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Language of Love: Goat Farming Edition

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(Prologue)

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It had been a long week. One of those weeks that took her away on special assignment.

She was exhausted.

Physically.

Emotionally.

She lugged her bag up the stairs to their small, second-floor apartment. All she wanted to do was go to bed. She had the weekend to recover before headed back to the office on Monday.

She unlocked the door and walked into the dark apartment. It was quiet.

She knew.

She knew without looking. She knew she was gone.

There was a note on the kitchen counter. She didn’t even need to read it. But, she did.

 

T –

You’re right. It’s been over for a long time. I spent the week packing. Moved my stuff out this morning. Email or call if you want. I don’t have anything else to say.

- M

 

She unpacked.

Put her dirty clothes in the washer.

She showered.

 

She got ready for bed. Standard sleepwear, her underwear and a tank-top. She went to the kitchen and poured a bowl of cereal.

She put on music. A song she’d listen to a lot lately. It soothed her.

It's not simple to say
That most days I don't recognize me
That these shoes and this apron
That place and its patrons
Have taken more than I gave them
It's not easy to know
I'm not anything like I used be, although it's true
I was never attention's sweet center
I still remember that girl

She's imperfect, but she tries
She is good, but she lies
She is hard on herself
She is broken and won't ask for help
She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

It's not what I asked for
Sometimes life just slips in through a back door
And carves out a person and makes you believe it's all true
And now I've got you
And you're not what I asked for
If I'm honest, I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over and rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew

Who'll be reckless, just enough
Who'll get hurt, but who learns how to toughen up
When she's bruised and gets used by a man who can't love
And then she'll get stuck
And be scared of the life that's inside her
Growing stronger each day 'til it finally reminds her
To fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes
That's been gone, but used to be mine
Used to be mine

She is messy, but she's kind
She is lonely most of the time
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie
She is gone, but she used to be mine

 

She sat over her cereal and wept. Grief, over loss of life. Grief, over 15 years gone. Relief, that it was finally over. Hope, that there was something more out there.

She hit play again and while the song played, she danced. She wrapped her arms around herself and she danced.

 

 

++++++

Six Months Later

++++++

 

She stepped out of the hot shower and wrapped her long hair into a fresh towel. Another towel wrapped around her ample bosom and she padded her way to the kitchen to freshen her coffee. Second one this morning, she needed to be sharp. She needed to nail this interview. She wanted to work in this office badly. She needed this job. She wanted this job.

In the bathroom, she wiped off the mirror and began to put on her makeup. She had worked toward this. With this new master’s degree fresh under her belt, she was ready to change the world. She’d worked hard for it. She had been living with her grandparents while she worked and went to school. It had been helpful to her to have a low rent bill and it was comforting that Nan always had homemade food for her.

She bent over to blow dry her hair. It took forever. Her wavy brunette hair hung halfway down her back. Maybe I should cut it, she thought. It’s not very professional. She decided to pull it into a low, loose braid that she pulled over her shoulder. She dressed sensibly. Appropriately. Slacks. A cute blouse. A cardigan. She stared at herself in the floor-length mirror. She pulled the shirt together over her breasts where the button was straining. She envisioned it popping open and exposing her bra mid-interview. Maybe I should wear a shirt with no buttons. She decided to change into a peasant blouse. There. Simple.

She had her eye on this department throughout her last year of school. One of her classmates had done his internship there and spoke highly of the office. Plus, there were a couple of people who worked there who had come to speak to her class. She wanted to do what they did. She was a social worker now, goddamnit, and she was going to change the world.

“Ok, Amy Tayler,” she said to herself. “You’ve got this.”

++++++

As she walked into work the noise instantly smacked her in the face. Every day, same thing. Clients waiting in the front lobby, children running with various levels of attention from parents and caregivers, phones ringing, people talking. It was only 8:15.

She swiped her badge and went through the secure door to the slightly calmer environment of the employee-only space. She made her way to her office, took off her cross-body bag and turned on her computer. While still standing, she pressed the voice mail indicator light on her desktop phone.

“Terri, we need you to sit in on interviews today. Catherine got called in to court and she was our third for the interview team. First one is at 8:30. Conference room. Sorry for the late notice.”

Shit.

Though she didn’t mind being part of the interview team, she had been looking forward to a morning in her office. She had planned to catch up on notes and phone calls.

She pulled her coffee cup out of her drawer, grabbed a pen and note pad, and headed out of her office to the break room.

“Oh, interviews,” Trevor said to whomever would listen. “Young, bright eyed innocence.”

“Whatever, Trev. I recall in your interview, you said you wanted to change the world for the better.” Terri teased him.

She filled her coffee cup and headed out of the break room. She didn’t like spending more time than she had to in there. She always remembered her first mentor sharing with her an important piece of wisdom that served her well. Never sit down in the break room. If you have to go in, do it quickly and don’t linger. Negativity breeds in break rooms.

She settled into her chair at the interview table. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her long legs. They were given their list. Four interviews scheduled. Two positions open.

As they talked, she took random notes, but mostly just sat and watched them. She watched their body language. Watched their ability to make eye contact. Watched and listened for their responses. It’s what she did best…listen. She let Jordi and Karen ask the questions.

The first guy seemed fine. Low key. Laid back. Organized. Seemed like he’d do well in a stressful situation. She liked him well enough. She made a few notes.

The next one seemed alright, though maybe she was a little bit of a know-it-all. It takes someone who knows how to handle difficult situations around here, but she was a bit much. A bit too abrasive, but knowledgeable.

Each interview took about 45 minutes. Terri would tell you she would know who to hire in the first 10. But she wasn’t the deciding factor. She was only here because the current bosses thought three people needed to weigh in on hiring decisions. It seemed like an inefficient process to Terri, but who was she to say? She wasn’t one of the bosses. They’d ask her to apply to be a supervisor, but she politely declined.

One of the applicants, another guy, seemed quite clueless. She noticed he kept saying, “Um” in between words and he had difficulty making eye contact with them. She didn’t mind his tattoos. And though he could have run a brush through his hair for the interview, what really stood out was his odor. Dude needed to shower. He was certainly not a contender.

They took a break. Terri went to the restroom. As she pulled the door open, a young woman ran right into her. Bounced off her chest and squealed. Terri stood still, hands up, face pulled back. The stance one takes when being charged on the basketball court. Quietly startled, but calmly reacting by holding still.

The young woman who had squealed, quickly apologized. “I’m so sorry. I should have watched where I’m going. Guess I’m nervous.”

Terri stood to the side to let her leave the restroom. “No problem. Have a good day.” She went into a stall, sat down and took a piss. She thought about her schedule and the rest of her day.

As Terri settled back down in her chair in the conference room, Jordi left to get the next applicant. Terri flipped through her email on her phone. Took a sip of her second cup of coffee.

Jordi returned. “Ok, so this is our last applicant. This is Amy. Amy Tayler.”

Terri looked up over her coffee cup and saw the woman who had just bumped into Terri in the restroom. Terri’s mouth curled into an imperceptible grin behind her coffee cup. She put her cup down. Then she stood and reached across the table to shake her hand. “Terri.” She said.

“Yes. I know. I’ve met you before.” Amy said.

“Restroom.” Terri said, nodding her head.

“No. I mean... well…yeah. But no. I mean I’ve met you before.” Amy rambled. She used both of her hands to nervously fidget with the braid that hung over her left shoulder.

“Ok.” Terri just nodded her head. She met a lot of people in her line of work, she didn’t always remember every one of them, and it wasn’t often appropriate for her to acknowledge some of the clientele when she did. She wracked her brain trying to think of whether or not this woman had been her client when she was younger. After all, it was not unheard of for a former client to get a degree and seek employment at the agency that helped them. That’s how Jordi came to be in their midst.                                       

“Yeah. You came and talked to one of my college classes last year. And then earlier this year, I was at the trauma conference here in town and you were one of the speakers. I learned a lot from you. We spoke briefly. You gave me some advice on a paper I was writing. I don’t expect you to remember me.” Terri watched her as she nervously fiddled with the engagement ring on her finger.

“I remember.” Terri nodded. “Maybe ought to start the interview rather than you and I catch up.” Terri said frankly.

“Oh yeah. For sure.” Amy nodded her head.

++++++ 

Terri handed her score sheets over to Karen. “Here you go.”

“Which ones did you like?” Karen asked.

“First two were fine.” Terri said. She stood and walked to the door to head back to her office.

“What about Amy?” Karen asked. I liked her.

“The talkative flower child?” Terri asked.

“Yeah. I liked her, too.” Jordi interjected.

“I don’t know that we need another idealistic, first-year social worker around here, but it’s not my decision. It’s your team. She’d be fine, I guess. After all… she says she’s going to change the world.” Terri winked at Jordi and left the conference room hoping to get in a few phone calls before her afternoon court date.

++++++ 

Since she was moved to the trauma therapist position, she found herself in these hallways much less often than when she was in the protective custody service at the office. Back then she basically lived in this courthouse.

This was a special case. One of her clients who had worked through some difficulty was finally getting adopted by her foster parents today and they had invited Terri to witness the hearing. It was an honor she rarely got to see, so she wasn’t going to miss it.

As she waited outside of the court room for their docket number to be called, she leaned against the wall, her long legs crossed at the ankles. She checked her phone for email.

She saw movement out of the corner of her eye and slowly raised her head and saw who was headed toward her. Fuck. Terri raised her chin in a nod. “Hey.” Her heart beat loudly in her chest and her breath caught in her throat. Terri was pissed that she was still responding with nervousness when she saw her.

The cop coming toward her rested her hands on the gear strapped to her waist, elbows out, unable to fully come to rest at her sides because of the bulletproof vest she was wearing. She stood nearly as tall as Terri, who was 5’9”. She was brunette, hair pulled back in a tight bun at the base of her neck.

“Terri.” She nodded at Terri.

She leaned against the wall near Terri, a respectable distance from her. “Haven’t seen you in court for a while.”                  

“Adoption.” Terri said.

“How you doing?’ She asked.

“Good. Moving soon. Into Mom and Dad’s old place. Going to move in later this summer.” Damnit. Why did she always tell her everything? It wasn’t her business…anymore.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              She nodded her head. “Good. That’s nice.”

“You?” Terri felt like she should ask. She didn’t want to know. Truth be told, she already knew. People talked.

“Good.”

Terri nodded. She wanted to tell her that she’d heard they’d moved in together. But she didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of her knowing that Terri knew she’d moved on.

Terri was relieved to hear the clerk call the court case number for her client. Terri held up a thumb and pointed behind her. “That’s me. Take care.”

She gave Terri a grin, of sorts, raised her chin in acknowledgement and pushed away from the wall.

Terri went into the court room and sat down.

Running into your ex was never easy. Even if it was six months later.

++++++ 

Back at the office, finally sitting down at her desk for the first time at 3:00, she opened her email and checked her voice mail.

Looking at the hundred or so emails her eyes scanned subject lines and names to triage the list. She started in. It was her one day in the office with no therapy clients. She put her head down and started to work.

“Hey.” She jerked her head around when Jordi interrupted her. “It’s almost quitting time. You want to go for drinks?”

Terri glanced at the clock to see it was nearly 5:00.

“Yeah. I can go. Let me get a few more of these done. I’ll meet you there.”

“Don’t. You’ll end up being here for hours. Let’s go.” Jordi said, slapping the door frame as she walked out.

Then she saw an email that caught her eye. She opened it.  

 

To: Terri Morgan

From: Amy Tayler

Subject: Thank you

Hi Terri

It was a pleasure to meet you again today. I realize you don’t remember me, and that’s understandable. After hearing you speak, I’m not sure I can forget you. The talk you gave about working with children with traumatic backgrounds was the reason I wanted to focus my work on children’s services – your agency in particular.

I appreciated the interview today and am available if there are any other questions that you might need answered.

Respectfully,

Amy

 

Terri shot her a quick response

 

To: Amy Tayler

From: Terri Morgan

Subject: Re: Thank you

Hi Amy.

Thank you for the email. I will forward it to the interview team.

Good luck.

Terri Morgan, LSCSW, CTR, CTSS

Therapist – Children & Youth Division

 

Terri closed her computer, grabbed her bag and headed out for drinks and dinner with the group.

++++++

Two weeks later, she stood in the kitchen. She wore a knee-length, flowered, peasant dress. Her hair was pulled back into a low pony-tail. She wore sensible, toe-covering flats and had with her the giant hobo-bag purse that had everything she could possibly need in her life ready at a moment’s notice.

“Here, Amy. Lunch is ready.” Nan handed her the bag that contained her lunch.

“Thanks, Nan. You didn’t have to make that for me.”

“I know. But I wanted to do something for your special day.”

She tucked the bag into her over-sized purse and gave her Nan a quick kiss on the cheek. She leaned over to kiss Pop on his forehead. “I’ll see you after work!”

She literally skipped to her car. She was giddy. They made her an offer that was respectable. She’d have said yes to less money. She couldn’t believe she was going to work there. She knew she was stepping into an exciting future. 

++++++ 

Terri walked into the 8:15 staff meeting and took her place. She’d been doing this a long time and knew the importance of everyone communicating and hearing updates from the same person at the same time. But, god, she’d give anything to just be in her office with the door closed instead of here with everyone wanting to make small talk.

She was flipping through emails on her phone, answering the ones she could, when she felt the chair beside her pull out.

“Excuse me.” She heard her say. “Hi there. Ok if I sit here?”

Terri turned to look.

They hired the flower child.

Terri smiled politely at her. “Sure.” She went back to her emails.

“It’s my first staff meeting. This is exciting!” She said to Terri.

“Mmmm. Welcome.” Terri said, still answering emails.

“I’m in family services.” She said. “Amy. You interviewed me.”

“Yup. I remember.” Terri put her phone down in an attempt to not look rude. “Terri Morgan. Therapy.” She said holding out her hand for a hand shake.

“I know.” Amy said. That’s a strong handshake. She thought.

Terri grinned. “First week going ok?”

“Yes. Mostly just orientation this week. Job shadowing. You know…” The flower child fiddled with her engagement ring.

“Mmmm-hmmm.” Terri looked across the table at Jordi who was sitting with the other new hire. A young man. Jordi looked at Amy and smiled, then almost imperceptibility tilted her head first toward the new guy beside her, then to the new person beside Terri.

Catherine came in and started the meeting. Terri sat back and listened. She took a note or two.

Amy leaned over and whispered to Terri, “I hope I get a chance to learn from you while I’m here.”

The flower child smelled good.

++++++

She bent her long frame over herself. Her fingers dangling just above her toes. Her toes hanging just slightly off the board. She took a deep breath and dove the flat dive just into the surface. Her body glided through the water and then she came up for a breath and easily moved her arms in a front stroke. She was comforted by the pattern of the movement. Breathe. Right arm. Left Arm. Breathe. Right arm. Left Arm. When she touched the end of the pool, she ducked, turned, and kicked off the wall to head back in the direction from where she came.

When she swam her mind cleared. She counted. Breathe. One. Two. Breathe. One. Two. She’d done this a lot over the last six months. She use to play basketball with the teams. She couldn’t do that anymore. Terri wasn’t sure if she was still playing on them, but knew they both loved it. Terri made a conscious choice to not return. So, she swam.

After her laps, she pulled herself out of the water and made her way to the locker room. She loved locker rooms. They were her comfort zone. She loved the smell of them. The feel of the cool floor on her feet. They reminded her of the best times of her life. Playing sports in school. Spending time there with classmates, teammates, friends, and former partners. She found comfort in the locker room.

She showered, she got dressed for work. She wore the basic thing every day. Colors and shapes changed slightly, but typically always flat front, skinny-legged slacks. Socks and business shoe of some kind; maybe a loafer, maybe a tie up wingtip. Button up shirt. When it was winter, she often wore a crew neck sweater over the button up. But, it was warm outside. So, she wore an under-t-shirt with the button up. Sometimes, if she wasn’t with clients, she rolled her sleeves up.

She put on foundation. People thought she didn’t wear makeup. She didn’t wear much. But she wore foundation. Her skin was tanned and blotchy from the sun damage. Foundation evened it out. She wore a small amount of brown mascara. On special occasions, she might put on more. Eye shadow. Maybe a tinted Chapstick. But she pretty much steered clear of makeup. It looked wrong on her. It always had.

She dried her short dark hair. She put a touch of pomade in the palm of her hand and rubbed her hands together. Then she ran them through her hair. She formed it in the shape she’d worn it in for the past few years. Brushed slightly forward and up. She turned slightly to look at the silver that had recently started to show at her temples.

She packed up her shit and headed in to work.

++++++

It was Thursday afternoon. Terri glanced at the time in the lower part of her computer screen. She was typing her session notes as fast as she could, she wanted to get out to work on the house.

“Knock, Knock.” Karen said as she tapped the door frame.

Terri shot her a glance and waved her in. She kept typing. “What’s up?”

“Dinner with the gang? You skipped the last two. Need you there, Terr.”

“Karen…” She sighed.

“Just dinner. You don’t have to stay longer. Just come. Some of the new ones have started coming. Would be good to have you there.”

Terri rolled her eyes at her computer screen. She believed in this every other week meal thing. It had helped with group camaraderie when they started it years ago. She just wished that she could pass on being the responsible, older and wiser coworker role to someone else.

“Fine. I’ll be there.”

Karen left her and she pounded out the rest of her notes. By 5:15 she had on her cross-body bag and was headed to her car.

By 5:30 she was pulling up to the designated restaurant/bar. She locked her bag in her trunk and headed inside. She was greeted with her name being called and a table of about eight coworkers. Karen had saved her a seat across from her. She spotted the flower child right away, sitting next to the only empty seat at the table.

Dinner with the group was always lively. They told the stories about the old crew, funny stories. They told stories about the past few weeks, some made them groan while others made them laugh. They ate, they drank a little beer.

“I’m so glad you came tonight.” Amy mustered up the courage to talk to Terri.

“Have you been to the dinners before now? I’ve missed a few.” Terri said.

“Yeah. I wasn’t sure, at first. I thought it was mandatory. Felt odd.”

“No. We started this a few years ago when we stopped seeing each other as people. We only saw each other at meetings and passing in the hall. This was a way to let go and see that we’re all human. Away from the office. It’s all positive, and whoever wants to come can. It’s always a different group, seems like.”

Some of the group got up to put money in the jukebox and dance. Terri remained in her seat. Amy never moved from hers.

“Someone said you’re working on a house?” Amy said, fiddling with the ring on her finger.

“Yup. Old farm house. Remodeling it.”

“All by yourself?” Amy asked. She was impressed.

“Some of it. I’ve hired some folks to do the big stuff.”

“So… trauma, huh?” Amy said. Struggling for some way to connect with Terri.

Terri grinned and nodded her head. “Yeah. Trauma.”

When they all made their way to the parking lot, Terri and Karen stood at the door of the restaurant watching the coworkers head to their cars. Terri stood. Feet shoulder-width apart. Hands on her waist. Watching the parking lot. It was a stance Terri often made, while she stood and made sure that everyone at least got a safe start to where they were headed.

Karen nudged Terri. “So… trauma, huh?”

Terri laughed. “Don’t be mean. She was trying to fit in.”

++++++ 

Amy was working late. Sitting at her cubical and typing up her case notes. It was a never-ending task, documenting every phone conversation, every email. It was the worst part of her job, but she knew why it had to be done. If something ever happened and she wasn’t there, someone would need to know where to pick up with each family.

She realized hers was the only cube lit up in her area. She knew the custodian was there late, so she didn’t worry too much. She’d been there for two months and had learned that if she stayed late, she slept better at night knowing that her work was done. But it felt like every night she stayed later. And, every night, there was a little bit of work left undone.

Since she was alone, she unplugged her earbuds and let the music from her phone play softly. She hated wearing earbuds, but it was standard in this office if one wanted to listen to music, which she loved to do. When you work in cube-land you can’t play your music out loud.

She had been listening to her old-school Nora Jones songs, while she wrapped up her day and cleaned off her desk. When Turn Me On came on, she began to sing to it. Nobody was in the office, so she belted out the song with Nora.

Like a flower waiting to bloom
Like a light bulb in a dark room
I'm just sittin' here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on

++++++


Terri turned out the light to her office. She rarely worked late. She’d done this long enough to know that the work will always be there the next morning, no matter how much time you give it the night before. But she had a particularly difficult case in the morning and she wanted to be sure she was ready for it. So she had stayed.

She locked her office and walked down the hallway to the front door. She passed the large office of cube-land where the two-dozen case worker desks were. The room was dark but for a light in the corner of the room.

She heard a voice. Someone was singing. Uninhibited.

Terri stopped and stood in the doorway of the office.

Like the desert waiting for the rain
Like a school kid waiting for the spring
I'm just sittin' here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on

 

Terri took a few steps into the office. She had an idea of who was singing, but she wasn’t positive.

 

My poor heart, it's been so dark
Since you've been gone
After all, you're the one who turns me off
But you're the only one who can turn me back on

 

She walked to the end of the aisle of cubicles so she could see for sure. Yup. Flower child. Terri leaned against the cubicle at the end of the row, listening to her sing. She watched her begin to dance in the dim light from her cube, the rest of the room around her dark.

She raised her hands above her head and her hourglass figure swayed and twisted to the music. Terri watched her lower her hands and rub them down her body.

Terri felt a tug in her lower abdomen, felt her stomach turn over. Terri couldn’t take her eyes off her. She didn’t want the song to stop.

 

My hi-fi is waiting for a new tune
My glass is waiting for some fresh ice cubes
I'm just sittin' here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on, turn me on

 

“You have quite a voice.” Terri said.

The flower child screamed.

++++++

She was done cleaning up her desk. She shut down her computer. She stood. The music kept playing so she kept singing.

My poor heart, it's been so dark
Since you've been gone
After all, you're the one who turns me off
But you're the only one who can turn me back on

 

She stood behind her chair. She swayed, she felt the groove of the music. She raised her hands above her head and slowly felt the groove of the music. She brought her hands down and ran them down her body in a sultry dance.

 

My hi-fi is waiting for a new tune
My glass is waiting for some fresh ice cubes
I'm just sittin' here waiting for you
To come on home and turn me on, turn me on

 

She heard someone say, “You have quite a voice,” and it scared the shit out of her.

She screamed.

“I’m sorry. It’s ok. It’s just me.” She heard the voice say. They were in the dark, in the shadows.

“Who’s there?” Amy said assertively. Her voice angry.

“It’s me, Terri. I’m sorry.” Terri moved to the light switch and turned the overhead lights on.

“Shit, Terri. You scared me.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I was on my way out and you were the only other person here.” Terri kept her distance. Kept her voice low and calm.

She sighed. “It’s ok. I was just packing up.”

“Good. I’ll walk you out. Shouldn’t go out there by yourself this time of night.” Terri said. She waited, still at the end of the cubicle aisle. Far away from her and her work space.

Amy shut off the cube light, grabbed her bag and headed down the row of desks. She stopped when she neared Terri.

“Do you normally stay this late?” Terri asked her.

“More and more.”

“How long have you been here, now?” Terri asked. She turned her back to Amy and walked toward the doorway. She waited there for Amy to pass her, letting Amy exit first.

“Almost three months.”

“Mmmm.” Terri just made a sound. She switched off the overhead lights of the room they were leaving.

“What? What aren’t you saying?” Amy asked her.

“Nothing. Ready to go to your car or do you need to stop anywhere else?”

“I’m fine. Go ahead. I’m going to hit the restroom first. You about scared the pee right out of me.” Amy said.

“I’m sorry. Go ahead. I’ll wait.” She leaned against the wall.

Amy walked across the hall and went into the restroom.

While Terri waited, she thought about her singing. Dancing. She felt the twinge again. She pushed off the wall and walked over to the water fountain and took a drink. She paced.

She breezed out of the restroom; bag flung over her right shoulder. “OK. Thanks. I’m ready.”

Terri opened the door to the stairwell and held it open for her. They were on the third floor and she typically took the stairs. “Stairs ok?” She asked.

Amy walked past her and started down stairs. Terri stayed two steps behind her. Gave her plenty of space. Kept her eyes on the back of Amy’s head.

“What were you going to say?” Amy asked. She turned to look over her shoulder at Terri as they descended the stairs.

“Well, it’s not my business. I’m not your supervisor. But I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve seen a lot of new people burn out too quickly.” Terri said.

“Meaning?”

“Staying late every night will make you hate your job before you should. You have energy for it now, but a year from now you may not. And if you don’t go home in good time, you will start to lose that personal time that will help balance the pressure of this job.”

“You’re here.”

“I’m rarely here after hours. Maybe once every few weeks. Tomorrow is a…tough one. Getting a few things set in case the morning is busy.”

“I see. OK. So, how long have you been here?” Amy asked. They were rounding the 2nd floor stairs. She slowed her pace. She liked having Terri alone for a conversation.

“Long enough.” Terri said.

“Have you been a therapist the whole time?”

“Nope. Started where you are.”

“Didn’t want to stay on this side?”

“I liked it. They just wanted me to move to be a supervisor and I didn’t want to be. So, I looked for another move that would be interesting. Been a therapist for eight years. I like it.”

“They say you’re the best at it.”

“They’re blowing smoke up your ass.” Terri said dryly. Then she looked where she had been avoiding. She looked at Amy’s rear end. She had on a little dress and the roundness of her ass pushed against the skirt of her summer dress as she took each step. “Nobody’s the best at it. We all just do what we can to help some really damaged kids.”

They neared the first floor. Amy was disappointed. She wanted to keep talking.

Amy reached the door from the stairwell to the lobby. She opened it and held it for Terri. Terri took hold of the door and motioned for Amy to go ahead of her.

Terri nodded at the security guard sitting at the front desk. Then she opened the front door and held it for Amy.

“Thank you.” Amy said.

It was dark outside; the immediate parking area was empty.

“Where are you parked?” Terri asked.

Amy pointed to the lot on the far right of the building. Terri turned to walk that way. They walked slowly.

“So, are your first months going well?” Terri asked. Genuinely hoping they were. She hated to hear when newbies weren’t taking to the work well.

“Ohmygod, I love it.” Amy said. Her face lit up and she began to talk about the things she liked about the job. Her hands flew through the air. She stopped walking a couple of times to explain something in detail to Terri. Then they’d walk a little more and stop. She was animated, she was excited, and she clearly liked what she did.

Terri looked down at the ground and smiled. Then she looked at Amy.

“What?” Amy asked.

“I’m glad you like your job.” Terri said.

They arrived at Amy’s car. She unlocked it and tossed her purse in; it fell off the seat and the contents dumped out onto the car’s floorboard. She looked around the lot. “Where’s your car?” She asked.

Terri pointed to the lot on the far left of the building. “Over there.”

“Ohmygod, Terri. What the hell?”

“Just making sure you got to your car safely.” Terri said. She put her hands in her pockets and turned to leave. “Be safe going home.” She held up a hand and gave a peace sign. Then started walking back in the direction from where they came.

Amy got into her car and put her key in the ignition. She grinned.

Terri walked Amy to her car.

++++++ 

Nan had dinner waiting on the hotplate in the kitchen. Nan loved that old appliance. An electronic tray that plugged into the wall; dinner plate covered in foil set on it. Nan explained, “Why use a microwave that makes everything rubbery or hard, when you can use a hotplate?”

Amy sat to eat. It was late and she tried to be quiet, but it wasn’t long before Nan joined her at the table.

“You have worked late every night this week.” She said.

“I know. I’m sorry. I will try not to do it anymore.” Amy said. Honestly, if Terri Morgan was telling her to not work late, she should probably listen.

“Is work going well?”

“Yes, Nan. It’s going very well. I love it.” Amy said.

“Have you made any new friends?”

“Yes. Yup. I sure have.” Amy said. She had a case of the butterflies. She wasn’t sure why.

“Tell me about them.” Nan said.

“Well… there’s Terri…”

++++++ 

She was finally able to move in. She had longed to live here, but it hadn’t been in the cards until now.

Her parents had decided to move down south and had been renting the old farm house out and it had been tied up in a lease. She had originally wanted to move in when they left, but at the time, she was living with Mel who hands-down refused to live on the farm. She would always say, “I’m a cop. I need to live in the city limits.” Which was certainly not one of the requirements, Terri had checked.

So, she had helped her parents find someone to lease the house and someone who wanted to put cattle on the land to graze, and she served as the property manager since her parents were nowhere nearby to solve the little problems that landlords needed to solve.

Not long after, they had dissolved their 15-year relationship and in one day, Mel packed her things and moved out while Terri was away on assignment. Terri was left alone in their apartment. Eventually, she had a conversation with her parents who told her they would be happy to sell her the house and land at value. She had the place appraised, applied for a loan, and the rest fell into place. She wanted to be fair to the lease holders, so she honored the remainder of the lease, which was over three months ago.

After they moved out, Terri went to work. She spent most evenings and weekends there. Pulling out carpeting, sanding floors. Pulling down old wallpaper, fixing drywall, painting.

She’d worked with a friend of hers who did contract work and they came up with a new floor plan for the kitchen which included an island. Terri and Mel use to have friends over to their apartment all of the time. Terri wanted this kitchen to be used for the gathering space for friends, should she ever get back to wanting people around her. For now, she was happy keeping to herself and fixing the old house.

She had also spent time upstairs. Her contractor friend came in handy there, too. The old house had four small bedrooms and two small bathrooms upstairs. She wanted something nicer. This would take time, her friend told her. She had time. This would take money, he told her. She had money.

Terri may have worked in the non-profit world, but she had very few expenses. While those around her paid student loans after college, Terri had none. Her undergraduate degree was paid for with the scholarships. Terri played on the college’s basketball team all four years with a full ride. When she graduated and began working and knew she wanted to get her master’s she lived with her parents and paid no rent. Terri paid her own way through her next years while she worked. Terri was a saver and knew how to do it well. She had invested and lived frugally.

She also had a side job. It paid well. It was with a nationally known group. Her bosses at her regular job knew the details, but very few others did. She was called out, on occasion, to help. She was a trauma specialist – a first responder – and she, more than others, knew what to do. Especially with kids. Sadly, with the issues of violence that happened with seemingly regularity, it was within the realm of possibility that she was called out multiple times a year to travel to some town who needed a specialist’s help.

Then there was the book. Not everyone knew about it, unless they googled her, and she was fine with that. She wrote it a couple of years ago. Some of the colleges picked it up and made it required reading for child therapists in training. She saved the money from these endeavors. Put it all away.

When she lived with Mel, they lived in a small one-bedroom apartment in town. They split the expenses 50/50. Mel had insisted on not blending money, not paying more for the other if it was a tight month. They kept it all split. Terri continued to save. Terri would have paid off Mel’s student debt. She would have paid the full rent. Mel wouldn’t have it. Terri now supposed all of that should have been a clue to Mel’s commitment to their relationship.

The upstairs was not yet complete, so she had her boxes and bed in the downstairs bedroom – which would eventually be an office, or maybe a guest room – while the upstairs was being done by the professionals.

They came in during the day while she was gone. Her friend, the contractor, kept an eye on things. They did the kitchen and the upstairs. When she got home at night she donned her shorts and t-shirt and worked on the walls, the floors. She liked working with her hands. It made her feel good. Over the weeks, she started to see a real improvement.

She pictured it. She wanted it to be a working farm. She wasn’t yet sure of the crops she would plant. She wasn’t yet sure of the animals she would raise. She wasn’t sure how she’d care for the animals if she had to be away. But she knew this was what she wanted. She wanted this to be a working farm.

She also envisioned having friends over. Terri was quiet. She was reserved. But she enjoyed her friends. Watch parties for the NCAA championship games or women’s soccer. Potluck dinners. Friends. She missed the friends she shared with Mel. Mel got them in the split, she supposed. She never heard from them.

As she painted the walls to the living room space, she listened to her song for the millionth time and thought about her new home. 

This home. This home where she was raised was getting a shiny new face lift. And, while she did the work, she felt like her soul was getting a lift as well.

For the first time in a long time, Terri allowed herself to become excited for her future.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

++++++

She had been at her job for just over three months and was loving it. Her weeks of job shadowing were over and she had her own caseload. Her job was to visit the families and help them find what they needed to stay intact. It felt good to help families succeed. But, Jesus. Driving from home to home in her old car was enough for her nerves to take her down. She sighed with relief when she pulled into the parking lot. She was always happy when she made it safe. She knew, at some point, she’d need to get a new car, or newER car. But she just didn’t have the time or, to be honest, the money.

She gathered her things and went into the building.

“TGI Thursday, right?” Trevor said as she walked into the break room.

“Trev, are you ever not in here?” Amy asked.

“I just happened to be here to freshen my afternoon coffee. I’m going back. Are you coming tonight?” He patted her shoulder. She shrugged him off.

“I don’t know yet.” Amy said. “Who all is in?”

“Jordi. Me. Karen…”

“Yeah, I don’t think…” Amy was not interested.

“Jordi said Shonda is coming. She’s working on Terri…”

Amy perked up. “Umm. Yeah. Count me in. I’ll go.”

++++++

“Damnit Terri. Just eat with us.”

“You know I always go, but there’s so much to do before I move in this weekend.”

“OK. So what if I agree to come help you tomorrow or on Saturday. Will extra hands make it so you can take a night and have a burger and a beer?” Jordi stood in Terri’s office door refusing to let Terri pass.

“I don’t need help.”

“Of course you don’t. You’re Terri-fucking-Morgan. But you do need to eat, and why not eat with us. You’re glue here, Terri. People like having you around. We miss you on our Thursday nights. Just come to eat. We won’t force you to stay after.”

“OK. Quick burger. No beer. Just eat and go.” Terri said.

“Deal.” Jordi turned and headed down the hallway.

++++++

There was always some group from work that went out every other Thursday night. It seemed like Trevor was always one of the attendees. He had told her the first time she agreed to go that Terri was also a regular attendee, as well as Jordi. But Terri had only ever been one time of the few that Amy had agreed to go. Eventually, Amy stopped going. It was just as easy to go home and eat dinner with her grandparents, or to stay at the office working late.

She parked her car in the parking lot and headed into the bar and grill where the group planned to meet. In the bar area sitting at one of the long, high tables sat a group of her coworkers.

Trevor spotted her and called her over. “Amy! Come sit by me!”

Amy tried to not roll her eyes and tried to be polite. Trevor had seemed to hit on her more than once since she started. She didn’t think she was making it up. Nothing completely inappropriate, but it was not welcome. She had thought the ring she wore would ward off unwanted requests for dates and flirtations. Overall it was successful. But Trevor would make comments to her that she wished he wouldn’t.

Terri watched Amy’s force a smile when she was called by Trevor. She slid off her stool and stood. “How about you take this stool, Amy. Sit by Jordi. I’m going to sit by Trevor.” Terri moved to sit on the opposite side of the table from where she was. She planted herself by Trev and Amy flashed her a smile.

There were six of them there and they made the noise of a group of ten. They joked and told stories about their week, their first experiences at the job. The kinds of jokes that only people who do their work would laugh about.

They drank beer, they ate, they laughed. At one point, Jordi and Amy headed to the dance floor after pouring money into the jukebox.

Several of them went out to dance. Terri and Karen sat at the table. They watched them.

“Young energy.” Karen said.

“When did we get old?” Terri asked.

“Girl. You were born old. I just turned old this year.” Karen laughed.

The song changed from an up-tempo to a slow dance song.

Terri watched as Trevor moved in to ask Amy to dance. Amy put her hand up and shook her head. He clearly was not taking no for an answer and took hold of her hand. Terri watched her put on a fake smile and give in.

“That’s not good.” Karen said.

“Nope.” Terri said.

“Should we…”

“Yup.” Terri said. She slid off her stool and calmly walked over to the dance floor.

She tapped Trevor on the shoulder. He turned to look at her and said. “I’m dancing with Amy right now, Terri.”

“Yeah, Trev. I’m going to cut in here. OK?” Trevor backed away from Amy and Terri looked at Amy. “Care to dance?”

Amy’s face broke into a broad smile. “Love to.”

Terri held out a hand and Amy took it. Terri put her other hand on the side of Amy’s waist. Amy put her hand on Terri’s shoulder.

Terri wasn’t sure if she was much of a dancer. She never felt like she had the right rhythm to do well. Mel never wanted to dance, so she wasn’t sure if she was doing it right or not.

She just swayed with the music. Held Amy’s hand in hers. As they swayed, Amy stepped closer. She looked up at Terri. Terri looked down at her and gave her a small smile.

“Thank you.” Amy mouthed the words.

Amy lowered her hand from Terri’s shoulder and slid it down her arm to rest at her elbow. She squeezed her arm.

Amy was several inches shorter than Terri. When Amy leaned in to thank her, when Terri looked down at her, she caught a whiff of her hair. Terri felt a tug in her lower abdomen. Felt that feeling deep inside. An ache. She couldn’t remember when she had felt that last. So many years. Yes. Years.

Terri knew others were watching. She wanted to close her eyes and smell her. She knew better. She kept a small smile on her face, eyes open, face calm.

She was going to fucking destroy Trevor.

As the song ended, she squeezed Amy’s hand. Amy looked up at her. She smiled, but did not let go.

“Songs over, Amy.” Terri said. “Let’s go back to the table.”

Amy smiled. “Thank you, Terri. That was nice.”

“Pleasure was mine.” She responded and let Amy walk ahead of her to the table.

Back at the table, conversation continued to flow. Trevor got up to go to the restroom. After he left the table, Terri excused herself.

She waited in the back hallway, outside the restroom. When he came out, he started to walk by her. “Hey Terri…”

“Trev.” She said in a serious tone.

“Yeah? He stopped and turned toward her.”

“I’m going to say this one time. You will get no other chance.”

“What are you…?”

“Your days of hitting on the women at this office are over. No more.”

“Come on, Terri. We’re out at a bar. We’re having fun.”

“Whether you’re in the bar or the office, they’re your coworkers. What you did out there was not fun for her. She’s not interested, anyone who has eyes can see that. Trevor read the signs, because if you don’t, I’ll file a complaint. Knock it off."

“OK, Terri. I won’t hit on her.”

“On anyone, Trev. If someone likes you, they’ll let you know.”

“Ok, Terri.”

“Trev. I won’t tell you again.” Terri said calmly.

“Got it.” Trevor turned and went back to the table.

++++++ 

She lay in bed in her standard sleeping outfit. Underwear and white, ribbed tank top. She couldn’t concentrate on her book. She shut it. She turned out the light.

 

She picked up her phone and searched for the song. She played it.

It had been a long time since she’d danced. Mel never wanted to. “Silly girl stuff.” She’d say. Even if Terri wanted to dance in the kitchen. She’d tried when they were younger, even as fresh young lovers, Mel was not demonstrative. It had not been long into their relationship that most regular contact had stopped.

Once in a while, special occasions maybe, they’d have sex. It was seldom a connection. It was typically a means to an end.

Lesbian bed death was a real thing to her. They had heard jokes about it when they were in their 20s. By the time they were in their 30s, it was real. They fought about it some, at first. Terri wanted more sex, Mel wanted less. She eventually had to suppress the feelings, desires that she had.

They had it less and less until they weren’t having it. Then as their relationship grew further apart, Mel had put in a lot of hours at work, trying to work up the ladder at the police department. Terri had started putting in extra hours to get her clinician’s license. In the end, both loved their jobs more than they loved each other.

Terri didn’t blame Mel for finding someone else. At least she knew then, that Mel could be passionate about something…someone. Just not her. That hurt, but honestly, it hurt more living in a sexless, loveless relationship where they couldn’t even buy each other dinner on a special occasion. Split the bill. Always.

As the song played again, Terri thought about dancing with her tonight. She was soft. So completely different than anyone she’d ever been attracted to. Every woman Terri had been with in her past, and there weren’t many, were all built like her. Basketball players who were tall, thin, athletic. She had never even looked at a woman with curves like Amy and thought she’d want to be with her.

So why, when Terri saw her dance in cube-land, did Terri’s body react? Why, when she held her hand and swayed with her tonight, did she have that feeling inside? She hadn’t had that in so long. She thought her ability to feel something was gone.

This was not the first time Terri’s body reacted to this woman. It had literally been years since her body had randomly made the juices to indicate her level of interest in a person. Now, not for the first time in the past couple of months, Terri found herself with damp underwear at the end of the day.

As she lay there in the dark, listening to the song, Terri slowly slid her hand down between her legs, outside of her underwear. She let her fingers drag up and down her crotch. Up and down the line her body made, where her lips came together. Her skin there tingled as her sensitive flesh felt her fingers through the cloth of her damp underwear.

She shook her head, she rolled over to her side. She didn’t masturbate. She hadn’t for years. Not that there was anything wrong with doing it, but she just didn’t need it to feel complete. She didn’t do it when she was with Mel. Or, rather, when she wasn’t with Mel when they were together.

She moved to tuck her hand around a pillow she hugged to herself. Her hand brushed her breast, her nipple. She felt a zing through her body. She let her hand drift back. She slowly let her fingers run over the ribbed tank she wore. Her nipple stood at attention and tightened.

Her finger circled her nipple, and she felt the tug in her lower abdomen. Oh god.

She thought about Amy. It was wrong. She shouldn’t objectify a coworker. But she couldn’t stop thinking about her. In the dark office, with only her cubical light on. That summer dress riding up her thighs.

Terri rolled over on her back. She shut her eyes. One hand still playing with her nipple. She slowly slid her other hand inside her underwear. Slowly. Not sure if she wanted to do what she was about to do. It felt a bit like a violation, thinking about her. She also knew she was about to wake a sleeping beast.

She thought of Amy’s arms up in the air while she danced. Terri slid her middle finger between her lips and into the dark, damp folds of her most private space. She was wet. God she’d been wet a lot lately. Her fingers slid along the sensitive flesh there. Her nerve endings tingling.

She thought about how Amy’s breasts changed shape when her arms were in the air. They pressed together and sat high. Then when Amy brought her hands down her body, in that seductive wiggle, her heavy breasts lowered. 

Terri slid her finger into her vagina to lubricate her fingers and to bring out more of the wetness she was creating. She slid a second finger in.

She thought of Amy tugging on her braid and looking up at her.

Terri’s fingers sought out her clitoris. It was firm, a solid pearl begging to be teased, touched. She circled it, methodically. Her other hand continued to concentrate on her nipple. She squeezed it, flicked it, stroked it. Imagined Amy’s pouty mouth wrapped around it. Her hips rocked.

She thought about holding her hand and dancing with her. Of her sweet wide smile thanking Terri for stepping in. God, if she’d have just stepped one step closer, she would have been able to wrap her hand around her waist and press her sweet, soft, roundness against Terri.

Terri’s circling became intent, faster. Her clit began to pulse. Goddammit. She thought to herself.

She went back to thinking about Amy dancing. Hands over her head. Hips swaying. She seemed so innocent, but the way she danced. Fuck. She was just so…

And then Terri gave herself an orgasm. The first orgasm she’d had in years. Years. It wracked her body. She pressed her fingers against her clit. A flood of moisture escaped her. She willed the throbbing to last a lifetime, but hoped the sweet agony would find its conclusion before she passed out from its intensity.

She held still until the waves slowed. Stopped. Fingers still pressed against herself.

She slowly brought her fingers out of her underpants and sat up. She sat in the dark, perched on the side of the bed. She brought her hand to her face. She put her fingers under her nose and she inhaled deeply. God it had been forever since she’d smelled that smell. She was alone. She knew she was alone. She slid her fingers into her mouth and tasted herself. She thought of Amy. She shivered.

++++++

On Friday afternoon when she returned to her office after the last therapy appointment of the day, she noticed a small box on her desk. It was about 4 inches cubed. On the box was a note.

She was smart enough to approach gifts left on the desk carefully. First, she opened the note.

“Terri – Thanks for what you did the other night. Thanks for being you. – Amy.”

She opened the box. There she found a baggie with cookies in it. On top of the baggie was another hand-written note.

“No nuts were harmed in the making of these cookies. They are full of gluten, real sugar, and butter.”

The note made her smile. In their office when there were pot lucks or birthday gatherings everything came with a warning. So-and-so has a nut allergy, or gluten allergy. So many treats had to be altered to meet the needs of all staff. Amy’s sarcastic humor delighted Terri. She opened the baggie and pulled out a cookie. Oatmeal Raisin. Perfect.

++++++

She had to stay late. It was going to be another bitch of a day tomorrow. She was locked in her office and getting the files ready for the next day. It wasn’t so late that it was dark, but she could tell the rest of the office was empty. The custodian had been in to empty her trash. They made small talk. Terri asked about his family.

She put on her cross-body bag, locked her door, and headed toward the stairwell. She heard a sound. Someone was crying.

Goddamnit. She thought to herself. That was going to put her here longer.

Not one to ignore when someone was in pain, she turned to seek out the injured party. As soon as she walked into cube-land she knew it was Amy. The room was dark, but for the back corner where Amy’s cubical resided. A light shown there.

Terri didn’t want to scare her. She called out, “Amy? You here? It’s me, Terri.”

Fuck. Amy thought to herself. Fuck. She can’t see me like this.

“Yeah! I’m… I’m just wrapping up. Go ahead. I’ll be behind you in a minute.” She called. She did not want Terri to see her like this.

Terri rounded the corner of the aisle where Amy’s desk resided. She walked slowly toward Amy. She could see that she had been crying.

Amy flashed a fake smile and moved to close down her computer. “Hi, Terri.” She said with an overly positive tone. “I was just wrapping up my day. You don’t have to worry about me.”

“Amy.” Terri said.

“I just had a lot to do, so I stayed a little longer.” Amy fussed with things on her desk. Avoiding eye contact.

“Amy.” Terri said.

“What.” She sighed. She turned and looked up at Terry and her resolve crumbled. Her face contorted into what can only be described as an ugly cry face and she held her hands up in front of herself and shook them. Or, rather, flapped them. “God damnit Terri. Damn it.”

“OK. I’m here. Just let it out.” Terri reached over to the chair at the adjoining cubical and brought it over. She sat beside Amy. Not touching. Just sitting beside her.

Amy began to struggle to get her breath. Her tears turned into sobs.

Terri reached for a box of Kleenex from the other cube and sat them in front of Amy.

“Amy. Can you look at me?”

Amy looked at her. Crying. She couldn’t stop.

“Are YOU OK?” Terri asked.

Amy nodded her head. Affirmative. She continued to cry.

“Is anyone in danger?”

Amy shook her head. Negative. She was hiccuping from the sobbing.

“Are you letting out something bad that happened? “

Amy nodded her head. Affirmative. She still could not form words.

“Is there anything we need to report to anyone?”

Amy shook her head. Negative. She sobbed.

“Amy. Can you tell me one thing you can smell?”

Amy looked at her like she was crazy.

“Just one thing. What is one thing you can smell?” Terri asked her again.

“The coffee in my cup.” She hiccuped.

“Good. Now, Tell me two things you can hear.”

“My phone when I get a text.” She involuntarily sighed.

“Good. But, tell me two things you can hear.”

“My phone when I get a text, and the songs I play in my earbuds.”

“Good job. Now, tell me three things you can see.”

“My computer. My purse. … You.” Amy took a deep breath.

“There you go. Good. Now, tell me four things you can touch.” Terri was taking her through Grounding, a relaxation method that she used with clients.

“I can touch my chair. My computer keyboard. My phone. … You.” She reached out a hand to Terri. Terri took her hand and squeezed it and then let it go.

“OK?” Terri asked.

Amy nodded her head. She stood. Terri stood.

“Thank you, Terri.” Amy reached for Terri. Terri stood still. She didn’t often hug people at work, but this was not the first time a new employee had a breakdown. It certainly wouldn’t be the last. She understood that sometimes they just needed a safe place to let it out.

Amy’s arms wrapped around Terri’s waist and she held her tightly. Terri let her arms rest lightly on Amy’s shoulders. One arm moved to pat her back gently.

Amy rested her head against Terri’s chest.

Terri wanted to touch her hair. Goddamnit. She wanted her hands in Amy’s hair. But that was inappropriate and unprofessional. And right now, Amy needed a coworker who would support her through whatever this was.

Soon, Amy was breathing normally again. But she held her arms around Terri tightly. Still pressed her cheek against Terri’s chest.

“You good?” Terri asked.

“I will be.” Amy said. She regrettably unhooked her hands and let go of Terri’s waist.

“Get your things. Let’s go.” Terri said.

“I have work to do.” She resisted.

“Bullshit. You’re done for the day. Let’s go.”

Terri waited for her to gather her things, turn out her cube light and walk out of the office. When in the hall, Terri walked to the elevator and punched the button. Amy looked at her suspiciously.

“I think you’ve been through plenty. Hate to have you fall down the stairs as well.” They got in the elevator. Terri pressed the button for the lobby. She leaned against the wall across the elevator from where Amy stood.

“I’d like to take you to dinner. We can talk about why you’re so upset. I’m guessing you haven’t eaten. Would you go to dinner with me?”

Amy choked back a residual hiccup. “O..Ok.”

When the stepped outside, Amy turned right to head to her car.

“NO. Amy. Let me drive us. I’ll bring you back. OK? I think you need to be a little more calm before you drive. Is that alright?”

“OK.” Amy said.

When they got to her truck, Terri unlocked it and held the door for Amy. Once Amy was in, Terri shut the door and went around the truck to her own side.

Terri drove them to a nice, quiet steak restaurant. When they pulled up, Amy protested. “Terri. This is too nice. We don’t need to go here. We can just go get a burger.”

“You can order what you want, it’s my treat; but I – for one – would like a steak.” Terri put the truck in park and got out.

They walked slowly to the restaurant. Amy struggled with how she felt. Though she was thrilled to get to spend alone time with Terri, she was horrified that she was caught crying. She walked through the door that Terri held for her. She waited while Terri got them a table. They sat in a booth. They ordered food.

Terri crossed her long legs under the table and sat back with her hands in her laps. Therapist mode. She waited.

Amy played with the straw in her glass of water.

“Amy. You don’t have to tell me anything. But whatever you tell me will stay between us if you need it to.” Terri said.

And then Amy started to talk. About a family she had been working with who was making great strides only to end up making bad decisions and …

Terri knew the story. She lived the story. She once did what Amy did. Working on that end of the building there was a lot of heartache if you became too emotionally invested.

“I know I can’t make choices for them.” Amy said.

“It’s good you know that.”

“It’s been a long week. I’m exhausted. It just hit me badly.” Amy said.

“Understandable.”

“Thanks for bringing me here.” Amy said.

“Is there anyone you need to call to let them know you’re here?”

“Ummm. Yeah. If you don’t mind…” Amy held up her phone. Terri nodded. Amy stepped away from the table and went to stand back near the restrooms. She called her Nan to tell her that she was having dinner with a friend.

Terri checked her phone. She figured Amy needed to call her fiancé.

Throughout dinner they chatted casually. Mostly about work.

“Tell me about your undergrad degree?” Terri was curious.

“Education. I taught fifth grade for a while. Decided I wanted a masters and social work is where I landed. How about you?”

Terri smiled. “I’ve been a social worker forever.”

They talked about where they went to school. Terri told her about playing on the school’s basketball team on scholarship. Amy told her about working two jobs and going to school full time.

As they neared the end of their dinner, the waiter asked if they saved room for dessert. As Terri went to say ‘No,’ she noticed a smile on Amy’s face. “Amy, what do you want?”

They ordered something fiercely chocolate with caramel and chocolate sauces. Two forks.

When it arrived, Amy insisted that Terri take a bite. She typically didn’t eat dessert, but she took the fork Amy offered her. They each took a bite. Then Terri sat back in her seat and Amy polished off the rest. Terri watched her with a smile. Amy loved every bite she ate. She licked the fork. She scraped the plate. She smiled at Terri, and Terri motioned to her that she had a little chocolate sauce on her chin.

Terri drove them back to the office to pick up Amy’s car. It was dark and the car was quiet.

“Do you not listen to music?” Amy asked.

“We can if you want.”

“But do you?”

“Sometimes.” Terri said. “I’ve got some CDs under the seat.”

“CDs.” Amy giggled at the thought. “I have to have it on. All the time. I have playlists. Like a soundtrack to my life.” Amy said.

“Mmmm.’ Terri really had no comment.

They pulled up beside Amy’s car. Amy couldn’t put her finger on it, but she didn’t want the night to end. She turned in her seat.

“Would you ever want to go hang out sometime? A movie or something?” Amy asked.

“Sure.” Terri’s heart beat loudly in her chest.

“Let me have your phone.”

Terri didn’t even ask why. She handed over her phone.

“What’s the code?” Amy turned the phone to Terri who tapped in her code to unlock it.

Amy put her contact information in. Then she opened up Terri’s texts and sent herself a text from Terri’s phone so she’d have the information.

“There. Now I have your number. Can I text you?” Amy said casually. Like she put her information in people’s phones every day.

“Sure.”

Amy was a flurry of a person. Hair. Flowery smell. Flowy Fabric. Painted nails. Round body parts. And, now she was in Terri’s phone. Terri recognized that it was a lot. That Amy was… a lot.

And she liked it.

++++++

When she got home, she went upstairs to her room. She heard a knock at her door and Nan popped her head in.

“So, you had dinner with a friend?” Nan asked.

“Yeah, Nan. She’s a nice friend from work. I had a rough thing happen with a family I work with. She helped me talk it through. You remember. I told you about her. Terri.”

“I’m glad you’re making friends.”

“Me, too. I think we’re going to be good friends, Nan.”

Nan kissed her on the forehead and left her alone in her room.

Amy pulled off her dress. She unhooked her bra. Ahhhh. Nothing felt better at the end of a long day than to release them and let them be free. She pulled a fresh cotton nighty out of her drawer and pulled it over her head. She pulled fresh underwear from the drawer and changed them. She noticed her underwear was damp. That seemed to happen a lot, lately.

She sat at her desk and pulled the braid out of her hair and brushed her hair. Then she loosely braided it back again and went to sit on her bed.

She was excited. She had a new friend. Her belly had butterflies when she thought about Terri. Terri was a big deal. People knew Terri. Like, important people knew Terri. Terri didn’t have to be nice to Amy, the newer girl at the office. But she always had been. Amy was excited for this new friendship.

She picked up her phone:

 

You (10:23 pm):

‘Testing. Testing. Is this thing working?’ *Winking face emoji*

++++++ 

She walked through the second floor of the house when she returned home. She wanted to see the progress being made on the rooms. She had been trying to get home in time to talk with the contractor, but today it just didn’t happen. The bathroom was nearly done. She was happy about what she saw. It was going to be nice. Her phone vibrated with an incoming text. Terri seldom heard from people this late at night.

She pulled out her phone and sat on the side of the soaker tub that had not yet been installed.

 

Amy, friend from work (10:23 pm):

‘Testing. Testing. Is this thing working? *Winking face emoji*

 

Terri chuckled at what she read.

 

You (10:23 pm):

‘That’s quite a contact name.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:23 pm):

‘I figured you probably know a lot of people named Amy. Didn’t want you to confuse me with anyone else.’ *Toothy grin emoji*

 

You (10:23 pm):

‘Not sure I could confuse you with anyone else.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:23 pm):

‘Thank you for tonight.’

 

You (10:24 pm):

‘You’re welcome.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:24 pm):

‘I’m glad we’re friends.’

 

You (10:24 pm):

‘Me, too.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:25 pm):

‘I really wish you wouldn’t talk so much, though. It’s SO HARD to get a word in edgewise.’

 

Terri chuckled. She turned out the lights upstairs and headed downstairs to her makeshift bedroom.

 

You (10:26 pm):

‘I guess I don’t always know what to say.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:26 pm):

‘You’re a therapist for fuck’s sake. You know what to say for a living.’

 

You (10:26 pm):

‘Touché.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:26 pm):

‘You knew what to say to me tonight to calm me down.’

 

You (10:27 pm):

‘What can I say? I have mad skills.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

Amy, friend from work (10:27 pm):

‘She knows how to use emojis!’

‘Look’ *Clapping hands emoji* ‘At’ *Clapping hands emoji* ‘Her!’ *Clapping hands emoji*

 

You (10:27 pm):

‘You going to be ok?’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:27 pm):

‘I am. Thank you.’

 

You (10:28 pm):

‘Good.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:28 pm):

‘I guess I better let you go.’

 

Amy watched the text bubble start. Then stop. Then start. Then stop. She knew that Terri was trying to figure out what to write.

Terri wanted to say, No. Keep talking to me. She wrote I’m fine if you need to talk. Then she erased it.

 

You (10:29 pm):

‘Ok.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:29 pm):

‘Terri?’

 

You (10:29 pm):

‘Yes, Amy.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:29 pm):

‘Would you want to maybe do something this weekend? Just hang out or something?’

 

Terri’s heart leapt into her chest.

 

You (10:29 pm):

‘Yes’

 

Amy got butterflies again.

 

Amy, friend from work (10:30 pm):

‘I’ll come up with some ideas and let you know.’

 

You (10:30 pm):

‘Sounds good.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:30 pm):

‘Ok. Maybe we’ll see each other tomorrow at work’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘I have back to back sessions. But maybe we’ll run into each other in the restroom.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

Amy, friend from work (10:31 pm):

*Astonished face emoji* *Flushed face emoji* *Face palm emoji*

‘Good night, Friend.’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘Good night, Amy.’

 

Terri sat still on the side of her bed. She shook her head.

Fuck.

Chapter Text

 

++++++

Amy sat in her room, trying to read. Her thoughts kept returning to her friend, Terri. She was enjoying her new friendship with her. She picked up her phone to shoot her a text.

 

You (8:26 pm):

‘Question. Favorite television show you could watch over and over and over again?’

 

Terri (8:26 pm):

‘ESPN SportsCenter.’

 

You (8:26 pm):

‘GAWD no.’ *Cross eyed face emoji* *Facepalm emoji*

‘I mean a series that you’ve seen but you can watch lots of times and still like it.’

 

Terri (8:27 pm):

‘Oh. OK’

‘Friends.’

 

You (8:26 pm):

‘OK.’

 

Terri (8:26 pm):

‘Why do you ask?’

 

You (8:26 pm):

‘Just getting to know you, Terri.’

 

Terri (8:27 pm):

‘What’s yours?’

 

You (8:27 pm):

‘New Girl’

 

Terri (8:27 pm):

‘What’s that?’

 

You (8:27 pm):

‘Jesus, Terri. Do you live under a rock?’

*GIF of Jess from New Girl wiggling her glasses*

 

Terri (8:27 pm):

‘Pretty much.’

 

You (8:28 pm):

*GIF of Nick from New Girl saying ‘It is perfectly fine to watch TV all day.’*

‘If it makes you feel any better, I’ve only seen a few episodes of Friends.’

 

Terri (8:28 pm):

‘Seriously?’

 

You (8:28 pm):

‘Well, I was in grade school when it first aired.’

‘I think maybe it was on after my bedtime for the first few years?’

‘I think it ended when I was in high school? Didn’t watch a lot of TV. I was too busy.’

 

Terri (8:28 pm):

‘Jesus.’

 

You (8:29 pm):

‘What?’

 

Terri (8:29 pm):

‘Nothing.’

 

You (8:29 pm):

‘How old were you?’

 

Terri (8:29 pm):

‘It started when I was in college.’

‘Freshman or sophomore year’

‘Don’t remember exactly’

 

You (8:30 pm):

‘Gurl. You old.’ *Rolling on floor laughing emoji*

 

Terri (8:30 pm):

‘I guess so.’ *Shoulder shrug emoji*

 

You (8:30 pm):

‘I’d be willing to watch Friends with you, if you’d watch New Girl with me.’

 

Terri (8:30 pm):

‘Deal.’

 

You (8:31 pm):

‘Netflix just got Friends. They just got the second season of New Girl.’

 

Terri (8:31 pm):

‘Don’t have that.”

 

You (8:31 pm):

‘It’s easy enough to get.’

 

Terri (8:31 pm):

‘Does that mean I can watch Friends whenever I want and skip to the good episodes?’

 

You (8:31 pm):

‘Yes. That’s exactly what it means!’

*GIF of Rachel and Phoebe jumping up and down and clapping*

 

Terri (8:32 pm):

‘I like that idea. It’s a good show.’

 

You (8:32 pm):

‘Give me a quote.’

 

Terri (8:32 pm):

‘How you doin?’

 

You (8:32 pm):

‘I’m doing well. Now give me a quote.’

 

Terri (8:33 pm):

‘That is the quote.’

 

You (8:33 pm):

‘Terri. I know. I was teasing.’ *Face palm emoji*

*GIF of Joey from Friends saying ‘How you doin?’*

‘When should we start watching?’

 

Terri (8:33 pm):

‘Whenever you say, Amy.’

 

You (8:34 pm):

‘Do you want to watch together? Or separately and discuss?’

 

Terri (8:34 pm):

‘Whatever you say, Amy.’

++++++

You (10:39 am):

‘Just finished up with a home visit. Family is doing great, but it smelled bad in there. Like cigarettes and dog pee.’

‘Had to work hard not to let on, but I was stifling a gag.’

 

Terri (11:00):

‘Oh the joys of working outside the office. I remember it well. Vics is your friend.’

 

You (11:30 am):

‘What the hell are you talking about?’

 

Terri (12:00):

‘Tell you later. Busy day. Talk tonight?’

 

You (12:30 am):

‘Back to back visits. Yes talk later.’

++++++

At the end of her day when she deposited her things back at her cube, she found a small bag on her desk with a note.

 

A –

A small dab of this just inside your nose. Inhale through nose. Exhale through mouth. You can withstand anything. Social Worker Secret #157

-T

 

In the bag was a small bottle of Vics Vaporub.

Amy smiled and tossed it in her purse. On her way out she walked by Terri’s office. Terri was already gone for the day.

++++++

She waited, hoping she’d get a text from her, but she didn’t. So, she initiated a conversation.

 

You (8:35 pm):

‘Question. Favorite food.’

 

Terri (8:35 pm):

‘steak’

 

You (8:35 pm):

‘Steak isn’t food.’

 

Terri (8:35 pm):

‘Steak is food.’

 

You (8:36 pm):

‘I mean types of food. Italian, Mexican, Thai…’

 

Terri (8:36 pm):

‘I like steak. Baked potato.’

 

You (8:36 pm):

‘So you’re saying a group of people go out for a fun night on the town and someone says “Hey, let’s go eat. What do you feel like.” And you are not saying pizza or tacos. You’re saying “Gee. I think I need a steak and a potato.”????’

 

Terri (8:36 pm):

‘Yeah. I mean I guess in that situation; I could have a burger. I eat burgers when the group from work goes out. That’s ok.’

 

You (8:37 pm):

‘What the fuck? That’s just weird.’

 

Terri (8:37 pm):

‘I was raised on a farm. It’s what we ate. It’s comfort.’

‘I will not apologize for my love of steak.’

*GIF of Ross from Friends hitting his fists together in front of himself*

 

You (8:37 pm):

*Gif of Joey from Friends doing air quotes saying ‘I’m sorry’*

 

Terri (8:38 pm):

‘And your favorite?’

 

You (8:38 pm):

‘I don’t think one can go wrong with nachos. Or good Mexican food in general. But I also love pasta. And Pizza. Of course, we can’t leave out dessert.’

 

Terri (8:38 pm):

‘So, basically everything but steak and potato?’

 

You (8:38 pm):

*Laughing with tears emoji* *Shoulder shrug emoji*

‘Yeah. I guess so.’

 

Terri (8:38 pm):

‘Makes perfect sense.’

 

You (8:39 pm):

‘We should go get Mexican food sometime. Drink margaritas made with good tequila.’

 

Terri (8:39 pm):

‘Sounds good. I’m in.

 

You (8:39 pm):

‘Thanks for the social work tip and gift’

 

Terri (8:39 pm):

‘Secrets of the trade.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

You (8:39 pm):

‘learn something new every day.’

 

Terri (8:40 pm):

‘Stick with me, Tayler. I’ll teach you my mad skills.’

 

You (8:40 pm):

‘Careful what you offer, Terri Morgan. You might never get rid of me.’

++++++ 

She was scheduled off on Thursday. Meeting the contractor for the final walk through of the upstairs master suite. She loved sleeping in – anything past 6:30 was a luxury. She had plenty of time before the contractor was to arrive at 9:00. She decided to go for a run.

She pulled on her running shorts, old t-shirt, and running shoes and headed out. She played no music in her ears when she ran. She just listened to the noises around her. Always be alert. She ran the dirt roads, the same roads she ran as a high schooler, feet kicking up dust. Early morning runs were few in her world, and when she had a chance to do it, she liked it.

She thought about the clients she’d seen that week. Thought about their progress and what next steps each should be taking. And then her mind drifted, as it had over the past few weeks, to Amy.

They went out last weekend. Two friends, hanging out. A movie. Amy chose it. Some sort of rom-com. Honestly, it didn’t matter to Terri what they saw. They each bought their own tickets. Amy chose where they sat. Apparently, there is a special place in each theater where the acoustics are wonderful and the seats are not worn down. That was news to Terri who had sat in very few theater seats over the years.

Terri bought whatever Amy wanted at the concession stand. Amy ate popcorn. And part of a box of chocolate candies while she sipped on a diet soda. Terri carried some of it for her to their seat. Terri watched her out of the corner of her eye. She laughed. At one point she wiped a tear away from her eyes. At another point, she put her hand over her heart and she made an “Awww” sound, while her other hand reached over to touch Terri’s arm.

Terri could have spent all day with her. She was like the fresh breath of spring.

Terri had been alone since the breakup. Honestly, she was alone before the breakup. They had been together 15 years. At first, it was good. They were both new in their professions. Met up at a basketball tournament at the local Y. They had a lot in common. Cop and social worker. Solving the worlds’ problems, and often disagreeing on how to do just that.

Terri was instantly attracted to Mel when she met her. Fresh out of college. She was a lot like the girls Terri had dated in school. Athletic. Built the same as Terri. Had the same interests. They clicked. They had no time for silliness. They fucked when they wanted to fuck. They moved in together early, almost a true stereotype. U-haul and all. Maybe it wasn’t the first date, but it wasn’t long after the first date that Terri had a drawer at Mel’s apartment. Within a couple of months, they moved in together. As Mel said, “It just makes sense. No reason to write two rent checks.”

They had sex a lot in the early years. God, Terri use to love to taste her. Terri could drive her wild with her tongue. Within the first five years though, the frequency slowed. Before long they were just two really good friends. They had a great time. They laughed. They played league sports. They hosted watch parties for games. They were the envy of all their friends who thought their relationship was a model for others. But Terri and Mel knew the truth.

They were roommates. Roommates who shared the bills. Shared meals. Shared a closet; and occasionally, the clothing in the closet. Shared a bathroom. Roommates who talked about their day and were friends.

And sometimes – sometimes – in the middle of the night when Terri reached out to touch Mel, she would turn over and reach back. No talking. Just touching and remembering what made the other’s body sing. Then, after they each came, Mel would roll back over and the wall between them was present again. 

The last three years though. They were the roughest. They barely saw each other. They communicated through notes left on the kitchen counter. Mel worked a lot of third shift; Terri suspected she did so by choice to avoid being near Terri.

Terri asked her, “Please change shifts so we can see each other.” Mel refused. Terri asked, “Please let’s see a therapist. Let’s work through this.” Mel refused. Finally, Terri said, “I can’t do this anymore, Mel. If we aren’t going to be in a relationship, we need to be out of it.” Mel said she’d been out for a long time. She moved out.

They had been a couple for 15 years. Of course, their friends were all shared friends. So, it was not long before the news got back to Terri. Within a month, Mel had moved in with someone else. She wasn’t someone Terri knew. But she worked at the police department. She worked third shift.

++++++

Amy dumped her bag in the chair at her cube and turned on her computer. She grabbed her coffee cup and headed to the break room. She, blurry eyed, stirred creamer into her coffee. She had the morning stares.

“Morning Amy!” Jordi greeted her as she walked into the break room.

“Hi Jordi.”

“Happy Thursday. Going out with us tonight?”

“Not sure yet. Hey, Jordi?”

“Yeah?”

“Have you noticed Trevor isn’t a permanent fixture in the breakroom anymore?”

Jordi chuckled. “Yeah. He’s scared.”

“Of what?”

“Terri.”

“What does Terri have to do with it?”

“You don’t know about the conversation Terri had with him?” Jordi asked.

“No. What?”

“She just set him straight, after that shit he pulled with you at dinner. He works at his desk a lot more now.”

Amy went by Terri’s office on the way back to her cube. On the white board outside of her office she saw the words, “Out Of Office Thursday.” Disappointed, Amy went back to her desk.

She had trouble concentrating as she sat there. She thought about their trip to the movie on Saturday. She loved having a friend to go with her. Terri was a good movie companion. She helped carry her snacks, she sat where Amy wanted to sit. And, she didn’t talk at all during the movie. Like, not at all.

After the movie, they parted ways. Amy didn’t want to be a pest. She knew she was a lot. She could have spent hours with Terri. It was nice having a friend to do something with. She’d spent so much time over the past few years working, going to school, hanging out with her grandparents, that she didn’t have any friends to speak of. All of her friends from high school or her undergrad time were all marrying off, or becoming mothers. Their time for friendship was limited. She was too busy when she worked on her masters to be more than casual friends during class with anyone there.

A few coworkers checked in with Amy during the day to see if she’d be among those going out that night. She politely declined. She knew if Terri was there, she’d go.

People started to leave for the day. Cube lights flicked off every few minutes. Until hers was the only one lit.

Her phone buzzed.

 

Terri (5:26 pm):

‘Where are you? Aren’t you coming with the group?’

 

Amy’s heart jumped. Butterflies started.

 

You (5:26 pm):

‘Didn’t know you were there!!!!!’

 

Terri (5:26 pm):

‘Come on. I’m saving you a seat.’

 

You (5:26 pm):

‘Order my cheese burger. Let me wrap up.’

 

Terri (5:27 pm):

‘Hop to it, Kid. Work can wait. Burgers cannot.’

 

You (5:27 pm):

‘Oh, you’re not going to call me that.’

 

Terri (5:27 pm):

‘You sure? It’s what all the grannies are calling the young ‘uns.’

 

You (5:27 pm):

‘Eww. No. Stop that.’

 

Terri (5:28 pm):

‘Hustle, Tayler. Your burger has now been ordered.’

++++++ 

They were all sitting in the corner of the restaurant/bar when she arrived. It was dark back there and Amy wasn’t sure she was seeing right. Her heart jumped. She did a double take. As she got closer she realized she was seeing what she was seeing.

Terri saw her come in, and smiled. Amy looked good. She looked really good. She had on a white dress with little red polka-dots. It was fitted on the top and then had a belt, and a full skirt. It was an old-fashioned type of dress. She looked pretty. She had on red shoes. Her hair was in a high ponytail that had been pulled into a bun. Terri held up her hand in a casual wave to let her know where they were. Terri couldn’t take her eyes off her.

As she walked closer to the table and Terri stood, Amy took in the sight of her. She’d never seen her dressed casually. Even when they went to the movie on Saturday, she dressed like she did for work. So, imagine Amy’s surprise to see Terri in a short sleeved, button up shirt with the arms rolled a couple of times in a small cuff. Exposing her arms. Her arms that were covered with tattoo sleeves. Amy’s stomach did somersaults.  She knew she blushed. She tried to not stare. She tried to speak around the breath that was caught in her chest.

“There you are!” Terri said with a smile. She stood and held the chair out for Amy.

Amy sent up a secret think you to the universe that they were sitting at a regular low table and not a tall one. She wasn’t sure she’d have the strength in her legs to lift her up to a stool. At the moment her knees went weak. She plopped in the chair. Her purse tipped off her lap and its contents spilled onto the floor.

She leaned down to gather her belongings.

“You ok?” Terri leaned over to help her. “You look upset.”

“I’m good.” Amy put a hand on Terri’s forearm, then pulled it back quickly. “I’m good. Hi, you guys! Sorry I’m late.” Amy went into social work mode. Fake it until you make it.

They drank beer. They ate their burgers.

Terri excused herself to the restroom. Amy watched as she stood up and walked away from the table.

 

Mother. Fucker.

 

She realized Terri had on a pair of old Levi’s. Worn. Faded. Years, maybe decades old. She watched Terri until she turned down the hallway toward the restrooms and was out of sight.

Amy leaned across the table to Jordi. She whispered, “Sleeves?!”

“I know. Right?” Jordi said with a smile.

In the restroom, Terri wet a paper towel and held it against her neck. God she looked good in that dress. Terri wasn’t sure she’d ever seen her in anything that didn’t make Terri want to take it off of her. She chastised herself for objectifying the body of her coworker…her friend. At this point, though, she was so far in, she didn’t even bother to stop thinking the thoughts. She rolled her eyes as she thought about having this crush on an engaged woman.

As she walked back to the table, she was surprised to see an old friend.

“Terri!” 

Terri turned toward the voice calling her name. Kim had been one of their friends from the basketball league. She played the last few seasons on their team. They greeted each other with a hug.

“Hey, Kim.” Terri said warmly.

“It’s been months.” Kim said. She ran her hand down Terri’s arm and grasped her hand. “You stopped coming to the Y.”

“Nah. I go. I just stick to swimming in the mornings. I can’t… I’m not going to go back to the basketball league for now.” She squeezed her friend’s hand. But was she really a friend? She hadn’t heard from Kim since the breakup.

“Terri. I’m sorry. None of us knew what to do. You’re both our friends.” Kim said. Her eyes had tears in them. “We all just… froze. And, now it’s been – what? – eight? Ten? months or something? And we don’t have either of you anymore.”

“No.” Terri instantly regretted her previous thought. She pulled Kim forward. They embraced for a long time. Terri’s arms around her. Rubbing her back. “Kim. You all are fine. I needed some alone time. A lot to think about. A lot to do. I’ll have you all out to my new place sometime soon. It’s fine.”

They pulled back. Kim nodded her head.

“Who are you here with?” Terri asked her to distract her from the tears.

“Just some work folks.” 

“Me too.” Terri pointed over to her table. When she did so, she saw that Amy had been watching her, but Amy averted her eyes quickly when she pointed over at the table. “I better get back.”

++++++ 

She kept her eyes on the hallway, waiting for Terri to emerge. She had watched her walk away and she wanted to watch her come back. My god. She looked so good.

There. There she came. She walked like an athlete. Tall. Strong. Head high. Self-assured. She watched Terri look at her and smile. And then she watched her turn around and greet someone. They hugged. A wave of jealousy washed over Amy. She shook it off. Why on earth would it matter to her that she was seeing Terri hug someone?

The woman touched Terri’s arm. They held hands. Then Terri pulled the woman in for a hug. In the months that Amy had known her, she never saw Terri hug someone with such warmth. Terri was kind and generous. Terri had even hugged Amy once. Or, rather, let Amy hug her. But she’d never seen what she was witnessing now. They pulled apart and she saw Terri turn to look at her. Amy quickly turned her attention to her lap.

Terri returned to the table. As she sat down, she lightly touched her fingertips to Amy’s upper back to get her attention. “Sorry that took a bit. Ran into an old friend.” Then she removed her hand.

“That’s nice!” Amy said. Her breath caught in her chest again. My god.

Amy was thankful Jordi was sitting across from them. She picked up the conversation and ran with it. Terri and Jordi talked about some sports team and Amy just sipped her beer and picked at her food. She was, suddenly, not hungry.

Terri sat with her hands in her lap. She wanted nothing more than to put a hand on Amy’s lap. Or drape a hand on the back of her chair. But it would be inappropriate to do so. She’s your friend, Terri. Don’t creep her out.

Someone started putting money in the juke box and music began to play an up-tempo Pink song

Some of the younger ones got up to dance. In the end, Karen and Terri sat alone at the table. They watched them bounce and wave their hands. They bounced their hips off one another and looked as though they were having a genuinely good time.

Karen watched Terri. “She’s doing well fitting in.”

“Yup.” Terri said. Eyes on Amy.

“She’s good at the job.” Karen said.

“That’s nice.”

“Terri.” Her friend Karen nudged her shoulder.

“What.”

“You’re not her supervisor. You work in different departments. It’s doable.” Karen wiggled her eyebrows.

“No. Nope.” Terri said adamantly.

“Why not?” Karen asked.

“I don’t know her preferences. But I do know what that ring means.” Terri said definitively.

“I guess we could go dance.” Karen said.

“I’m game if you are, grandma.” Terri grinned.

The two held hands and moved to the dance floor and joined their coworkers. One song flowed into another; they laughed and moved to the beat. Karen and Terri danced together and laughed.

The song changed to a slower Pink tune

Terri turned to leave the dance floor with Karen and felt someone behind her tug on her shirt. She stopped and turned. It was Amy.  

“Dance?” Amy asked with a smile and a shoulder shrug.

Terri tilted her head and grinned. “OK.”

Terri held out a hand for Amy to take. Amy stood motionless for a moment and then reached for Terri’s hand while she placed her other hand around Terri’s waist. In an old-fashioned kind of dance hold. But then, Amy moved into her and stood closer to her.

Terri instinctively stiffened and pulled her chin back, unsure of what this contact meant. She gently put her other hand on Amy’s shoulder.

She felt Amy move in closer. Though she didn’t rest her head against Terri, her face was very close to Terri’s. Her hand that was on Terri’s waist moved to Terri’s lower back. The thumb of Amy’s hand that was holding Terri’s stroked Terri’s hand. It was not something anyone could see, but Terri felt it. They swayed to the song, but didn’t step any closer.  

Terri’s body was responding. The familiar tug in the base of her abdomen started. She felt a need deep inside. A need to be touched. To be filled. Then her clitoris twitched. She raised her chin in the air. If she moved her head she wouldn’t smell the lavender whatever-it-was that floated off Amy’s hair. She hoped if she turned her head away from her, the coworkers at their table wouldn’t see that her body wanted this woman in her arms.

“Are you watching this?” Jordi quietly said as she nudged Karen.

“I see it.” Karen said.

“Shit’s gonna get real.” Jordi said.

“Yup.” Karen replied quietly.

++++++

Amy was very aware of Terri. Their chairs were no closer than anyone else’s, but she felt like their bodies were a fraction of an inch from pressing together. She leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs. She was pulsing. Pulsing between her legs. Her breath kept catching in her throat. She squeezed her legs together. Her heart pounded. She felt like her underwear was literally dripping. She tried to concentrate on the conversation. Her shoe fell off under the table. First, she tried to move her foot around to find it. Then she gave up. She ignored it.

As the evening wound to a close and they settled their bills, they gathered up to head out. The rest of them had left the table. Amy sat still.

“You ok?” Terri leaned over to her and asked in a low tone.

Fuck. Amy thought. Where did that voice come from?

“I’m fine. I… umm… I just lost my shoe and I’ve been sitting here trying to find it with my foot without looking like a dork and having to get under the table.” She rolled her eyes.

Terri chuckled. She scooted her chair back and went down on one knee. She looked up at Amy and smiled. Then she ducked her head under the table and found the shoe that had apparently been pushed far out of the reach of Amy’s naked foot.

She came back from under the table, shoe in hand. She raised it. “Might this be the shoe you seek?” Her blue eyes twinkled.

“Thank you.” Amy turned toward her and pointed her perfectly painted toes to fit into the shoe.

Terri was careful to not touch her. Because she wanted to run her hand right up that curvy calf. And she knew if she ran her hand up her leg, she wouldn’t stop. She wanted to run her hand up her skirt.

Terri held the shoe while Amy slipped into it. Then Amy stood quickly and grabbed her bag. “Thanks!” She said breezily. She headed toward the door. Had she turned, she’d have seen a look of guilt on Terri’s face.

