Standard Disclaimers - I don't need any for this story. All the characters are mine. (laugh) I should probably disclaimer my use of my own company, but I won't, unless temptation gets too great, and I name the big boss "Les." Whoops.. I did that, but any resemblance to anyone real is coincidental. (the real one is one of the nicest people I've ever met, honestly)
What this is: This is an Uber story. (Oooo… that Uber stuff!) You get a general physical description likeness of the two gals in the story that will remind you of two old friends we all know well, but that's about it. The time period of this Uber is right now, and the place is Miami, Florida.
Why Miami? Well, I live here. Not only do I live here, but I've lived here for thirty years. That means I know all the stupid little quirks of the area, and since I'm going to give this Uber a stab, I might as well not overstress myself with doing research on an area I don't know. (Right? Right.)
The world my Uber darlings inhabit is my personal world - not that I'm a dungeon master or anything silly like that, but I do work for a company called EDS, and we do Information Technologies - we outsource IS to other companies, and absorb their own IS facilities and staff. In other words, we are the EDS Borg - you will be assimilated - Resistance is Futile. (I'm not making this up) The two characters will work and play in an area that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole however - so they're not autobiographical. I do technical and network support - I stay away from the business end of EDS, because that's the end you get stuck with, and not in a friendly place, if you know what I mean.
This isn't specifically EDS, but I've tried to maintain the flavor of our hierarchy though…and the goofiness that sometimes goes on behind the running of a megalithic corporation. The descriptions of our mainframes, however, are fictitious, along with any names of persons involved, and the various office locations with the exception of Plano. EDS does have its corporate HQ there.
Fisher Island, the place where Dar Roberts lives, is a real place. I used to work there. The descriptions of it are circa 1990 though - it's been built up a lot since then with more condos and stuff. All the places, and restaurants, and streets, and causeways are real. I didn't see any need to make them up, when Miami is a colorful enough place in real life without me doing that. It's kind of a tribute to my hometown - because I happen to really like it here.
Dar and Kerry are not super spies, or undercover agents, or renegades of any kind. They're not running from the law, or taking over third world countries (EDS runs a few, though) or anything like that. You might find their lives boring… I can't help that.. there's not going to be a lot of car chases, or gun battles, though this is Miami, and we're a pretty tough city, so anything can happen.
It's just a story about two people, who meet under very usual circumstances, and happen to change each other's lives.
Tropical Storm - Part 13
By Melissa Good
Dar threw energy into finishing her worklist, clearing out several items in a row and keeping half an ear on Kerry, who was puttering around in the kitchen. She knew Kyle's visit had unsettled the blond woman, and she impatiently answered some of the dozen or so urgent mails she had waiting, anxious to get them out of the way so she could go back to…
Go back to what, Dar? Playing around? Her lips quirked. Yeah. So much more interesting than telling Jose he had to go back to the drawing board on two accounts and typing in an official answer to the complaint lodged against her by Peter.
Jerk. She sighed, and rubbed her forehead, considering how to phrase the response. "He screwed up the account, and Alastair sent me out there to bail him out, and I did. What's the problem?" She drummed her fingers on the keyboard and then backspaced. "No.. she'd kill me if I said that."
"What's wrong?" Kerry appeared, resting an arm on her shoulder. Her hand had a soft cotton mitt covering it, and she was carrying a mixing spoon which smelled very distracting. Dar immediately licked it, and grinned at the smaller woman's squawk of surprise. "Dar! Cut that out!"
"Mm…. Whatever that is tastes great." The dark haired woman replied. "This.. Peter filed a formal complaint against my conduct and I have to answer it…I'm trying to find a politically correct way to say 'bite me' and not have Mariana pull her hair out."
"It's meatball sauce… I'm trying a new recipe for spaghetti and meatballs." Kerry answered absently, peering at the document. "I figured that was pretty safe."
Dar's eyes brightened. "Haven't had that in a while." She stated. "I don't usually order it in restaurants…the meatballs generally taste like pressed oatmeal."
Kerry nodded in agreement. "Yeah….hey, listen…why don't you say that you were asked to evaluate the situation, and the client decided they wanted to negotiate with you directly." She glanced at Dar. "That's what happened, right?"
"More or less." Dar acknowledged. "Truthfully, Gerald Easton is an old friend of my father's…he's known me since I was a kid." She sighed. "He just really didn't like Peter's style, so he called and bitched at Alastair."
