. "Oh yeah? You gonna make me?"

"I’m not getting into a pissing contest with you." The smell of old beer turned Randi’s stomach. "Why don’t you go home and get cleaned up?"

"I would, if you’d give me my goddamned truck keys!" She started towards Randi, but was stopped by the growling animal at her feet. "You’ve got to be fucking kidding me," she laughed, kicking out at Spike.

The small dog barely escaped the heavy boot, but continued to bark.

Randi rushed over and picked up Spike. "Don’t you dare touch my dog," she growled, holding him close to her body.

"That little thing is a dog?" Beth laughed. "I’ve stepped on bigger cockroaches."

"Then you need to clean house more," Randi retorted, walking away. Another vicious shove in her back and she fell to her knees, trying to keep Spike from hitting the floor.

"Bitch! I’m going to take care of you once and for all."

Randi grimaced as her knees throbbed. She kissed the growling dog on the top of the head and sat him down. "Sit," she ordered.

He stopped and looked at her, and then followed her hand gesture. Spike dropped down on his rear, but continued to bark at Beth.

"Who’s gonna protect you now, old woman?" Beth laughed, as Randi slowly climbed to her feet.

"I’m not going to fight with you, Beth," Randi said, backing up. "I’m sorry about your keys. I left them on the back bumper of your truck, because you were too drunk to drive last night, and I didn’t want you out on the roads."

Beth stopped and frowned. "Yeah, right. You expect me to believe that you give a damn what happens to me? I’m the competition."

"There is no competition," Randi tried to explain. "I know we’re never going to be friends. But there’s no reason you have to keep trying to rip me apart, either. Like you’ve said, I’m an old woman." I’m too old to be brawling like a teenager. This is ridiculous. As the other woman started forward again, she held out a hand. "You say you want Kay back?"

"Hell, yeah." Beth started forward again. "And the sooner I get you out of the way, the sooner she’ll come back to me."

Randi limped away from her. "Do you really think that beating the hell out of me is going to accomplish that?" She stood behind the recliner, trying to keep the furniture between her and the unreasonable woman.

Confused, Beth stopped. "Why wouldn’t it?"

Maybe I can get her to listen to reason. "What’s one of the things you love about Kay?"

The burly woman smiled. "She’s got a great ass."

It took all her self-control for Randi not to roll her eyes at that answer. "Okay. What else?"

Beth thought for a moment. "She’s really sweet — I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as nice as Katie."

"That’s right, she’s very kind and gentle. Do you think violence will appeal to her?" Dear God, please let her be able to put more than one thought together at a time. I’m running out of ideas, here.

"She doesn’t have to know." Beth started around the coffee table on her way to the recliner.

Randi shook her head. "She’ll know. And then you’ll never have a chance of getting her back."

The ringing of the phone caused both women to jump. "I’d better get that," Randi said. "It’s probably Kay."

Beth frowned. She didn’t want to ruin her chances with the woman she loved. She backed up until she was at the front door. Pointing a warning finger at Randi, she threatened, "I’ll be back for you, later." She rushed through the door and across the driveway.

Randi rushed over to grab the ringing phone. "I take back every nasty thought I’ve had about phones," she muttered.


Richard held his office door open for the quiet woman. "Sit down, Kay." He waited until she was seated, then walked around his desk and dropped gracelessly into his chair.

Tired and on edge, Kay decided the best defense was a good offense. "So, are you going to start on me, too?" she asked.

"Start on you?" Richard leaned forward and frowned. "What do you mean by that?"

"I’m sure you heard what Irma said about me," Kay muttered. "This meeting is just a little too coincidental."

He pulled on one earlobe and looked at the woman sitting across the desk from him. "All right, Kay. Yes, I heard someone use a derogatory term. But the main reason I wanted to talk to you was that you seemed to be upset today. What’s going on?"

Kay leaned forward, angry. "You want to know what’s going on? I’m gay, Richard. You might as well know, because obviously the entire company has made it their business to know. There’s a dyke, a faggot, a queer, a…lesbian, in your midst."

"So?" Richard leaned back and sighed. "Does it affect how you do your job?"

"Uh, no," Kay answered, confused.

"Are you going to be lusting after the other women in the office?" he asked, with a smile on his face.

Unable to help herself, Kay chuckled. "Definitely not."