Damn it, Terri. Get it together. She knows you’re interested and she’s not. Obviously. Stop. You’re no better than fucking Trevor.

They walked out of the restaurant together. “Where are you parked?” Terri asked.

“Over there.” She pointed to the left of the building. Terri turned with her; they walked slowly.

“Glad you came tonight.” Terri said. Hands shoved deep in her pockets. She stood a good six feet from Amy. “Wouldn’t have been the same without you.”

“You weren’t at work today. I’m surprised you were here.” Amy said.

“Personal day. Had some stuff to take care of at home. But was nice to get out with friends.”

“Yup. Friends.” Amy said. As they reached her car, she unlocked it and tossed her purse in. It tumbled off the seat and emptied its contents onto the floor of her car. She rolled her eyes.

“Be safe going home.” Terri said.

“Terri, where is your car?” Amy asked.

“Over there.” Terri pointed to the parking area on the right side of the restaurant.

“Ohmygod, Terri. What the hell?”

“Just making sure you got to your car safely.” Terri said. She turned to leave.

“Text me when you get home?” Amy called out, impulsively.

Terri smiled. Her heart raced. She held up a hand with a peace sign as she walked away.

And Amy watched her as she walked away. Walked away in her decade old, faded Levi’s. With her tattoo sleeved arms.

 

Fuck.

++++++ 

Terri watched from her truck. Amy’s car still hadn’t moved. She remained parked where Terri left her.

Terri drove her truck over. She got out and walked over to Amy’s car. Amy sat with her head on her steering wheel.

Terri knocked on the window.

Amy screamed, startled. She opened her car door, because she couldn’t roll down the window.

“Terri my car won’t start.” She said. Tears in her eyes. She was mortified.

“Can I help?”

“I don’t know.” Amy said.

“I mean, may I help? Will you let me sit where you are to see what’s happening?” Terri clarified.

“Oh. Yes. Ok. Thank you.” Amy scrambled out of the car. Leaving behind one shoe.

Terri reached in and retrieved the shoe and handed it Amy. She sat in the car, turned the key and looked at the lights on the panel in front of her.

“Looks like it’s the battery. Let me jump you and we’ll get you to a store where we can get a new one.” Terri said.

“Jump me.” Amy repeated Terri’s words.

“Sorry. Let me hook your car up to mine with jumper cables. Charge your battery a bit.”  Terri should have chosen her words better.

Terri turned her truck on, hooked up the cables to her truck then to Amy’s car battery. Then she sat in Amy’s car and started it.

“Thank you.” Amy said. She got in the car as Terri removed the cables. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Amy you can’t just go home. Or, I mean you can go home, but if you just go home your car may not start tomorrow. If you want, we can go get you a new battery and hook it up tonight.”

“Oh…..”

“How about you follow me. We’ll go get you a battery.” Terri said.

Amy gave her a slight head nod.

Terri lead and Amy followed to the local car parts store not far away from their offices.

“What year is your car?” She asked Amy. Amy told her.

Terri went inside. Amy stood disoriented for a moment. She gathered her purse and all its spilled contents and headed inside where she joined Terri at the counter. Terri stepped back a half step. Amy pulled out her wallet.

Terri watched her and saw a brief hesitation.

Terri leaned forward slightly and said, quietly, in her ear. “May I help you pay for it?”

Amy turned around. Tears in her eyes. She looked up at Terri. She said in a very quiet, controlled voice, “I don’t let myself have credit cards and pay day is two days away. I don’t have enough money.”

“May I help?” Terri said.

Amy quickly nodded her head. A tear dropped from her eye.

Terri put her card on the counter and before long they were leaving the store, Terri carrying the battery.

Terri popped open the hood of Amy’s car, she retrieved a tool box from behind the seat of her truck, and she set to work taking out the old battery and replacing it with the new one.

Amy sat quietly in the car.

Terri dropped the hood of the car down, replaced the tools, and took the battery inside the store. When she returned, she stood in the open door of Amy’s car. She put her hands on her waist. “Want to give it a try?”

Amy turned the ignition and the car started. She gave Terri a small smile and averted her eyes. “Thank you, Terri. I will pay you back.”

“Whatever you feel like you need to do. I’d be pleased if you consider it a gift. I know how tight things can get when you’re starting out.”

“No. I will pay you back. Thank you for your help.”

“You Ok getting home?” Terri asked. She stepped back, ready to shut the door.

Amy bolted out of the car and wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist. She pressed her body against her. Pressed her face against Terri’s shoulder.

Terri let herself be hugged. She lightly touched Amy’s shoulder. She patted her back. “It’s ok. Amy, It’s ok.”

“Thank you, Terri.” Amy said. She looked up at her as she backed away from the hug. She got in her car and shut the door.

Terri got in her truck and waited for Amy to pull away before she headed home.

++++++

Terri stood in her new shower and let the water from the multiple heads beat on her. She tried to clear her mind. She was unsuccessful. First, she thought of Kim. She tried to not be angry. All of their friends were in a difficult situation, she recognized that. But for none of them to have reached out after the breakup? It was hurtful. She didn’t want any of them to have to choose, so she just kept to herself and did her own healing. She had wondered if any of them had been in touch with Mel. Sounds like maybe they weren’t. But honestly, she really didn’t even care to ask. Because she didn’t want to know how she was doing.

Her mind shifted to Amy. The visual of her walking into the restaurant was burned in her brain. She breezed in, smiles and sunshine. Flowers and heartbeats. She was on Terri’s mind more and more. Damn she shouldn’t have danced with her tonight. And then, the whole battery thing. She was so vulnerable, and sweet. And a little sad.

She wondered about the person lucky enough to have her as a fiancé. She assumed a man. She wasn’t sure. Terri didn’t know her preferences and didn’t ask. That was a private matter and only Amy’s decision of if and when to share. She wondered if maybe she overstepped in taking care of the car when maybe someone else in Amy’s life would have wanted to do that. Terri liked helping her. She liked taking care of her.

She wrapped a towel around herself and padded into the bedroom. She stood in the room and looked with a smile. It was big. It was spacious and, during the day, full of light from the big windows. It needed decorated. She was no good at that. For now, there was an old quilt her mom had made her on the bed. Two pillows. Basically, all she needed.

She pulled on a pair of underwear. A tank top. She sat on the side of her bed.

 

You (10:13 pm):

‘Check in text.’

++++++

Amy took her things to the restroom. She reached into the shower and turned on the hot water. She pulled off her dress and hung it on the hook on the back of the door. She unfastened her bra and felt the relief of their release. She slid down her panties as she sat on the toilet. She pulled them off. The crotch was soaked. Amy shook her head and tossed them onto the floor near the door.

She wiped and discovered how wet she was. She knew why she was wet. She wasn’t really sure what she thought about it. She tried to think of a time that being around another woman made her body respond in this manner. She couldn’t.

She wasn’t upset by the knowledge of her body reacting the way it did. She was surprised and wondered if she’d had these feelings all along, or if they were new. Either way, something happened tonight at the restaurant to bring it to her full attention. She knew what that was. For the first time, she truly saw Terri as someone other than Terri Morgan, Trauma Therapist. She saw her as Terri, a fucking sexy lesbian.

She pulled back the curtain and climbed over the side of the bathtub and into the shower. She kept her face and head away from the stream so she wouldn’t have to deal with her hair tonight. As the hot water hit her, she reached for the shower gel and poured a dollop into her net puff. It lathered and she washed herself.

Her hands soapy, she ran them both over her body. She cupped her breasts. Let her fingers tease her soapy nipples. They tingled and ached for more. As she teased her nipples and ran her soapy hands over her breasts she thought about Terri. What changed? What shifted? She had been thinking of her as a friend. The friend at work who knows more than all of them put together. The Terri who Amy felt honored to call friend, because she was way out of Amy’s league. She was smart, and talented, and sought after by every agency who does what they do. But tonight. Something shifted.

Her hands slipped over breasts, down her abdomen, along her hips. She reached for the bar of soap and propped one foot on the side of the tub. She leaned against the shower wall and washed the folds of herself. Her fingers hesitated slightly before she let them trail up to her clitoris. It was easy to find. It was begging for attention. It had been throbbing all night long and… now? Well, now was no different.

Her head lulled against the shower wall with the rest of her body as she thought of Terri walking away from her in worn Levi’s. Short cuffed sleeved cotton button-down shirt. And… fucking tattoo sleeves. She thought of them dancing, Amy’s thumb rubbing Terri’s hand. She thought of Terri with that tool box, working on her car. She thought of her kneeling at her feet to put the shoe on her foot. She thought of her arms. Her tattooed arms, in that short sleeved cotton button-down. Her blue eyes. Her neck. Her laugh. Her ass in those jeans. The tools.

Amy came in the shower.

Back in her room, wearing her cotton nighty and panties, she tucked herself into bed and grabbed her phone to see if she had heard from Terri.

 

Terri (10:13 pm):

‘Check in text.’

 

You (10:26 pm):

‘Sorry. Shower.’

 

The tug at the base of Terri’s abdomen started.

 

Terri (10:26 pm):

‘You looked nice tonight.’

 

You (10:26 pm):

‘Nobody told me it was dress down in old jeans night.’ *Shoulder shrug emoji*

 

Terri (10:27 pm):

‘Old jeans are comfortable. And it’s hard for shoes that tie to fall off under the table.’

 

You (10:27 pm):

*Blushing face emoji* ‘I’m a dork.’

 

Terri (10:27 pm):

‘No. You’re not.’

 

You (10:27 pm):

‘Thank you for the battery. Everything.’

 

Terri (10:27 pm):

‘I’m glad I was there to help’

 

You (10:27 pm):

‘I owe you.’

 

Terri (10:28 pm):

‘You don’t. But I do have a favor to ask.’

 

You (10:28 pm):

‘Do tell.’ *Thinking face emoji*

 

Terri (10:28 pm):

‘You can say no.’

 

You (10:28 pm):

‘Unlikely. What is it?’

 

Terri (10:29 pm):

‘My new house. Had the master bed/bath redone. I want to decorate it.’

 

You (10:29 pm):

‘You want me to help?’

 

Terri (10:29 pm):

‘Currently looks like the dorm room of a rejected frat boy.’

 

Amy laughed. She put her fingers to her mouth to quiet herself. Then it dawned on her. Terri was asking her to see her bedroom. Decorate her bedroom.

 

Terri (10:29 pm):

‘I realize it’s very personal space. It’s fine if you say no.’

 

You (10:30 pm):

‘When do we start?’

 

Terri (10:30 pm):

‘Soon. Please.’

 

Terri couldn’t wait to see her again.

 

You (10:30 pm):

‘How about I see it tomorrow after work. We’ll shop on Saturday.’

 

Amy angled to spend more than one day with her over the weekend. Their time together when they went to the movies was not enough.

 

Terri (10:30 pm):

‘Yes. Thank you, Amy.’

 

You (10:30 pm):

‘Anything for my friend, Terri Morgan. She’s kind of a big deal.’

 

Terri (10:31 pm):

‘OK. Good night, Amy.’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘Terri?’

 

Terri (10:31 pm):

‘Amy.’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘Tattoo sleeves’

 

Terri (10:32 pm):

‘Shocked?’

 

You (10:32 pm):

‘Pleasantly surprised’

 

Terri (10:32 pm):

‘I can handle that’

 

You (10:32 pm):

‘I’m going to have to inspect closer, when a table of coworkers are not looking on.’

 

Terri (10:32 pm):

‘I can handle that.’

 

Terri reached her right hand into her underwear. Her wetness greeted her fingers. Her hips began to rock.  

 

You (10:33 pm):

‘I think probably I should go to sleep.’

‘Good night, Terri.’

 

Terri texted slowly with her left hand.

 

Terri (10:33 pm):

‘Ok. Night.’

 

Terri tossed her phone and laid back. Her body was awake now. Every night. Every. Fucking. Night. She couldn’t help it. Her body had been asleep for nearly a decade. It had been woken by Amy. She had no clue what she did to Terri. Terri worked every night to satisfy her body, but it kept wanting more.

It was wrong. She’s engaged. She’s a coworker. She’s not into me.

++++++

Amy, friend from work (10:11 am):

‘FYI I’m out of office all day. Didn’t want you to see my lonely little empty cube and think I was not among the living. Looking forward to tonight.’

 

You (10:31 am):

‘Home visits are the best. Be safe.’

 

Amy, friend from work (10:31 am):

‘Court this morning. Visits in afternoon. Gotta go. Here come da’ judge.’

 

You (10:31 am):

‘Headed into a session. Want to grab dinner?’

 

Amy, friend from work (11:25 am):

‘Yes please. The least you can do when calling upon my designer talents.’

 

You (11:31 am):

‘Just tell me where and when.’

 

Amy, friend from work (11:59 am):

‘Somewhere with pasta and wine and bread.’

 

You (2:31 pm):

‘you coming back to office?’

 

Amy, friend from work (3:30 pm):

‘One more visit. Then back to office.’ *Clapping hands emoji* *Clapping hands emoji* *Clapping hands emoji*

 

You (3:31p):

*Thumbs up emoji*

++++++ 

Amy breezed down the hallway, big smile on her face. Greeting each of her coworkers as she passed. She was going to spend the evening and tomorrow with Terri. She couldn’t be happier. She was giddy.

She stopped at her door and knocked on the doorframe. She realized Terri was on the phone, her back to the door.

Terri turned in her chair. She held up her hand and waved Amy in. She continued to talk.

“How many?”

“I understand.”

“First flight I can get. Might be the morning.”

“OK. Talk soon.”

She hung up the phone. She shut her eyes and took a deep breath. She paused. Then she turned to Amy and put on a smile. “Hi there. How was the day?”

“Hi. It was good.” Amy knew better than to ask about the phone conversation. She knew what Terri did. She knew about the special assignments. People talked quietly in the office. Terri would tell her if she wanted her to know.

“Listen, my plans just changed for the weekend. I gotta get on the phone. Try to get a flight.”

“OK. I understand.” Amy’s face visibly fell. “Hope everything’s ok.”

“Just give me a half hour. I’ll know more. Might still be able to grab something to eat. OK?”

“Yeah. I’ll be at my desk.” Amy backed out of the office and went to her desk. Disappointed.

++++++

Amy sat at her desk. Not really working, but hanging around, waiting for Terri. The rest of the coworkers had left. She decided to pack it in. It was silly to wait longer. She’d stop at Terri’s office before heading out. Stop to say goodbye. She was disappointed.

She turned off her cubical light. The overhead lights were out. It was dark. As she rounded the corner of the cubical wall in the office, she nearly ran into her. She screamed.

Terri instinctively stepped back. Pulled her head back. Hands up at her side. Holding firm in case she was charged. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to scare you.” She said quietly.

“Goddamnit Terri. You can’t scare me like that in this dark room. You have to announce yourself.” Her voice was angry. She was disappointed and she didn’t know how to hide it.

“Yup. Sorry.” Terri stood and didn’t move.

“So, what’s the plan?” Amy asked with a slight amount of irritation in her voice.

“First flight I can get is at 6 am.”

“So, you need to probably get packed and get some sleep.”

“Yeah. I should.” Terri said. She paused. “But I’d rather go to dinner with a friend, first.”

A smile crossed Amy’s face. She looped her arm through Terri’s and she pressed into her. “Then take me to dinner, Friend.”

Terri had a few more calls to make, so they took separate vehicles so she could talk on the phone. Terri asked Amy to pick where she wanted to go and lead the way. Terri followed her.

When they got to the restaurant, Amy waited outside her car for Terri who had a call to finish up. “Sorry about that.” She said as she got out of her truck.

“No apologies, Terri. I know there’s something happening. Whatever you need to deal with, deal with it.” She, again, looped her arm through Terri’s and walked with her into the restaurant.

Terri was engaged in their conversation. She was polite. She was thoughtful. But Amy knew she was preoccupied. Amy got her to talk about the house. When she did, her face lit up. She talked about it being the home where she grew up, and how she was glad she got to live there again. She talked about the changes she had made. She talked about how she always loved having friends over for watch parties and other gatherings. She wanted the house to be welcoming.

They ate a lovely pasta dinner. Amy had one glass of wine, but stopped after that. Terri stuck to water. Amy declined desert. Terri insisted on paying the bill. She was pleased when Amy didn’t fight her. It felt good to buy the meal.

When it was time to leave, Terri stood and waited for Amy and walked a half step behind her to the door. She hesitantly put the tips of her fingers on Amy’s lower back. She walked her to her car. Amy tossed her purse into the passenger seat, contents spilling out. She turned expecting Terri to be ready to leave.

Terri stood there. Hands tucked into her pockets. Her blue eyes serious.

“Can you tell me where you’re going?” Amy asked.

Terri told her.

“I’m sorry I have to cancel our plans. I was looking forward to them.” Terri said.

Amy rested a hand on Terri’s upper arm. She squeezed her. “I understand. I think...”

Their eyes locked.

“…we can just do it when you get back.” Amy added quietly.

The air between them was electric. They stood in silence.

Terri watched Amy’s eyes move from holding Terri’s gaze to looking at Terri’s mouth and then back up to her eyes. Back to her mouth. For the first time, Terri realized Amy wanted a kiss. Terri couldn’t do it. She’s engaged. She’s engaged.

Amy looked at Terri’s mouth and wondered what it would be like to kiss a woman. This woman. She had never before felt this type of desire for a woman. She wanted to lean forward and kiss her, but wasn’t sure how.

Amy removed her hand from Terri’s arm. She slid both her hands around Terri’s waist and pressed her body to Terri’s. Her hands splayed wide against Terri’s back.

The move took Terri by surprise. She removed her hands from her pockets and settled them on Amy’s upper back. For the second night in a row she held her in her arms. She tried to breathe normally with this woman pressed against her. This woman who had haunted her every thought; day and night. This woman who felt like no other she’d ever held. Soft, curvy. She smelled of flowers.

Terri wondered what her hair was like when it wasn’t tied in a tail, or a braid, or a bun. Terri wanted to loosen it and dig her hands in it. She wondered what it would be like to have Amy on top of her with that hair dragging across her body. She’d never been with someone who had a beautiful head of hair like this. She’d also never been with someone who had curves like Amy had. Curves that were currently, pressed tightly and deliciously against Terri’s body.

They held each other in the dark parking lot. Amy rubbed her hands up and down Terri’s back. Terri breathed in her sweet smell. She reveled in the feeling of her curves pressed against Terri’s chest.

Terri was not the first to let go. She didn’t want to let go. Amy pulled back.

“You go. Text me… or call me… if you need me. I won’t bug you. I promise.” Amy got into her car.

Terri stood in the same spot and watched her drive away.

++++++

As she settled into her bed and checked her social media, all of her friends had posted the same news story. Amy clicked on one of the articles and read it.

The same place Terri is going.

 

A high school…this time.

 

Number of dead.

Number of wounded.

 

Photos of the crowd.

 

Thoughts and Prayers.

Thoughts. And. Prayers.

 

Jesus. Terri.

 

 

Chapter Text

++++++

The days were long. She was busy, of course. She was always busy. She made sure each morning to walk by Terri’s office on the way to the break room for coffee. Each day the white board on her door said the same thing. “Out Today. Return Date TBD.”

She didn’t hear from her over the weekend. She didn’t hear from her all week. It was all she could do to not text Terri. But she told her she wouldn’t. She should not bug her while she’s away. She thought about her, though. She thought about her every day, all day. She thought about her at night. She couldn’t get her out of her mind.

She settled in beside Jordi at the Thursday staff meeting.

As people milled in and found their seats, Trevor asked loudly, “Where’s Terri?”

“You know where Terri is.” Catherine said. “Let’s get started.”

“You suppose she’s ok?” Amy whispered to Jordi.

“She’s done this for years. She’s fine. She just focuses solely on the job she’s there to do. She cuts us all off when she’s gone. It’s how she can do it, I think. Has to compartmentalize. She’ll be back soon and you’ll see. She’s fine.” Jordi assured her.

++++++

She went to bed early. Had her ipad out and was watching Netflix. She had watched the series probably 5 times. It comforted her. She watched it over and over while she was in her masters’ program. It played while she did her homework. It lulled her to sleep. It was funny. And Cute. And parts of it romantic. And, she would never apologize for loving this series so much she knew almost every line by heart.

Her phone vibrated and she sat up in bed and reached for it. Heart beating loudly in her chest.

Terri (10:13 pm):

‘Check in text.’

 

You (10:13 pm):

‘Terri!!!’

 

Terri (10:13 pm):

‘Just realized how late it is there. Time Change.’

‘Wasn’t thinking. Sorry.’

 

You (10:13 pm):

‘I’m up. It’s fine.’

‘What do you need?’ *Red heart emoji*

 

Terri (10:14 pm):

‘To talk to you’

 

Amy’s breath caught in her chest.

 

You (10:14 pm):

‘I’m here.’

 

Terri (10:14 pm):

‘Can I call you?’

 

You (10:15 pm):

‘Of course!’

 

Amy closed her ipad. She laid down in bed. Her room was dark. She waited for her phone to ring.

“Hi.” She answered. Softly. Quietly.

“Hi.” Terri said.

Silence.

“Are you getting any rest?” Amy asked. She put her hand over her heart, because it felt like it was going to beat out of her chest.

“Enough.” Terri said quietly.

“Are you coming home?” Amy wasn’t sure if she should ask, or not.

“Tomorrow. Taking an 8 am flight. Home around 2. Layover.”

“Need a ride?” Amy asked.

“No. My car’s at the airport.”

Silence.

“Terri.” Amy breathed her name. She didn’t know what to say. She could only imagine what her last week had been like. And, she’d missed her. Terribly. She felt an inexplicable need to take care of her. She didn’t know how to verbalize her thoughts.

“Amy.” Terri sighed. Exhausted.

“You’re going to have to teach me what you need when this happens.” Amy said quietly.

“I’m used to dealing with it on my own.” Terri said resolutely. Because she’d never talked to anyone outside of the first-responders’ group about her work on special assignment. Not even to Mel.

Amy dug deep and mustered the courage to say, “You’re… Terri… you’re not on your own,… so long as I’m your … friend.”

“Your fiancé is a lucky person.” Terri said in a moment of exhaustion. Blatant, unguarded honesty.

“Fiancé? I don’t have a fiancé, Terri.”

There was a pause.

Terri’s stomach turned over.

It seemed that the silence on the phone lasted a long time, even if it was only a few seconds. 

“Terri? Are you there?”

“You don’t?... You don’t have….?” She asked Amy.

“A fiancé? No. I never told you I did.” Amy said.

“You…you wear a ring…”

“My mom’s engagement ring. I’ve worn it for years.” Amy told her.

Another pause.

“I thought…” Terri stopped talking. There was no reason to tell her what she thought.

“I have had it on that finger for a long time. It keeps down the unwanted….”

“I understand.” Terri cut her off.

Another long pause.

Amy broke the silence. “I thought you knew.”

“I didn’t.”

More silence.

“Does… does it change anything?” Amy said.

Terri was too exhausted to have her filters up. “Maybe.”

They were both quiet again.

Then, Terri started to ask, “Would I be among the unwanted…”

“No.” Amy cut her off.

“Then it changes things.” Terri said. She was too emotionally spent to be anything but honest.

Silence.

Amy smiled. “Good.”

Terri’s stomach turned over. Her heart beat loudly. Her breath caught in her throat. She was on the verge of crying; her emotions were raw. So, she changed the subject. “How’s the office?”

“The same as it was last week. You’ve only missed four days, Terri.”

“Feels like weeks.” Sleep didn’t come well when she was called out.

“I understand.” Amy told her.

“Things kind of stand still at these things. While the rest of the world marches on.” Terri’s voice was weary. But, for the first time ever, she shared a piece of information with someone who wasn’t on assignment with her.

“What do you need?” Amy asked.

“You already asked me that.”

“I’m trying to be professional.” Amy said honestly.

Silence.

“Just be you, Amy. That’s why I called you.” Terri said quietly.

“I miss you.” Amy spontaneously whispered into the phone.

Terri smiled. “I miss you, too.” She whispered back. Her heart would not stop pounding loudly.

“Are you OK?” Amy asked her.

“Better than everybody here. Because I get to leave it behind.” That’s two things Terri shared. She could feel herself opening up. It scared her.

“I think I know you by now, Terri Morgan.  You never leave that stuff behind.” Amy said quietly.

Silence.

“Dinner tomorrow night?” Terri asked. “Do what we planned to do last weekend?”

“You want to play that by ear and see if you feel up to it?” Amy asked.

“Oh…I’ll feel up to it.” Terri nearly cut her off with her certainty.

Amy’s face broke into a smile of satisfaction and excitement. “OK.”

“I want to see you, Amy. I mean… I’m looking forward to seeing you. Spending time with you.” Terri said.

“Me, too.”

“I’m so tired.” Terri sighed. Her voice cracked. Was she about to cry? Terri didn’t cry. She was just tired. That’s all it was. Exhaustion… and fucking raw emotion from holding herself together for everyone else. For the first time, she felt herself crack when talking to another person.

“OK. I’ll hang up.” Amy said quietly. Terri sounded different. Tired. Emotional. She didn’t want Terri to be uncomfortable.

“No. Please. Amy. Don’t. Don’t…hang up. Would you talk to me a little while longer?” Terri had a moment where she thought she might regret being vulnerable with her. But she just didn’t want to hang up yet. She wanted to hear her voice for a little while longer.

“Of course.”

“I may fall to sleep.” Terri said quietly. Vulnerably.

“If you fall to sleep, I’ll just hang up.” Amy told her.

“Ok.”

“How about I bring dinner to your house. You don’t have to do a thing. Then I can see the rooms you want me to help with.” Amy softened her voice.

“Yes.” She sighed. She put her head on her pillow and shut her eyes. She listened to Amy’s voice. It soothed her.

“Then we can sit and watch television or something for a bit. No pressure. No agenda. Just hang out.” Amy said.

“Mmm-hmmm.”

“You can just relax. Let me take care of you.” Amy’s voice grew quieter.

“K.” Terri yawned.

“Go to sleep, Terri. You don’t have to respond.”

“Mmm”

“You do so much for so many people. I’m here for you. We’ll have dinner. You’ll show me around. We’ll talk. It will be relaxing…. I miss you, Terri. I miss you a lot. I can’t … I can’t believe how much I miss you.” Amy talked, quietly.

She paused talking. She listened carefully and heard Terri breathing deeply into her phone. She was asleep.

Amy listened to her breathing for a good long while before she hung up the phone, rolled over, and worked hard to clear her mind so she could sleep.

++++++

It was Friday. That meant court in the morning. Some visits in the afternoon. She had cleared her calendar for after 4. She hoped to cut out early.

She gathered her things for the day and headed to her car.

Terri (7:26 am):

‘Check in text’

 

Amy smiled.

 

You ( 7:26 am ):

‘Hey sleepy head.’

 

Terri (7:26 am):

‘Just boarded plane.’

 

You (7:26 am):

‘Safe trip.’

 

Terri (7:27 am):

‘Looking forward to tonight.’

 

You (7:27 am):

‘Me too. Gotta get in car. Meeting client before Court.’

 

Amy had trouble concentrating in court. She thought about Terri and what she’d been working on all week. She thought about being at Terri’s home, in her personal space.

Not for the first time, Amy thought about Terri thinking she had a fiancé. Last night Terri all but said she would reciprocate Amy’s feelings.

Also, not for the first time, she thought about their dance and the hugs they shared. Amy thought about how good it felt to have Terri in her arms. How good it felt to have Terri’s arms around her. She was warm and solid. Strong.

And, although she knew Terri had looked out for her and taken care of her on more than one occasion, Amy had a strong desire to take care of Terri. She wanted to hold her, cradle her, and make all of the pain she knew she was holding go away. She wasn’t sure if Terri would let her. Amy was damn well going to try.

Terri (11:26 am):

‘Check in text’

 

Amy smiled when she turned her phone on after court.

 

You (11:58 am):

‘Hi there.’

 

Terri kept her phone on long after the flight attended had told them to turn them off. She knew Court was out at noon and she was hoping for another text. When it came through, her heart skipped a beat.

 

Terri (11:58 am):

‘Gotta go. Getting ready to taxi to runway. All phones off.’

 

Amy’s whole body tingled. How she was ever going to make it through the next few hours? She put her car in gear and headed to her appointments.

++++++

Terri (2:05 pm):

‘Check in text. Landed. Headed home.’

 

You (2:35 pm):

‘Welcome home, Friend. Headed to another visit.’

‘Send me your address. See you after work.’

 

Terri (2:40 pm):

*Terri sent Amy a map link to her home*

‘Take your time. We’ve got all night.’

 

Terri instantly regretted that last line. She’s going to think you’re being inappropriately forward. Get it together Morgan.

 

Amy smiled and held her phone to her chest when she read Terri’s text.

We’ve got all night.

All night.

 

You (3:35 pm):

‘Visits over. Headed to office to type notes.’

‘Will have dinner. Do you have a preference for drinks?’

 

Terri (3:35 pm):

‘Only preference is the company.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

You (3:35 pm):

‘Same’ *Smiling face with smiling eyes emoji*

++++++ 

By 5:00, Amy had her bag in hand and was walking out of the office. She walked past the group waiting to get on the elevator as she headed into the stairwell.

“Have a good weekend!” Jordi joined her down the stairs.

“Thanks, Jordi! You, too!”

“Wonder if Terri’s coming home soon.” Jordi said.

“Mmmmm.” Amy made a sound and shrugged her shoulder.

“I missed her this week.” Jordi said.

“Me too, Jordi.” Amy said.

They walked to their cars and Amy headed home. She greeted Nan who was wrapping up things in the kitchen.

“Be right down, Nan!” She kissed her grandmother’s cheek and headed upstairs.

She went to the bathroom to get the hot water started in the shower. She stripped down and climbed in. As much as she loved her job and the families she worked with, sometimes she was left smelling like some of the homes she visited. She had to wash off her day.

Fresh from the shower, she wrapped a towel around herself and wiped down the mirror. She reapplied her make-up. She dried her hair and brushed it out. She would leave it down.

Back in her room, she hesitated before she selected a matching pair of undergarments, both containing little fabric. Not the sensible things she normally wore in her day-to-day world. They made her feel sexy no matter what she wore. Then she slid on a little cotton summer dress that she would never wear to the work. Casually comfortable. Loose. It hung a little shorter than a dress she might wear to work. She slid on a pair of sandals. Before she left her room, she poured a little bit of the new body milk she’d purchased at the farmers’ market in her hands and moisturized her legs – from toes to hips.

She headed down to the kitchen. Nan was packing a bag. 

“I put the casserole in here, Amy, but you’ll want to heat it up. There’s also some rolls that I made yesterday, they can be heated up also.”

“Nan. Terri will love this home-cooked food. I just didn’t have time to do it. Thank you.”

“Well, from what you told me, she needs some comfort food. Take it and have a nice evening.”

Nan watched Amy carry her things to her car. She leaned in the doorway and watched her beautiful granddaughter. For the first time in a long time, she seemed happy and excited. Nan has seen that gleam in a young woman’s eye before. She knew what it meant.

Amy could barely contain herself. She was excited to see Terri. As she drove, she listened to music and found her mind drifting to the hug they shared by her car last week. Feeling her body pressed against Terri’s. Feeling Terri’s hands on her back. Amy shifted in her seat. Yes. She was excited.

She followed the instructions coming at her from the map app on her phone. She was far out of town, going down a dirt road. Eventually she reached it. She turned in. She drove down a long driveway. There in front of her she saw a two-story white house with a wrap-around porch. Porch swing on the corner. Outdoor furniture just outside the front door. There was a barn not far from the house. 

As she looked at the barn, she noticed just outside Terri was working on a fence. She had on those old, faded, washed-out Levi’s. Work boots. A plaid button-up shirt that looked like it was soft from being washed a million times. Tattooed arms. A baseball cap. Sunglasses. She had on a pair of work gloves. She was hammering something. Watching her did something to Amy. Did something to her deep inside. This woman is sexy. Very sexy.

Amy parked the car, probably farther away than she had to. She parked near the house. She sat in the car and watched Terri notice her, turn to her. She waved at Terri when she saw her hold up a hand.

Amy stepped out of her car and stood. Not sure her feet would move her forward. She knew that things were going to change. She wanted that change. She had never before been attracted to a woman. Since she met Terri, she’d been attracted.

She had thought, all along, that the attraction was a professional one. Then later, she thought that Terri was a good friend. And she had liked that. But it didn’t explain the butterflies. It didn’t explain the rapid heart beat when she was near. Now. Now Amy understood. She was attracted to Terri as a woman. She wanted Terri. She hoped the signs she’d read were real and that Terri wanted her.

She took a step forward. To her future.

++++++ 

She listened to music through earbuds on the airplane. She mostly listened to the same song on a loop. She shut her eyes and remembered what Amy looked like when she saw her dancing to it. She worked hard to let everything from the past week go while the plane flew toward home.

When she felt the wheels touch the ground, she sighed in relief. She shot Amy a text. She knew she wouldn’t hear much from her over the next few hours. Work comes first. Terri, of all people, understood that.

She grabbed her bag. She walked through the terminal. She walked past people greeting passengers. Signs. Hugs. Kisses. Large families. Couples. Intimate moments of greeting. She’d never had that. Ever. Not once. Even in the best of times with their relationship, when she had to travel, Mel had thought it most practical if Terri just drove herself to the airport. With delays and cancellations, it just made sense. Never mind that after a week like the one she just experienced, it would be nice to see a friendly face standing in the lobby of the airport with a comforting hug. Or a kiss.

As she drove her car into the driveway at home, she felt more of her stress leave. She loved this place. She hauled her things inside. She stopped at the washing machine. She stripped down. She sorted the laundry and put a load in to wash. Naked, she went upstairs and took a quick shower to wash off the travel.

Though her first instinct was to take a nap, she knew what her body needed was to work. She pulled on her favorite jeans, a plaid button up shirt and tied on her work boots. She headed out to the barn. First, she worked on the stall. The door to it had been broken. If she was going to be getting that horse she had her eye on, she needed to have it ready. She worked slow. Steady. Then she moved outside of the barn to the fencing. She loved working with the sun beating down on her. It felt good to be outside. It felt good to be in the silence.

She heard the car. She finished with the nail she was hammering. Her stomach rolled. She had thought of nothing else since Amy told her she was not engaged to anyone. Terri thought through everything on the way home. There was no reason now. Unless Amy didn’t want to. No reason to not see if this feeling between them was going to lead to anything. Terri wanted to find out. But it really was, Terri figured, Amy’s call.

She’d never before been attracted to someone like Amy. Soft. Curvaceous. Feminine. Full of a zest for life. Nurturing. Funny. Emotional. It was a lot, she realized. Amy was a lot. But Terri liked it. She liked all of it. She wanted it. She wanted Amy.

She turned and watched Amy get out of the car. She was beautiful. The wind kicked up and the short skirt of her little flowered dress fluttered around her thighs as if to beckon Terri for a visit. Her hair was down. Terri had never seen it unfettered. It blew across her face. Amy put up a hand and ran her fingers through her hair to pull it off her face.

She watched Amy take a step, then trip. It shook Terri out of her trance and she moved forward. Amy found her footing and righted herself, then laughed at herself. Terri kept walking toward her.

“You OK?” Terri asked. As she walked, she pulled the gloves off her hands. She took off her sunglasses. 

“I’m just a dork.” Amy said, walking toward Terri.

“No. You’re not.” Terri said.

They met in the middle and didn’t even pause before wrapping their arms around each other in a hug. Amy’s arms around Terri’s waist. She pulled her close, she turned her face toward Terri’s shoulder, away from Terri’s neck, so as not to tease herself into thinking there might be a kiss.

When she turned her face away from Terri, Terri’s face went into her hair. She buried her face in her hair and took a deep breath. She smelled of lavender.

Amy pressed her body against Terri without hesitation. “I missed you, Terri. So much. Welcome home.”

A big smile flashed across Terri’s face. She couldn’t remember a time when she was welcomed home. Terri kept smelling her hair. She pulled her closer. Was there no way to be closer? She let her hands rub Amy’s back. “I missed you, too, Amy.”

They stood for a long time. There in the driveway. Holding one another.

“I brought dinner. Just need to heat it up.” Amy said still squeezing Terri tightly.

“That was nice of you.” Terri murmured. Still smelling Amy’s hair.

“You have to let go of me so I can get it out of the car.” Amy teased.

Terri smiled. She let go of Amy and stepped back. She put her sunglasses back on. “Give me a minute and I’ll help you get whatever you have in the car.”

“Don’t be silly. I can get it. You do what you’re doing. I can find the kitchen.” Amy said. Hands on her hips.

“You sure? I can put the tools away.”

“I’m guessing you were doing more than fixing the fence. You finish. Get in the headspace you need to get in. I will go warm this up. I’m sure I’ll find what I need.” Amy told her.

“OK. Make yourself at home.”

Amy gave her a smile and turned to go the car. Had she turned around, she’d have seen that Terri watched her walk away. Watched her rear end jiggle under that skirt. Watched the breeze blow the skirt of her little flowered sun dress. Watched the skirt blow up just enough to see the lavender colored lace and silk underwear wrapped snugly around her ass.

She went back to the fence and looked at it. Nope. Nothing here worth doing that can beat going inside with her. She knelt down on one knee to pick up her tools and lock them in the tool box. Had she turned around, she’d have seen Amy. Amy standing at her car watching Terri bend over and then kneel down. In some really sexy jeans.

++++++ 

She wasn’t sure if there were rules in the house about shoes. So, she kicked her sandals off at the front door. She padded through the house with her purse over her shoulder and the food in her arms. She walked through the living room and walked deeper into the house. She stood in the kitchen and was pleasantly surprised. For an old house, this kitchen looked brand new.

She set her things down on the island. She went to the stove and turned it on to warm up. She unpacked her bag. She picked up her phone and turned on a playlist. Music quietly played. She dug in the drawers until she found a corkscrew. She opened up the wine she brought. A nice Riesling. She swayed her hips and sang while she opened cabinet door after cabinet door until she found wine glasses. She put two on the counter. 

She put the casserole dish into the oven and set the timer. Then went back to dancing. She picked up the wine and poured herself a glass. She took a long drink of it, still swaying to the music.

Terri heard the song as she came inside. She followed the music to the kitchen. She leaned against the doorway and watched her. Amy’s back was to her and she shimmied and swayed and sang.

Amy turned and saw Terri. She stopped singing and her breath caught. Terri leaning against the doorway, legs crossed at the ankles. Terri’s blue eyes locked on Amy’s hazel eyes. Her heart beat loudly in her chest.

Terri kicked off the door frame and slowly walked toward Amy.  Without breaking eye contact, Amy sat the bottle of wine and the glass on the counter. Her breath caught in her chest. She licked her lips. She took a step toward Terri.

They stood closely. Inches apart. Looking into each other’s eyes.

Terri watched Amy’s hazel eyes. They searched Terri’s. Then they looked at Terri’s mouth, then back to Terri’s eyes.

Terri gently put her right hand against Amy’s cheek, her long fingers gently nudging their way into her hair. She moved her face close to her.

“Amy. If you don’t want this to happen, you need to say so.” Terri said slowly. Carefully.

“I’m not stopping you, Terri.” Please kiss me. Please. She thought.

“If we do this, we won’t be able to turn back the…”

And suddenly, Amy raised herself up on her toes and pressed her lips to Terri’s.

Amy first felt her lips. They were soft and gentle. And then she felt the smoothness of her face as she pressed against Amy. Nothing rough. Just smooth femininity.

Terri felt Amy’s plump lips press against her own. She couldn’t take her lips off of Amy’s. She hungrily moved her lips on Amy’s. She moved her hand from her cheek. She dug it into her hair at the back of her neck, tilting her chin up for more access. Amy opened her mouth and surrendered to what Terri wanted.

Terri’s left hand held Amy at her waist. She moved it, slowly, painstakingly up her side and under her arm. Her thumb just resting on the side of Amy’s breast. Then, she gently pulled Amy’s bottom lip into her mouth. That pouty bottom lip. When Terri felt Amy’s tongue come into her mouth, she shuddered. She gently sucked her, then let Amy do with her mouth what she wanted. And she explored Terri.  

Amy’s hands wrapped around Terri. They clawed at Terri’s shirt and one of her hands worked under it to touch the flesh of her back. She pressed her breasts against Terri, wishing it would alleviate the ache she felt. She rocked herself back and forth against her. She wanted Terri to move that hand of hers to cover Amy’s breast, but she knew she wouldn’t. Not yet.

Terri, completely breathless, pulled back and looked at Amy. Amy’s hazel eyes turned green. Her lips red and swollen from being kissed. Being sucked. Flushed cheeks and neck. Hair mussy.

“Hi.” Terri said. She smiled.

“Hi.” Amy grinned.

“That OK?” Terri said.

“It was about goddamned time.” Amy said. She swatted Terri’s ass.

Terri smiled, sheepishly. She blushed a little. “It’s all I’ve thought about since you told me you’re…”

“Not engaged. Yeah. Sorry about that. I thought you knew.”

Terri pulled her to her again. Kissed her again. She kept her hands on Amy’s back. She wanted them to work lower, but knew she needed to calm down. Amy’s hands roamed. She tucked them under Terri’s shirt. She smoothed her hands over the skin of Terri’s back, she moved them to Terri’s side and onto her back again. She slid one hand just under the waistband of Terri’s’ jeans.

Terri took these roaming hands as a sign that her hands could, in fact, move off of Amy’s back. The first thing she did was what she’d longed to do for weeks and weeks. She let one hand get tangled in the hair that fell down her back. She let her other hand slide low, so low. She cupped the underside of Amy’s rear end through the thin cotton of the sundress she wore. Amy made noises. Noises that were about to do Terri in. She realized if she didn’t stop herself, she’d take Amy right there in the kitchen.

Then, as quickly as it started, it stopped. Terri put her hands on Amy’s shoulders and she separated them.

Amy first only looked at Terri’s neck. No eye contact. Terri waited. Waited for her to let her eyes grow brave enough to look into Terri’s.

“You OK?” Terri asked.

“I think so.”

“Did the timer go off?”

“Maybe.” Amy just stood there. Looking at Terri. Swollen lips. Flushed face. Hair a bit of a mess. Breathing heavily.

Terri turned to look in the oven. “Looks like this needs to come out?”

“OK.” Amy said. Still standing in the same space.

Terri took the casserole out of the oven, turned it off. Pulled a couple of plates out of the cabinet.

She turned to take in the picture of Amy, who was not only a little disheveled, but also in a bit daze.

“Do you want to eat now? Or…” Terri asked.

“I think… I think yes.” Amy went to the sink and ran cool water over her hands. After she dried her hands, she put the palms of her hands to her cheeks in an effort to cool down. Terri watched from across the kitchen.

“Do you want to eat in here at the table? Or do you want to go watch television or something.”

“I think… maybe… in here?” Amy took the wine bottle and her glass of wine to the table. “What do you want to drink?”

“I’ll take care of myself.” Terri pulled a beer out of the refrigerator, opened it, and took a long swig.

Amy dished up two plates of casserole. Put them on the table. They sat in chairs across the table from one another.

They started to eat.

“Thank you for this. It’s delicious.” Terri said.

“My grandmother made it.”

“That’s nice of her to…”

“You’re the first woman I’ve kissed.” Amy interrupted. She put her fork down on the table.

Terri said, “Oh.”

Terri thought: Shit. God damn it. Mother fucker. Shit. Fuck. Damn.

“I just want to get that out there.” Amy watched Terri’s face for any sign of disappointment, worry, frustration. Anything. Of course, she saw nothing. Terri the well-known therapist.

“OK.” Terri nodded her head. She continued to eat. Therapist mode. Don’t let her see your thoughts.

“So, what does… how does…what do you think about that?” Amy said.

“I think the more important question is what do you think about that?” Terri deflected like a pro.

“Don’t try to therapize me.” Amy said.

Terri smiled. Dealing with another social worker in a situation like this is far different than it was with Mel, a cop. “Sorry. What I mean is that it is more important that I know what you’re thinking, so I know how I need to process it.”

“I don’t know …what I’m thinking…” Amy searched for her words.

“Is this an experiment to you? You just want to try out being with a woman? Solve the age-old question of what it’s like?” Terri asked. She continued to eat. She drank her beer. Business as usual. As though she had conversations like this every day. As though she didn’t have a ball of fear in her stomach.

“God, no. Terri. No. I have never wondered about women before, I don’t think. But…you. I mean. I can’t stop thinking about you.” She reached her naked foot out to run up and down the denim covering Terri’s leg.

“So. I have to ask…” Terri began.

“It’s not because of who you are.” Amy cut her off.

“Sure?”

“I mean at first I wanted to be near you at work because of who you are. I saw you as that person. But the more I got to know you, the less I thought of you as her. That time when we were all out, that night you were dressed like… you are now? I mean… Terri. And, I saw you talking to a woman, I don’t know who she was, and I felt a real jealousy. When we danced? Terri my body responds to you. It’s never done that before…with a woman. I’m attracted to you. I mean… physically attracted. That’s new to me but,…I know what I feel.” Amy just kind of rambled it all out.

“Ok.” Terri had long stopped eating. She watched and listened as Amy walked through her feelings. “That’s fair.”

“What about you?”

“I’m a lesbian.” Terri said with a smile.

Amy laughed nervously. “Not what I meant. You know what I meant.”

“I was asleep for a long time, Amy. Years.”

“Oh.” Amy looked at her plate. She wasn’t sure what to say. “Years?” She asked.

“More years than I care to say right now.” Terri said. 

“Oh. OK.”

“You woke me up.” Terri said.

Amy’s eyes met Terri’s. “I did?” Amy’s cheeks blushed.

“You did.”

“Like… before tonight?” Any asked.

“Yes.” Terri didn’t take her eyes off of Amy’s.

“Like before we talked on the phone last night?” Amy asked.

“Oh yeah. I struggled with it. For a long time. It felt wrong.”

“Because of the ring?” Amy asked.

“Yes. And because you’re my coworker. And because I didn’t know your preferences. And…” Terri stopped. She wasn’t sure she needed to bare her entire soul in one conversation.

“And?” Amy encouraged her to say more.

“Maybe we’ll go more in depth another time. Why don’t we finish eating?”

“M’Kay.” Amy smiled. She picked more at her plate. “Honestly, I’m not that hungry.” She drank the rest of her wine.

“What do you want to do?” Terri asked.

“I want to see the rooms you want to decorate.” Amy said mater-of-factly.

“Amy. I don’t…” Terri wasn’t sure she could have Amy that near her bed without wanting to finish what they’d started earlier.

“Six feet apart. No touching. Let’s go look. Bring a measuring tape.” Amy pulled a small notebook out of her purse for notes. She followed Terri up the stairs.

++++++

“Oh God. You weren’t kidding. This is horrible.” Amy said. There was a bed with nothing on it but a fitted sheet and a quilt. Two pillows. Two. Flat. Pillows. “Who lives like this?”

“They just finished it. I haven’t had time to shop.”

“Show me the bathroom.” She turned to go into the ensuite bathroom. “Holy fuck, Terri!”

“You like it?” Terri smiled.

“Holy shit! This is a-maze-ing!” Amy said as she walked into the big bathroom.

“I always wanted a place to relax. The work I do…”

“Jesus. I have a lady-boner just looking at it!” Amy declared.

Terri laughed. “Well, that’s good, I suppose.”

“OK. Let’s take some measurements of those windows in the bedroom and I’m good.” Amy said.

“I know what the measurements are.” Terri said.

“OH. Well, then we’re done here. Tomorrow we can go shopping.” Amy turned and walked out of the room and down the stairs. Terri looked quizzically after her and followed her down the stairs. She watched her rear end bounce under her skirt the whole way down the stairs.

++++++

They sat in the living room. Overhead lights were off. One floor lamp in the corner of the room joined the television to cast a small glow over them. They sat on the sectional. Terri sat on the end, with her legs stretched out over the length of the L of the couch. She sipped on a beer. Amy sat beside her, feet tucked under herself. Glass of wine in her left hand. Her right hand absentmindedly played with Terri’s hair.

They were on their second episode of Friends.

Terri finished her beer and leaned up to set it on the coffee table in front of them. She leaned back and hoped Amy would resume playing with her hair.

“So… he always liked her?” Amy asked. “Like from the very first?”

“Yup.”

“He’s kind of sweet.”

“He gets more annoying later.” Terri smiled.

“Are these lesbians in it the whole time?”

“No. Just a few times. And the one changes to a different actress.”

“Which one?” Amy asked.

“The ex-wife.”

“They just changed the actress who played one of the characters?” Amy asked.

“I guess that they just thought that since they were not the main characters of the show, they didn’t matter.”

“Well, I want to know more about the lesbian sub-characters!” Amy laughed.

“Me too. Lesbian sub-characters have stories to tell, too!” Terri grinned. She leaned back against the pillow on the couch. She was so happy to have Amy beside her. She enjoyed their time together.

Amy sat her wine glass on the table. She scooted down and laid her head on Terri’s lap.

Terri pulled her arms up and out of the way. She was surprised by the move. In all the years with Mel, there was never any of this. Cuddling? Playing with hair? No. Out of the question.

After Amy squirmed, moved, wiggled, she finally settled in. She tucked one hand under Terri’s leg. The other rested on Terri’s knee. Her hair was sprawled all around her.

Terri moved her hand, hesitantly at first then more intentional. She pulled Amy’s hair away from Amy’s face, down her back. She ran her hand over it. Wound it around her fingers and made curls. She brought a handful of it up to her nose and smelled it.

When the episode ended, Terri turned off the television.

“You’ve had a long week.” Amy said. Not moving from her position. “I should go. Let you get some rest.”

Terri’s hand moved, then, from Amy’s hair. It moved down her back. It slid up onto her hip. She was curvaceous. Feminine. Terri’s breathing changed. She felt the tug at the base of her abdomen. She felt the tingle between her legs.

Amy sat up, then. She sat up onto her knees, facing the back of the couch so that she was beside Terri, looking at her. Her hair a tangled mess around her face.

The air stood still between them.

“I think if you feel like you need to go, then I can walk you to your car.” Terri said. Always the responsible one. Terri would never suggest to Amy what she really wanted.

“Are you asking me to go?”

“No.” Terri breathed. She remained mostly reclined on the couch. Her head resting on the back of it. Looking up at Amy.

“Can I stay a while longer?”

“Long as you’re sure that’s what you want.” Terri looked from her eyes to her full lips.

“This is not an experiment, Terri.”

“At this point, Amy, if you said it was… I wouldn’t care.” She reached up to smooth a strand of hair away from Amy’s eyes.

Amy leaned forward. Rested a hand on the back of the couch beside Terri’s head. Her hair fell down around her. She moved her face to within inches of Terri’s. She waited. She wanted Terri to make the move. She shut her eyes. She breathily whispered. “Please.”

Terri moved forward while at the same time, her left hand found the back of Amy’s head and pulled her in.

Amy moved, then. She lifted her left leg and brought it over Terri so she straddled her, facing her. Resting her rear end on Terri’s lap. Terri instantly felt the heat of Amy’s crotch emanate from her. Terri moaned. The heartbeat was back between her legs. Her clitoris throbbed.

While their lips were locked, their tongues explored. Amy sucked on Terri’s tongue. Then, her own darted into Terri’s mouth. Amy’s hips slowly began to rock on Terri. They were seeking. There were parts of her begging to be touched.

Terri’s hands ran up and down Amy’s sides. Not yet feeling like she could roam to more intimate places. She couldn’t help but let her thumbs press into the sides of Amy’s ample breasts.

Then, Amy moved again. She moved one of her knees between Terri’s legs. While Amy straddled one of Terri’s denim-clad legs, her knee provided pressure for Terri, who hadn’t realized that she, too, had hips that were rocking. Seeking.

Terri lifted her right knee. Put her foot flat on the couch. She moved her other leg off the couch, giving Amy more room for her knee.

With Terri’s leg elevated, Amy had the resistance she needed. She pressed herself onto the soft, warn denim on Terri’s leg. She put her hands on Terri’s shoulders for leverage. She began to roll her hips with purpose.

Terri moaned when she felt the heat, and then the dampness of Amy rub into her leg. She reveled in the knowledge that Amy was turned on. She was wet. Terri made her wet. She looked up at her, through the hair that haphazardly cascaded over her shoulders and dropped down onto Terri.

“Amy. My god… You’re so beautiful.” Terry uttered.

Amy’s eyes snapped up to meet Terri. She bit her lower lip. She rocked harder. She pushed her knee into Terri. Terri was hot there. She rocked against her.

Terri’s hands moved from Amy’s side. Amy’s dress had ridden up. Terri’s hands settled on her hips, but soon wrapped around to gently rest on her rear. She felt the lace under her fingertips. She slid her hand under the lace and pressed her fingers into the flesh and helped Amy push into her leg.

Amy ducked her head down as her hips rocked harder.

“Terri?” She whispered a question, or was it a call for help, under her breath.

“I’m here. Look at me, Amy. I’m here.” Terri said. She moved her hand to Amy’s face.

Amy looked at her in the eyes and then she stiffened. Her thighs clenched Amy’s leg with a death lock, which in turn shoved her knee hard against Terri who brought her free leg up and around Amy. Bodies stiff. Pulsing. All breathing stopped. And as Terri looked at Amy she heard a sound that was somewhere between a moan and a cry for help. They locked eyes as they rode a simultaneous wave.

After the pulsing stopped. After the breathing resumed. Amy pulled her lips into her mouth and bit down on them. She averted her eyes.

Shit. She regrets it already. Terri thought as she waited for what seemed to be forever.

Then, Amy began to giggle.

“Oh my. That was naughty.” Amy giggled.

Terri smiled and sighed. She pulled Amy down onto her. Amy stretched out, half laying on the couch, half laying on top of Terri.

“That was…the best time I’ve spent with another living being for the better part of a decade.” Terri said with a grin.

Terri loved the feeling of Amy’s weight on her. It felt real. She felt grounded. With the pressure of Amy laying half on her, and the release she just had, she drifted. For the first time in over a week, Terri drifted easily into sleep.

They lay there. Amy asleep on Terri. Terri asleep under Amy.

Somewhere in the late night hours, Terri stirred. She woke quickly and was startled. Something was on her. She was trapped. She pushed. She pushed almost violently to get it off of her.

The movement woke Amy, who knew she was being pushed by Terri to move from laying on her. Terri came to and realized where she was. She remembered Amy had fallen to sleep while laying half on her. 

“Sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you.” Terri whispered. She was angry at herself waking Amy who was, at this point, sitting up beside Terri on the couch. All bodily contact gone.

“Are you alright?” Amy asked her.

“Yup.”

“Need to talk about anything?” Amy asked.

“Nope.” Terri said. She didn’t need to tell her about the nightmares…yet.

“It’s late. I need to go home.” Amy said.

“Stay.” All of Terri’s rational thought, all of her resolve and filters were gone.

“I shouldn’t.” Amy held on to reality.

“Let’s just go upstairs.” Terri said in an uncharacteristic act of forwardness.

“I can’t.”

“We don’t have to do anything.” Terri really wanted to fall to sleep with Amy’s weight on her, again. It was bliss. How would she ever fall to sleep again, after having experienced that?

“That’s not it.” Amy said.

“What is it?” Terri asked.

Amy had walked to the front door to retrieve her sandals She pulled them on. “It’s just… if I go upstairs tonight… I’m not sure you’ll ever get me to leave. I’ll be a permanent fixture around here.”

“And, that’s a bad thing?” Terri asked. She walked over to stand by Amy.

“I’m a lot, Terri. I’m a lot to deal with.”

“I know that about you.” Terri leaned against the wall.

“Yeah. Well do you also know that you’re a lot?” She circled her hands in front of Terri. “You’re Terri-fucking-Morgan. And you’re sexy as hell. And you’re this … emotional pillar. And… We need to take this slow.”

Terri nodded her head. She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down on it. She pulled Amy close. “Alright. Whatever you want.”

Amy slid her arms up around Terri’s neck and pulled her down. One more kiss. Just one more. Ok. Maybe another.

Terri walked her to her car and watched her drive down the lane to the main road. She stood in the yard until Amy’s car’s lights were gone. She padded, barefoot, back into the house and locked it up. She went upstairs.

In the restroom, she sat on the toilet. When she wiped she marveled, again, at the juices her body had made. She pulled on fresh underwear and her tank top and made her way to her bed. She crawled under the quilt and began to drift off to sleep when she heard her phone vibrate.

 

Amy, friend from work ( 1:23 am ):

‘I’m home.’

‘What time tomorrow?’

 

You (1:23 am):

‘Your decision.’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:23 am):

‘Noon. Take me to lunch first.’

 

You (1:23 am):

‘Want me to pick you up?’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:23 am):

‘I’ll come out to you. Want my car with me.’

 

You (1:24 am):

‘Sound decision.’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:24 am):

‘I had a lovely time tonight.’

 

You (1:24 am):

‘It was very nice’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:24 am):

‘Terri, my god.’

 

You (1:25 am):

‘I know. Me too.’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:25 am):

‘Get sleep.’

 

You (1:25 am):

‘I’ll try. See you tomorrow.’

 

Amy, friend from work (1:25 am):

‘Tomorrow.’ *Throwing kisses emoji*

 

Terri rolled over and wished she could feel Amy laying half on her. She shut her eyes and thought about her. Beautiful Amy. Curvy Amy. Soft. Fragrance. Writhing. Coming. Spent, laying on top of her. Amy.

Oh god, this was either going to be the best thing that ever happened to Terri. Or it was going to kill her.

Either way, she was going to enjoy the ride.

And for the first time in a long fucking time, Terri Morgan fell to sleep with a smile on her face.

 

 

Chapter Text

++++++

When Terri opened the door, she had trouble maintaining eye contact with her. There was nothing out of the ordinary about her appearance. She had on black capri workout pants. Yoga Pants? Leggings? Terri wasn’t sure what they were called. 

She had on a forest green shirt. It was made out of a soft, flowy t-shirt fabric. It hugged her breasts and flowed down from there. What drew her eye instantly were the fact that she could see the shape of her nipples through the tight shirt.

For months Terri had looked at Amy in the clothing she wore to work and to the evenings out with coworkers. She’d snuck glances at her breasts. She’d never seen her nipples through her clothing before. Never.

The moment she saw them when Amy walked in, she struggled to not stare. She wondered what they look like. Their size, their color, their… topography. She ached to touch them. She felt the twinge deep within herself. She knew that Amy had chosen her outfit, or at a minimum, a bra that would show Terri exactly what she was looking at now. And it turned her on.

And, of course, Terri was embarrassed. She chastised herself for every thought she was having.

++++++

They walked through the bedding department at the store.

“What’s the budget for this stuff.” Amy asked. Her over-sized purse kept hitting Terri when she adjusted it on her shoulder.

“I don’t really have one. Just want to get what I want.” Terri said. She stood back and looked up at the comforters, quilts, and duvet covers that hug on display. “What do you think of that one?” She pointed at a navy-blue duvet cover.

“It’s fine if you’re a single man who hides women in the basement.” Amy said.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Terri. You said you wanted to decorate your bedroom and make it comfortable. How can you be comfortable with that? You might as well just keep your quilt.”

“I like the quilt. It’s soft.” Terri said seriously.

“And it’s great for covering up when you take a nap on the couch or something. But it does not help the look of that beautiful, spacious bedroom.”

“So, what do I look for?”

“Look for something you can see yourself sitting on. Laying on. Covering up with. Something that enhances the look of the room. Something… something you’d want to…something you’d be proud of, if someone…came over to…visit.” Amy tried hard to be tactful.

Terri could not help picturing Amy sitting on her bed, with her legs tucked under herself. Pillows around her. She pictured her with a soft, pretty comforter under her. Not a utilitarian quilt or solid-colored duvet.

“I think I want a comforter. With a design. Something soft and fluffy.” Terri said. A small smile on her face.

“OK. Yes. We can do that. Look over here.” Amy took her to a different section.

Terri pictured Amy against pastel colors. But Terri was not a pastel person, really. No pinks.

“I like blue. But I guess it doesn’t have to be dark blue… all blue for that matter.”

“Good. Ok. We can narrow it down. How about a grey-blue?” She pointed out a comforter with a design

The main color was more of an orangey-coral. But the grey-blue accents were what caught Terri’s eye.

“It kind of has a bohemian flair.” Amy said. She was clearly drawn to it. “Look, it has pillow shams, but also these grey-blue sheets to match. So, you could just do a lot of plain bed pillows, buy extra pillow cases. Bring out that grey-blue. You do know you need more pillows, right?”

“Yeah.” She figured if Amy was ever going to spend the night, she would probably want to nestle down in a batch of pillows.

“Do you like this one?” Amy asked.

Terri looked at the other comforters hanging on display. She wasn’t drawn to one over the other, really. But Amy seemed drawn to this one.

“What do you think?” Terri asked Amy.

“No. Terr. What do YOU think?” Amy was insistent.

Terri decided to be honest. “I think it’s more feminine than anything I’ve ever had since my mom had me in a Laura Ashley inspired bedroom in middle school.”

“Laura Ashley?!” Amy asked with a laugh.

“She was trying to bring out the feminine side of me.” Terri said dryly.

Amy shifted her purse to her other shoulder. “How’d that work out?” She asked.

Terri stood back and waved a hand from her head to her toes. “How do you think?”

Amy giggled and hugged Terri tightly. Then she squeezed her arm and let go of her. Terri noticed Amy had touched her arms a lot lately.

“So, the comforter. You don’t like it?” Amy asked, looking up at the display hanging above their heads.

“I like it. I’m just saying, I haven’t had a room that was meant to be attractive since I was a kid. And, this is attractive. So, I think that’s good. Do you like it?”

“I love it. I think it’s a cross between masculine and feminine design, and I like the colors.” Amy said, nodding.

“Then, let’s get it.” Terri declared.

“But not because I like it, right? Because that’s just weird.”

Terri smiled. “No. Not because you like it.”

They pulled what they wanted off the shelves and headed to look at curtains and rods. Once they found what they thought would be good, Amy said, ‘So… what about the bathroom?”

“What about it?”

“You need to make it match the bedroom. It’s an ensuite.” Amy insisted.

“But I’m the only one using it.”

“By that logic we can put the rest of this stuff back on the shelf.” Amy said sarcastically.

“So, what? You mean towels?” Terri asked. Playing dumb. She had plans for this space. She had plans to share this space with Amy. Amy may as well choose how to decorate it.

“Towels. Rugs for the floor. Maybe something for the wall? Maybe something for that spacious counter top?” Amy began to walk through the aisles.

“OK. Point the way.” Terri dug her hands into her pockets, and followed Amy through the store with a smile on her face.

++++++

Back at the house, they unloaded the bags and dropped them just inside the front door. They put the sheets and then towels in the wash. Up in Terri’s bedroom, Amy steamed out the curtains and Terri hung the hardware around the windows.

Amy watched her push the drill into the wall. She watched her long fingers wrap around the drill. She watched the muscle of her tattooed forearm move. She watched her shirt pull across her shoulders. Amy discovered that Terri with a power tool in her hand did it for her. There was a physical strength about Terri that was very attractive to her.

“So, sports, huh?” Amy suddenly said…awkwardly.

Terri turned and looked over her shoulder at Amy. “Huh?”

“Sports. You like them?”

Terri pushed the last screw into the wall. She stood back and looked at her handiwork. One hand on her waist. The other hand holding the drill at her side. She turned to Amy to answer her. “Yeah. Some.”

Amy’s breath caught in her chest. She shifted where she was sitting. She wished she could take a picture of Terri like this. Her clitoris tingled.

“Are you gonna… like…force me to go to games?” Amy tried to carry on a conversation that didn’t let on what she was thinking. She felt a little breathless.

Terri shook her head. “Amy. I’d never force you to do anything you don’t want to do.” She pulled the drill bit out of the drill and put it in the proper place in the tool box.

“But you like to watch games.” Amy said.

“Yeah. Basketball. Softball. Volleyball. Soccer. And I like to swim.” Terri rolled up the electric cord on the drill and tied it to itself.

“Oh! I like to go to the pool, too!” Amy said.

“I didn’t say go to the pool. I like to swim. Like laps. For exercise.”

“Oh.” Amy said quietly.

“We don’t have to like the same things. I had that before and all that meant was… we liked the same things. Didn’t mean we liked each other.” Terri said frankly. She snapped the drill’s box shut. Put it on the dresser.

“Oh.” Amy nodded her head. She strung a curtain onto one of the rods and then handed it to Terri. Terri positioned the rod on its brackets. Amy helped smooth the fabric.

“I don’t understand why we’re talking about sports.” Terri said, completely missing any sign of interest and attraction that Amy’s body language was showing her.

“I’m just trying to get you to talk about something,… anything. The only thing we’ve talked about all day is the bedding, the towels, the curtains.” Amy strung the other curtain on a rod and handed it to Terri.

They hung the curtain in silence.

Then Terri moved to sit on the bed. “I’ll talk about anything you want to talk about. Just name it. But small talk around sports seems unproductive.”

“Getting to know who you are doesn’t feel unproductive to me.” Amy argued.

“OK. What do you want to know?” Terri asked her.

“I want to know about the relationship you keep mentioning.” Amy, who was barefoot, sat beside Terri and looked down at her perfectly manicured bare feet. Hot pink toenails on the end of wiggling toes.

“Her name is Mel. Melody. Like me, she doesn’t like to go by her full name; she thinks it’s too feminine for her. She is a cop. We met playing in a basketball league at the Y. We were together … technically together… for about 15 years. She moved out of our apartment about 10 months … almost a year ago. But we were not…together for a long, long time before that.”

“What does she look like?” Amy boldly asked.

Terri pulled out her phone and opened her photo files. She scrolled way back. Far back.

“You have a picture of her in your phone?” Amy tried to hide the annoyance - or was it jealousy? - in her voice.

“Some. Just some old pictures.” She found a couple of pictures and held the phone out to Amy to see.

Amy would have been fine with just a verbal description. Seeing her made her more real.

“So…basically,” Amy said dryly, “She’s attractive… tall... thin… athletic.” Amy said quietly.

“Yup.” Terri nodded her head.

Amy wasn’t sure why she felt the way she did. She’d never been insecure about her own body. She loved her curves and always owned them. One hundred percent. But seeing this woman built like Terri, sexy and butch, she wasn’t sure why Terri would even give a second glance to Amy. Amy and Mel were nothing alike.

“She’s pretty.” Amy added. “In a …sporty… kind of way.”

“I guess.” Terri said. Still looking at the picture on her phone.

“And women before her?” Amy asked.

“Same.” Terri said. She closed the photo files on her phone.

“What do you mean, same?” Amy wanted clarification.

“Let’s just say I’ve always…had…a type. But I wasn’t with anyone more than a handful of months. She was the only real relationship, the only one that lasted.”

“Are you saying that I’m the first…ummm…non-athletic person you’ve…?” Her voice trailed off. She wasn’t sure how to define herself or their burgeoning relationship."

“Right.” Terri answered. She put her phone down beside her on the bed.

“Men?” Amy asked. She scrunched up her face when she forced the question out.

One corner of Terri’s mouth pulled back into a half smile. She shook her head. “Nope. I’m a gold star.” She put her palm on the bed behind her and leaned back.

“You’re a what?” Amy’s eyebrows knitted together.

Terri chuckled. “A gold star lesbian. Never been with a man.”

“Oh…. What does that make me?” Amy asked, nudging Terri on the shoulder.

“I haven’t completely figured you out, yet.”

“What? Terri Morgan…nationally known therapist…hasn’t figured me out?”

“You’ve never been with a woman?” Terri asked.

“Nope.”

“Not even a kiss?” Terri asked.

“Never.” Amy shook her head.

“Crushes on women?” Terri asked.

“Not that I’m aware of.” Amy said.

“Have you had a…significant relationship?” Terri pressed for more information.

“Define significant?”

“Long term.”

Amy sighed. “Not really. I’ve been with a hand-full of guys. Seven… eight? Longest was… I don’t know… like three or four months?”

“And… this?” Terri waved her hand between them.

“Don’t know. Different. A surprise to me. But I’m very open to it.” Amy told her.

Terri had to ask. “As an… experiment?”

“I told you. I don’t think it’s an experiment.”

“But you’re not sure. Not sure if it can be a… relationship.” Terri hoped for clarification. But if she were being honest, she liked Amy enough that she’d take whatever type of relationship she could get.

“I think it can be.” Amy said.

“So, when we kiss. What… do you… feel?” Terri asked open ended questions to get more information out of her.

Amy looked down at her wiggling toes again. She blushed. “Excitement.”

“What do you think about?... when we kiss?” Terri wanted more information.

“I think about doing more than kissing with you.” Amy said bluntly.

“What does ‘Doing more’ mean to you?”

“Will you stop trying to therapize me, Terri Morgan.” Amy smacked her on her thigh.

Terri joined her in looking at her wiggling pink toenails. “I just … I’m trying to figure out how much.. how far…”

“I think you need to learn to just roll with the uncertainty of it, Terr. You can’t plan every single thing.” Amy gently rested her hand on Terri’s thigh. And, then she tucked her hand between Terri’s thighs and massaged her inner thigh.

Terri’s breathing immediately changed. She wanted to move her legs to allow Amy more roaming room. She wanted to lay down on the bed and ask Amy to lay on top of her.

Terri leaned in to kiss her. She put a hand on the back of her neck. Drew her in so their lips met. Gentle. Slow. “I have a lot to learn about you.” Terri whispered into her mouth.

They shared another tender kiss and Amy pulled back to look at Terri. “I think we have a lot to learn about each other. Or…from each other.”

“Yes.” Terri whispered.

Amy’s hands grasped Terri’s arms. Squeezed them. Terri continued to hold her on the back of the head with one hand. The other she forced to stay on Amy’s thigh. Terri grew bold enough to slide her tongue into Amy’s mouth. Amy greedily sucked on it and pushed it aside with her own to invade Terri’s mouth.

Terri grew restless. It took every ounce of energy to stop. She pulled her mouth away from Amy and looked at her.

And then she saw it. Amy moved so slightly that if Terri hadn’t been paying attention, she wouldn’t have seen it. But Terri was paying attention because she saw everything about Amy Tayler. She saw everything, even the things Amy didn’t want her to see. And when she saw the movement, just a tiny movement, she knew. Oh My God. Amy wants this to happen.

Terri noticed Amy’s breath was erratic. Amy’s eyes had turned green. She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down on it. And she, ever so slightly, arched her back. In a small way, lifted her breasts toward Terri. An unconscious movement that begged for Terri’s touch.  

She stood quickly. “Let’s go check on the wash.” Terri said. She knew if she didn’t leave the bedroom in that moment, she’d have Amy’s clothes off of her and be buried between her thighs within minutes.

++++++ 

They sat on the couch, side by side, The New Girl was playing. Terri watched intently while Amy held her arm in her hand.

Amy’s fingers traced along the designs on Terri’s arm. “Do all of these have meaning?” Terri didn’t seem to be the type to have tattoos if they didn’t mean something to her.

“Yup.” Terri didn’t take her eyes off the television. She did not want to get into this conversation. Not now. It was too soon.

“What do they mean?” Amy’s finger lightly traced the edges of a star.

“There’s a lot there, Amy. Maybe now’s not the time. I’m watching your show.” Terri said, working to sound casual. Avoidance.

“OK.” Amy made a mental note. She touched a nerve when talking about the tattoos. She would revisit it, later. When…when they were closer.

“What do you think of it so far?” Amy asked her about her favorite television show in an effort to change the topic.

“I like it. Is he a real asshole?” Terri asked.

“Schmidt? No. You will be in love with him before too long.” She rested her hand on Terri’s thigh.

“That one there. That’s who she ends up with, isn’t it?” Terri asked. “They guy who just put on the red hat.”

“How do you know that?”

“Just a guess.”

Terri moved, then. She laid down. She put her head in Amy’s lap. Amy moved her flowy t- shirt out of Terri’s way, so Terri rested her head on Amy’s soft leg.

Amy paused for just a moment before she ran the fingers of her left hand through Terri’s hair.

Upon feeling her touch, Terri sighed. She hadn’t been touched like this for as long as she could remember. Once in a blue moon, in the early days with Mel, there was gentle touch. But not much. Terri shut her eyes and let herself enjoy the feeling.

“I’m so tired, Amy.” It was a long week full of short nights.

“Take a nap.” Amy whispered.

“I don’t want to miss the show.”

“Fuck that.” Amy turned the television off. “Why don’t you go up and lay in your fresh bed?”

“Because I want you to… I like touching you. Having you touch me.” Terri wasn’t sure how to put to words what she wanted. She was forcing herself to express feelings for which she had been rejected in the past.

“I can go lay down with you.” Amy offered.

Terri rolled over onto her back and looked up at Amy. She looked into her eyes. They were brown at the moment. Gentle. Caring. Nurturing. “Can we just stay right here? I just want a nap. I like laying here with you…like this.”

Amy smiled at her. She reached for her phone and opened a play list.  Soft, instrumental music began to play. “Is this music OK?”

“Yes.” Terri shut her eyes.

Amy wasn’t sure. She thought she saw Terri’s eyes wet with tears. She had to keep reminding herself where Terri had spent the last week. She wondered how she did it. She wondered how she helped so many people through such major trauma. She wondered, not for the first time, who has helped Terri through it all.

Terri turned back to her side and tucked a hand under Amy’s thigh. Amy reached over to the back of the couch and pulled the quilt she had brought down from the bedroom over Terri’s shoulders and made sure it covered her arms. Nan always told her, never take a nap without a blanket or you’ll wake up cold and be cold the rest of the day.

Her left hand went back to playing with Terri’s hair. Her right hand rubbed up and down Terri’s side. She tried her best to sooth whatever was unsettled in Terri’s spirit. She knew this small act would not accomplish the task, but it was a start. Terri might let her in, if she gave it time. If she took care of her. Nurtured her.

Amy sat with her while she slept. Amy’s right hand stilled on Terri’s side, but her left hand continued in Terri’s hair. When she was only 20 minutes into her nap, she felt Terri twitch. She watched her face contort. She heard her whimper. Her breathing became labored.

“Sshhh. Sshhh. You’re safe.” Amy whispered. Her hands started moving to sooth Terri. “Terri, you’re safe. I’m here. You’re safe. Sshhh.”

Terri woke up with a jerk. She rolled onto her back and looked up at Amy. A tear fell out of her eye and rolled back into her hair. She blinked and looked into Amy’s eyes. And, for a moment, no words were spoken. They just looked at one another.

“You’re safe. You’re at home. I’m here.” Amy said.

Terri shut her eyes. She rolled back over on her side. She wrapped her hand back under Amy’s thigh and squeezed. Amy felt the fabric of her pants turn damp under Terri’s face. She was crying.

“I’m here. You’re safe.” Amy continued to murmur while comforting her.

++++++

Amy sat on the kitchen counter, legs dangling off the side. She watched Terri’s back as she worked at the island in front of her. She scrolled through the play lists on Terri’s phone.

“What song do you want me to play?” She asked. She held the phone out. Terri turned at looked at it.

“Scroll down.” Terri told her. Amy did.

“There. That one.” Terri smiled at her and turned back to what she was doing.

Amy played the song.

Terri stood, her back to Amy, while she worked at the kitchen island slicing tomatoes for the caprese salad.

“I don’t know it.” Amy said.

“That’s because you were a child when it was popular.” Terri rolled her eyes while she worked.

They were quiet while the song played around them. Terri cutting tomatoes. Amy watching the muscles in Terri’s back as she moved.

Amy’s foot reached out and gently nudged her ass.

Terri grinned and set the knife down. Slowly, she leaned over to the sink and washed her hands. Dried them on the kitchen towel tucked into the waistband of her jeans.

She turned and leaned against the island. Crossed her feet at the ankles. Arms crossed over her chest. One side of her mouth pulled back in a slight grin. “I can’t make dinner if you keep bugging me.”

“What if I asked you to kiss me?” Amy asked, looking her dead in her blue eyes.

“I’d say that you’d better be sure.” Terri said. She raised an eyebrow.

“Why?” Amy asked.

“Because every time we do that, we get a little closer to not stopping.”

“Well… I mean...It’s not like we haven’t…done things.” Amy said coyly.

“I know. We kind of got carried away last night.” Terri said.

Amy kicked her leg out again. Nudging Terri’s hip. “Do you not want to kiss me?” Amy said.

Terri pushed away from the island and took a step toward her. She jammed her fists into the pockets of her faded Levi’s. Her breath caught amidst the heartbeat that pounded heavily in her chest. She shook her head and frowned a little. “I don’t have a strong preference either way.” The right corner of her mouth pulled back into a half smile.

As she stepped nearer Amy. She stood in front of her and put her hands on Amy’s knees. Amy rested one hand on Terri’s upper arm. She squeezed her. Terri was beginning to realize how often Amy touched her arms.

“Oh, really?” Amy asked. She ran a finger around one of the designs on Terri’s tattoo, a string of Ivy weaving around some flowers. She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down.

Terri looked into Amy’s hazel eyes. They were turned a shade of green. She was fascinated that Amy’s eyes could look brown one moment and green another. She was beginning to understand what turned them green.

A small voice in Terri’s head told her that if she did this, she would regret it later. This flower child wants to experiment. This is just a test for her to see if she would like it. She won’t. This little voice worried that she was setting herself up for disappointment. But, damnit, Terri wanted her. Badly.

A more rational side of Terri was reading all the signs. The flirting. The comforting. The ease with which they talked. The touching.

She really liked Amy’s company. Their relationship was one that Terri cherished and she was a little worried that they were on the brink of fucking it up. She knew that she wanted to kiss Amy again. When they kissed, it was…amazing. She knew she wanted to do more than kiss Amy. But if she did what she wanted to do, and Amy didn’t like it… well then, what would be the consequence?

Terri knew if she kissed her now, it would lead to sex. Last night was too good, too electric. Upstairs, earlier in the bedroom; that was exciting. She knew if they kissed now, she’d ask to put her hands places where they didn’t go last night. Terri wouldn’t want to wait.

Just do it. It will be worth it to find out what she tastes like, feels like. Just do it. If she doesn’t like it, you’ll know soon enough. Just do it.

Amy sat on the counter; Terri took another step forward to stand between her knees. With Amy sitting on the counter, Terri stood a head shorter than her.

She leaned down to kiss Terri. Her full, soft lips parting, welcoming Terri’s tongue. Terri’s hands held onto her waist and slowly ran up her sides. She arched her back to press her breasts forward, hoping to get Terri’s attention with them.

Terri felt Amy’s legs wrap around her waist, her feet hooking around each other in a hug around Terri. She felt Amy scooch toward the end of the counter so close to her that Terri felt heat emanate from her crotch. Terri’s body responded. Her clitoris twitched.

While they kissed, Terri’s hands couldn’t stay still. She ran her hands back down to Amy’s knees and then back up her thighs. Terri squeezed her thighs and then moved her hands back up her sides. Her thumbs resting at the side of Amy’s breasts.

When Amy arched her back again, she knew what she wanted. Terri needed to hear the words.

Terri pulled out of the kiss and leaned up to kiss her neck. She kissed her just below the ear. She whispered in Amy’s ear, “What do you want. Tell me.”

Amy moaned. “I want you to touch me.”

“Where?”

Amy’s hand moved to Terri’s. She wrapped her hand around Terri’s right wrist and moved it to her breast. “Here. Please touch me.”