"Hmm." Kerry exhaled. "Okay.. you can say that you had prior experience with that contract, and the client felt more comfortable dealing with you."
A faint smile curved Dar's lips. "You're pretty good at this stuff."
Green eyes twinkled. "Debating, remember? You have to sometimes state the same thing four different ways in order to get your point across."
The dark haired woman laughed. "I'd love to have seen you up there…nothing I like better than a good debate."
Kerry blushed a little, and grinned. "The contest I won was the one thing my father came to.. it was pretty high profile, and he had such a good time doing the chip off the old block thing in the audience." She looked a little sad. "It felt good to win that."
"You ever think of going into politics yourself?" Dar inquired.
A soft snort. "No thanks.. if I'd wanted to spend my life deceiving people I"d have gone into marketing, thanks." She gave Dar a wry look. "You're not going to tell me you think public servants do it for the pleasure of serving their fellow countrymen, are you?"
"Whew… I didn't want to burst that bubble for ya, let me tell you, Dar." Kerry informed her. "It's a disgusting business."
Dar stayed quiet, wondering if her young companion knew exactly how disgusting. "Tell you what… why don’t you type up an answer for me, and I'll go stir your sauce." She slipped out of the chair, and plucked the spoon from Kerry's hand. "Fair trade?"
Kerry sat down, the chair warm from Dar's body, and glanced up. "Try not to eat it all, okay?" She teased, getting a flash of a smile in return, as she turned her attention to the screen.
Dar padded into the kitchen, lifting the cover off a cast iron pot on the stove and releasing a moist cloud of garlic and spices into the air. "Ooo… " She stirred the sauce gently as she thought about the report that had come back about Kerry's father.
The usual, mostly. Minor kickbacks, some reported bribery.. nothing concrete. But there were two anonymous bank accounts she was investigating further, and a very strange series of transactions from what looked like a private credit line in his name only. No sense, she'd decided, in letting Kerry see the report until she was finished, and had something concrete.
And then what? Dar exhaled. Despite everything, she suspected Kerry still loved her parents, and her family… doing something to hurt her father would hurt her as well, and as much as Dar wanted to slam the man for what she considered a disgusting persecution of her friend… would that really serve a purpose?
Maybe the information would come in handy to her, though, in her arguments for staying here. And she wanted to give Kerry all the ammunition for that she could, right?
Of course, there was always the possibility it wouldn't work. That Kerry would allow herself to be persuaded to leave. That's what your afraid of, isn't it? Dar's eyes closed as she absently stirred the sauce. You've only known her for a month, Dar.. the thought of living without her can't possibly hurt you that much.
But it did.
She felt so comfortable with Kerry, that's what it was, she decided. Her usual wariness around people seemed to evaporate around the blond woman and she found herself basking in the warmth of a true friendship for the first time in a long while. She hadn't suspected she missed that quite as much as she did, apparently, and now something was threatening that.
She didn't respond well to threats. They made her want to do crazy things like beg Kerry not to go home. Or go home with her. Oh yeah. She laughed uneasily to herself. That would win a popularity contest.. you just show up at her parent's house. Let's see… um… 'Hi.. the company is instituting a new program.. supervisors must visit all of their employees at least once over the holiday, and I'm starting with Kerry…do you mind?'
She was so involved in her thoughts she didn't even hear Kerry calling her name until a warm hand touched her back and she jumped. "Wh.. oh.. sorry." She stepped away from the stove and handed Kerry back her spoon. "Here… I was just.. um… "
"A million miles away." Kerry supplied, gazing at her curiously. "You all right?"
"Yeah.. I was just thinking, that's all." Dar chuckled. "You finished in there?" She was a little embarrassed to have been caught daydreaming. "I.. um…I'll go take care of that other stuff."
Kerry gave her a worried little frown, but nodded. "Okay.. yeah, take a look at what I wrote, see if you like it." She patted Dar's side. "Do you like garlic bread?"
"Silly question.. I guess…I've got some of those breadsticks in the freezer.. I'll put them up too."
The taller woman chuckled. "You like doing this, don’t you?"
Kerry shrugged. "I guess.. I mean… I don't think I'd bother for myself.. in fact, I know I wouldn't. I generally just come home from work and grab some carrots or something.. but it's nice to take trouble for someone who appreciates it."
Dar regarded her seriously. "I do appreciate it." She replied quietly. "Very much so."
That got her a big smile "I know….I noticed your kitchen doesn't get used much." She teased gently. "I have nightmares thinking of you there with your Egg McMuffins and chocolate milk."