Richard leaned across the desk. "Me, either," he whispered loudly. After they shared a laugh, he stood up. "Kay, I don’t care if you’re a cross-dressing atheist who likes to bicycle nude on weekends. As long as you do your job, I’ll be happy."

Kay sat very quiet for a moment. Do I really want to work in a hostile place? Will I be happy with these bitchy women on my case, day in and day out? There's really nothing keeping me here. "No," she answered aloud.

"What?" he asked, stepping around the desk.

"I’m sorry, Richard." Kay stood and gathered up her crutches. "I respect you, and I think you’re a fine person. But I just can’t work in this environment." She hugged the balding man and smiled. "Thank you for everything."

He walked over and held open the door for her. "I hate to see you go, Kay. What will you do?"

Hazel eyes looked up and sparkled. "I have some pretty good options, I think." She winked. "Thanks, again. I’ll just go clean out my desk and call my ride."

"Good luck, Kay." Richard called after her. He looked at the women sitting in the front of the office. "Time for some housecleaning, I think."


The bright yellow Corvette practically slid to a stop in front of the accounting office. Kay couldn't help but smile at her friend's protective streak as Randi jumped out of the car almost before it came to a complete stop.

"Are you all right?" the older woman asked, breathlessly. "Sorry it took me so long to get here."

Kay glanced at her watch while Randi picked up her purse and the small bag next to it. "Honey, any faster and you would have been here before I called. It's fine." Her smile didn't waver as Randi held open the car door for her and scooped up Spike before he could escape. "I didn't realize you'd be bringing my favorite guy along, too," she teased.

"I didn't feel comfortable leaving him at the house," Randi admitted before she closed the door. She circled around and got in behind the wheel, handing Spike to his new best friend. "I hope you don't mind."

"Not at all." Kay held the excited animal close, trying to calm him down. "Did he have an accident this morning?" She couldn't think of any other reason that Randi might not want him to stay behind.

Randi shook her head. "No." Deciding to change the subject, she nodded towards the building. "What happened in there?" Although Kay had sounded perfectly calm when she called to be picked up, she had explained that she had quit.

"Let's just say I didn't want to be a part of a hostile work environment, and leave it at that, okay?"

"Hostile? Were they giving you a hard time because they found out you were gay?" Randi slapped the steering wheel. "Maybe I should go in there and show them 'hostile.'"

Kay reached over and grabbed Randi by the arm. "No, wait. Please." She waited until the stormy brown eyes calmed slightly. "Richard was very sweet, and tried to talk me into staying. But I just didn't feel like that was the right place for me." Kay squeezed the arm she was still holding. "Let's get out of here, all right?"

"Okay, but only if you're sure." After the confrontation with Beth earlier, Randi still felt like she needed to release some excess energy. Backing the car out of the parking space she asked, "Do you know of any little parks around here? I think Spike could use some fresh air." Not to mention me.

Not fooled, Kay nodded. "Sure. There's one on the way to the mall. Just turn left at the light."


Following Kay's directions, they were able to pull into a small parking lot next to a quiet park a few minutes later. Mostly grass and trees, the area was practically deserted except for a few joggers that would pass by on a paved path. Randi glanced around and noticed a picnic table nearby. "How about we sit over there, and I'll just let the lead out on Spike's leash?"

"Sounds good to me," Kay agreed.

They sat silently for several minutes, watching the small dog run out as far as the lead would allow. Spike would stand fearlessly and bark at the passing runners, some of whom would glance down and smile as they jogged by.

"He's a protective little thing, isn't he?" Kay marveled, amazed at the courage the diminutive animal possessed.

"Too much, sometimes," Randi admitted. "I'm afraid his heart is bigger than his brain, and that could get him seriously hurt someday."

The sad tone in Randi's voice concerned Kay. "What do you mean?"

Turning her head, Randi looked into Kay's eyes for a long moment before she spoke. "We had a little visit from Beth this morning."

"Beth? What on earth did she want?"

Smiling slightly, Randi ducked her head. "Her truck keys." She looked back up and saw the unasked question on Kay's face. "Before I came to your house last night, I saw her truck parked close to your driveway, and stopped. I thought maybe she had something to do with me not being able to get in touch with you."

Kay sighed. "Well, in a roundabout way, she did."