Their mouths found one another again and Terri’s hand found what they’d both been longing for. Terri had wanted to hold them in her hands for months. And, when she walked into the house this morning, nipples screaming for attention, it was all Terri could do to have a coherent conversation about anything else.

First her hand cupped Amy. She was large, far more than a hand full, and firm. Young and supple. They were heavy in Terri’s hands. As Terri gently massaged her, her thumbs gently rubbed across Amy’s nipples through the thin fabrics of her bra and soft t-shirt. Amy made a quiet moaning sound. There. That’s what she’d wanted to do all day. Terri’s clitoris twitched again. She felt herself grow wet as she felt a throbbing deep inside.

Amy made a high-pitched sound at the back of her throat and used her legs to pull Terri even closer. Her tongue challenged Terri’s and her tongue won. She was now inside Terri. Her sweet little tongue, fucking Terri’s mouth.

“Can I see you?” Terri murmured. Terri had never been with a woman who was so amply endowed and she wanted to do more than feel them.

Amy reached down to the hem of her top.

“We can go to another room, if you would feel more comfortable.” Terri looked into Amy’s eyes. Still green.

Amy flashed a grin. “Here’s fine. I like being taller than you. Plus, this way they’re right in your line of sight.”

She pulled her shirt over her head to reveal what Terri believed to be a set of the most perfect boobs that ever existed, nestled into a thin, little, light-pink-colored bra made of lace. So uniquely feminine. Like she’d only ever seen on models in magazines.

“That’s…umm.. that’s a pretty… bra.” Terri said awkwardly. Terri knew almost nothing about bras like this, but she knew she liked the look of it.

Amy smiled at the statement. This was Terri Fucking Morgan. Terri who was always a person in control. Terri who, more than anyone Amy knew, could string words together that sounded coherent and intelligent. Terri who you’d want beside you in an emergency because she always knew what to do and what to say.

My boobs make her speechless. Amy thought to herself.

“It’s called a lace demi-cup.” Amy said.

“I wear sports bras.” Terri awkwardly said.

“I kind of figured.” Amy nodded her head, holding in a smile.

Amy’s heart swelled at the vulnerability of the moment. This strong, sure, together woman in front of her displayed the awkwardness of a teenager.

Terri slowly reached both of her hands out in front of her and cupped Amy in her hands. She let her thumbs slowly run cross the lace that covered her nipples.

“I can see through it.” Terri said. Her eyes tore themselves away from Amy’s nipples to look into her eyes. Terri had never been with a woman who wore lacy feminine undergarments.

“That’s the point, really.” Amy said. She put her hands on Terri’s shoulders. She arched her back so she pressed firmer into Terri’s hands.

Terri’s thumbs continued to tease her nipples which were hard and tingling from the glorious attention. Finally, Amy thought, She’s finally touching them.

Feeling Terri’s fingers on her, where she was so sensitive to the touch, sent a shiver down her spine. She pressed her body closer to Terri. She pulled Terri in closer with her legs.

Terri licked her lips and moved her head forward a fraction of an inch. Then stopped and looked at Amy.

“Whatever you want. I’m ready.” Amy encouraged her.

Terri slowly leaned in and gently kissed the top of Amy’s breast just above where the bra stopped. Her skin there was smooth. Terri rubbed her cheek there. Amy was warm and smooth and soft. She smelled of lavender.

Terri moved her mouth lower, she licked the flesh just peeking out from the bra. She turned her head and did the same on the other side.

Teri’s clitoris throbbed, she felt herself nearly dripping inside her own pants. She wondered if Amy’s body was reacting the same way. She hoped it was.

“Amy?” Terri said her name as a question, still staring at her breasts that strained against the pink lace.

“Terri?”

Terri looked up at her then. “I’ve seen my share of boobs.”

“I assumed.” Amy said nodding. Stifling a grin.

“These are the most spectacular ones I’ve ever seen.” Terri smiled broadly at her. She exhaled shakily.

Amy smiled. “Thankyouverymuch.”

Terri tucked the fingers of her left hand inside the bra and nudged it down to expose Amy’s tight, brown nipple.

Terri made a noise deep in her throat.

“Do it.” Amy encouraged her. “Please Terr. Do it.”

Terri pulled back and looked at Amy. She reached up to kiss her. Amy put her hand on Terri’s head.

“Please.” Amy said quietly. She put a little pressure on Terri’s head to let her know she wanted her to put her mouth on her.

Terri leaned forward and captured Amy’s nipple and the surrounding soft flesh into her mouth. She sucked on her and she reveled in the feeling of Amy’s fingers grasping her short hair while she moaned. Terri’s tongue lapped at her and then flattened for her to suck and pulled Amy’s nipple into her mouth.

Terri moved her right hand to Amy’s back and slid it down to press against her rear end. She pulled Amy closer. The heat from Amy’s crotch pressed solidly against Terri. Amy’s hips rocked, begging for Terri to do more than to suck on her.

She released the suction. With her mouth still over her nipple, she used her tongue to flick it. Circle it. Tease it. Showing Amy what she’d do to another part of her body if given the chance.

Amy arched her back. Her head fell back. Terri ran her hand up Amy’s neck and tucked into her hair.

She pulled off of Amy’s nipple. Amy looked down at her and Terri looked her in the eyes. She reached up to her for another kiss. Deep, passionate. She broke away and lowered her head to Amy’s other breast, which Amy had already exposed, pulling the bra down herself in anticipation of Terri’s mouth. Amy’s hands fell to each side of Terri’s face while Terri sucked her, gently. Teased her with her tongue. Flicking. Circling. Sucking.

“Amy, you make me wet. I haven’t been wet in so long.” Terri murmured in a low, husky voice into her flesh.

“How wet?” Amy’s voice was nearly guttural. Low. Quiet. Her fingers still dug into Terri’s hair.

“Copious amounts.” Terri said.

Amy giggled. “That sounds like a lot.”

Terri looked at her and let out a nervous burst of air with a laugh. Then her face became serious. She blushed. “It’s new territory for me. It’s been a long time, Amy.”

Amy kissed her again. Terri moved her mouth and kissed Amy on her neck, down her chest and back to her breast. She nuzzled Amy’s soft, warm flesh and then moved back to sucking on her tight nipple.

“Me too. I change several times a day because my panties get so wet.”

Oh god. A spark ran through Terri.

Terri abandoned the task at hand. She stood up straight. She looked up into Amy’s eyes. Her hands moved to Amy’s thighs. Her body still. “Tell me that again,” She said. Slowly in a low, commanding voice.

“You make me so wet, I have to change my panties.” Amy nearly whispered.

Terri squeezed Amy’s thighs. “God, Amy…I want to…”

“Do it.” Amy pushed Terri backward and she slid off the kitchen counter and stood in front of her. “Do what you want, Terri.”

“Here? Or…”

Amy pushed her yoga pants down over her hips and reached her hands up around Terri’s neck. “Don’t make me wait another minute to feel your fingers. Please.” 

Terri leaned down and kissed her upturned mouth. God, her pouty lips. While she did, she let her hand slide down between Amy’s legs. Amy parted her feet as best she could, with her yoga pants around her knees, to allow space for Terri’s hands to find her.

Their kiss deepened. Amy’s arms around Terri’s neck pulling her down and into the kiss. Terri’s tongue probing her.

Terri slid two fingers between Amy’s thighs and then slowly moved them up, ready for any sign from Amy to stop. Her fingers parted Amy’s lips and gently nudged their way in. Amy was warm and wet. So. Fucking. Wet.

Amy rolled her hips and let her hands tuck under Terri’s shirt. Her hands wrapped around Terri’s back and ran up and down. She ran her fingers under the band of Terri’s bra, teasing the flesh there.

When her finger found Amy’s clitoris, she elicited a response from Amy that was a cross between a whimper and a moan. Terri only brushed over it, in a slight, teasing motion. She left her clit to slide two of her long fingers up into her. Deep into her. She was hot, and tight, and wet.

Amy began to rock.

“Terri.”

“Yes.” Terri breathed into her ear.

“I need to … I can’t keep standing here.” Amy said.

Terri pulled her fingers out of Amy. “What do you want?”

“Take me where you want us to go.” Amy said.

Terri took a step back. Forcing herself into a moment of sanity.

“Maybe we just should… Just take a minute.” She turned away from Amy. She leaned against the sink to try to get a hold of her senses. She filled a glass with water and took a drink. She felt Amy press against her from behind.  

Amy pulled her pants up and took a deep breath. She pressed her front to Terri’s back. She wrapped her arms around Terri and let one of her hands slide under Terri’s shirt. She raised her hand higher until her hand came into contact with Terri’s sports bra. Slowly she moved her hand to touch her there.

Jesus, Terri thought. Finally.

Amy ran her hand over the soft mound of Terri’s breast. She smiled into Terri’s back when she found Terri’s nipple respond to her touch. Amy let her fingernails graze her and Terri froze. She wrapped her other hand around Terri and did the same to her other breast.

How long had it been since someone had touched her, felt her there? She leaned back against Amy. She shut her eyes. Surrendered to the amazing feeling. Oh my god. It felt so good to be touched. Touched by another person.

Terri’s head bent forward. What she was feeling was exquisite. She didn’t want it to stop… yet….Terri’s hands settled over her shirt to still Amy’s hands.

“Amy. I need you to decide right now. Are we just going to make out for a bit, or are we going to full-on do this? You need to decide because I’m going to turn around in a minute and …”

“Let’s just go to the couch and see what happens from there.” Amy said.

“Amy. I want to do things to you. Things you’ve not done before.” Terri said. Though her hands held Amy’s, she felt Amy’s fingers moving, teasing, pinching, circling. Amy wasn’t stopping.

“I’m ready when you are.” Amy said as she pressed her forehead between Terri’s shoulder blades. “Teach me what you want to do.”

Amy stepped back and Terri turned around. They smiled at each other and Terri grabbed Amy’s shirt from the counter as they headed out of the kitchen. When they reached the living room, Amy rounded the couch to sit down. Terri moved to sit on the couch and was startled when she heard a knock at the door behind her.

“Terri!” she heard a voice call from outside the door.

Terri shut her eyes and exhaled. She looked down at the shirt that was in her hand. She tossed it to Amy who frantically put it on.

Terri went to the door and opened it. It was the neighbor. “Hi, Mr. Thompson. What can I do for you?”

“Melba got out again.” He said. “I think she’s down in your field. I may need some help.”

“Ok. Let me pull on my boots.” Terri said. She turned to look at Amy, but she had left the room.

Terri grabbed her boots and headed onto the porch to help Mr. Thompson find his wayward sow.

++++++

An hour later, Terri trudged up the stairs to the porch. They found the old sow down by the empty field where they use to plant corn. She helped Mr. Thompson get her back to his place.

She pulled her boots off just inside the door and stood to listen for Amy. The house was silent. She walked into the dark living room and found her sleeping, under the quilt, on the couch. Hair wildly messy. She smiled and left her to her rest.

In the kitchen, Terri found the food she had started preparing over an hour before. She washed her hands and turned back to the tomatoes. Slicing them. She pulled the mozzarella out of the refrigerator and sliced it. She tore basil leaves off the plant on the counter.  

She went out to the back patio and started the gas grill. She dropped the marinated chicken on it. She lowered the lid and sat down with her beer.

A lot had happened earlier in the day and she processed it all in her own way.

She thought about the nap she took in Amy’s lap. She had the nightmare again. She didn’t have it often, but when she did it was in the days following her return home. Lines of people needing her. She couldn’t get to all of them. She could only help a few. So many people needing help. At first, the line seemed never ending. But as she looked, she saw someone – a faceless man, because it was always a man – starting at the other end of the line and shooting each person there. She tried to help the people faster so she could protect them. He always beat her to them.

She’d never told anyone about the dream. She knew what it was. She was a therapist. She knew it was her subconscious mind letting out her worries. She knew what it meant. But she never said the words out loud. She wouldn’t tell Amy, because it would only serve to upset her. She wouldn’t tell her fellow first-responders, because she knew they had their own nightmares to live with. Instead, she shook it off.

She let her mind drift to their make-out session in the kitchen. God, that felt good. It had been too long since she’d felt that good. It seemed like forever since she’d had a willing partner in her arms. A woman who wanted to be touched. She thought about their conversations. She sat back and shut her eyes.

I want you to touch me.

You make me so wet, I have to change my panties.

She never liked the word panties before. Suddenly hearing those words come out of Amy, turned Terri into a puddle.

She needed to slow this down. She was aware that she was emotionally raw in the moment. On the days coming back from the job, she always felt particularly vulnerable. Historically, she kept to herself for a couple of days while she processed, internally of course. She typically spent time alone to acclimate herself back home.

She chastised herself for spending time with Amy when she knew she should have spent the weekend in solitude, getting into a better headspace for work on Monday.

She just wanted to be with her. Once she learned that Amy was not in a relationship and was interested in Terri, Terri couldn’t wait to get to her. Touch her. Kiss her. Connect with her. There was a sense of urgency behind it all. She instinctually wanted to act immediately.

She thought about Amy and what they’d done over the past couple of days. The rational side of her realized they needed to slow it down. The thought weighed on her. She knew why. She knew the chemical reactions her body was experiencing because of this time with Amy. Touching her. Being touched by her. It made her feel good. She knew if she slowed it down, saw Amy less, those reactions would not help her feel better. And, coming back from this week…well, it felt so good to feel better.

“Hi.”

She heard Amy at the back door behind her. She opened her eyes and turned to look at her. “Hi.” Terri gave her a smile.

“You grilling?” Amy asked. Annoyed at herself for always asking awkward, obvious questions.

“Just the chicken. Salad is in the kitchen.”

She sat down beside Terri. “Whatcha thinking about?”

“The day.”

“Good or bad?” Amy asked.

“Didn’t put a label on it. Just thinking about it.”

Amy slid her hand into Terri’s. “Thinking we need to slow it down?”

“Yup.” Terri slowly nodded her head. Took a drink of her beer.

“Want it to stop?”

“Nope.” Terri said quickly.

“Good.”

Terri got up to check the chicken. Looked done. She turned off the grill.

They ate dinner in the kitchen. They were both quiet. Neither quite sure what they needed to say. Both lost in their own thoughts.

++++++ 

Terri stood, legs crossed at the ankles, feet bare, leaning against the car. Amy opened her car door and tossed her bag onto the passenger seat.

“Want to get together tomorrow?” Terri asked. She knew that was not taking it slowly.

“Sure. I have church and then lunch with Nan and Pop.”

“Church?” Terri asked.

“Yeah.” Amy said back. Almost as though she was ready for a challenge.

Terri was quiet.

“What?” Amy asked.

“Want to do something after? Or… just…”

Amy moved, then. She moved to stand in front of Terri. She reached up to pull Terri near her. She pulled Terri’s face down to hers. She briefly touched her lips to Terri’s. “Of course, I want to see you, Terri. I don’t want to leave you tonight.”

“OK.” Terri whispered.

They embraced. They kissed.

“It feels silly.” Terri said.

“What does?”

“It feels silly to be sad that you’re leaving.” Terri admitted. Her face turned down to look at her feet.

“I know.” Amy said. “Those endorphins when we’re together feel really good.”

Terri nodded silently. In just a few days, Amy understood. Mel never did.

“Text me when you get home?” Terri held the car door for her while she got in.

“Of course.”

One more brief kiss and Amy had her car in gear and headed down the drive to the road.

++++++

Terri took a long, hot shower. She dried off with one of her new fluffy towels. She pulled on a pair of underwear and a tank top.

She turned back the new bedding. Six pillows on the bed. Far more than she needed. But it was, for sure, inviting.

She propped up on some of the pillows and picked up her book from the bedside table.

She drifted to sleep, unable to focus on any words. She was so very tired.

Her phone woke her.

Amy, cute girl from work (10:27 pm):

‘Check in text. I’m home.’

 

You (10:27 pm):

‘OK.’

‘Wait. Did you change your name in my phone?’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:27 pm):

‘Maybe’ *Gif of little blond girl with pigtails shrugging her shoulders*

 

You (10:28 pm):

‘My phone has a number lock on it. How did you get in?’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:28 pm):

‘News flash. You are very predictable.’

‘It’s your extension number at the office.’

 

You (10:29 pm):

*GIF of Monica from Friends saying ‘I KNOW!’*

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:29 pm):

‘How’s that new bedding?’

 

You (10:29 pm):

‘Cozy’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:30 pm):

‘Pillows?’

 

You (10:30 pm):

‘You were right. Very comfortable.’

‘How did I live with only two pillows before?’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:30 pm):

‘Want to go to the farmer’s market in Cedar Grove tomorrow?”’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘Sure.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:31 pm):

‘Want to pick me up? Or Want me to come out?’

 

You (10:31 pm):

‘Whatever you want.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:32 pm):

‘What are you doing?’

 

You (10:32 pm):

‘Reading. Well, I fell asleep.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:32 pm):

‘You’re having bad dreams.’

 

You (10:32 pm):

‘It’s typical.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:33 pm):

‘Want to talk about it?’

 

You (10:33 pm):

‘No.’


Amy, cute girl from work (10:33 pm):

‘You’re not alone anymore, Terri.’

 

You (10:33 pm):

‘Give me time, Amy.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:34 pm):

‘How much time?’

 

You (10:34 pm):

‘Don’t know.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:34 pm):

‘I don’t want to stop this.’

 

You (10:34 pm):

‘Me either’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:35 pm):

‘I think about you’

 

You (10:35 pm):

‘Same.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:35 pm):

‘I mean, when I touch myself.’

 

You (10:35 pm):

‘I knew what you meant.’

‘Me too.’


Amy, cute girl from work (10:36 pm):

‘Why are we going slow?’

 

You (10:36 pm):

‘Just seems the responsible thing to do, I guess.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:36 pm):

‘Do you ever do anything that isn’t the responsible thing?’

 

You (10:36 pm):

‘Not typically.’

 

Amy, cute girl from work (10:37 pm):

‘So, I’m going to challenge you to do something irresponsible.’

 

You (10:37 pm):

‘OK’

 

++++++

You (10:37 pm):

‘So, I’m going to challenge you to do something irresponsible.’

 

Terri (10:37 pm):

‘OK’

 

Before Amy could respond, her phone was buzzing with a call. Terri was calling her.

Her breath caught in her chest. A zing went up her spine.

“Hi.” She said quietly into the phone.

“I’m going to be irresponsible.” Terri said in a low voice.

“How so?” Amy asked coyly. She laid back on her pillows in her dark room.

“I loved touching you today.” Terri said in a low, quiet voice.

“Oh?” Amy asked.

“Touch yourself there for me, Amy.”

“Touch myself where, Terri?”

“Start with your boobs, please.” Terri told her. She added, “They are spectacular.”

“You like those, do you?” Amy teased. She smiled, pleased.

“When you walked in… this morning… your nipples were hard.”

“They’re hard all the time, lately.” Amy tried to dismiss the comment.

“I haven’t seen them before. I mean through your clothes like I did today.” Terri said honestly.

“Oh. So you’re telling me you look at my tits?” Amy teased.

“I… I have for a while now.” Terri admitted. “I just haven’t seen through your clothes what I saw today when I opened the door.”

“That’s because at work I wear a padded bra so they won’t show. Today I wore a bra that I knew would …I knew you’d see them. I wanted you to see them.” Amy said.

“Jesus, Amy.” Terri breathed into the phone.

“So, tell me what you want me to do.” Amy said.

“Are you touching them, now?”

“Yes. Tell me, Terri. What you just said. You look at them? Like at work?”

“I tried not to. For a long time. I wasn’t successful. I’m sorry if that’s disrespectful.” Terri admitted.

“Did you like getting a closer look today?” Amy asked.

“I did.” Her voice was so quiet, Amy almost didn’t hear her.

“I liked having your mouth on them.” Amy said.

“They’re perfect.”

“I wish your mouth was on them now.” Amy murmured quietly into the phone.

“Will you slide your hand down your body. Between your legs?” Terri asked her.

“Terri, I’m so wet for you.”

“I want to taste you. I can’t wait to taste you, Amy.” Terri said.

“I’ve never …”

“I know. You don’t have to. But…I like it.” Terri told her.

“Would it be wrong… if I…” Amy wasn’t sure how to say the words.

“What?”

“Would it be wrong if I… tasted myself?” Amy asked shyly.

“No.” Terri breathed. “Not at all.” Fuck.

Terri listened as she heard Amy suck on her fingers. Terri slid her own fingers between her legs and slid them through the warm, wet, sensitive area. She lifted her fingers to her mouth and tasted herself.

“You just did it, too, didn’t you? I heard you.” Amy said.

“Yes…. What do you think about it?” Terri asked her.

“I don’t know, Terri. I don’t…”

“It’s ok, Amy.”

“Terri, I don’t know what to do.”

“Just touch yourself, Amy. You know what you like. Do it.”

“OK.” Amy breathed.

“Think of my fingers on you. What you want me to do to you.” Terri told her.

“Mmmmm.” Any didn’t have words at the moment.

“Talk to me, Amy. Tell me what you’re doing.”

“I’m pinching my nipples. I like… I like a little bite. So, when I’m alone, I sometimes dig my fingernails into them.”

“I’ll bite you if you want.” Terri told her. She was sliding her fingers back and forth through her own wet, swollen lips.

“I want you to touch me again. Here.” Amy said.

“Where, Amy?”

“My clit. You brushed against my clit today and I almost came in your hand. I was so turned on.” Amy told her.

“Are you touching it now?”

“Yes.”

“How do you like it touched? Tell me.” Terri asked her.

“Gentle circles. So gentle. It’s very sensitive down there.”

“Yes, it is. I’ll remember that.”

“Terri.”

“Amy.”

“Tell me what you’d do if I was with you right now.” Amy asked her.

In a low, quiet voice, Terri said, “I’d pull your nipple in my mouth and I’d suck on you. And I’d bite you. My hand would be where yours is now. I’d feel how wet you are for me. I’d slide my fingers deep in you to make sure you were wet and slick. I’d circle your clit. Slow and gentle.”

“But then you’d move faster.”

“Then I’d move faster.” Terri was doing to herself what she told Amy she’d do to her.

“Because I’d be nearly there.” Amy breathed into the phone.

“And the faster I moved, the closer you’d be…. Your clit is hard, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“And you wish that was my finger on you.” Terri said in a low voice.

“Yes, Terri.”

“Maybe you want my tongue there.” Terri said to her in a low voice.

“Maybe.”

“You’ve done this before and thought about me haven’t you?” Terri asked.

“Yes.”

“I have too, Amy. I think about you touching me. I think about touching you. Tasting you.” Terri’s low voice breathed into the phone.

“Yes. Terri. Yes.”

“Slide my tongue over your clit, the way your finger is moving right now.” Terri whispered.

“Terri. Terri.”

“Let it happen. Just fall. Just … Amy…”

She listened to Amy. Her breath caught. She moaned quietly. She gave a quiet little squeal. And while she did, Terri said, “It’s going to be so much better when you’re not alone. I’m going to worship your beautiful body like nobody ever has.”

And, then, she joined Amy. She felt the throbbing start, she felt the rush of cum. She heard Amy say, “I want you, Terri.” And she fell over the cliff and let her body fall, knowing that the exquisite feeling would only be better when they were together.

They were both quiet. Well, quiet is maybe not the word. Neither spoke. Both breathed heavily while they regained their heart rates and breath.

Amy slid her hand out from her panties and wiped them on her sheet. For the first time in a long time, she was speechless.

Terri pulled up her underwear and sat on the side of her bed. Feet tucked under herself.

It was Terri who spoke first. “Sometimes… I can be irresponsible.”

“Irresponsible? Or…. Irresistible?” Amy asked.

Terri smiled. “You, Amy Tayler, are a flirt.”

“You’re sexy. You just don’t realize it. Which makes you even sexier.” Amy told her.

She changed the subject. “So, what is the plan for tomorrow?”

“Oh. I’m coming to your house. Maybe we’ll leave. Maybe we’ll stay.”

“Anything you want, Amy.”

“Anything?”

“Yeah. Anything.”

++++++ 

Amy settled back into bed after returning from the restroom where she went to clean herself up a bit before falling to sleep.

She filled a large glass full of water and gulped it down. 

She picked up her phone to set her alarm and noticed a text had come in.

Terri (11:22 pm):

‘Thank you’

 

You (11:35 pm):

‘Thank YOU.’

 

Terri (11:35 pm):

‘See you tomorrow.’

 

You (11:35 pm):

‘Hey Terri.’

 

Terri (11:35 pm):

‘Yes, Amy?’

 

You (11:35 pm):

‘What was that song you played this evening before we made out?’

 

Terri (11:35 pm):

‘Alanis Morrisette – my college days’

Here’s a link:’ 

 

You (11:35 pm):

‘Significance?’

 

Terri (11:35 pm):

‘The words suddenly have meaning.’

 

You (11:41 pm):

‘I like it.’

‘Thank you.’

 

Terri (11:41pm):

‘Good night, Amy.’

 

You (11:41 pm):

‘Good night, Terri Morgan. Sleep well.’

 

Terri (11:42pm):

‘With all these pillows, how could I not?’

 

 

 

Chapter Text

++++++

Terri skipped her morning workout. She woke from the nightmare and couldn’t get back to sleep. She dressed and stood over the sink to eat her cereal. She worried that she stepped over the line when she called Amy to have phone sex the night before.

She needed out of the head space she was in. She tied on her work boots and headed to the barn. She wanted to finish fixing the stalls before Amy arrived in the afternoon.

She turned on the song that had been an ear worm all morning and played it on a loop. The words played over and over in her head as she worked. 

Ah, now I don't hardly know her
But I think I can love her
Crimson and clover

Ah, now when she comes walkin' over
Now I've been waitin' to show her
Crimson and clover, over and over

Yeah, I'm not such a sweet thing
I wanna do everything
What a beautiful feelin'
Crimson and clover, over and over

Terri used the drill to make holes in the stall where she mounted the new brackets to brace them. She changed the attachment and used it to secure the screws. She shook the stall wall. It was good. If she was going to put livestock of any kind in this old building, it needed to be sturdy and safe. She stood and surveyed her work and moved to fix the next stall over.

She heard the car drive up. She put the drill down and walked out of the barn. Amy wasn’t supposed to arrive for a few more hours. She said she was going to go to church and then have lunch with her grandparents. Terri watched her get out of her car and head to the house.

“Over here.” She called out. Amy must not have heard her, because she continued toward the house.

She wore a dress again. Legs bare in the sunshine. Her rear end jiggled with each step under the thin cotton skirt that covered her. She wore little white canvas tennis shoes. So, when she walked, her steps were solid and strong.

The wind kicked up. Terri kept her eyes peeled. There it was. There was a quick hint of her bare rear end. Amy quickly moved her hand to hold down her skirt; Terri smiled to herself.

Terri went back into the barn. She unplugged the drill and methodically put it away. Everything in its place. She walked toward the house. She pulled her work gloves off as she sauntered that way. She tucked the gloves into her back pocket.

Amy came down off the porch, having learned nobody answered the door. She spotted Terri. She stood still and waited.

Terri had on those faded Levis that looked to be decades old. Soft. Worn. Amy was beginning to realize she must have several pairs of them. Blue t-shirt. The color of her eyes. Sleeves rolled up slightly on those tattooed arms. Work boots. She took Amy’s breath away. So. Damned. Sexy.

Terri walked up to her slowly. It took every ounce of self-control she had to not sweep her up in her arms.

“Hi.” Amy smiled.

“Hey. I wasn’t expecting you so early. I’m not ready to go to the farmer’s market yet.” Terri searched Amy’s eyes. They were the brown side of hazel at the moment. Terri worried about why Amy was early.

“I don’t need to go to the farmer’s market, today.” Amy shook her head.

“Oh…OK.” Terri waited. Unsure of what Amy was getting at.

“Do you need more time to finish whatever you were doing out there…?” Amy waved a hand toward the barn.

“No. I’m done.” Terri shook her head. Because, well, she could be done.

“OK.”

“Want to go inside?” Terri asked.

“Yeah.” Amy said breathlessly.

Terri walked beside her, careful to not touch her. Wondering what Amy wanted. Was she here to end it? Maybe she was stopping by before she headed to church to tell her that she couldn’t do this. Maybe Terri did go too far the night before with the phone sex.

Terri motioned for her to walk up the porch stairs ahead of her. Her legs. Her thighs. The wind blew and her skirt teased Terri.

When they arrived at the door, both reached at the same time for the doorknob. Terri’s hand over Amy’s. They froze.

Amy let go and turned to face her. They stood close. She turned her head up to look at Terri. She looked from Terri’s eyes to her lips and back to her eyes.

OK. Terri thought. I know why she’s here. This is good.

“Please. Terri.” She breathed. She lightly touched her fingers to Terri’s side, just above her waist.

“Please, what, Amy?”

“Please take me upstairs.” Amy leaned in and up, and she kissed Terri’s neck.

Terri dropped her head and nuzzled Amy’s cheek. “It’s Sunday morning.” She murmured.

“I know.”

“I thought you had church with your Nan.” Terri said quietly.  

“I decided to come here instead.”

Silence.

“Take me upstairs.” Amy said again.

“I need you to be clearer than that.” Terri said.

Consent. Was. Everything.

Amy wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist. She snuggled in close. She laid her head on Terri’s shoulder and kissed her neck.

“Take me upstairs. Touch me. Let me touch you.” Amy whispered.

“I need to go take a shower, I’ve been…”

Amy moved her arms up around Terri’s neck and pulled her down for a kiss. “No, Terr. Please don’t.”

Terri lowered her mouth onto Amy’s. Soft, gentle lips began to press hard. They were hungry and nothing was going to satiate the hunger. Well, Terri could think of something that would.

While they kissed, Terri opened the door and Amy backed them inside. She dropped her big purse beside the front door. It tumbled. Things fell out. She used her toes to kick off the tennis shoes.  

Terri pushed the door shut and leaned against it.

“You’re sure.” Terri said.

Amy turned, then. She moved away from Terri. She turned and walked toward the stairs. She stepped up onto the first step and stopped. She turned her head to look over her shoulder at her. “I’m going up to your room.” And then she walked up the stairs and disappeared.

Terri stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up. She froze. She was terrified. For so many reasons. None of which she could name. Her brain had completely shut off. The rational side of herself was completely gone. She, for a moment, thought she was going to turn around and leave the house.

She recognized it in herself. Fight or flight. Terri rolled her eyes and chastised herself.

And then she heard Amy. Calling from upstairs.

“God damn it, Terri. Stop over-thinking it and get up here.”

She smiled. She put one foot in front of the other. She went to her room. She went to Amy.

++++++

She stood in the doorway and looked at her. Amy sat on her knees in the middle of the bed. On the new comforter they had just put on the day before. Pillows all around her. The light was off in the room, but the morning sunlight peeked through the closed curtains. Her hair was a wavy mess of a wind-blown halo around her face. Music played somewhere in the room. It must have been on Amy’s phone.

“Just come sit down. It will be ok.” Amy told her. She reached her arm out for Terri.

Terri walked over to the bed and sat down.

Amy moved to the side of the bed and bent over to pick up Terri’s foot. She untied the work boot on one foot and then slid it off of her.

“I mean… Terri… we could take our time.”

Then she did the same with the other boot.

“We could have a hands-off policy and date for a couple of weeks.”

She reached over to pick up one of Terri’s feet and pulled off her sock.

“But all that would do is drive us both crazy.”

Then she did the same with the sock on the other foot.

“And work is hard enough without adding a will we or won’t we tease over our heads.”

Terri turned to look at Amy. She froze. Terri, who is always self-assured. She’s a take-charge kind of woman. She froze. Because she was terrified of what would happen if this didn’t go well for them.

“Kiss me, Terri.” Amy leaned forward. “Trust me. No matter how it turns out, it’s going to be OK.”

Terri reached her right hand over to pull Amy the rest of the way to her. Hand in her hair. She turned her head slightly so that their lips fit together. She gently kissed her. An almost chaste kiss.

Amy pulled her down to the bed. Pulled her so that she leaned over Amy. “Please, Terri. Kiss me…Touch me.” Amy breathed into her ear.

That was all Terri needed to hear. She pushed Amy further onto the bed, made sure she had pillows to hold her. Cradle her. She laid half on top of her and she began to kiss her again. Deeply. Tongue exploring. She pulled Amy’s pouty bottom lip into her mouth. She sucked on her. Her denim-clad knee working its way between Amy’s knees, pushing up the skirt of her little cotton dress. All the while her hips rocked on Amy’s. And Amy met her motions.

Terri’s hand moved from its hold on Amy’s hair. It slowly moved down Amy’s body. First, down her arm, feeling her soft skin. Then over to her hip, where Terri’s hand wrapped behind her and pushed Amy to her. Then her hand slid low on Amy’s rear and as she moved it low, the skirt of Amy’s dress rode up. Until Terri’s hand was on Amy’s rear end. Smooth, warm skin. With a hint of lace. Terri’s hand kneaded Amy there. Thrilled that she was finally able to touch her, knead her flesh on her ample rear end.

Amy’s hands ran under the hem of Terri’s t-shirt and pushed it up over her head. Terri reached back - to the back of the neck of her shirt - and pulled it over her head.

“You’re going to ruin your shirt taking it off like that.” Amy panted.

“Huh?” Terri said.

Amy waved her hand as if to dismiss the thought. “Never mind. Never mind. Kiss me.”

And Terri’s mouth was back on her. Amy wiggled her body under Terri until Terri was laying between Amy’s legs. Amy raised her knees and wrapped her legs around Terri. As she did so, she pressed her warmth snugly against Terri’s abdomen. Terri pulled back and looked at her and made a sound. Amy wasn’t sure, but it sounded a bit like a growl.

With Amy holding on to her in that way, it left Terri’s hands free to roam and that they did. She moved both her hands up to cup Amy’s breasts. She squeezed her. Let her thumbs explore her. There they were. Those hard, little nipples begging for attention.

Amy ran her hands up Terri’s back and down to her rear. She slid her hands inside the waist of her jeans. She let her fingernails dig into the muscle of Terri’s ass.

Amy reached her hands up to Terri’s shoulders. She pushed on her, then. She pushed her away. Terri, thinking Amy was pushing her off sat up. “I’m sorry. It’s too much? I’m Sorry.” She sat up on a knee. She moved away from where she was between Amy’s legs, backing up on the bed.

Amy sat up. “Don’t be sorry.” And she pushed Terri onto her back. She quickly went to work unbuttoning and unzipping her Levi’s. Terri smiled a big smile of understanding. Amy tugged at the jeans in an effort to pull them down. Terri raised her hips and helped tug them down.

Amy, who had been on her knees, sat back onto her feet and looked at Terri. “Jesus.” She said. Her eyes traveled the length of Terri’s body.

“What?” Terri said. She leaned up on an elbow. Working to catch the breath that had left her.

“Just….” Amy stared at her. She held up her hand to indicate for Terri to stop. “Just… give me a minute.”

She looked at Terri. Her short dark hair a mess on top of her head. Sports bra. Broad shoulders. Those tattooed arms. The skin on her pale face was flushed. Amy ran a hand along Terri’s right thigh. The one closest to her. She moved then. She put one knee between Terri’s legs, then she moved her other knee there, causing Terri to spread her legs wide. Terri put both her feet flat on the bed, knees in the air. She was still up on one elbow searching Amy’s face.

Amy put her hands on Terri’s knees. “Your legs are so-god-damned long. I want to feel them wrapped around me.” Then her hands moved, slowly, determinedly from Terri’s knees to her inner thighs and back to her knees. Then back to her inner thighs.

Terri relaxed back onto the bed and shut her eyes. As Amy’s hands neared the point where her leg joined her body, tension filled Terri. She wanted Amy’s hand to keep going.

“You skin is so smooth.” Amy said quietly. Reverently. Her hands never stopped exploring. “I guess I’m not use to smooth skin.” She said absently.

And then, Amy shocked Terri when she moved her cheek to rest along Terri’s inner thigh. She ran her face along her skin there. She turned into it and kissed her. Then nuzzled her face against her thigh. Terri held her breath.

Without realizing she was going to do so, Terri’s hips bucked up. Calling attention to herself. Amy obliged. She tentatively touched her fingertips to Terri. Between her legs. She started at her mound and slowly dragged her fingers back toward her rear end. Then she traced back in the path that she’d taken. She felt the dampness of her underwear. She heard the moan escape Terri’s throat.

“Amy. Jesus.”

Terri lay still. Feeling Amy’s fingers, through her underwear, moving across the slit of her lips. It had been so long since she’d been touched. So long. Her nerve endings tingled. It was exquisite.

Amy smiled at the underwear Terri wore. Solid, ivory-colored cotton briefs. Cut for a woman. Sensible. She had wondered if she’d wear some sort of unisex brief. She was pleasantly surprised that she liked these on her. A slight hint of feminine under the masculine exterior. Amy let her hand slide up her. “You have the flattest stomach I’ve ever seen.” Amy said. A little bit of praise from one woman to another. She leaned down and kissed her just above her navel. As she did so, her breasts traced their path up between Terri’s legs. Terri sharply inhaled.

As Amy crawled her way up Terri’s body, her hair fell down over her face. Her hair tickled Terri’s body. It made Terri shiver. Terri had thought about this exact moment so many times when she was touching herself when she was alone, in bed, thinking of Amy. As good as it was in her imagination, it was never this exquisite.

When Amy had moved up, she put her hands on each side of Terri. Terri’s hands went down to cup Amy’s rear. She slid her hands just under the skirt of the dress. She liked the feeling of Amy’s skin in her hands. She moved them slowly, ready for Amy to give her any indication that she wanted to stop. None came. She slid her hands under the dress up to Amy’s hips. Sweet Jesus. Her flesh was warm and soft.

Amy pulled back and moved to sit up. In a constant state of alertness, reading Amy for any sign of distress, Terri pulled her hands back to herself and put them up at her sides, palms out. As if to say OK. Hands Off. Sorry.

But as Amy sat up, she looked down at Terri and gave her a slow, lazy, sexy smile.  Her hands took a hold of the bottom hem of her dress and she pulled it up. She slowly pulled the dress up over her head.

This has to be a fucking fantasy. Terri thought.

The dress inched up slowly. It felt to Terri like they were in slow motion. First, she saw the pink of her underwear. Then she saw her hips appear. Her waist, as it dipped in. Jesus. She looked back down at the swell of her hips. Then as she pulled the dress up over her head, Terri’s eyes went to the pink bra she wore that strained against the fullness of her breasts. Nipples hard and showing through the see-through fabric.

When she had successfully pulled the dress off herself, she tossed it to the floor. Terri looked up at her. Pink underwear, wild hair, tight nipples. The most beautiful woman she’d ever seen in her life was sitting on her bed. Between her legs. She was in a miraculous state of disarray. And she wanted Terri. To touch her. To make her body sing. Me. She wants me.

Amy did what she knew felt good. She moved her body to straddle one of Terri’s legs. Terri raised her knee, put her foot flat on the mattress. The move provided just enough friction for Amy who settled herself down on Terri’s naked leg.

Terri leaned up and rested her weight on her elbows and looked at her. She was stunned into silence. She closed her eyes as she felt Amy’s damp warmth tighten around her leg.

“Amy.” Was all she could get out. She shook her head. She looked Amy in her eyes. In her green eyes.

“What, Terri? What?”

“You’re… You’re absolutely beautiful. So… fucking beautiful, Amy.”

“Thank you.” Amy pushed the hair out of her eyes and smiled a big, toothy smile.

“I can’t believe that you…Amy, I want to…”

Amy cut her off. “Do it. Do any of it. I don’t know where to start.” Her breath shaky.

Terri sat up. She slowly raised her hand to Amy’s bra. She touched her breast through it. Rubbed her thumb over a nipple.

Terri licked her lips. Amy watched her.

“Do it, Terr.” Amy said. “Anything.”

Terri leaned Amy back onto the bed and Terri lowered her mouth over Amy’s right breast. She pulled her nipple into her mouth, through the lace bra, and gently, carefully, nipped her with her teeth. Which elicited a squeal from Amy. When Terri visually checked in with her, she caught from Amy a smile and a wink.

“I want to take this off.” Terri said.

“Do it. Do you want help?” Amy said.

“No.” She moved one hand behind Amy and expertly, in one motion, unhooked Amy’s bra. It immediately released and moved forward on Amy’s body.

“Oh! There’s a talent!” Amy giggled.

“Mad skills, baby. Mad skills.” The right side of Terri’s mouth pulled back in a smile.

Amy watched Terri’s face. Watched Terri’s blue eyes travel across her body.  

Amy lay there with one arm at her side, and the other flung over her head. Terri pulled the bra straps down Amy’s arms, once she removed it, Amy’s arms went back to where they were. Her breasts, brown nipples tight with excitement, exposed to the air and Terri’s hungry eyes.

Amy wasn’t sure if she ever felt sexier. The way Terri looked at her made her feel beautiful. Made her feel wanted. Her pussy throbbed. She wanted her. She wanted her to touch her. Her nipples ached. They wanted attention from Terri. All of her body was alive and every inch of her flesh wanted to be touched. She wiggled. Her need was so deep, she couldn’t stay still.

Terri lowered, again, over Amy. She slowly placed her cheek on one of Amy’s breasts. Rubbed her cheek against it. Her hand went to the other. Gently, firmly massaging her. More than a handful of breast. Fingertips reading the texture of the tight, brown nipple. She licked her. Sucked her. Nipped at her.

With every pull into Terri’s mouth, Amy felt her clitoris throb. Like there was a direct line between nipple and clit. Amy wanted Terri to continue with what she was doing, even though it might take her over the edge. But she also wanted her to stop so it wouldn’t be over.

She moved her hands to Terri’s face and pulled her up for a kiss. Terri shifted, then. Shifted her body to lay between Amy’s legs, which instinctively wrapped back around Terri. Amy’s hips rolled in anticipation. Then, Amy realized, she wasn’t sure what they would do to satiate this hunger inside of her. The hunger to be filled.

She knew, intellectually what two women would, or could, do together. But for a fleeting moment she worried that she wouldn’t be satisfied without being filled. Her body stilled. She shut her eyes.

“Hey. Amy. Are you OK?” Terri pulled back, worry on her face.

“Fine. I’m fine.” Amy said while she shook her head. She reached for Terri. But she unhooked her legs from the hold they had on Terri’s waist. Put her feet flat on the bed.

“No. Something is worrying you.” Terri sat back on her knees, resting on her heels. She gently placed her hands on Amy’s knees.  

“Just my mind working.”

“We’re moving too fast.” Terri reached down to the end of the bed for the cozy throw they had bought the day before. She moved to sit beside her. She placed the throw gently over Amy’s body so she would be covered and not exposed. Terri lay on her side and propped her head up with her hand. She gently rested her hand on the throw covering Amy’s stomach.

“No. We’re not.” Amy protested.

‘What do you need to say?” Terri asked her.

“Nothing.”

“OK.” Terri waited.

“Terr. I want to see you.”

“I’m right here.” Terri said with a small grin. She winked at Amy.

“You know what I mean.” Amy reached up to touch Terri. Her hands wrapped around her breast and her fingernails dragged across the front of Terri’s bra. Terri’s nipples immediately reacted to the contact.

Amy rolled to her side and faced Terri. Her eyes sought connection. Terri looked deeply into Amy’s eyes. They were brown. No longer green.

“We don’t have to do this today, Amy. It’s not a race.” Terri said quietly, the knuckles of her hand brushed Amy’s chin.

“I was almost there. I almost came when you had me in your mouth. Then… I’m sorry. My mind…I just…”

“Why would you apologize? Amy. That was … you are …What we did felt great. Didn’t it?” Terri asked her.

“Yes. So good.” Amy said.

“So, that’s good. That can be enough. We just slow down. That’s all.” Terri said.

Amy rolled to her other side. She backed up to Terri’s chest, asking Terri to spoon her. Terri pulled the throw over them both. She wrapped her arm around Amy. She kissed her bare shoulder.

“Terri. I really want to be with you.”

“Mmmm.” Terri gently kissed Amy’s shoulder again. Terri buried her face in Amy’s hair and inhaled. She loved how Amy smelled.

“I’m worried.” Amy said.

“About?”

“Everything.” Amy answered her quickly.

“Then we need to stop.” Terri said.

“I don’t want to stop.”

“I don’t mean forever. I mean for now.”

Amy took Terri’s hand in hers. She put Terri’s hand on her breast and then squeezed her hand over Terri’s, so Terri’s fingers pressed into her breast. She arched her back and rubbed her rear end against Terri.

“Amy.” Terri’s resolve was crumbling.

“Terri. I… my body wants you. I don’t want you to doubt that.”

“OK.”

“I worry because as much as I want you, as much as I know I will enjoy being with you… I worry my body will want …” Amy couldn’t finish the sentence.

“You are worried you will want a dick in your vagina and without it you won’t be satisfied.”

“…something like that.” Amy admitted.

Silence.

“Is that the only thing that worries you?” Terri kissed her shoulder again. Gently. Her skin was so soft.

“No.” Amy said quietly.

Silence.

“I also don’t know what to do for you.” She admitted.

Terri smiled. While Amy talked, her hand was pressing against Terri’s. Encouraging Terri to massage and play with her breasts.

“You don’t have to do anything for me.” Terri said honestly.

“You know what I mean. To…make you…”

“You don’t have to do anything, Amy. If you want to do something, do it. If you don’t want to do it, don’t.” At this point, Terri’s hands were moving on their own with no assistance from Amy. Her skin was soft, her breasts full, her nipples taught little pebbles begging for attention.

Silence.

“Amy. You’re over thinking it.” Terri said.

“I guess.” Amy’s hips began to rock. Slowly. She pressed backward into Terri.

“The first times with someone are bound to be awkward. Learning each other’s likes and dislikes. But, exploring. Touching. That shouldn’t cause you stress. It should be easy and enjoyable. If it’s not, then we’re not ready.” Terri’s fingertips circled one nipple then the other.

Amy rolled to her back so she could look into Terri’s blue eyes.

Terri saw the green shining back at her. “How about you not worry about what you’ll do to me and let me just touch you.”

“That hardly seems fair.” Amy said. Her eyes shifting to the side, away from Terri’s gaze.

“Right now, it’s all I want, Amy. I’ve wanted to touch you for so long.” Terri told her.

“Terri.”

“If you need me to stop just say so.” Terri said in her ear. She kissed her. Under her ear. On her cheek. She lowered her mouth onto Amy’s. Amy reached up to hold Terri’s face. She sucked in Terri’s lip and then opened her mouth to invite Terri in. Soft, hot, wet mouths. Gentle.

“Touch me, Terri. Please.”

Terri’s hands traveled down the smooth curves of Amy’s body under the throw that lay across them both.

“Do you want to leave these on? Or should we take them off?” Terri asked huskily when her hands came down to Amy’s underwear.

Amy’s legs responded to the presence of her hand and opened widely for her, knees falling to the side.

Terri’s fingertips grazed the edges. She dragged them along the leg of the garment. Her finger touching both the fabric and the flesh the fabric was intended to cover.

Amy’s body reacted. A twitch, a skittish move of her leg. A sharp intake of breath. And then she relaxed, hoping she’d feel it again. And she did.

“Are my panties wet?” Amy asked Terri in a low voice.

Amy watched Terri close her eyes at the words she used. Felt her fingers pause.

“Yes.” Terri answered in a low, rough voice.

“Can you check how wet I am without taking them off?”

Amy watched Terri grin at the verbal go-ahead.

Terri slid her body down a few inches, so she could bring Amy’s nipple into her mouth. Then she felt Amy’s hands on her head. Running her fingers through her hair. Grazing her fingernails along Terri’s scalp.

Amy’s breath caught when she felt the first contact. Fingers slowly rubbing back and forth as they made their way around the lace fabric of her panties into the folds of her flesh into the wet, warm center of her being. Gentle, sure fingers. A woman’s fingers.

Terri sucked on her nipple. God how she’d longed to be here. She was flooded with the feelings of it all. Her fingers drew aside the delicate fabric and lace that barely covered Amy. It moved easily. Her fingers slid between her lips and found the wet warmth waiting for them. She first slid her middle finger up the length of her. From her center to the crest where she didn’t have to work at all to find it waiting for her. The firm little clit ready to be touched.

She heard Amy make a little noise. God this is going to be good.

Amy’s hips responded when she felt Terri touch her there. She couldn’t believe the feeling. Terri’s fingers were so gentle. She was strong, she was self-assured, she knew what she was doing. But her fingers, a woman’s fingers, were gentle and knew the exact pressure, the exact way to move over the most sensitive part of her body. Too many times in her past when a partner – all of them male -  had moved to touch her there, it hurt or was too much and ended up making it uncomfortable. Not this. Not with a woman touching her. Not with Terri touching her.

Terri let her fingers leave the little sensitive pearl and move to explore the rest of Amy. She let a second finger join her middle one as she slid them back and found her vagina. Terri pulled her mouth off of Amy’s nipple. She wanted to see Amy’s face. Judge to make sure what she was doing was ok.

She slid two fingers into Amy; as deep as her long fingers would allow. She pulled them out and slid them back in. Amy opened her eyes and looked at Terri. Green eyes and pink flesh looked back at Terri. Amy’s mouth curled up into a satisfied smile.

“Can I … Amy can I use my mouth?”

“Not yet. Please. Just your hands. Please?”

“OK.” Terri breathed with a smile. Not yet.

Amy put her hands on Terri’s face and pulled her back toward her breast. Terri smiled and welcomed her nipple into her mouth again. Amy clearly liked it.

Terri remembered what Amy had told her and gently bit down on her nipple again. Amy’s hips instantly bucked up into Terri’s hand. When Terri pulled her fingers out, she let a third join them on their way back in. In. Out. In. Out. Then she pulled her fingers out and up. She brought with her all the slick juices that Amy offered to allow her fingers to slide gloriously back up to circle Amy’s clitoris.

Amy’s nerve endings were all responding to what was happening. Terri’s movements were steady, sure, and purposeful. But they also were the gentleness that allowed Amy to trust that it would feel good. She let go of the stress and worry about whether or not she would be satisfied. She knew that Terri would take care of her.

Terri shut her eyes and let herself enjoy the feeling. Her fingers explored Amy and moved deftly. Around her clit, through her labia, up into her vagina. Amy was clearly turned on and Terri was in heaven. Her tongue circled and flicked at Amy’s tight nipple. She sucked on her. Felt Amy’s finger nails scrape along her scalp. Terri thought it might be a message to ask her to bite her. She gently bit down and was rewarded by a moan from Amy.

Another nipple bite had Amy writhing beside her. Her hips were bucking, begging.

Terri moved her body to be between Amy’s legs. Terri knew she needed something to hold on to. The moment she was there, Amy’s legs wrapped around Terri.

Terri used just one finger on her sensitive spot. She was wet and slick. The movement was easy and gentle. A clockwise circle around it. Slow and steady. Rhythmic circles. Circle. Pause. Circle. Pause. And, then, the same circles, the same rhythm. Only faster. The pause removed.

Terri replaced her finger with her thumb. Circle. Circle. Circle. Slowly working to a pace that would take her where she needed to go. Where she craved to go. Then she slid her fingers deep into Amy. Fingers fucking her, thumb circling her sensitive, aching clit.

Terri leaned forward and pulled Amy’s nipple into her mouth again. First gently sucking, but upon feeling Amy’s hands dig into her hair, she knew. Knew what Amy wanted.

She bit down on her.

“More. More Terri.”

She bit harder. Sucked harder. She would be leaving a mark, for sure on this tender breast in her mouth.

“More.” Amy begged.

Terri didn’t hold back. Gentle thumb circling quickly. And harsh teeth on her nipple. Fingers deep within her. And then Amy felt it. The buildup. The crest, and she began to fall.

Hearing her was exquisite. The moan. Hearing her say Terri’s name. Fuck.

But feeling her was even more amazing.

When she knew Amy was there, falling, Terri pressed her thumb firmly against her clitoris, where she felt the pulsing. Her fingers felt Amy tighten around them. Her legs clenched like a vice grip around Terri. Amy’s fingernails dug into Terri’s back. Sharp pain. Her nipples tight. The hot gush of fluid that made her more wet than she already was.

Terri held solidly still while she watched it wave over her. Her face thrown back. Eyes shut. One hand over her face. Hair wildly surrounding her face. So. Fucking. Sexy.

Terri waited and watched until the intense throbbing left Amy’s body and she opened her eyes. She looked Terri. Terri looked at her.

For a moment they froze.

And then…Amy began to cry. Terri gently removed her hand and moved off of her. She moved to her side.

“Did I hurt you?” Terri asked.

Amy’s hands went to her face. Covered her face.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Amy said through her tears.

“Amy. Are you OK? Did I hurt you?”

“NO. No, no. Terri. No.” Amy said.

Terri lay there quietly. Gave her time.

Amy turned, then. Turned to face Terri. “I’m good. It was good. It was… great. Oh my god, Terri.”

“OK.” Terri smiled. She didn’t ask the dozen questions laying just below the surface.

“Lay on top of me, please. Terri. Please.” Amy said.

Terri moved back to where she was, between Amy’s legs and she rested her body on top of Amy. She held herself up with her forearms.

“No. Terri. Put your weight on me. Please.” She took some of her weight off her arms, but still didn’t put it all on her. Amy wrapped her arms and legs around her. She held her tightly.

Terri kissed Amy. Gently. Sweetly.

She lay on top of her, while Amy was wrapped around her, until Amy’s tears subsided. She waited.

Eventually, Amy’s legs and arms loosened. Terri raised up on her forearms again. She looked at Amy.

“How are you doing in there?” She asked.

And there, in Terri’s bed, on a Sunday morning when she should have been in church with her Nan, Amy looked at Terri and said, “That’s the best goddamned orgasm I’ve ever had in my fucking life.”

And they laughed.

++++++ 

Terri came into the room. Tray in hand. She went down to the kitchen to get them food for lunch. She made a turkey sandwich cut in half, carrot sticks, a sliced apple, potato chips, diet soda and water. She wasn’t really sure what Amy would want to eat, or how much.

When she walked into the room, she stopped dead in her tracks. Amy sat on her bed, looking through Terri’s iPad. She was wearing her pink underwear and one of Terri’s white, ribbed tank tops. No bra.

“I hope you don’t care. I looked through your drawer for a shirt. I didn’t want to wear my dress.” Amy said.

Terri had no words and just shook her head. No. It was no problem seeing Amy’s ample bosom try to fit itself into one of Terri’s white tank tops. It was no problem seeing it without a bra to support them. No problem at all.  Holy fuck. Who needed church when this angel was sitting in her bed looking like this?

“It’s fine. Whatever you’re comfortable in.” Terri said with a smile. She sat the tray on the bed. She handed Amy the soda. “I know you like diet soda. This ok?”

“Perfect!” Amy said and excitedly took the glass from her hands and drank part of it down. “I was looking for our next episode. We’re on Friends, right?”

Terri grinned. “Yeah.”

“Let’s watch while we eat.”

So, Terri opened Netflix and found the next episode of Friends and they settled in and ate their lunch. Terri in her underwear, bra, and tank. Amy in her underwear and tank.

After they ate, Terri moved the tray to the floor beside the bed. She laid back on her back with a hand behind her head. She enjoyed watching Amy see Friends. She laughed at the things that Terri always found funny.

Amy laid down and rested her head on Terri’s shoulder. She curled up beside her. While they watched the show, Amy’s hand moved from Terri’s belly. She slowly tucked her hand under Terri’s tank top and let her hands move up to cup her breast. She brushed her fingernails over her and Terri’s body began to respond.

“Are we watching this show, or…” Terri began.

Amy reached over and closed up the case on the iPad and tossed it to the end of the bed. She raised herself up on an elbow and said, “I haven’t had a chance to touch you, yet.”

“You don’t have to.” Terri said.

“Have to? Terri. Are you fucking kidding me?” Amy asked.

“What?” Terri said.

“Terri. I’ve wanted to touch you for ages.”

“Oh yeah?” Terri asked with a grin. She liked the idea that Amy had been thinking of doing things to her.

“I’m sorry. Earlier I was a little caught up in myself.” Amy apologized.

“Why would you be sorry? That was … so good.” Terri assured her.

Very good.” Amy agreed with a nod.

Amy pulled on Terri’s arm, encouraging her into a sitting position. She pulled off Terri’s tank top.

“Want me to take mine off, too?” Amy asked.

Terri just stared at her. Stared at her breasts pushing against the tank top she wore.

“Terri?” Amy prodded.

“Umm… I don’t know. Whatever you want is fine.” Terri said.

“Terri?”

“Umm… as beautiful as you are and as much as I’ve loved seeing you naked? This shirt of mine on you right now is something else.” She said seriously.

Amy smiled. “Oh… um….” She pulled her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down. “OK. Well… let’s just say if you feel moved to take this off, you can do that. But for now? We’ll just leave it on for you.”

Terri nodded her head. “It might not be appropriate to say,….but… I really like your boobs.” Terri said with a little laugh in her voice. She tore her eyes away from looking at Amy filling out her shirt and looked at Amy’s eyes. Turning green.

“So you’ve said.” Amy smiled.

“It’s worth saying more than once.” Terri nodded in all seriousness.

“I want to see you naked, Terri.” Amy said. She reached behind Terri and tried to unhook her bra. She fumbled a bit. Terri reached back and did it for her in one brief movement.

Amy shook her head and smiled.

“Mad. Skills.” Terri grinned.

Amy, smiling, pulled Terri’s bra off.

Silence.

“I want to touch you, Terri.”

“Nobody’s stopping you, Amy.”

“I’m nervous.” Amy admitted.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.” Amy let out a little laugh.

Terri took Amy’s hand in hers and brought her hand up to touch Terri.

“Can we stand up? Like… just…”

“Yeah.” Terri nodded. She moved and stood by the bed. Amy joined her. She stood in front of her. She looked at Terri’s breasts, then she looked up in her eyes. She reached up and kissed her. Wrapped her arms around her neck and pulled her down for a kiss.

Amy wanted to feel their skin touching. She peeled off the snug tank top from her own body and tossed it to the floor. Then she pushed her pink, lacy underwear off her round, ample bottom and they fell to her feet. She kicked them away. Finally, she put her hands on the waist of Terri’s underwear. She looked at Terri. Terri’s hands joined Amy and pushed them down.

The women stood together, a fragment of an inch apart. Amy’s hands lightly came to rest on Terri’s waist and Amy dipped her head slightly. She rubbed her cheek against Terri’s right breast. Then she kissed her. Then she slowly stuck out her tongue and licked Terri’s nipple. They were light in color. Not quite a shade of pink, but close. Sweetly tight. Amy wanted them in her mouth. She felt the throbbing in her pussy return.

“Terri… Terri, you’re stunning. Do you know how sexy you are?” Amy said. Her eyes roaming Terri’s body. Shoulders, arms, breasts. Narrow hips. Long legs. Back up to her long neck, her high cheekbones.

Terri blushed and shook her head. She didn’t speak.

Amy didn’t know what to do, where to start.

Terri held still. She knew this was all new to Amy, but it had been so long for her it felt new to her as well. Terri had never had someone shorter than her in her arms. She’d never been with someone, other than her first bumbling time in high school, who hadn’t before been with a woman.

She wanted Amy to throw her on the bed and fucking do her already. But she also knew that Amy wasn’t quite sure how to start or do what she wanted her to do. Just be patient, Terri. Just be patient.

“Tell me what to do, Terri.”

“Just do what you want, Amy. We don’t have to do anything.”

“What do you want?”

“Would you… Would you…umm… want to dance?” Terri tentatively asked.

Amy smiled up at her. “Sure. What song do you want to dance to?”

“The… uhh… the song. I think you know what song. The one you danced to, that night at the office.” Terri was embarrassed to ask for it.

“Ohhh. Yes. Ok.” Amy moved to her phone and opened her music. She started the song. She played it in a loop so it would start over once it stopped. She was catching on the Terri wanted to see her dance to this song. 

And, suddenly, Amy felt sure of herself. She moved back into Terri’s arms. She wrapped her arms up around Terri’s neck. She rubbed her body against her. Terri’s arms moved around Amy’s waist and then moved low over her rear end. They began to move to the beat of the music.

Terri’s eyes closed. Amy felt so good pressed against her. Amy’s curves rubbing against her. Amy tucked into Terri’s neck and began to kiss her. Amy kissed her neck and then her lips moved lower. She pulled Terri’s left nipple into her mouth while her hand found Terri’s right breast and teased her nipple there.

One of Terri’s hands dug into Amy’s hair and held her head to her breast. They swayed to the beat of the music. Terri’s other hand reveled in the roundness of Amy’s ass. Her hand smoothed over the naked flesh there.

Amy’s hand moved, then, from Terri’s breast. It trailed lazily down her body. She wrapped her hand, first, around her waist and ran her hand over her rear end. She squeezed it. It was firm. Toned.

Then her hand moved to Terri’s flat stomach. Then slowly. Carefully. Tentatively. Her hand moved lower and cupped Terri’s mound.

Terri stopped swaying. She held completely still. Her heart was about to beat out of her chest. She knew what happened next would mean something. Something significant to them.

“You feel like laying back down?” Amy asked.

Terri nodded her head. Her face was flushed. Amy noted Terri averted her eyes. Not something she typically did.

Terri laid down and Amy crawled in beside her. Terri on her back. Amy to Terri’s right, laying on her left side. Hair a mess of swirls around her face. She let her hands slowly caress Terri’s breasts again. Terri tried hard not to rock her hips.

“Tell me what you want, Terri.”

“If you feel like you want to, I’d really like you to touch me. If you don’t, I can touch myself.” Terri said.

“Like this?” Amy no longer hesitated. She shifted so she was half sitting. She draped one leg over Terri’s. Then she moved her hand to rest just inside Terri’s thigh.

Terri rolled then, facing Amy. She rolled so her face would be in line with Amy’s full breast that was near her face. She pulled it into her mouth and she held her legs open for Amy.

Amy slid her hand up Terri’s thigh and her fingernails lightly grazed the outside of her lips.

Terri moaned with her mouth full. She lightly nipped at Amy’s nipple.

Amy knew what to do. She’d touched herself a million times. She knew what felt good. She took her middle finger and eased it between Terri’s slit and was greeted with a hot moisture that told her how turned on she was.

With every move of her finger, she heard another moan from Terri. With every move of her finger, Terri sucked more eagerly at her breast. With every suck, Amy’s clitoris throbbed more.

Amy’s finger slid through the slick folds of flesh she found at Terri’s center. She knew where to go. She moved her finger to the crest of her slit and found waiting for her a clitoris that was ready to be touched. As her finger lightly slid over it, Terri moved. She pulled back from Amy and fell flat on her back. She moaned.

“Amy.” She said. “Oh my god, Amy. Yes.”

Amy, who wanted Terri to still suck on her moved, then. She got up on her knees and leaned over Terri so that her breast was right in front of Terri’s face. Terri smiled at her, knowingly.

Amy’s fingers continued to circle and tease and circle Terri’s clitoris. Terri sucked at her breast. Nipping at and teasing Amy’s nipple. Then, Terri’s hand found Amy and eased up her leg as she knelt over Terri. Terri slid her hand between Amy’s legs and began to do to Amy, what Amy was doing to her. Neither was sure of who set the pace, but both of them moved their fingers in the same rhythm.

And as they moved, they both reveled in what the other was doing.

“Terri. My god.” Amy uttered.

Terri, not taking her mouth off of Amy just moaned. She was so close; she didn’t want to distract Amy’s attention. So. Close.

Terri bit down on Amy, who responded in kind by moaning, “Terri. You make me so wet. You’re so fucking sexy.”

Terri moved her hand, then, moving to push three fingers into Amy while her thumb circled her clit. She could tell earlier, she liked having fingers in her. As her thumb circled her, Terri thought about this wet pussy in her hand. What she would give to have it over her mouth. To lick those juices.

And as she thought about what it would be like for Amy to straddle her face, Terri’s whole universe exploded and for the first time in what seemed to be forever, she came in the presence of another person. This gorgeous, sexy woman. Touching her and bringing her to climax. She continued to move her hand and suck on her nipple. She bit down on her again and she heard Amy cry out. “God Yes. Fuck Terri. Yes.” And then Terri felt the muscles deep within Amy tighten around her fingers. She felt her clitoris begin to pulse under her thumb. She pressed down on her. She felt the rush of moisture.

They both paused. Hands where they were, holding on until each of them calmed.

When Terri slowly, carefully pulled her hand out of Amy, Amy reached for her hand and tried to … she wasn’t sure what. Pull it away, maybe?

“What?” Terri asked.

“It’s just. You were deep in me. You have a lot on your hands. You need to go wash.” Amy said, shyly.

“OK. If you want to. Your hand, too. You need to go wash?”

“I’m OK.” Amy said.

Terri moved then, she pulled her hand to her face and inhaled deeply. Yes. Oh god, Yes.

 “Terri. Stop.” Amy said swatting her.

Terri slipped her fingers into her mouth. She shut her eyes. She sucked her own fingers.

“Ohmygod. Terri.” Amy hit her again.

“You taste really good. I mean… really good.” Terri lunged at her then. She pushed Amy back on the bed. Amy fell into a fit of laughter. Terri laughed and kissed her. On the cheek. Under the ear. On the chin. On the shoulder. “Amy. You’re amazing. That felt so good. So good.” She smiled. She peppered her with kisses while Amy laughed.

++++++

They spent the rest of the day together. They watched more Netflix. Friends. New Girl. They talked about the scenes they liked. What they were doing when they watched the episodes for the first time.

They talked. They touched. They laughed. Amy wore Terri’s tank top and it drove Terri crazy.

They napped. Terri was exhausted. Truly. She lay on her back and slept soundly with Amy’s head on her shoulder and half of Amy’s body covering half of Terri. The weight felt so good. Terri drifted into deep sleep. She only had the bad dream once. And when she woke, she knew where she was and why she felt pressure on her. She could live like this. Live with Amy beside her.

She rolled her eyes at herself. A fucking cliché. It was one weekend. ONE. And she was ready for Amy to move in.

Now I don't hardly know her
But I think I can love her
Crimson and clover

The ear worm was back.

 

++

Chapter Text

++++++

The next few days were busy for Terri. She had a lot of work to catch up on. She had extra clients to fit into the rotation since she missed a week. When she was gone, her coworkers typically took on the clients who needed to be seen immediately, but most of the clients knew that Terri left sometimes for a week and they preferred to wait to see her.

She quickly wrote notes between sessions and skipped her lunch time to fit in those who needed her most. She ate a few bites of sandwich between sessions and sipped on coffee while they talked.

It was her normal routine when re-acclimating to the office. This time it was different, though. This time she had a joy about her that she didn’t typically have. Her coworkers noticed her smiling a little more than normal. The coworkers who knew her well, Jordi and Karen, noticed a lightness in her step.

“What’s happening with her?” Jordi asked Karen quietly as they sat around the table waiting for the meeting to start.

“She normally takes longer to bounce back into her routine after being gone.” Karen said quietly out of the corner of her mouth.

“I mean, it’s good. Right?” Jordi said.

“Hell, yeah it’s good.” Karen said.

Terri and Amy had discussed it and decided to not do anything to draw attention to themselves at the office. Terri hadn’t yet said anything to Catherine, their boss. Before their weekend together, they seldom saw each other at work anyway. So they decided to just try to go about things the way they did before and see how it played out.

Since it was Thursday and it was a typical staff meeting, Amy sat down beside Terri as she had for the last few months.

“Hi.” Terri said.

“Welcome back.” Amy said cheerfully, and maybe a bit too loudly.

Terri stifled a grin. She doodled on her notepad.

Amy had gone to Terri’s home on Tuesday night, but Monday and Wednesday nights were filled with other activities and they didn’t see each other. Tuesday night they sat on the couch and watched their shows, eating take out, and then touching each other until it was time for Amy to go home.

Every night before sleep was spent on the phone. Talking well into the night, discovering each other in the way that people do when they are first forging a new relationship.

Terri leaned over and asked Amy quietly, “Are we going out with the gang tonight?”

“I mean…I think we have to. Don’t we?” Amy asked.

“I know something I’d rather do.” Terri whispered.

“Hey, Terri? Amy? Is there a case you all are going over, or what?” Catherine said.

“Sorry, Catherine.” Terri said. “Brainstorming about a problem we’re having. We can hold it.”

Terri’s elbow nudged Amy. Amy lowered her head and pretended to take notes.

++++++ 

At dinner with the coworkers, they ended up sitting on opposite sides of the table and on opposite ends from one another. If they each leaned in and looked down the table, they could make eye contact. But that was a little obvious.

They came in their own vehicles and Amy was later than she had wanted to be. She was happy, at least, the empty chair was beside Jordi.

They chatted while they ate.

“She seems really good this week.” Jordi said.

“Who?” Amy tried to play dumb.

“Terri. She’s normally a lot moodier when she returns from her time away.”

“You know her really well, don’t you Jordi?” Amy asked.

Amy knew Jordi’s history. She knew that Jordi had been a client of the agency when she was a teenager. She knew that Terri had been a caseworker back then, not Jordi’s but she knew Jordi.

Jordi had been, at the time, living in a teenage male body. She had suffered abuse at the hands of a father who refused to support the fact that his child was asking for help to transition. Jordi was a trans woman who knew at a young age that she was living in a body that didn’t feel right to her. Her father was insistent that his “Son, Jordan” buck up and be a man. 

The workers at the agency struggled with the situation and eventually tried to remove Jordi from the home for her own safety. Time after time, conservative judges would send her back home to her father’s care, stating that the parents knew what was best for “Him.”

After the last beating, local law enforcement – Mel included – joined forces with the social workers and supported her removal. They were fortunate to be in front of a different judge who immediately ruled to remove Jordi. At the time, Jordi was 17 and had already suffered much abuse. The trauma of her youth had done damage. With the help of staff at the agency, she found therapy and case support to help her. She worked hard to graduate.

She aged out of the foster care system and the workers found ways to connect her to the systems that could help her. Terri was one of the workers who went out of her way, on her own time, to find not only a safe place for her to live when she was no longer part of the foster care system, but Terri also helped her fill out paperwork to go to college. They kept in contact and as Jordi was ready to work in the field, she gravitated back to the agency that helped her.

“Terri saved my life. She’s very special.” Jordi told Amy. “She’s only let a few of us close to her to get to know her.”

Amy watched Terri as she talked to her coworkers down the table. Terri caught her eye. She smiled at her and Amy’s heart swelled. She had strong and intense feelings for this woman.

++++++

Terri and Karen stood, as they always did, outside the bar where they had dinner. Terri’s hands dug into the pockets of her slacks. Feet shoulder width apart. Chin held high. Surveying the parking lot as everyone went to their cars.

“You’re different this time.” Karen said.

“Am I?” Terri asked. Still watching the parking lot. Of course, keeping an eye on Amy as she walked to her car.

“You two are together now, aren’t you?” Karen asked.

“Is it that obvious?” Terri looked at her friend.

“Terri, I’ve never seen you happier. And this is on the week back from assignment. Yeah. It’s pretty fucking obvious.”

“So, you’re saying I need to probably have a conversation with the boss, then.” Terri said.

“Well, is this going to be long term?” Karen asked her friend.

“Karen. If I have my way, this is going to be forever.” Terri watched Amy drive away.

“Shit.” Karen said.

“I know.” Terri nodded her head and walked to her truck, holding up a peace sign as a goodbye to her friend as she went.

++++++

She pulled up her long driveway and smiled. She didn’t think she’d see her.

Amy had waited in her car until she saw the headlights.

Terri got out of her truck. Amy walked over.

“Well, hey.” Terri said with a smile. She pulled Amy to her.

“I just wanted a good night kiss.” Amy said coyly.

“That’s all?” Terri kissed her. Gentle. Just lips. Sweet. Innocent. “Ok. Good night.” She patted Amy’s ass.

“Maybe more than a good night kiss.”

“How long have we got?” Terri asked.

“How long do you need?”

Terri wanted to say, The rest of my life. But she didn’t want to scare Amy away. So, she settled for, “I’ll take you for as long as you want to stay. Did you bring an overnight bag?”

Terri had told Amy on Tuesday when she left that she could have brought a bag and stayed. Amy had been a little surprised at the notion. She figured Terri wouldn’t want her to spend the night yet.

“I did.” Amy admitted. She looked down at her feet, a moment of shyness overtaking her.

“Well, get it and let’s go upstairs.” Terri smacked Amy’s ass again.

++++++ 

She went through the house to be sure everything was locked and the lights were off. When she made her way upstairs, she found Amy perched at the end of the bed. Shoes off.

“Hi” Amy greeted her.

“Hey.” Terri said. She leaned against the doorway taking her in. Her hair was still on top of her head. Terri realized as she looked at her that she would never tire of seeing Amy on her bed, waiting for Terri while she locked the house up.

“It’s been a long couple of days.” Amy got off the bed and walked toward her.

Terri met her halfway and reached for her. “Too long.”

They’d spent time together on Tuesday after work on the couch downstairs, but hadn’t been up to the bedroom since their day in bed on Sunday. Though it had only been four days it seemed like a month.

Amy’s body craved Terri’s touch. She wanted more.

Terri struggled to keep her mind on anything over the past four days. Amy possessed her every thought.

“Terr. I need you.” Amy said to her as she was being pulled in for a kiss. Long. Sensual. Hands roaming.

“You’re all I think about.” Terri told her. Kissing her again.

She moved her backward until Amy’s legs hit the back of the bed.

“Maybe… I think I need…” Amy worked to find the words.

“What? What can I do for you?” Terri asked.

“I think I need a shower. Wash the day off?” Amy said.

“You know where it is. I will go after you.” Terri said.

“Want to help with my zipper?” Amy turned around. She didn’t need it to be unzipped at all. The whole dress easily came off when she pulled it over her head. But she wanted Terri to unzip it.

Terri smiled. She slowly pulled the zipper down Amy’s back. She kissed the skin of her back as it was exposed. Little by little. Terri slid the dress off of Amy’s shoulders and down her body. Amy stepped out of it, Terri picked it up and folded it and sat it on the end of the bed.

Amy’s back leaned against Terri. Terri slowly unhooked Amy’s bra and slid it down her arms. She sat it on Amy’s dress. She smiled, noticing a distinct difference in the undergarments Amy wore under her work clothing. Sensible. Cotton. Padded bra. Then, she slid her hands down Amy’s side and slid her fingers underneath her underwear and she pushed them down over Amy’s ample rear end and hips. Amy kicked her underwear aside.

She leaned back into Terri again. Terri’s hands roamed over her body. Down her sides. Cupping her rear. Sliding up her back and down her arms. Moving to hold her breasts, fingers gently reading the texture of her nipples that began to grow tight as they were being explored.

Amy’s hair was still piled on top of her head so her neck was exposed. Terri gave her small kisses on her neck.

You’re so beautiful. Kiss. I wanted to take this dress off you when you walked into the meeting. Kiss. I want to taste you, Amy. God I want to taste you.

Amy turned in Terri’s arms and pressed against her. She tilted her head for a kiss, the kind of kiss Terri knew how to deliver.

“Let me get in the shower and then you can… do that… if you want.”

Amy moved to walk away and Terri caught her hand. She pulled her back toward her. “I don’t want you fresh from the shower. I want to taste you now. Like this.” Terri said in a low, husky voice.

Amy had only experienced a couple of past partners who had wanted to go down on her. Both were insistent she be straight from the shower. Clean. She was unsure about what Terri was asking.

“Terri. Don’t you want…everything… fresh?” She averted her eyes. She was embarrassed. She realized, suddenly, she was completely naked and Terri was fully clothed.

Terri saw her face change. She picked up the throw from the bed and offered it to Amy, who quickly wrapped up. They sat on the end of the bed.

“I’m sorry.” Terri said. “I should have let you go. I’m sorry, Amy.”

“You don’t think I need to shower before we…” Amy was still wrapping her head around what Terri told her.

“If you want to shower, Amy, shower. But… you’re not…you’re not dirty, Amy.”

“Well, I know I’m not dirty. I showered this morning.” Amy said stubbornly.

“I get that after a day of home visits sometimes it feels like a shower is needed to wash it all off. I’ve been there.” Terri said.

“Yes.” Amy said.

“And if that’s why you want to shower, that’s fine. But…” Terri sometimes wished she wasn’t a therapist. “But… if you’re washing because you think I need your…vagina to be free and clear of all… of everything… then you’re wrong.”

“Oh.” Amy looked down at her toes. She wiggled them. It gave her something to do other than sink into the floor from embarrassment.

Silence.

“It’s just…” Amy slowly began. “…in the past, I’ve had the request to be very clean.”

“I’m a lesbian, Amy. I like… the taste and the smell of pussy. But…I want you to be comfortable. So…”

Amy stood up and moved to stand between Terri’s knees. She hugged the throw over her breasts and looked down at Terri’s upturned face.

“You promise…if it’s the slightest bit… off… you’ll stop and just tell me so I can shower and we start over? And, I’ll promise to not be offended if you do?” Amy held out her hand with her pinky finger stuck out in front of Terri.

Terri looked at Amy’s hand and smiled. She could honestly say she had never…in all of her life… been offered a pinky-swear.

Then she linked her pinky with Amy’s. “I promise.” Her heart leapt into her throat.

Amy let the throw drop and she, again, stood nude in front of Terri. Amy reached for Terri’s shirt. First, she unbuttoned the cuffs, then she stood back so Terri could also stand. She slowly, one-by-one, unbuttoned Terri’s shirt. She pulled it out of her pants. Then she pulled it off her. She tossed it on the end of the bed, over Amy’s dress. She went to work on Terri’s pants and underwear, sliding them both down. Terri kicked them aside. She took off her bra.

Terri pulled her in. She kissed her the way she has learned Amy likes. She pulled Amy’s bottom lip in and gently sucked. She held the back of her head and tilted her slightly back. Her mouth hungrily explored Amy’s.

They moved toward the bed and Amy sat. Terri put a knee on the bed beside her. Amy scooted backward and came to rest on the stack of pillows. She watched Terri’s eyes. They moved from her mouth, to her eyes, to the mess of hair on top of her head. Back to her eyes.

“You want my hair down?” Amy asked. Face flushed. Lips damp and swollen from their kiss.

“If you want.” Terri said.

“Terri. Sometimes you just need to tell me what you..’

“I like your hair down. It’s always up at work. When we are here. I like it down.” Terri’s words were rushed, on a breath. Like it took all the courage she had to say it. 

“Then, it comes down.” Amy smiled. She reached up and pulled out the few hair pins and clips that held them. She held out her hand to Terri. Terri cupped her palms and took them from Amy and then placed them on the bedside table.

Terri nudged Amy’s legs apart with her knee and then leaned over Amy as she rested back on the pillows.

“Amy, I just want to double check with you. You’re ok with me tasting you. Using my mouth on you.” Terri was always about consent.

“Mmmmhmmm.” Amy nodded her head.

“Amy.” Terri said.

“Yes. Yes, Terri.” She shut her eyes. She blushed.

“Amy, if you don’t like something, tell me to stop. I will. And, if you need me to change positions, tell me and I will. But,…” She made eye contact with Amy, who kept averting her eyes. “Amy. Please look at me.”

Amy looked into Terri’s eyes.

“When you get there. When you’re ready, you might feel like you have to stop me. Please don’t make me stop. Please Amy. Please don’t make me stop at that point. I want to have my mouth on you when you get there. You can make me stop any time before then, and if you need me to stop at that point, I will. But please don’t make me stop if it is about you worrying about me. Because…” Terri rested her hands on Amy and slid her finger into the warm, welcoming folds of her innermost space. “Because, right here is where I want to be when you come.”