Dar laughed in pure reflex. "Nah… you've got me all wrong." She shook her head solemnly. "It's Croissanwichs or nothing."
A poke. "You should take better care of yourself." Kerry mock scowled. "That's going to catch up with you one day."
"Play hard… die young." Dar half joked.
"I'd rather you didn’t" Kerry replied, very seriously. "I'd like to have you around for a long time." An awkward silence fell, as stunned blue eyes looked at her. "I'm sorry." Kerry finally muttered. "That's an incredibly presumptuous thing for me to say." She turned back to the stove and bent over the pot, only to feel hands grip her shoulders gently.
She went still, and didn't resist as Dar turned her around, and she met the pale blue eyes now gentled as they studied her face. "You know… when you came in here, I was wondering what in the hell I was going to do if you did decide to go home." She murmured softly. "And I was trying to figure out how someone I've known for less than a month could become so important to me."
"Oh." Kerry replied.
"So, no.. it wasn't presumptuous… it's nice that you care." Dar added shyly. "It feels kind of strange, but I think I like it."
The blond woman let out a relieved sigh. "That's good." She reached up and interlaced her fingers with Dar's. "Because I can't help feeling that way.. and I'd hate to be driving you crazy or anything."
Dar gave in to the insidious craving and hugged her. "Nah…" She released her and stepped back, then smiled. "Let me go finish." She turned and left the kitchen.
Kerry sucked on the end of her spoon in thought, as she turned back to her sauce, and a small, incredulous smile slowly inched it's way across her face.
Dar went back to the desk, and dropped into the chair, propping her chin onto her hand and peering at the screen. She let her eyes scan over the words three times before any of them penetrated. Then she let her eyelids flutter shut, and just took a moment to collect herself, feeling a wealth of conflicting emotion battering at her.
Half of her was scared shitless. The other half, which was this strange, new, alien from outer space half, wanted to drop to her knees, and pledge lifelong devotion to this poor woman she barely knew. "I'm a little old for this hormonal crap, aren't I?" She muttered to herself wryly. "I haven't felt like this since I was twelve, and had my first crush."
She rubbed her eyes, then forced herself to concentrate on the screen, this time actually reading it. "Oh.. nice job." She complimented the absent Kerry. "Yeah.. I like it…" The response was very reasonable and politely worded. "Of course she's gonna know I didn't write it." Dar chuckled softly. "But that's okay.. the mark of a good manager is knowing where to use their resources, right?" She raised her voice. "Nice work."
"Thanks." Came floating back, and Dar could all but hear the smile in the word, as she hit the send key and sent the reply on it's way. Then she settled down and plowed through the next several issues, trying to ignore the intriguing scents wafting in from the kitchen, only stopping for a moment as thunder rolled over head. "Hmm."
Kerry entered, also listening. "Sounds nasty." She leaned on the back of the chair. "You finished? Dinner's ready."
"So I smell." The dark haired woman agreed, as she straightened. "Yep.. I told off six people, canceled three meetings, and sent two scathing replies to people who should have known better." She sighed. "Not a bad day."
"Did you really?" Kerry gave her a look.
Dar nodded wryly. "Yes, I did." She stood up and stretched. "But don’t' worry.. everyone's used to it. If I didn't do that, they'd think something was wrong with me." She advised the blond woman. "You want everything out here on the table?"
Kerry hesitated, then grinned. "Well.. I've got this big platter thing.. I thought it might be fun if we just use that, and share it.. it's got little legs.. we could bring it over to the couch and watch the movie."
"Hmm….." Dar's voice dropped to a low, speculative growl. "I think I like that idea." She smiled abruptly. "I wonder if we can do that Lady and the Tramp thing."
"The wh… " Puzzled blond brows knit, then cleared. "Oh.. oh.. you mean with the spaghetti?" Kerry's eyes lit up. "Well.. sure.. we could try it." She laughed. "C'mon."
They went into the kitchen together, laughing.
"It was a cop out." Dar mumbled, gazing at the screen "Bee, my ass."
Kerry giggled. "C'mon.. they couldn’t have them kiss… the world would end.. monsters would explode out of everyone's chest.. the Cigarette Smoking man would quit… " She tilted her head back and accepted a gentle assaulte on her lips. "Glad we don't have the same problem.. "
"Me too." Dar agreed, with a chuckle as she leaned back against the couch with Kerry's body cradled against hers as they watched. "God, I'm stuffed.. that was really good."