"Yeah, I know. But at the time, I guess I wasn't thinking too clearly. I rousted her out of the truck and yelled at her. When I realized that she was drunk, I hid her keys on the back bumper and then left."

"I'll bet that went over well," Kay observed. "So she remembered seeing you, and came to the house thinking you had her keys?"

"That was part of it," Randi answered cryptically. "She also decided that she wanted to fight for you."

Kay sat up, alarmed. "Fight? She picked a fight with you?" She looked Randi over carefully. "You look okay."

"I'm fine," Randi assured her. "We never actually fought, although your lamp in the living room got broken." She smiled to try and ease Kay's fears. "Like I told you, I'm a lover, not a fighter. But, Mr. Macho over there," she pointed to Spike, who was still "protecting" them from passersby, "almost got kicked for his bravery."

"She kicked at Spike? That crazy bitch has gone too far, now." Fairly trembling with anger, Kay felt like hunting Beth down and cracking a crutch over her head.

Randi reached over and took Kay's hands in hers. She rubbed the fists until they loosened and the smaller fingers linked with hers. "Everything turned out okay, though. But I was really thankful that you called when you did," she joked.

"I'm sorry, Randi. I knew Beth was set on getting back together with me, but I never thought she'd try something as stupid as that."

Tired of barking at joggers, Spike came back and sat at Randi's feet, cocking his head at a comical angle. She bent over and picked him up, unclipping the lead and holding him in her lap. "No real harm done. We just have to get you another lamp."

"I don't care about the stupid lamp," Kay snapped, then softened her tone. "I care about you, and what could have happened." With a heavy sigh, she leaned back against the table top. "Maybe it's just all starting to get to me."

"Kay," Randi turned to face the younger woman, "I love you."

That caused a smile to start on Kay's face. She looked into Randi's eyes. "I love you, too."

Randi smiled as well. "I've been pretty miserable this past week," she stated.

"Me, too."

"You were? Oh." Randi took a deep breath to muster her courage. "I'm sorry about your job, Kay. I know that you value your independence, and all."

Where is she going with this? "That's all right, Randi. Independence is nice, but I really never felt very comfortable there. I'm sure something will turn up."

"That's what I want to talk to you about, actually." Just spit it out, chickenshit. All she can do is say no. "I've got that nice extra bedroom, and I can help you out until your cast comes off," she rushed. "Job opportunities are better in a bigger city, and we can just be roommates, if you want."

Biting her lip to keep from laughing, Kay put a serious look on her face. "Roommates? Are you asking me to move in with you?"

Randi nodded. "Uh, yes. Yes, I am. But there's no pressure or anything, Kay. I just -" Her mouth was covered with a small hand, and she looked questioningly at Kay.

"There's really nothing for me here, Randi. But, if I were to say yes, and move to Fort Worth with you, we'd have to set some ground rules." She removed her hand when it appeared that the other woman wanted to talk.


"You don't know what they are, yet," Kay warned her.

"I don't care. Whatever you want, as long as we're together," Randi admitted. "So, what are the ground rules?"

Kay smiled. "Let's go back to the house and talk about them there, all right? There's something that I want to show you."

Randi stood up, holding Spike with one arm while helping Kay to her feet with the other. That sounds interesting. I wonder what she's up to.


Once they returned to Kay's house, Randi set about cleaning up the broken lamp, while Kay excused herself to the bedroom. With the mess cleaned up, Randi sat down on the sofa and gave Spike the lap he needed. "Well, she didn't come right out and say no," she told him, rubbing the back of his neck. "I guess that's something."

The little dog began to lick her free hand, then looked up with dark brown eyes. He jumped down and trotted to the kitchen doorway, where he stopped and looked at her again.

"Guess you're ready for lunch, huh?" With a heavy sigh, she slowly got to her feet and followed him. After pouring some dried dog food in a bowl, Randi washed her hands and watched him eat. "You act as if I've starved you to death," she teased, then sobered. "I guess I pretty much did, didn't I?" She had brought the food back after her shopping trip, but between the confrontation with Beth, and then hurrying off to pick up Kay, she had forgotten all about feeding the dog. "I'm sorry, Spike." His small stump of a tail wriggled while he continued to eat, so she guessed that she was forgiven for the oversight.