“Terri.” Amy exhaled her name. She blushed and shut her eyes. “OK.”

“Kiss me. Kiss me now. You may not want to later, and that will be OK too.” Terri gave her a deep kiss and Amy probed her mouth with her tongue.

Terri moved, then. Kissed her neck. Her collarbones. She slowly moved down her body. She held herself just over her, leaning down for kisses, licks. Soft gentle nuzzles.

Amy’s hands rested on Terri’s upper arms. She slid her hands up and down the length of Terri’s strong, colorful arms. She loved Terri’s arms. Felt the muscles shift as Terri moved.

When Terri settled in to nuzzle Amy’s breasts, her legs wrapped around Terri. Her hips rocked against her. A natural movement that just… happened. Terri rocked against her, letting Amy set the pace.

Terri worked slowly. She was in no hurry. She wanted Amy to be comfortable and happy. And, Terri had been waiting for this. She wanted to take her time and enjoy it.

She sucked at Amy’s nipples. Gave her the little bites she knew Amy liked. She was rewarded with Amy’s fingers in her hair. Her had resting on Terri’s cheek. Terri turned her face and kissed the palm of Amy’s hand. And then she moved down.

She kissed her flesh, gently. She kissed a trail down to Amy’s hip. She felt Amy’s body tense. She raised her head and looked up at Amy who was looking down at Terri. They locked eyes.

“You OK?” Terri asked in a low, quiet voice.

“Yes. Are you?” Amy asked in return.

“I’ve never been happier in my whole fucking life.” Terri said with a smile. And she returned to what she was doing. Kisses. Licks. Nuzzling Amy’s soft skin.

She shifted, then, lower. Laying herself between Amy’s legs. She eased herself over so that she could run a hand along Amy’s right inner thigh. She pressed her lips to the flesh there. She kissed her.

She was getting closer and she smelled what she’d longed to be close to. She eased her way there. She knew Amy was nervous. She took her time. Amy’s skin was so soft.

++++++ 

As Terri eased down her body, Amy had a moment where she stiffened. She held on to Terri’s arms. She loved her arms. So strong. So sure.

It felt so good to feel Terri’s skin softly move across hers. Of all the new sensations, this was one she wasn’t use to yet. A woman’s soft skin against her own is a feeling she didn’t know would be such a shock, yet so deliciously wonderful.

Amy instinctively wrapped her legs around Terri. She wasn’t sure if that was something she should do. It just happened. She liked having Terri between her legs. She liked feeling her most private space pressed against Terri’s.

And, god. She loved the feeling of Terri sucking on her nipples. Why did it never feel like this before? Terri knew how to bite her just… yeah… just like that. God. When Terri sucked on her, Amy’s clit twitched. Like there was a direct line between the two.

She put her hand on Terri’s cheek to feel how she moved when she sucked on her. She loved the feel of the soft skin of Terri’s face. No stubble. No razor burn. God it was glorious. She didn’t know what she was missing before. But now she knew.

Terri kissed her palm. Then she moved lower.

She’s going to be disappointed in me. I’m not going to taste right. I’m going to smell wrong. I’m going to…

“You OK?” Terri asked in a low, quiet voice.

“Yes. Are you?” Amy asked in return.

“I’ve never been happier in my whole fucking life.” Terri said.

Amy sighed, then. She leaned back into the pillows and breathed in. A deep inhalation. And a long, slow exhalation. Relax. Let her do what she knows how to do. Relax, Amy. She told herself.

And she did.

++++++ 

Terri couldn’t wait any longer. She took her cue from Amy. She felt her relaxing. She was ready.

Terri shifted. She rested her elbows between Amy’s thighs. She moved her face to nuzzle Amy’s mound. Warm, sweet Amy. She inhaled her fragrance and a calm washed over her body. Home. Terri thought. She was home.

She kissed her there. A gentle kiss to let Amy know she was there and ready.

She slowly, confidently slid a finger between Amy’s lips. Amy lifted one of her knees. Put her foot flat on the bed. Her other followed suit. Terri’s other hand moved and her fingers opened Amy. Opened her for Terri to do what she’d longed to do. She was beautiful. Delicate folds of flesh, shining from the moisture her body made. Warmth emanated from her.

Before she moved her mouth to the welcoming space, Terri looked up Amy’s body. There, propped up on the pillows they had purchased together, Amy was looking down at her. Green eyes and wild hair. They made eye contact.

Terri raised her eyebrows and smiled. Amy briefly shut her eyes and smiled. Terri winked at her. Amy let her head fall back. Her hand draping over her eyes. Terri knew it was Amy’s sign to proceed.

++++++

Terri winked at her. God. This sexy woman. Does she not know what she does to me? Amy thought. Her head dropped back on the pillows.

And then she felt it. A tongue that started far back, as far back as her slit went and dragged. Slow. Ardent. Sure. Dragged up through the most sensitive skin on Amy’s body. And then it came to her clit. First it circled her. Then it flicked her.

She couldn’t help but wiggle. Instinctively pull away. Terri waited. She pulled back and gave Amy time. Then Amy settled. She looked down at Terri. Another wink back at Amy. Amy shut her eyes and put her head back again.

Then Terri slowly went back. Her fingers slid in and opened Amy. Amy felt her tongue. Terri licked the length of her and then settled gently at her clitoris. Circles and another few flicks.  

“Oh, God. Terri. Terri.” She couldn’t keep the words to herself. “Jesus christ, Terri. Oh my god.”

She let her knees fall open, her legs butterflying out to the side. Allowing as much room as she could give Terri to continue to do what she was doing. Rocking Amy’s world.

++++++

Terri knew she had one shot at this, because at any moment, Amy could stop her. So, she did what she wanted to do. Get as much of her on Terri’s tongue as possible. She started near where she knew she’d find the most juice. She wanted to slide her tongue into her depths, but she kept herself from doing it. She pointed her tongue. Making it solid and strong. She slid up through the folds of her lips and dragged her tongue up to her clitoris.

She took a moment. She swallowed and went back for more. Amy’s clitoris was easy to find, and see. A hard, little pink pearl that introduced itself to Terri. Gleaming with moisture and asking to be tasted. Terri’s tongue circled it. Once. Twice. She flicked her with her tongue, circled her again.

And then Amy’s body pulled back. Terri let the distance happen. She pulled her head back and took her hands off her. She perched between Amy’s legs and waited. She knew it was a sensation that could be too much. Amy didn’t say to stop, but her body said she needed a moment and Terri gave her the time.

She looked up over Amy’s body and waited for Amy to make eye contact with her. When Amy did, Terri wordlessly gave her a wink to let her know she was there and it was all good.

Eventually Amy gave her a smile and lay her head back on the pillow, and Terri moved back into position. She opened Amy and licked her again. Terri smiled into Amy’s most private space. A space she’d long to explore. Terri was home. She was fucking home.

And then, Amy was talking and saying her name and her knees were opening wide; giving her more room.

Terri moved back, again. Tongue gliding back, back. She slid her tongue into Amy’s vagina. God. There it was. More. More of the juices that Terri’s gentle ministrations encouraged Amy’s body to make. Her tongue slid in and out of Amy. In. out. In. out.

One of Amy’s legs moved, then. Draped over Terri’s shoulder. Her foot pressed against Terri’s back.

++++++

She felt Terri move off of her clit and she was disappointed. But somewhere, deep in her brain, a rational thought kicked in. She’s prolonging it so I don’t come yet. She’s making it last longer. She wants to be down there longer.

And then she felt Terri’s tongue.

“Terri. Christ. Terri. You’re fucking me with your tongue. Fuck. Terri.” Amy rambled.

She didn’t realize she was doing it until she did it. One of her legs moved in closer to Terri’s face. Pressed against her. She draped her leg over Terri’s shoulder. She couldn’t stop her foot if she tried. Her foot that pressed against Terri’s back encouraging her to stay put.

She reached a hand down to Terri. Both of Terri’s hands were busy, holding her open for Terri’s mouth to work fucking magic. So, she rested her hand on top of Terri’s head. She dragged her fingernails lightly through Terri’s hair. Lightly scratching Terri’s scalp.

Amy’s head rolled side to side. Her other hand found its way to her own breast. To her nipples. She gently ran her fingertips over herself. Her nipples were tight. She knew what they wanted. Just as Terri’s tongue worked its way back up to her clit, she dug her fingernails into her nipples. Her other leg moved in, settling over Terri’s other shoulder. Her thighs gently pressing together with Terri’s head between them.

Her last thought before she came was: I’m going to fucking pop her head off.

++++++ 

As she slid her tongue in and out of her, she felt Amy’s leg move close to her and her foot push into her back. She moved her head slightly to press against Amy’s thigh. Let her know she was there. She felt her.

She moved her tongue up, again, Up to her clit. Then she felt Amy’s hand on her head, her fingernails. Terri knew she was enjoying it. It was good. Then she felt her other leg move in. Yes, she was enjoying it. Terri was strong, the legs over her shoulder made her happy and turned her on.

Terri’s tongue worked with purpose. She knew Amy’s body was telling her she was ready. As Amy’s thighs pressed in, Terri’s tongue circled rhythmically. She shifted her hands. One hand holding her open, the other moving. Sliding fingers inside Amy. In. out. In. Out. Amy’s thighs pressed firmly around her. Feet digging into her back.

And she felt her, in her mouth. On her hand. Around her head. Tense. Convulse.

And she heard her. “Terri. Fuck. Terri. Oh my god. Fuck.”

Terri knew to hold still. Press her tongue firmly against her. She felt Amy’s muscles clench on her fingers. Felt the surge of fluid slide over her fingers.

She held still. And smiled into Amy’s pussy. Smiled because she knew that Terri caused this reaction in Amy. Terri did this to her. Terri made Amy come. Satisfaction. Happiness. Pride. Affection. All the feelings one has when they have the ability to rock the world of another… when they are allowed to touch them the way they should be touched.

Amy’s breathing slowly began to return. She loosened the grip her thighs had on Terri. She reached down with her hands.

“Up. Up. Terri. Up.”

++++++ 

She felt herself at the brink. She knew what was coming. She wanted to wrap her legs around something, and worried she’d press too hard against Terri’s head.

She pinched her nipple. Her other hand tightening in Terri’s hair. She felt it building to an unbearable place. And then… and then the release.

Her body tensed and then wave after wave after wave of pleasure. Her toes curled. Both of her hands, now, in Terri’s hair. Pressing her head into her. Fingers digging into Terri’s scalp. Legs pressed around Terri.

“Terri. Fuck. Terri. Oh my god. Fuck.”

Everything Terri did was perfect. She pressed into her. She waited. No movement. Movement would have lessened the pleasure. Just waiting. Something no man she was ever with completely understood. They didn’t ever know when to stop and when to go. Terri knew. Oh god. Terri knew.

As she regained her breathing. She loosened her grip. Her toes unclenched. Her thighs opened up to give Terri room to move.

And then, she couldn’t hep herself. The hands that were previously on Terri’s head were reaching for her arms. Pulling her up.

“Up. Up. Terri. Up.”

++++++ 

Terri lifted herself up. Hands flat on the mattress. Arms straight. Amy looked up at her. Terri’s hair was sticking out in all directions. She gave Amy a smile.

“Get the fuck up here.” Amy said.

Terri moved to her knees and put her hands on either side of Amy. Holding herself up over Amy.

She was beautiful. Hair tousled in a halo around her face. Skin flushed from orgasm. Green eyes. A smile on her lips.

Amy reached up. Wrapped one hand around Terri’s head and pulled her down. “Kiss me.” She commanded.

Terri hesitantly moved forward to kiss her. Mel never let her kiss her after she went down on her. Terri worried Amy would not like it.

She tentatively put her lips to Amy. Amy pulled her down. Her lips hungry, opening up to Terri. When Terri didn’t move her tongue into Amy’s mouth, Amy plunged hers into Terri’s mouth.

A groan escaped Terri. She sucked on Amy’s tongue and as she did so she felt Amy’s hand slide down her body. Her hand moved down. Down. Until it tucked between Terri’s legs.

Another groan from Terri.

Mouths still locked into place. Terri moved, then. Moved her knees from between Amy’s thighs to straddling Amy’s hips. With her knees wide, she was open for Amy. Amy smiled into Terri’s mouth.

“Someone’s wet for me.” Amy teased.

“Always.” Terri told her.

“Tell me what you want, Terri.” Amy said.

Terri moved slightly, just a little further up. Making the distance shorter, so that Amy could easily reach her. In doing so, she moved so that her breast was just over Amy’s face.

Terri held herself open over Amy. Amy sucked on her nipple. Her fingers slid into Terri. Hot and wet. Needing Amy’s touch.

She lowered herself further. Amy’s hand between her legs had easier movement and began rhythmically working magic on Terri. Her tongue, mouth, teeth worked on Terri’s nipples.

Terri breathed out her name. “Amy. So good. Yes. Just like that, Babe. Yes.”

Terri dropped her head close to Amy’s. “Talk to me, Babe. I want to hear your voice.”

Amy began to talk to her while her hands worked. “Nobody’s made me come the way you just did. Your tongue on my clit felt so good. You knew exactly what to do. Terri… you’re so fucking sexy. God… I want you to do that to me every day. I came in your mouth, Terri. You liked it. Didn’t you?”

Terri growled. “Yeah. I did. I’ve waited so long.”

“I liked tasting myself on your lips. It felt so naughty, Terri.”

Amy’s fingers were circling her clitoris and she could feel Terri’s body begin to tense. She knew what to say to drive her over the edge.

“All day today my panties were wet. My panties were wet because I was turned on… thinking about tonight.”

“Yes, Amy. There. Yes. Don’t stop. Please.”

And Amy’s fingers moved faster over her as she moved her mouth back to Terri’s nipple. One hand teasing one, her mouth teasing the other. And one hand bringing her over the edge between her legs.

And then Terri let out a guttural moan. Low and quiet. Her back arched. Her body stiffened. And Amy knew what to do. She pressed on her and felt the waves. Felt the pulsing under her fingers.

Terri’s head dropped down beside Amy’s. “You’re fucking perfect.” She growled into Amy’s ear. “Fucking. Perfect.”

Amy felt her relax on top of her. She removed her hand. She pulled down on Terri. “Lay on me, Love. Lay on me.” Amy said quietly. Terri lowered herself onto Amy. Stretched out on her. She shifted slightly so her weight was not all on Amy.

Terri rolled them. Rolled them over so that she was on her side next to Amy and then rolled them again, bringing Amy up on her.

“AAAAhhhhhh.” Terri released tension and sighed at the relief she felt with the weight of Amy’s body on her. “That’s it. Right there.”

Amy’s mouth was on her. Then she was talking in Terri’s mouth, again.

“I think I love you, Terri Morgan.” Amy said.

Terri smiled. “OK, you sweet, beautiful woman. Talk to me and tell me that when we haven’t both just had an orgasm.”

“You put that therapist voice away. I want the woman who just ate me out.” Amy lifted herself off of Terri and slapped her in the stomach.

Terri smiled at her and reached in to tickle her inner thigh. “We both know that endorphins are high and people say things in the moment. You tell me when you’re ready and you know for sure.”

“Well… I KNOW I want to take a shower.”

“Want something from downstairs?” Terri asked.

“Diet Coke. On Ice. And maybe a snack.” Terri asked. She sat up. Hair wildly a mess. Pink cheeks. Eyes going brown.

“You go in the shower. I’ll go to the kitchen.” Terri pulled on her underwear and pulled her shirt on. Buttoned only one button.

“You look so sexy like that.” Amy laid down on her stomach and propped her chin in her hand. Feet kicking up behind her.

“No, Babe. That is sexy.” Terri said, pointing at Amy. Then leaning over and planting a kiss on one of the cheeks of her rear end. Then she smacked her bottom and left the bedroom.

++++++

Terri put the tray on the bed and turned to see Amy come out of the bathroom with a towel that was wrapped, as best as it could be, around her ample breasts. Terri made a note to herself to buy a couple bath sheets so that Amy could wrap the towel and not worry about coverage. Not that she wanted her covered. 

Terri planted a brief kiss on her as they passed. Terri went into the bathroom to take her own turn at the shower.

When she returned, she took in the sight. Comforter pulled back. Sheets pulled back. Pillows all behind her. Amy sat, feet tucked under herself. Snack tray in front of her. One bedside lamp on, all other lights off. She looked at Terri and smiled.

“What are you wearing?” Terri asked. Teasing her.

“What? It’s my favorite nighty.” Amy said looking down. “What’s wrong with it?”

Amy’s favorite was her lavender gingham baby-doll nighty. She brought it with her. It was comfortable.

“Nothing’s wrong. It’s just…we properly fucked. And then cleaned up. And… well… now I may have to go at you again because you are … you’re so…”

Amy cut her off. “Come sit down and have some sustenance Ms. Morgan.”

Terri went to her drawer and pulled out a pair of underwear and tank top. She put them on and sat next to Amy.

“OK. It’s a New Girl night. Ready?” Amy had it queued up and ready to play.

Terri popped a blueberry into her mouth. “Ready.”

++++++ 

Amy came in from the bathroom. Terri was moving everything off the bed so they could settle in.

“So, let me get this right. He named those beautiful things Harold and Kumar?” Terri asked.

“Yes.”

“Why?” Terri said.

“Well, it’s after Harold and Kumar… from the movies.” Amy said. She settled in beside her.

“I don’t know those movies.” Terri said. She plugged in her phone and turned out the bedside light.

“Well that would make sense since you don’t get why he named her boobs Harold and Kumar.” She plugged her phone in. She checked the alarm on it. Put it on the bedside table.

“They’re dude names. You don’t name boobs after dudes. That’s just wrong.” Terri said. She was serious. She checked her alarm. Sat her phone down and crawled under the sheets.

This was the first night they’d spend together and Amy took note of how easy they were moving through the motions of settling in. She just assumed she’d be the little spoon, so she settled on her side, facing away from Terri.

“I would agree, that her boobs are far too nice to be named after boys.” Amy said with a smile. She settled down on the pillows in the very dark room.

“They’re nice. But they’re not as nice as yours.” Terri noticed how Amy was laying. It thrilled her. She settled on her side, facing Amy’s back. She scooted close to her and pulled her in. Terri was the big spoon and it suited her just fine.

“So, are you going to name mine?” Amy asked coyly. Turning her head slightly to get a good night kiss from Terri.

Terri kissed her gently and then lay her head down. “Oh… I named them a long time ago.” She said casually.

“You did?” Amy smiled into the darkness. “When?”

“On Saturday. When you walked in here all nipped out.” Terri teased.

“Do I get a say in these names?”

“No. The keeper of the boobs does not get a say. It’s a rule.” Terri said.

“Got it. Will you be letting me know these names?”

“Sure.” Terri said. She put her hand on Amy’s left breast and said, “Rachel.” Then she put her hand on Amy’s right breast and said, “Monica.”

Amy giggled. “So… which one is which again?”

“Monica is always right.” Terri said. She sounded serious.

Amy giggled. She rolled onto her back so she could look at Terri. “Oh my god. Terri. You make me laugh.”

Terri, whose head was resting in the palm of her hand, elbow holding her up, looked down at Amy. She leaned in and kissed her.

Amy settled. She rotated again. Snuggled her back against Terri’s front. They were quiet.

“Terri?”

“Hmmm?”

“What about Phoebe?” Amy asked.

“What about her?”

“I thought she was your favorite.” Amy said quietly.

“She is.” Terri said quietly into Amy’s ear.

Amy rolled onto her back again. She looked at Terri.

Terri’s hand moved from Amy’s belly. Moved down low and slid between Amy’s legs.

“Phoebe.” Terri said quietly with a grin.

Amy began to laugh again. “TERRI!” She squealed. “Oh my GOD, Terri!” She laughed and slapped Terri’s arm.

When she laughed her whole body laughed. Her face wide with a smile. Her eyes crinkled together. Tears streaming from the corners of her eyes into her hair. Her body shaking.

“What? Phoebe is my favorite and that’s my favorite.” Terri said seriously.

“You crazy lesbian. I love you.” Amy said.

Terri leaned in to kiss her. She made sure she had what eye contact she could make in the dark room. “I do, too, Amy. I know it’s early and I shouldn’t say it, yet. But I love you. My god, I love you.”

Amy’s laughter stopped. Their faces close together.

“This is a pretty big deal.” Amy said.

“Yes. It is.”

“We’re less than a week into this thing.” Amy said.

“I know.”

“Are we in love, less than one week in?” Amy asked.

“I think so.”

“Shit. Lesbians do move fast, don’t they?” Amy teased.

“It would appear so.” Terri said.

Amy shifted, then. Back to her side, back pressed against Terri. “Good. Because Imma need more of what you did to me tonight and that means me being here for it. Because you’re for sure not going to eat me out at my Nan’s.”

“So, maybe we kick around the idea of you moving in.” Terri said. She couldn’t believe she was bringing this up so early.

“Maybe.” Amy said. “But to be honest, I’m still dealing with the cunnilingus and the naming ceremony. So, maybe give me a couple of days.” She said with a smile.

“You got it.” Terri said. A smile on her face that Amy couldn’t see.

“Can we sleep now?” Amy asked.

“Can you put more weight on me, please?” Terri asked.

They shifted slightly so that Amy was leaning further back on her. Terri fell to sleep quickly. Amy soon followed.

Terri the big spoon, protecting and wrapped around Amy. Amy the little spoon, giving her weight to Terri to sooth and comfort her.

And for the first time, they slept the night together. And for the rest of their lives, neither would sleep well again, without being in each other’s arms.

++

Chapter Text

++++++

 

She shut her eyes and leaned her head back against the headrest as the plane took off. She let her mind settle in for the ride. And, of course, it settled on Amy.

The last six weeks had been a roller coaster.

 

***

 

The Sunday after their naming ceremony, Terri was invited to Sunday dinner with Nan and Pop. Well, she was invited to church and then Sunday dinner, but she opted to not partake in the church part. She arrived at the Tayler home, flowers in hand, at 12:30 pm. Dressed in work clothing, sleeves down and buttoned at the cuffs.

Amy had met her on the porch. She stole a hug and a quick kiss before pulling Terri inside to meet her grandparents. Terri gave Amy’s grandmother the flowers she brought. She was rewarded with a hug. Mr. Tayler greeted her with a firm handshake and a brisk up and down. She knew he was watching her every move. Terri hadn’t yet ascertained whether or not his scrutiny was because she was dating his granddaughter, or because Terri was a woman….or, maybe, it was both.

Overall, Mr. and Mrs. Tayler could not have been nicer. Mrs. Tayler made a pot-roast with roasted potatoes. They had apple pie for dessert. It was delicious and made Terri think of family meals that her mother made when they were growing up.

Terri and Amy sat side-by-side during the meal; with Amy’s Nan and Pop across from them. From time to time, Amy settled her hand under the table on Terri’s thigh and patted it all in an effort to encourage her and let her know she was doing a great job. At times, their hands met and they linked pinkies in their own little pinkie-swear.

After their meal, Terri joined Amy and her grandmother in cleaning up. They made idle chatter. Terri found Nan to be gregarious and kind; she could tell that Amy took after her. Mr. Tayler came into the kitchen mid-way through clean up and said, “Terri, grab your tea. Come sit on the patio with me.”

Terri shot a glance at Amy whose eyes grew large. Amy pulled her lips into her mouth and bit down. Before Terri went through the door to the porch, she turned to look at Amy and winked at her.

Terri followed him out to the back patio where they each took a chair. Side-by-side. Looking out over the back yard. Terri waited for him to start. She took a long drink of her ice tea.

“My granddaughter tells me that you’re dating her.” Pop said seriously.

“Yes, Sir. I am.”

“Has she told you about her parents?” He asked her directly.

“No. She hasn’t.” Terri made eye contact with him.

“Well, I suppose she’ll tell you when she’s ready.” He said.

Terri just nodded her head.

“Her daddy was my boy.” He said.

“I assumed.” Terri said. Amy shared a last name with her grandparents.

“We’ve looked after her since she was young.” He said.

“She’s an amazing woman.” Terri said.

“You seem to be a bit older than she is.” He said.

“Yes. I am.” Terri leaned back in her chair. Took a sip of her tea.

“Have you done the math? How much older? If you don’t mind me asking.”

Terri smiled. “We’ve done the math. 8 years. Give or take. Depends on what time of year you do the math.”

“That’s quite a few.” He said.

Terri nodded her head. She had thought about it a lot at first. But overall, they enjoyed each other’s company and it didn’t seem to be an issue for either of them. But she didn’t feel as though she owed Amy’s grandfather her thoughts on the matter. If Amy wanted to discuss their age difference with him, that was up to her.

“What are your intentions?” He asked.

“I intend to make her happy, Mr. Tayler.” Terri said. Normally, ever aware of her body language, she wouldn’t cross her legs or any other part of her body during this serious of a discussion. But given that he was sitting with his legs crossed, she didn’t think he’d read too much into it if she did the same. She crossed one long leg over the other.

“That seems dangerous.” He said quietly.

“Can you tell me what you mean by that?” Terri asked him.

“Well… it seems to me that striving to have a happy relationship and striving to make her happy are two different things. She sometimes needs to not get what she wants. I’ve raised her. I know.” He said.

“I understand. Maybe I chose the wrong words.” Terri conceded.

“So… choose the right ones. We have time.” He said slowly.

Terri leaned forward. She put her elbows on her knees. “Sir, your granddaughter makes me very happy. I’d like to do as much for her to make her feel as happy as I do. I’ve not ever been so happy with someone.”

“You’ve had a relationship before her?” He asked.

“I have.” Terri looked at her feet. She hoped he honored her privacy because she had no intention of telling him about her past. She would tell Amy anything she wanted to know, but no one else would hear the story from Terri.

“I’m not going to ask you details, because it’s not my business. But I am interested in what you think will happen with you and my Amy.” He said.

Terri smiled. She faced him when she spoke. “Mr. Tayler, I can’t speak for Amy. I can only speak for myself. We’ve only been dating for a short while, so I don’t want to make assumptions. But I hope that Amy and I can look forward to a good relationship. I hope to have a future with her.”

“Marriage isn’t a legal option for same sex couples.” He said.

“Not yet. Maybe someday soon.” Terri said.

“When it is, will it be an option for you?” He asked.

Terri thought for a moment before she spoke. “Sir. Because it is not a legal option for us at this time, it hasn’t really crossed my mind. And, all due respect, if it were an option, my first conversation about it would be with your granddaughter and not with you.”

Amy’s grandfather stood. Terri stood with him. He held out his hand. “Good enough.”

Terri shook his hand and he patted her firmly on the back.

When they entered the kitchen, Amy and Nan stopped talking. Amy’s eyes locked on Terri. Amy tilted her head toward the stairway. “Hey, Nan. I’m going to take Terri up to show her my room.”

“Remember the rule. Door open.” Her grandfather said. Like he did all through her high school days.

“Yes, Pop.” Amy gave her grandfather a kiss on the cheek and she headed toward the stairs. Terri in tow.

When they were safely in her room, Amy pulled Terri near and wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist. They shared a kiss.

“How did that go?” Amy asked.

“Fine. He’s just protecting you. Looking out for you.” Terri said. She played with Amy’s hair.

“He’s old fashioned.” Amy said.

“He’s your grandfather. It’s what his generation did.” Terri said.

Amy rested her head on Terri’s shoulder while they stood in a hug.

“How did your past …people…do with that talk?” Terri asked.

“You’re the first person I’ve ever brought home to meet them.” Amy admitted.

Terri’s heart skipped a beat.

++++++ 

The next week, Amy went to Terri’s house on Friday night with the plan to stay through Saturday.

Friday after work, Terri stopped by a chicken place and bought dinner for them. Amy drove out after work. Both changed clothes and Terri grabbed a blanket. She brought out her new John Deer two-seater and took Amy down to the old field.

They spread the blanket on the ground and looked out over the old, dead plants that littered the faded, dry soil.

“What are you going to do with it?” Amy asked her. Amy dug into the food. She was a fan of the sides. She loved all the sides.

“Not sure. I just know I don’t want to do what Dad did. He relied on this field. He planted crops that would sell well. He’d worry the whole time it was growing until it was safely harvested. I don’t have to make money off it.” Terri said.

“You don’t have to do anything to it. You could just leave it. Don’t farm it at all.” Amy suggested as an option.

“I could. But it would be wrong. On some level, I feel like if I have this land, I need to make it productive. Even if it is just to plant so the soil has something to do.” Terri said. She gazed out over the tired-looking field. She wanted to work it. She wanted to have a tractor and till the soil and plant something. She longed to have something here, something beautiful, so she could watch it grow like she watched the crops planted when she was young.

“Honestly, Terri. This place is beautiful. And this spot right here? What a lovely place for a picnic! It would be nice to have a picnic table or something here so we could come down here more often.”

“You mean you don’t like the blanket?” Terri asked her with a teasing lilt to her voice. She pushed the food containers off the blanket and moved in on Amy. “I thought it was an ingenious way to spend a Friday evening under the open sky.”

She reached for Amy who squealed and moved out of the way. Terri quickly grabbed her ankle and pulled Amy back toward her. Amy squealed more as Terri’s hands moved up her leg and under her summer dress.

Amy turned and lunged at Terri, pushing her back onto the picnic blanket. Terri lay back and as Amy straddled her, Terri slid her hands up inside the skirt of Amy’s dress. She watched Amy’s eyes turn green.

Amy slowly pushed up Terri’s t-shirt and put her hands on Terri’s breasts. Her fingernails lightly grazed over her. Then her nails scratched down Terri’s abdomen to the jeans she wore. Before she could unfasten them, Terri sat up with Amy still straddling her. Amy wrapped her legs around Terri while she sat on her lap.

Terri slid her tongue into Amy’s mouth. Amy sucked on it and then pulled away so she could expose her neck to Terri. She loved when Terri nuzzled her neck and kissed her there. Along her neck. Under her ear.

Terri pushed Amy to sit back. Then Terri kissed her and slowly lowered her onto her back.

Terri reached under Amy’s dress and tugged at her underwear. “Terri Morgan. You’re insatiable.” Amy giggled.

“I just want to talk to Phoebe for a while. I’ve waited several days. We have a lot to catch up on.” She winked at Amy and lowered herself between Amy’s knees. Her head hidden under Amy’s dress.

Amy made noises that one can only make in nature. Nobody to hear her for acres and acres. She giggled. She squealed. She moaned. And Terri drove her wild. On the picnic blanket. By the dead field. As the sun set.

The sky went from dusk to dark; they lay under the night sky. Terri looked over the field and pointed out to Amy that the fireflies began to blink their way into the darkness. They lay for hours, looking at the bright stars in the clear, dark sky. They talked about the land. Terri’s memories as a child playing and then, later, working on it. Eventually, they packed up and went back to the house for a shower and more love making. Then, they fell to sleep in each other’s arms.

++++++

On Saturday, Terri drove them to Amy’s favorite farmer’s market in Cedar Grove. Terri wore her regular Saturday clothes. Jeans, sneakers, t-shirt. Amy wore a loose, flowered dress that hung just above her knees. A big floppy hat and sunglasses. She carried her over-sized purse that, according to Terri, had too much stuff in it.

The two women took their time and walked slowly, hand-in-hand through the throngs of people. The farmer’s market was busy. It was large. They bought bags of fresh vegetables. Some homemade bread. They looked at jams and honeys and plenty of baked goods. They stopped to listen to the people who had set up microphones at different sections of the market. One woman played a guitar and sang Joni Mitchell songs. At another mic were two men playing guitars and singing folk songs. At another was a group of four older men playing jazz. At each stop, while they listened, Terri put money in their jars.

Amy insisted on stopping at the booth of a friend of hers. She sold goats’ milk products. Bar soap. Lotion. And everything in between. Terri hung back while Amy hugged and talked with her friend. She watched her buy several items. Terri carried them back to the truck for her when she was ready.

That evening as they settled in to watch their shows, Terri laid back on the L-shape of the sectional. Amy lay between Terri’s legs and rested her head on Terri’s chest. She was on her side and had one of Terri’s arms in her hands. Amy’s finger tracing the design of the tattoos.

“I’ve given you time and you haven’t told me yet.” Amy said quietly.

“What are you talking about?” Terri asked her. She knew what Amy was talking about, but had hoped that she had let it go.

“You said your tattoos had meaning.” Amy pressed her.

“They do.” Terri nodded. Her heart pounded in her chest. She was going to have to talk about it. She was going to have to tell her.

“What is the meaning. You told me a few weeks ago that you’d rather wait. I think we’ve waited.’ Amy said.

Terri sat up. She turned off the television.

Amy moved from between Terri’s legs and faced her. She crossed her legs under herself. Something inside told her that she needed to prepare herself for a difficult conversation.

Terri pulled her shirt off. She turned her left side to Amy. “Tell me what you see when you look at it, Aim.”

Amy smiled at her. Terri had taken to calling her Aim and she liked it. “I see a lot of things.”

“Flowers. Butterflies…” Terri started.

“Ivy. Stars. Shells. Decoration that seems to be just filler. They don’t seem to make sense to me; like they don’t have an overall theme. It’s not like they’re your hobbies or anything.” Amy ran her finger gently over Terri’s arm. “But I know you. They aren’t just random decorations on your arm.”

Terri looked at Amy. She took a deep breath. She let it out slowly.

“It started here.” Terri turned her hand over to expose the inside of her wrist. She pointed to a small flower just on the pulse point of her left inner wrist. “My little sister’s name was Lilly.”

“Terri.” Amy said quietly. She looked into Terri’s eyes. The word “was” hung in the air between them. Amy immediately began to blink back tears. Terri had never spoken of having a sister.

“She died... She was killed. Freshman at college, …someone had a gun at a keg party. It was deemed an accident.” Terri rattled off the information with little emotion.

“How old were you?” Amy asked. She moved one of her hands to hold Terri’s. One finger of her other hand traced the little flower, a lily, on the inside of Terri’s wrist.

“Three years into my work at the agency.” Terri said quietly.

Silence. Amy wasn’t sure what to say.

“Amy, I don’t really want to talk more about her right now.” Terri was honest with her. She wanted this conversation to be about the tattoos.

“You don’t have to. I’m sorry. I didn’t know, Terri.”

“Don’t be sorry. We have to tell our stories.” Terri said. “I just…”

“Do you want to tell me about the tattoos?” Amy asked, “Or…”

“They’re the victims, Amy.” Terri cut her off.

Amy heard Terri’s voice crack. She watched Terri’s face change, contort while she worked to gain control of her voice. Terri’s exterior, her protective shell, cracked. Amy had not ever seen Terri get emotional. Other than the few tears she shed the first day they spent together after her last special assignment, Terri was stoic and unemotional when it came to talking about work.

“Terri. No.” Amy shook her head, realizing what Terri was telling her.

“I just… after the first one… high schoolers. They were teenagers, Amy. I… I came home and had a small butterfly for each one. Then after the second, it was in Atlanta…his family and then his coworkers…that’s the string of ivy.”

Amy began to cry. She ran her hands over her lover’s arm she started to count them. Count each item on her arm. “Oh, my god, Terri. No.”

“I … I felt like I needed to do something. Honor them. Remember them and the impact they had on me…because it didn’t seem like it mattered to so many people who should have cared.” She said quietly to Amy, as though she owed Amy an explanation.

“Terri.”

“Do you want to know this?” Terri asked her. “I don’t want to tell you if you don’t want to know. It’s OK if you don’t want to know.”

“I want to know what you want me to know.” Amy said.

“It started at a training. I went a year after Lilly died. It was just a trauma training to get my CEUs for relicensure. The Trauma of Gun Violence Survivors. I thought I might learn something to heal myself, or maybe help my parents. That’s when I met the man who runs the program I now work for. I expressed interest in learning more. He encouraged me to test to be one of the fellows of his program. I did. I went through the training. It was rigorous.”

Amy blew her nose. Wiped her tears. Listened intently. Her hand resting on Terri’s arm.

“Catherine at work liked me doing it. Said it helped in the work here. She supported it. Said I could use my vacation time when I was called out. The thing is, I ran out of vacation time a long time ago. She still lets me go. Just… unpaid leave.”

“When did it start? When did you first go?” Amy asked.

“First call was to Colorado.”

“Oh my god.” Amy said. “I was 16. I watched it. My teacher turned on the television when she heard. My principal found out and made her turn it off. You were there?”

After. I always go in after, Amy. It’s important you know I’m called after.” Terri didn’t want Amy to worry that she was in danger when she went on assignment. By the time Terri arrived, security was tight around the families.

“How many?”

“Thirteen. One was a teacher. That is the star in the middle of the butterflies.”

Amy touched the star on Amy’s forearm. “What’s this, the tiny little marks between them?”

“Those are small starbursts. Those are the recorded wounded who survived.”

The room was silent.

“What about the shooters? Some of them die. Are they…?”

“They’re not here.” Terri said running her hand up and down her arm. “They don’t get a place here.”

Amy sat in silence. Then, her face changed. It dawned on her what she’s seen on Terri’s arms.

“Oh god, Terri. These.” Amy turned Terri and grabbed her right arm. “On your other arm. Terri. Oh my god. The blocks.”

“Last year.” Terri nodded. “Newtown. The letters on them are for their names. Twenty of them. TWENTY. They were babies, Amy. Six and seven years old. Murdered in their classroom… where their teachers tried to keep them safe.”

“I remember.” Amy wept.

“If the legislature didn’t to do something to make it stop after the babies, they’re never going to do anything... It’s never going to stop.” Terri shook her head. A tear fell down her cheek. Her fingers lightly brushed the blocks on her upper right arm. “This one was the hardest. The caskets were so small, Amy.”

Amy’s finger traced the tattoos of the twenty tiny blocks on Terri’s right arm. They were children’s play blocks, brightly colored. Letters. C. D. O. J. D. M. C. C. J. A. J. G. E. J. N. C. J. A. B. A. Six stars spaced between them.

“Six stars?” Amy asked.

“Teachers. Principal. Psychologist. Behavior Therapist.” Terri told her.

“Terri. What is the heart… here?” Amy pointed to a heart among the six stars.

“His mother.”

They sat in silence. Amy continued to cry. Terri’s red eyes let out another tear.

Terri didn’t speak. She couldn’t look at Amy. She looked straight ahead at nothing. She waited for Amy to process, to speak.

They sat in silence for a long time until Amy’s stopped crying. She blew her nose again.

“What do you do? When you’re there, Terri. What do you do?” Amy asked her.

“First, I meet with the families of the victims. Then most of my work is with the survivors; the ones who were inside with those who died. We get a list of them and we divide and assign them. It’s usually me and one other coworker. We meet with them several times over the week we’re there. If it’s a school… fuck, what am I saying. It’s almost always a school. We meet with people with boots on the ground in the community. Therapists who come together. We do mini trainings. We then all share in work with the teachers. Kids who survived. We get the community ready for the work after we leave, because that’s when it really gets hard… after the help leaves.”

“All day. For a week. You meet with people. Therapy. Train. Therapy.”

“Yup.” Terri said.

“Just a standard work day?” Amy asked, knowing full well that this was a ridiculous notion.

“No. All day therapy, into the evenings. Most evenings are spent training. We usually attend the memorials if we can. Help with things there. They are long days.” Terri said.

“And then you fly home and wait for another call. A call that comes when the next fucking lunatic gets ahold of a gun that shouldn’t be legal and does the same fucking shit all over again.” Amy stood and walked across the room. Ranting. Cussing. Arms flailing. Angry.

“And you keep doing it, time after time after time after time, and the only thing those fuckers in Washington can offer are thoughts and prayers.” She paced the room. She wept. She cussed.

Terri waited for her to calm herself. She understood the anger. Terri had felt that anger many times.

“I can’t change the law. I can just help the people who live through it.” She told Amy.

“And… meanwhile… there are hundreds and hundreds of people every year…most of them children… who don’t live through it.” Amy was still ranting.

Terri sat quietly. She waited.

Amy stopped speaking. She paced the room. Eventually she paced nearer Terri. Slowly moving back toward her. Stood in front of her, between Terri’s knees. Terri reached for her hands.

Amy put a knee on the couch beside Terri. Then her other knee on the other side of Terri. She faced Terri, perched on her lap.

“I’m sorry.” Terri said. She looked down, away from Amy’s gaze.

“Why are you sorry?” Amy asked her, confused.

“You’re the only one who knows what they mean.” Terri said quietly. Still not looking at Amy.

“Mel didn’t know?” Amy had to ask.

“She knew I was getting them. She never asked. I didn’t offer. Maybe she knew. We didn’t talk about it. I mean… she knew about Lilly and I’m sure she made the connection on that. But we never talked about it after I started getting them.”

“She didn’t ask even after the blocks?”

“She left when I was away on that assignment. Got them after…”

Fucking bitch.” Amy covered her mouth the moment she said the words. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Terri. I didn’t mean that.”

Terri smiled at her. She loved that Amy was being protective, even if she was overly emotional about it. “It wasn’t Mel’s fault, Amy. We were over long before she left. I told her before I left for that assignment that if we weren’t going to be together that we shouldn’t live together. It was good that she left while I was away.” Terri said, nodding her head. “It was good Amy. I wanted her to go.”

“Ok. I still don’t know why you’re apologizing.” Amy said. She ran her hands gently up and down Terri’s arms.

Terri was still. The room was quiet. Amy waited.

A tear fell down Terri’s cheek when she looked up at Amy. “You use to think my arms… my sleeves… were sexy. I shouldn’t have told you what they…what everything means. You won’t see them… me… the same way.”

Amy moved, then. She captured Terri’s face between her hands. “Terri-Fuckin’-Morgan. You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever known. You are strong and beautiful and so fucking sexy. Knowing the story of this tribute on your arms? That doesn’t change anything. It makes me love you all the more.”

Terri’s breath caught in her throat. She encouraged vulnerability in others every day. She didn’t practice it, until now. Until Amy.

Amy captured Terri’s mouth in hers. She moved closer to her. She wrapped her arms around Terri’s shoulders. She wiggled and moved Terri until her legs wrapped around Terri’s waist. A full body hug. The kiss was strong yet sensitive. Amy took control of it. She comforted Terri. She told Terri with her mouth, and her arms, and her legs, that Amy was there to take care of her. Protect her. Support her.

Amy got up and encouraged Terri to lay down. Lay back against the couch pillows. Amy lay down on her. She knew how it helped Terri relax to feel the pressure of Amy’s weight on her. They lay there for a long time. Amy’s ear pressed against Terri’s heart, listening to it beat. Terri running her hand through Amy’s hair.

Terri must have fallen to sleep. She awoke to hear Amy’s voice. She was on the phone.

“Nan. I know I said I’d be home tonight. I’m not coming. I need to stay here.”

Pause.

“Yes. I will be at church tomorrow. I promise.”

Pause.

“Because Terri needs me tonight. Nan." 

Pause.

“No. She’ll be Ok. I just don’t feel right leaving her alone. I want to be with her.”

Pause.

“I love her, Nan. I need to be with her. She’s… She just … I don’t want to leave her alone tonight.”

Pause.

“Thank you. I will tell her. I love you. Yes. Good night, Nan.”

That night, they lay in Terri’s bed. Emotionally spent. Terri made no move to touch Amy. Amy was tucked under Terri’s arm, her head on Terri’s shoulder. She ran her hand over Terri’s breasts. Her fingernails teased Terri’s nipples through her tank top.

“Amy.”

“Shhhh. Please, Terri. Let me.” Amy said.

Amy pulled up Terri’s tank and nuzzled her flesh. Kissed her. Gently sucked on her. She crawled on top of Terri. She sat up and pulled her nighty over her head. She leaned over Terri and kissed her. Let her breasts brush against Terri’s. She pushed Terri’s tank up over her head. Terri removed it and tossed it.

Amy’s tousled hair fell around her face and made a tent over them both.

“Babe. You’re so soft. You feel so good.” Terri’s hands roamed over the body she craved touching.

“You’re so brave. And strong. And loving, Terri Morgan.” Amy whispered in her ear. “Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for being vulnerable with me.”

Amy kissed down her neck to her shoulder. She kissed her down her right arm. The arm with the blocks. The flowers. The birds. The stars. The halos. The sunbursts. She moved to Terri’s left. She kissed down her left arm. The arm with the butterflies. The ivy. The angel wings. The stars. The halos. And then she picked up her arm and kissed the little lily at her pulse point.

Then Amy sat beside Terri and pulled down on Terri’s underwear. Terri helped her remove them. She kicked them off.

Amy settled between Terri’s legs. She gently kissed her inner right thigh. Opened mouthed. A lick. A slight nip.

Terri bucked her hips. A silent plea for attention. Terri wanted to put her hands on Amy’s head, but felt like she shouldn’t. She didn’t want to pressure her. Amy was exploring, she had begun to go down on Terri to explore. Although she always brought Terri to orgasm with her hands, she never quite brought herself to use her mouth on more than Terri’s inner thigh.

Terri laid back and let Amy explore. Her loving soft touch was comforting and thrilling at the same time. Terri was emotionally drained from the conversation earlier in the evening. She sighed as Amy gently touched her.

Terri felt Amy’s finger slide between her lips. Slide and glide over the hot, moist inner folds of flesh.

Terri moaned on an exhale. Soothing touch. Comforting fingers.

She felt Amy use two hands to separate her. Terri raised her head and looked down her body. There, looking back at her with green eyes and disheveled hair was Amy. Amy gave her a shy smile and then ducked her head.

She watched Amy’s head move down and then she felt Amy lick her. A timid, shy lick. On Terri’s clitoris.

Terri let out a moan that she should have probably monitored, but didn’t have the self-control to do so. Her instinct was to squeeze her thighs together and capture Amy there. But she didn’t do that. She instead reached up and grabbed the pillow beneath her, so she wouldn’t grab Amy’s head. She forced her knees open. She forced her hips to stay in place and not rock into Amy’s mouth.  

Amy slid her tongue back. Her tongue danced on Terri’s hot, wet skin. Circles.

Terri kept her eyes on Amy’s head.

“Amy. You don’t have to…”

“Shhhhh.” Amy hushed her.

Terri moved her hands then. One hand to her own head. Terri grabbed a handful of her own hair to keep her hand busy. The other touched her breasts and teased her nipples. Anything. Any touch.

She closed her eyes as all of her nerve endings felt the touch. She felt her clitoris being circled, teased. And she knew Amy’s tongue was doing the teasing.

“Terri. I need your hands.” Amy said. Terri immediately moved her hands toward Amy. “Hold yourself open for me, please, Terri.”

Terri smiled at her. She lifted her knees to give Amy room. Then she used her hands to hold herself open. Amy licked her, again, and used her tongue to toy with her clit. Her fingers slid inside Terri. In. out. In. out.

Oh fuck. She was taking Terri to the precipice. And Terri was going to fall. And Amy’s mouth was going to take her to the soft landing.

“Amy. Fuck this feels so good.” Terri told her. “Babe. It’s so good. Oh God. Right there. Yes. There. God Amy. Yes.”

And Amy pressed into her. Terri felt her muscles tense around Amy’s fingers. She felt the pulsing under Amy’s tongue. She felt Any push against her as Terri stiffened under her. Her body shuddered. Violent shudders as the orgasm wracked her body. Amy pressed on her, held her firm. Until she calmed.

And then, sweet, beautiful, giving, loving Amy crawled up Terri and opened her mouth over Terri. Amy, knowing that Terri would want to taste herself on Amy’s lips.

Amy pulled back and looked seriously at Terri.

“Are you OK?” Terri asked her.

“Was it good?” Amy asked, shyly.

“Hell, yeah. It was good. It was fantastic, Amy!” Terri rolled her. Rolled Amy onto her back and Terri looked down at her.

“Well then, I’m OK.” Amy said with a smile.

And then, Terri took her turn at Amy.

++++++

The weeks passed and they enjoyed every moment together. They enjoyed a play at the community theater, they visited the local zoo. Terri had several meals with the Tayler family, and Amy spent a significant amount of time at Terri’s place. They had sex, they cuddled, they talked. Although neither spoke much of her past, they did talk about their future.

One day, in mid-October, Terri walked into her office after taking a client back to the lobby. She had exactly 15 minutes to down something for lunch and then her next client would be waiting.

When she walked into her office, Amy was standing just inside the door. A smile on her face.

“Well hey there, Stranger.” Terri said with a smile. She patted Amy on the back and walked by her. “It’s good to see you. What’s up?” Terri headed to her desk to pull out her lunch bag.

Amy shut the door behind her and leaned against it with a smile.

Terri sat down at her desk, pulled the sandwich out of her bag and took a bite. She shrugged her shoulder. With a mouth full of sandwich, she said, “What do you want?”

“I don’t think it’s what I want.” Amy smiled. She pulled up the skirt of her dress and said, “It’s what Phoebe wants.”

Terri smiled. She shut her eyes. She sighed. She put her sandwich down. She leaned back in her chair. “No, Amy.”

Amy stayed, leaned against the door. With the crook of her finger she silently beckoned Terri to her.

“No, Amy. No.” Terri said, remaining at her desk.

“Terri. You can’t say no to Phoebes. Come on. You have 15 minutes. I saw it on your calendar. And I’m never in the office when you have a few minutes. Come on.” Terri and Amy had shared outlook calendars weeks ago; Amy knew what Terri’s day looked like.

Terri walked over to Amy. Amy smiled broadly.

Terri put one hand on Amy’s shoulder. The other hand pushed down her hand that held up her skirt. “Listen to me, Amy. I’m telling you no. We aren’t doing that here. Stop it.”

The smile instantly left Amy’s face. She became flushed.

“I don’t understand. What’s wrong?” Amy asked.

“I said no. And that’s all I should have to say.” Terri said.

“So, you get to decide if we have sex or not? Is that it? You get to be in control?” Amy asked.

“That’s not what I said. You know if you say no, I respect that.”

“But I don’t say no.” Amy said indignantly.

“That’s not the issue. If I say no, I mean it.” Terri said seriously. “And I’m saying no to you.”

Terri saw a look on Amy’s face she’d not seen before. A flash of Anger. Fierce dark brown eyes. She spat out a quiet, “Fuck you, Terri.”

And she turned and left the office. Closing the door firmly when she left.

Terri looked for Amy when she had moments between clients the rest of the day. She didn’t see her in the building.

Terri texted her at the end of the day.

 

You (5:15 pm):
‘Check in text’

 

No response. Terri decided to give her a little time.

 

You (9:21 pm):

‘Amy are you going to talk to me?’

 

No response.

Terri went to bed knowing that Amy wasn’t talking to her.

On Thursday at the staff meeting, Amy wasn’t present. Terri said nothing.

“Where’s Amy?” Trevor asked loudly.

“Not your business, Trevor,” Catherine answered before starting the meeting.

 

You (10:03 am):

‘Are you sick? Are you OK?’

 

No response.

Terri was roped into going out with the group for the Thursday night gathering. Amy, of course, was not there.

While the younger group was dancing, Karen moved over by Terri.

“She called in sick today. She ok?” Karen asked.

“Yeah. She’ll be fine.” Terri said.

“You look like you lost your best friend.”

“Is it that obvious? Terri asked.

“Fuck, Terri. What did you do?” Karen asked.

Karen had been as close of a friend as a coworker can be over the years. If there was anyone Terri could talk to about it, it would be her. But she didn’t. Because she couldn’t. This was a private matter.

“Not talking about it.” Terri got up and found the waiter. She paid her bill and left.

She called Amy from the truck. It went to voice mail.

“Amy. Please don’t shut me out. This isn’t productive. Let’s talk. Please.”

She sat in her bed. Alone. She used to sit in her bed alone and didn’t feel lonely. Now, all she felt was loneliness. She tried to text her again.

 

You (10:35 pm):

‘Amy. Please talk to me.’

 

Friday was a busy day at the office. Back to back clients. Terri went to the restroom around 3:30. As she was going in, she collided with a body rushing out of the restroom. Terri stood back, arms up, prepared for the body charging her. She realized it was Amy.

She put her hands on Amy’s upper arms. “Aim.” She said.

Amy jerked her arms and pulled out of her attempt at connection. “Nope. You don’t get to touch me.” And she walked past Terri back to her cubicle.

 

You (3:37 pm):

‘Amy. I’m glad you’re back. I missed you. Please let’s talk.’

 

Nothing.

That night, Terri pondered the situation. If Amy didn’t want to talk to her, she wasn’t going to force her. She was frustrated that this happened because Terri didn’t want to have sex at work. She was frustrated that they couldn’t discuss it. She also knew she wasn’t going to beg for their relationship. She begged for years with Mel. She learned she doesn’t want to do that anymore.

 

You (9:17 pm):

‘I’m not going to try again. You know where to find me if you want to talk.’

 

++++++

On Saturday, neither woman made an attempt to communicate. Terri spent time working in the barn and napping.

++++++

 

Sunday afternoon, Terri stopped by Amy’s house.

“Hi, Nan.” Terri said. “Can I talk to her?”

“Hi, Hon. She’s up in her room.” Nan stood aside and let Terri walk past her.

Terri stood outside Amy’s bedroom door. She knocked. It was quiet. She knocked again. She tested the doorknob. It opened.

Amy was asleep on the bed.

Terri leaned against the door jamb. “Amy. Amy wake up.” She said in a voice that she hoped didn’t scare Amy.

Amy stirred and immediately sat up. “What the fuck are you doing here.” She spat the words.

Terri stepped into the room. “We need to talk.”

“I think you’ve said all I need to hear.” Amy said.

Terri looked over her shoulder. She shut the door, knowing she was breaking Pop’s rule.

“Amy, please. Listen. We need to clear the air.”

“Why?” Amy said.

“Because I’m on my way to the airport and I’d really like to be sure we’re OK before I take off.”

Amy was silent.

“God, Terri… Jesus. Fuck.”

Terri leaned against the door.

“Aim. I can’t. I’ve spent the last … whatever many years…compartmentalizing my shit. I’ve not let one box flow into the other. And you’re just…”

“I’m a lot. I know.” Amy shot at her.

“No…. I mean, yeah… Yeah you’re a lot, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I like that you’re a lot. You’re just so full of energy and humor and kindness, and caring. You’re a lot. But that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Well what, then?” Amy stood in front of her. Hands on her hips. Head tilted up.

“You’re just so much a part of my life, you’re in almost every box. I can’t put you in a compartment.”

“So, what’s wrong with that?” Amy’s hands flew into the air.

“I don’t know how I’m going to go do this job knowing that this is unresolved. I won’t think of anything else but you.” Terri explained.

“That’s not my fault.” Amy said indignantly.

“No. It’s mine. I let you in. I told you things nobody in my life knows.” Terri sighed.

“So just cut me out.” Amy challenged her.

“I can’t do that. I love you, Amy.”

“You cut me out the other day. Just dismissed me from your office.” Amy challenged her.

“Not agreeing to have sex in my office is not the same as dismissing you.” Terri’s voice was calm and quiet.

“I felt dismissed.” Amy looked down at her feet and crossed her arms over herself.

“Amy. I said no. Does no not mean no to you? We preach all day long to our clients that no means no.” Terri worked hard to get her to understand.

“You’ve never said no to me.” Amy mumbled.

“So why did you not listen to it when I did?” Terri asked.

“Because you don’t turn me down. It was embarrassing! You’ve never once told me you didn’t want me.” Amy turned her face up to meet Terri’s gaze.

“I didn’t say I didn’t want you. I want you, Amy. Hell. I want you all day, every day.”

“Why the fuck did you turn me down?” Amy pushed Terri’s shoulder with all her might when she said the word fuck.

“Don’t push me Amy. We are going to have a civil conversation here. You don’t get to push. I’d never push you.” Terri said calmly.

Amy made a noise of frustration and sat down on the side of her bed. Terri moved to sit beside her, making sure to leave room between the two.

“Amy, there are some things I have to keep separate for my own sanity. You know what I do for a living in that office. You know I have conversations with kids that are … kids’ worst experiences are aired in that office. I don’t… I can’t have sex in there. I need that to be separate. Those kids deserve to have 100% of my brain with them. Not part of me remembering you…or Phoebe… in there.” Terri adamantly shook her head. “No. It can’t happen in there.” Terri leaned over. Elbows on her knees. Head in her hands.

“Why didn’t you just say that?” Amy asked her. She rested her hand on Terri’s upper back.

“Why can’t me saying ‘No’ be enough?” Now, Terri sounded frustrated. “I shouldn’t have to fully explain if I am saying no, nor should you.”

Silence.

“I’ve been turned down in the past and it was always the beginning of the end.” Amy said.

“I was turned down for nearly 15 years and I begged for it to continue. I’m not going to beg you, Amy. I’m not going to follow you around when you are mad at me and decide to shut me out. I’m not going to beg in a relationship again.”

Silence.

Terri broke the silence. “Listen. I’m sorry I didn’t explain further when I turned you down in the office. But I’m not sorry for not having sex in my office.”

“I’m sorry for being angry for being turned down. But I’m not sorry for wanting sex in your office.” Amy conceded.

Terri smiled. She nodded. “Fair enough.”

She held out a hand and Amy put her hand in it. Their fingers intertwined.

“Where are you going?” Amy asked her. She laid her head on Terri’s shoulder.

Terri told her.

“On a Sunday?” Amy asked. Not thinking clearly.

“A church.” Terri said. “Morning service.”

“Terri. No.”

“A church that serves LGBTQIA.”

“Terri.”

“I don’t know how I’m going to do this one, Aim.”

Amy stood, then. Stood up and positioned herself in front of Terri, stood between her knees. “You can do it, Love. Who better to help them but one of their own?” Amy held her, then. Pulled her close. Terri pressed her face into the warmth and comfort of Amy’s breasts. Wrapped her arms around Amy’s waist. Smelled her.

“I have to go.” Terri said.

“Let me take you.” Amy said.

“My truck is outside. I’m fine.” Terri stood, but kept her in an embrace.

“You’re not alone anymore, Terr.”

“I have to do this alone.” Terri insisted.

“You go. Text me… or call me… If you need me. I won’t bug you. I promise.”  Amy told her.

Terri smiled down at her. It registered with Terri that those were the same words Amy told her the first time she left Amy to go on assignment. She pulled Amy in for a kiss. Deeply. Passionately. A proper goodbye kiss.

The door flew open. “Door open.” Pop said.

“Sorry Pop. We were standing.” Terri said smiling.

“Terri’s just leaving for the airport. She stopped to say bye.” Amy said.

Pop turned and left them alone.

Terri kissed her one more time. She smelled Amy’s hair. Committed it to memory.

“I love you, Terri Morgan.”

“I love you, Amy. A dangerous amount.” Terri said into the top of Amy’s head. “Sometimes…it scares me” Terri admitted.

They walked downstairs together.

Nan stood in the kitchen. Brown bag in hand. “Here hon. Take these. Cookies. Oatmeal Raisin.”

“Thanks Nan.”

“We saw the news.” Pop said. “Be careful.”

“I’ll see you in a week.” Terri said. She shook hands with Pop. She leaned down to hug Nan who kissed her cheek. Amy followed her to her truck.

They hugged. They kissed.

“Come back to me.” Amy said.

“Always.” Terri said. She offered up her finger for a pinkie-swear.

++++++

You (10:33 pm):

‘Check in Text.’


Girlfriend, Amy (10:33 pm):

‘Terri.’

 

You (10:33 pm):

‘Home tomorrow.’

 

Girlfriend, Amy (10:34 pm):

‘Time?’

 

You (10:34 pm):

’1 pm.’

 

Girlfriend, Amy (10:34 pm):

‘Want a ride?’

 

You (10:34 pm):

‘I’ve got the truck.’

 

Girlfriend, Amy (10:35 pm):

‘You OK?’

 

You (10:35 pm):

‘I will be.’

 

Girlfriend, Amy (10:35 pm):

‘You want to talk on phone?’

 

You (10:35 pm):

‘Yes. Please.”


Terri’s phone rang.

 

“Hi.” She said. Exhausted.

“Hi, Love.” Amy said.

“I’m tired, Babe. I’m going to go to sleep. Wanted to hear your voice.” Terri’s voice sounded weary.

“Is your phone plugged in? Charging?” Amy asked her.

“Yes.”

“Alarm set for the morning?” Amy was in caregiver mode.

“Yes.”

“Double check it for me please. Is it AM not PM? Is it the right time?”

“Yes.”

“Good. I don’t want you to miss your flight.”

Terri chuckled.

“Seriously. I wasted days last week not talking to you. Then had you gone a whole week. I need you home as soon as possible.” Amy said to her.

“I’m coming home.” Terri said. She was looking forward to seeing Amy.

“Do you want to be alone?” Amy asked her, wanting to hold any boundary Terri needed.

“No.”

“OK.” Amy smiled into the phone.

“Talk me to sleep, Aim?”

“Roll over, Terr.”

“I love you.” Terri said.

“I love you, too. Are you cuddled in?”

“MmmmHmmm.” Terri was too tired to form words.

And then, Amy began to talk. She talked about her week, what she wanted to do with Terri over the weekend. She talked about her grandparents. The color of the sky. She just talked quietly until she heard Terri breathing steadily.

She waited on the phone, listening to her breathe. Then, as she became drowsy, Amy hung up the phone and went to sleep.

 

***

 

When she felt the wheels touch the ground, she sighed in relief. She opened her eyes. She was home. She shot Amy a text. She knew she wouldn’t hear much from her over the next few hours. Work comes first. Terri, of all people, understood that.

She waited patiently in her seat. Let others get up and go. They had connecting flights. People waiting for them. She had no reason to rush.

She grabbed her bag. She walked through the terminal. She walked past people greeting passengers. Signs. Hugs. Kisses. Large families. Couples. Intimate moments of greeting. After the week she had, she didn’t want to see it. This week was plagued with the added insult of the anti-gay protesters. She had felt assaulted at every turn during the week. She put her head down and weaved her way through the crowd.

She heard her name beside her. No emotion. Just her name. “Terri.”

Terri walked about three steps before it registered. She knew who it was. She stopped. She turned.

The cop coming toward her rested her hands on the gear strapped to her waist, elbows out, unable to fully come to rest at her sides because of the bulletproof vest she was wearing.

Terri immediately put on her therapist face. A hint of a smile so as to not look like she was frowning. “Hi, Mel.”

“Getting back from assignment?” Mel asked.

Terri gestured to her bag. “Yeah.”

“Gay church.” Mel said, as only Mel could. Not meaning anything derogatory, just her cop short-hand. Terri realized that if Mel knew this information, she must have thought of Terri when she heard about the shooting.

“Yup. What are you…?” Terri hated herself for asking.

“Picking up… my…”

“Oh. Good. That’s nice.” Terri said. It was not lost on her that in 15 years of a relationship, Mel had never once offered to take her to, or pick her up from, the airport. Terri always, always walked through the throngs of people alone. Found her way to the parking lot alone. Drove home... Alone.

Mel began to talk about her person. Why she was traveling. Terri desperately tried to think of a way out of the conversation when she heard it. Heard her name being called.

 

“Terri! TERRI! Terri-fuckin’-Morgan!!!!!”

 

While she still faced Mel, a wide grin made its way across Terri’s face and into her eyes. Her whole face shone brightly.

She watched Mel’s facial expression close down into her cop face while she looked at Terri’s gleeful expression.

Ignoring Mel, Terri turned around and saw her. Amy. Amy standing down the concourse. Amy. In a sweet, long-sleeved fall dress that stopped just above her knees. Brown boots up to her knees. Her giant purse slung over her shoulder.  Hair wild around her face and shoulders.

 

“TERRI!!!! HI, LOVE!”

 

Terri turned to Mel. “I’m going to go now. Have a good one, Mel.” She grabbed her suitcase and walked down the concourse to Amy.

Amy began to run toward her and just as she reached Terri, she jumped. Terri let go of her suitcase and grabbed Amy by the rear as Amy wrapped her legs around Terri’s waist. Her arms around Terri’s neck.

She peppered Terri with kisses on her cheeks, her nose, her chin, her forehead.

I missed you. Kiss. Welcome home. Kiss. Wasn’t the same without you. Kiss. I’m going to fuck you all night. Kiss. I love you. Kiss. Terri. Kiss. Fucking. Kiss. Morgan. Kiss. Welcome home!

And then Amy put both hands on Terri’s cheeks and pulled her in for a deep welcome home kiss.

Terri knew that Mel was watching from behind her. The adult in her tried to not care. The ex-girlfriend in her who knew she’d been cheated on thought Hell, yeah. Look at this, Mel. Look. At. This.

Amy hugged Terri and with her face looking over Terri’s shoulder, she looked at Mel. She knew who Mel was; she’d seen pictures.

Amy had been waiting at the end of the concourse. She intended to not make a big show of things, but just be present for Terri. Terri had made it clear she could take care of herself. But Amy had missed her, so she took the afternoon off of work and planned to wait at the airport.

She had been excited when she saw Terri turn the corner and head down the walkway. Terri looked sad. Shoulders slumped, head down.

Then Amy saw her being stopped by a cop. Then she realized who the cop was.

If you were to ask her, Amy would say she didn’t see what had happened. She’d tell you she was just really excited to see Terri. But if she were being truly honest, she’d tell you she wanted to rub it in. She wanted Mel to see that Terri had someone who adored her. That Terri had someone who was full of excitement when she saw Terri.

So, she ran at Terri. And she jumped into her arms. And she kissed her. And she proclaimed her love for her at the top of her lungs.

And when Amy unwrapped her legs and slid down Terri’s body, she looked up at Terri. And Amy knew she did the right thing.

Terri blinked back tears. She smiled broadly. “Babe. I love you,” she said and then she grabbed Amy by the back of her head and pulled her close for another kiss. Then they turned and walked, holding hands, out of the airport.

When they were outside, Terri asked, “Where are you parked?” She was fully prepared to walk Amy to her car before going to the truck.

“Fuck that. I Ubered. I’m riding home with you.”

They walked to the parking garage. When they were in the elevator, Amy attacked Terri. Kisses. Groping. More Kisses.

They made their way to the truck. Terri tossed her bag in the bed. She opened the door for Amy. Amy got in and turned. Terri moved to stand between Amy’s legs. They kissed again. Terri’s hand rested on Amy’s knee. They made out like a couple of teenagers under the bleachers of the football game.

Terri’s hands moved up Amy’s thigh. Higher. She moved her hand to the inside of her thigh. Higher.

Terri groaned. “What are you doing to me?”

“I thought panties would just get in the way.” Amy said.

“Move over.” Terri growled. Amy moved into the cab of the truck and Terri got in and shut the door. Amy straddled her legs then kissed her again. Amy’s hands kneading Terri’s breasts. Terri’s hands resting on Amy’s naked rear end. Amy rocked on Terri.

Terri moved her hand and found Amy’s wet, hot flesh welcome her fingers. And Terri fucked Amy. On the fourth level of the airport parking lot. And smiled with joy as Amy called out her name. Over. And over. And over again. Terri-FUCKIN’-Morgan!

 

Terri was home.

++++++

 

Chapter Text

 

++++++

Terri sat on the end of the bed and took the bottle that Amy handed her.

“I don’t understand. Can you drink it?” She examined the label.

“No.” Amy rolled her eyes and unwrapped the towel that was around her and dropped it to the floor.

“Why is it called body milk?” Terri asked.

“Because it’s milk…for your body.” Amy said and wiggled her naked body and gestured to it.

Terri wiggled her eyebrows and patted the bed behind her. “But why isn’t it just called Goat Milk Lotion? Why Body Milk?” 

“Because it’s got a different consistency. You’ll see.” Amy said.

Amy settled on the bed, on her front so Terri could massage her back. She had a pillow tucked under her chest and her head rested on her forearms.

Terri, also fresh from the shower and nude, straddled Amy and poured the new lotion in her hand. “Ohhhh… I see. Ok this is thin.” Terri laughed as it poured out of her hand and onto Amy’s back causing her to squeal at the sensation of the cool liquid hitting her.

It was the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving and Amy was spending the night with Terri. Though Terri was scheduled to work the following day, Amy had taken off so she could help Nan in the kitchen to prepare for the holiday meal.

Terri rubbed her hands from the base of Amy’s back up to her shoulders and let her body press against Amy as she did so. She worked the tight muscles of Amy’s lower back with her thumbs and Amy groaned.

Amy had learned some time ago that Terri liked to give massages and she was good at it. Her long fingers and gentle hands knew just when to graze Amy lightly and when to dig into a spot to work free a tense muscle. Amy also knew that Terri liked to use this time to have difficult conversations. So, for Amy it was a trade-off. An amazing massage for taking through shit she otherwise wouldn’t sit still to discuss.

“You think they’re going to be OK with it all?” Terri asked her.

“I think so. I mean, I’ve stayed far longer than I should have.”

“Do you help them financially? Do we need to help them?” Terri asked.

“Maybe, Terri. I give them money out of each paycheck. I don’t know if they need it or not. I’ll ask Nan.” Amy assumed that they relied on the money she gave them for “Rent.”

“You can still give them whatever you need to.” Terri said. “If we need to give more, we can.”

“Well I need to pitch in here, and pay my student loans.” Amy sighed as Terri moved her hands up her back, again.

“Bullshit. Things are paid around here just fine. You do what you need to do for Nan and Pop to be OK. Pay your loan. Things here are covered.”

“You sure?” Amy asked her. “I don’t want to feel like I’m not contributing.”

“I don’t want to feel like I’m taking financial support away from them, just because I want to live with you.” Terri’s hands continued to work Amy’s back from shoulder to rear. She spent extra time rubbing between her shoulders.

“OK. We’ll work it out.” Amy said.

They were quiet.

“They’re going to miss you.” Terri said.

“I’m going to miss them. But we’ll present the plan of a weekly meal. Hopefully they’ll like that.” Amy said.

Terri moved her hands to rub Amy’s sides and then moved down to massage her rear end. Ample, round, and silky smooth. Terri kissed her on first one cheek, then the other. Amy giggled. She brought a hand around to swat at Terri who moved deftly away from the swats and then bit one side of Amy’s rear.

Terri’s hands splayed wide as she ran her hands from Amy’s rear up to her shoulders and back again. The Body Milk rubbing into her skin. Amy relaxed again, and moaned.

“I love the smell of lavender.” Amy said.

“It’s pretty. It makes me think of you whenever I smell it.” Terri said.

“It smells better when it’s fresh, or dried. I love it.” Amy said, her face buried into her arms. She was completely relaxed.

“Want me to plant a bush for you?” Terri asked.

Amy leaned up on her elbows and looked over her shoulder. “Where?”

“Wherever you want. I could put a bush in the yard behind the house if you want.”

“You’d do that for me?” Amy said.

“Babe. I’d plant a whole field of it for you, if it would make you happy.” Terri said honestly.

Amy giggled. “I think one bush is plenty.”

“I’ll find one to plant.” Terri said. “I’m not even sure what climate lavender needs to thrive. Let me do some research.”

“Thank you, Love.” Amy relaxed into the feeling of Terri rubbing her strong hands up and down her back.

Terri moved lower and rubbed the muscles in the back of Amy’s thighs then up on her rear and back down to her thighs. She poured more body milk out of the bottle. More sighs and moans from Amy.

They were quiet for a while. Amy knew Terri was thinking.

“Aim?”

“Hmmmm?”

“If we could get married… would you want…” Terri started to ask.

“I don’t think so, Terr.” Amy cut her off. “I mean, in theory yes. I mean, I’m glad I’m going to be moving in, and I want us to be together forever. But, marriage? I don’t know.”

“What would be your hesitancy?” Terri asked her. 

“Well for starters,” Amy said, ‘It’s not yet legal.”

“Let’s say it was. Then, what is your hesitancy?” Terri asked.

“A piece of paper forcing us to be together.” Amy was quick to answer.

“It’s not just a piece of paper.” Terri countered.

“Isn’t it, though?”

“OK. Maybe it is just paper. But it’s a special paper. Look at Nan and Pop.” Terri said. “I bet there were some rough times when that piece of paper was the only thing that kept it together. That paper can be a good thing.”

“My Love.” Amy said quietly. She turned her head so she could see Terri. “I don’t ever want to be in a place where only a piece of paper keeps us together.”

Terri was quiet. She concentrated on Amy’s thighs. Lost in her thoughts until Amy spoke again.

“Terr. If you had that piece of paper with Mel, you’d still be trying to hold it together. You are so fierce at honoring commitments; you wouldn’t have gotten to the place where you gave her the ultimatum of fixing your relationship or leaving it. I think that it is only because YOU didn’t have the option of marriage to Mel, that I ended up being the lucky one who got you.”

“I don’t know if that’s true.” Terri said.

“I do. You’d be with her today. Miserable. Because of piece of paper.” Amy said. She looked over her shoulder at Terri.

“What makes you think that?” Terri asked. 

Amy put her head back down on her arms. Into the mattress she said frankly, “Because you’re Terri-fuckin’-Morgan. And marriage is a commitment. And you, my darling, honor your commitments even if it sucks the life right out of you.”

Terri smiled at her and leaned up to kiss her rear end, again.

“Will you at least entertain the thought?” Terri asked.

“Entertain the thought of a marriage that will never be legal? Sure. I’ll think about it.” Amy said, smiling into the mattress.

“It’s going to be legal, Aim. It’s in three states right now. They can’t have it in one and not the others. Watch. The next two or three years we’ll see it.”

“Then talk to me in two or three years.” Amy said. “Keep rubbing. It feels good.”

Terri rubbed Amy’s body in silence. Eventually verbalizing another issue she’d had sitting on her brain.

“I feel like I’d like to know about your parents before we make the move.” Terri said.

It was probably good that Terri couldn’t see Amy’s face as she rolled her eyes at the next topic of conversation.

“Why? Will it make a difference?” Amy asked her. Her face buried in the pocket made by the pillow and her forearms.

“No. I just don’t want a lot of stuff hanging over us, unsaid, when you move in.” Terri told her.

In the days after Terri had opened up about the meaning behind her tattoos, she had talked to Amy about a lot of things. It seemed to Terri, once she opened up the floodgates, it was hard to close them. She told Amy about how her little sister Lilly had been Terri’s shadow growing up. How Lilly had worked hard in school and had received honors scholarships. How devastated her parents had been to lose Lilly.

Terri had talked about the deep depression her mother had been in, and the only way she could truly work through her grief was to leave the home where Lilly was raised. Terri had told Amy about how important it was to her that nobody else bought the home and how happy she was to be living there now. Terri answered every one of Amy’s questions about her parents, her sister.

Terri had waited patiently for Amy to start the discussion about her parents. Amy never brought it up. With the impending move, Terri wanted the topic out in the open…that is, if Amy was amenable to discussing it.

Amy knew that her story about her parents was different than Terri’s story about Lilly. She wasn’t sure if Terri would understand Amy’s lack of emotion over it. She had avoided the conversation for as long as she could. It was time to discuss it.

She took a deep breath and sighed.

“Well… they’re dead, Terri.” Amy said mater-of-factly into the mattress.

Terri moved lower on Amy’s legs and worked her calf muscles. Digging her thumbs deeply into them the way Amy liked.

“Babe.” Terri admonished Amy for her tone.

“OK. What do you want to know?” Amy rolled over and put her head in the pillow that her breasts had been laying on.

Terri moved to sit by her.

“No. Terr. Keep massaging. Please, Love.” Amy waved her hand to indicate she wanted Terri to start at her feet.

Terri settled in at Amy’s feet and held one of them in her lap. More body milk. She wrapped her strong hands around Amy’s right foot. Her thumb rubbed up and down the arch of the foot and worked each toe. She put her palm against Amy’s foot and moved it upward, stretching Amy’s calf muscle.

“Talk to me.” Terri said quietly, her hands never pausing.

Amy remained quiet. Her hesitancy was not for the reason she knew Terri was thinking. Amy knew that Terri assumed it would be an emotional conversation. But the thing was, it wasn’t emotional for Amy. Not really. In her past, when she would talk about it with someone, they always commented on Amy’s lack of emotion. And given that Amy was usually more emotive than most, people who had this conversation with her found her lack of tears unexpected.

“I was young. I don’t remember them, really. I mean I remember, but I think most of what I remember are the stories and pictures.” Amy said. Her eyes were closed.

“How young?” Terri’s hands moved to Amy’s left foot.

“I had just turned two.” Amy told her.

“Jesus.”

“Yeah.” Amy sighed.

Terri worked up to massage her shins. More body milk. Busy hands. Terri remained silent.

“They were in their mid-twenties. My dad was a mechanic. Mom worked at the hospital. She met him there. He had gotten hurt and was in the emergency room. I don’t know. Nan says mom was a nurse, but I don’t know for sure. Maybe she was like an aide or something?”

Amy continued. “Anyway, I guess they had a good relationship. I’ve never talked to anyone who knew them then besides Nan and Pop. Not sure… if they had a lot of friends? If they did, they didn’t come around after. But I have an idea that they were so madly in love they didn’t make a lot of room in their lives for other people.”

“Their names?” Terri asked.

“Mitch and Graciella… Mitch and Gracie.”

Terri continued to work on Amy’s shins. She smiled at finally knowing their names.

“Dad brought Mom home to meet Nan and Pop. They loved her, immediately…or so Nan says. I mean… I don’t know. She may have just said that because it was what I needed to hear.”

Terri remained quiet. Listening. Massaging. She spent time on Amy’s knees. Her thumbs circling.

“Nan doesn’t like to talk about it, but I they got pregnant with me before they got married. I did the math one day after I learned about pregnancy in school. I asked Nan about it – why I was born 6 months after they got married – and she changed the subject. I think that’s part of why Pop has the rule about not closing the bedroom door.” Amy giggled. “Like that would have stopped it from happening.”

“Give Pop a break. That rule was there to protect you.” Terri swatted Amy’s hip.

“Well I hope to god you don’t get me pregnant before gay marriage is legal. I don’t know what I’ll do if that happens!” Amy giggled.

Terri worked up to Amy’s thighs and massaged her muscles deeply. More body milk. Hands continuing to move. Terri didn’t say anything.

“Anyway, Dad had a motorcycle. They liked to go riding on the weekend. Nan and Pop had me on a Sunday after church. There was an accident on the highway. They died at the scene. I guess I had some issues for a while, missing them… Nan and Pop kept me. Raised me.”

“Any other family members?” Terri asked her.

“Yeah. Dad had a little brother, my uncle. He’s married. I have two cousins.” Amy told her.

“What about your mom’s side of the family?” Terri moved to massage Amy’s right arm, her shoulder, her hand.

“I didn’t know them. Mom didn’t have the best relationship with them, I guess. Nan said they didn’t come for the funeral. Maybe they couldn’t afford it, I don’t know. They didn’t make any moves to see me. They didn’t fight Nan and Pop when they kept me. Story is unclear about why Mom didn’t see them. I’m guessing there was abuse or something there.”

“But you don’t know for sure.” Terri clarified.

“No.” Amy had always just assumed.

“Where do they live?”

“Honestly, I have no idea. There’s paperwork that shows mom was born in Texas… El Paso.” She made eye contact with Terri.

Terri’s therapist face didn’t show what she was thinking. But she didn’t hide that her eyebrows moved slightly upward. Terri had never asked, but had wondered.

“Yes. She was Hispanic…and I had a really pale daddy.” Amy smiled at Terri. “So, I am a Hispanic American who was raised by my very Caucasian grandparents who had no idea how to celebrate my culture. And, so we didn’t. And I don’t.”