Kerry stretched back against her and sighed. "Me too… and thanks.. that recipe really worked out." She glanced up, then laughed, and reached up to wipe a bit of sauce off her companion's face. "Except that spaghetti thing was messy."
"Mm… so what was the secret of those meatballs? " Dar inquired. "They were so light… did you put feathers in them?" She gave the smaller woman a squeeze, then rewrapped her arms around Kerry's middle.
A soft snort. "You won't believe it.. but the secret is milk." Kerry admitted with a laugh.
"MILK?" Dar protested. "You put milk in meatballs?"
Kerry rested her head back against the soft cushion of Dar's breast and smiled. "Yep… you mix a half a cup of milk into the pound of hamburger.. then add the italian breadcrumbs to it to soak it all up." She stated smugly. "And an egg." A pause, and a glance at Dar. "And.. um.. a little brown sugar."
Dar laughed. "Milk, eggs, and brown sugar.. sounds about my speed." She sighed. "Whatever it was… it was great." She turned her head as the phone rang, and they exchanged looks.
Kerry turn the sound down and picked up the cordless phone. "Hello?"
Her mother's voice echoed in her hear. "Hello.. Kerry??"
Like who else would be answering, hmm? "Hello, mother." She kept her voice somewhere between cordiality and wariness.. after all, the woman had hung up on her the last time.
"Dear, I've been thinking."
That's a first. "Yes, mother?" She held the phone so Dar could hear, not hard since the taller woman was practically wrapped around her.
"Perhaps I was hasty the other night… I've spoken with your father.. and while he's very upset, he says he's sure you'll calm down and be able to talk with us about this when you come home.." Her mother's voice sounded smug. "I'm sure we can come to an arrangement… we understand you must have gotten attached to your new friends down in that place."
Attached? Kerry glanced down to the strong arms cradling her. "Well, yes mother.. you could say that… and I am wrapped up in some really interesting things right now."
Dar snorted in laughter, burying her face into Kerry's neck for a moment and tickling her.
Kerry bit her lip to keep from giggling.
"Certainly.. certainly… we're all grown up here… and we're so looking forward to seeing you… Brian misses you terribly."
Really? He hasn't called once since August. "I'm sure he does, mother." She replied.
A momentary silence, then her mother cleared her throat. "You seem distant, dear.. am I interrupting anything?"
Kerry tilted her head back as a nibble touched a nerve. "No.. no.. um.. I was just watching a movie.." She swallowed, then closed her eyes as Dar's hands wandered up her belly, exposing her skin to the cool air conditioning.
"Oh.. well, we're watching War and Peace." A sigh. "Your father does so love that one."
"I'm sure he does." Kerry managed to answer. " I'm watching the X-files."
"Kerry.. you know what I think of that show." Her mother's voice was disapproving. "Disgusting… so disrespectful of the government.. why, did you know your father once wrote a letter to that horrible man who puts it on, and he got a note back telling him to go and take some drugs??"
Mental note. Dar decided. Send fan mail to Chris Carter.
"Well, mother.. " Kerry let her head go limp against Dar's chest as the gentle nibbling reached around her throat. "It's um… just a tv show." The roaming fingers traced teasing circles around her breasts, and she let out soft, incoherent sound.
"What was that, dear?" Her mother's voice nudged her.
"Um… just something I was watching…"Kerry replied, giving her lover a beseeching look. "Nothing you'd want to hear about… oh yeah. .did Kyle get home all right?" She put a twist into her voice. "It was so nice of him to stop by while he was down here."
An awkward pause. "Was he there, dear? I didn't….well, I'm sure if he was in the area, of course he stopped into see you.. you know how fond of you he is." There was a muffled sound. "Roger, did you know Kyle was in Florida? You did.. oh.. well no.. Kerry was just mentioning it… what?"
Blue and green eyes exchanged conspiratorial looks.
"Oh.. goodness.. the poor man." Kerry's mother came back to the phone. "Poor Kyle.. there was a mix up at the airport… his reservations got lost somehow, and he had to drive to Tampa in order to catch a flight up here… he's waiting in Houston right now."
"Gee. That's awful." Kerry intoned sincerely. "Only connecting flights, huh?"
"Apparently so… well, I'm glad he had a chance to see you." Her mother sighed.
"Oh.. yes.. it was wonderful." Kerry replied softly. "He even got to meet my boss."