"Randi, could you come here for a moment?" Kay called from the other part of the house.

Pushing off against the cabinet, Randi walked through the living room and stopped in the doorway of the bedroom. "What do you -" she stopped in mid-sentence at the sight that greeted her. "Oh."

The room was dark, except for the glow of several strategically placed candles. Kay sat in the middle of the bed, a sexy smile across her face. She wore a silky pale-blue gown that was partially untied in the front, and was leaning back against a pile of pillows. "Come in and close the door, Randi." She held out one hand, beckoning the older woman into the room.

"Wha-" Randi swallowed and tried again. "What's all this?" She sat down on the bed and took Kay's hand.

"The ground rules." Kay enjoyed catching Randi off guard. "I don't want to move into the guest room."

"You don't?"

Kay shook her head slowly. "No, I don't." She released Randi's hand and reached up to stroke the surprised woman's cheek. "I'm not sure how you feel about this, but I for one am tired of the miscommunication around here."

"Miscommunication?" Randi repeated. She was doing well to get any words out of her mouth, since her brain seemed locked up at the moment.

"Mmm-hmm." Kay ran one fingertip down the side of Randi's jaw, then continued to trace a path to the top button of the shirt she had bought earlier. She unfastened the item and was rewarded with a glimpse of Randi's bra. "I wanted to tell you that I loved you before you left for Fort Worth, but I didn't, mostly because I was afraid it was too soon."

Randi's breath quickened and her heart started to pound. She tried to think of something to say, but her mouth was too dry to form words. All she could do was sit there and enjoy where Kay was taking her.

"Every night that we spoke on the phone," Kay continued with her story, while her hand was busy slowly opening the button-down shirt, "I ached to tell you that I needed you, and that I wanted you to come back. But," three more buttons gone, and the navy-blue shirt stood open. "I didn't want to pressure you, and was worried that if I did say something, you might only reciprocate out of some sense of pity." She slid the garment from Randi's shoulders and smiled.

"I wanted to say the same thing," Randi was finally able to say. "But I didn't want to force you into another relationship that you might regret." She trembled and closed her eyes as Kay traced a gentle outline across her breasts, the short fingernail raking her skin through the soft cotton material of her bra.

Enjoying the power she held, Kay continued to smile. Her hand brushed down the front of Randi's body until she found the fastener on the new jeans. "I've decided to quit over-thinking," she murmured, working the clasp free. "When I move back with you, it won't be as your roommate."

"O…okay," Randi stammered, opening her eyes and looking into the passionate gaze. Unable to take the teasing anymore, she leaned down and covered Kay's mouth with hers. Kay's hands left her body and threaded through her hair, causing Randi to moan. As their tongues danced back and forth inside one mouth and then the other, Randi slid her hand along the silky material that barely covered Kay's body.

Kay took her hands from the dark unruly hair and tried to remove Randi's bra. After several failed attempts, she pulled back slightly. "Off," she ordered gruffly.

Randi smiled and sat back up, reaching behind and unclasping the bra. Slightly self-conscious, she let the covering fall to the floor. All of her doubts were washed away by the smoldering look of appreciation in Kay's eyes. The small hands struggled to lower the zipper on her jeans, so Randi stood up and assisted, pushing the denim down her legs. "Better?" she rasped, her hands shaking.

"Much," Kay approved. She pulled at the waistband of Randi's underwear. "Next, please."

Fighting the blush that started on her face and was quickly working its way across her body, Randi slid the cotton fabric off. She reached for the one tie that held Kay's nightgown closed. "You, too."

Yes! Kay studied Randi's body while she felt the material slip away from her skin. Wide shouldered, her body was soft in all the right places. Her well-endowed breasts were too close not to take advantage of, so Kay leaned forward slightly and took the nearest bit of flesh into her mouth.

"Oh, God," Randi moaned, feeling her legs almost give way beneath her. She pulled back just far enough to look at Kay's body. "Beautiful," she murmured, running her hands along the pale expanse of skin. She leaned back down and kissed the younger woman tenderly. "I do so love you," she whispered reverently. "And I can't wait to show you how much."

Kay blinked back tears. "I love you, too." She pulled Randi down on top of her, as the candles burned down to the sounds of their lovemaking.

To Be Continued - Part 9


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