Terri picked up her other arm and massaged it. She kissed the palm of Amy’s hand.

“So…Nan and Pop. Did they get you a therapist and help you through rough times?” Terri asked, knowing full well of the answer.

“Oh no. Just lots of strict rules, and occasional swats on the butt when I misbehaved which later turned into time-outs and groundings because Nan read parenting books and told Pop he couldn’t spank me. My whole life they showered me with kisses, hugs, and snuggles. It was good. I love them. They had to raise a toddler while they were grieving the loss of their son. Terri, I don’t know how they did that.” Amy said.

“No parent should have to bury their child.” Terri said.

“No, they shouldn’t ever.” If Amy held a lot of grief in her heart over the loss of her parents, it was because of the palpable grief she saw in her grandparents over the loss of their son. And it was because of that grief that Amy grew up learning to not ask questions. To not talk about it. To pretend it didn’t happen. Because if she avoided it, Nan didn’t cry as much and Pop was not as grumpy.

Terri lay down beside her and pulled her into her arms. “I’m sorry you didn’t get to know your mom and dad.” She whispered to Amy.

Amy, dry eyed, thought about her parents. She seldom was emotional about them, because to her it was like talking about characters in a book. She didn’t really remember them. To her, Nan and Pop were her parents.

Amy wrapped her arm around Terri’s waist and lifted her leg up around Terri in a half hug. “My sweet love, I’m sorry you lost a sister you adored.”

The two women lay in one another’s arms. Terri pulled the blanket up over them and they drifted off to sleep, comforting one another. Remembering their losses while both thinking about their future.

++++++

In the middle of the night, Terri began to stir. She whimpered. She cried out. Amy began to comfort her.

“Shhhh. I’m here, Terri. You’re having a nightmare. I’m here. You’re safe.”

Amy ran her hands across Terri’s shoulder. Down her arm and legs. Her fingers softly caressed Terri’s breasts which immediately responded to the touch.

Amy put her body weight on Terri, something she’d learned over the last few months that was helpful in calming her. She started by rolling onto half of Terri, who was laying on her back.

Terri didn’t wake up. So, Amy got up on her knees beside her and put her hands on each side of Terri’s head. She moved her head to kiss her. She kissed her forehead. Her cheek. Her mouth.

“Terri. Wake up, Love. You’re having a nightmare. I’m here.”

Terri’s body jerked and she woke up. Her eyes wide. Tears rolled down her temples and into her hair. She squeezed her eyes shut.

Amy moved to straddle her. She sat low on Terri’s hips. She rested her head on Terri’s breasts. She let her weight sit on Terri’s abdomen.

Terri’s arms wrapped around Amy and pressed her closer.

Amy’s breath was warm against Terri’s breasts. Terri’s hands moved from Amy’s back and down to her rear end. She drew her fingers down the outside of Amy’s panties, along her crack and forward, toward her labia. Terri’s fingers circling along the thin cloth that barely covered her sensitive flesh.

Amy’s breath caught in her throat and her hips began to respond to the touch of Terri’s fingers.

Terri tugged at the fabric and pushed it aside and slid her fingers into the warm, moist folds of welcoming flesh. Amy’s clitoris was a firm pebble and she moaned a soft mmmmm when Terri found it.

“Amy, please. Come up here. I want you in my mouth.” Terri quietly whispered into the dark room.

“I don’t know how to do that.” Amy said. Typically, Amy was on her back and Terri was between her legs. Terri completely in control. She knew that Terri had wanted to have Amy over her, but they’d not yet tried that position. Amy was unsure of herself.

“Yes… you do. Just take off your…” Terri started, but stopped as she felt Amy move off of her and take off her underwear. “Yeah. Just put your knees on… yes like that. Oh, god Aim. Just like that. Come closer, Babe… closer.”

As Amy lowered herself over Terri, she felt the hot breath of Terri’s sigh on her spread lips. Amy had never felt so vulnerable. She was open wide over Terri’s face and she worried. She worried that she smelled wrong. She worried that because of her position that Terri would have no control and suddenly not like Amy being on top of her. She just… worried.

“Closer.” Terri whispered.

And, then, as her hands gripped the top of the headboard of the bed, she felt it. She felt Terri’s hands settle on her rear end and pull her down. She felt Terri’s mouth move onto her flesh, lapping at her. Sucking on her. She felt Terri’s tongue enter her and circle her. Terry’s mouth moved on her like she was starving and Amy had the only thing that would provide nourishment.

She felt Terri’s hands move from their hold around her waist to squeeze her rear and then… she felt one tentative finger… move… toward…a part of her …that had… never been touched… by a lover.

“Terri.” She grasped the headboard and her eyes flew open wide. She rose up on her knees away from Terri’s mouth and touch. “Oh, Terri. What are you doing?”

Terri immediately removed her hand and pulled her head back into the pillow away from where her mouth had been

“Sorry. Amy. I won’t do that. Sorry. I got carried away.” Terri said.

“No. Terri… You…you can do that. I just…” Amy was embarrassed.

“You like it?” Terri asked. A wide, toothy grin on her face that Amy couldn’t see.

“I… I think so? I mean, it feels wickedly naughty to like it.” Amy said quietly as she faced the wall above their bed.

In a low, rough voice, in a dark room in the middle of the night, Terri said, “Let me be wickedly naughty, Amy.”

“Yes, please. Do.” Amy responded and she held on to the headboard.

She felt Terri’s fingers side into her vagina to coat themselves in her juices. And then as Amy lowered herself back onto Terri’s mouth, she felt Terri’s mouth suck at her, lick at her. Then she felt Terri’s silky and deft fingers begin to circle her asshole. She teased it. Circling. Circling. Teasing. Amy couldn’t believe how it turned her on. How…being naughty…turned her on.

She heard Terri moan under her as Amy rocked her hips at the sensation of suction created by Terri’s mouth.

She wanted more and was afraid to ask for it. She wanted to ask for it, but the thought felt scandalous even for Amy. But Terri was driving her to the brink and she knew she wanted to feel it before she came.

“Terri please. Please do it. I want to feel you in me.” She begged.

Terri smiled broadly into Amy’s flesh. She brought her middle finger back for more of Amy’s dampness to lubricate her finger and then she circled her asshole once, twice, and then let it press against the tight entrance of her hole. Slowly her finger entered Amy.

Amy wasn’t sure if it was the feeling of the nerves in that space, or if it was the feeling of doing something she’d never done before, or if it was the simple act of being naughty, but it drove her around the bed.

She settled herself lower and pressed herself against Terri who continued to use her tongue against Amy’s clitoris as she drove her over up over the crest of an orgasm so intense Amy’s voice broke through the dark room. She cried out a sound Terri had not heard from her before. Amy’s legs tensed around Terri’s head and Terri’s free hand dug into the flesh of Amy’s thigh so hard she would likely have finger bruises the next day.

Amy moved to pull up off of Terri’s mouth, but Terri pulled her back down.

She felt as well as she heard Terri’s voice as she spoke into Amy’s crotch. “Please don’t move yet.”

She felt Terri’s hot breath breaking onto her skin. One of Terri’s hands reached up and held on to Amy’s breast. Her fingers glided over Amy’s nipple. Terri’s other hand left Amy’s ass. She felt Terri’s tongue slide over her again. No doubt, lapping up the additional juices Amy made for her when she came.

The pleasure was returning and Amy began to rock on Terri’s mouth again. “Jesus, Terri. Oh fuck.”

Terri began to moan. Her had on Amy’s nipple was pinching her just the way Amy liked. Her tongue teasing her sensitive clitoris again.

“Terr. Are you touching yourself?” Amy asked her.

Mmmmm. She felt more than heard the vibration of Terri’s answer.

“Are you wet for me?”

Mmmmmm

“Do you want me take care of you? I can move.” Amy offered, though she didn’t want to leave the sensation of Terri continuing to use her mouth on her.

Terri’s hand clenched Amy’s breast and she increased her suction on her pussy.

Amy smiled. Terri wanted her right there.

“OK, Baby. I’m going to stay right here while you suck on my cunt and touch yourself.”

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Terri began to writhe under Amy who had complete control over how much of herself was being eaten by Terri. She rocked on Terri’s face.

Amy felt Terri pull away from her only to bite her on the thigh. Then her mouth returned to her.

“You like my pussy in your face.” Amy said.

“Babe.” She heard Terri said.

“You want me to talk dirty to you, Terri Morgan?”

“Yes. God. Yes.” Terri said roughly.

“You’ve wanted me in this position for months. You’ve wanted my hot, wet cunt settled on your mouth.” Amy said as she pressed herself down into Terri’s mouth.

MMMMM

“You like that you’re the only woman whose touched me.”

MMMMMMMMMMMMM

She rocked her hips as she controlled the contact between Terri’s mouth and her hot, wet center. Amy realized she liked having that control. Amy’s hands moved to her breasts. One of her hands joining Terri’s in caressing her nipple.

“When we were just friends, Terri? I used to stand in my shower with soapy hands and touch myself here imagining your hands. Yes. Like that. Squeezing me… Teasing me.”

Terri’s fingers toyed with Amy’s nipple. Amy felt her tongue gently tease her clit.

“That’s right. You’re thinking of that first phone call. When I told you to be rough with my nipples and gentle with my clit.”

MMMM.

“God, Baby. You’re going to make me come again. Oh my god. Please tell me you’re feeling this good. Please tell me your wet pussy is happy too.” The words flowed from Amy.

MMMMMMMM

“Remember that first night. In the kitchen. Your face buried in my bra? You were so fascinated with my nipples?” Amy smiled at the memory.

MMMM.

“Do you remember how wet my panties were?”

MMMMMMMMMMMM

“Fuck. You make my lacy panties so wet I might as well go without… You like that, don’t you? Me in a dress with no panties on? Knowing you can come up behind me and slide your hands into me and feel how wet you make me? God. Terri suck me. Don’t be gentle. Suck me. Bite me. God. Yes. Like that… fuck… Terri. God.”

And Amy felt Terri tense under her. Felt the vibration of her moan as she pressed her face into Amy’s hot, wet, throbbing, pussy. And then, for the first time in her life, Amy had a second orgasm within minutes of a first. And it was more intense than anything she’d ever felt. Her hands grasping the headboard. Her back arched. Her legs tight around Terri while she felt Terri’s hand clench her breasts and felt Terri’s mouth press against her throbbing pussy as she came.

Then, Terri’s head dropped back onto the pillow and she lay perfectly still.

Amy moved quickly off of her. She worried she wasn’t breathing. She had an irrational thought that she might have suffocated her.

“Terri? Terri! Are you OK?” Amy said seriously, moving quickly to Terri’s side and looking at her face.

Terri lay there. Eyes shut. Her damp mouth wide with a smile. And she began to laugh. “Fuck yes I’m OK. I’m better than OK. I just fucking ate you out the way I’ve wanted to since…”

“Since when, Terri Morgan?” Amy asked her. She smacked Terri on the stomach. Twice. Terri had never told her about when she first started thinking about her.

“I’ve told you this before. Since the night we were alone in the office and I saw you dancing at your cubical.”

“Is that really when it started for you?” Amy asked. She wasn’t sure she believed that story. But she also knew Terri had told her she had worried her desire for Amy was inappropriate and Terri might never admit any feelings before that.

Amy straddled Terri and lowered her mouth over Terri’s. She knew Terri would find it a turn on if she kissed her and tasted her juices on Terri’s mouth.

Amy licked Terri’s lips. “Tell me the truth Terr. When did you first think thoughts about me.” She licked her again and slid her tongue into Terri’s mouth.

“It was inappropriate. It was wrong.” Terri said into Amy’s mouth. Terri was embarrassed for even thinking it.

“So… you’re allowed to be naughty, sometimes. Terr.” Amy kissed Terri, sucking and tasting herself in Terri’s mouth.

Terri rolled them. Rolled them a half turn so that Amy was under Terri. “You want to know the truth?”

“Yes.” Amy said. Her hands roaming over Terri’s soft skin.

“Are you sure? Because once I tell you, I can’t take it back.” Terri said seriously.

“Tell me.” Amy said, the smile fading from her face as she wondered what Terri’s statement meant.

“The truth is, a cute little gal ran into me in the bathroom and I didn’t think that much about her.”

“Alright…” Amy said.

“And then I saw that cute little gal come in for an interview.” Terri looked at Amy. Looked in her eyes.

“OK.” Amy searched her eyes.

“And I still didn’t think that much about her.” Terri averted her eyes.

“So?” Amy’s eyebrows knit together.

Terri intensely looked Amy in the eyes. “So that that cute little girl got all wide eyed over me. Her face flushed when she talked to me. Her eyes turned from hazel to green when she locked eyes with me. Said she knew who I was. I saw in her eyes that she thought I was something special. She thought I was a… big deal.”

“Well, Terri Morgan…” Amy said, a slow smile creeping across her face.

“And at a time when I was feeling really shitty about myself, Aim, you fan-girled on me. You made me feel…powerful and sexy.” Terri admitted.

Amy laughed. “Terri Morgan. You are a horrible human being.” Amy swatted Terri’s rear end.

“I didn’t touch myself. I didn’t do that until that night I saw you dancing. I was honest with you about that.” Terri clarified.

“Terri it’s OK.” Amy ran her hands up and down Terri’s arms.

“I pushed it down. But damn it, that stayed with me. Other people have …. I don’t know… is gushed the word? They’ve given me attention for who I am, and it doesn’t make an impact. But you, looking at me? Going on about how we’d met and how I’d presented at a conference you attended? The way you…blushed whenever you looked at me? My eyes were on you every time we were in a room together.” Terri bared her soul.

“And so, from that early on you thought about eating me out?” Amy asked.

“I don’t know the exact day it happened. But I can tell you that at our first staff meeting? You know when you sat beside me?”

“Yeahhhh?” Amy remembered.

“You had on that dress. That cream one with the brown flowers?” Terri smiled.

“I know the one.” Amy didn’t tell her but she was surprised that Terri remembered the dress she wore that day.

“I wondered what it would feel like to run my hand up your thigh and see what I found.” Terri kept telling her, unloading her secrets.

“Terri Morgan. That seems remarkably inappropriate for the work place.” Amy teased.

“I know.” Terri’s eyes were open wide. “I know it was inappropriate and I was mad as hell at myself. That had not happened before. Honest.” Terri said.  

Amy laughed. “I’m joking! I love that! I love that even though we have that stupid rule about no sex at work, I love that you think about it.”

“How am I ever going to not think about it now that we’ve done what I’ve been wanting to do. Jesus Amy. You were so open over me. Thank you for that.” Terri reached up and leaned over Amy for another kiss. “You taste so good. I hope you know how much I love tasting you.”

Amy’s eyes flew wide and her hands quickly moved to cover her face. “Oh my god.”

“What?”

“You put your finger up my butt hole.” Amy said, not removing her hands.

“Yeah I did.”

Hands still over her face, Amy talked into the palms of her hands. “I can’t believe I liked that.”

“Oh honey. We’re just getting started on what we will like.”

++++++

Terri brought flowers. She did that when she came for meals. She wasn’t really sure what else to bring. Nan and Pop didn’t drink alcohol, so she didn’t bring wine. Flowers seemed to make Nan happy.

It was Thanksgiving Day and the plan was for her to spend the day with Amy, Nan, and Pop. Amy met her on the porch. Dressed in leggings, a long sweater, her hair pulled back in a low ponytail. Sock feet. She looked adorable, but if Terri were honest, she’d tell you she missed the days of the summer dresses and bare legs.

The house smelled like it should. The fragrances only Thanksgiving dinner can emit. It made Terri happy.

“Hello, sweetie.” She was greeted by Nan with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.

“Hi, Nan. Thanks for having me.” Terri said as she handed Amy’s grandmother a bouquet of flowers.

“We are so happy you could come. Now, go say hi to him. He’s waiting for you. He wants you to watch the parade with him.” Nan shooed Terri toward the living room.

“Don’t you need help in here? I can help?” Terri offered.

“No. Off to the couch you go.” Nan said. Handing Terri a glass of ice tea and then pushing on her back to get her to leave the kitchen.

Amy listened and heard Terri’s voice greet him. “Hi, Pop! Whatcha watching?”

 

Amy smiled and pulled out her phone.

 

You (10:49 am):

‘Heteronormative roles are alive and well in the Tayler household.’

*Shoulder shrug emoji*

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:49 am):

‘If it lets me sit on the couch while you cook my meal like a proper lady should, I’m all in for heteronormative stereotypes. Now, fetch me my meal, woman!’

*GIF of a caveman eating a turkey leg*

*Winking face emoji*

 

You (10:49 am):

‘I love you. Thank you for being here.’

*Face blowing kisses emoji*

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:49 am):

‘There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.’

*GIF of Monica from Friends with a turkey on her head dancing in front of Chandler*

 

You (10:50 am):

‘I can’t believe we’re going to tell them today.’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:50 am):

 ‘Just tell me you made the trifle.’

 

You (10:50 am):

‘Of course I did. Lady fingers. Jam. Custard – which I made from scratch. Raspberries. More lady fingers. Beef sautéed with peas and onions. More custard. And then bananas and some whipped cream on top!”

*Laughing face with tears emoji*

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:50 am):

*GIF of Joey from Friends saying ‘Custard good. Jam good.’*

 

You (10:50 am):

‘Thank you for making me laugh’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:51 am):

‘It’s going to be OK, Babe.’

‘I love you.’

 

You (10:51 am):

‘I love you.’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (10:51 am):

‘My drink needs refilled. Don’t make me ask you twice.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

You (10:51 am):

*GIF of Ross from Friends banging his fists and forearms together*

++++++

“The pie looks delicious, Nan.” Terri said.

They sat at the table. Coffee and pie were being served. Amy had yet to tell her grandparents.

Terri put her hand on Amy’s knee. Amy shifted in her seat and moved a hand to hold on to Terri’s hand. They linked pinkies under the table.

“Listen, Nan. Pop.” Terri started. “Amy and I had something we wanted to talk to you about.”

Amy nodded her head. She smiled at Terri and then found the strength to speak “Yeah. Can we talk for a minute?”

“Sure.” Pop said. He put his coffee cup down.

“Terri and I have been seeing each other for a while, now.” Amy said.

“How long is a while, Dear?” Nan asked.

“A little over three months.” Terri offered.

“And… umm… We have decided that I am going to move in with Terri.” Once Amy found the words, she spat them out quickly.

Her grandmother looked at her grandfather. Both sat quietly.

Pop took a bite of pie and sat back in his chair. Nan fussed with the napkin on her lap.

Terri shifted in her seat. “Pop. Remember the conversation we had the first time we met?”

“I do.” He said.

Terri went on. “I meant it. And, I know you probably don’t like the idea of two people living together outside of marriage. If we had the ability today, in 2013, to get married and she’d have me, I’d propose marriage. But we don’t have that right.”

Amy shot Terri a sideways glance. Terri caught the look she gave her. Amy’s pinkie released Terri’s.

“I’m aware of the law.” Pop said.

“But we do have something we can do. We can make a commitment to one another. I can meet with a lawyer and make sure she’s taken care of. Pop, she won’t want for anything. Not monetarily. Not emotionally.” Terri put her head down, afraid to look at Amy. She’d not talked to her about that part. But Terri knew that Pop needed to hear it. And Terri meant it. She would take care of Amy until her dying breath.

“I love her, Pop. Nan. You know that.” Terri said. She looked at Amy who was beaming. Terri sat back in her seat. She put a piece of pie in her mouth.

“Nan. This is really good pie.” She said around her bite.

“Nan. Pop.” Amy took her turn, now that Terri paved the way. “You know we’re in love. This is it. She’s my forever person. When I’m not with her, I want to be with her. We take care of each other. We love each other. We want to build a life together.”

Nan gave Amy a smile. “When do you want to make this move?”

“Soon, Nan. I want to move soon.” Amy said.

Pop stood and walked around the table to stand by Amy. Amy got out of her chair and stood in front of Pop. “Congratulations Amy Grace.” He said. He hugged her and she wrapped her arms around his neck.

Pop moved to Terri and he opened his arms and gave her a hug. “You’re a good one, Terri. I know that. We love ya.” He said. Terri squeezed him and blinked back tears.

Nan made her rounds and they all settled back in to finish their pie.

“Really, Nan. This is so good.” Terri said.

“Amy made it.” Nan said with a wink at Amy.

++++++ 

Friday morning, Terri was up at the crack of dawn. She pulled on her running clothes and went outside. Frost had settled over everything. The crisp morning made her smile.

She put one foot in front of the other and began her run. No music. Always stay alert when running. Alone with her thoughts, she processed the past year.

In another couple of weeks, it would mark a year since Newtown. Since she came home to find Mel gone. A year ago, she was unhappy. In a relationship that weighed down her soul. There was no love. At that point, there was not even a friendship. She had begged Mel. Begged her for communication. Begged her to go to therapy. When she wouldn’t, she told her to make a decision.

Terri didn’t have to beg Amy. Amy was all in. She was in the relationship. She was in the friendship. She was in for working together to build a home. This was going to work. She knew it was going to work.

++++++ 

Amy rolled over in bed when she heard her phone tell her she’d received a text.

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:49 am):

‘Good morning, sleepy head’

‘Are you ready to spend the rest of your life with me?’

 

You (8:49 am):

‘Phoebe and I are ready for you to pick us up’

*GIF of Phoebe from Friends giggling*

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:49 am):

‘You have a good night?’

 

You (8:50 am):

‘I’m not sure why you insisted on me staying here.’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:50 am):

 ‘Nan and Pop needed one more night with you’

 

You (8:50 am):

‘You’re such a therapist’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:50 am):

‘I think we’ve established I have mad skills’

 

You (8:50 am):

*GIF of Nick from New Girl winking and saying ‘Do your thing girl’*

‘What time will you be here?’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:51 am):

‘Someday we need to expand our GIF game. We only do the same two shows.’

‘I can leave now if you are ready. But, are you really ready?’

 

You (8:51 am):

‘What does that mean?’

 

Terri Fucking Morgan (8:51 am):

‘That means, when I get there, am I going to have to pack boxes for you? Or are all the boxes packed?’

 

You (8:51 am):

‘Ok. Give me a couple of hours.’

++++++ 

They lay in bed. Boxes unpacked into the new dresser Terri had bought for the room. They now each had a matching dresser.

“I thought you’d just give me a drawer.” Amy exclaimed when she saw it. She jumped in Terri’s arms and kissed her. 

“One drawer? Hell. You need much more room than that.” Terri grinned.

The closet was huge, and Terri moved all her clothes to one side. Amy took the other. Everything seemed to have a place. 

They ate dinner together. They watched television.

“You ready?” Terri asked her over her shoulder. Amy had taken their dishes into the kitchen.

Terri and Amy were ready to call Terri’s parents to tell them that they’d moved in together. Amy hadn’t yet talked to Terri’s parents, so they had scheduled a Facetime call with them.

“If you are.” Amy returned from the kitchen and sat beside Terri.

“There’s something I should probably warn you about.” Terri said sheepishly.

“What?” Amy saw something she’d not seen before. There was a slight blush on Terri’s cheeks.

Terri averted her eyes.

“Terri Morgan. Look at me!” Amy demanded.

Terri Looked at her.

“What?” Amy was concerned.

“My parents…my mother…calls me by my first time.” Terri said. Still looking away from Amy.

“OK.” Amy said. “Terri is your middle name?”

“Well, not exactly.”

“What the hell?” Amy slapped Terri’s arm. “How is this the first I’ve heard of it?”

“My middle name is Terrese. That’s where Terri comes from.” Terri said. “I asked to start being called that when I went away to college. Dad calls me that. Mom has tried, but she mostly calls me by my first name. It’s what everyone called me as a kid.”

“Well… I’m dying with anticipation, Love. What is your name.”

“Mary.” Terri said sheepishly.

Amy’s eyes expanded to wider than Terri had ever seen them. Her mouth first formed an OH, and then she pulled her lips into her mouth and bit down hard in an effort to not laugh. Her eyes remained comically wide.

“I know.” Terri said. “My name is Mary Terrese Morgan. It’s like they were willing me to be a nun from birth.”

Amy, still biting her lips in her mouth, took a big breath through her nose and exhaled. She worked hard to not laugh.

Amy could hold it in no longer.

“Oh my god, Mary. That must have been painful to tell me. I can see why you waited until I had already moved in. I’m just so glad we don’t have a piece of paper forcing me to stay. I may have to move out in the morning.” Amy teased her.

“You stop it. Please don’t call me that.” Terri said, tackling Amy and tickling her sides and growling at her. “You cannot tell anyone that is my name. Seriously, Amy. You can never tell anyone.”

The iPad began making the sound of an incoming call. The two women sat up and adjusted themselves. Terri adjusted the collar of her shirt. Amy pulled her hair back behind her head and pulled the hair band from her wrist to lightly wrap around her hair. She put her hands in her lap and waited.

Terri swiped on the iPad and suddenly two smiling faces appeared.

“Oh, sweet Mary! Hi there!” Her mother said.

Terri smiled. “Hi, Momma.”

And Amy heart swelled and she fell in love all over again.

++++++

Terri locked up the house. Checked the doors. Set the alarm. She shut out lights as she walked through the lower level of the house.

She leaned against the doorway of the bedroom and took it in. Overhead lights off. Soft light coming from one lamp on the bedside table. Amy, sitting in the middle of her bed. No. Their bed. In a pair of light purple lacy underwear and one of Terri’s tight ribbed tanks. Her hair down around her face. Waiting.

Terri was overcome with emotion. Her heart swelled. A year ago she was sad. Lonely in a relationship that she was working hard to end. As she looked at Amy, she was struck by how much difference a year can make. How much difference one woman can make.

“Come on, Love.” Amy said. She held an arm out to Terri.

Terri walked to the side of the bed and sat down to take off her shoes. Amy scooted up behind her and wrapped her legs around Terri’s waist and her arms around her chest. Amy rested her cheek against Terri’s back as her hands massaged and played with Terri’s breasts.

“I love you, Amy Grace Tayler.” Terri said quietly.

“I love you, Mary Terrese Morgan.” She said quietly. Then she giggled. “I’m so glad you didn’t become a nun.”

 

+

Chapter Text

++++++

The months passed and Terri and Amy blissfully moved into a routine of living their lives together. They made their way through the winter months when Amy’s car finally gave up and stopped working. With Terri’s help she researched the best vehicle for her, choosing a small SUV. Amy was fearful about the cost of the car…and insurance…and tags… and Terri reassured her that if money was too tight, Terri would help with Nan and Pop…or with the car…or with the student loans.  

They spent the winter playing and loving. They committed to their office’s Thursday night gatherings, helping newer staff feel supported and enjoying their friends. They went on Friday night date nights. They spent Sunday dinners and afternoons with Nan and Pop. They caught up on their episodes of Friends and New Girl. They sat on each end of the couch, legs intertwined, while they read novels for enjoyment. They grocery shopped and cooked together. They divided household chores. They got along well as roommates and they regularly had satisfying sex that left them spent and in one another’s arms. It. Was. Bliss.

++++++

Terri bought two horses in the Spring. She’d always longed to have horses and Amy loved seeing how happy Terri was to finally bring them home. Along with them came responsibilities. Feeding them, exercising them. Terri bought two saddles, one to fit each of them. Amy had never ridden before, but was game to try. When Amy didn’t feel like riding, Terri exercised both horses. She used them to ride the perimeter of the property and began the process of taking notes on what needed done along the fences. She knew if they were going to have livestock at all, the fencing needed to be secure and safe.

Also, in the Spring, when they were at the farmers market in Cedar Grove, they saw an animal rescue group who had several dogs up for adoption. They stopped to pet them and Amy watched Terri’s eyes light up. They held hands as they walked through the market and looked at tables of goods that were being sold.

“Terr?” Amy asked.

“Yeah?”

“You like dogs, right?” Amy asked.

“Of course!” Terri said.

“Why don’t you have one?”

“Well, I never had one before because Mel didn’t want one. Said they were too much work and we both had busy schedules.”

“Um. Mel stopped being an excuse for things when I came into your life.” Amy said sarcastically.

“I just…” Terri stopped and looked at Amy. “Aim…Can I get a dog?”

“Why are you asking me? It’s your house. Your life.” Amy said.

“It’s our house, our life.” Terri corrected her.

“OK.” Amy smiled broadly at her.

“Would you be OK, Aim? If I got a dog would that be OK with you?”

“You mean… if WE got a dog? Sure.” Amy shrugged her shoulders.

Terri’s face lit up and then fell. “If I had to go on assignment, you’d have to take care of it.”

“Yeah. You already told me that about the horses. If I can take care Cagney and Lacey, I can take care of a dog. Plus…it would give me company when you’re gone.” At the time, Amy had been thanking the universe for the recent lack of mass shootings. Since she’d moved in, Terri had not been called out on special assignment.

“Do you want to go back and look at those dogs?” Amy asked.

“I mean, we can. But maybe we just think on it?” Terri asked. “I’d hate to make a rash decision.”

“Of course not, Terr. Wouldn’t want you to make a rash decision.” Amy smacked Terri’s ass.

They walked back by the dogs and looked them over. Terri played with a few. Amy watched her and knew they’d be finding a dog soon. Well, soon after Terri conducted a good deal of research about dogs and what constituted proper care. Then she’d have to do a search of all the rescues in the area to be sure they were working with a reputable one. Then she’d have to wait until just the right dog came along. But then… soon… they’d have a dog.

They got a card from the worker at the booth.

Less than a month later, the rescue people were driving away from Terri and Amy’s place after having dropped off Sadie. A small mixed breed dog that had visited them for two different overnight stays after the rescue people conducted a complete home visit study and deemed Terri and Amy a proper fit, while the women had declared the dog a good fit for their family. Amy joked that they were under as much scrutiny as she puts families under in their day-to-day jobs.

Sadie was Terri’s shadow. She followed Terri when she worked in the barn and she sat near her on the couch when they watched television. They bought a bed for the dog to sleep beside their bed.

The first night, Sadie just sat beside their bed and stared at Terri.

“Babe. Look at those eyes.” Terri said as she rested her head on her pillow and looked over the side of the bed at Sadie.

“Let her on the bed.” Amy suggested.

“If we do, we’ll never get her out of it.” Terri warned her.

“So?” Amy asked.

Terri patted the bed and Sadie jumped up on it. She settled at Terri’s feet and quickly fell to sleep. And that was how Sadie came to sleep with them.

++++++

In the spring, they planted their first vegetable garden. Amy wanted it to be huge and Terri reminded her that for every square foot of garden there would be massive amounts of weeding, watering, tending, and picking. And then when they produced vegetables, they’d either have to eat them, cook them, can then, or freeze them. So, they settled on a mid-sized garden with a few plants each of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes, onions, and peppers.

Terri had researched and purchased two lavender plants in the spring. They put one each in the two far corners of the back yard. Terri tended to them regularly and kept an eye on them to make sure they had what they needed to grow. She warned Amy that they didn’t need as much water as the vegetable garden did; she didn’t want them to over-water the plants. The first blooms on the lavender were supposed to happen in late May and be harvested in early June, but Terri warned Amy that since it was the first season for their plants, it was possible they would not get blooms.

++++++

In the middle of May when they were at their Thursday morning staff meetings, Catherine announced that it was Amy’s first anniversary with the agency. Her coworkers applauded her anniversary. Jordi and Karen reminded Terri that she didn’t want to hire Amy at first, and it was only at the insistence of Jordi and Karen that Amy was given the offer.

Though she had already heard the story a half dozen times, Amy looked as though she was shocked and smacked Terri in the arm. Terri just rolled her eyes. That night, when the coworkers went out, Terri bought a round for everyone. When she and Amy danced, she held Amy close and Amy reminded her that even though Terri had told Karen and Jordi to not hire her, Terri had been attracted to her at her interview.

Terri leaned low and whispered in her ear with a grin, “I mean… you were crushing on me so hard.”

Amy smiled up at Terri. “So hard. I mean… who wouldn’t… you’re Terri-fuckin’-Morgan.”

“Mad skills baby.” Terri whispered in her ear.

They kissed. They danced. They held one another. They were happy.

++++++

On a Saturday morning in late May, Amy slept in. She was surprised that Terri hadn’t gotten her up after her morning run as she usually did. When Amy went down stairs she found Terri in the kitchen. Coffee cup beside her as she worked on her laptop.

“Morning, Love. Whatcha working on?” She asked.

“Plane tickets.” Terri said. Terri’s phone rang and she reached for it.

“Fuck.” Amy muttered to herself.

Amy sat the coffee pot down. While Terri talked, Amy picked up her phone to search for the news story.

California. Amy cussed under her breath. Terri hadn’t been called out since they moved in together. Amy had been lulled into a place of comfort. It had been a lovely six months.

When Terri hung up the phone, she worked on the computer for a few minutes more. “Got a flight in two hours. I need to pack.”

“I’ll go get changed. I’ll drive you.”

“I got it. I can take myself.” Terri said walking out of the kitchen.

“Mary Terrese Morgan. Stop. You aren’t taking yourself to the airport anymore. I thought we’d moved past that.” Amy chastised her.

Terri looked at her and nodded her head. “I’ll be ready to leave in a half hour.”

As Amy drove them from their home to the airport, Terri ticked off all the to-dos. Feeding the horses. Exercising the horses. All the “Be carefuls” she could think of about the horses. Reminding her about the alarm system.

“Terri. I’ve lived there for 6 months. I know how to work the alarm.” Amy couldn’t believe she was the calm one here.

“I know, but I’m usually the one who sets it at night. Why didn’t have I have you set it more often?” Terri was more worried than usual because she’d never left Amy alone. The times she was called out when they were dating, there were no animals at Terri’s and Amy still lived with Nan and Pop.

“Terri. It’s going to be OK. You just haven’t had to go for a long time. We’ve been lucky. We’ve all been lucky this hasn’t happened more. Just take a breath. It’s ok.” Amy was the voice of reason.

When she pulled up at the curb at the airport Amy got out and opened the back door of her SUV. Terri pulled her suitcase out and sat it on the ground.

Amy wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist and pressed herself to Terri’s breast.

“I love you, Terri.”

“I love you too, Amy Grace.”

And then Amy told her what she’d told her every other time she left on assignment. “You go. Text me… or call me… If you need me. I won’t bug you. I promise.” 

“I’m not sure I can go every night without talking to you like I use to.” Terri said. “I think I’m going to need to talk to you.”

“Whatever you need, Love. You let me know. Now,… go help them.” Amy patted Terri’s ass.

Terri pulled her close for a goodbye kiss and Terri turned to leave.

“Terri-fuckin’-Morgan” Amy called after her.

Terri held up two fingers in a peace sign as she walked away. 

++++++

She did text Amy a short check-in text the first night. They spoke briefly on the phone each night. Terri wanted updates on home. If she were being honest, she wanted to hear Amy’s voice to make sure she was OK being at their home alone. She wanted to check that the house was secure, the alarm set. She wanted an update on the horses, the dog, and… oddly, on the garden.

For the first time, Terri didn’t compartmentalize while she was away. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt the need to hear Amy’s voice. It soothed her to know Amy was OK.

While Terri was gone, Sadie kept Amy company. She followed Amy to the barn when she took care of the horses. Amy rode the horses each night. One horse one night, the other horse the other night. It wasn’t her favorite thing to do, and it was probably more exercise than she had to give them, but it made her feel close to Terri. At night, after she’d locked up the house, Sadie snuggled in with Amy as she watched television and read.

When Terri returned home, Amy greeted her inside the airport. Though she didn’t cause a scene by jumping into her arms, she did have on a summer dress and reminded Terri when she got into the car that she may or may not have been wearing underwear. They made out like teenagers in the car whose air conditioner struggled to cool them down on the hot May day.

++++++

As it turned out, the lavender did bloom that summer and after Amy read thoroughly the book that Terri had bought her, she began to harvest the flowers from her two small plants. She tied off the bundles of lavender as she sat on the ground beside the plants. Then she cut the stalks and put the bundles in her basket. After cutting each small bouquet, she took them inside the kitchen where she had hung a line by the bay window. She clipped the little purple bouquets to the line. The smell of lavender filled the room. It made Amy happy.

She had taken one bigger, fresh bouquet up to their bedroom and put it in a vase on her dresser. She took another fresh bouquet to Nan who loved it.

From the time they moved in together, Amy and Terri had weekly dinners with Nan and Pop. Most of the time, they went to Nan and Pop’s house on Sunday afternoons, but sometimes they went after work. Many times, they invited Nan and Pop to their house and they cooked out. Sometimes, they took Nan and Pop out to eat. Amy continued to give them money after she moved out. Not much, but enough to help them make ends meet. Pop didn’t like it and fought against it. Amy reminded him of all the things in her life that Pop paid for. “This is my way of paying you back,” She reminded him.

As they began to harvest their garden that summer, Terri began to take notes. She wanted to collect data so that the following summer she’d remember what they grew and how productive it was. They had more vegetables than they cared to eat. Amy announced that she had zero interest in learning how to can or freeze the produce, so they shared it. They regularly delivered bags of vegetables to Nan and Pop and also took bags to the office to put in the break room for whomever wanted the fresh produce. When Amy, tired of gardening, suggested they just let the remaining vegetables rot on the vine, Terri argued that it wouldn’t be right. If the garden was producing, they needed to consume the produce – or share it.

++++++

One evening, while sitting on the couch reading, Terri watched Amy. She had brought her work home with her and was sitting, with her legs tucked under her, backed into the corner of the couch. A heating pad tucked behind her back. She had her hair in a knot on the top of her head and her fingers flew over the keyboard of her laptop computer. Her face serious. Her bottom lip tucked into her mouth.

“Hey.” Terri said. Her toes just barely brushing Amy’s knee.

Amy ignored her and continued to type.

“Aim.” Terri worked to get her attention again.

Amy’s hand brushed Terri’s foot away from her.

“Babe.” Terri said more loudly.

“What? Terri. What?” Amy looked over the computer, clearly annoyed. 

“Let’s go play.” Terri said.

“I’m working.” Amy said dismissively.

Terri’s toes poked Amy’s knee. “We haven’t for a while.”

“It’s been like a week.” Amy shot at her.

“It’s been longer than that.” Terri said. “You know it has.”

Amy sighed.

“Let’s… just go upstairs.” Terri gave Amy a half smile and jerked her head in the direction of the stairs.

“Love.” Amy sighed. “No. I’m on my period.”

“That doesn’t matter and you know it.” Terri said.

“I’ve got to get these notes done.”

“How much time do you need?” Terri asked her.

“An hour.” Amy said.

“Make it thirty minutes and I’ll give you a massage. It will feel good.”

 

“Leave me alone and I’ll be up in 45.” Amy countered.

Terri got up and went outside to lock up the barn. Terri worried. As they neared their first anniversary, they were not having sex as often as they did earlier in their relationship. She never told Amy about her concern.

She worried they’d stop being interested in sex. She had experienced it with Mel and she didn’t want it to happen to them. Any time they went longer than few days without some sort of sexual connection, Terri worked to initiate it. Lately, Amy pushed back and didn’t want it. They were going on two weeks. She would be damned if bed death was going to settle over them like it had in her past relationship.

Terri was vigilant and protective of their relationship. Amy had never had a long-term relationship, so she didn’t know the signs of what to worry about. At least, that is how Terri rationalized it. So, she took it upon herself to worry for the both of them.

When she returned to the house, Amy was no longer on the couch. Terri locked up the house and made her way through the downstairs rooms, being sure all the lights were off.

She went upstairs, expecting to see Amy sitting in the middle of the bed. She wasn’t there. The lights in the bedroom were off with the exception of the bedside lamp.

“Aim?” She said into the room.

“In here. Come get in the bath.” Amy said softly.

Terri found her, then, in a tub filled with bubbles. The bathroom lights were off. Candles lit on the vanity. Amy’s hair was still on top of her head, the bubbles came up around her. Her breasts glistening with having been soaped.

Terri’s breath caught in her chest. She was so damned beautiful.

“Come help me bathe.” She held up a hand to Terri.

With a grin on her face, Terri stripped down. Amy scooted forward and Terri settled behind her. The water in the tub was hot. Amy leaned back against her with a sigh.

“I’m sorry, Love. I just don’t feel well. Cramps.” She said.

“Let me help.” Terri said in her ear.

“Please.” Amy said. She rotated her head just enough for a light kiss. She handed a bar of soap to Terri.

Terri smelled the soap. “New?”

“Yeah. From my friend at the farmer’s market. It’s lavender and mint goat milk.”

Terri rolled the soap in her hands and created a lather. She handed the bar back to Amy and then cupped Amy’s breasts in her hands. She ran her soapy hands over Amy’s tender breasts. She was sure to be gentle. She knew how sensitive they were when Amy was on her period.

“Gentle, Love. Just like that. Thank you. They’re too sensitive for much more.” Amy murmured.

“I know, Babe. Tell me if you want me to stop.” Terri kissed her shoulder.

Terri’s finger tips lightly grazed her nipples. She cupped her breasts with her soapy hands again.

Amy’s hands rested on Terri’s thighs. She rolled her head back on Terri’s shoulder. Terri ran her right, soapy hand up Amy’s neck and back down her body. She slowly slid her hand down between Amy’s legs. Amy pulled her knees up and put her feet flat on the bottom of the tub. She wrapped one hand up and around the back of Terri’s neck to brace herself.

Terri kissed her neck softly and whispered words into her ear. “That’s it Baby. Just relax. Let me take care of you. I’m so sorry you don’t feel well. That’s it. Open up for me.”

Amy rocked her hips slowly. Her rear end brushing against Terri’s open crotch. She moaned as she felt Terri’s fingers separate her lips under the hot water of the bathtub.

Terri’s deft fingers danced lightly over Amy’s sensitive flesh. Her finger circled Amy’s clitoris slowly, lightly.

“Oh Terr. That feels good.” Terri’s movements on her clit was turning her on. The hot water up against her exposed labia was relaxing. Feeling Terri’s fingers slide over her soapy breasts added to the mix and soon Amy was writhing under her lover’s touch. Amy turned her neck, beckoning Terri to pay attention to it. Terri kissed her. Licked her.

“Baby. I’m so lucky to have you.” Terri said. “Your body is so beautiful. You’re so soft.”

Amy moved then. She got up on her knees and turned in the big soaker tub, the bubbles from the bubble bath running off her supple breasts down her hourglass figure. Her movement caused water to slosh and splash over the side of the tub. She moved so that she was facing Terri. She sat her bottom between Terri’s legs and wrapped her legs around her.

“I want to touch you, Terri.” And Amy soaped her hands and ran them over Terri’s breasts.

Terri shut her eyes and her head rolled back at the touch. She then moved to touch Amy in the same way. They kissed as they leaned in and soaped one another’s bodies. When Terri’s hands moved to Amy’s pussy, Amy did the same to Terri.

Their position left their hands in awkward positions. It was Amy who made the move first. She moved her hand to her own pussy. “Touch yourself, Love. I’ll touch myself.”

Terri made a sound that resembled a growl and Amy hitched her legs around Terri just a little bit tighter. Terri’s left hand kneaded Amy’s rear end. Amy leaned forward. Rested her forehead against Terri’s. She shut her eyes.

Amy slid the fingers of her right hand up and down her own sensitive flesh, while her left hand toyed with Terri’s breast and tweaked her nipple. She looked between them and saw Terri’s hand disappear between them to touch herself. She liked watching it.

Terri buried her face in Amy’s neck and licked her. Kissed. Her. They rocked together in the hot soapy water. Their lips joined again. Needing. Wanting. Searching. Amy sucked on Terri’s bottom lip and Terri plunged her tongue into Amy’s mouth.

Soon Terri was ready. Amy could tell by the hitch in her breath and the grasp her hand had on Amy’s rear end. After Terri came, she kissed Amy.

“I can’t babe. I just can’t come.” Amy said. She stopped touching herself.

“Let me try.” Terri said. “You’ll feel better. An orgasm will help with the cramps. Let me help.”

Amy stretched out then. On her stomach. Resting, maybe floating a little, over Terri. Then, she got up on her knees and straddled Terri. Put her hands on the side of the tub on each side of Terri. She pulled herself up so her breasts were easily accessible to Terri’s mouth.

Terri gently sucked one nipple into her mouth and let both of her hands find Amy’s center. She slid two fingers into Amy while the fingers of her other hand delicately circled her hard clitoris. They both knew this position would always do it for Amy. While her nipple was sensitive, Terri took care to not bite it as Amy would typically want.

While they were in the tub and Amy was not as slick as she might be on the bed, she was throbbing. And Terri did what Terri knew to do. She made Amy’s body sing. And when she felt Amy tense around her fingers, she pressed into her. She felt Amy tense and her body pulse. And then she settled back down on Terri’s lap. She hugged her close.

++++++

On a Friday in late October, Amy was at her cube eating her sandwich while typing notes before heading out to another home visit and the phone at her desk rang. She saw it was Terri’s extension calling her.

“Hi, Love. I’m getting ready to head out for two more visits.” She said.

“I’ve been called out.” Terri said.

“I’ll be right there.” Amy hung up and walked quickly to Terri’s office.

Amy found her on the phone. Talking in curt short sentences. She was on her computer booking a flight and obtaining information about the incident from someone on the phone. Amy sat on the other side of Terri’s desk and waited. She checked her phone for the news.

When Terri hung up the phone and looked at her, Amy said, “Washington…state.”

“Yup.”

“Let’s pack up and head home. I’ll take you to the airport.” Amy stood and headed for the office door.

“No. I’ve got it, Aim.” Terri said.

Amy turned and looked at her. Hands on her hips.

Terri looked at Amy and smiled. “OK. I’ll meet you at home. I’ll leave here in a few.”

++++++ 

Thanksgiving was a special day. They decided to host the meal at their home. Terri’s parents flew in to spend the weekend with them. They stayed in the guestroom downstairs for privacy. It had been Terri’s childhood room, not Lilly’s, when they were kids, so it seemed easier to offer it to them. Terri and Amy had spent the fall redoing the hardwood floors, painting, and decorating the space. They were thrilled that Terri’s parents were the first to stay there.

They invited friends from the office who didn’t have other places to go for the Thanksgiving meal. Jordi was there, of course. Karen and her husband came. And they invited a couple of the newer members of the team who lived far enough away from their parents that they stayed in town for the weekend. In all there were 12 people for dinner.

Amy, Nan, and Terri’s mom prepared the meal. Their guests brought things to contribute. Sides. Amy loved the sides. While Pop and Terri’s dad watched the game, the women gathered in the kitchen. They told stories. They joked. They enjoyed one another’s company.

Terri kept an eye on her mother who was spending her first holiday back in the home after having moved out. She watched her for signs of grief. She seemed to do well, though she often moved to Terri’s side and wrapped her arms around her daughter. 

All of Terri’s coworkers were sworn to secrecy when they heard the name her mother called her. But Terri knew that the new people would not be able to hold her secret. Word would get out. That was a small price to pay for Terri who was thrilled her parents were back in the home where they raised her.

She had taken her parents on a tour of the place. They had approved of the changes to the master suite. She had removed the wall between her parents’ old room and Lilly’s to make the larger master bedroom. The whole space was completely different than it had been. She showed them the office they had created in the other bedroom upstairs.

Terri’s dad walked through the barn more than once. They took the horses out. They rode down by the field. Terri talked with him about what she thought she might plant there.

“Is there a market for that? Can you sell it?” He asked.

“Not sure, Dad.” She responded. “Not sure that I care if I can sell it. I think I just want to plant it for her.”

“Girl, you’ve got it bad.” He said.

“Ohhhh…. I do.” She replied.

They day after Thanksgiving, they drove Terri’s parents to the airport. They parked and walked them in. Terri and her mother walked hand in hand. Terri’s dad walked with an arm around Amy.

“We are so glad you came.” Amy told him.

“We are so glad you are part of the family.” He told her.

As they gave their hugs and kisses goodbye, Terri’s mom kissed her cheek. “Thank you for making our trip home a joyous one, my sweet Mary.”

++++++

As they got ready for bed that night, Terri watched Amy rub lotion on her legs and arms. Terri pulled a small box out of the bedside table. She sat it on Amy’s pillow.

“What’s this?” Amy asked her.

“It’s our anniversary… of sorts. I got you a little something.” Terri said.

Amy turned and pulled a box out of her dresser and handed it to Terri. “I know! I got you something, too!”

They both sat on the bed and waited.

“You first.” Terri pointed at the box on Amy’s pillow.

Amy opened the box and squealed with delight over the bracelet. “Terri! It’s beautiful.”

Amy pulled the bracelet out of the box and held it delicately in her fingers. Silver. Little diamonds tucked into hearts strung together. She loved it.

“Your turn.” Amy said. She watched Terri unwrap the gift.

Terri opened the box. It was a masculine watch with a brown leather strap. Terri pulled the watch out and held it in her hand. “I love it. Thank you, Amy.”

“It’s inscribed.” Amy said.

Terri turned the watch over and read the inscription on the back of the watch. Her eyes snapped up. She looked up at Amy. Her eyes welled with tears.

“You mean it?” Terri asked.

“I mean…I think you’re right. It’s going to happen. So…”

Terri fingered the back of the watch. Touching lightly the words, “15 states to go. Then, we marry.”

Terri jumped and tackled Amy under her. Amy squealed. Sadie barked at them. And Terri had an emotional mixture of tears and laughter as she rolled with Amy on their bed and celebrated their first anniversary of living together.

 

+

Chapter Text

++++++

The winter after their first anniversary was as enjoyable as the one before. They spent Christmas with Amy’s family at Nan and Pop’s. Amy’s uncle and his wife were warm and generous to them and Terri enjoyed having extended family to call her own.

Work had gone well for both of them and they were able to take a week off over the holidays. They baked. They read. They snuggled. They took walks in the snow when they could. They rode the horses when they could. The winter weather was often harsh. They had some record snowfalls and winter seemed to drag into the spring. But they spent the time together and enjoyed it.

They got along very well. They joked. They played. They went on excursions to neighboring towns. But, the amount of sexual intimacy slowed. Amy said it was the winter. But if she were being honest, she’d tell you it was because she put on weight. She didn’t feel like having sex as much.

Terri internalized her worry. There were times they went weeks between making love and it bothered her. When she tried to initiate intimacy, she was often rebuffed. But if she were being honest, there were times that Amy was interested and Terri was busy in the barn, or in the middle of an article she wanted to finish. These sorts of things sometimes happen, she supposed.

But at night, they still held one another. They still kissed before bedtime. They still danced in the kitchen. They still told each other daily that they loved each other. They were still best friends. So, they were still OK she told herself.

Amy was good. Happy. She lived with her best friend. Nobody made her laugh like Terri. They talked about work. Terri understood. She could process the struggles of the day-to-day work world. She learned a lot from Terri who talked her through several difficult days. She liked to cook for Terri, who always was appreciative of whatever Amy made for her. She liked when Terri held her at night, but if she were being honest, she wished Terri wouldn’t ask for sex so often.  Couldn’t Terri understand that she felt … blah… and didn’t want to be naked with the extra pounds on her?

They enjoyed their time with Nan and Pop. Amy tried to attend church with them as often as she could, weather permitting. Terri broke down and went with them on holidays. The women had Sunday lunch with them every week. Occasionally during the work week, Amy and Terri would call them and pick them up after work and take them with them to dinner at a restaurant.

After the first of the year, Amy grew restless and decided she needed a craft. She asked Nan to teach her to knit so she spent a couple of nights a week with Nan and they knitted while Terri was at home tending to the horses. Reading. Watching television. Alone. A couple of times, when the weather was bad, Amy ended up spending the night in her old room at Nan and Pop’s. If she were being honest, Amy would tell you that she appreciated the alone time. She didn’t have to worry about Terri wanting sex when she was miles away at Nan and Pop’s.

Sometimes Terri fell asleep on the couch. At first, when Amy came home, she’d wake her. Eventually, she stopped waking her and Terri would sleep all night on the couch. She woke up grumpy and achy and didn’t understand why Amy didn’t wake her. Amy told her, “That’s not my job. If you don’t want to wake up on the couch, you need to not fall to sleep there.”

++++++

When the long winter finally drew to a close, and the spring sun began to peek its way out from behind the snow clouds, Terri loved being outdoors. As the deep snow drifts melted, they planned their vegetable garden. They decided to make it larger than the one they planted the prior year. Terri pulled out her notes from their first garden and she talked with Amy about what she’d like to plant. Amy, only half listening, said she was fine with whatever Terri wanted to plant so long as Terri understood she still had no desire to learn to can or freeze vegetables. And, she declared more than once, she also had no desire to go over last year’s gardening notes with Terri.

Terri had worked to preserve the two lavender plants in the back yard through the winter months. She tended to them and they were healthy and growing in the spring. Amy was so happy for the spring that she decided to create a flower bed in the front yard around the porch. Terri was thrilled to help her get all the supplies she needed. Terri helped with the physical labor of creating the border to the bed and then left Amy to the work of planting. Terri hoped it would bring joy to Amy and that she’d want to be home more.

Work had gone well. Terri had not been called out all winter for special assignment.

One day, in the early days of spring just when the snow had started to melt, she arrived at the office and had a message from Karen. Catherine was ill and they needed someone to sit in on interviews. They had one position open. Trevor had finally left them that winter to go work in corrections. Terri was not sorry that he left.

Terri grabbed her coffee mug and notepad. She headed for the break room for caffeine. As she filled her mug, Amy came into the room.

“Hey.” Amy said with a smile. “Getting ready to head out for visits. What’s on your agenda?”

“I’ve been asked to sit in on some interviews today.” Terri told her. She took a sip of coffee and looked over her cup and winked at Amy.

“Well….Let’s not get too excited over any fan-girl moves that come your way.” Amy teased her.

“I have the only fan-girl I need.” Terri said. She held out a hand to Amy in an effort to hold her hand, or make a connection.

Amy slapped her hand in the way a coworker would slap the hand of a high-five offered up. “Have a good day, Terr.” Amy walked out of the room leaving Terri looking after her wondering about their relationship… again. Worried. Knowing they were off track. Not knowing why. Not knowing how to fix it.

Terri joined Jordi and Karen in the conference room.

“Let’s get this over with.” Terri grumbled. The all too familiar feeling of a bad mood settling around her shoulders.

Three interviewees. One position.

First up. A young man, fresh out of college. No experience. He talked a lot about “Those people.” As in: THOSE people need to be told that they can’t live off the government. And THOSE people need to learn how to use birth control. And THOSE people would live in better houses if they’d just move to better neighborhoods.

Terri usually had very little to say in interviews. She typically sat back and let Jordi and Karen do the asking of the questions while she observed the behavior of the person being interviewed. She’d realized that during this interview, her coworkers were rather quiet. They were being overly generous and kind to this young man who didn’t seem to be offering the same respect back to them. She saw Jordi and Karen exchange looks with each other.

And that is when Terri Morgan, reached her limit.

Terri looked through his paperwork. She heaved a sigh. She leaned back in her chair. She spoke. “Let me ask you something, Skippy. Why did you become a social worker?”

“My name is Johnathan.” He said.

“I know.” She shot him a look over the resume she was examining.

“I became a social worker because I want to help people.” He said.

“Are you planning on talking to your future clients as rudely as you’ve talked about them to us today?” Terri asked him.

“I wasn’t being…”

“Let me tell you something, Skippy.” Terri got up and went to the bookshelf on the wall behind her and pulled a small booklet off the shelf. “You’re not going to work here. Your attitude towards marginalized populations has a lot to be desired. I’m going to recommend you spend a little time with this.” She tossed the small book of the NASW Code of Ethics on the table in front of him.

“I’m going to recommend you volunteer at a homeless shelter. I’m going to recommend you volunteer at a soup kitchen. I’m going to recommend you spend some time at a local Head Start preschool providing case support to families. And, I’m going to recommend you get the hell out of this office. Because until you do the rest of that work, you’re not going to be considered for a position at this agency.”

Terri went to the conference room door and held it open.

Jordi and Karen sat. Wide eyed. The room was silent. In all their years of knowing Terri, they’d never seen her talk to someone like this. Terri was always…always…the quiet, rational one. The one who always knew how to hold her tongue. The one who always had a measured and respectful response.

Johnathan stood and said, “I have a degree like anyone else who is applying here.”

“Maybe. I read your resume, Skippy. Your internships were abbreviated and you worked in for-profit settings where you creamed clients. Doubtful you ever worked with anyone who dealt with poverty or the real issues that come with it. And, I’m guessing you didn’t work with any client whose race or religion was different than your own. You cheated yourself out of learning opportunities that make a good social worker. You clearly have no idea what real social work is. Go do some volunteering. After you do that for a year, come on back. At that time, I’ll gladly have a conversation with you, if you still want to work here.” Terri stood by the door and waved her hand in front of her, indicating that the young man should leave.

The applicant left and Terri, mad as hell, stormed out of the conference room and headed to the restroom.

As she was walking into the restroom a young woman coming out of the room crashed into Terri’s chest. “Mother of god.” Terri mumbled as she pulled her head back and held her hands up as though she were standing still while being charged on the basketball court.

“Sorry. I’m sorry, Ma’am.” The young woman said and moved around her.

“It’s fine. Excuse me.” Terri said in an annoyed tone. She let the young woman pass and Terri went into the bathroom stall cussing at the world around her. She sat on the stool to take a piss and waited there. She put her elbows on her knees and her head in her hands.

She knew she shouldn’t have talked to him the way that she did. She was snappy lately and she knew it. But, god damnit, that guy was a dick. And god damnit, she didn’t want to deal with anyone today. Fuck them all.

Back at the conference room, Jordi handed Terri a fresh cup of hot coffee and watched her as she sat down.

“You OK?” Karen was the one with the balls to be the first to confront Terri.

“Fine. Why do you ask?” Terri asked looking at the resume of the next applicant.

“Because you went ape shit on that kid?” Jordi said.

“Eh. He needed to hear it. Who’s next?” Terri asked.

Jordi left the room and brought in a woman who was around Terri’s age. Terri noticed immediately that the woman was timid and lacked self-esteem. She didn’t make eye contact and spoke so quietly that Terri had difficulty hearing her.

Terri literally rolled her eyes during the interview and Karen kicked her under the table. Jordi and Karen interviewed the woman. Karen wrote a note on a piece of paper and handed it to Terri under the table while Jordi was talking to the woman.

“Get it together. You’re being rude. Stop being an ass.”

Terri read the note then stuck it in her pocket. She worked hard to find a question to ask the woman. Not that it mattered. She wouldn’t survive a week in their offices, let alone a day with their clients. This whole thing is fucking bullshit. Terri thought to herself.

She stood and shook the woman’s hand when the interview was over. Jordi walked the woman to the lobby and Karen shut and locked the conference room door.

“What. The. Fuck. Terri.” Karen said.

“What.” Terri said. Hands in her pockets.

“What the fuck?” Terri’s friend challenged her.

Terri stood and looked at her friend. “Sorry.” She said quietly.

“You’re being an asshole. Terri you never treat people like this. What the fuck.” Karen was angry.

“I’ve no excuse. I’ll be better.” Terri mumbled.

“If we didn’t have the rule of the same interview team for everyone, I’d kick your ass out of here right now. Get it together, Terr.” Karen said.

“I will. Let me go get some coffee.” Terri picked up her coffee cup.

“Walk it off. Don’t be such a fucking bitch to these people.” Karen told Terri’s back as she headed to the door.

“I’ll stop being a fucking bitch when you start doing your goddamned job and bring in some decent applicants.” Terri rounded on her friend with anger. It felt good to fight. Karen was someone safe to do it with. She took her anger out on her friend.

“Don’t you get on me about how well I do my job. Some of us cover your bitch ass while you go off and save the fucking country every time you get a call.” Karen stepped closer to Terri. Her face red with anger.

“Karen, you know I get my job done. Look at who you guys are choosing to interview. They suck! How hard are you really trying to get good social workers in here?” Terri’s voice was loud. Her hands on her hips.

Karen realized her friend was picking a fight. She realized there was a larger issue at play. She stepped back and sat down at the table. She lowered her voice. Social Work de-escalation 101. “These are the best of the applicants. You want to see what we’re looking at?” Karen said. “There’s a lot of competition right now and we just aren’t paying enough.”

Terri, having known Karen for as many years as she had, knew what her friend was doing and she responded in kind. Terri leaned against the door. One hand in her pocket, the other holding her empty coffee mug at her side. She took a few breaths before talking.  

“Ok. Fine. I’ll be nicer to the next one.” Terri averted her eyes.

“Listen, Terr,” Karen said. “Something is going on. You and I need to sit down and talk through it. What is it? Is it your Parents? The job? Is it Amy? What?”

“Just…” Terri shook her head. She ran a hand through her short, dark hair. “Let’s just talk later. I’m sorry Kare.” Terri held out her arms and Karen came in for a hug.

They stood there. Two long-time friends and coworkers. In a supportive hug. Karen was the only person at the agency who had the courage to confront Terri on her shit. She was as close to a best friend that Terri had. But if Terri couldn’t even admit to herself the exact root of her anger, how was she even going to try to verbalize it to Karen?

Karen unlocked the door. Terri headed out the door with her mug. Karen grabbed her arm and stopped her. “I’m serious. We’re going to sit and talk through this shit.”

“OK.” Terri nodded her head. Karen was the only one she could talk to about it… if she chose to talk about it at all.

In the break room, Terri quickly ate a muffin and refilled her mug. She headed back to the conference room. There she found Jordi, Karen, and a young woman sitting at the table talking.

The young woman was the same one who ran into Terri in the restroom. Jesus. Terri thought to herself. But she worked hard to not roll her eyes.

She was a shorter, younger version of Terri. A butch little gal who wore straight-legged khaki pants, wingtip shoes, and a button-down shirt. Short dark hair and piercing blue eyes. What the fuck. Terri thought.

“Sorry, Ladies. I was detained by a muffin.” Terri said. She forced an uncomfortable smile.

The interviewee stood. She held out her hand.

“Hi. I’m Terri.” Terri said, shaking her hand.

“Terri Morgan. Yeah, I know. You’re the reason I applied for this job. I’m Jo…we actually  met once…at a conference where you presented.’ The applicant said.

Terri looked at Karen and took a sip of her coffee.  Karen’s eyes grew large for an imperceptible moment as if to warn Terri that she was to be kind.

She sighed. “Hi, Jo. Let me get settled here so they can start the interview.”

Terri sat quietly throughout the interview and watched young Jo answer the questions. She answered them easily. Skillfully. Damnit. Jordi and Karen clearly took a liking to her. They talked. They laughed. She would be a good fit.

When the interview was over, Jo stood and shook their hands. She thanked each of them appropriately. When she shook Terri’s hand, she gripped it firmly and said, “I’d really like the opportunity to learn from you, Ms. Morgan.”

When Jordi returned from walking Jo to the lobby, she sat down at the table with Karen and Terri.

“Well, I think the answer is clear.” Karen said.

“Yup.” Terri stood and tossed her score sheet to Jordi. “Go back to the pool and start over. None of them are worth hiring.” And Terri walked to her office and shut the door.

++++++

Three weeks later, Terri walked into the staff meeting just before it was time to start. She moved to the seat beside Amy. It was an unspoken rule at meetings that the seat to Amy’s right was always left vacant for her. Amy was turned and talking to the person on her left.

Amy laughed and talked freely with the person. She ran her hands down her leg as she talked. She leaned over and fiddled with her sandal strap, then her toes. And, then ran her hand back up her leg.

As Terri sat down, she smiled at how gregarious Amy was. She hadn’t seen her so animated in a long while. She put her hand on Amy’s back and Amy turned to look her. Terri’s heart pounded in her chest as she looked at Amy. Her cheeks flushed. Her eyes…green. And then Terri looked beyond Amy and saw who she was talking to.

Jo. The newest employee of the agency.

Terri’s face lost its smile. She showed zero emotion on her face and Amy looked into her eyes.

“Hi, Love. What’s wrong?” Amy asked her, her hand on Terri’s thigh.

“Nothing’s wrong.” Terri said. She looked over Amy’s shoulder at Jo.

“Ms. Morgan. Can I call you Terri? Hi. I’m not sure if you remember me. I’m Jo.” The new employee said, extending her hand to Terri.

Therapist mode. Therapist face. No emotion. Terri put a small smile on her face and held out her hand. Jo gripped it. A firm handshake. “Of course. Welcome, Jo. Congratulations on the job.”

“Thanks. I started last week. Tomorrow will mark the end of my second week. Time flies. Of course, shadowing this one [she put her hand on Amy’s knee] sure has taught me a lot.” Jo said casually. As though she touched Amy regularly.

“Oh m’god, Jo. You’ve caught on so fast. It’s so easy to teach you.” Amy said, seemingly oblivious to Terri’s consternation.

Terri’s eyes locked on Jo’s. She took a breath. Just as she was prepared to say something, in walked Catherine and the meeting started.

And deep, down inside. Though she’d not admit it to anyone in the room. Terri wished the lecherous Trevor back among them.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

++++++ 

That night, Terri walked through the house after locking the doors. She turned off the lights. And headed up the stairs. As she walked into the bedroom, she saw Amy sitting on the middle of the bed. The overhead lights were off. The bedside lamp cast a soft glow over her.

Until recently, it had been weeks since they’d had sex. In fact, over the last few months, if they had sex at all it was because Terri had to nearly beg for it. Terri hadn’t questioned it before now, but over the last week or so they had sex several times.

It suddenly all made sense to Terri. She was not a fool.

Terri wanted to say, “No” and leave the room.

But Amy looked good. And Terri was thirsty for her. Touching Amy comforted Terri.

Terri toed off her shoes. She started to unbutton her own shirt, when Amy got off the bed. “Let me do it?” And she stood and let herself be undressed by Amy. Knowing full well that Amy was thinking of someone else.

Terri touched Amy. Nuzzled her. Made her writhe under her. Terri kissed her. Teased her. Ate her out. Made her come. Terri licked her juices. And when she was done, she got up, washed her face, brushed her teeth, put on a t-shirt and underwear and got into bed.

“Terr? Want me to touch you?” Amy asked, reaching a hand out and touching Terri’s back.

“No.” Terri said. She moved away from Amy, closer to the opposite side of the bed. She put a pillow over her head and willed herself to sleep.

++++++

It drove Terri crazy. Jo’s cubical being beside Amy’s. Catherine had assigned Amy as Jo’s mentor. The two were becoming inseparable. 

Terri was pissed that Jo had worked with Amy almost a full two weeks before Terri heard about it. Amy didn’t tell her about a new person at work, a new assignment as a mentor. Terri thought it odd that Amy didn’t mention her once in the two weeks since she’d started. Then Terri realized they hadn’t really been talking with each other lately, like they use to debrief their days.

Terri knew what it meant to be a mentor; she’d done it plenty of times when she did Amy’s job. It meant being with someone nonstop for weeks. It meant that Jo would go with Amy on every one of her cases visits. Then as they transferred cases to Jo, Amy would go and watch Jo. If she was good, it would be 6 or 8 weeks’ worth of time together. If she wasn’t good, it could be months. 

The two spent every day, all day, with each other. And two weeks turned into 4 and 5….And, everything Terri had stewed about came to be.

The two became good friends. Amy came to life around Jo and everyone, including Terri, saw it. Amy came home bubbly with stories of Jo. Jo did this. Jo asked that. Jo likes this. Jo. Jo. Jo. Jo…Jo.

Terri’s mood darkened. She was sullen at home. She snapped at people at work.

She rode her horses more. She told Amy, “I need to go check that fence.” Or “I am going to go fix a fence post out in the field.”

She spent time out in the garden. Weeding. Even when there were no more weeds to pull, she was in the garden.

She went for runs. She walked the property. She sat in the back yard and looked at the lavender bushes as they began to bud.

++++++

One day at work, shortly after Jo’s first staff meeting, Terri walked into the break room when Amy and Jo were leaving it. They had been laughing and joking and when Terri came in, they stopped. Terri looked at Amy. Her face flushed. Her eyes….green. It was a gut punch to Terri.

A few weeks later, she went to the copy room where they kept the supplies. She was out of white out. She opened the door to find Amy and Jo, standing on opposite sides of the room. It would look innocent enough to anyone who went in. They were waiting on a file to be copied and they were killing time. They had been talking, giggling when Terri walked in. Amy looked at Terri. Face flushed. Eyes… green.

It was on that night, after Terri showered and got ready for bed, she grabbed her phone charger and her phone, she patted her thigh to call Sadie, and she went downstairs and slept in the guest room.

Amy watched her go and felt a sense of relief. She could sleep without worrying about the brick wall that had been built in the middle of their relationship. She couldn’t, for the life of her, figure out why Terri was so damned mad all the time. Especially, since Amy had never felt better. She’d shed her winter weight and work was going well. And, she thought to herself, it wasn’t her job to figure Terri out and make Terri happy.

++++++ 

It was a Thursday night, the night the office mates went to dinner. Terri and Amy had discussed both attending. Since they drove separate cars to work, they took separate cars to dinner. Terri was there early. She and Karen both agreed to be the ones who went early to reserve the table. They sat together and faced the front of the restaurant and watched the rest of the coworkers arrive.

“What the fuck am I looking at?” Terri asked Karen as she looked out to the parking lot.

A motorcycle pulled into the front parking area and two people got off of it. Jo was driving. Her passenger was Amy. Amy pulled a helmet off her head and handed it to Jo. She bent over and shook her hair out and flipped it back as she stood up.

She and Jo looked like they shared a laugh. Jo used a finger to move Amy’s hair out of her face. Amy then used both of her hands to fix Jo’s hair.

“Terr. Just stay calm.” Karen said. She put her hand on Terri’s lower back.

“God damn it, Karen.” Terri said. Her voice cracked. “What the fuck is happening right in front of me?”

Terri sat stone still as the two entered the restaurant. Therapist face. No emotion. Slight, professional smile to her face. Behind Jo and Amy came three others from work and a flurry of people settled at their table all at once. Karen kept the conversation going. Terri ordered a whiskey neat. And then another. And then… another.

“Terr. Stop.” Karen said. “You can’t get drunk here.” She said quietly to her friend. Karen moved her soda to sit it in front of Terri. When her third whiskey arrived, Karen took the whiskey out of Terri’s hand and downed it and made a face.

Amy sat between Jordi and Jo and the three of them laughed and joked and moved to the dance floor when the music started. Three young women without a care in the world.

They ate their burgers. The younger members of the group got up and danced more. Karen and Terri sat side by side. Karen’s hand on Terri’s thigh.

“Will you please consider talking to me, now that you know I’m seeing this?” Karen asked her.

“Let’s go.” Terri said.

She called the waiter over. She paid for her meal and drinks, and covered Amy’s tab. She texted Amy’s phone to tell her she was leaving. And Karen and Terri left the restaurant.

Terri followed Karen to her home. They walked together up onto her porch.

Karen’s husband opened the door for them.

“Terri! Hey girl!” He gave her a hug. He shared a look with his wife who had clearly called him from the car to tell him that they were coming. “Coffee’s on in the kitchen.” He said and he left them alone.

They moved to Karen’s kitchen and sat. Karen offered a slice of pie.

Terri declined.

Terri asked for alcohol.

Karen refused.

Terri sipped on her coffee.

“Tell me.” Karen said.

“It’s happening all over again, Kare.” Terri said, her voice cracked.

“Tell me.” Karen said.

“We were good. We were fucking great. Then… we were friends. Then…we were just roommates. Now…? Amy and me. It’s happening again.” Terri rambled. She worked hard to not cry.

“What is, Honey. What is happening again? Did this happen with her before?” Karen worked hard to keep up. She knew what she was seeing at work. So far as she knew, Terri and Amy had never hit a rough patch like this before. But Terri didn’t talk about her personal life… to anyone.

“No, Karen. I’m taking about Mel. The same thing I went through with Mel. It’s … with Amy. It’s stopping. It’s regressing. It’s … going to be over. And…” Terri struggled to find the words. “Oh god, Karen.” Terri put her palms to her temples and pressed hard against her head.

“What? And... What?” Karen asked.

“Her fucking eyes. Turned. Green.” Terri’s voice cracked.

“What the fuck does that mean?” Karen asked her.

“It means she’s turned on by her. By Jo.” Terri, elbows on the table, put her face in her hands.

“How do you know that?” Karen asked her.

“Karen.” Terri dropped her hands to the table and leaned forward to look directly in the eyes of her friend. “I just… I know.”

“Have you asked her?”

“No.” Terri shook her head.

“Why not?” 

“I don’t want to know the answer…I... I don’t want it to be over.” Terri averted her eyes and leaned back in her chair.

“But if it’s over, don’t you want to know?” Karen asked.

And that’s when Terri put her head down on her forearms and wept. She wept for fear of losing her lover. Wept for fear of losing her best friend. Wept because she had lost herself in the relationship and she might never recover. Terri’s body jerked as she sobbed.

And her friend Karen moved to her. She moved her chair beside her and wrapped an arm around her. Karen worried. Her friend Terri had never been this emotional in front of her before. Karen’s husband came to the kitchen doorway and shot a concerned look at Karen. Karen shooed him away and increased her hold on Terri. She held her until the tears ceased.

++++++

Terri was the first to arrive home. She didn’t understand how she could be home before Amy, unless Amy and Jo were off by themselves somewhere. Terri had been at Karen’s house for nearly two hours.

She sat on the couch and waited. She drifted to sleep and woke with a start when she heard Amy shut the front door. The room was dark.

“What time is it?” Terri asked.

Amy screamed. “Jesus fuck! God damn it, Terri! You scared me!”

Sadie, who had been sleeping on Terri’s legs barked at Amy.

“You rode a motorcycle, Aim.” Terri said.

“Yeah. So?” Amy shot over her shoulder as she headed for the staircase.

“A motorcycle.” Terri said calmly.

“It was fun.” Amy said. She turned around and looked at Terri.

“You don’t think Nan and Pop would have a problem with that?” Terri asked her. She stood and walked toward Amy.

“You planning on telling them?” Amy took a step toward Terri and put her hands on her hips.

“Won’t have to after you start bringing Jo home and introduce them. They’ll see it.” Terri said, raising her voice. Another step toward Amy.

“Why the fuck would I introduce them to Jo?” Amy said angrily.

In a very quiet voice, Terri leaned down so her face was nearly level with Amy and said, “Don’t you want them to meet your new girlfriend?”

Amy slapped Terri’s face. “Fuck you, Terri.” She spat out.  She turned toward the stairs.

“No, Babe. Terri hasn’t been fucked in some time. Has she?” Terri growled the words and shot them at Amy’s back.

Amy, standing on the first stair turned around and looked at Terri. “Whose fucking fault is that?” Amy shot at her.

“I’m certain it’s mine.” Terri said. Arms crossed.

“You know what? I’d like you to sleep in the guest room tonight.” Amy said as she turned to ascend the stairs.

“I’ve already moved my things.” Terri said. She stood and walked to the guest room, Sadie on her heels. She called to Amy, “Last one in locks up the house.”  And then she slammed her bedroom door.

++++++

Days of silence turned into weeks. Terri was tormented, assuming that Amy was – at a minimum – enamored with Jo. At worst, she was sleeping with her. Terri didn’t want to know. She knew they needed to talk. But she didn’t want to know.

They continued to go to Nan and Pops for Sunday meals. They did their best to keep up appearances, but Nan and Pop clearly felt the tension. There was no sneaking off to Amy’s room. There were no pats on the leg at meal time. There were no hugs while they washed dishes. Nan and Pop knew.

Terri got up at the crack of dawn and went to the Y to swim or run. She showered and dressed there, leaving Amy alone in the house every morning. After work, Terri came home and exercised the horses. Tended to the vegetable garden. Tended to the two lavender bushes. Tended to the flower garden that Amy had planted along the front porch. Amy was scarcely seen before 8 or 9 at night. Terri didn’t know where she was, Amy didn’t check in with her. Terri didn’t ask.

As it was time to harvest the vegetables. Terri did so. She delivered bags of them to Nan and Pop each week when they met for Sunday meals. She took bundles of vegetables over to her neighbor Mr. Thompson. She took bags to work to put in the break room for coworkers to take. With Amy not there to eat meals with her, she didn’t use the vegetables the way they had the year prior. Terri wondered why she even harvested the fucking vegetables and why she didn’t let them just rot on the vine. The way their relationship was rotting.

When it was time to harvest the lavender, Terri took the basket and twine to the back yard and tied off the little bouquets. She picked a larger bouquet and put it in water and put it in the master bedroom so Amy could enjoy it. She hung the smaller bouquets on the make-shift line she hung in the kitchen so they could dry. When they dried, she put them in the basket on the dresser in the master bedroom.

She found them in the dumpster the next day.

++++++

On a Wednesday night in the middle of June, Terri came in from the barn. She went to the office, across from the master bedroom, and got on the computer. Amy heard her and got out of bed. She went into the office and stood in the doorway.

“What are you doing?” Amy asked, leaning down to pet Sadie.

“Booking a flight.” Terri didn’t look up from the computer.

Amy sighed. “Shit. Where?”

“Charleston.”

“But it’s so late.” Amy didn’t understand why Terri was hearing about a school shooting so late in the day.

“Bible study. AME church. White shooter.” Terri rattled off the stats while she punched in her credit card number into the computer.

“Mother fucker.” Amy spat out.

The phone rang and Terri answered it. Amy went to the bedroom to get dressed.

Terri came into the bedroom to get a suitcase from the closet.

“What time is your flight?” Amy asked.

“I need to leave in the next 15 minutes or so.” Terri said, digging the suitcase out from under the boxes. She stepped out of the closet and into the bedroom and realized Amy was dressed.

“I’ll go start the car.” Amy told her.

“Amy. I got it. I’m going to take myself.” Terri walked out of the room with the empty suitcase. She went down to the guest room on the main floor where she’d moved all of her things and had been sleeping for some time.

While Terri packed, Amy entered her room. “I am taking you and I will not take no for an answer.”

Amy went out of the house, tossed her purse in the passenger seat of her SUV. It tumbled and fell to the floorboard. She started her car and waited for Terri. She leaned down to pick up the things that had fallen to the floor. When she sat back up, she spotted Terri.

Terri left the house and stepped off the porch. Amy watched her, noticing she didn’t close the house door. Terri carried her suitcase and her backpack to her big, black truck. She tossed the luggage into the passenger side. Then, she walked around and got into her truck. Started it. Drove down the driveway. Leaving Amy. Alone. In her car.

Fucking! Bitch!

Amy hit her steering wheel and cussed every word her Nan had taught her to never say. She turned off her car, grabbed her purse, and went back into the house where Sadie sat waiting for her.

++++++

Before the plane took off, Terri pulled out her phone and texted her.

 

You (11:05 pm):

‘If you haven’t done it with her yet, just do it. See if it is what you want. Make a decision before I get back. I want you, Amy. I want us. But if you want her, you have to go. I will do anything to keep you, but I’m done sharing you.”

 

And then, she turned her phone on airplane mode.

She thought of Mel and how she’d sent her a similar text. And Mel chose to leave while she was gone. And she braced herself for Amy to do the same.

As they plane took off, Terri put the earbuds in. She turned the song on and listened to it in a loop. All the way to Charleston.