"Um hm… she was over here working with me on a project… she gave him her business card.. make sure daddy gets it, okay?"
"Oh.. well, of course.. " A pause. "Is that normal, dear? I thought you worked in an office."
"I do." Kerry replied. "But I had this extra thing going.. and Dar takes a very… " She flicked a glance at the tanned face peering over her shoulder. "Personal interest in things." The grip around her tightened, and she winced, covering the receiver. "Not so tight... I'll lose my dinner." She whispered softly, sucking in a breath as the hold loosened, then Dar's hands playfully unbuckled the thin belt she was wearing, and undid the button holding closed her jeans. "Better?" A ghost of a word reached her ears, as fingers started a gentle, soothing massage.
"Mm." Kerry relaxed and pressed the phone to her ear. "What was that, mother?"
"I said, did you get the tickets?" Now her mother sounded a bit annoyed.
"Yes." Kerry replied. "I got them the other day."
"All right.. well, I've got to go make some coffee for your father… we'll see you on Wednesday, dear."
"G'night, mother." Kerry replied politely, then hung up, and put the phone down as she reached behind her and tangled her fingers in Dar's hair. "You're a troublemaker."
A low, sexy chuckle made little shivers go up and down her spine. "You betcha." She captured a tasty earlobe and bit down on it gently. "Was that an apology from your mother?"
Kerry shrugged. "I guess…she hates conflict."
"Hmm." Dar rested her chin on Kerry's shoulder. "Hell of a way to spend Thanksgiving."
Kerry wrapped her arms around Dar's and sighed. "I get a stomach ache just thinking about it." She admitted. "I wish I could pack you in my suitcase and take you with me… it's going to be the longest five days of my life." She thought about not going, again.. and spending the holiday with Dar instead. Oh boy. It was like a little puppy inside her started wagging it's tail, and she had to stifle it. "It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion."
Dar fought off an almost overwhelming desire to protect her lover from the anger and strife she knew she was walking into. "I wish you could pack me in there too." She quipped wanly. "I'd love to see their faces when I popped out."
Kerry started laughing. "Jesus.. that's a mental picture." She paused. "So.. tell me about this place you're going to?"
"Well… like I said, Gerry's an old friend of the family.. he's the one who gave me those two contracts that saved Associated, by the way." She informed her. "He invited me up for the weekend.. he's got a son I get along with really well.. his family's sweet, in an old fashioned, service family kind of way.. I don't know."
"Is his son cute?" Kerry inquired curiously.
"Mm… yeah.. if you like the crewcutted earnest type… he's a navy pilot who just got assigned carrier duty." Dar replied. "We more or less grew up together.. I know Gerry would like it if we were closer, but… " She chuckled. "You know how that goes."
"Mm.." Kerry sighed. "I think you're going to have a much better time than I am.."
I doubt it. Dar mused silently. I'll be worried about you the whole time. "Well, next Thanksgiving, we'll have everyone over at the Island... how's that?" The words came out before she could really think about them, and all they entailed, and she bit her tongue as she realized what she'd said. Was she actually assuming they'd not only be together a year from now, but… Suddenly the thought of Kerry living with her splashed into her conscious mind like an enthusiastic duck in the rain. She managed to clamp her jaw down on urging immediate action, though.
Kerry paused in silence for a moment, then she turned her head, and regarded Dar with a shy smile. "All right." She agreed. "That'll give me something to think about while I battle through my parents plans." She half turned and snuggled into Dar's chest, playing with the taller woman's buttons idly. "Damn, I wish this coming week were over with already.. I'd give anything for it to be next Sunday night.. with all that behind me.. and.." A sigh. "I'm so dreading this."
Dar stroked her hair awkwardly. "I know… hell, it's almost even giving me a stomach ache." She responded. "But hey.. it'll be over in a week.. then.. we can.. um.. " She cast around for something she knew Kerry would like. "Plan a Christmas party.. okay?"
Kerry slid her eyes up the long, firm neck, and over the bump of Dar's jaw, up until she was meeting those pretty blue eyes. "Mm… how about a birthday party?"
Trapped. Augh. "Bu.." Dar nibbled a lip. "Ke… " The green orbs gentled and pleaded with her. "Oh.. okay." She sighed, defeated.
Kerry smiled, and patted her chest. "Nothing on earth would make me miss that." She hugged Dar close. "To hell with Thanksgiving."
Dar grinned fiercely to herself. Now that was worth having a birthday for.