Tonight I feel so weak
But all in love is fair
I turn the other cheek
And I feel the slap and the sting of the foul night air
And I know you're only human
And I haven't got talking room
But tonight while I'm making excuses
Some other woman is making love to you

Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see I'm burning alive
Can't you see my baby's got another lover
I don't know how I'm gonna survive
Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see it's out of control
Baby's got my heart and my baby's got my mind
But tonight the sweet Devil's got my soul

When will this aching pass
When will this night be through
I want to hear the breaking glass
I only feel the steel of the red hot truth
And I'd do anything to get it out of my mind
I need some insanity that temporary kind
Tell me how will I ever be the same
When I know that that woman is whispering your name

Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see I'm burning alive
Can't you see my baby's got another lover
I don't know how I'm gonna survive
Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see it's out of control
Baby's got my heart and my baby's got my mind
But tonight the sweet Devil, sweet Devil's got my soul

Oh, the Devil's got my soul

Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see I'm burning alive
Can't you see my baby's got another lover
I don't know how I'm gonna survive
Somebody bring me some water
Can't you see it's out of control
Baby's got my heart and my baby's got my mind
But tonight the sweet Devil, sweet Devil's got my soul

++++++

Amy saw the text. And she chose to not respond.

Her first thought was to text “Fuck you.” But she knew that Terri didn’t need that response while she did her work. So, instead, she remained painfully silent. And she thought about the text a million times.

While Terri was gone Amy took responsibility at the house, which meant she returned home every night immediately after leaving work. She liked being home alone. There was no stress of dealing with Terri’s silence. With Terri’s anger.

She exercised the horses. She tended the garden.

She took the extra vegetables to Nan and Pop when she had dinner with them on Sunday. After doing dishes, Nan encouraged her to stay for an ice tea. She and Nan sat on the back patio. Pop was in the living room taking a nap.

“What’s wrong with you and Terri?” Nan asked her.

“Nothing’s wrong, Nan.”

“Don’t lie to me, Dear. I have eyes.” Her grandmother challenged her.

“We’re just in a rough patch.” Amy lied to her grandmother.

“Is she mean to you?”

“No. Nan. Of course not.” Amy was shocked at the question.

“Is she cheating on you?” Nan asked.

“No.”

“Are you cheating on her?” Nan asked her quietly.

Amy was silent for a split second. “No.”

“Amy. You don’t have to tell me the truth, but you do have to tell yourself the truth. And you owe it to Terri to be honest with her.” Nan said frankly.

“Nan. If…if I wanted to move back home. Could I?” Amy looked at her toes.

“Sweetie.” Nan patted her hand. “I will never tell you that you can’t come home. But I’m going to tell you this. That woman is the best thing that ever happened in your life and you better be damned sure of yourself before you throw that relationship away.” Then Nan was silent for a moment before adding, “Plus, your grandfather is head over heels in love with her and I will not soften that blow by telling him for you.”

Nan stood and leaned over to kiss Amy’s forehead. Then she went inside.

++++++ 

Amy worked on her notes trying to get them done.

“Dinner?” Jo asked her.

“No. I have to get home. Chores.” Amy said. She’d tried avoiding Jo since Terri sent the text.

“Is Terri back?” Jo asked.

“No.”

“Want me to come help?” Joe offered.

“No.”

“Amy let’s go get a drink and dinner. Then you can do chores. You have to eat.” Jo nudged Amy’s shoulder.

Amy and Jo walked out of the office together. Jordi sat in her car and watched them. Amy saw her. As she got in her car and drove out of the parking lot following Jo’s motorcycle, she saw Karen come out of the office and stand and watch her leave. Terri’s protective and loyal friends were starting to keep an eye on Amy. Was she really doing something that needed watching? Let them watch. Terri all but gave me her blessing.

She and Jo settled into a booth at a local Italian place that Amy loved. It was the place she led Terri to that first time they went out. The night Terri left for assignment and they hugged in the parking lot.

She looked across the booth at Jo. She had to admit she was attracted to her. She was young, cute, had a good body. Like Terri. Like a little version of Terri. But Joe was carefree, the way Terri use to be. Amy was not blind to the fact that Jo was cut from the same mold at Terri.

Over the course of the last few months, Amy’s body responded to Jo. Her heart raced when Jo entered the room, her breath caught in her throat when Jo flirted with her. She felt those feelings of initial flirtations like she felt when she first met Terri. Terri stopped flirting with her a long time ago.

Her clit sometimes jumped when Jo texted her late at night. They texted while she lay in bed. A lot. The texts were friendly. They weren’t sexts. Even so, they left her feeling turned on and she sometimes touched herself while they texted. It made her feel guilty. But the guilt didn’t stop her.

Amy hadn’t found herself in the state of constant wetness like she had experienced since Jo started at the office. Not since the early days of she and Terri’s relationship had she been so wet. It was exciting. Titillating to have her around. And if Amy was reading the signs correctly, Joe wanted her.

She knew Terri saw it. But she figured Terri understood it was just a flirtation. At least at first. If Amy were happy at home, the flirting wouldn’t have impacted her. At least that is what she told herself.

If Terri had wanted their relationship to work, she shouldn’t have moved out of the bedroom so easily. She should have wooed Amy, like she did in the beginning. Or, at least, responded when Amy came on to her and asked for sex. But Terri clearly didn’t want their relationship anymore. And the last text Terri sent clearly gave Amy the go-ahead to figure it out. At the same time, it all felt like she was doing something wrong. Amy struggled with what to do.

“So…” Jo was talking to her. “I heard that you and Terri are on the outs. That true?”

“Who told you that?” Amy asked defensively.

“Just…someone.” Jo said.

“Well…I mean…we’re in a rough patch. But…” Amy didn’t know what to say, exactly.

“Because…I was wondering…” Jo started to talk.

Amy blushed. She didn’t want her to ask. She didn’t want to be put in the position of having to tell Jo, “No.” And she also didn’t want to be tempted to say, “Yes.” She just didn’t want her to ask…or did she?

Jo was silent for a moment.

“Wondering what, Jo?” Amy asked, her heart pounding in her chest.

“I mean… if you are breaking up…” She paused. “I feel awkward asking…”

“What? You can ask me anything, Jo.” Amy encouraged her.

“Well…Amy…I mean… We’re friends and I wouldn’t want to ruin that.” Jo said.

“I don’t think we could ruin our friendship Jo. Tell me what you want.” Amy encouraged her with a smile. She twirled her hair around her finger.

“Um…would you mind if I… um… asked Terri out?” Jo asked.

Amy’s eyes flew to Jo’s. The moment felt like a splash of cool water to her face. “Oh. Well… Jo…I don’t think we are going to break up. But if we do… sure! You ask Terri out if you want.” Amy said with a smile. Her social worker smile. She’d perfected it over the course of the last two years.

She forced herself to stay through the meal. Though she lost her appetite and stopped eating. It wasn’t Jo’s fault that Amy had misread every fucking clue.

It all flashed through her mind. All the times she and Jo sat and talked and Jo asked about her relationship. She asked about what Terri did to catch Amy’s eye. She asked about their early dates. She asked about how they navigated working together and dating. She asked about what kinds of things Amy cooked at home. She asked about what Amy did while Terri was away. All this time, Amy thought Jo was asking about Amy. But she was wrong. Jo was asking about Terri.

Amy felt like a fool. And, she told herself, she deserved to feel like a fool.

After dinner, Jo gave her a hug. Amy let her.

Amy got in her car and cried all the way home.

She fed the horses. She didn’t exercise them. She went into the house and locked up the doors. She went upstairs and took a long, hot shower. She put on her nighty and patted her thigh to call Sadie. And Sadie followed her. Downstairs. Where she crawled into the bed of the guest room.

Where she smelled Terri.

And she thought about Terri. And she thought about the kind of fool she had been, ignoring their relationship. And she thought about Terri – watching Amy and Jo carry on at the office and what that must have been like for her.

Amy felt foolish. And regretful. And disgusted with herself. Because, if she were honest, had Jo shown the slightest interest, in that moment Amy might easily be in Jo’s bed having sex rather than in Terri’s bed crying.

She pulled Terri’s pillow close and hugged it to her. She smelled Terri.

She wept.

And she fell to sleep.

++++++ 

Terri’s duties were complete after day 5. Yet, she stayed. She extended her reservation at the hotel. The first day and night, she just stayed in the hotel room. She slept like she hadn’t slept in months. The following night, she Ubered to a bar. She sat in the corner booth, downing whiskeys. Moping.

The next night, she went to the same place. She sat at the bar. More whiskeys. She was four whiskeys in when a cute young feminine thing sidled up next to her. Curves in all the right places. Little summer dress. Curly brown hair.

“Dance?” The gal asked Terri.

Terri shrugged and stood and was led to the dance floor. Terri felt like melting when she pressed against Terri. Terri’s body responded to her touch. Her hands roamed up and down Terri’s arms, she clearly liked the tattoos. Terri’s hands roamed her back and settled low, just above her rear end.

Terri leaned in and nuzzled her hair. She inhaled. She smelled of smoke and perfume. Not lavender.

She leaned her head back and looked up at Terri. Terri’s breathing became shallow. She could kiss her. She knew she could. She could take her to the back room and do things to her and nobody would ever know. Terri was thirsty. She longed to be touched and she wanted to touch…breasts, pussy, ass. She just wanted it. The woman wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist and pressed her breasts to Terri.

As she looked at this woman holding her on the dance floor, she thought about Amy. Amy fucking Jo. Jo fucking Amy.

Terri dug her hands into the hair on the back of the woman’s head. She pulled her close. And Terri pressed her lips to hers. She willingly parted her lips for Terri who let her tongue plunge in. She tasted of beer and cigarettes.

I can do this. Terri thought. Who is going to know? Who the fuck is going to care?

And then the song came on the jukebox. Norah Jones. Turn me on.

And Terri thought about Amy. Dancing in the dark room with the cubical light illuminating her. Dancing in Terri’s kitchen. Giving Terri a lap dance on her birthday.

And Terri pulled out of this woman’s embrace.

“Thank you.” Terri said. “But I have to go now.”

And Terri pulled out her phone and ordered an Uber. She went to the bar and settled up her tab and she went back to the hotel where she booked a flight for the next morning. Terri needed to go home before she did something she’d regret.

++++++

She checked her texts and email every day. Nothing. She didn’t want to text her. The agreement in the past was that Amy wouldn’t bug Terri, but Terri could text or call Amy if she needed her.

Apparently… Terri didn’t need her.

Amy spent the week kicking herself. She was an idiot. She knew she and Terri were broken, and she knew she played a big role in that break. She wanted to tell Terri. She wanted to unburden her heart. But she knew she couldn’t call her or text her. She knew she had to wait. She just hoped Terri would want to talk to her when she returned.

++++++

It was a Friday morning in late July. Amy had expected to hear from Terri days earlier. She typically only stayed gone 7 days at the maximum. When the incidences were smaller, she was sometimes only gone for 5.  When she went to bed the night prior, she did the math and realized it had been officially the end of the 8th.

She trudged into work and started her day.

At noon, Amy was sitting in the break room eating her sandwich. Jordi came in crying.

“Oh my god, Amy! Oh my god!” She was sobbing.

Amy stood in a panic. “What? Jordi?! What?” She grabbed Jordi by the shoulders.

“Did you hear? Did you hear the news?” Jordi said. She wrapped her arms around Amy as she cried.

“Fuck! Jordi! What!? Tell me what happened!” Amy asked. She pushed Jordi off of her and shook her shoulders. Terrified that something had happened to Terri.

“It’s legal. They overturned the ban. Marriage is legal, Amy. The Supreme Court. All across the country. It’s legal!” Jordi rambled.

It took a moment for it to register. Amy hadn’t been following the news. Typically, Terri followed the news and kept Amy in the loop.

It sunk in. Amy began to cry. She pulled Jordi close.

Amy took Jordi by the hand and led her to the conference room. They turned on the television. They were joined by others from the office. Tears of joy, shouts of excitement filled the room. They flipped the channels between different news outlets and watched the news unfold. Watched as coverage showed footage from one city to another with impromptu celebrations breaking out in the streets of major cities. The rainbow flag shone brightly in the summer sun over the crowds. From coast to coast. In middle America. In the South. In the north. On the coasts. Celebrations.

Amy sat, crying. Her fingers fiddling with the bracelet on her wrist. Thinking of Terri.

++++++

Amy drove home after working, thinking about what she’d make for dinner before she exercised the horses. She decided if she didn’t hear from Terri before she went to bed, that she’d send Terri a text.

When she pulled into the drive, she saw Terri’s black truck. Her heart quickened. She grabbed her purse and ran into the house. She dropped it by the door, contents tumbling.

“Terri? Terr?” She called. She heard no response. She checked the guest room and bath. Nothing. She ran upstairs. Nothing.

She went out to the barn and saw that Cagney was gone. Or maybe it was Lacey. Hell, Amy didn’t know the difference between the two. But she did figure out that Terri must be on a ride.

Amy went to the kitchen and poured herself a glass of wine. She went out to the porch to wait. Wait for Terri.

She thought about what she’d say. She thought about how she’d ask for forgiveness. She hoped Terri would want her. Let her stay.

She sat for a long time, sipping the wine, wondering what she’d say. Wondering if Terri would even talk with her.

And then… she saw her.

Terri. On her horse. Old faded, torn Levi’s. Faded, plaid, short-sleeved, button up. Untucked. Her tattooed arms. Sunglasses. Ball cap. Boots. Riding her fucking horse over the field like a mother-fucking hero.

Amy’s breath caught in her throat.

Where have you been, Amy. She chastised herself. Why would you question what you feel for her? 

Amy stood. She downed the rest of her wine and sat her glass on the table beside the chair on the porch. She moved to step down the stairs. When she reached the bottom of the stairs she stood still and watched Terri approach.

++++++

Terri had been out in the field. She went out there to cry. When the plane landed around 1, and she turned her phone on it had exploded with texts and private messages and news stories. It was legal.

It was finally legal.

Terri’s first thoughts were of Amy. She wanted to go to her and grab her and … and then she remembered the text she sent her. And she knew she may be coming home to something she wasn’t prepared to handle.

Why the fuck did I send that fucking text? She was furious with herself.

She walked through the airport. Alone.

She got in her truck. Alone.

She drove home. Alone.

She changed her clothes. And she stuffed her dirty clothes into the wash. And then she went out and got on the horse and went for a long, slow ride around the property.

And she cried.

She cried for the hundreds of years that people like her waited to be able to love who they loved without punishment. Cried for the people who had died fighting for the right to be able to marry the person they loved. Cried for the people who will come after, who won’t know what the struggle was all about, because they had the rights that were won on the backs of others.

And…she cried because she would likely not get the chance to marry the person she had assumed she would marry.

And she cried…because she had fucked it up. Again.

She looked at her watch, the one Amy gave her. She realized Amy would be home. Or …maybe she wouldn’t. Turning back home would give her the answer. She turned Cagney around, headed for the house, and dried her tears.

As she neared the barn, she saw Amy. Sitting on the porch. Presumably waiting for her. Terri’s heart pounded. Her breath caught in her throat.  

When Cagney reached the driveway, Terri stopped her and dismounted. She held her rein and stood looking at Amy. She was in a summer dress standing at the base of the stairs that led to the porch. The wind flirting with the skirt of her dress. Blowing it up to give Terri a look at her upper thighs. Her hair was down, loose. It blew around her face.

++++++

They both stood for a moment several hundred feet apart. Amy took the first step. She tripped over her feet and stumbled. Terri quickly moved toward her.

“You OK?” She asked.

“Yeah.” Amy brushed the hair out of her eyes and started walking toward Terri.

Terri moved toward her.

When they stood in front of one another, Amy looked up at Terri. Tears in her eyes. “It’s legal Terr. It’s legal.”

“I know.” Terri nodded her head and whispered the words.

They stood quietly and looked at each other. Not touching.

“It’s too late, isn’t it? It came too late.” Terri said. She looked down at her boots. She kicked the dirt on the drive.

“No.” Amy shook her head. She squinted her eyes as she looked up at Terri. She held her hand over her forehead to block the sun so she could see Terri’s face. “No. Love. It’s not too late. Terri… it’s just in time.”

Terri’s eyes snapped up from looking at her feet to looking into Amy’s eyes. Her green eyes.

“What are you saying to me?” Terri asked with a ragged breath. She was afraid she misunderstood.

“I’m saying… we have a lot… I mean A LOT of talking to do… but then… Mary Terrese Morgan… I intend to make you my wife.” Amy said. And then added, “If you’ll have me.”

A sob escaped Terri’s lips and her hand quickly moved to cover her mouth. Her eyes welled with tears and she dropped to her knees. Amy moved in to her and Terri pulled her close.

Amy held Terri’s head to her stomach. Terri’s hands wrapped around her tightly. She wept into Amy’s summer dress. In the driveway. On June 26, 2015.

 

 

+++ End Part 1 of 3 +++

 

Chapter Text

 

++++++

Terri walked from the barn to the house, where Amy waited in the kitchen. She had on one of Terri’s favorite albums. Terri heard the strains of the song from the porch. She looked in and watched Amy. She stood in the kitchen. No overhead lights on. The light from outside waning as the sun began to set. The light from the refrigerator highlighted her body as she stood looking into it and danced. She rolled her hips and moved to the song.  

Terri stood on the back-patio step and watched her. Summer dress hugged her. Her hair, cascading down her back. She sang the song softly to herself. Terri knew that Amy understood why Terri liked the song. The beat, the voice. It was a sexy song and Terri liked when they danced or made out while the song played.

Terri stepped into the room. The screen door slapped shut behind her. She stood still. Hands in her pockets. She kept her eyes on Amy.

Amy gasped at the sound. She turned quickly. She stumbled. She reached out to the steady herself and held on to the sink behind her. Her heart beat quickened at the sight of Terri.

Why had she not seen Terri over these past few months? Why had she not given Terri the attention she wanted? Why had she forgotten how remarkably sexy she was? Amy was furious with herself. And embarrassed. And…full of regret. Standing in the kitchen, back-lit from the outside light that came in from the doorway, Terri looked….strong, lean, sexy.

The music washed over them in the otherwise silent room. The beat of the song like a heartbeat. They both stood completely still. Looking at each other. The song ended. And then it started over again. Terri realized Amy wasn’t playing the album. She was playing this song. For a reason. For her.

No one conceals me like
No one reveals me like 
My lover 

Amy walked a few steps from where she stood leaning against the sink to the island. Her hands rested on it. The granite counter top was cool on her hot hands. Her breathing became shallow.

No one can disconnect 
No one can resurrect 
Like my lover

Terri stepped toward her. Stood on the other side of the island. As the words of the song surrounded her, Terri felt her body respond. Respond in a way it hadn’t. For weeks. No…months.

She looked at Amy. Summer dress. Bare legs. Wild hair. Flushed cheeks… Green eyes.

Terri moved, then. She sat on the stool at the end of the island. Put her hands on her thighs. Leaned into them. Looked down at the floor. She tried hard to breathe deeply. It was difficult. Her heart raced.

No one can saturate 
No one manipulates 
Like my lover 

Amy watched her. Looked at her from head to toe. Watched her take her hat off and toss it on the kitchen table. Watched her run her hands…her long fingers… through her thick, short, dark hair. Looked at her in her faded, torn Levi’s. Her old, soft plaid short-sleeved shirt. Her tattoos. Her fucking tattoos.

Amy moved to be near Terri. Stood in front of her. They were inches apart. Neither being the first to reach out to touch. Neither speaking.

So much to say.

Nowhere to start.

Both struggling to continue breathing.

Both wanting touched.

Both afraid to be the first to move. 

Amy took a tiny step forward. Terri leaned in. Her head coming to rest on Amy’s shoulder. Amy’s hands resting on Terri’s arms.

My lover needs to seize 
Bring me to my knees 
Reads me like a prayer 
Calls the spirit there 

Terri’s hands on Amy’s waist at first, but then sliding lower. Over Amy’s hips. Down Amy’s thighs.

Amy’s body immediately responded. After having not been touched by Terri in months, her body was thirsty for it.

Terri’s hands settled on one of Amy’s legs. One hand on the outside of her thigh, another resting near her knee on the inside of her thigh.

As the song played and they stood still, Amy’s body ached. A throbbing took over her body, from the inside. Deep inside. She moved her hands from Terri’s arms to Terri’s hair. She slowly ran her fingers through her hair. She’d missed it. Feeling Terri’s head in her hands.

Her breasts heaved from struggling for breath. Struggling to breathe through her pounding heartbeat.

“Terri.” Amy was the first to speak. Her voice barely above a quiet whisper. “Terri, I’m sorry.”

Terri moved her head. Rested her forehead against Amy’s breasts. She pressed into her. She rocked her head back and forth. She pressed into Amy’s breasts.

When she spoke, Terri’s voice was quiet and frail. And Broken. Weak. Like Amy had never heard. “Please. Tell me…tell me you didn’t do it in our bed. In our house. Please.”

“No. No, Terri. We didn’t. I didn’t.” Amy’s fingers ran through Terri’s hair.

“OK.” Terri blinked fiercely into Amy’s breasts. She worked to keep the tears at bay. Her hands squeezed Amy’s thigh. Her brain wouldn’t shut off. She was picturing them, as she had over the past week.

“Amy. Please. You didn’t do it at the office, did you?” Terri asked her.

“No. Terri. We didn’t. I’m telling you we didn’t do it.”

“OK.” Terri had worked to convince herself that if they did it somewhere she never went, she could live with it. But she wasn’t sure she could. She thought, for a moment, she might be sick.

She pulled her head back and looked up at Amy. Tears in her blue eyes. “Is it over? Or…”

“Terri. God. Listen to me.” Amy pulled away from her enough to hold Terri’s face in her hands. “It never was. We didn’t… do… anything.”

“You didn’t… she didn’t… fuck you?” Terri asked. Pain on every feature on her face.

“God. Terri. NO. I’m telling you no.” Amy moved then. Annoyed. She turned to walk away. How many times do I have to tell her? She thought.

Terri reached out. Lightning fast. She grabbed Amy’s hand and pulled her back. A harsh movement. Jerked her back. Amy was pulled into a turn. She flew into Terri’s chest as Terri stood up from the stool.

Amy, hands flat on Terri’s chest flung her head back so she could look up into Terri’s eyes.

Silence.

They were still. 

The music. The beat. The words of the song flowed over them.

My lover's thorny kiss 
The reason to exist 
I wonder

Amy’s green eyes beckoned Terri to make the first move. And Terri answered their plea.

Her hand dug into the hair on the back of Amy’s head and pulled her close for a bruising kiss. Amy’s mouth open and willing. Wet and warm. A haven for Terri’s tongue as it thirsted for the woman it had comforted and tortured over the past two years.

One of Amy’s hands wrapped up around Terri’s neck, the other under her arm and clutched at the shirt on Terri’s back. The kiss deepened and Amy rose on her toes to be nearer Terri’s mouth as it sought to make them one.

Terri’s hand moved down Amy’s dress and held on to her rear end. As Terri’s hands moved lower to cup her, Amy’s dress rode up on her hips. Terri’s hands continued to travel up Amy’s body, taking the dress with her. She pulled it up and over Amy’s ample breasts and over her head. Dress in hand, Terri stepped back for a half a moment to take in the silky skin and rounded curves of the woman she hadn’t seen in a state of undress for months.

Terri growled and dropped the dress to the floor. Her hand moved to Amy’s back and in one swift movement, Amy’s bra was unlatched and loose. Terri’s hands traveled the length of Amy’s soft, smooth back.

Terri’s hands on Amy’s head and waist moved her then. Moved her while she kissed her. Backed her against the kitchen island. Forcefully. Achingly.

Amy’s hands moved to Terri’s shirt. She fumbled as she tried to unbutton her shirt and she couldn’t. While Terri kissed her, Amy’s hands grabbed at the shirt’s front and pulled. She yanked with all her might and tore the shirt wide open. Buttons flew. Fell to the ground. Amy’s hands moved to Terri’s breasts. She kneaded them through her sports bra. Her nails bit into them.

Terri’s hands moved under Amy’s arms. “Up.” She growled at Amy. Amy put her hands behind her and as Terri lifted her, Amy’s arms helped to lift herself up onto the kitchen island.

Terri pulled Amy’s bra off of her arms and buried her face in her ample breasts. Finding the familiar tight, brown nipples with her mouth. Hungrily sucking at them. Biting. Tweaking. Nuzzling. Her hands pulling on Amy’s legs, to draw her nearer the end of the counter.

With one hand on Amy’s stomach, Terri pushed her back. Encouraged her to lay down. Her fingers hooked inside the waistband of Amy’s underwear. Amy put one foot on the edge of the counter to leverage herself. She raised her hips and Terri tugged the underwear down Amy’s legs.

Terri stood over her and looked at her as she lay, exposed. Naked on the kitchen counter. Skin smooth and beautiful. Curves and valleys. Terri placed her hands on Amy’s thighs and then leaned over her. Her hands traveled up the silky skin of her thighs over the soft curve of her hips. Up to the roundness of her breasts.

Terri pulled the stool over to where she stood and she sat. Sat down between Amy’s legs as they dangled from the counter. Amy’s feet found their resting place on Terri’s shoulders.

Amy raised herself up on her elbows and looked down between her legs at Terri. She liked what she saw. Terri’s flushed cheeks. Red lips from their passionate kisses. Terri’s steel blue eyes looked at Amy.

“I want you.” Terri told her. Her voice low. Solid.  

“Then take me. Take what you want.” Amy said.

Amy watched her. Watched Terri move close. She rose again and stood over Amy. She leaned over her again. Let her hands travel the length of Amy… again. “You’re mine, Amy Tayler.”

“Yours, Terri. Yours. Take what you want, Baby. Do what you want. Nobody else has me.”

Terri leaned all the way over her. Her mouth closed over Amy’s. Another bruising kiss. It hurt. It soothed. It challenged. It coaxed. Wet. Hot. Her bottom lip pulled into Terri’s mouth briefly before Terri let go of Amy and moved her mouth down her body. She bit her. She sucked on her. She left round, bruising marks with her mouth. Started at her collar bone. Down her body. To her breasts. Over her abdomen. She marked her. She marked her woman.

She settled between Amy’s legs again. Terri sat on the stool and leaned into Amy. Amy’s feet, again, on Terri’s shoulders. Terri’s hands on Amy’s hips, she turned her face into Amy’s left thigh and she sucked on her. Bit her there. Amy moaned.

Terri’s heart raced.

Amy’s hips rocked.

“Don’t make me wait, Terri… I’ve missed you… Phoebe’s missed you.” Amy said, looking down between her legs she only saw the top of Terri’s head.

She heard Terri growl as she moved in. Open mouthed. A long lick between Amy’s lips and Amy threw her head back with a moan and rested her body on the cool granite of the counter. Her hips bucked up into Terri’s mouth.

One of Terri’s hands left Amy’s hips to open her up wider so that Terri’s open mouth could have more of her in it. Terri pulled her in. Sucked her. Drank in the juices. Proof that Terri could still turn this woman on. Her tongue slid into the recess of Amy’s vagina and she sucked out more of her sweet, salty nectar. Terri’s tongue then worked its way up to her woman’s small, hard clit.

Terri pulled back to look at it. She smiled a private smile that nobody else saw. Smiled as though she were seeing an old friend. Amy was pink and wet and warm. God she looked amazing. Terri moved her head to kiss, nip, nuzzle Amy’s other thigh. Amy writhed. Her hips bucking again. Begging Terri to return to her pussy.

Terri dove in. Hungry. Mouth wide. Fingers sliding into their place to fuck her. In. Out. In. Out. While her tongue worked her clitoris. Her mouth pressing firmly into Amy.

She looked up between Amy’s legs. She watched Amy’s hands on her own breasts. Tweaking her nipples. Terri moaned into her at the sight.

The vibrations and heat from Terri’s breath caused Amy to respond. “Yes, Love. Yes. Feels so good. So perfect. Fuck me, Terr.”

Terri’s teeth grazed Amy’s clit and the filthy talk from Amy’s mouth began. She begged Terri to touch her, enter her. “Touch my hole while you eat my cunt. Please. Terr.”

Terri grabbed her hips and moved her, then. Rolled her hips up. Amy’s feet pressed against Terri’s shoulders. Terri’s mouth moved back on Amy. Her mouth was on Amy’s tight, pink hole. She licked her. She bit the skin beside it.

Amy screamed loudly. “Yes. God. Yes. Fuck.”

Terri’s pulled back long enough to drag her fingers through the fluid that flowed out of Amy. When she was satisfied with the amount of her natural lubricant that was on her fingers, Terri watched her middle finger of her right hand disappear into Amy’s asshole. Terri’s own body was responding and throbbing. She felt like she could come just watching Amy writhing on the counter. She stood and watched her second finger disappear into Amy.

“Fuck, Terri. I need your mouth on me. Please, Baby.”

Terri’s blue eyes looked across Amy’s body again. With her right hand busy, her left hand ran up Amy’s body. Terri’s hand rested on Amy’s cheek. She looked into her eyes. Green eyes. Green eyes for me. Mine. I turned those eyes green.

“You’re mine. You fucking bitch. You. Are. Mine.” Terri’s words ran together as she angrily spit the words out.

“Yes. I am. Terri. Yours. Take what you want form me. I’m yours, Love.” Amy panted.

And then Terri moved back down between her legs. She opened her mouth over Amy’s wet, sensitive flesh again. And with more vigor than before, if possible. She sucked her. Licked her. Bit her. Her tongue circled. Tweaked. She moaned into Amy, who loved the vibrations the moan caused. She moved her hand to enter her vagina again. She fucked her. She sucked her.

And then she felt it start. Felt the ripple of the muscles around her fingers. Felt the rush of fluid over her hand. Felt the pulsing of Amy’s clit. Felt Amy’s fingernails dig into her scalp. Felt Amy’s thighs press against her face.

And she heard her. Heard Amy moan her name. “Terri. Fucking. Morgan.”

She held still for her. Knew that holding still was the best way for Amy to make it last. Terri felt the throbbing under her tongue. Around her fingers. She pressed into her. She waited. Waited for it to pass. Waited for the thighs to loosen their vice-like grip. Waited for the fingernails to loosen their hold on her head.

As Amy’s throbbing slowed, Terri sucked her in one more time. Lapped up the wetness that surged when she came. The action made Amy moan. Made her body tense and then relax again.

Terri slowly sat up. She looked up at Amy, through Amy’s spread legs. Amy saw her. Damp lips. Cheeks pink. Terri winked at her and grinned a half grin. She tenderly pulled her fingers from Amy’s body. Then, she unabashedly slid her fingers into her own mouth.

When Terri’s fingers went into her mouth, Amy dropped her head back and covered her face with her hands. As she lay, naked on the kitchen island. Feet on Terri’s shoulders. Spent from the intense orgasm. The only sound in the room was the same song that continued to play on a loop.

Secretly inspires 
Strips me to desire 
I wonder

Suddenly, Terri stood. She wasted no time unfastening her own pants and pushing them down. They pooled at her feet and she made no move to step out of them. She reached out a hand to Amy who took her hand and pulled herself up. She knew what Terri wanted.

Terri’s mouth greedily sought out Amy’s tits. First one, then the other. She sucked at them as though they held life itself in them. Terri’s fingers, the ones that had been in Amy slid between her own lips and found her own clit and she began to satisfy herself while Amy wrapped her legs around her. Held her breast at an angle that Terri could more easily access.

She lapped at Amy while circling herself. In mere seconds she was moaning into Amy’s flesh. She bit her. She sucked her. While she tweaked her own clit.

“Terr. I want to touch you. Let me at you.” Amy reached to try to get to Terri.

She moved, then. Tried to slide off the counter. She was hot, sweaty. She didn’t slide well. She wrapped her arms and legs around Terri who lifted her up off the counter and set her on the ground. Terri perched herself on the edge of the stool and spread her legs. She kicked her jeans off her feet.

Amy stood between Terri’s knees and quickly and deftly moved her fingers to Terri’s clit and began to rub her while Terri found Amy’s nipple again.

And then Terr’s legs pressed against Amy on either side of her legs. Pressed in as Terri’s mouth clenched down with a deep suction on Amy’s flesh while an orgasm ripped through her body. She moaned into Amy who cried out with a sound that expressed a blending of ecstasy and pain. Terri’s fingers dug into her ass.

And they stayed still while Terri let the wave wash over her. Her orgasm ripped through her body with an intensity that shook her to her core. She grasped on to Amy’s flesh. Her fingers dug into Amy’s soft skin.

All the while, Amy spoke quietly in her ear. “I’m yours. So sorry, Terri. You’re so sexy. Thank you for loving me. Terri. Fucking. Morgan.”

And then as Terri’s body calmed, the women were silent. Again. As they clung to one another in the kitchen. With only the sound of the song in the room.

They dream of paradise 
They'll never ever pay the price 
My lover

Terri held her tight. Her face buried in Amy’s breasts. She was afraid to loosen her grip. She heard Amy whisper into her ear. “I love you, Terri. I love you.”

Terri mouthed the words on a soft whisper. “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Eventually… they moved.

Terri tilted her head up and Amy looked down into her eyes. She kissed her tenderly on the lips. Stroked her back.

“Let’s go lay down.” Amy whispered to her.

Terri went to the sink and filled a glass with water. She drank it down. She filled her glass again and held it out to Amy, who did the same.

They left each article of clothing where they were dropped on the floor. Amy followed Terri out of the kitchen. Terri stopped. “Ouch.” She leaned over. She had stepped on a wayward button from her shirt. She picked it up. She turned and held out her hand. She gave the button to Amy who smiled and shrugged her shoulder. She tossed the button onto the counter.

As they left the kitchen, Terri turned one way and Amy the other. They stopped when they realized. Terri was walking toward her room, Amy toward the stairs.

They stood. Frozen in the hallway.

Terri held out a hand to her. Amy took it. Terri took Amy to the downstairs room that Terri had inhabited for the last few months. She left the lights off and pulled back the covers. They both crawled into the bed. Amy backed her body up against Terri’s front. Terri was the big spoon. Amy pulled the comforter up over them.

They lay in silence. It was Terri who spoke first.

“We need to talk.” She said. A low, quiet voice.

“Terr. Can we talk tomorrow? That was so wonderful. I don’t want to ruin the moment.” Amy said.

“OK.” Terri said. Not really wanting to agree to it, but knowing that what Amy said was right. It had been wonderful. And it felt so good to hold her. And they were good. Right? They would be back to normal soon. Right?

“Love. You were gone longer than normal this time. Are you OK? Is there anything you need to talk about?” Amy asked her.

God no. Not at all. Terri thought. “No. I’m OK. Thanks.” Terri said out loud. She tried to push back the troubling work of the last week. She hadn’t been fully accepted this time. When it was a church, it was harder. And this one was highly charged. Racism at its core. And Terri knew she wasn’t the best person to reach the families of the victims who had been violated in the place of worship. But she was the one who was called in. It just took longer to gain their trust. And she understood that. But she didn’t want to talk about it. She wanted to stuff it all down in the box where she stored her memories of her special assignments.

And then… there was the bar where she had been tempted. Very tempted. Where she had danced with the woman in the sundress. No. Terri didn’t want to talk about it.

She wanted to concentrate on the woman she held in her arms.

Terri’s hands roamed over Amy. Down her side. Over her hip. Down her thigh. Then she pulled her hand to the back of Amy’s thigh and ran it up, up over her rounded rear end, and up her smooth, velvety back.

“Catch me up on work. What’s been going on?” Terri asked her.

No fucking way. Amy thought. That will lead us to talking about Jo. “Nothing much. Same old thing.” Amy said out loud.

They held each other and lay in the quiet. Terri’s hands rubbing her. Thankful Amy was in her arms. And they drifted to sleep.

Terri woke to Sadie nudging her. It was late, but not yet midnight. They had slept for a few hours.

Terri got up and grabbed a pair of underwear and a t-shirt from her drawer. She stopped in the restroom to relieve herself and to get dressed. Then she took Sadie outside. She sat on the back patio while Sadie took care of business.

Back in the house she locked both doors and set the alarm. She went back into the kitchen. She turned off the music that had been playing on the loop since they went to bed. She made a sandwich. Cut it in half. She added to the plate crackers. Cheese. Grapes. She pulled a couple of cans of soda from the refrigerator. She bent over and picked up Amy’s underwear. She headed back to her bedroom.

Amy wasn’t there.

Terri stopped. Her heart sank. And then she heard her flush the toilet across the hall and she began to breathe again. Amy came into the bedroom, naked. Her hair a crazy mess. Terri wordlessly held out Amy’s underwear. She smiled at Terri. She put them on. Then Amy went to the dresser and opened one drawer and then another. Looking for the drawer that held the tank tops. Once she located one, she pulled it on. Stretched it over her ample breasts.

They sat on the bed and quietly shared the food Terri brought in. 

“Thank you.” Amy said as she ate.

“Babe. We need to talk about everything.” Terri insisted.

“Tomorrow? Please?” Amy sipped on her soda.

Terri melted at the look Amy gave her. Terri’s body responded when she saw Amy’s eyes begin to change to the familiar shade of green.

She took the plate and put it on the bedside table. Amy nudged Sadie, encouraging her to move off the bed. The guest room bed was a double and didn’t offer as much room as the bed in the master suite.

Terri laid back on the bed and Amy settled her body on top of her. They shared a long, languid kiss. Lips locked in a gentle, sweet, slow kiss. Amy’s tongue teasing Terri. Licking her lips. Sliding her tongue inside her. Slow, patient. Easy.

Terri loved feeling the weight of Amy on her. She’d missed her. Missed her hair falling over around them, shrouding them in a lavender scented tent. She missed the feeling of her thighs straddling her. Just like that. Missed knowing she could make her wet. Yes. She was wet for me. She wants more.

She had waited for Amy and wanted her badly and finally it was happening. Amy wanted to stay. She had said as much. Terri was relieved. She was happy. But…she was worried.

“Aim.” She said in her ear as Amy licked Terri’s neck and stroked her hands between Terri’s legs. “Aim. Babe. We need to talk. We need to get it all out.”

“Honey. We’re making love. Let’s talk after. Doesn’t it feel good? Please don’t make us stop.” Amy pulled up Terri’s t-shirt and her mouth covered Terri’s nipple. She sucked on it. Nipped at it.

God damnit Amy that feels so good. Don’t stop.” Terri moaned. She knew better. Knew she should stop it. Knew they should get fully dressed and go sit in a safer room in the house. The kitchen table. Opposite ends of the couch. She knew they should hash it all out. Say everything that needs said. But mother fucker, having Amy kissing a trail down her body. Having Amy’s fingers push aside the crotch of her underwear… just like… that… fuck… the talking could wait.

++++++ 

She awoke in the early morning hours. It wasn’t yet dawn. She had pulled on her shoes and running clothes and went for a quick run. When she returned, she stood at the base of the bed and looked at her, still sleeping.

They had spent the night in Terri’s room. Amy lay in the bed, sheets up just over her waist. She lay on her back, naked. Breasts exposed. Her hair splayed around her face. Amy was spent. They’d fucked three times since making up in the driveway. Terri looked at the small bruises she had left trailing down Amy’s body. She looked at the red of Amy’s lips. Terri did something she maybe shouldn’t have. She promised herself she’d tell Amy later, ask her permission and delete if she was not OK with it. Terri took a picture of her lover – of just her head and shoulders. She looked more beautiful than Terri had ever seen her.

She knew they needed to talk. They both knew, more than most, the importance of not holding it all in. Knew that pushing it back and ignoring the talk would only hurt their relationship. But she also knew what they were doing. They were feeding their carnal desires that had bottled up. She knew it felt good. But she knew in the end they’d regret it if they didn’t talk. And, she also knew that Amy didn’t want to talk.

When she sat on the side of the bed and let the knuckles of her hand brush the side of Amy’s breast, Amy stirred. She turned and looked at Terri. The smile that spread across her face made Terri’s heart leap. She’d longed for that smile. For months, she’d missed it.

Amy’s arms stretched over her head and her legs moved in a full body stretch that caused her breasts to raise as Amy let out a long, slow morning moan. Terri watched her. Watched her nipples tighten.

“Good morning, Love.” Amy said. “Come to bed. Come touch me.”

“Oh Babe. I smell like a whore who just ran a marathon. I’m going to go shower.” Terri leaned over and kissed one of Amy’s breasts. Then the other.

Amy’s hands moved to hold Terri’s head to her breasts. “I don’t care how you smell.” Amy whispered.

Terri stood and stepped back from the bed. “Trust me. You would if you could smell what I’ve been smelling since around mile 1.”

Amy sat up. Her hair fell around her shoulders. “Then let’s go upstairs and shower together. Let me wash you.”

Terri shook her head and growled at Amy. “I can’t think of a better way to start the day.”

Amy walked out of the bedroom and down the hall. Naked. Barefoot. Terri kicked off her shoes and followed her.

As they walked up the stairs, Amy leading the way, her bare rear end was level with Terri’s face.

“Babe. Stop. Please. Just stop.”

Amy did as she was told. She turned and looked at Terri. “What?”

Terri looked at her lover’s perfectly rounded hips and pulled her toward her. Her hands first on Amy’s hips and then sliding low on her rear. She wanted her. Here. On the stairs.

“Sit.” Terri demanded. 

Amy’s eyebrows furrowed. Her eyes darted first beyond Terri and then into her eyes. She did as she was told.

Terri knelt down on her knees and hooked her hands under Amy’s knees and tugged her to the end of the step on which she was sitting. Terri’s blue eyes looked up at Amy.

“I want you. God help me, Amy Grace. I want you right here.” Terri told her in a low, gruff voice.

“Then take me, Love.” Amy said. She already looked fucked out. But she was opening her legs for more. Amy slid her hands down between her own legs and parted her lips, inviting Terri in. The small movement. The look on her face. Terri’s clit twitched to life again. And she plunged forward, her mouth finding what she sought. Her tongue pleasuring Amy, causing her to moan Terri’s name over and over. On the stairs. On a Saturday morning.

++++++ 

The hot water beat down on them from the multiple shower heads. They shared the soap and let their hands roam over one another. The act of cleaning, an intimacy that was clearly turning them both on. Terri would never tire of running soapy hands over Amy’s voluptuous figure. Amy always loved the tall, lean physique of her lover and never tired of running her hands over her tattoos, over her flat stomach. Sucking on her wet breasts.

They moved, wet. Not even taking the time to dry, to the bed in the master suite. Amy pushed Terri back on the mattress and pounced on her. Her dripping hair hanging around her face.

Amy kissed her way down Terri and settled between her legs. She used both hands to open Terri’s lips and she nuzzled her with her nose and then her lips. She licked her, teased her. She was hot. From her run. From the shower. Fuck, it was June. Everything was hot all the time. Amy lightly blew out air over Terri’s hot pussy. Terri bucked up at the feeling.

“Love.” Amy said. She moved. She lay down on her back. “Come be over me. I want you to have control.”

“No, Babe. I don’t need to do that.” Terri said. She leaned over Amy, settling in. Sucking on her breasts. Her hips rocking against Amy’s.

“Mary Terrese, get your pussy up here.” Amy demanded.

Terri grinned. A little shocked at Amy’s commanding voice. She moved. Did what she was told. Settled one knee on each side of Amy’s head. She seldom had taken this position in their two years together. It was a favorite of Terri’s to eat Amy in this position, because she loved when Amy had control and ground her pussy into Terri’s face. She was aware, though, that Amy generally liked to be on top controlling how much pressure she used with her mouth, how and where her mouth was in contact with Terri’s flesh.

She felt Amy’s hands wrap up around her to her waist. Felt her pull Terri down. As Terri lowered herself, she felt her lips open for Amy. Felt Amy’s tongue glide across her already moist center. God. Her body was responding over and over again to Amy’s touch.

“Down, Baby.” Amy encouraged her. “Give me everything you want me to have.”

And Terri lowered herself and rocked on Amy’s mouth. Terri held on to the headboard. She ground into Amy and moaned at the feeling of her lips, her tongue, her teeth. She rocked on her mouth. And soon she felt Amy’s finger slide behind her. Dance around her hole. And Terri cussed. And moaned. And felt the pleasure of being fucked and eaten. She felt an ecstasy she thought was lost to her. And she tilted her head down to her chest and let out a moan that was low and slow and loud and guttural as she came in Amy’s mouth. And her body shuddered at the intensity. Shuddered until every last moment of the orgasm had left her body.

She raised up on her knees and moved quickly to lay beside Amy. Their lips connected in the post cunnilingus kiss that Amy knew Terri craved. Terri licked her and encouraged Amy to slide her tongue into her mouth where Terri sucked her. Sucked all of her juices off her.

“What do you want? Whatever you want, Babe.” Terri said into Amy’s mouth.

Amy reached over into the drawer and retrieved the vibrator and handed it to Terri who smiled into their kiss.

Their vibrator meant that Amy was turned on and ready and she wanted a nice, fast fuck to get to the prize quickly.

Terri took it from Amy and twisted the base to turn it on. Low setting at first. She settled between Amy’s legs and they immediately wrapped around Terri. She parted Amy and slid it between her legs. Amy rocked her hips to the feeling of it as it glided across her clitoris. Amy’s hands stroked herself, tweaking her nipples. “Fuck me, Baby. Fuck me.”

Terri turned the end of the vibrator to its highest speed and guided it into Amy. Terri leaned over her and lay on top of her, holding herself up with her free hand. Amy’s legs and arms gripped Terri as their hips rocked. Terri moved it in and out, fucking her, driving her toward the brink. “Now, Terr. Now.” Amy told her. Terri knew what she meant. She pulled the vibrator out of her and settled it onto her clit and Amy exploded into a million pieces. Under Terri. In their bed.

Terri watched her. Watched her green eyes close. Watched the red, swollen lips of her perfect mouth part. Watched her hand move to rest above her head. And Terri felt her own clit twitch back to life and she felt a trickle of juice begin to slide out of herself. And as soon as Amy’s body calmed, Terri moved the vibrator and turned it on herself. She stayed in the same position, but let it come to rest on her own clitoris.

Amy, watching her lover, continued moving her hips for Terri. She ran her hands through Terri’s hair and pulled her toward her breast, offering to Terri her nipples. Knowing Terri loved to suck on them when she came. And Terri moaned and rocked. Her body shook from the intensity of the orgasm she gave herself. And then she collapsed onto Amy. Amy’s body still wrapped around her. And they lay there in the late morning light of day. Until Sadie nudged Terri’s hip, asking to go outside.

++++++ 

While the bacon sizzled in the pan, while the potatoes cooked, Amy found each button on the floor. She picked up the trail of clothes they left on the floor the night prior. Terri had gone out to the barn to open it up. Let the horses out into the corral. Feed them.

While she was outside Terri texted Amy the photo she had taken of her earlier, while she slept. “You’re beautiful. I missed you.”

“Come back inside and get some more.” Amy texted back.

Amy made them a huge breakfast. They were both famished. When Terri came in and saw the food laid out on the kitchen island, her mind flashed to the night before. Amy, sprawled out naked. Terri feasted on her body. She was overcome with the desire to swipe the food off the counter and take her there again. But then, her stomach growled and reminded her that she hadn’t eaten.

They sat at the island, on the stools. They filled their plates. “This smells delicious, Aim. Thank you so much.”

Bacon. Eggs. Potatoes. Toast. Jam. Terri ate like she hadn’t in weeks. Amy fed her a piece of bacon. Then, they shared a kiss. Then another. Then another.

And they had yet to discuss all the things they needed to discuss. Because the food was forgotten. Terri and Amy were on the floor. ON the floor. IN the kitchen. Making love. Again.

 

 

End of part 2 of 3

 

++

Chapter Text

++++++

They were on their way back from Nan and Pop’s.

Sunday lunch was good. Nan was all smiles. She could tell that her girls were back to normal. Terri smiled and joked with Pop. When Nan and Amy were in the kitchen getting the meal ready, Terri came in and wrapped her arms around Amy. She kissed her neck. They laughed. They played. And Nan couldn’t be happier.

“Want to stop anywhere?” Terri asked her as they drove through town.

“Just take me home, Love.” Amy leaned her head back on the headrest. She was exhausted. They’d not slept a full night’s sleep either Friday or Saturday and worked loomed large in the morning.

“Aim.” Terri said. Hand gripping the wheel of her truck. Eyes on the road in front of her.

“I know.” Amy said. “I know.”

“Do you want me to keep driving around? Or….”

“You decide, Terri. I don’t want to make that call. Wherever you want to talk, we can talk.” Amy said. Resigned.

Were Terri a man, she might keep driving. Men have a way of needing to not make eye contact over difficult discussions. Two men working through an issue are more apt to do it sitting side by side and looking in the same direction.

But, Terri needed to see her. She needed to have her eyes on Amy while they talked. Needed to see how her body reacted to the things they would discuss. Needed to watch Amy’s eyes. Needed to be able to have the choice to reach out and touch her if she wanted.

“I want to be in our home, Amy. I want a stiff drink. And I want to be at home.”

“Then, take me home, Ms. Morgan.” Amy rested her hand on Terri’s bare arm as it rested on the console between them.

++++++

Terri changed into her basketball shorts and t-shirt and headed, barefoot, into the kitchen. There she poured herself a whiskey and slugged it back. Then she poured herself another. She poured Amy a glass of wine. She took both to the living room where Amy joined her. She wore yoga pants and one of Terri’s white, ribbed tank tops.

“Jesus, Amy.” Terri said looking at her.

“Let’s play, Terri.” She sidled up to Terri who was immediately drawn to her. Of course. In that fucking tank top stretched to its limits across her ample breasts.

“Damn it, Amy. No. We are going to talk. Tomorrow…. Aim. Tomorrow, I have to go into that office. Our office. I have to work with her. I need to hear this story. I need it, Amy. Please.” Terri settled into the corner of the couch. She curled herself up. Feet tucked under her. One arm around her knees. The other clutching her glass of whiskey.

“OK. OK.” Amy waved her hand toward Terri as if to stop her talking. She took the old quilt that hung on the back of the couch and wrapped it around her shoulders, covering herself. She settled in on the other corner of the couch.

“What do you want to know?” Amy sighed the question.

“Every last detail. Every encounter. Every conversation. Every… feeling. All of it, Amy. Please.” Terri said quickly.

And so, Amy told her. She told her about the first time Jo was brought in to sit in the cubical across the room that Trevor left vacant. How Amy saw her for the first time and was struck at how much she looked like a younger, shorter version of Terri. How everyone commented on her appearance.

Terri watched Amy. Her hesitancy when she first started caused Terri to worry that there was going to be some tough information coming her way. Her voice trembled at first. She was nervous about telling Terri about her.

“You were attracted to her from the first meeting?” Terri asked.

“No…Maybe…Yes? I don’t know.” Amy said.

“What attracted you?”

“I was…Terr.” Amy hesitated.

“Just say it.” Terri insisted.

“She was … she was YOU. Only… young. Vivacious… Flirty.” Amy said.

“Flirty?” Terri asked.

“You used to be flirty.” Amy shot her a look over her glass of wine as she sipped it.

Gut punch. Reality Check. Amy was not wrong. Terri just nodded her head and waited.

“So, Catherine called me in and said she wanted to assign me as Jo’s mentor. So, we moved Jo to the cube by mine. She went on visits with me.” Amy told her.

“You didn’t request that role?” Terri asked.

“No.” Amy shook her head.

“Did Jo?”

Amy thought for a moment. She shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know. I suppose it’s possible.”

Terri just nodded her head. Waited.

“You didn’t ask Catherine about it?” Amy asked her directly.

“Wasn’t my business.” Terri said.

“Wasn’t it?” Amy shot at her.

Terri sipped her whiskey and looked at Amy. She has a point, Terri thought. Had I cared enough, I could have asked Catherine. But instead, Terri realized, she spent most of her time making assumptions and wallowing in the self-pity of it all.

She waited for Amy to continue.

“So, we spent a lot of time together.” Amy said. “You know what that’s like. In the car all day between visits. Eating lunch together. Talking about cases, histories.”

“Yup.” Terri nodded. Terri had mentored dozens of fellow employees when she worked that job.

Silence.

“Hey, Aim. How long did you do that before the first staff meeting?” Terri asked her.

“What staff meeting?”

“You know the one.” Terri said. “Where she and I met at her first staff meeting.”

“A week? Maybe a little more? Why?” Amy asked. Maybe a little more defensively than she should have.

“You liked her then.” Terri said. She knew what she saw.

“No….What makes you say that?” Amy challenged her.

“Your body language when you talked with her. You were turned on.” Terri said quietly.

“How would you know that?” Amy asked.

The room was quiet. Terri looked into her empty glass.

“Green eyes.” Terri whispered.

Amy stood. She went to the kitchen to refill her wine glass. She brought the whiskey back with her and poured some into Terri’s empty glass. Took the whiskey back to the kitchen and returned and sat down in a chair across the room. Terri turned her body so she could look at Amy.

She waited.

“I’m not going to say it’s her fault.” Amy said. “It is my fault that I responded. But she flirted with me. She told me I looked nice…all the time. She made me feel … pretty... Like you use to.” She shot a look at Terri, whose face pulled back when she heard the words, like she had been hit.

“She asked me questions. Listened to me.” Amy continued.

She paused.

“She joked and was light hearted…” Amy’s voice trailed off.

Terri was quiet.

“She liked talking with me, Terri. I mattered.” Amy said directly.

Amy watched the words settle on Terri. She watched her face.

“And…I liked it…A lot.” Amy admitted.

Amy decided to wait, then. Wait for Terri to be the next to speak.

They sat in silence for a long time. Each woman sipping her drink.

Eventually… Terri asked a question. “What did you do together?”

“What do you mean?”

“I know I sat here a lot of nights alone, and I know you weren’t knitting with Nan all those nights.” Terri said.

Amy put her head down. She stared into her wine glass.

“Dinner. Movies. Bowling…ball games.” Amy admitted.

Terri’s therapist composure broke. “Ball games? You mean… what, exactly?”

“You know… basketball. This spring.” Amy looked up at her.

The fuck? Ball games? Terri thought to herself. She sat up. Sat on the edge of the couch.

“Where? Like on television? At the bar?” Terri asked Amy.

“At first…then…” Amy started but stopped talking.

She was quiet.

“Aim.” Terri wasn’t sure she wanted her to continue. Why was she prompting her to do so?

“Her apartment.” Amy said definitively. Her eyes met Terri’s.

They sat looking at each other for a moment. Neither speaking.

Terri got up and went to the kitchen. She pulled a soda from the refrigerator. She realized she needed to be done drinking liquor. She sat at the table in the kitchen.

Amy walked into the kitchen. The light was off, and Terri was sitting in the dark. Amy went to the refrigerator and opened it to get a bottle of water. The light illuminated her body from the front as she tilted her head back and guzzled the water.

“Would you go put on a goddamned bra? Or robe. Or… something? Fuck, Amy! Fuck!” Terri walked out of the room and out of the house. She slammed the door behind her. She sat on the porch steps. She tipped back her head and drank the rest of her soda.

She sat outside for a long time. She looked up at the stars. She held her head in her hands. She walked through the front yard and toed the dying grass with her feet.

Terri turned to go inside. She found Amy. Sitting back in her corner of the couch. Waiting on Terri. One of Terri’s old, worn college sweatshirts pulled over her head.

Terri looked at her and shook her head. “I’m sorry, Aim. You should be able to wear what you want. I just…”

“I know. It’s OK.” Amy shut her off. “I’m sorry. I wore it on purpose.”

Terri sat down on the coffee table near Amy. She faced her. Their knees were close.

“I don’t know why, but knowing you watched games with her… at her home. It’s just…you don’t…” Terri knew she sounded ridiculous getting worked up over them watching sports.

“I know. I don’t watch with you.” Amy admitted.

Terri sat with her elbows on her knees, leaning over.

“You did… when we…when this was new.” Terri said quietly. She gestured between them with one finger, indicating their relationship.

“I know.” Amy nodded.

The room was silent again.

Finally, Terri asked a harder question. “Did you two kiss?”

“Never.” Amy shook her head.

“Touch?” Terri asked.

“We hugged.” Amy kept her eyes on her hands in her lap.

“Like…just at work? Or…”

“And we held hands.” Amy cut her off. Her breath caught as she said it out loud.

Terri’s eyes closed for a moment and then she opened them. She nodded.

“Back rubs.” Amy said quietly. Tears in her eyes.

“Clothes on or….?” Terri knew she should stop asking questions.

“Clothes on. Always.”

“Did you make out?” Terri asked. She sat up and looked Amy in the face. Her hands on the coffee table beside herself. Holding herself up.

“I told you, we didn’t kiss. Ever.” Amy said adamantly.

“OK. I mean… anything that was … sexual? Touching.”

“No.”

They were quiet.

Then Terri said, “But you wanted it.” Terri tried to search Amy’s eyes.

Amy averted her eyes. Pulled her bottom lip into her mouth. “I did. I liked…I thought…Whatever it was…it excited me, Terri.”

Terri was quiet for some time.

Then she spoke. “You initiated sex with me a couple of times…You came to my room in the middle of the…”

“I know.” Amy cut her off.

“Because you were…thinking of…”

“Yeah. I’m sorry.” Again, Amy cut her off.

“I knew what was happening.” Terri said. “I agreed to it knowing… I’m not an idiot.”

“I’m sorry, Terri.” Amy whispered.

They were quiet.

Terri continued with her questions. “When that stopped… when we stopped having… I’m assuming you…thought about her when…”

“When I masturbated. Yes. Sorry.” Amy felt like she couldn’t stop apologizing.

Sadie barked. Terri realized she had left her on the porch. She went to the front door and let her in. Terri sat down on the bench by the front door.

“So why are you here, Amy? Why are you sitting here with me? We don’t have a piece of paper holding this together.” Terri’s voice cracked with emotion.

“Terri. I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Amy said.

“I don’t care what you want to do, Amy. I don’t give a flying fuck if this makes you uncomfortable. I don’t fucking care if you’re tired. We are going to talk this through. We should have fucking talked before we ever …” Terri’s voice trailed off. She was pissed at herself for not having addressed this earlier.

She should have never had sex with her when she got home from assignment until they talked. Terri’s heart was tearing out of her chest.

They had, over the course of the last two days, had more sex than they had the whole year combined and she had fooled herself into thinking that Amy had wanted her. Needed her. And now… she’s learning… exactly how much she has had Jo on her mind.

Amy stood and said in an angry voice, “Alright. Fuck it. Terri. Get your dyke ass over here and listen to this next part. You’re gonna fucking love it.”

Terri stood and returned to her spot in the corner of the couch. Sadie followed her. Terri sat; feet tucked under herself. Sadie laying on the couch beside her, her head on Terri’s lap. Terri pet the dog. Slowly. A self-calming action.

“When you were gone this week, we went out. She asked me out to dinner.” Amy watched Terri’s reaction. She did not take her eyes off Terri.

Terri didn’t look at Amy. She focused her eyes on Sadie’s head.

“We went to that little Italian place. You know… the place you and I…”

“I know the one.” Terri said. She made a mental note to never go to that place again. As irrational as a thought could get in her typically rational mind.

“She asked me if you and were broken up. If we were over.” Amy said as she sat down.

Terri’s breathing became shallow. She nudged Sadie off her lap. She pulled her knees up and hugged them to herself.

“She said she had a question she wanted to ask me.” Amy continued.

Terri squeezed her arms around herself. She struggled to catch her breath. She was going to have to go back to work where this kid was going to be.

“She reached out and held my hand. Our fingers laced together across the table.” Amy kept talking. Terri didn’t want to hear any more of this.

Terri was silent. Her forehead now resting on her knees.

“And, Terri… I’m thinking… maybe she’s going to ask me kiss her… or…I don’t know… fuck her. And I’m thinking… You know what, Amy?! Terri refuses to talk to you. Terri is ignoring you. Terri wouldn’t even fucking let you take her to the goddamned mother-fucking airport. Terri doesn’t want your sorry fat ass. But this sweet little thing?… if this sweet thing wants to fuck you, then you should fuck her. So, I’m ready to say yes.” Amy’s voice was angry.

Terri lifted her head and stood up. Amy immediately stood also and pointed at the couch.

“Mary Terrese Morgan… Sit. The. Fuck. Down.” Amy said sternly.

Terri looked at Amy and did as she was told. She bowed her head and looked at her bare feet. Looked at the veins on the top of her feet.

“Do you want to know what she asked me?” Amy asked, standing over Terri. Her hands resting on her round hips.

Terri shook her head. No, she most definitely did not want to know.

“She wanted to know if she could ask you out.” Amy said.

Terri’s eyes snapped up at Amy. Blue eyes locked with brown.

Amy nodded. “That’s right. Little Jo seems to have a crush on you…. Terri… FUCKING… Morgan.”

Terri pressed her lips together. The outside corners of her mouth turned down in a frown as she stifled a laugh that came out of nowhere.

Amy moved in front of her. “That’s right. Yuk it up, you fucking bitch. That little baby dyke was getting close to me because she wants you.”

“That must have been hard to hear.” Terri said, trying to keep a straight face.

Amy chuckled. “It was like a splash of cold water on my face. And suddenly a lot of things became clear.” Amy sat down on the coffee table near Terri.

“Such as…” Suddenly Terri wanted more of the story.

“So many questions about you. So many conversations about what you and I did on our first dates. How we navigated our working relationship when we got together. How people at the office treated me when you and I started…”

“But you wanted her.” Terri interrupted her.

“I wanted to be seen, Terr. I wanted to be touched and adored, and to be told I look good.” Amy said.

Terri shook her head. “Aim. You always look good. I’ve always…’

“Not always. It slowed. It all but stopped before she came into the picture, and you know it. She didn’t cause this problem between us, Terri.” Amy said.

“I know.” Terri looked down at her hands in her lap. She couldn’t stop herself from unburdening her own heart. “I danced with a woman, Amy.”

“What?” Amy stood. She backed up. “What?!”

“At a bar. I got drunk. She asked me to dance. I danced. That’s all. Nothing else.” Terri said.

“Woah. Woahhh.” Amy waved her hands in front of herself. “You go out drinking when you’re on assignment? I thought you were working too hard to call home when you’re out there.”

“I….we… we were done. We wrapped up on Monday night.” Terri admitted.

“And so… you, what? Just stayed a few days longer for the fun of it?” Amy asked.

Terri was quiet. 

“How often does this happen?” Amy asked.

“This is the first time. Ever. I promise.” Terri said.

“What the fuck, Terr.”

“I…I was afraid to come home. I took a few days to … decompress.”

“Sounds like you took a few days to drink whiskey and get your rocks off.” Amy said.

“I know that’s what it sounds like…. I’m sorry.” Terri said.

“So… tell me. All of it.” Amy said. She settled back on the sofa, in the corner. Feet tucked under herself.

“The first day and night, I just slept. Really. I stayed in the dark hotel room and slept. Ate room service. The second night, I went to a bar…”

“Gay bar?” Amy asked.

“Yes.”

Silence.

“I sat in a booth and drank whiskey until I could barely stand. Then I Ubered back to the hotel. I slept most of the next day.” Terri said, quietly.

“By yourself?” Amy said with an accusatory harshness to her voice.

“Yes.” Terri said defensively.

Silence.

“Then… the third night, I went back.” Terri saw the look Amy gave her. “Same place…. I sat at the bar to watch the game.”

“Who was she?”

“I don’t know.” Terri said quietly.

“I’m going to need a description.” Amy said. Arms crossed in front of herself. Eyes flashing with anger.

“Curvy. Short. Sundress. Hair…” Terri held her hands out from her own head to indicate a lot of hair.

“Got it.” Amy cut her off. She held out her hand to physically tell Terri to stop talking.

Silence.

“She sat by me.” Terri said quietly.

“Did you buy her a drink?” Amy crossed her arms.

“No.” Terri said. Her head bowed. Looking at her feet.

“She buy you one?” Amy’s head did a little dance as she angrily asked the question.

“I don’t… maybe? I don’t know, Amy. I was pretty drunk.” Terri admitted.

“Who asked who to dance? Or were you too drunk to know that?” Amy asked.

“She asked me.”

“Song? Was it slow?”

“Slow. Honestly, I don’t remember the first one.” Terri said.

“First one? How long did you dance?”

“Not long. Another song came on and I knew it, and I stopped the dancing and I settled my bill and called an Uber.”

“Song?”

“Turn Me On…. Nora…” Terri got the words out.

“Jones. Nora Jones. Yeah I got it. So, no kissing?” Amy asked.

“One.” Terri said quietly.

Amy flinched. Fuck. She knew she had no real room to be pissed. But she was.

Terri was quiet. Ashamed.

“I’m going to need more information than that.” Amy said curtly.

“She looked….kind of like you. But she smelled and tasted like cigarettes.” Terri said. “I’m sorry, Aim. There’s no excuse.”

“So, if she wouldn’t have smelled like cigarettes? What then?”

“I don’t… Amy. It was the song that stopped me. It made me think of you. When it came on, I left. I’m sorry.” Terri put her elbows on her knees. She hung her head.  

“You touch her anywhere… sexually?” Amy shot questions at Terri.

“No.”

“Terr.” Amy challenged her. She knew how Terri liked to feel her up when they dance.

“Maybe. I mean… I don’t think so. Maybe her ass. I was drunk and we were dancing…” Terri admitted. Though to be honest she wasn’t sure if she touched the woman’s rear end or not.

“Tits?” Amy was angry.

“No. No, no. Of course not.” Terri said.

“Of course.” Amy said sarcastically, shrugging her shoulders.

Terri was quiet.

“Did she make you wet?” Amy asked, in a whispered voice.

“Yup.” Terri nodded her head and looked Amy in the eyes.

“Did you touch yourself when you got back to the hotel?” Amy asked.

“No. I ordered a plane ticket for the next day. The song made me think of you and… I just needed to…”

“Got it.” Amy said

“I’m sorry.” Terri said earnestly.

Amy waved a hand in front of her, dismissing the whole story.

They sat in silence for a good long while.

“I think we should see a therapist.” Amy said.

Terri’s eyes shot up to Amy. “You mean it? You’d do that?”

“Of course, I do. I love you and I want us to fix this so that we are solid. We need a third person…keep us in check.” Amy said.

Terri reached for Amy. Tears in her eyes. She pulled Amy down to her. Amy sat, on her lap, cradled in her arms. “Babe. Yes. Thank you. Yes.”

“Nobody you know. Nobody who knows you. It’s going to be hard to find someone.” Amy said poking Terri in the shoulder with her finger.

“No. No it’s not. We’ll go outside of town. We’ll get someone who doesn’t work with kids, someone who wouldn’t know us. I’ll start searching tomorrow.” Terri said. “Thank you, Amy. Thank you.”

Amy sat up. She straddled Terri. “I don’t understand. Why are you thanking me?” Amy asked.

“For wanting to save us.” Terri said.

“Well, they fucking went and made marriage legal,” Amy sighed. “And I was like, ‘Well, what am I supposed to do now’?” She teased Terri.

Terri smiled and then her face became serious.

“We’re going to fix this, Babe.” Terri said.

Amy nodded. 

“And this spring…I’m going to plant you a field of lavender.” Terri said.

“OK….” Amy said. Not completely understanding her lover’s intent.

“And in a year, we’re going to stand by that field when it is in full bloom and I’m going to marry you.” Terri declared.

“Yes.” Amy nodded her head. “Yes. YES!” She pushed Terri back into the corner of the couch, and she kissed her with the kiss of a woman who just received a proposal from the love of her life.

++++++

The next morning, in the kitchen, Amy poured herself a cup of coffee and Terri ate her cereal as she leaned against the island.

“Babe, I have a question.”

“Shoot.” Amy said, adding milk to the coffee in her travel mug.

“She still shadowing you?” Terri asked.

“Only a few cases. Mostly she’s on her own.” Amy told her.

Terri was quiet for a moment.

Then she asked, “You going out on visits together today?”

Amy nodded her head.

Terri put her bowl in the sink, ran water in it. Stared into the sink for a moment and then said, “Don’t judge me for what I am going to ask of you.”

Amy shot her a look and listened. Then she laughed and shook her head. “If the world only knew the real Terri Morgan.” She rolled her eyes before she kissed Terri and they headed for the door.

++++++

Amy sat at her cube. She gathered what she’d need for the two home visits she had that morning. Jo came in and planted herself in her chair.

“Hey Amy.”

Amy worked hard to be careful in her response.

“Hi, Jo. Almost ready to go?” Amy asked her.

“Yeah. Your car?” Jo asked.

“Something like that.” Amy said. “Gotta make a detour on our way to the parking lot. Come on.”

With Jo on her heels, Amy walked to Terri’s office. The door was open, Terri’s back was to the door. Typing notes on her computer.

Amy knocked on the door frame. “Love. I need to borrow your keys.” Amy said to her.

Terri turned in her chair and smiled. “Hi, Babe. Sure.” She stood. She had rolled up her shirt sleeves, exposing her arms and the tattoos on them. She dug in her pocket and met Amy halfway across the floor.

Jo stepped into her office and said, “Hi Terri!”

“Hey… Skippy.” Terri briefly looked over at her and held up a peace sign.

“Babe,” She said to Amy, “You smell so good today.” And then Terri grabbed Amy around the waist and pulled her in for a kiss. Not a peck. Not a hello kiss. Not a have a good day kiss. But a kiss. The kind of kiss a soldier would give her woman when she came home from war. The kind of kiss that bent Amy partially backward.

When she pulled back and stood Amy upright, Amy’s back was to Jo. She rolled her eyes and gave Terri a grin that showed she thought Terri was being an immature ass. Terri grinned at her widely, communicating to her that she realized that indeed she was being an immature ass, but was pleased about it.

Amy wrapped her arms around Terri’s neck and pulled her down. She gave her a kiss on her mouth, then on her cheek. Then she pulled her down and whispered into her ear, “It’s a good thing you’re not a man, or you’d be slapping your dick around to prove yours is bigger.”

“Damn straight.” Terri whispered into Amy’s ear with a smile. “And I’d win every fucking time.”

Terri held the keys to her large, black truck and dropped them into Amy’s hand. “Be careful, Ladies.”

She swatted Amy’s ass as Amy turned to leave. And then added, “Oh. Babe. That reservation you wanted me to make? I got it set. We need to meet here at 5 to leave. Don’t be late.” She had secured their first therapy appointment at the first ask. OK. It was good to be Terri Morgan when you needed an immediate appointment in the therapy world.

She winked at Amy who walked past Jo and headed for the parking lot.

Jo stood for a moment looking at Terri. Her eyes raked up and down Terri.

Terri walked over to her and stood over her. Knowing her height could be intimidating. “Now, go get in my truck. And shadow her for the last few sessions you have to do. And then…Jo?”

“Yeah, Terri?” Jo looked up at her. A smile of expectation.

“Keep your fuckin’ hands off my woman.” With that, shut her office door, rolled her sleeves back down, buttoned them, and went back to work.

++++++

On a Thursday in mid-July, a little before noon, Terri was working at her desk when Amy rushed in.

“I’m ready to go when you are.” Amy said breathlessly. She shut the door behind her when she entered Terri’s office.

“Huh?” Terri jerked her head up from the notes she was typing. She was in between clients and catching up on paperwork.

“The shooting. Do you have your ticket booked?” Amy asked, breathless.

Terri shook her head. “What?”

“The shooting, Terr. Did you not get a call? Are you not going?”

Terri pulled out her phone and did a google search. She put her phone down. “They won’t call.” She stood, she perched herself on the edge of her desk.

Amy moved nearer. “Explain. Morgan.”

“It was a military recruitment center.” Terri shook her head. “They don’t invite us in. They’ll take care of their own.”

“Well that just seems…” Amy started.

“That just seems fine with us… because it means I don’t have to go anywhere. Right?” Terri said with a smile. She pulled Amy into her arms. She nuzzled Amy’s neck. 

Amy smiled. Since they made up, Terri had taken to pulling Amy into her arms when they were in the privacy of Terri’s office. They made out in there often.  

“You’re a master at reframing, Terri Morgan.” Amy teased her.

“Mad skills, Baby. Mad. Skills.” Terri said before yanking Amy in for a deep kiss.

++++++ 

As their second year came to a close, they ended in a space far better than where they started. They regularly attended therapy in Cedar Grove. They were both comfortable with the woman they found. As it turned out, the therapist did know who Terri was – because… well, she’s Terri Morgan… - but she expertly called Terri out on her bullshit as much as she called Amy out on hers. Both women respected her.

The therapist reminded them that they are vastly different in personalities, something Terri had longed for when her last relationship ended. But that meant twice as much work in finding common ground with Amy, because they didn’t always like to do the same things or unwind in the same way. And when one wanted to do something the other didn’t, they had to decide how to navigate those decisions.

The therapist talked with them about their age difference and what that means to a relationship. How at the start of their relationship, Amy approached it as a mid-20-year-old would, and Terri as a mid-30-year-old who had already lived through the stages that Amy was experiencing. They naturally would have different takes on what they expected from one another and themselves.

Terri talked about how she liked that Amy was so direct at the beginning of their relationship, how it helped them move forward. Because Amy would just show up and ask for sex, almost demand it, it helped Terri get out of her head and enjoy herself with Amy. But then Terri said it was because Amy was so forward with her at the beginning that she wondered if Amy was doing the same with Jo when Jo came into their world.

Amy talked about how she liked that Terri use to joke with her and tease her. How Terri use to be more open about her thoughts and feelings. She shared her discontent that over the course of the last year, Terri became more withdrawn. Sullen. She didn’t talk to Amy about her worries. Instead, Terri internalized them. They talked about Terri moving out of their bedroom without ever discussing it, and how it was both a disappointment and a relief to both of them.

Terri shared her frustration that Amy was less interested in sex after they hit their first year, when Terri was most comfortable and felt like they were hitting their stride. This started the whole discussion about Amy’s past relationships and why they were all short term.

Their therapist talked frankly with Amy about her past, where she had no real, solid, long-term relationship prior to Terri, which may have caused her to be susceptible to flirting and the fun, exciting feelings and hormonal responses that come with new relationships. They examined why that was, in relation to her parents’ death, and the trauma she experienced at a young age in losing them.

They talked about the importance of Amy understanding where she came from, and they examined what it would mean if she asked more questions of Nan and Pop and she learned about her parents. They discussed what it would mean if she looked into learning about her mother’s family.

The therapist talked honestly with Terri about her past relationship with Mel and how it was unproductive and unfair to compare every step of her relationship with Amy to the one she had with Mel. They discussed that Amy behaving in a way that can be comparable to something Mel did doesn’t mean that the relationship is taking the same direction.

They discussed that relationships aren’t competition. If their relationship was healthy and happy, it shouldn’t matter what it looks like to Mel, or Jo, or anyone at the office. They should focus on what is right for them. As a couple.

They discussed whether or not marriage was a good idea for them. Just because it was legal didn’t mean they should marry. They talked about their feelings regarding that piece of legal paperwork. They talked about money and how they would navigate financial decisions and bank accounts should they decide to marry. They talked briefly about children. Both women were open to them, neither wanting them any time soon. In the field they worked in, both knew they needed to be all in before they moved forward toward having them.

Terri and Amy were given homework, which they did. Every week. Sometimes it was easy and fun. Journaling. Discussions. Date nights. Regular sex. Sometimes it was more difficult. Required activities that took each woman out of their comfort zone. Forced conversations that were difficult and emotional. 

They went to therapy much longer than a typical marriage-therapist might have them attend. They both committed to working on personal issues as well as the issues they had with their relationship. And both found that the growth was helpful. And when they ended therapy, they felt stronger and more assured in their relationship than ever. And, individually, both felt more confident and… whole.

++++++ 

Through their therapeutic exercises, Terri discovered how much she missed playing on the basketball league at the Y and she rejoined her old friends that Fall. She played twice per week with them and Amy went to the games.

Amy discovered that sports were not quite as bad when you were in love with one of the players. She liked to see how happy Terri was. Well… and horny. Terri always wanted to fuck after a game. Especially if her team won, which they did… a lot.

Amy sat in the stands and got to know some of the other people who were there to watch their significant others. They all became friendly.

They occasionally had Terri’s teammates and their families over to the house for cookouts on the weekend. Terri and Amy were both happy socializing with them.

Terri warned Amy before they left for the first game where Terri’s team played against Mel’s. “If you’re uncomfortable, I don’t have to play. I can stay home tonight.” Terri assured her. 

“It’s fine.” Amy told her.

“You don’t have to go if you don’t want.” Terri said.

“I’m fine.” Amy told her. “Just…give me a second.” Amy tossed her big purse to Terri and trotted up the stairs.

She was fine. But she wanted to look nicer when she walked into the gym with Terri. She pulled off her jeans and old, baggy t-shirt. She changed out of her padded bra and into her thin, lacey, demi-cup. She pulled on her snug yoga pants and a flowy shirt that fit snugly over her breasts. And, she took her hair out of the messy bun on the back of her head. She put on lipstick and wiped a little body milk on her arms.

When Terri watched her descend the stairs, her eyes raked up and down her.

“I didn’t know we were inviting Monica and Rachel to the game.” Terri said with a grin.

“If you play well enough to win, Phoebe will have a conversation with you in the truck in the parking lot after.” Amy said, walking right by her and out the front door. Leaving Terri standing at the base of the stairs holding Amy’s large purse. She grabbed her sports bag, locked up the house, and went to the truck with a grin on her face. Terri fucking Amy in a parking lot.

As it turned out, playing against Mel was not as bad as she’d worried about. Once the ball was tipped and in play, Terri moved out of instinct. Mel kept her eye on Terri and they played defense against one another. Mel was a fierce opponent on the court and Terri pushed her body to play as hard as she ever had.

Amy watched them battle it out on the court. She realized there was something there that turned her on. She knew that Terri didn’t want Mel any longer. She also knew that although most people knew Terri as someone who didn’t hold a grudge and who didn’t have to prove a point, Amy knew differently. Mel once got the better of Terri, for years. And it was important to Terri that she no longer have the upper hand.

Amy moved her purse and sweater when another woman came and sat down. She was a serious little thing; but she seemed nice. She was young and cute. They talked about the weather, they talked about the parking. Amy introduced herself and learned that her new friend’s name was Jennifer.

“Who are you here for, Jennifer?” Amy asked, not knowing what she was walking into.

“Her… Melody.” She pointed at Mel.

“Oh! Mel! You’re Mel’s girlfriend.” Amy said.

“Yeah.” Jennifer looked at Mel on the court and then at Amy.

“So, Jennifer, you’re a cop?” Amy asked.

“No… no, I’m a teacher.” Jennifer said.

“Ohhhh.” Amy said. Apparently, Mel had moved on from the woman she dated after leaving Terri. “Well… I’m Amy. And I am engaged to her.” She pointed at Terri. “That’s Terri.”

God. Amy loved looking at her while she played. Why didn’t she encourage her to do this earlier? Terri’s long, lithe legs in shorts moving deftly around the court. Her calf muscles moved as her agile body maneuvered on the court. She wore a t-shirt that fell loosely on her thin frame. The muscles on her tattooed arms moving as she caught, dribbled, and threw the ball. Terri. Fuckin. Morgan. 

Jennifer looked at Amy. “Did you say Terri? As in Terri Morgan?”

Amy nodded her head quickly up and down. “Yeah. Yup.” She pointed at her fiancé and smiled.

Jennifer’s tongue ran along her teeth under her upper lip. She made a little MmmmHmm sound.

“Everything OK?” Amy asked her.

“Just didn’t know Terri was playing basketball this season.” Jennifer said. “I look forward to meeting her.”

++++++

When the game was over, Amy waited in the stands for Terri. Amy felt bad for her. Terri didn’t like to lose. But knowing Terri’s team lost to Mel’s, Amy worried. She watched Jennifer hop down the stands to give Mel a hug and a kiss. She watched Mel introduce her girlfriend to Terri. Terri smiled graciously and greeted her.

Terri looked up at Amy, waiting for her in the stands. She pulled on a pair of sweats over her basketball shorts and waited for Amy at the bottom of the bleachers. When Amy reached the last step, she put her hands on Terri’s shoulders.

“You looked so good playing out there.” Amy said.

“Thanks. I liked that you were in the stands watching.” One side of Terri’s mouth pulled back in a grin. She flirted with Amy.

“Oh... It was my pleasure to watch you.”

Still standing on the stairs, Amy was nearly face to face with Terri. She wrapped her arms around Terri’s shoulders and Terri settled her hands on Amy’s waist. Amy kissed her woman and then moved her mouth to whisper into Terri’s ear. “Phoebe would not stop bothering me the whole game. She’s dying to have a conversation with you. Would you please get me the fuck out of this smelly gymnasium and satisfy her?”

Terri pulled Amy in for another kiss. Then Amy jumped up and wrapped her legs around Terri’s waist while Terri held on to her rear end as they walked toward the door. Amy squealed and giggled and kissed Terri’s cheek, all the while keeping an eye over Terri’s shoulder on the two women arguing on the side of the basketball court.

They walked hand in hand to the truck and Terri opened the passenger side door to let her in. As she moved to get in, Terri tucked her hand between Amy’s legs from behind and Amy squealed.

“Ohhhh… she’s damp tonight, girls.” Terri said and smacked Amy’s rear.

“Terri Morgan.” Amy gasped. “You behave.”

Amy was so glad that even though Terri’s team lost, she was in good spirits. While she waited for Terri to get into the truck, Amy pushed back the console between the seats to make room for them to make out. She pushed back her seat as far as it would go.

Terri got into the truck and started it. Turned on the heater. Doors locked. Amy began to pull her pants down.

“What are you doing?” Terri looked at her while she moved to put her seat belt on.

“Getting Phoebe out to visit with you.” Amy said.

“The deal was if I won.” Terri winked at Amy and grinned.

“Oh, Baby. You may not think so because of some silly score… but Honey, tonight? … you won.”

Terri smiled at her and leaned over to kiss her. “Aim. Let’s go home to do this. I don’t need to do that here.”

“Whatever you say, Love.” Amy returned the console and pulled her seat belt over her shoulder. “You can fuck me anywhere you want.”

Terri opened the music on her phone. She turned on the car’s Bluetooth and blared a song. 

As Terri put the truck in gear, they spotted Mel and Jennifer stepping into the parking lot. They drove past and Amy rolled down her window. She called out, “Nice to meet you, Jennifer!”  as the music blared out the window and they drove toward home.

 

I want to see how lucky Lucky can be

(ride with me)

I saw you through my blind intoxication
My shock induced insane self-medication
You looked at me and smiled
Said get ready to get wild
Sugar you just need a brief vacation

I want to see how lucky Lucky can be
I want to ride with my Angel and live shockingly
I want to drive to the edge and into the sea
I want to see how lucky Lucky can be

I was dried up I was starving I was mangled
I looked like hell twisted up and tangled
You whispered in my ear
The ghosts are gone it's clear
For too long you've been tied up you've been strangled

I want to see how lucky Lucky can be
I want to ride with my Angel and live shockingly
I want to drive to the edge and into the sea
I want to see how lucky Lucky can be

I don't want to ride on the shotgun side
Don't want to be a quaint observer on this super-sonic ride
Double down split the aces to the races
I feel lucky tonight

 

End 3 of 3

 

++

Chapter Text

++++++

Terri and Amy hosted Thanksgiving again the year they celebrated their second anniversary of Amy moving in. Terri’s parents flew in, again, and stayed in the guest room. Nan and Pop spent the day with them. Friends from work and a few friends from Terri’s basketball league joined them.

Terri loved the tradition they were starting of having friends and family blend for her favorite holiday.  They both took the week off so they could spend it with their family members. Nan and Terri’s mom joined Amy in cooking. Pumpkin and pecan pies were made the day before. And the night before they all worked on meal prep. Amy was happy and enjoyed making the day special. She decorated the house inside and out.

Mr. Thompson, the neighbor, came to visit at Terri’s request. He joined Terri and her dad down at the old field. They talked about a spring planting and what she should purchase to be ready. Terri relied on both men, old farmers, to help her learn what needed done. She asked for their help with the work, especially since she didn’t have the equipment necessary to get the job done.

Earlier in the week, Terri and her dad had gone to the lumber store and started a project down near the field where Terri first took Amy for a picnic. Terri knew that she wanted to build a gazebo. At a minimum, they would eventually put a picnic table there for a nice, shaded area to enjoy food, friends, and nature. At best, she wanted to marry Amy there – if Amy would agree to it. But first, Terri wanted to build it.

She knew it was cold and the task would be difficult. But she’d talked it over with her dad and he wanted to help. And this was the time they figured they’d do it.

So, while Amy, Nan, and Terri’s mom went shopping, baked and cooked in the kitchen in preparation for the Thanksgiving meal, Terri and her Dad – with help from Pop and Mr. Thompson – built the gazebo Terri had planned.

++++++ 

When they returned home after they took Terri’s parents to the airport the day after Thanksgiving, Terri drove into the driveway and turned away from the house and drove her truck down through the pasture.

“Where are we going, Love?” Amy asked.

“I want to show you something.” Terri said seriously.

As they drove nearer, Amy spotted it. “Oh! Terr!!!! Oh my god!”

Terri shot her a glance to see her face. She smiled.

Terri pulled the truck to a stop near the field. She got out and went around the truck to stand near Amy. Amy pulled on her stocking cap and closed her winter coat around her. Terri reached in and got Amy’s gloves from off the dash and handed them to her to put on.

“Oh, Love. This is just…” Amy was speechless.

They stood beside the new gazebo. Large enough to hold two full size picnic tables, or…

“Amy. Come here.” Terri held Amy’s hand and took her over to the gazebo and they stepped up into it. As they stood there, she turned Amy to look out to the old field just north of them.

Terri stood behind her. Hand on Amy’s shoulders.

“I’ve made some plans. I hope you’re going to be OK with them.” Terri said.

Amy turned around to look at her. Her nose red from the November chill. “What?” Her breath froze into a cloud as she spoke.

Terri put her hands on Amy’s shoulders and turned her around, again, to face the old, empty field. “This spring…my dad and Mr. Thompson are going to help me plant a crop here.”

“Oh! You made a decision! That’s great!” Amy turned to look at Terri again. She wrapped her arms around Terri’s waist and hugged her.

“Yup.” Terri said. She turned Amy, again, to face the field. “We’re going to plant a field of lavender.”

Amy leaned back against Terri and smiled. “Lavender?”

“Yup.” Terri said. A shiver ran through her. She wasn’t certain if it was because she was cold or because of what she was about to propose.

“Won’t that be beautiful?” Amy said quietly.

“Yeah. And… I’m hoping that if the plants do what they’re supposed to do, that in June they will be in full bloom.” Terri said.

Amy nodded her head. “Well our other lavender plants are in full bloom in June.”

“Yeah. And…I’m hoping you’ll marry me. Here. In this gazebo. When the lavender is in full bloom.” Terri said.

Amy turned, then, and looked up at Terri with tears in her eyes. “Nothing would make me happier.” Amy told her.

“Yeah?” Terri asked. Her voice cracked with emotion.

“Oh… yeah.” Amy said.

“It would make me really happy too, Aim.” Terri said. A tear escaped her eye before she could blink it back.

Terri pulled her in and kissed her. Tenderly.

“We can go into town and choose rings this weekend, if you’d like.” Terri told her.

Amy nodded her head. “Yes. I would like.”

“Dance with me? I mean… I know it’s cold. We can go back to the house if…”

“Do you have a song you want to play?” Amy asked.

“Kind of.” Terri, suddenly shy and uncomfortable with her planned romantic gesture, looked at her feet.

“Then… My Love, let’s dance.”

Terri pulled out her phone and played the song she had prepared for their first dance in the gazebo. 

Terri held her close. As close as you could hold someone in a thick winter coat, gloves, and a stocking cap. Red noses and cheeks. Tears in their eyes. Terri played her a song that told her what was in her heart. They kissed. They danced. They sang to each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love

When evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love

I know you haven't made your mind up yet
But I would never do you wrong
I've known it from the moment that we met
No doubt in my mind where you belong

I'd go hungry; I'd go black and blue
And I'd go crawlin down the avenue
There ain’t nothin that I wouldn't do
To make you feel my love

The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain't seen nothing like me yet

I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love

 

++++++

That winter was a harsh one. The slow fell and the wind blew. Every day, it seemed. And there was ice. So much ice.

They worked together to keep wood in the house. “Just in case of a power outage,” Terri said.

Terri also insisted they have a fully stocked pantry. “Just in case of an ice storm or blizzard.”

She exercised the horses when she could, but with the snow drifts and ice, they didn’t get out much. She and Amy tried to spend time in the barn with the horses. Brushing them. Making sure they were protected from the elements. On days when the weather was milder, Terri took them out for walks in the field while Sadie and Amy stayed in the house.

Terri built a make-shift chicken coop in the barn so the chickens would be completely in out of the elements. They had a small space in the barn so they could move around. Mostly they stayed on their roosts. They didn’t lay very many eggs.

In early December, Terri was called out. To southern California.

“I think I need to drive myself, Babe.” Terri told her.

“Terri. No.” Amy said defiantly.

“Just… just listen to me.” Terri sat with her on the side of the bed. “This isn’t about me taking care of myself. The weather is holding today. In a week, there’s no telling. Please. Aim. I would rather not have you greet me at the airport than risk you in a ditch if there is a bad storm. Please. I’ll just worry.”

“I don’t like you not having someone to say goodbye to. Not having someone greeting you.” Amy had promised that she’d never allow that to happen.

“Amy. I know. And I love you for wanting to do that. And I won’t fight you when the weather is good. But, Babe. Please. I will worry. Please let me take myself. Just this once.” Terri was serious and nearly pleading with her.

Amy pushed Terri back on the bed. She straddled her. She leaned down and kissed her. Solidly. Passionately.

“OK.” Amy conceded. “If you Facetime me when you’re there. Before you leave and when you return.”

“Deal.” Terri held out her hand for a pinky swear.

“And,” Amy added, “We never do it again. I will take you every time.”

“Unless we are in a snowpocalypse.” Terri added.

“Unless we are in a snowpocalypse.” Amy agreed.

Terri packed, put her luggage in her truck, and stomped the snow off her boots before coming into the house.

Amy wrapped her arms inside Terri’s winter coat. She pressed her body against Terri.

“You go. Text me… or call me… if you need me. I won’t bug you. I promise.” Amy said into Terri’s chest the same words she always told her when she sent her away to her special assignment.

“I’ll talk to you tonight.” Terri said and kissed Amy’s forehead.

“Be careful on the road. Text me when you are safe at the airport. And then Facetime when you’re at your gate.”

“You be careful here. Don’t take Cagney and Lacey out. They’ll be fine in the barn. Call Mr. Thompson if you need him.” Terri was already worried.

Terri pulled her in for another kiss.

As Terri drove to the airport, she wondered why she continued to do this job when there were others who could do it. She wondered how much longer she’d drive away from Amy for a week at a time to try to put a Band-Aid on a problem that her nation’s leaders had no interest in solving.

++++++

Amy and Sadie lay in the bed drifting to sleep while Netflix played season 1 episode 1 of New Girl for the 10th time. Her phone vibrated.

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:01 pm):

‘Check in text.’ *Red heart emoji*

 

You (11:01):

‘There you are!’ *Face blowing kiss emoji*

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:01 pm):

‘Not done working, but know it’s late there. Just wanted to say goodnight.’

 

You (11:01):

‘Can you talk on the phone?’

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:02 pm):

‘Can’t. Getting ready to start training a group of therapists.’

‘Sorry.’

 

You (11:02):

‘It’s fine.’

‘Thanks for the check in. Miss you.’

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:02 pm):

‘Miss you too. You can call me when you go to work tomorrow if you want.’

 

You (11:02):

‘No. Way too early there. Get sleep.’

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:02 pm):

‘Home soon, Babe.’

 

You (11:02):

‘Go use those skills. Love you.’

 

Terri-Fuckin-Morgan (11:02 pm):

‘Mad skills, Baby. Mad skills.’

++++++ 

They hosted their first New Years’ Eve party that year. They rang in 2016 with a group of friends from work and Terri’s basketball team, those with significant others and children brought them. They ate, they drank, they played games. They laughed and had a wonderful time.

Amy and a few of the basketball spouses created an array of snacks and a few signature cocktails. They played games in the living room. People hung out in the kitchen and listened to music between games. They had the television on low with the New Years shows on. Terri kept a watchful eye on the news feeds at the bottom of the screen. She didn’t drink. She was always ready on big holidays. Just in case.

As the night neared midnight, she pulled Amy aside. They stole up to their bedroom and she shut the door behind them.

Amy, drunk and adorable with her flushed face and her party hat on, leaned into Terri. She blew her party favor and it unrolled and hit Terri in the nose. “Happy New Year, Terri Fuckin’ Morgan!” She giggled.

Terri smiled at her. “Happy New Year, Babe.”

Terri pulled her near. Amy was pliable and happy. She reached around and grabbed Terri’s rear end and squeezed it. “Fuck me, Terri.”

“We have people downstairs.” Terri said quietly.

Amy backed up toward the bed. She crooked her finger in an invitation to Terri to follow her. One side of Terri’s mouth pulled back in a smile. She turned the lock on the bedroom door.

When the back of her legs hit the bed, Amy pulled up her dress and hooked her fingers inside the waist of her panties and she pushed them down over her legs. She kicked them from her feet. She moved to slide off her black heals.

“Keep them on.” Terri said.

Amy’s eyebrows raised. She smiled.

Terri lifted Amy’s little black dress off her body and tossed it onto the bed.

Amy unbuttoned Terri’s pants and reached her hand inside. She slid her hands under Terri’s underwear and into the folds of her warmth. Terri was wet and ready for her.

Terri unbuttoned her shirt and let it fall to the floor and Amy’s spare hand unhooked Terri’s bra. Terri huffed out a laugh. “You’ve gotten much better at that.”

“Mad skills, Baby.” Amy giggled.

Terri loved drunk Amy.

Terri made short work of removing Amy’s bra.

Amy, still in her black heals, sat on the bed and scooted back, making room for Terri. She sat with one foot flat on the bed, knee in the air. The other leg spread out, leaving her labia exposed and parted, inviting Terri to ring in the new year with Phoebe.

Terri stood at the end of the bed, looking over Amy, who drew a finger between her lips and circled her own clitoris. Her head tossed back and a moan escaping her lips caused Terri’s clit to throb.

Terri, knees on the bed, began to crawl up to Amy. She didn’t make it all the way up. She was drawn into the place where Amy toyed with herself.

Amy used one hand to open her lips. “This is where I want to be kissed at midnight.” Amy breathed the words out. Lust in her voice.

Terri made a sound. A growl? A grown? Whatever it was, it wasn’t words. Because she had no words. She never had words when she had Amy’s pussy in front of her.

Terri ran one hand from Amy’s foot up her shin, over her knee, and up her thigh. Amy hooked one knee over Terri’s shoulder. Terri turned her face into Amy’s thigh and kissed her. Sucked on her.

Amy continued to circle her own clit, getting herself ready for Terri. She was wet. Hot. And throbbing. “Terri, please.”

Terri didn’t have to be asked twice. She knew what Amy wanted. They’d been connected. The last seven months had been perfect. They were communicating. They were enjoying life. They were enjoying each other. They were enjoying sex.

Her hands took over for Amy. First, her thumb circling Amy’s clit, and then moving to hold Amy’s lips open so her mouth could take over. Licking. Toying. Sucking.

Amy reached over to the bedside drawer and pulled out their vibrator and handed it to Terri. Her hips rocked under Terri’s mouth. “In, Terr.”

Through their many conversations, Amy was honest with Terri and told her that as much as she loved cunnilingus, she also liked to be filled. To be fucked. Terri, wanting to please Amy, found a way for both of them to get what they wanted.

Terri turned on the wand and slid it, slowly into Amy as her mouth continued to suck and kiss and tease. She tilted the vibrating toy so that it would slide up against the spot that drove Amy wild. At the same time, her tongue circled and flicked in a steady rhythm on Amy’s clit.

They began to hear their friends’ voices downstairs as they began the countdown. 10…9…

Terri felt Amy’s fingers dig into her short, dark hair. 8…7…

Terri moved the vibrator at a steady, firm pace. 6…5…

Amy’s fingernails dug into Terri’s tattooed arms. 4…3…

Terri pressed her face into Amy’s pussy. Sucking on the juices, Licking her. Nipping at her clitoris. 2…1….

“Terri-Fuckin’-Morgan.” She whispered as Terri pulled her into her mouth and pressed firmly against her. Feeling her throb against Terri’s lips. Felt her fingers grasp her arms tighter and tighter. Felt her come into the new year.

Terri smiled the private smile that only she could see, proud of how she could rock Amy to her core. In her happiest place on earth, the bedroom she shared with Amy. With her face buried into Phoebe. Happy that 2015 with it’s ups and downs…some of the worst downs of Terri’s life… was behind them. Happy that they were looking at a new year ahead. 2016 was bound to be better. Right?

She slid the vibrator out of her lover and pulled back and looked up at her. Amy smiling down at Terri giggled a drunk giggle and said, “Happy New Year, Love.”

Terri crawled up Amy’s body. Amy grabbed Terri and rolled her over onto her back.

Terri spread her legs and watched as Amy got on her knees between them. Terri wrapped her legs around Amy’s hips as Amy dropped herself over Terr.

Amy’s lips locked on Terri’s. She licked her juices off of Terri’s lips and slid her tongue into Terri’s mouth. Terri moaned as she felt Amy’s breasts brush against her own.

Amy took the vibrator from Terri’s hand and slid it between them. Slid it between Terri’s legs and let it rub slowly and rhythmically against Terri’s clit. Amy moved her body up so that her breasts hung over Terri’s face.

Terri held them in her hands and pulled them in to her mouth. First one nipple, then the other. Pressing Amy’s breasts together and pulling both nipples into her mouth at the same time. Sucking. Licking. Biting.

Her hips rocking. Her legs tight around Amy. Amy masterfully moving the vibrating equipment over Terri. Rubbing her. Talking to her quietly. Whispering filthy words to her until Terri’s body stiffened. And her body jerked over and over and over again. She whispered, “Aim. My god I love you, Aim.”

++++++

In mid-January, Terri was the keynote speaker at a week-long trauma conference in Los Angeles. She talked Amy into taking a week off of work and going with her. Amy was hesitant at first. But Terri encouraged her. Amy needed the training credits for relicensure, Terri had arranged for Amy’s registration to be included in her speaker fee, and Terri wanted the company.

She’d dreamed of having Amy beside her on a plane, in a hotel room, exploring a new city. They’d never traveled together, and Terri saw it as an opportunity for adventure and breaking from routine. Plus, Terri argued, it was in L.A. where it would be sunny and warm, a welcome respite from their icy winter.

Later, Terri would kick herself for not thinking through all that could happen at the conference.

They arranged for Sadie to stay with Mr. Thompson, and he agreed to check in on the horses and chickens. They checked in with Nan and Pop. They locked up the house and headed to the airport together.

Terri loved having Amy with her on the flight. Amy was nervous, having only flown twice in her life. Terri, an old hand at it, was patient and loving. She calmly talked Amy through each stage of the process. Amy worked to stuff down her anxiety as they went through security. Terri kept her hand on Amy’s back as the walked through the airport. On the plane, they held hands as the plane picked up speed and pulled up and into the air.

Terri told Amy she didn’t need to attend the Monday morning opening keynote session, nor the breakouts where Terri was slated to speak. Amy did sneak into the first session and sat in the back on the aisle and watched her fiancé deliver the keynote to a room with nearly 2,000 people in it. She watched Terri as she stood in front of the massive room. Terri was calm and intelligent. She walked through statistics. She walked through the evidence behind the interventions she used. She talked about her coworkers and the work they do when they are called in.

At the end of her presentation, she stood quietly. The lights dimmed. Terri put her hands in her pockets and stared out into the crowd of faces that she couldn’t see. One after another on the screen behind her, faces of those who lost their lives to gun violence during the previous calendar year appeared. Their face, their names, the dates of their lives. One after another. A seemingly unending flash. One face. Then another. Then another. No music. No words. The audience was silent. The slideshow was long. Painfully long.

At the end of the slide show was a brief message on how to learn more and act. When the slide show was over, as the audience stood to applaud, Terri walked off the stage and walked down the center aisle of the auditorium her eyes dead ahead on the back door. She spotted Amy as she neared her. Terri held out her hand and Amy took it. They walked out of the auditorium together. 

Terri had made reservations at a few restaurants while they were in LA. They played hooky from the conference one afternoon and they went to the beach. One evening they went to Hollywood and looked at the stars on the sidewalk. They enjoyed the warmth of the air, but both of them were missing home. They missed Sadie. They missed Cagney and Lacey. They missed Nan and Pop. They missed their bed.

Amy enjoyed the conference. She liked sitting in on sessions, she liked learning. She was thrilled to meet Terri’s boss, who had originally recruited and trained Terri for her special assignments. She was excited to meet two of Terri’s coworkers whom she’d spoken about. People who do what Terri does and partner with Terri when she is called out.

Terri worked a lot at the conference. Amy learned that Terri not only wrote the one book that is used in colleges as they teach therapists how to work with young children, she also co-wrote a book with her boss. The two of them sat at a table on the second day of the conference. They signed books and met people who asked to have their picture taken with them. When Amy walked by the table between sessions, she found herself doing a double-take. Why didn’t she know this kind of thing happened with Terri? As she looked at Terri while walking by, Terri winked at her. Amy scratched her nose with her middle finger and walked away. Terri laughed out loud.

Besides the opening key note presentation, Terri was scheduled to provide one other large presentation the night before the last day of the conference. Hotel security, along with a detective from the LAPD, came to their room to escort them to the conference room. They were told that a group protesting Terri had gathered outside of the Hotel and although they were working to ensure none of them came into the hotel, they couldn’t be sure they hadn’t breached the perimeter. They were a group of heavily armed men and women who held signs and yelled, red-faced, about their Second Amendment rights. “Hands off my 2nd. Hands off my guns.”

Terri tried to talk Amy into staying in the room and waiting until it was all over. The detective said she’d like to have Amy and Terri in one general location if possible, as if Amy would have let Terri out of her sight. They both moved to gather the items they’d need when the detective quietly asked Terri to speak to her in private. The detective held a duffel bag and nodded her head toward it. Terri motioned her to join Terri in the restroom.

The detective pulled a Kevlar vest out of the bag. “I’d like for you to consider wearing this.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time.” Terri said. “That’s fine. I’ll wear one.”

“Do you need help?” The detective asked.

“I actually have my own. I need to just get it. It will fit me better.” She nodded.

“We would like to put one on her.” The detective said, indicating Amy.

“Detective. Have threats been made?” Terri asked.

“Only toward you.” The detective was straightforward.

“So why her?

“If they figure out who she is, and we think they have, then she’s a way to get to you.”

“Leave the vest. I’ll talk to her.” Terri said.

The detective put her hand on the door.

“Wait.” Terri said looking at the vest she held. “This won’t fit her she’s…” Terri’s hands made a motion to indicate Amy’s ample breasts.

The detective smiled. “She nodded at the duffel bag. There’s a second one in there. That one will fit her.”

The detective and hotel security stepped out into the hallway and Amy turned to Terri. Eyes wide.

“Need you to put this on under your blouse, Aim.” Terri pulled the Kevlar vest out of the duffel bag.

“What the fuck?” Wide eyed, Amy looked at the vest.

“Just take your blouse off and come here. Don’t argue. I’ll tell you what I know, but we have to wait for discussion until later. We have to move and get down there, so we aren’t late.” Terri’s voice was serious.

For once, Amy wordlessly did as she was told. She pulled her blouse off and quietly let Terri move her arms up and down. She adjusted the straps on the side. She pulled the Velcro straps tight.

“Too tight? It has to be snug.” Terri avoided looking into Amy’s eyes. She fussed with the Velcro straps.

“No. Its fine.” Amy said quietly.

“OK. There. Put your blouse back on.” Terri finally looked at her. She winked at her.

Amy did what she was told. Terri leaned over and kissed her, gently.

“Why me? Do they have one for you? Shouldn’t you be…” and then Amy saw what Terri was doing.

Terri put her suitcase on the bed and dug deep under her clothes into a zippered compartment in the lining of the suitcase. She pulled out a similar vest. Terri unbuttoned her shirt and pulled it off and began to put the vest on.

“You own one?” Amy asked with an edge to her voice. Hands on her hips.

“Can we talk about it later?” Terri asked seriously. She skillfully slid the vest on and looked at Amy as her hands moved to pull the straps and smooth down the Velcro holdings without looking. As though she’d done it a million times.

“We will talk about it later.” Amy declared. She knew better than to challenge Terri about hiding the fact that she has a bullet-proof vest that she carries with her in her suitcase in the moments before she is going to speak to a large group of people.

Terri slid her shirt on over the vest and buttoned and tucked it in. She pulled on her suit jacket. She held out a hand to Amy who took it. Amy quickly moved and wrapped her arms around Terri. They both felt differently with these stiff armors on their chests.

“Look at me.” Terri said.

Amy looked up at her. Face flushed. Brown eyes wet as she blinked back tears. Her heart racing. Her breath caught in her throat.

“It’s all just precautionary. There are some protesters outside. Law enforcement is here to protect us. They’ve figured out who you are, and security doesn’t want you to be used to get to me. You can sit in the audience with security, or you can sit backstage with them.”

“Terri…” Amy said.

“Listen to me. I love you and we’ll talk all the way through this. I just need, right now, for you to agree and make quick decisions. Then after, we’ll answer every question and concern you have.” Terri was efficient, serious, and professional. She’d clearly met with this type of situation before.

“OK. I want to sit in the audience. Wherever that means.” Amy said.

Terri nodded. “Get your purse.” Amy grabbed her purse with one hand and Terri’s hand with the other and they made their way out of the room to join the security team. They moved together down the hall. They got on the elevator and hotel security used a key to override the system so it wouldn’t stop on any floor. The elevator went into the basement and Amy watched as the detective stepped off the elevator first, hand on the gun on her hip.

Terri and Amy stayed in the room in the basement until it was time to head to the presentation. They took the back stairs up to the main level and moved to split up. Terri headed for the stage with the two officers that joined them on the main floor. She winked at Amy who was having trouble breathing.

“Give us a second?” Terri requested.

She pulled Amy to the side by the stage door. Amy’s eyes were wide and tears threatened to fall. Terri held her close. Terri breathed deeply. Amy did the same. 

“We’re fine. Amy. They’re going to do their job and we’ll be fine.” Terri said. “Look at me.”

Amy looked up at Terri.

Terri held out her hand for a pinky swear. “We’ll be fine.”

Amy linked her pinky finger with Terri’s. “Terri-Fuckin’-Morgan.” Amy said with a smile.

Terri winked at her. “Mad skills, Baby. Mad skills.”

After the closing keynote address. After the standing ovation. Terri was escorted off the stage and Amy was taken to join her. They were asked to pack their things and hotel staff and security moved them to a suite of rooms on the top floor. The hotel covered the cost of the upgrade and stated that the hotel would feel more comfortable and be able to offer more security if they were moved.

Terri arranged for dinner to be brought to them and they ate on the roof’s patio in the warm California night. Terri sat in her underwear and t-shirt. Amy was in her baby-doll nighty.

As they ate, they were mostly quiet. That is, until Amy finally broke the silence. “Tell me about the vest.”

“I’ve had it for a long time.” Terri said. Not wanting to give more information than necessary.

“You said the danger is always over when you get to your job assignment.” Amy challenged her.

“It is… it always was.”

“So… why the vest?”

Terri took a deep breath and scooted her chair back. She turned to Amy and decided to tell her. “The first threat came at a conference. It was like this one…long before we met…I was loaned a vest by the local police.”

Amy watched her face. Her eyes moving from Terri’s eyes, to her mouth, back to her eyes. They were serious and they seemed…unfocused.

“Then, when I worked the Virginia Tech one? In 2007? Threats came in. So, they had us wear one again.”

“When did you get your own?” Amy asked her. Amy figured if she had purchased her own vest, it meant that she had to wear it more often.

“After that… the threat in Virginia. This is my second.” Terri nodded her head toward the room, indicating the vest that sat on the bed after she took it off when they changed into their sleep clothes.

“Second? What the fuck? Did someone shoot you in one?” Amy moved to perch on the edge of her seat.

“No. No no. Aim. They just recommend you replace them every five years.” Terri said. “Just…Calm down.”

Amy stood. Her arms flew around in frantic gestures. “Don’t tell me to fucking calm down. You own a fucking bullet-proof vest and didn’t tell me.”

Terri crossed one leg over the other. Her hands sat in her lap. Calling on her inner therapist. Calm. She looked at Amy and said quietly. “I know… I’m sorry.”

“Would you have ever told me?” Amy asked. “If we didn’t have to wear one tonight? Would I ever have known you have one? Would I ever have known you had to wear one?”

“Probably not.” Terri told her truthfully.

“Fuck you, Terri.” Amy said. She went into the suite and went to the bathroom. She started to run hot water in the bathtub. She piled her hair on top of her head and pinned it down. She pulled off her nighty and sat on the toilet.

That’s where Terri found her. Crying. 

“Amy. Babe. I’m sorry. I just didn’t want you to worry.” Terri said. “I didn’t think it would be good for you to know, because you’d just worry.”

“Now I’m going to worry even more. What aren’t you telling me?” Amy asked her. “Do you… like… Terri do you carry a handgun?”

“God. No. Why would I do that?” Terri made a face like Amy was recommending a ridiculous idea.

“Oh… I don’t know… to protect yourself from those fucking lunatics?” Amy stood up from the toilet, naked. Arms flailing again.

“Aim. They carry semi-automatic rifles. A handgun would not protect me.” Terri leaned against the vanity.

Amy paced the floor of the bathroom. “Do I have to be more specific to get the truth out of you? Do you carry any weapon? To protect yourself?”

“No.” Terri said quietly. Her arms crossed over her chest. “I don’t carry any weapon.”

“And if they decided to… oh I don’t know… blow your face off… that little vest won’t do a goddamned mother-fucking thing to save your life.” Amy said. Hands on her hips.

“That’s true.” Terri nodded. She couldn’t help but let her eyes rake over Amy’s curvy, nakedness.

“Why didn’t you warn me about this before we left?” Amy asked her.

“To be honest, I was thinking about spending the week with you. I was thinking about the warmth of the California sun and how much I wanted you to enjoy it. It has been a couple of years since my last national conference and honestly, I forgot about how intense it can be. I just didn’t… think.” Terri said quietly. Her eyes on her toes.

“And had you thought about it? Would you have asked me to come?” Amy challenged her.

“Nope. I wouldn’t have.” Terri said honestly. “I would have done what I’ve tried to do since you came into my life. I’d have tried to keep this part of my world in a box… away from you…you away from it.”

Amy walked over to Terri and slid her hands around her waist.

“You can’t omit stuff anymore Terri.” She slid her hands under Terri’s shirt and ran her hands up and down the smooth skin of Terri’s back.

Terri nodded. “I’m sorry.”  

“I’m going to be your wife and I need to know everything.” She pulled Terri’s shirt up over her head. 

“MmKay.” Terri said.  

“You thinking I’ll worry is not a reason to keep things from me.” Amy said. Her hands ran up and down Terri’s tattooed arms.

Terri nodded.

“Because I worry every moment of every day about you.” Amy slid her hands into the waist of Terri’s underwear.

Terri looked into Amy’s eyes. Half of her mouth pulled back into a wry smile.

“I worry you’ll fall off the horse or you’ll get in a wreck when I’m not with you.” She slid her hands into her underwear and rubbed Terri’s rear end.

Terri put her hands on Amy’s shoulders and kissed her on the forehead.  

“I worry that a plane you’re on will go down.” She pushed Terri’s underwear down over her slim hips.

Amy kissed Terri’s shoulder.

“I worry that I’ll be a widow before I’m even a wife. And I worry that after I’m officially your wife, I’ll worry that much more. I worry I’m going to have to bury you, Terri.” She held Terri’s hand and they walked to the bathtub.

“And, honestly? I’d worry about all of that if you didn’t do what you do. But, because you do what you do…? Well, the worry is more intense. More often.” Amy told her.

Terri slid into the bathtub and then Amy got in and rested against her.

“You know, the one good thing about my parents’ death is that they went together. Neither had to live without the other.” Amy said.

“You’re not going to have to bury me.” Terri said. Her hands lathered from the bar of soap settled on Amy’s breasts and she stroked her.

“You can’t promise that.” Amy said.

“No, but I can promise that every precaution is taken, Aim. That’s why I have the vest. That’s’ why law enforcement was called.” Terri said.

Amy leaned back against her fiancé. “Now’s the time, Terr. Now is the time to tell me anything else you’re holding back and not telling me about this damned job.”

Terri was silent.

“Tell me, Love. Please.” Amy said gently.

“Sometimes…” Terri stopped.

Amy turned, then. She rotated in the tub and sat, cross-egged between Terri’s legs. Sat looking at Terri. She waited until Terri made eye contact with her.

“Sometime the protests aren’t just about the second amendment.” Terri said. And then she looked away.

“Meaning?” Amy asked. She put her hand on Terri’s chin, asking her to bring her eyes back to meet Amy’s.

“Sometimes the protesters are there … because I’m there.” Terri said.

“I’m going to need more information than that.” Amy said.

“Anti LGBTQ protesters. When they figure out who all is coming to town, they also like to show up. It…complicates things.” Terri’s hands rested on Amy’s thighs. She rubbed them.

“Fuckers.” Amy spat out. “Do they threaten you?”

“No. Not really.” Terri shook her head. “They just have their nasty signs.”

“Terr.” Amy put her hand on Terri’s cheek. She waited for Terri to look at her before she continued. “I don’t… OK. I don’t want you to read into what I’m about to say.”

“You don’t know why I do it.” Terri knew what Amy was thinking.

“I don’t. I don’t know why you do it.” Amy raised her hand in a shrug. “You don’t need the money.’

“The money is nice, but it’s not why I do it.” Terri said. She rotated the bar of soap in her hands and lathered her hands.

“I met your coworkers. There are others that can do it. This week… when I talked to them…I learned that they take turns. You go every time. Every. Time, Terri.” Amy turned back around. She leaned her back against Terri’s chest.

Terri rested her soapy hands on Amy’s shoulders and began to wash her back. She ran her soapy hands down her arms. “I do. I’m the lead…by choice.”

“They could do it?” Amy asked. She leaned back against Terri. She let the hot water do its job and she tried to relax.

“Yup.” Terri’s soapy hands ran over Amy’s ample breasts. Her hands cupped her, gently. Her thumbs stroked her nipples.

“So why?” Amy turned her head into Terri’s neck and asked her quietly. Gently. She didn’t want to upset Terri, but she wanted to understand her decision.

“I can’t explain it. Fear of missing out? Fear of losing my skill? Fear that families who need it won’t get the best.” Terri began to get to the heart of it.

“You’re the best?” Amy asked her with a smile. Knowing she most certainly was.

“I’d like to think so.” Terri said with a smile.

“Be honest with me Terri.” Amy said. She put her hands on Terri’s thighs that were wrapped around her.

Terri was quiet.

“Terri.”

“What.”

“Say it.” Amy said. “Just say it. It’s safe here.”

“I’m Terri-Fuckin-Morgan and I don’t want to give that up. It makes me feel… important. Is that what you want to hear?” Terri moved her hands. She let go of Amy and dropped her hands to her side.

“If it’s the truth, then yes. It is what I want to hear.” Amy said quietly.

“I don’t know if it’s the truth or not. I can only tell you this. I have a sense of calmness that I can bring to a chaotic situation. I don’t see others in my midst who have the same level of capability. They do great work. They’re talented. But I think I’m the best at it. I’m very… protective… of the families, Amy. And… until I see someone else who is as good as I am… or better…at helping them? I can’t step down.”

Amy turned again to look at Terri, who had trouble meeting Amy’s eyes. She held Terri’s face in both of her hands until Terri looked at her. Amy smiled at her finance and said, “Now… that… my love, I understand.”

Terri’s mouth pulled back in a smile. “Thank you.”

Amy shook her head. “For what?”

“For making me tell you. For making me be honest with myself.” Terri said.

Amy shrugged one shoulder and tilted her head to the side as if to shrug off what Terri said. With a wink and a smile, she teased, “You’re not the only one with mad skills.”

 

++

End part 1 of 3

++

Chapter Text

 

++++++

Late in February, they lay in bed on a Saturday night. They were sharing a bowl of popcorn and watching a movie. Sadie between them. Terri curled on her side, her head resting on Amy’s shoulder. They were cozy.

The wind blew outside, but the weather was holding in a constant state of cold and dry.

Around 10:30, Terri’s phone rang. Amy immediately shut her eyes. She took a deep breath. Terri paused the television.

“Morgan.” She said into the phone and she sat up on the side of the bed.

Amy watched her back.

“Yup.” Terri said. She stood and walked out of the room.

Amy waited. And waited.

She got out of bed and went to the restroom. After she relieved herself, she pulled on her robe and left the bedroom. She looked into the office across the hall. Terri sat talking on the phone. She took notes. “Yeah. I get it. But if they need help, we need to go.”

Amy patted her thigh and got the attention of Sadie who followed Amy downstairs to the kitchen. Amy let Sadie out to do her business, and waited at the back door for her. She heard Terri enter the room and come stand behind her. Amy leaned back against her, and Terri slid her arms around her.

“Where.” Amy said.

“Kalamazoo.”

“It’s late. It’s a Saturday. What the hell?” Amy asked.

“Seems like its random. Around town. I’m sure they’ll figure out how it’s all connected.” Terri said.

“When do you go?” Amy turned her head to look up at Terri.

“That’s just it. They’re not sure we are going.”  Terri said.

“Why not?” Amy moved to open up the door to let Sadie back inside.

Terri went to the refrigerator to pour herself some tea. She leaned against the sink and drank it. “Its…they don’t know. If there’s not a targeted part of the community, It was at multiple points of town. They’re not sure they’ll send anyone.”

“But there are victims and families…” Amy said.

“Yeah. I know. I guess since it’s not a school or church or office building…? It’s not at one location. It’s scattered. … I don’t know. Let’s just go to bed. They’ll let me know tomorrow.” Terri said.

“But…” Amy started.

“Look. Babe. If they aren’t going, I’m good not going.” Terri said. She held out her hand and Amy took it.

They lay in bed. Terri spooning Amy. Her hands ran over her, touched her. Up and down her thigh. Over her arms. Across her breasts. Terri feeling her, knowing it may be the last time for another week. Amy leaned back into Terri. She rolled her head back. Terri kissed her forehead. They lay together rubbing, touching, kissing.

And the touches became more intentional. Light touches became gropes. Amy rolled to face Terri. She drew her leg up over Terri’s hip. Terri’s moved slightly and Amy’s bottom leg moved between Terri’s. They began to rock on one another while their lips were locked in a sensual, deep kiss. Terri moved Amy to her back. Terri on top of her. Terri reached between them and moved her hand in to satisfy Amy. One of Amy’s hands moved to Terri’s breast the other between Terri’s legs.

In the darkness of their room, the two women made quiet love as snow began to fall outside of their window.

++++++ 

In early March the ground began to thaw and Terri’s mom and dad flew in again. They stayed in the guest room and Terri was thrilled to have them visit. She had ordered all they’d need for the crop. She’d met with Mr. Thompson prior to her dad arriving to ensure that his equipment was ready. They made a “Handshake deal” on what he would do, the equipment Terri and her dad would borrow, and how much Terri would pay him.

“I just want to be a good neighbor,” he told Terri.

“Good neighbor or no, your time and equipment are valuable and I’m going to pay you.” Terri said. “Without you, I couldn’t do this.”

They started the work on a Saturday. Terri’s dad used Mr. Thompson’s equipment to begin to work the soil. They tilled the land multiple times, as it had been dormant for years. Terri’s dad ran the first pass, then talked Terri through how to do it. She ran the tractor over the field an additional two times.

Amy and her mother brought them lunch. They packed sandwiches, chips, drinks and lawn chairs into the little John Deere and Amy drove them down to the field. They sat in the gazebo they had built in the fall and waited for Terri to finish the pass she was making.

Amy kept an eye on the tractor and her eyes danced as it came to a stop at the edge of the field and Terri swung down off it. As Terri walked toward her, Amy eyed her. Terri in faded, torn Levi’s. Boots. Faded, worn, untucked, short sleeved, plaid button down. Ball cap. Sunglasses. Tattooed arms. Amy’s heart fluttered seeing Terri swing off the tractor, lift her hat, run her hands through her hair, and walk toward them with a smile.

“Lunch!” Amy called. She stood still. She smiled at her fiancé.

Terri stepped up onto the gazebo and took the bottle of water Amy handed her. Terri grabbed her by the waist and pulled Amy in. She kissed her. Firm. Rough. Terri owned her power and knew that Amy liked it.

Terri’s mom smiled up at her daughter, thrilled she had found happiness.

The family talked and ate lunch and enjoyed the feeling of not being cold.

++++++

Terri’s mom joined Amy and Nan as they shopped for Amy’s wedding dress. Amy had made appointments at two boutiques in town on two different days. The older women watched Amy try on dress after dress the first day. Amy had thought she’d like one in particular, but when she saw it on herself it just didn’t feel right to her.

“Too fancy.” She said. She shook her head. “We’ll be outside in the summer sun.”

Though Terri’s mom was quiet, Nan was quick to speak. “You need to get what you want. If you want a fancy dress get it. If an outside wedding doesn’t feel right, we can do it inside. We can have the reception by the field. You need to do what you want, Amy.”

“Terri wants to get married by the field, Nan.” Amy said as she ran her hands over the fine bead work on the bodice of the dress she had been looking forward to trying on.

“You only get one shot at this, Dear.” Nan said. “Do what you feel is right.”

Terri’s mother finally spoke. “Amy, my daughter is going to be so happy to marry you. Whether you’re by the field of lavender or in a castle. And she’ll think you look beautiful whether you’re in a pair of jeans or in a beaded gown. So,… you need to choose the dress that will make you happy.”

Amy smiled at her future mother-in-law, thankful for her kind words. She nodded her head and said firmly, “Then we will try at the appointment tomorrow and see what we see.”

And with that, Amy moved to the changing room resolved to have success the following day.

She took the two women with her to lunch where they ate, talked about colors and dresses and flowers and invitations.

++++++

Terri lay, face down, on their bed. Amy straddled her and sat on her upper thighs. She put body milk in her hands and ran her hands up Terri’s back and up over her shoulders She worked Terri’s muscles in her neck, her shoulders, her arms.

“I don’t smell it.” Terri said.

“Yeah. It’s fragrance free.” Amy said.

“I thought you liked the lavender scent.” Terri said. She sat up on her elbows and turned to look at Amy.

“I do. But this is for you. You don’t like to use scented lotion.” Amy said. She leaned over and kissed Terri between her shoulder blades.

“You bought some just for me?” Terri asked with a smile.

“Yes.” Amy continued to give Terri’s muscles a deep rub down.

“That’s nice of you.” Terri said. Then she groaned.

“Haven’t you heard? I’m a nice person.” Amy said.

“That’s not what I meant.” Terri said.

“I know. But I have an ulterior motive.” Amy’s thumbs dug into the muscle in Terri’s shoulder.

“What’s that?” Terri asked, slightly worried.

Amy sighed. She moved her hands to rub Terri’s lower back. “I bought you more than this. I bought a skin care set for your face. Cleanser, lotion, exfoliator…”

“What’s wrong with what I use?” Terri asked.

“A bar of whatever soap we have in the bathroom is not a skin care routine.” Amy smiled at Terri’s back.

“It’s worked fine up until now.”

“Well, sweetheart… I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but you’re getting older. You need to change what you’re using so your skin won’t look old before it’s time.” Amy finally told her what she’d been wanting to tell her for a while.

“Who you callin’ old?” Terri asked.

“You. You old crone.” Amy smiled and slapped Terri’s ass.

Terri sat up quickly and turned, pushing Amy onto her back. Amy squealed and giggled and slapped at Terri’s shoulders. “You’re going to pay for that. We crones don’t take lightly to you young’uns disrespecting us.”

Terri’s fingers found all the places that made Amy scream and squeal and laugh. And then they found the places that made her squirm, and wiggle, and moan. And then they found the places that made her beg for more, and sigh, and throb. And then they satisfied her, and helped her relax, and held her as she fell to sleep.

++++++

The planting was the hardest part. In the fall, Terri had done a lot of research and talked with the man who owned the local greenhouse. He had told her she could plant seeds, which would be easy and cost effective. But doing so would not guarantee a full crop, not all the seeds would take root. Also, by starting with seeds, the plants wouldn’t be mature by June for blooming. He recommended ordering seedlings that the greenhouse could grow inside during the winter months and then they could transplant them into the field in the spring.

When the field was ready, Terri called the greenhouse to deliver the seedlings. Amy was in the kitchen with Terri’s mom making pies when she heard the truck drive into the driveway. It was a diesel truck with a long flat bed. She went out to the porch, towel in her hand. Terri came out of the barn.

“What the hell?” Amy called over to Terri.

“It’s the seedlings!” Terri called at her.

“They need this to deliver them?” Amy called, her voice barely audible over the sound of the truck.

Terri walked over to the porch and Amy met her on the steps. “Babe. There’s 6,000 of them.”

“SIX thousand?” Amy asked.

“Yeah. I know. But we have to start small.” Terri said. “We don’t know for sure how well they’ll grow. If they do well, we can do more…grow the field… next year.” Terri said optimistically.

Amy stood, mouth open as she watched the man unload some sort of piece of equipment that would take the palates of plants off the delivery truck.

“Six thousand…. is… small?” Amy said quietly, under her breath.

“It’s going to be beautiful.” Terri said with a smile. She pinched Amy’s ass with a smile, kissed her cheek, and bounded off the porch to help the men unload the seedlings.

Amy went into the house and stood in the kitchen. She looked at her future mother-in-law.

“Amy? What’s wrong?” Terri’s mom asked her.

With wide eyes, Amy said, “Mom. I have to find a dress. I’m getting married by a lavender field in the middle of June.”

Terri’s mom smiled. Smiled that Amy called her “Mom.” Smiled that it was finally hitting Amy. And, smiled that her daughter was going to marry the woman she wanted, where she wanted.

“I’ll put the pies in the oven and you go get showered. We’ll head to pick up Nan before your appointment this afternoon.”

++++++

It was the third dress. The third dress of the second day of trying.

“I need a minute, please.” Amy said.

“Certainly.” The sales lady said. She stepped out of the changing room and left Amy to herself.

Amy stood and looked at herself in the dressing room mirror. She turned to the side and looked. She looked down and smoothed her hands down the dress. Tears sprang to her eyes. This is it. This is the dress. She never would have thought she would choose something so simple. But this was it. This. Was. It.

She gathered the skirt up and turned around to go show her shopping companions. As she pulled the curtain of the dressing room back, she dropped the skirt from her hands, and she walked out. She kept her eye on Nan.

She saw the look in Nan’s eyes the moment Nan saw it. Nan’s sudden intake of breath. Nan’s eyes widening. Her immediate and large smile. She stood. Her eyes met Amy’s, and she nodded.

“Nan?” Amy said.

“Yes.” Nan said.

“Mom?” Amy said as she turned to Terri’s mom.

Terri’s mom stood. She was weeping. “Yes.”

“Right?!” Amy exclaimed.

The sales lady came back to see how Amy was doing. “What do you think?” She asked.

“Yes.” The three ladies said in unison.

“We have accessories.” She said. “We have this jeweled belt that would really make it pop…”

“No.” Amy said. “I like it as it is. Let’s order it in my size.”

++++++ 

After they’d dropped Nan at home and Amy and Terri’s mom returned to the house. Terri’s mom had gone to her room. When she didn’t come back out, Amy went looking for her. The bedroom door was not completely closed. Amy saw her sitting on the bed. She was crying.

“Mom?” Amy said. She pushed the door open a little and peeked her head in. “Are you OK?”

“Oh yes. Yes, Amy. Come in.” She said.

“What’s wrong?” Amy asked her.

“Nothing is wrong, Amy. I’m just … emotional today, I suppose.” Terri’s mom’s voice was hoarse with emotion.

Amy sat beside her on the bed. “Did I do something wrong? Do you want me to go get Terri?”

“No. no no. You did everything right, Amy.” Terri’s mom patted Amy’s knee.

“Can you tell me why you’re upset?” Amy asked her. She put her hand on her back.

“I just want to thank you. Thank you for letting me be part of today. Thank you for waiting until I was here to shop for your dress.”

“I’m so happy you could come with us.” Amy said honestly.

Terri’s mom was quiet for a moment before she spoke. “I thought … I figured I’d never get to do that… shop for a wedding dress.”

Amy realized what Terri’s mom was saying. She felt terrible for not thinking of it before.

“I’m sorry if it made you sad. I selfishly wanted you with me.” Amy said.

“I wanted to be with you.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think about Lilly.” Amy said.

“Amy, I’ve always known that if Terri would ever make it to a wedding, she most certainly would not wear a dress. And I’m fine with that. And I am so thankful you have included me in the planning for this wedding. But… wedding dress shopping. That’s something I had dreamed of doing with my sweet Lilly. And then… when we lost her… I lost that dream.”

“Oh, Mom. I’m … I’m sorry.” Amy felt terrible.

“No. Amy. You don’t understand. You gave me that dream back today. I know it’s silly. I know you’re not Lilly. And I’m so happy to see my daughter get married no matter what she wears… But getting to be part of the experience. Seeing all the different dresses on you… and then seeing your face when you clearly chose the one…Amy that was an honor to experience. Thank you.” Terri’s mom stumbled through her emotional explanation.

Amy threw her arms around her future mother-in-law and held her and the two women wept in each other’s arms.

It was at that moment that Terri walked through the lower level of the house, looking for Amy. She found the two of them crying, holding one another.

They heard movement in the doorway. Both women turned and saw her. And they both began to cry harder.

Terri looked behind her. She turned back to her Mother and Amy. “What?” Terri asked.

The two women stood in unison and moved together to Terri and pulled her in to a three-way hug. Terri held them both. She patted their backs as they cried on her shoulders.

++++++ 

Mr. Thompson drove the tractor down the field and dug the trench where they’d plant the first row of lavender. Then he turned the tractor and dug the next trench 6 feet over. Terri and her dad used the wheelbarrow full of seedlings and began the walk down each trench and dropped a seedling in every three feet. Then the hired kid from the nursery walked behind them with a shovel and tucked the tilled soil around the seedling. The manual work was probably not ideal, but it was the most cost-efficient way to do it that they could think of.

After Mr. Thompson completed his part of plowing the trench, he joined in with the planting and they made good progress. In the end, they had two acres of seedlings planted and Terri could hardly contain her excitement. She left her dad and the hired hand at the field to clean up the equipment, and she headed to the house to get Amy.

She knew they were home from dress shopping. She ran upstairs. Amy wasn’t there. She went back downstairs and followed the sound of… was that…. Were they crying?

Terri peeked her head in the door. They were there. Holding on to one another. Crying. Like… the kind of crying where they were having to blow their noses.

Terri was torn.

Her initial instinct was to turn around and leave the two of them alone in whatever situation they were in. They were fully capable of dealing with matters on their own. But when she moved in the doorway, both women turned and saw her. And they both began to cry harder.

Terri looked behind herself. It would probably be inappropriate to leave now, right? She thought to herself.

She turned back to her Mother and Amy. “What?” Terri asked.

Before she knew it, her arms were full. Full with the two women who meant the most to her in all the world. Two women who were clearly bonding over something very emotional. Terri assumed it had something to do with the wedding dress.

She felt her mother’s arms wrap tightly around her waist. She felt Amy pull back. She looked over her mother’s head at Amy. Amy pointed at her mother and then put her hand over her heart. Then Amy grabbed Terri’s hand and stealthily tapped on Terri’s wrist, on her Lilly tattoo. She then kissed the palm of Terri’s hand and left the bedroom.

Terri wrapped both arms around her mother and held her. She breathed deeply and slowly to help her mother do the same. Eventually she calmed. She moved her mother to the bed, and they sat together. Holding hands. Her mom’s head on her shoulder.

“I’m so glad I got to be part of seeing her choose the dress.” Terri’s mom said.

“She found one?” Terri asked.

“Oh dear. I shouldn’t be talking.”

“It’s fine, Mom. It’s good. I’m glad she found it.” Terri said quietly. Her heart swelled.

“She’s going to be a beautiful bride.”

Terri nodded. “I have no doubt about it, Mom.”

++++++ 

In April, they pulled out the spreadsheets of information that Terri kept for the past two years as they planned their garden. They decided to increase the size a bit and how many plants they’d have. They purchased a few more chicks to add to their chicken coop.

They planned, the made their purchases, and they worked together to plant their vegetable garden. Amy took charge at the nursery as they chose the flowers they’d plant around the front porch. Terri watched her from the doorway of the barn as she sat on her knees wearing a big floppy hat and garden gloves and planted the flowers she chose.

At some point over the last year, Amy had settled into domesticity, and Terri was thrilled. Amy was still fiery and independent and full of sass. She loved her work. She occasionally went out with friends. But she was also content at the house. Happy working along side of Terri. Reveling in building their future.

The whole spring was a stark change from the year prior. Terri had never been happier.

They took Karen and Jordi to dinner after work one night. They talked and laughed and told stories. Terri told their two friends why they’d asked them out to dinner. Told them that they had a wedding date set and wanted to know if they would be willing to stand up as their witnesses. Jordi was all smiles. Karen cried. Terri held her friend’s hand.

One Saturday, they packed a picnic lunch and went down by the lavender field to eat it. Terri spread a blanket on the floor of the gazebo, and they sat there and looked out over the field. The small seedlings were growing. Not yet the large plants they’d soon become, but they were growing for sure.

After they ate, Terri sat with her knees up. Her arms wrapped around them. She stared out over the field. Terri was quiet. Amy watched her.

“Remember the first time we were down here?” Amy asked her.

“Spread a blanket right over there and had a picnic.” Terri pointed down by the field.

Silence.

“It’s a special place.” Amy said.

“Mmmhmm.” Terri nodded.

“Terri… thank you for building this place for us. Making it ours.” Amy said. She reached a hand over to rub Terri’s back.

“Mmmmmm.”

Silence.

“What are you thinking, Love?” Amy asked.

Terri shook her head. She wasn’t ready to speak.

Amy moved closer to her. She sat behind her and spread her legs to settle in on each side of Terri. Wrapped her arms around her waist and rested her cheek against Terri’s back. Amy being a sort of make-shift big spoon. Comforting Terri.

They sat in silence. Breathing in and out together. Amy listened to Terri’s heartbeat through her back. She moved her hands and ran them up and down Terri’s back. One hand moved to caress Terri’s arm while the other moved back around her waist in a hug.

Terri moved a hand to settle over one of Amy’s hands as it rested on Terri’s arm. She took a deep breath. She started to speak, to tell Amy what she was thinking.

“I want kids, Aim.” Terri said.

Amy smiled into Terri’s back. “Me, too.”

“I want more animals.” Terri continued.

“We can do that.” Amy said.

“I want a timeline of when I stop going out on assignment.”

Amy’s eyes grew large. She squeezed Terri firmly. “That sounds like a great idea.”

“I want us to stay this good forever.” Terri said.

“We know how to make that happen.” Amy responded.

They were quiet for a while. Terri dropped her head. Amy knew that if Terri wasn’t crying, she was trying to keep herself from it.

“My turn?” Amy asked.

Terri nodded.

Amy took the opportunity to list her desires.

“I want kids, Terr.”

Terri nodded. “Mmhm.”

“Like…I want to be pregnant. Have a baby.” Amy clarified.

Amy didn’t see Terri smile broadly. But she did feel Terri’s hand tightened around her own. 

“I want to always be sure we see Nan and Pop at least weekly, like we do. But more when they need us.” Amy was resolute.

“Yes.” Terri agreed.

“I want you to go on assignment for as long as you need to, but when you’re ready to stop I fully support that.”

“Thank you.” Terri said.

Amy thought for a moment before she continued. “I want to work toward a change at work.”

Terri turned her head and looked over her shoulder at Amy. Eyebrows knitted together. This was news to her.

Amy caught the look Terri gave her. “No. I want to keep working there…I just want … Three years is a long time to do the same thing every day. I want to see what else I can do. Supervisor? Trainer? Something.”

“I can see that. OK.” Terri nodded. She turned back around and smiled as Amy settled back against her.

“And us?” Amy patted Terri’s back.

“Yeah?” Terri turned again. Rotated so that she was facing Amy. They sat, each woman with her legs crossed and tucked under herself. Terri put her hands on Amy’s knees. “What about us?” Terri asked.

“We’re good. Better than we’ve ever been.” Amy said. She rested her hands on Terri’s hands.

“Yup.” Terri agreed.

“And I want us to fight like hell to keep it going this good for as long as we can.” Amy said.

“Forever.” Terri said. She held out her pinky finger.

“Forever.” Amy echoed. And she looped her pinky finger with Terri’s.

And having said their private desires and vows, Terri leaned in. Amy met her half way. And they sealed their pinky-swear with a kiss.

++++++

In May, at one of their Thursday staff meetings, Catherine announced Amy’s third anniversary with the agency. The group congratulated her.

Catherine also announced that Amy was going to shift her duties. Though she’d still carry partial caseload she was going to begin making a shift to a supervisory position.

The hour prior to the meeting, Catherine asked to meet with both Terri and Amy. The two met outside of their boss’s office.

“Do you know what this is about?” Terri asked Amy.

“Yes.” 

“Care to give me a heads’ up?” Terri asked.

Amy leaned over and whispered, “She talked to me this morning about being a supervisor.”

Terri smiled broadly. “That’s great news Babe!” She put her hand on Amy’s shoulder. “Proud of you!”

“Yeah.” Amy said. She averted her eyes. “Shhhh.”

“What’s wrong?” Terri asked.

“Just… I promised her that I wouldn’t say anything.” She said quietly to Terri.

Just then, Catherine opened the door and invited them in. They both took a seat across from Catherine’s desk. Terri crossed one of her legs over the other. Let the calf of her right leg rest on her left knee. Elbows on the arm of the chair. Hands crossed in her lap. Her eyes moved from Amy to Catherine and back.

“Has Amy told you about her promotion?” Catherine asked Terri.

“Just now.” Terri said. Still eyeing the two women.

“What else did she tell you?” Catherine asked Terri, watching her. They’d worked together for a long time. They use to do casework together. Catherine knew how to read Terri.

“That’s it. Catherine… what’s up?” Terri asked.

“She’s going to be over you now.” Catherine said bluntly.

“OK. That’s fine. Do you mean I’ll report to her?” Terri asked.

“No. Rules of agency say we can’t do that. But she will be a supervisor, which means in the chain of command she would be higher ranking than you, Terri.” Catherine told her.

“That’s fine.” Terri shook her head. She shrugged her shoulder. She didn’t see an issue with the situation.

“See? I told you this.” Amy said to Catherine.

“That also means she will be privy to information she cannot tell you, Terri.” Catherine said.

“Fine.” Terri responded.

“Catherine, as I’ve said before, there are things about Terri’s job she never tells me. Things about my job I don’t tell her. We are social workers. We know what confidentiality means.” Amy said.

“OK. Fine.” Catherine held her hands up to stop the discussion. “I just wanted to put it on record that the three of us sat in this room and had this discussion.”

“Fine.” Terri said. She stood.

“And one other thing.” Catherine stopped her.

“Yeah?” Terri asked. She looked down at Catherine who remained sitting at her desk.

Catherine looked over her glasses and spoke sternly to Terri. “If she tells you to do something, you better god-damned do it. No questions.”

Terri’s eyes shifted to Amy and back to Catherine. She pulled back one corner of her mouth into a smile. “So… how does that differ from home?”

Catherine huffed out a laugh. “Get the fuck out. See you in staff meeting.”

++++++

After the staff meeting, Amy walked with Terri to her office and Terri pulled her into it. She shut the door behind them and pushed Amy against the door. She kissed her, hard and deep. Hot and wet. Hands roaming.

“Terr?” Amy was surprised at Terri’s sudden amorous actions.

“I mean, there’s only a bit of time left before you become a supervisor. Once you do, this can’t happen at all.” Terri said.

“Oh… I see… Yes. For now, we are on the same level.” Amy said with a smile.

“Yes.” Terri growled and buried her head in Amy’s neck. Nuzzling her. Smelling her. Kissing her.

“Terri Morgan… This is not happening. You have set the boundary for this space and we will not sully your ability to concentrate in this office.” Amy pushed Terri off of her. “So… no sex in here for you.”

Terri pulled back. Disappointed and watched as Amy put her hand on the door and opened it.

Amy looked back at Terri and smiled. “Just kidding.”

Amy shut the door, locked it. She walked over to Terri’s desk and hit the “Do not disturb” button on her phone and then she leaned against Terri’s desk and with her finger beckoned Terri to her.  

++++++ 

The first weekend of June, Terri’s parents flew in again. They would spend the week with them before the wedding, and then the day after the wedding, they would all drive to the airport again and her parents would fly home while Terri and Amy would head out on their honeymoon in Florida.

How Amy had talked Terri into going to Disney World, Terri would never know.

Sometime during the past winter, they had decided on it. “It’s the happiest place on Earth!” Amy had said. Amy had always wanted to go there as a child, but it was never something Nan and Pop could afford.

“Happiest place on earth… my ass.” Terri had said. She rolled her eyes every time she thought about it. But she booked the tickets. She cringed as she reserved a suite in a themed resort that would allow Amy to experience a wish from her childhood.

Terri worked most of the week before the wedding, but Amy took most of it off. She had lists and charts and job assignments for all. After work, Terri’s job was to work on cleaning up the barn and surrounding area. Terri’s dad and Pop spread fresh mulch on the flower garden and spent time weeding and harvesting the vegetable garden.

Terri’s mom and Nan worked on meal preparations. They cleaned the house to prepare for inside guests should the weather turn south. They went with Amy to pick up her wedding dress after a final fitting.

Terri took her dad and Pop with her for final fittings on their suits. Earlier in the spring when they went looking, Pop and her Dad had found the suits they wanted for the occasion.

Terri had a bit more trouble. But Karen had taken her shopping and encouraged her to find a suit cut for a woman. It was a longer-jacket tuxedo with a satin stripe down the leg. Terri liked the look and had decided to wear a crisp, white tuxedo shirt. She bought the outfit. It looked good on her tall, thin frame.

++++++

The wedding was set for Friday evening.

The Thursday before the wedding, Terri and her Dad set up chairs at the gazebo. They sat on the stair leading to it and looked out over the field.

“You’re right, Girl. They bloomed.” He said with a smile. He patted her knee.

“Thanks for helping, Dad.” Terri leaned against him.

“She’s a keeper, you know.” Her dad said.

Terri nodded. “I know. I’m glad you think so, too.”

“Your mom loves her. I do, too.”

“You have any advice for me, Dad?” Terri asked. Curious to know if her dad, generally a quiet man, had anything he wanted to share with her.

“Just be happy.” He patted her knee and got up to finish the job of setting up the chairs. Terri noticed he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped tears from his eyes.

++++++

“You know this is ridiculous.” Terri said.

“No. It’s not.” Amy said.

Terri leaned against Amy’s car. Her arms crossed over her chest. “We’ve lived together for over two years.”

Amy nodded. “I know.”

“So, you sleeping away from here tonight is just ridiculous.”

“Nan wants me to do it.” Amy leaned into Terri and wrapped her arms around her waist. “Don’t pout.”

“Not pouting. Just….I don’t sleep well in that bed without you.” Terri said. She realized as she said it, she was – in fact – pouting.

“I know what you mean. I sometimes go a full week at a time in that bed without you.” Amy used a sarcastic voice and grinned broadly.

“OK. Point taken.” Terri held her and kissed her forehead.

“I am looking forward to being your wife.” Amy said.

“Me, too.”

“You sure you don’t want to change your name? I mean… Mary Terrese Tayler has quite a ring to it.” Amy joked.

“Terri Tayler just doesn’t sound right to me.” Terri chuckled.

“Let’s see…. Terri-fuckin-Tayler.” Amy tried it out and laughed. “Yeah. Not quite the same impact.”

“How about you. Did you decide?” Terri asked. She never would have brought up the question if Amy hadn’t broached the subject first.

“Yes, I have.” Amy looked up at Terri and smiled. “If it’s ok with you, I’d like to be Amy Morgan.”

Half of Terri’s mouth pulled back into a smile. “If that’s what you want, Babe. We’ll make it happen.”

“Well… I talked it over with Nan and Pop. I wanted to be sure they are OK with me not sharing their name anymore.”

“And?”

“And they’re in agreement.” Amy nodded her head.

“It’s a lot to change your name. You don’t have to. I don’t feel like it has to happen, Amy.” Terri told her, not for the first time.

“I do. I want it to happen.” Amy said.

Terri raised her eyebrows and smiled. “Well, Amy Morgan, you better get on to your grandparents’ house so you can get your beauty rest.”

She pulled Amy to her. One hand behind her head, the other on her waist. She kissed her goodnight. Held her closely. And whispered into her ear.

“Forever, Amy.” Terri said.

“Forever, Terr.” Amy echoed.

 

++

End of Part 2 of 3.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

++++++

The wedding day was a flurry of activities. Terri was up early and took her dad with her to exercise the horses. It was likely that their neighbor, Mr. Thompson, wouldn’t ride them while Terri and Amy were at Disney World. Terri shook her head and rolled her eyes at the thought of the location of their upcoming vacation. The things I let her talk me into doing. Terri thought to herself.

So, Terri and her dad got on Cagney and Lacey and headed out to the field. They rode the fence line, as Terri always did, and then they rode down to the field and looked over the sea of lavender. They took the horses down by the stream and then around to a wooded area. All told, they were out for a couple of hours. Quietly riding. Father and daughter. Side by side. Not much said other than discussion about a fence, or how the field looked.

Terri’s mind drifted to her future wife and the path they took to get where they were. There was a time Terri would have thought that they wouldn’t be together, but they’d worked through it. Communication. Therapy. Respect for one another’s individuality. They had become stronger. Terri was certain about their future. She had no hesitation about what they were about to do.

Back at the house, the Terri and her dad worked to brush down the horses, feed them, and hang the tack. Terri then moved to the chickens and did another cleaning of their coop, so Mr. Thompson wouldn’t feel compelled to have to do so. He had agreed to keep an eye on things while they were gone, but she didn’t want him to have to do a lot of work. It would hold until they returned from their trip.

Really, Terri was just trying to keep busy. It wasn’t yet time to go get ready for the wedding. And, she knew her dad had something to say. So, she methodically and slowly moved from task to task, allowing him time to figure out his words.

“So…Amy says you want more animals.” Her dad said.

“Yeah. Haven’t figured out what, yet.” She said. They sat, side-by-side, on a set of hay bales and looked around the barn. “Any recommendations?”

“Unless you’re planning on building on, you need to keep it small. Either a herd of smaller animals or two or three bigger ones.” He said.

“Thanks, Dad. That’s good advice. Probably won’t build on. I’m thinking of what will be manageable with us both working full time.” Terri said, leaning into her dad’s shoulder.

“You also want to be sure she’ll be able to manage whatever you decide on, when you’re out on assignment.” He said.

“Good point.” Terri said. She had been slow to move forward with more animals, knowing that it was enough to have Amy taking care of the horses and chickens. Especially during the winter months.

They sat in silence for a while. Father and daughter on her wedding day. Terri giving him the time he needed. Taking the time she wanted with him.

Finally. He spoke.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d ever get to do this, Terri. It wasn’t legal…” He started.

“I know, Dad. It is now, though.” She nodded her head.

“I know. And that’s good. But also… I worried about you for a long time. I don’t worry about you anymore.” He said.

“Oh yeah?” Terri put her elbows on her knees and looked forward. Her dad did not need her eye contact in this moment. She watched Cagney shake her head and make a sound. A sneeze.

“I don’t mean to talk badly about her. But, that Mel. She…it didn’t sit right with me. You didn’t seem like a real couple.” Her dad said.

Terri nodded her head. She stayed silent.

“I didn’t know… wasn’t sure if it was because she was a woman and I didn’t understand…or if it was just because she didn’t love ya. But it didn’t feel right.” He said.

“You’re right, Dad. It didn’t.” Terri agreed.

“This one. Terri, she loves ya. She’ll fight with ya. She’ll challenge ya. But ya need that.” He said as straight-forward as he could.

Terri smiled. Her heart soared with the knowledge that her dad understood her relationship with Amy. She nodded her head. “Yup.”

“I know you love her and you will treat her well.” He said.

“I do Dad. I will.”

“But, Terri… you have always looked after others. You need to let her treat you well. I have no doubt you’ll take care of her. But… remember to let HER take care of YOU. We all need that, Mary Terrese…. even you.”

“Alright, Dad. I’ll remember.”

“Hey, you two!” Terri’s mom stood in the doorway of the barn. Terri noticed her mom wiping a tear from her cheek. “It’s time to grab lunch and start getting ourselves ready. Amy and the others will be here in a bit.”

They stood from the hay bales. Terri held out her hand and her dad took it. As they reached the door, Terri held her other hand out to her mom. Together, hand-in-hand, Terri’s parents walked their daughter back to the house where they raised her.

++++++ 

You (11:48 am):

‘Check in text.’

 

Amy (11:48 am):

‘It’s about damn time. Where have you been?’

 

You (11:48 am):

‘Time with Dad.’

 

Amy (11:48 am):

‘You’re forgiven’ *Red heart emoji*

 

You (11:49 am):

‘On your way?’

 

Amy (11:49 am):

‘I don’t think I’m coming.’

 

Amy’s phone immediately rang. She answered it with a smile. “I’m joking, Terri.”

“Jesus. Don’t do that, Amy.” Terri knew she was kidding, but she was not in the mood for joking.

“Honey. Love. Wild horses can’t keep me away.”

Terri took a deep breath and sat down on the end of her bed. She was quiet.

“Terri. I’m sorry. I was teasing.” Amy said, reassuringly.

“I know.” Terri said quietly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing… just…My folks. It’s been emotional. I’m ready to do this.” Terri told her. “I love them. But, I’m ready to be alone with you. I miss you.”

Amy smiled into her phone. She changed the subject to move Terri away from her emotions. “I decided I want to get ready in our bathroom.”

“Then come home.”

“Get your ass out of the bathroom so it’s all mine when I get there.” Amy said in a teasing voice.

“Do I have to be out of your sight? Do I get to see you?” Terri asked her.

“You can be in the house, but maybe be out of the room? I mean… I know it sounds silly. But I kind of want the first time you see me today to be when I’m in my dress. And I want to see you when you’re ready. OK?"

Terri smiled into the phone. “Whatever you say, as long as we’re going to get married today.”

“And be at Disney soon after!”

Terri shook her head. “Seriously? That’s what you’re looking forward to?”

“Well…. I’m not NOT looking forward to it.” Amy said with a giggle.

++++++ 

When they let her know Amy had arrived, her Mom shooed Terri into the office across the hall from their bedroom. Terri’s mom and Nan ushered Amy into the bedroom. Then, Terri was allowed into the hallway. Her mom and Nan left her alone there, satisfied that Amy was locked away safely.

Terri leaned against the door jam. Her forehead resting against the door. Her finger traced an invisible heart shape on the door. “Seriously Aim? This is ridiculous.”

“I know.” Amy said. Her own forehead pressed against the door on her side. “But it makes them happy. And… you have to admit, it’s kind of romantic.”

“Its foundation is heteronormative and religious in nature and we don’t subscribe to any of it.” Terri put her hand on the door.

“But they do, Love. Plus… I kind of what my big reveal.” Amy said.

“OK. I’m going to go watch some television. I’ll be on the couch. So, whatever you do… don’t come downstairs or our lives will be ruined.” Terri chuckled.

++++++

At 4:00 on a Friday afternoon in mid-June, Terri stood just outside the barn and waited for Amy. They planned the session to be an hour before the caterers were to arrive to set up the back yard. They planned it to be a couple of hours before their guests were to arrive. The only onlookers invited were Terri’s parents and Nan and Pop.

Terri stood, her back toward the house. Waiting. The photographer was there to capture faces. Terri thought it was ridiculous, but she kept her thoughts to herself. Because she knew it was a set of photographs that Amy had wanted, so she agreed.

And the moment she turned around it was no longer ridiculous. Because there, standing near the flower beds that Amy had planted earlier in the spring, was Terri’s beautiful bride. Beautiful Amy. Curves in all the right places. In a long, white dress. A beaded, V-neck bodice, with a flowing tulle skirt. Her curly hair down, blowing in the breeze. Her face in a wide, open smile. She was stunning.

Amy looked at Terri and smiled broadly her. Terri looked strong, sure, sexy. She wore a black suit. Black wingtips. A satin stripe down the side of each leg. A longer, fitted jacket. A tuxedo shirt, a couple of buttons opened. No tie. Just Terri. Tall. Thin. Looking fit and powerful. She was stunning.

Terri moved toward her. She toward Terri. Smiles. Amy noted the slight blush that crept up Terri’s cheeks.

Terri reached a hand out to her, she reached for Terri. They embraced. They kissed.

“You’re beautiful.” Terri whispered into her ear. She kissed her cheek.

“So are you.” Amy put a hand to Terri’s cheek. A shiver ran down Terri’s back.

For a moment they were lost in each other. In the moment. They didn’t hear the camera as the photographer walked around them, taking pictures. They didn’t hear Nan and Terri’s mom exclaiming how beautiful their girls looked. They didn’t notice Pop and Terri’s dad walk away from the frivolity of it all, talking fields and animals.

They only saw each other. Green eyes meeting blue eyes. Smiles. Eyes closing. Terri’s lips gently brushing against Amy’s forehead. Amy’s hands on Terri’s shoulders. Whispered words. Private laughter. Two women in love.

They were quickly whisked away. Photos in the barn. Outside the barn. On the big wrap-around porch. On the porch swing. By the railing. In the back yard. And then they went down to the field. The field was, as planned, in full bloom. They stood in the field. They stood by the field. They stood far away from the field and had photos of it in the background.

“You’re being so patient.” Amy said to her as Terri tugged on her suit jacket.

“Mad skills, Baby.” Terri winked at her. She did as she was told. She knew these pictures would be special to them, to her parents, to Nan and Pop. But she was ready to get the show on the road.

++++++

They kept the guests to a select group. Terri’s parents. Nan and Pop. Amy’s uncle and his family. A few friends and their significant others and children - from work, from Amy’s school, from Terri’s basketball league. Mr. Thompson. All told, there were around 40 people there. The photographer took more photos as groups arrived.

They didn’t play music at the ceremony. As important as music had been to them, the summer wind blowing off the field of lavender would have drowned out the sound.  Amy didn’t do a special walk up an aisle. Nobody gave either bride away. They just gathered. Family. Friends.

Their officiant had met with them a few weeks prior and they shared with her their vision. The ceremony was brief. A few words from the officiant about the support of family and friends. Words about love and the right to marry who you love.

Originally, they’d argued. For days. They argued about having a biblical verse read. Amy wanted it. Terri was adamant. She wanted nothing faith-based about the ceremony. She had her reasons and Amy understood them. But, in the end, Terri agreed. For her parents. For Nan and Pop. For Amy. She agreed to the verses from 1 Corinthians. Amy asked her uncle to read them.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Oddly, and to Amy’s surprise, it was Terri who had asked about whether or not they should do traditional vows. It was Amy who had thought they should write their own, shocked that Terri might consider something from the much-discussed heteronormative culture.

“Honestly, Aim. They’ve whittled them down to be pretty succinct. Love. Honor. Cherish? Richer. Poorer? Sickness. Health? Until death do us part? Can we do better than that?” Terri had argued.

“We did better than that last spring when we sat down there together and told each other what we wanted.” Amy argued her point.

“We did. And that was private. That was for you and me. And we meant it. I don’t want to share that with anyone listening in.” Terri made her point.

So, in the end, traditional vows were said. The vows that couples across the nation have taken. The vows that sometimes stick. The vows that made Nan cry. The vows that made Pop sit up a little straighter in his chair. The vows that made Terri’s parents lock eyes and clasp hands. The vows that both women would remind themselves of years later when they had moments of doubt. Moments of worry. Moments of anger. Vows that would continue to bring them back into each other’s arms…for as long as they both would live.

++++++

They had caterers there with delicious food. Lights strung in the back yard. Tables. Small areas where people gathered and then moved to sit and talk with others. Guests were encouraged to sit inside or outside, wherever they were most comfortable. It was then that the music played. Speakers in the house and in the yard. A DJ making sure a wide variety of music played so everyone had a turn at dancing.

They had cake. People made toasts. They danced with their parents. They danced with friends. They danced with each other

Terri held her tightly. Amy wrapped her arms around her wife. Terri whispered the words into her ear. Amy sang the chorus to her. Their eyes shut. Alone on the dancefloor. Their loved ones watching. The music washed over them.

What would I do without your smart mouth
Drawing me in, kicking me out
Got my head spinning, no kidding, I can't pin you down
What's going on in that beautiful mind
I'm on your magical mystery ride
And I'm so dizzy, don't know what hit me, but I'll be alright

My head's under water
But I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you're crying you're beautiful too
The world is beating you down, I'm around through every mood
You're my downfall, you're my muse
My worst distraction, my rhythm and blues
I can't stop singing, it's ringing, in my head for you

My head's under water
But I'm breathing fine
You're crazy and I'm out of my mind

'Cause all of me
Loves all of you
Love your curves and all your edges
All your perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you
Give me all of you

Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts
Risking it all, though it's hard

'Cause all of you
Loves all of me
You love my curves and all my edges
All my perfect imperfections
Give your all to me
I'll give my all to you
You're my end and my beginning
Even when I lose I'm winning
'Cause I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

I give you all of me
And you give me all of you

 

Evening turned into night and friends eventually began to go home. The caterers packed up. Terri and Amy hugged friends. Walked them to their cars. Amy’s uncle drove Nan and Pop home. Terri’s parents went to their room.

Terri and Amy sat on the back patio, curled and tucked into each other’s arms.

“When we met, this wasn’t possible.” Terri said. She kissed Amy’s bare shoulder.

“Then we met at the right time. Because now it is.” Amy tilted her head to give Terri room to move her lips along her neck.

“Because of the vote of one justice.” Terri said, thoughtfully. Continuing the kisses.

Amy sighed. She sat up. “That’s all it took.”

“There are a lot of people who never got this chance.” Terri said quietly.

“Can we make this just about us, please? Not everything has to be about everyone else.” Amy said, frankly.

Terri nodded. “Sorry, Babe. Yes. About us.”

“So… take me upstairs and make this about us.”

Terri smiled and stood. She held a hand out to her bride. “I thought you’d never ask.”

++++++

In their room, they played the song again and danced. Amy was relaxed and putty in her wife’s arms. Terri moved her. Pressed their bodies together. Her hands were wrapped around Terri’s waist and she pressed her cheek against Terri’s shoulder. Terri’s hands moved down to cup her rear end. Together they swayed to the music and enjoyed their first moments alone together as wives.

“What do you want to do?” Amy asked. She ran her hands up and down Terri’s back.

“I want to make love to my wife.” Terri said quietly.

Amy unbuttoned Terri’s shirt. Tugged on it to pull it out of her pants. She ran her fingers under Terri’s bra. Tugged down on it to expose her breast and moved her lips to cover her nipple. She licked her. Sucked on her. She moved her lips to Terri’s neck. They swayed to the music.

Terri stepped back from her. Holding Amy’s hand, she looked at Amy. “You are a stunning woman, Amy Morgan.”

Amy smiled at the use of her new last name. Smiled knowing that her wife found her to be an attractive bride. Smiled because she was happy.

Amy turned so that Terri could unhook and unzip her dress. She let it fall around her. She stepped out of it.

Terri picked it up. She turned and began to search. She went into the closet then the bathroom.

“What are you doing?” Amy asked her.

“Looking for the hanger. Where do we hang it?” Terri said, seriously.

Touched that she wanted to preserve the dress and hang it, Amy handed Terri the padded hanger that had been sitting on top of her dresser. Terri put the dress on the hanger, and then hung it from the closet door. She zipped it up. She stood for a moment and looked at the dress. Ran her hands down it. Made sure it was safe.

Then, she turned to look at Amy. Terri stopped in her tracks. Her eyes raked up and down Amy, who stood in front of her. Light pink satin and lace merry widow. With straps holding up thigh high stockings. Underneath was a thin, lacy pair of light pink panties that barely covered her ample rear end.

“What the fuck?” Terri said. “I didn’t expect…”

“I know it’s … heteronormative … for a bride to wear something sexy for the wedding night… but…”

Terri growled and pushed Amy back onto the bed. Amy squealed and giggled.

Terri worked her way down Amy’s body. From the hungry, urgent kisses on Amy’s full, warm lips. Down her neck to her collar bones.

Terri sat back on her knees. Resting on her feet. She pulled off her jacket and shirt and tossed them on the floor.

Amy looked at the floor where they landed and began to protest. “Honey… let’s hang…”

“Fuck my clothes. I’m going to make love to my wife.” Terri grinned. She stood and began to unfasten her pants when Amy stopped her.

“My job.” She swiped Terri’s hands away and helped her take her pants off. Terri kicked off her shoes pulled off her socks. Standing in front of Amy, who sat on the bed. Both women in their underwear. Albeit Terri’s were much more sensible. And made of black cotton.

“Where’s your photographer now?” Terri asked as she took in Amy’s presence. Sitting on the side of the bed, hair wild from their make out session. Sexy, silky skin. Pretty pink undergarments.

“If you want a picture… take a picture.” Amy murmured.

The room was silent for more than a moment.

“May I?” Terri asked, rather stunned.

“Of course, you can.” Amy struck a pose.

And Terri did. Several. She made sure to put the phone away, though, when she was ready to remove more of her wife’s clothing. She knelt by the bed and one-by-one unfastened the clips that held the stockings. Their eyes locked. Her fingers worked deftly to roll them down Amy’s curvy thighs and calves. She took off her shoes. Slid off the stockings.

Then she kissed her. Up Amy’s leg. Settled her lips in on Amy’s inner thigh. Licked her as she neared the crease where Amy’s thigh met her hip. Licked her along the line of her panties. Pressed her nose and lips to her crotch. Inhaled her scent.

Amy sighed and dropped backward onto the bed. Her feet instinctively moved to Terri’s shoulders. Still on her knees, Terri slid the crotch of Amy’s panties to the side and carefully, slowly, moved her mouth along Amy. Breathed out onto her. Gentle kisses onto sensitive skin.

Amy’s hands moved. She pushed at the sides of her underwear. She wanted them off. Terri moved her hands and held them over Amy’s.

“Slow down, Baby. Give me minute with Phoebe.” She said in a low voice.

Amy smiled. Terri hadn’t referred to Phoebe in a long time.

Amy felt Terri’s hands move to open her. Felt her tongue firmly and gently lick her open. Toy with her clitoris. Amy’s hands moved to Terri’s head. Ran her fingers through her hair.

Amy sat up. Terri watched her. Terri reached behind herself and unhooked her bra as she watched Amy do the same for her own undergarment.

Amy held her arms behind herself and pulled herself further back onto the bed while Terri held on to the underwear Amy tried to rid herself of earlier. She slid them down Amy’s legs. Then she removed her own and climbed onto the bed.

Together, the two women made love. They touched. Licked. Kissed. They took their time. Their hands slowly roamed. Their bodies warm and welcoming to the other’s touch. They’d done this a million times, but on this night it was different. If you’d have asked either one, they would say they couldn’t explain it. But it was different. Wonderful. Freeing. Comforting. Sensual. In a way that it wasn’t before.

“I love you.” Amy said through gleaming eyes.

“I’m so happy.” Terri said, burying her face in Amy’s neck. Whispering “I love you” into her ear.

Together they pleasured each other. Held each other. Came for each other. And drifted into sleep while holding each other. For the first time as wives.  

++++++ 

Early the next morning, they carried their suitcases downstairs. Terri made breakfast.

Her parents joined them in the kitchen. They ate quietly before the sun rose.

Terri fed the horses and the chickens. She put the dog in the barn, knowing that Mr. Thompson would be down to get her in the light of morning.

Terri started the truck so it would get warm. She scraped the frost from the night’s cold dampness off the windshield of the truck.

They all loaded their luggage into the truck. Terri locked the house up tight. They headed to the airport, where they went through security together. They parted ways with hugs and kisses. Terri’s parents went to their gate. Terri and Amy went to theirs. Though they were tired, they were both excited to be spending a week away from everything. A week at, as Amy continued to say, the Happiest Place on Earth.

++++++

They had only a brief layover before their connecting flight, and soon they were settled in, holding hands as they flew toward their destination. Amy rested her head on Terri’s shoulder, Terri rested her head on Amy’s.

When they landed, they grabbed a taxi and headed for the resort. Once they were checked in, they both plopped down on the bed and reached for each other. Terri pulled her in and Amy cuddled up, resting her head on Terri’s shoulder.

Hands roamed as they chatted.

“Are you going to take me to the park tonight?” Amy teased. She knew Terri had wanted to wait until the next day.

Terri sighed. “Aim. Please. Let’s just be low-key tonight. Dinner and to bed early. We can get rest and then go all day tomorrow.”

“If you insist.” Amy poked her in the ribs, playfully.

++++++ 

Terri had made arrangements with the concierge to have reservations for dinner at a quiet spot downtown. They dressed up. They Ubered to the restaurant. Terri settled in. Whiskey neat. Steak. Potato. She was in heaven. Amy enjoyed a nice wine. Salmon. Steamed vegetables. They sat in a corner table. They chatted quietly about their plans for the week. A couple of days at Disney. A couple of days by the pool. They had tickets to a show at a local theater. Amy wanted to do some shopping.

They were both excited to spend five straight days together. Alone. Nobody else to take care of. Then, they’d catch their flight on Friday and have a weekend at home before going back to work on Monday.

Before Terri paid the bill, Amy asked, “Can we go dancing?”

“Dancing? Tonight?” Terri asked her.

“I mean, if I can’t go to the Happiest Place on Earth tonight, take me somewhere where I will be kind of happy. I want to dance. Please, Terr.” Amy begged.

“OK. But… not all night. OK?”

“You’re such a stick in the mud.” Amy teased.

“No. I just want to have energy tomorrow to do all that you’ll want to do.” Terri countered.

“M’Kay. Deal.” Amy nodded. “We’ll leave before the bars close. Midnight or one?”

“10.” Terri countered.

“That’s two hours from now.”

“I know.” Terri nodded with a smirk on her lips.

Amy rolled her eyes and took Terri’s hand.

Terri stopped at the front to ask the hostess a question about a good place for she and Amy to go to dance. She typed the information into her phone as she made the Uber request.

++++++

They didn’t often get to dance in clubs like this. Everyone was welcome. Everyone was dancing. Music. Thump-Thumping. Lights bright and dark all at the same time. The energy was electric. Joyful. Fun.

Terri found them a table. She got them drinks. Amy downed her shots and pulled her wife to the dance floor. They held on to one another as though they were the only two in the room. They kissed. They danced. They jumped to the beat. When others around them engaged them, they were pulled into a group dance and laughed and enjoyed themselves. Friendly faces. Kind people. Inclusive. Joyous.

“I have to go to the restroom!” Amy said loudly into Terri’s ear for the second time.

“What?” Terri said. She was not use to being in a room where music played so loudly.

Amy pulled her wife off the dance floor and down the hall. They went into the bathroom where their ears had a bit of a respite. They went into a stall together and Terri waited while Amy used the toilet. Then she took her turn. Before leaving the stall, Amy leaned against the stall door and grinned at Terri.

“You do not want to make out in a restroom stall the day after our wedding.” Terri gave her a half-grin.

Amy smiled a toothy smile and nodded her head.

Terri looked at her watch and then kissed Amy soundly on the forehead. “It’s now 11:30 and I said we needed to leave by 11. Let’s go back to the hotel and we can do that there.”

“Please, Terr. Let’s stay. It’s so energetic. Lively. We never get this kind of fun at home. Let’s stay longer.” Amy pleaded.

“We can come back tomorrow, if you want. But I really want to go to the hotel. I’m tired.” Terri insisted.

Amy sighed. She pulled the stall door open, resigned. Disappointed.

++++++ 

After showering off the smells of the night, they found themselves back in bed. Back in each other’s arms. Both more exhausted than they’d cared to admit. Both snuggled in.

Amy’s back to Terri. She stroked Terri’s left leg that was slung over her body. Terri’s hands gently stroking Amy’s arm, side, and breasts.

“I’m sorry I made you leave early.” Terri whispered to her.

“No. It’s OK. It was so much fun, but you’re right. I’m tired. I want to enjoy tomorrow.”

“You sure?” Terri kissed her temple.

“I am. I’m tired, Love.”

And Amy pressed back into Terri. The two of them held one another and drifted to sleep.

++++++ 

A few minutes after 4:00 am, her phone rang. It took a moment for her to realize it wasn’t the alarm on her phone, but it was actually ringing. She was disoriented at first. She sat up and took in her surroundings. Hotel. Phone. Ringing.

As soon as she realized it, she sat up reached for the phone. One glance at the caller ID told her all she needed to know. She was awake. Ready.

“Morgan.” She said quietly into the phone.

Amy rolled over. “What the fuck? Terri!” Amy reached over and swatted Terri’s rear end.

Terri held her hand up to Amy and stood. “I’m sorry. Say that again? I don’t think I heard you correctly.”

Amy sat up in bed. Angry. Terri had told her she’d reported to her boss that she was going to be unavailable all last week and all this coming week, so that they wouldn’t even possibly come close to ruining their wedding and honeymoon.

“Yeah. I’m going to have to get back to you before I can answer that.” Terri said.

Amy watched her. Watched her face. She tried to not be angry. She told herself to wait until Terri told her what was happening. THEN, she could get pissed.

“OK. Give me a few minutes. I’ll call you back.” Terri said into the phone.

“Terri?” Amy got out of bed and moved to Terri. “I thought you weren’t on call. What is it?”

“Aim, it’s bad.” Terri moved to the bed and sat down. She patted the bed beside her.

“They can’t think you’re going to leave our honeymoon. They’ve got other people…”

“Amy Grace. Stop. Listen.” Terri cut her off. Her voice serious. Stern.

“OK. But…”

“Aim. It’s here. Orlando.” Terri said. Her face pale. Her eyes large.

“Fuck. At Disney?” Amy asked.

“No. A club. Amy. What was the name of the club we went to?” Terri asked.

“I don’t know. I didn’t look. I can..”

“It was Pulse. Wasn’t it? It was Pulse.” Terri said. Her heart racing.

Amy dug through her purse and pulled out a book of matches she had taken from the bar. Pulse. She held it up to Terri. “Terri? What?”

“Aim. He’s got hostages in there. Right now.” Terri moved to turn on the television. There on the screen was a view of the night club. Emergency vehicles surrounding it.

“That’s it. That’s where we were.” Amy began to cry.

“He’s got hostages. In the restroom.” Terri said.

“The restroom? We were in the restroom.” Amy stood. Matchbook in hand. Frozen.

“They can’t even count the dead. They can’t get to all the victims to help them. There are hostages. Amy.” Terri told her again. Her voice nowhere near the calm voice Terri usually had when discussing such situations. This was too close. Too close to Amy. Too close to them both.

“You have to go.” Amy said.

Terri shook her head. “Amy… I promise you… I told them I was off duty this week.”

“You think we’re going to go to a fucking amusement park tomorrow with this thing five minutes away from us? There’s no way, Terr. You have to go. You’ll not rest if you don’t go. Fuck, I won’t rest if you don’t go.” Amy stood in front of her.

Terri put her elbows on her knees. She put her face in the palms of her hands. She breathed deeply. Tried to calm herself.

She was quiet. Amy stood beside her. Put her hand on Terri’s head. Ran her fingers through Terri’s hair.

Quietly. Into the palms of her hands, Terri spoke. “Aim. It’s our community.”

“I know.”

“It’s our people.” She said.

“I know.”

“We danced with them tonight.” Her voice cracked.

“I know.” Amy began to cry again.

“It’s right here. It’s not like … it’s not like it’s in another town.” Terri was trying. She made a promise to Amy. But this… this was happening.

“I know.”

Terri choked out the words. “I have to go.”

“Yes. You do. Call them back. Make arrangements.” Amy made up her mind for her.

“Listen to me. Our folks are all going to be awake soon. They’re going to see… this…They’ll worry.” Terri started.

“I’ll call them. You get your assignment lined up.” Amy went into Social Worker mode. She went into the bathroom and closed the door. There, she made a call to Nan and Pop and to Terri’s parents. She called Karen and one of the friends from the basketball team; she asked them to spread the word.

She let them know that she and Terri were at the hotel, asleep when it happened. She did not tell them that they had been at the club earlier in the evening. There was no reason to make it about them. She told them that Terri had been asked to help. She told them that they were in agreement that Terri needed to go to work.

While she talked with Terri’s parents, Terri quietly came into the restroom. She washed her face and put on the small amount of foundation Terri wore. She fixed her hair quickly and went into the bedroom.

When Amy left the bathroom, she sat on the side of the bed and watched Terri. She pulled on her jeans and shoes. She put on her bra and then dug into the bottom of her suitcase.

“Jesus. You brought your vest on our honeymoon?” Amy asked.

“I brought my suitcase on our honeymoon. The vest is always in here.” Terri told her. Her voice now calm. Steady.

Terri pulled on a t-shirt and then quickly, quietly, methodically put the vest on. Pulled Velcro straps tight. Ran her hand over the straps to make sure they were smooth. After buttoning up her shirt, she rolled the sleeves a few times. Tucked the shirt in.

She checked her phone. Put her wallet in her pocket. Something didn’t feel right. She moved to sit by Amy.

Terri’s body began to shake. It started deep inside. Inside her chest. She felt it. The shaking. It moved to her limbs, through her body. She suddenly struggled for breath. Her natural ability to think rationally left her.

“Terri? Terri what’s wrong? Terri?” Amy stood and moved close to her.

Terri’s eyes. Her steel blue eyes. Wide. Looked up at Amy. She shook her head.

“Terri. Listen to me. Breathe.”

Terri shook her head. A tear fell out of her eyes. She couldn’t catch her breathe. She stood and moved quickly across the room. She wanted to leave. She fought the urge.

She turned and looked at Amy. She shook her head again. She couldn’t speak. Help me. She thought.

Then Amy took action. She moved to Terri. She put her hands on Terri’s chest and pushed her backward until she found the chair behind her and she sat her down.

“Terri, Love. Listen to me.” Amy sat in front of her and looked into Terri’s wide eyes. “You are safe. I am here to keep you safe.”

Terri shook her head. No. No, I don’t feel safe. She thought.

“Terri. Tell me one thing you can smell.” Amy said sternly, her face near Terri’s.

Terri looked at Amy. She took a ragged breath and shook her head.

“Terri! Tell me one thing you can smell. Now!” Amy commanded.

“Lavender lotion.” Terri said. She quickly nodded her head, asking Amy to continue to help her. She reached her hand out. Amy grasped it.

“Good. Yes, Love. Now tell me two things you can hear.” Amy told her.

“The television. I hear the television.” Terri said. Now starting to be able to say a brief sentence.

“OK. But two things, Terr. Tell me two things you can hear.”

“The television. And the sirens. I hear sirens outside.” Terri’s wide eyes looked at the hotel room’s window. Sirens. Pulse. Hostages.

“That’s right. Yes. Good. Look at me, Terri. You’re doing good. Now, tell me three things you can see.” Amy breathed in deeply and exhaled slowly, modeling for Terri what she wanted to see her do.

Terri took a shaky breath. She exhaled. She nodded. “I see you. I see…I see the bed. I see a street light outside the window.” Hostages. We were there. Amy was there.

“Good. Good Sweetie. Yes. Terri, tell me four things you can touch.” Amy continued to ask questions to ground her.

“I can touch your leg.” Terri took a deep breath and put her hand on Amy’s knee.

“I can touch my phone.” Terri held up the phone that had been in her hand the whole time. She put it down on the table near where she sat.

“I can touch your hair.” Terri moved her hand to touch Amy’s wild, curly hair. She was breathing closer to normal than she had been. “I love your hair,” she whispered.

“I can touch your cheek. Babe.” And Terri moved her hand from Amy’s hair to her cheek. She winked at Amy. “I’m good. I’m good. Thank you. I’m OK.”

Amy moved to stand in front of Terri and she pulled her in. Terri rested her head on Amy’s breasts.

“Are you OK, Love?” Amy asked as she stroked Terri’s back.

Terri wrapped her arms around Amy’s waist. She pulled her in tightly. “I am. I’m OK.”

“I’m not letting you leave this room until you tell me what that was.” Amy said. She pulled back so she could see Terri’s face.

“Aim. I don’t know what that was. I’ve never had that happen before.” Terri said quietly. She knew what it was. She’d just never experienced one from that side of it before.

“Well… I think we both know it was an anxiety attack.” Amy moved away from Terri and went to the minibar and pulled out a bottle of water and handed it to her wife.

Terri huffed out a brief chuckle of sorts. “Yeah. It was. I mean I’ve not had one before. Ever.”

“You promise me. Don’t lie to me, Terri. You’ve never had one before?” Amy asked her pointedly.

“Never. I’ve never had one. I didn’t know … Obviously, I know what they are… I’ve not had one.” Terri said honestly.

“OK. You’ve done this job for over a decade, Terri. Why now?” ‘

Terri guzzled her water. Drank half the bottle. She put it down beside her phone and stared at her phone.

Terri’s eyes skirted around Amy. Settled on everything and nothing as she spoke. “I think….I’ve not ever…The phone call to reporting for duty. There’s always been hours between, if not a full day. I’m…They’re going to send someone here to get me… I’m going to go to the scene before it’s…”

Amy cut her off. “Before it’s safe? Can’t you stay here and wait until…”

“No. Amy. No. I’m going to go there while victims are still … they won’t have cleared them out yet. I’ve never gone before the scene was cleared.” Terri told her.

“Jesus christ.”

Amy moved to hold her again. Stood between her knees and held Terri’s head to her breast. She didn’t want to send her out. She was angry that this happened…again. She was angry that it happened on her honeymoon. She was angry that… What does it matter? She thought. It doesn’t matter that I’m angry. They need her. So, I need to help her.

“How much time? When are they coming?” Amy asked her.

“As soon as they have him in custody. As soon as they get the hostages out of there.”

“We don’t know how long that will be?” Amy clarified.

“No.” Terri shook her head.

“Then take off the goddamned vest and come lay down with me.” Amy commanded. She was going to take care of her wife, before her wife went to take care of everyone else.

Terri stood. Amy unbuttoned her shirt and pulled it off her.  She tugged at the Velcro and helped Terri take the vest off. They lay down in the bed. Terri lay down on her back and Amy crawled over her. Settled her knees between Terri’s legs. Rested her upper body on Terri’s.

Terri wrapped her legs around Amy’s legs. She wrapped her arms around Amy’s body and pulled her down onto her.

Terri loved feeling Amy’s body weight laying on her. Over the years they learned how it soothed her when she was upset, nervous, or worried.

Amy rested her head on Terri’s shoulder and kissed her neck.

You’ve got this, Baby. Kiss. They’re our people. Kiss. We’re both safe. Kiss. Disney can wait. Kiss. There’s nobody better to help them. Kiss. You’re the best to do the job. Kiss. Terri-Fuckin-Morgan. Kiss.

++++++ 

The week was what it was. The two did what they needed to do. They put their own plans aside for the good of others. They served their community in a crisis the way social workers do.

Terri worked her ass off. 49 dead. 53 injured. Countless families, friends, loved ones, members of the LGBTQ+ community. They all needed help. To talk. To cry. To express their fears.

The media descended upon them. Some of them rabid. Some of them understanding. Many of the networks sent representation who were part of the LGBTQ+ population. Some of them knew Terri from past stories.

A couple of the well-known anchors/reporters asked to interview Terri. She declined at first. One journalist, a well-known face from a news source she trusted, pulled her aside. Told her he knew she didn’t want to be the face of it, but that she could speak to their community. He understood her. As a gay man, he understood her hesitancy. Knew she didn’t want to be the face of this tragedy. But he told her, “You can be a calming voice when our community needs it.” Terri declined.

That night, she watched his report. Saw his genuine tears of emotion. Saw him expose his own personal grief over the situation. So, when they spoke again, Terri acquiesced and agreed to be interviewed by him. They didn’t disclose that she was in Orlando on her honeymoon. Just that this was her job and she was called in to do it. She gave tips to people on what to do if they were feeling traumatized, emotionally wrought. She told them where to turn for help.

She was calm. And strong. And rational. And reassuring. And across the country, people watched and listened to her. Her parents. Nan and Pop. Her clients at home. Her friends from work and from the basketball league. But, more importantly, people from the LGBTQ+ community and their loved ones heard a voice of reason amid the atrocity. They found solace in her words.

++++++

The first day, Amy joined those in line to give blood. The next day she went with Terri and sat with the group of social workers and other mental health professionals to be trained in what to do for the families and friends. What to do for the survivors.

And then Amy joined the work. She was assigned to sit near the site where people dropped flowers and lit candles. She sat with people who didn’t lose anyone but were worried, scared about the random act of violence. She counseled with them. Supported them. Helped them figure out where to turn in their community.

At the end of each day, Terri and Amy went back to their hotel. The hotel staff, knowing the situation and what they were doing each day, sent dinner to their room. They bathed together. Ate their meal. Went to bed, exhausted, holding each other. Amy wept each night. Terri held her, angry and regretful that she had exposed Amy to the work she’d tried to keep in a box. Yet proud of her, for stepping up and doing some really hard work.

When it was time to pack for their flight home, they talked about the amusement park. They discussed staying longer so they could go. Terri didn’t want to make an assumption. She didn’t want to disappoint her bride.

“If you think I have any desire to ride a ride, to get my picture with a cartoon character come to life after the week we have had, then you don’t know me.” Amy said seriously to Terri.

“Thank you.” Terri told her. “It’s the last thing I’d want to do. But I’d do it for you if you wanted.”

As it was, Terri was leaving earlier than she would have liked. The job was not officially done. But her tickets were already purchased, and she wanted to get Amy home. Get Amy away from the work that was emotionally taxing. So, the left the remaining work in the hands of Terri’s coworkers.

Before they left, the hotel staff handed Terri an envelope. The staff had contacted the park. They were sent two free passes for any date of their choosing. They were invited to come back, to have their honeymoon. If they wanted. Whenever they wanted.

++++++ 

As their plane touched down Amy turned to Terri and said, “I want this tattoo to be your last. And…I’m getting one, too.”

Terri was quiet and said nothing. She stood and pulled their bags from the overhead compartment. She followed Amy off the plane and through the airport.

When they were safely in the truck, motor running and heater blasting to try to warm them, Terri finally spoke. “You mean you don’t want me to go out again?”

“No. Only you can decide that, Love. I won’t make that decision for you.” Amy turned in her seat and held out her hand for Terri. “I mean no more tattoos. Please. I watch you every time. I watch you go get them. I watch you take care of your skin after. And I watch your body get covered in grief.”

“It’s… It’s my way to honor them, Aim.” Terri said quietly. Her finger running along the steering wheel of her truck.

“I know. But, Terri… you honor every one of them by giving them a week of your life. You honor them by helping their families. You honor them by being Terri Fuckin’ Morgan. You do not have to … where will it stop? Your arms are full. Are you going to start on your legs? Your back? This madness is not stopping. The violence is going to continue. Those assholes are doing nothing to curb gun violence…And you’re going to run out of skin.” Amy rambled. She was exhausted. Emotionally. Physically. “And now… Terri… I have faces. Your tattoos mean more to me now that I have faces. I don’t want any more of them on you. No more, Terri.” Amy wept.  

 “OK. Alright. No more. I promise.” She agreed quietly before she put the car in gear and headed for home.

++++++

“Your first?” The man asked, tattoo gun poised over her.

“Yes.” Amy said. She was nervous. Terri sat by her and held her hand.

“Same as hers?” He asked her.

“Exactly. Same design. Same place.” Amy said.

“OK. Sit back and try to relax. Do you have any questions?”

Amy sat back and shook her head. “She told me what I need to know.”

“She’s pretty bad-ass. She’s a legend around here.” He said. Smiling at Terri.

“That’s why I married her.” Amy said.

“You going to get sleeves like her?” He asked.

“This is the only one.” Amy said.

He looked at Terri and winked. “That’s what they all say.”

And he started. He started on the small ½ inch by 1-inch tattoo. A rainbow flag. With the number 49 in the middle of it. On the inside of her wrist. On her right inner wrist. On her pulse point.

 

++

End of Part 3 of 3

++

 

Chapter Text

++++++

“What. The. Fuck!” Amy stood and yelled at the television. 

“Aim. Just take a breath. It’s not over yet.”

“I need more… something…something crunchy. I’m going to the kitchen to get more snacks.” Amy stood in a huff and took her empty plate with her to the kitchen.

++++++

It was Tuesday, November 8, 2016 and the two had turned down several party invitations to sit at home alone. They had purchased a bottle of champagne and fully planned to toast when the result of the presidential election was announced.

They’d worked tirelessly throughout the previous year. Amy had joined the League of Women Voters and had gone to schools and businesses around the community on her days off work to help get people registered to vote. They engaged young people, disenfranchised populations, and focused much of their registration efforts on women who had not voted before.

Terri had volunteered with the Democratic Party in their county when she was home. She had been called out on assignment in July, only a couple of weeks after they returned from Florida. She was called out again in September. It felt to her like the temperature in the nation was rising… and she didn’t mean just the climate.

On the weekends when she was not on assignment, Terri canvassed neighborhoods for local and federal level candidates. She worked the phone banks. She helped with mailers. She agreed to several speaking engagements in other states where she was asked to talk about the effects of gun violence in communities and in schools.

At one point, Terri struggled when she was asked to be on a cable news show to talk about her work. She was confronted, yet again, with the whole theory being floated on social media that gun violence was a hoax. There were actually people saying that real incidences were staged. Incidences where she had worked to help survivors and families of victims. She was accused of being an actor in the lie.

In general, Terri kept her cool. But she displayed less than cool behavior when on a split screen with someone who said that the events at Newtown were not real. To the average viewer, Terri seemed professional and calm. But Amy, Karen, Nan and Pop, Terri’s parents… they all sat in their homes and watched her on MSNBC. They saw. They saw the nose flare. They saw the squinting of her eye. They saw the tilting of her head. They saw all the things her face does when she’s mad as hell.

While the camera was on, she spoke calmly, rationally. Ignored the accusations of it being a hoax. She spoke of the data. She spoke of the people, the work. When the camera was off, she let her challenger know exactly what she thought of his conspiracy theory. She told him of the blood. The screams. The tears. The fear. She let the producers and person interviewing her know the dangers of giving a voice to conspiracy theorists. If you’re not careful, she told them, you’ll give legitimacy to their insanity.

The months building up to the election had moments of tension. Listening to that man’s voice on so many news clips caused them to want to listen to anything but the news. But being who they were, Terri and Amy wanted to stay informed. They had every expectation that their candidate would be victorious. All the polls said she would win.

When Karen invited them to a watch party at her house for the night of the election, they had considered it. When one of Terri’s friends from the basketball league invited them over, they considered it. But, in the end, they decided that they wanted to enjoy the night together. Alone. Amy wanted to keep an eye on social media. They both wanted to watch results come in, eat snacks, drink alcohol without worrying about who would drive home. And they planned to have a celebratory fuck after they knew that the first woman president was elected.

++++++

Terri sat on the couch with Amy curled up beside her. Amy’s head on her lap.

“Babe. It’s late. Just go to bed.”

“I want to see what happens.” Amy mumbled.

“You’re falling to sleep. Just be comfortable. I’ll watch for a while longer. Surely they’ll know something more within the hour.” Terri nudged her.

Amy, exhausted and not one for staying up much longer than her typically early bedtime, trudged upstairs to bed. She knew as she left the couch what the outcome would be and she was heartsick.

Sadie curled up on the couch where Amy had been and rested her head on Terri’s lap.

“Girl. This isn’t going to be good.” Terri mumbled to the dog. She settled back and watched the reports come in on MSNBC. She looked to the people covering it to comfort her, but it was evident that they were taken by surprise as well.

Long after she knew the results. She sat on the couch just staring at the television. Numb.

++++++

Terri quietly crawled into bed. Amy rolled to face her in the dark bedroom.

“He won… didn’t he?” Amy asked quietly.

“He did.”

Amy’s body curled into the fetal position and she began to cry. Terri curled herself around her, pulling Amy’s face toward hers.

“It will be OK.” Terri said quietly. She kissed Amy’s forehead.

“How the fuck is it going to be OK? He’s a fucking madman. He is going to destroy everything.”

++++++

Amy struggled. In the weeks following the election she was lost. She wasn’t herself. She had spent so much time working toward a different outcome. She had spent so much of her time volunteering, that she suddenly found herself with time on her hands.

She and Terri went to the farmer’s market for the first time in a long time. Having volunteered almost every weekend prior to the election, they just didn’t make the time to get there during the months since their wedding. Amy had stocked up on her soaps and lotions the last time they went. But in early December, she realized she was down to her last bar. So, Terri took her to get more.

The vendor tables had been moved inside a large building during the early fall, so that shopping could be comfortable in a temperature-controlled environment. Terri had hoped that getting away from the house and having something to do would help put Amy in better spirits.

They walked through the building and didn’t find who they were looking for. “She used to put her stand over in that corner.” Amy said. “Stay here… I’m going to walk through again.”

Terri patiently leaned against the wall near the entrance. She watched the crowd. She noticed a young woman who appeared annoyed. Long legs. Boots to her knees over tight jeans. Long legs. Terri’s eyes lingered on her thighs. Long flowy sweater. Cute. Looking at her nails. Sighing and rolling her eyes. She was soon joined by a shorter woman who looked bored. Flannel shirt and jeans. The two chatted quietly. Terri did what she often did while people watching. She wondered what their story was. They didn’t seem to like each other enough to be a couple … which meant maybe they were. Terri chuckled to herself.

Amy walked briskly through the large room of vendors. She looked at product wrapping as she passed. It had been a few months since she’d been there. Maybe the vendor sent a substitute worker. She knew she’d know the product by its wrapping. She needed to find it. She didn’t need any more changes in her life. She paused at the end of one of the rows and put her hands on her hips.

A young man stood near her. She didn’t hide that she was looking at him. He stood out from the typical farmers’ market attendees. Black jeans torn at the knee. Black boots. Black sweatshirt with a big white lightning bolt across the front. Thick dark shock of hair on his head. Brow furrowed; he twisted the rings that he wore on his right hand.

His eyes shot sideways at her. He seemed somewhat uncomfortable.

“Hi.” She said. Amy was never shy.

He raised his chin slightly. “Hi.” A brief, small, smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I’m so frustrated,” Amy said. “I’ve been searching everywhere for a soap vendor I have been buying from for years. I can’t find her.”

“Goat’s milk? Lavender and rosemary bars?” The young man said.

“Oh, my god! Yes!” Amy excitedly reached over and put her hand on his arm.

At the contact, he pulled away from her quickly as he spoke. “I’ve been looking for her, too. She hasn’t been here for a while.”

“Fuck me! My supply is running low and it’s the only soap I’ve used for the past four years!” Amy said. She had noted how he responded to her touch. She realized she should have kept her hands to herself.

“I tried the bars that person over there is selling? Do yourself a favor and …just… don’t.” He told her.

“Thanks for the tip,” she smiled at him. “By the way, I’m Amy.”

He smiled. Bigger this time. The smile reached his eyes, but he showed no teeth. He held out his hand to her. “Hi, Amy. I’m David.”

++++++

Amy walked back to join Terri with the young man in tow. As soon as they joined Terri the two women Terri had been watching joined them.

“David. Can we go?” the tall one asked.

“Can you please take a breath?” he said, holding his hand up to her as if pushing the air in front of her would push her away from him.

“Amy, who’s your friend?” Terri asked.

He held his hand out to Terri. “David. We’re both looking for the same vendor.”

Terri shook his hand. “Terri.”

“My sister, Alexis.” David waved his hand to indicate the women who stood near. “My friend… Stevie. Amy…I don’t know how long she’s not been here, but I wonder if she stopped? I mean… maybe she doesn’t make the product anymore?”

“Fuck.” Amy said, again. “I am not going to deal well if I have to find new product. This year is ending like a pile of fucking dog shit.”

David nodded his head with exaggeration. “Right!?”

“We can check the directory stand. They could maybe tell us if she has been coming.” Terri said.

Upon checking, they realized they didn’t know the name of the vendor and had no real way of knowing how long she’d not been attending.

They stood together in a group. David twisting his rings. Amy’s hands on her hips. Alexis sighing. Stevie and Terri both watching Amy and David.

“I might have her card. Seems like she gave me one. I can look and give her a call.” Amy said. Nodding her head. “Yeah. I think I remember getting one from her.”

“There you go, Babe.” Terri said. “Let’s just go home and look.”

Amy turned and looked at David. His eyes shifted to the side, the back at her.

“Want me to tell you if I find her?” Amy said quietly.

“Yes, please.” He said quietly.

Amy handed him her phone. “Put your number in.”

As he put his information in, she asked “David? What’s your last name?”

He handed her phone back to her. “Rose.”

++++++

Terri brushed down Cagney after taking her for a ride along the fence posts out in the field. She breathed in her scent and rested her forehead against the horse’s neck. Terri worked hard to find things that made her feel good during these days that felt like the country was on a slow walk to its death. Terri, like Amy, was fighting anxiety and depression in the wake of the election. She worried what things would be like starting in January. There was already disturbing news coming out of New York. And… for fuck’s sake… the man was still tweeting.

But she had to work to maintain a sense of calm rationality when she was with Amy, and she used times like this – when she was alone with the horses – to help provide her those meditative moments to center herself.

“Terri!” Amy called from the doorway of the barn.

Terri jerked her head up. “Yeah. Back here.” She breathed in the smell of the horse again. Be calm, Terri. Be calm.

“She stopped making the fucking product. No bars of soap! No lotion! Nothing!” Amy’s voice was high and full of stress; her arms flying in circles around her body as expressed her frustration. She marched back to talk to Terri.

Terri closed her eyes, sighed, and breathed in the smell of Cagney one more time. “What’s that, Babe?” She asked, trying to buy herself a little more time before needing to respond to her wife who was upset virtually every moment of every day.  

“I just talked to her on the phone. She split from her husband. He stayed on their farm and she moved out and she isn’t making the product anymore. She has nothing in stock to sell me. Fucking shit. This mother-fucking year is just going to shit. 2016 is the worst year ever.”

“We got married this year.” Terri said calmly. Rationally.

“Well, yeah. There’s that.” Amy said. She threw her hands in the air. She turned and left the barn.

++++++

She sat on the bed, curled up under a blanket. Netflix on the iPad. She’d been obsessively watching New Girl on a loop. She found comfort in it. It was literally the only thing that provided her comfort. She knew the characters. Knew what they were going to say. New what to expect with each scene. Comfort in the chaos of the world.

She reached for her phone and texted him.

You (4:58 pm):

‘Hi. This is Amy from the farmer’s market.’

 

She waited. No response came so she tossed her phone aside and propped her head back on her hand, elbow on the bed, and continued to watch the show. She rewound it again. Her favorite part. Nick shocked Jess by pulling her into his arms and kissing her. He told her in a quiet voice, “I meant somethin’ like that.”

No matter how many times she watched their first kiss, she wanted to see it again. She touched the rewind 10 second option and watched it again. And again.

Her phone buzzed. A message.

 

David Rose (5:02 pm):

‘Hi, Amy. Did you find her?’

 

You (5:02 pm):

‘I did, but I’m afraid it’s not good news.’

*GIF of Jess from New Girl crying and holding a tissue in her hands*

 

David Rose (5:02 pm):

‘I’m not sure I can take it.’

 

You (5:02 pm):

‘She got a divorce. Her husband got the goats. It’s a whole thing. She no longer makes the product.’

 

Amy waited for a response and one didn’t come, she tossed the phone back on the bed, rewound the scene and watched Nick grab Jess and kiss her again. And again. And again. Comfort.

Her phone buzzed again.

 

David Rose (5:04 pm):

*GIF of Nick from New Girl saying ‘NOOOOOOO!’*

*GIF of Nick from New Girl lowering his head saying ‘Oh my god. I hate my life.’*

 

 

And, for the first time since the election, Amy threw her head back and laughed out loud.

 

You (5:04 pm):

‘David Rose. You. Complete. Me.’

 

And just like that, Amy found a new friend.

++++++

Terri came in from the barn. Head hanging low. Feet dragging. Not looking forward to another night of Amy hiding under the covers and not wanting to talk. She stepped into the kitchen and was surprised to see Amy. She wore a dress. Her hair was curly and soft. She wore make-up.

Terri was too startled to hide it. “You look… Amy, you look wonderful. What’s going on?”

“Take me out.” Amy said. “Take me to dinner.”

“Really?” Terri said. Her face lit up.

“We need to go out. I need to get out of this funk.”

“Babe. You got it. Give me 15 minutes.” Terri said, heading for the stairs.

“Make it a half hour. Clean that shit up. Momma wants some lovin’ tonight.” Amy said with a wiggle.

Terri took two stairs at a time as she ran to get ready.

++++++

Terri was elated. Amy was as close to her old self as Terri had seen her in weeks. She ate heartily. She kicked off her shoe at dinner and ran her foot along Terri’s leg under the table. She flirted. She chatted.

“So, Aim. Did you ask her when you called her if she’d be willing to share her … what do we call it? Recipe? Formula?” Terri asked her.

“You mean for her products? The soap? The lotion?”

“Yeah.” Terri sat back and swallowed the last of her drink. The whiskey felt good going down.

“Why would I do that?” Amy asked.

Terri shrugged, “If she’s not going to make it… we could.”

“We could?” Amy leaned forward.

“We could try.”

“Wouldn’t it be a lot of work?”

Terri put her hand over Amy’s on the table. “Probably. But if you like the product…I mean…it would be worth the try. Right?”

++++++

Terri stood on the porch while Sadie did her business. She locked the door behind them when they came inside. She walked through the first level of the house and made sure the doors were locked. Routine. Alarm was set. Lights were out. She followed Sadie up the stairs.

Her heart pounded as she neared the bedroom. It had been over a month – nearly six weeks – since the election and Amy had not wanted to be touched. Terri had given her space but was nearing a point of being nervous. Fearful they were going to fall into a rut. Terri’s constant fear.

The room was mostly dark. One of the bedside lamps cast a glow over Amy who was sitting in the middle of the bed. Terri loved finding here there.

“Amy. Grace. Tayler. Morgan.” Terri said. She leaned against the door frame and took in her most favorite sight.

Amy’s right hand flipped her hair behind her shoulder. “What.”

“You’re gonna stretch my shirt out.” Half of Terri’s mouth pulled back in a grin she wasn’t willing to hide.

“You like it and you know it.” Amy sat up on her knees and held her shoulders back. It was a rare occasion that she abandoned her nighty for one of Terri’s white, ribbed, tank tops. She used to wear them a lot back when they were dating, because she knew it excited Terri seeing her shirts stretched tightly across Amy’s ample breasts. Seeing her brown nipples strain against the thin white fabric.

“Fuck me. I like it.” Terri nearly growled.

Amy tilted her head to the side and ran her hands over her breasts. Her fingers toyed with her tight nipples.

“What are you doing there?” Terri didn’t move from the door. She jammed her hands into the pockets of her jeans. Enjoyed the feeling of her clitoris twitching.

“Just thinkin’ about what I want you to do to me.” Amy squeezed one of her nipples between her thumb and forefinger.

“Is that the only place you want me to touch you?” Terri asked. Working to be patient. Standing still at the doorway.

They hadn’t done more than have routine sex, for the release of it, for months. Really, not since the wedding. Sex hadn’t been playful in a long time. If Amy was game, Terri was going to make the most of it. And… by the looks of it… Amy was more than willing.

“No. Love. I want you to touch me here.” Amy ran a hand over her breasts and down her stomach. She slid her hands over her panties and between her legs.

“Are you wet for me, Babe.” Terri asked.

“I have been all night.” Amy’s tongue darted out and licked her lower lip.

Terri slowly pushed away from the door frame and unbuttoned her shirt. Untucked it. Left it on. She unbuttoned the cuffs of her shirt and rolled her sleeves up to expose her forearms. She knew Amy liked what she saw.

“Show me.” Terri commanded. “Show me how wet you are.” She leaned back against the wall beside the door.

Amy moved to stand beside the bed. She maintained eye contact with Terri. She slid her hands down her side and into the waist of her panties. She turned her back to Terri and pushed her panties down. They fell to her feet.  She bent over, exposing her ample, naked rear end to her wife. She picked up her panties and tossed them onto the bed.

She sat down on the bed, facing Terri. She scooted her body back so that she was, again, in the middle of the bed. She raised one knee; put her foot flat on the bed. She leaned back on one hand.

While her eyes were still locked on her wife, Amy’s hand moved. She ran her finger along the fleshy part of her upper, inner thigh. She enjoyed seeing Terri’s eyes trail down her body and watch the path her finger took as she moved to touch herself.

Amy dropped her eyes to watch her own fingers slide into the folds of flesh that throbbed between her legs. She moaned softly and her head fell back. Her hair cascaded down her back.

“That’s a good girl.” Terri whispered so quietly Amy didn’t hear her.

Amy’s eyes shut. She arched her back. Her breasts pressed against the tight white tank.

“How wet?” Terri asked her.

“I’ll tell you if you take your jeans off.”

Terri didn’t have to be asked twice. In quick motions, she unbuckled her belt. Unfastened her jeans. She kicked them off and left them by the bedroom door. In three quick strides she was at the side of the bed.

She shrugged off her shirt. She removed her bra. She pushed down her underwear. She was done playing. She was ready to be on Amy. Take Amy. Satisfy her wife and remind her why their bodies were so good together.

Amy smiled broadly at her.  “Shirt on? Shirt off?” Asking Terri if she wanted Amy to remove the tank top she wore.

Terri didn’t answer. She crawled on the bed between Amy’s legs and lowered herself over her.

Amy fell backward onto the bed and pulled Terri down. She pulled her knees up and wrapped her legs around Terri’s waist. Amy rocked her pelvis against Terri’s lower abdomen and Terri moaned at the heat that emanated from Amy pussy.

Terri buried her face in Amy’s neck. Kissing her. Whispering to her.

God, I want you.

You’re beautiful.

So fucking wet.

Sexy as hell.

Terri kissed her way down Amy’s neck. She settled over Amy’s breasts and pulled her nipples into her mouth. Sucking. Biting. The tank top damp from Terri’s mouth showed an even sexier view of Amy’s tight, brown nipples.

“Aim?” Terri said. Eyeing Amy’s nipples.

“Yes, Love?”

“These are still the most fantastic boobs I’ve ever seen.”

“Thankyouverymuch.” Amy giggled. “Now, would you please fuck me?”

Terri grinned broadly and lowered herself further down Amy’s body.

When Terri was in her happy place, her heart rate lowered, her breathing slowed. Every worry she had about every bad thing in the world disappeared. She took her time. She kissed the soft, smooth flesh of Amy’s inner thigh. Her fingers trailing behind her mouth and her tongue.

Amy arched her back. Her hands settling on her breasts. Terri looked up from her vantage point between Amy’s legs to watch her. Watched Amy’s fingers trace the outline of her tight nipples through the damp shirt. Watched her pinch herself the way she liked to be pinched. Watched her lick her bottom lip, knowing she was waiting for Terri’s tongue.

Terri breathed in her scent and could wait no longer. She opened her mouth as her fingers spread Amy open. Tongue out, she pressed herself into Amy’s warmth. Lapping at the juices Amy offered.

Amy moaned as she felt Terri’s hot tongue glide over and around her clitoris. She made a high-pitched noise as Terri sucked her in. The gentle sucking of her clit causing her legs to tighten around Terri’s shoulders.

When Terri’s fingers slid into her, filling her, Amy reached one hand down to Terri’s hair. Ran her fingers through it, grabbed a fist full and tugged. Amy’s other hand lay over her own face, covering her eyes. Allowing her body to have but one sense in that moment. Feeling her wife kiss, lick, and suck her innermost, sensitive area. Feeling Terri’s warm breath when she exhaled.

Terri’s mouth and hand moved in a rhythm she knew would take Amy where she needed to go. Amy’s hips undulated to the rhythm. The two knew the movements. Knew each other. Knew how to enjoy this time.

“Oh, Terr. Baby, Yes.” Amy moaned. Her grip on Terri’s hair tightening further.

Terri’s tongue stopped circling and intently, yet gently, waved up and down over Amy’s aching clit. Faster. Faster. Until Terri felt her. Felt her tense. Felt the waves of pleasure wash over her wife. Felt her thighs tightened and hold her. Heard the long, low, pleasure-filled moan escape her.

Then she heard the words she loved to hear.

“Terri. Fuckin. Morgan.”

And when she saw the rush of juice escape Amy, she lowered her head once more.

When Terri crawled back up Amy’s body, she was quickly pushed onto her back where Amy positioned her body so that her breasts hung over Terri’s face. In one quick move, Terri reached down to grab the hem of the tank top and pull it over Amy’s head, and then used both hands to pull one of Amy’s breasts to her mouth.

It was Terri’s favorite position and Amy knew what would finish her. Sitting beside Terri, Terri sucking her tits, Amy reached down between Terri’s legs. Using her fingers, she found Terri hot and wet. Amy’s fingers slid over her warm folds of flesh. Her clit was a hard pebble.

Terri breathed out, a soft moan of pleasure escaping her lips. She pulled away from Amy’s flesh long enough to say, “Make me come, Aim.”

“What do you want, Baby?” Amy’s fingers slowly circled Terri’s clitoris.

“Talk dirty to me.” Terri told her in a low voice.

Amy smiled broadly and moved to her knees. She straddled Terri’s thigh, moving one of her own firmly against Terri’s slit, pressing Amy’s hand firmer still against Terri’s clit. She lowered her body over Terri. Amy’s breasts sliding like warm silk over Terri’s.

Amy raised herself over her, so that Terri could use her mouth the way she wanted to. Her tongue circling Amy’s tight nipples, first one – then the other. And then Amy lowered her head and began to talk quietly into Terri’s ear. Low, hushed words that if uttered anywhere else would be completely unacceptable. But when they were together, alone. Naked in their bed. The filthy words were welcome. And they drove calm, even-tempered, problem-solving, trusted therapist, Terri, around the fucking bend.

++++++

They held their annual New Year’s Eve party. It was not the jovial, crazy, party-filled, karaoke-singing fest of previous years. There was a damper over it knowing that life in their country would take a massive turn in a mere 20 days.

But it was tradition. So, they gathered. There was music. Drinks. Discussion. They had fun. But they talked, mostly. Politics and the what ifs.

As the clock neared midnight, as per their tradition, Terri and Amy stole away from the crowd in their living room and locked themselves away in their bedroom to ring in the new year in each other’s arms.

++++++

Terri stomped the snow off her boots on the back porch before she went into the kitchen where Amy was baking cookies.

“Where have you been?” Amy asked.

“Get your coat. I have something to show you.” Terri said. A smile on her face.

“Cookies come out in two minutes. Can it wait?”

“For cookies? I’ll wait. But go get your shoes on. Get your coat. I’ll take the cookies out.”

Amy looped her arm through Terri’s as they walked to the barn. “What did you do, Terri Morgan?”

She pulled the door of the barn open and they stepped inside. Amy waited, hands in her coat pockets, while Terri closed the door.

“Look over here.” Terri nodded her head toward the first stall.

“Oh! Oh my god! Look! Terri! They’re so cute!” Amy squealed with delight upon seeing the two small goats in the stall.

“It’s a buck and a doe.” Terri said. She opened the stall door and the goats hurried out and circled Amy who promptly sat down on the hay strewn floor just outside of the stall.

“What does that mean?” Amy giggled as the doe nuzzled up against her and tried to crawl on her lap. The buck ran up and down the length of the barn, bleating.

“It’s a boy and a girl. We’ll see if they’ll reproduce. We’ll see if we can get some milk. We’ll see… if we can try to make the product… if you can get the recipe you need from the gal you used to buy from.”

“Terri! My god! They’re adorable.” Amy’s eyes danced.

“What do you want to name them?” Terri looked down at her wife.

“I don’t know… what do you name goats?” Amy shrugged.

“Whatever you want. We’re going to try to mate them.”

They were quiet as they thought.

Amy began to giggle and she looked up at Terri. “Nick and Jess.” She declared.

“Come here, new girl.” Terri picked up the little doe and rubbed her belly. “Nick and Jess it is.”

Terri sat down beside Amy, facing her. She sat Jess down in Amy’s lap. Her heart swelled as she saw the look of joy on her wife’s face. Heard the laugher escape her as she got to know the little doe.

Eventually, the little buck settled down and came to hang out with his two new moms and the little doe. It settled in near Terri, who scratched his ears while she rested one hand on Amy’s knee and kept her eyes on Amy’s face.

They sat in the joy. Quiet. Until Amy’s eyes flashed with the fierce intent that Terri had not seen in some time. Amy said, “I’m gonna learn to make soap.”

++++++

It was in early February when they met with her. They sat with her at a new restaurant in town. A farm to table place that was a refreshing change from the other places in town.

Amy had talked with her on the phone about her intentions and her request to buy any equipment… along with the exact recipe. Amy had stressed that it had to be the exact recipe.

Terri wrote a check for the price she asked for. She and Amy had agreed prior to the meeting, they would not try to negotiate her down to a lower price. The woman had been through plenty and it wasn’t their intent to get something for cheap. They wanted to feel good about helping her as well as getting all that Amy wanted.

In the parking lot, Amy talked with her while Terri loaded the boxes of soap molds, pans, measuring cups, spoons, drying racks, funnels. She threw in the partially used ingredients, as she no longer had a need for them. She handed Amy a paper with hand written instructions and promised to help should Amy want it.

“Seriously. If you want me to come be with you when you try it the first time, I can do that.” She offered.

They sat in Terri’s truck and watched her drive away.

“What are you thinking?” Amy asked Terri.

“I’m thinking I’ve got to plant some more herbs. We’ve got plenty of lavender. But you’re going to need Rosemary. Mint. Lemongrass. Lots of others. We’re going to need to plant them soon.” Terri said.

Amy nodded.

They sat in silence.

“What are you thinking?” Terri asked.

“This may sound weird… but… Terr…I think I’m about ready to start something that is going to be really big.”

“You’re going to make some bars of soap, Aim.”

“Um…” Amy turned in her seat to look at her wife. “No, Love. I think….I’m going to start a business.”

Terri smiled at her wife’s optimism, which seemed to have returned in spite of the looming presence of whatever the fuck was going to be the result of the change in residents on Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Baby… whatever makes you happy. We’ll do it.” And Terri meant it. She lived her life working to make her wife happy. Because Terri had never been happier than she had been with Amy.

She put the car in drive and headed toward home.

++++++

As they got ready for bed, Amy sat in the bathroom rubbing lotion on her arms and legs.

“Terr… you remember David. The guy from the farmers’ market?”

“Yeah.” Terri stood at the sink, flossing her teeth.

“He looked familiar to me… or… rather… his sister looked familiar to me.”

“Oh?” Terri was half listening.

“I looked them up.”

“Like… in the system at work? That’s not OK, Aim. Boundaries, Woman!” Terri jokingly chastised her. She reached for a wash cloth.

“God no. I Goggled them.” Amy giggled, knowing that her choice wasn’t much better.

“And?” Terri reached for the special soap Amy had required she use on her face.

“His sister… she had a reality show.”

“God, I hate that you watch that shit.” Terri protested.

“It was just … it only lasted a couple of episodes. I remember it. It was awful.” Amy grabbed her brush and ran it through her hair.

“They’re all awful, Babe. All of those reality shows.”

“Well this one was… anyway… on Google…I also saw some stuff about their family. A year or two ago… they lost everything.”

“Meaning? Lost like their house or something?” Terri draped the wash cloth over the side of the bathtub and went to pull back the covers on the bed.

“No. They were… like… rich. Like brazillionaires who lost everything. Business. Home. Everything. Like the government took it all away.” Amy swiped her hands in the air around her to indicate everything was taken from them.

“Shit. That sucks.” Terri stood at looked at her wife, wondering where this conversation was headed. Knowing Amy had her social work hat on and was plotting something.

“I know.” Amy said. Then she grew quiet.

Amy sat on the side of the bed. Set the alarm on her phone. Plugged it in. Settled in beside Terri.

Terri waited.

“I think I want to give him some soap… if it works, I mean.” Amy said quietly.

There it is, Terri thought. But she said out loud, “We haven’t even made the soap, yet.”

Amy nodded. “I know. But when the first batch is done. I want to take some to him.”

“Why? He’s probably already moved on and found something else.” Terri settled into the bed.

“He hasn’t.”

“You’ve been texting.”  Terri asked. Grin on her face.

“We have.”

“It’s your call. If we make the soap and you think it’s worth sharing, we can do that. Whatever you want.” Terri said. Because, yes. Whatever she wants. So long as she’s happy and she’s thinking of future endeavors. She’s making friends. A happy Amy is a happy Terri.

“Good. I want to share with him.” Amy said. She rolled to her side and backed her ample rear end up against her wife.

Terri curled around her, wrapped an arm around her waist. “It’s fine. Whatever you want. But…Aim… tell me why.”

“I can’t explain it, Terr. I just have this… it’s just a feeling in my gut. I feel like I need to share it… if it turns out.”

Terri kissed Amy’s shoulder. Pulled her hair back and out of her way and settled in behind her to sleep. Terri was the big spoon.

++++++

You (7:02 pm):

‘Hi, David. It’s Amy Morgan.’

 

David Rose (7:02 pm):

‘Hi, Amy. You don’t have to tell me who you are. You’re in my phone.’

 

You (7:02 pm):

‘I feel so important.’

 

David Rose (7:02 pm):

‘Once you search tirelessly for soap with someone, you don’t forget them.’

 

You (7:02 pm):

‘Toward that end, I have news.’

 

David Rose (7:03 pm):

*Astonished face emoji*

‘Tell me she’s making soap again.’

 

You (7:03 pm):

‘She is not.’

‘But I bought it from her. I’m going to give it a try.’

 

David Rose (7:03 pm):

*GIF of man tossing glitter in the air saying ‘Yes Girl.’*

‘When it’s done, just name your price and tell me where to meet you.’

 

You (7:03 pm):

‘I’ll be in touch.’

 

David Rose (7:03 pm):

*Victory hand emoji*

++++++

Just as they had in previous springs, they planned their garden. For the first time, they decided to plant an array of herbs that would be harvested for soap, should Amy be successful in her attempts at making it.

With the warm spring came a pregnant goat. Both Terri and Amy doted on Jess. Together they researched what would happen at birth, and were surprised to learn that most goats give birth to multiples – two or three kids.

In May, Amy celebrated her fourth anniversary at work. And in June, the week they celebrated their first wedding anniversary, their little goat family increased with the birth of two kids. Terri sat with Jess well into the night as she struggled to birth her babies. Terri knew that animals knew how to do it on their own, but she still worried. When the second one was born, both of the babies bleating strongly, she wiped the tears from her eyes.

Three weeks after Jess gave birth, Terri milked her for the first time. She didn’t take much, she’d read the importance of leaving milk for the kids. But she needed just enough for Amy to try her hand at making the soap.

It was in July that Amy made her first batch of goat milk bar soap. They used lavender and rosemary they’d dried earlier in the summer. Terri sat in the kitchen with her. They talked through every step. Terri basically just watched her. Amy appeared to know what she was doing.

After pouring the soap into the mold, it had to sit for 24 hours. The next day, they cut the soap into bars. Instructions said the bars had to lay out to cure.

“Six to eight weeks. That’s a long fucking time to wait to see if this worked.” Amy said. They had set up the guest bedroom to be a place where the soap dried.

“Patience my dear.” Terri patted her wife’s rear end.

“Yeah… right.” Amy nodded her head and looked up at her wife. “When have you known me to be patient? And, since when has telling me to be patient worked?”

Amy grabbed a bar of the soap she had just cut and went into the kitchen to try it out. “Surely it’s fine.” She said to Terri who trailed behind her.

She ran the bar under a stream of warm water in the sink and the bar of soap began to disintegrate in her hand. She pulled back her hand and let the shrinking bar fall into the sink. She squealed a sound of discontent.

She looked at Terri who shrugged and said, “Patience my dear.”

Amy rolled her eyes, dried her hands and sighed. “Fuck.”

++++++

One day, toward the end of September, Amy had a moment between supervision meetings at work, so she picked up her phone to let him know the soap was ready.

 

You (2:31 pm):

‘May I have your attention please? I have an announcement!’

 

David Rose (2:31 pm):

‘Tell.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Me.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘The.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Soap.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Is.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Ready.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

 

You (2:31 pm):

‘It.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Is.’ *Clapping hands emoji*

‘Ready!!!!’ *Clapping hands emoji*

 

David Rose (2:31 pm):

‘How do I get it and how much do you want for it?’

 

You (2:32 pm):

‘No charge, you are my test client. I have to make sure it’s up to the quality you and I expect!’

‘Not sure – where do you live? We can meet somewhere.’

 

 

Amy waited and received no response. No text bubble.

Fuck. She thought to herself. I’ve upset him.

She waited. She went back to her work and hoped that he wasn’t too upset.

 

 

David Rose (3:11 pm):

‘I apologize. I had a customer and I try to not have my phone out when one is in the store. She kept me pretty busy.’

 

You (3:11 pm):

‘Customer?’

 

David Rose (3:12 pm):

‘Yes. I work for a place in Elmdale. A clothier.’

 

You (3:12 pm):

‘Ohhhhh! Fancy!’

 

David Rose (3:12 pm):

*Face with rolling eyes emoji*

‘Not that fancy. It’s the Blouse Barn…and it’s in Elmdale. So…’

*Person shrugging emoji*

 

You (3:12 pm):

‘I bet you’re great at that’

 

David Rose (3:13 pm):

‘Unfortunately, we have a clientele base who enjoys a tight, rayon, leopard-print blouse.’

 

You (3:13 pm):

‘Ohhhhh! You have some stories to tell.’

 

David Rose (3:13 pm):

*GIF of Oprah making a face of amusement, nodding hear head in the affirmative. *

 

You (3:14 pm):

‘Do you work on Saturday? I’m off.’

 

David Rose (3:14 pm):

‘I’ll be here.’

 

You (3:14 pm):

‘I’m bringing you some soap. You have to try it and tell me honestly if it is up to the caliber we are used to.’

 

David Rose (3:14 pm):

‘I can meet you in Cedar Grove in the evening. You don’t have to come all the way here.’

 

You (3:15 pm):

‘And me miss out on trying on the leopard print rayon number? I don’t think so!’

 

David Rose (3:15 pm):

*Laughing emoji* ‘If you’re sure.’

 

You (3:15 pm):

‘We love a good road trip. Text me the address. I’ll let you know what time to expect us tomorrow.’

 

David Rose (3:15 pm):

‘I’m VERY excited.’

*Victory hand emoji*

++++++

The following Saturday, Terri and Amy loaded into Terri’s truck and headed for Elmdale. The town was a little over 90 minutes away. Amy insisted they stop at the convenience store before they left town. There she bought snacks for an army.

They listened to music. They chatted. They played eye-spy. They held hands.

When they arrived at the Blouse Barn, Terri stayed in the truck.

Lately, Terri had felt like she was in heaven. Work at the office was good. She hadn’t been called out on assignment for nearly nine months. Amy had weathered the change in administration without sinking into a complete clinical depression. They were having fun with the new goats and the gardens they planted in the spring had produced well. She felt good. And seeing Amy so happy thrilled her.

++++++

She stood outside the store and looked in the window. She wasn’t sure why she was nervous. They’d been talking several times a week for almost a year.

Amy pushed open the door and went inside. An electronic eye near the door set of a ding near the cash register and she saw him raise his head from his task and notice her.

It made her happy that a toothy smile crossed his face. She waited while he finished ringing up the customer. The ease with which he chatted with the patron surprised Amy. He seemed genuine and thoughtful. She knew he was funny and kind when he talked with her, but something made her assume he’d be snarky and rude to customers. He was not.

He walked the customer to the door. “Hope you have fun at the party. It’s good you found the dress you wanted.”

Amy stood near the mannequin and stared up at it. Waiting.

After the customer left and they were alone she turned to look at him.

“Hi.” He said in a quiet voice. He bent his knees and smiled at her again.

“Hi, Friend!” She said.

He approached her and held out his hand for a hand shake.

“I’m going to need a hug, David.” Amy held out both of her arms and they hugged.

“So…” She nodded her head toward the mannequin. “What’s going on with this?”

“I know.” He tilted his head back and rolled his eyes. “They’re a little….”

“Porn-y?” Amy laughed.

“Yes. Porn-y is a good word.” David laughed.

Amy dug in her purse for the package she brought for him. Three bars of soap. Wrapped in a brown wrapper. A black ribbon tied around the set. She handed the package to him.

“Your first delivery of my soap. Please just test it first – on your hand or arm – before you use it….anywhere else.” Amy waved her hand in front of his body.

“I’m so excited. Thankyouverymuch.”

“I’ve tested it and so far, it seems right to me. But I need a second opinion. You have to be honest with me.”  She told him.

“Absolutely. Now… what do I owe you?” He reached into his pocket to retrieve his wallet.

“Nothing. Just being my tester is a big help.” She waved his wallet away.

He reached over and put his hand on her upper arm and squeezed her. She was delighted that he was comfortable enough to touch her. “Will you be making any other product?”

“I’ll get there. Going to start with the soaps. If this bar is good, I will probably do some more bars of other scents. Thinking maybe give them to coworkers for Holiday gifts or something. Then as our goat herd increases, we’ll start exploring the lotions.”

David raised an eyebrow and smiled. “Will you…Umm… Do you think you’ll make….”

“The body milk?” She interrupted him.

He nodded his head with exaggeration. “Ummmm….Yeah!”

“So, she told me that was an easy one to make, but that it was the one that spoiled the quickest. So… I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll make some small batches? But…we have to wait until our milk production is a little better. Don’t want to take too much milk from the kids.”

“Oh. I didn’t know you had children…” David said. He made a face as though he ate something sour.

“I don’t. Kids are baby goats, David.”

“Ohhh. I suppose one learns something new every day.”

The little doorbell noise from behind the register caused them both to turn toward the front door. A small woman with blonde hair came in. Amy took in her appearance. She wore a low cut, purple and white zebra print blouse and a short black miniskirt. She had on multi colored beaded bracelets. A red chunky necklace.

The woman began talking before the door shut behind her. “David. There is a very handsome woman in a truck outside. She could not keep her eyes off of me. I think you’re wrong. This blouse is a perfect attention getter and we should order more.”

She noticed Amy.

“Hello there. I can see that David is helping you, but if you’d like some…feminine… help, I have some nice blouses that just came in… they’re like this one… And they’d perfectly fit your curves. I can pull them from the back….”

“Wendy, this is my friend Amy. She’s just dropping off some soap for me.” David introduced the two women. “And… I’m not certain, but I’d guess that the woman outside is Amy’s wife, Terri.”

Wendy’s face showed no sign of embarrassment when she said, “Well if she liked this blouse on me…imagine what she’d think seeing it on your generous figure!”

Amy smiled broadly. “I’m, OK. Thank you.”

Amy looked at David who pulled his mouth back into a grimace and said, “Sorry.”

“David, I’ll be in the back unpacking the new order.” Wendy waved her hand, her chunky bracelets made noise as they knocked against one another.

Amy made her way to the door. He walked along with her. He thanked her, again, for the soap and promised to report back. They shared another hug and Amy headed back to the truck.

++++++

Sunday night they sat in bed. Amy was reading a book. Terri resting beside her. Sadie tucked between them.

Amy’s phone buzzed.

 

David Rose (9:25 pm):

‘I’m sorry if I’m texting too late. Amy this soap is fucking fabulous!’

 

You (9:25 pm):

‘I’m so glad! I thought so, too!”

 

David Rose (9:25 pm):

‘It’s exactly the same!!!!!’

 

You (9:26 pm):

‘Moving ahead with making the other fragrances! Going to try one that is fragrance free, also.’

 

David Rose (9:26 pm):

‘You could sell this, Amy.’

 

You (9:26 pm):

‘I think I am going to look into it! Thanks, David!’

 

David Rose (9:26 pm):

‘Please keep me posted.’

*Victory hand emoji*

 

You (9:26 pm):

*Face blowing a kiss emoji*

 

She shut out the light and set the alarm on her phone for the morning. She rolled over and snuggled up behind Terri. Wrapped her arm around her. Amy was the big spoon.

She fell to sleep.

++++++

Her body jerked awake when she heard the phone ring. Terri immediately sat up on the side of the bed.

“Fuck, Terri. Fuck. What time is it?”

“It’s after midnight.” Terri stood and answered her phone. “Morgan.” She spoke curtly as she walked out of the bedroom.

Amy sat up. Sadie jumped off the bed and turned circles, so Amy went downstairs with her and let her out to do her business.

When Amy returned to the bedroom, Terri was packing her suitcase.

“How bad is it?” Amy sat on the bed and looked up at her wife.

“It’s bad. Music festival. Outside – hard to contain. They’re still in the chaos. I’m going to take the red eye.” Terri zipped the suitcase closed and lifted it off the bed.

“Where?” Amy stood; arms crossed in front of herself.

 

“Vegas.”

 

++

Chapter Text

++++++

They prepared for their annual Thanksgiving with family and friends. Amy sent out the invites. Amy planned the menu. Amy did the shopping. Terri was tired. Exhausted – emotionally. Physically.

She’d been called out twice, two weeks in a row, earlier in the month. Once to Texas. Once to California. Only a few weeks after the Vegas massacre – yes, it was a massacre and Terri would argue with anyone who said it wasn’t.

In less than a month she’d been to three locations, where there was a total of 89 deceased victims. Over 900 injured. The month had wrung it out of her.

Amy worried about her wife. She encouraged Terri to go to the Y and play basketball with her team. Because she’d been away so much, she had opted out of being the basketball league that had brought her joy the last few years.

She slept a lot. But Amy kept an eye on her because when she slept, she had nightmares. She’d wake with a jerk. Wipe tears away. Then carry on as though nothing had happened. The bad dreams were coming more rapidly than they ever had.

It took every ounce of control Amy had to keep her concerns to herself. Every amount of strength within herself to not beg her wife to stop saving the world and just save herself.

++++++

Their agency was closed the day before Thanksgiving and Terri took advantage of the day off. She slept late. She woke to Amy smacking her rear end.

“Get up.” Amy said. She pulled back the covers on the bed.

“Stop.” Terri said. She covered her head with her pillow.

“Get up and put these on.” Amy tried again. She sat clothes down on the bed beside Terri.

“What.” Terri squinted her eyes as she looked up at Amy.

“We’re going to the Y. Your friends have a game planned. We leave in an hour.”

Terri groaned and rolled over again.

“Goddamn it, Terri.” Amy raised her voice. She pulled back the covers again. “I’m not fucking around. I will not allow this funk on our holiday. Get your fucking ass out of bed and get dressed.” Amy walked toward the door and turned back. “NOW! Goddamnit!”

Terri pulled the covers up to her chin and fell back to sleep.

++++++

They were into the second quarter and her blood was pumping. Sweat rolled down her back. Terri’s mood shifted from one of being annoyed at being forced to play to one of being exhilarated by the game. She could play without thinking. The muscle memory of the movements eased her weary mind.

Whoever’s idea it was to invite Mel was fucking brilliant, Terri thought. They, of course, played opposite one another and Terri was driven to beat her without fouling.

When Mel took the ball down the court, Terri was there.

When Terri had it and headed methodically around the side, dribbling slowly, she looked into Mel’s eyes. Mel, walking backward challenged her.

“She’s cute.” Terri jerked her head to the side, indicating the young woman up in the stands who was cheering for Mel.

“She’s alright.” Mel said.

Terri bent low, dribbled quickly and turned her body around Mel. Taking the shot and making it.

At the other end of the court, Terri’s arms out, they danced to the side. She moved quickly and failed to take the ball from Mel.

“What number is she, Mel? How many since me? Four? Five?” Terri asked.

“None of your business, Morgan.” Mel turned around her, took a shot. Two points.

One of the players called a time out. Terri sat on the bench and guzzled water. She heard a “Go, Baby! Go!” and turned to look up at Amy. She smiled and winked at her wife who she knew was obnoxiously cheering for her knowing she was playing her former girlfriend. In a game that Amy set up.

Back on the court, the two played more intensely than before. Terri’s teammates saw it. They knew Terri enough to know there was nothing they could do to stop it. Terri’s heart pounded. God this felt good.

Terri moved with Mel in front of her, arms in the air working to keep the ball away. “If you need the name of a therapist, I can get you one.” Terri said to her. Her hands itching to push Mel away from her.

“Lived with one for fifteen years. That’s more than I ever needed.” Mel grunted when she reached and missed at intercepting the ball.

Terri grabbed the ball that was thrown to her. Dribbled, turned, moved. Mel stopped her short. “Havin’ trouble keepin’ someone after me, though.” Terri said. Turning, shooting. Two points.

At the other end of the court, Terri stood in front of Mel working to keep the ball from being passed to her. She heard Mel say from behind her, “You know me, Babe. One of you can’t satisfy me.”

Terri drew her elbow forward and then jerked it backward. She rammed it into Mel’s side.

“Hey!” Their friend who was refereeing the game called out. “Morgan! What the hell?”

Terri stood and waited for Mel’s free throw. Grabbed the ball when it bounced off the rim and ran to the other end of the court and tossed it in for 3 points.

Terri knew she should have tapped out. She knew she was agitated and was making the situation worse. They went down to the other end of the court, and Terri took the ball. She moved forward. Aggressively.

Mel pressed her. Terri tried to move around her. As she moved around, Mel said, “Heard your wife likes dick.”

Terri charged forward. Shoulder checking Mel.

“Woah!” the referee called. “Morgan! Shit! Knock it off!”

Terri waited at the line. Waited for Mel to throw the ball and miss again. She made it. Both of them.

Terri had the ball again. Moving forward. Mel in her face, “If you couldn’t keep me satisfied, how the fuck are you going to keep a dick-loving little thing like her from wandering?”

Terri dropped the ball and lunged forward.

Her hands landed on Mel’s chest as she shoved her. Mel fell backward onto the floor. Terri’s hand moved to the back of her shorts. She pulled out a gun. She straddled Mel and held the gun to her head.

“TERRI!” She heard Amy call from behind her. “TERRI!”

Then she felt Amy’s hands on her. Shaking her. “Terri. Come on.”

Terri woke with a start. Her heart beat loudly in her ears. She turned over to see Amy standing beside the bed.

“Terri. Damnit. Wake up. You have a game to play at the Y in 20 minutes.”

Terri moved quickly to sit on the side of the bed. She reached out for her and pulled Amy close.

Amy, standing between Terri’s knees, was startled at how tightly Terri was holding her. Her face pressed against Amy’s breasts. Terri had been sweating. Amy held her hand to Terri’s back and felt her heart pounding.

Amy rubbed her hand on Terri’s back. “Love. What is it? Did you have another bad dream?”

Terri nodded her head. Her breathing still rapid.

Amy ran her hand through Terri’s hair that was damp with sweat. “Tell me. What was it?”

Terri shook her head. She tightened her hold.

“Honey. You’ve been having a lot of them lately.” Amy tried to soothe her.                                                                                                          

“I know.” Terri mumbled.

Amy hesitated before asking, “You need to make an appointment to see Tamara?”

“Yeah. I think so.” Terri mumbled, surprising Amy.

“We’ll do that first thing on Monday. Now, let’s get you dressed and get you to the ball game.”

Terri shook her head again.

“Honey, what?” Amy asked her.

“Did you make plans for Mel to be there?” She said against Amy’s breast.

Amy pulled back. “God no. Why the fuck would I do that?”

Terri smiled. She stood. “Just… just making sure, Babe.”

Terri slowly began to move. She consciously made the effort to shake off the dream and headed to get dressed to meet her friends.

++++++

Karen sat in the barn on a bale of hay, watching Terri milk the goats. The others were inside preparing the Thanksgiving meal. Karen’s husband working alongside Amy, Nan, Pop, Terri’s parents, and their many friends from the office who had nowhere else to go for the holiday. Their traditional friends and family Thanksgiving Day was well underway.

“I’m glad you’re going to go back to therapy. Sounds like you need to debrief.” Karen told her.

“Yup.” Terri nodded. Head down. Hands milking.

“So, what are the dreams about?” Karen asked her.

“Different things. They come randomly, but they’re very specific. They all end the same way. Regardless of who’s in them.” Terri concentrated on the task at hand. She knew her friend was going to pull it out of her eventually.

“You might as well just tell me.”

“They all end with me pulling a gun out and shooting someone. Usually … I’m not proud of this…”

“Mel?”

“Yeah.” Terri nodded.

Karen chuckled. When she caught the scolding eye of her friend she apologized. “Sorry. I didn’t mean any disrespect.”

“It’s alright.” Terri took the goat back to the stall and leaned against it.

“You two never had real closure.” Karen said.

“I know. She never allowed it. I know what the dreams are about.” Terri said.

“Honestly? You know they’re not just about her.” Karen said bluntly.

“I know.” Terri walked the goat back to her stall.

“When are you going to stop that job, Terri?”

“I can’t. I just… Kare, I can’t. Not now.”

“You’ll find it. There will be a straw that breaks the camel’s back. I just hope… Terr… don’t make us all lose you because of your drive to help all of them.” Karen told her what everyone around Terri felt. Few had the guts to do so.

“I’m starving. Let’s go see if dinner is ready.” Terri, full milk bucket in hand, motioned with her head in the direction of the house.

++++++

The following months found both Terri and Amy productive and happy.

Terri wasn’t called out, and she was able to work though some issues with Tamara, the therapist she and Amy saw when they hit the rough patch early in their relationship. Terri trusted Tamara and her methods, and she committed to doing what is sometimes hard for a therapist. She did everything her therapist asked her to do.

Tamara asked Terri to talk. And she did so willingly. She talked about the stress of the job. Talked about her frustration about the lack of gun-control legislation. Talked about her fear of an incident happening closer to home, closer to Amy. Talked about the death threats. Talked about her marriage and her desire for children. Talked about her regular work and her fear that it wouldn’t be enough for her if she ever decided to stop going on assignment.

But mostly Tamara forced Terri to talk about the what ifs. What if Terri stopped. What if Terri had to learn that it would all go on without her. What if someone else stepped in and took care of things. Because…in the end…we are all replaceable. All of us. And even though she was Terri Fuckin’ Morgan, she was not the only one who could help people who were victims of gun violence.

Amy decided to put more energy into the soap making and began to make it in earnest after Thanksgiving. Mostly her goal at first was to make soap for all their friends, office mates, and family. She wanted to ask them to try it and let her know if they liked it. When she received positive feedback, she kicked it in gear. She began to make more bars with different fragrances. Then she pulled out the recipe she had purchased from the previous owner and began making two types of liquid soaps: one for hand pumps by the bathroom sink and one to be used in the shower. She loved them both.

When she was sure she had a good amount of stock, she investigated renting a table at the farmer’s market in Cedar Grove. She worked hard to arrange to have the same corner area where the previous owner of the soap business sat, in hopes of getting some of her old customers.

++++++

It was late January. A Saturday. She was at the farmer’s market. Because it was winter, they were inside. She had her spot in the corner and it was her third Saturday in a row to be there.

She bagged up the purchase of a customer and she caught of glimpse of him as he came into the room. Then she noticed when he spotted her and held his hand in the air and waved at her.

“Hi!” She called brightly to him as he neared her. She rounded the table and came around to greet him with a hug. A kiss on the cheek.

“Hi.” He greeted her quietly. “Looks like someone’s been busy making new product.”

“I have! I want to send some home with you.” Amy said.

“Have you started getting a good flow of customers?”  He asked.

“Yeah. Most of them looking for the old product.”

“I’m sure they’re happy you’re here.” He said. He touched her shoulder. Squeezed it gently.

“Well, at least someone is happy I’m here.” She rolled her eyes. She moved back to behind the booth.

“Uh-oh. What’s wrong?” He asked.

“David. I…umm…” Three women came up to her table. She leaned over to David and whispered, “I probably need to get back at it. Damnit, I want to talk.” She didn’t want to be rude by having a conversation with her friend. She greeted he women warmly.

“If I stick around, do you want to go to lunch?” David asked her.

Amy excitedly agreed and they quickly made plans to meet in the parking lot after the market officially closed down at noon.

David left her so she could give her customers her undivided attention. If there is one thing he understood completely, it was the importance of good customer service.

++++++

She sat at the restaurant with her friend across from her. He bounced his straw around in his water glass and they waited for their food while she talked.

She told him about the successful feedback from friends, coworkers, and family about the product she had them test.

“Obviously.” He rolled his eyes and shook his head.

She told him that she felt confident that the soap would sell and she was beginning to try her hand at the lotion.

“Please tell me you are going to make the body milk.” David interrupted her. “Please.”

“For sure. It seems pretty straight forward. My only hesitation is…”

“It’s shelf life.” David finished for her.

“Exactly.”

“You have to know for sure how much will sell before you start making it. You don’t want it to go bad before you sell it all. That’s just money down the drain.” He waved his hand in front of himself.

“Exactly.” She said again.

“So why don’t you like the farmer’s market?” He asked her directly.

“I like making the product. I like that it is a project that Terri and I work on together, you know?” Amy said.

“Sure.” David nodded.

“But…I work all week. We used to make it on the weekend, but when I’m here most of a Saturday? It takes away from that time. So now we make soap at night. There’s…I mean…there’s just no down time. Does that make sense?” She tried to explain it.

“Down time is important. I understand that.” He agreed with her. “So… in a perfect world, what would you do? Do you want to stop making the soap?”

She shook her head as she drank her tea. “I love the soap.”

“I do, too. But not at the cost of someone’s happiness.” David reached a hand across the table and patted the back of hers.

Their food arrived. David pulled his hand back and settled it in his lap. He twisted his rings under the table as he looked at his burger and waited for his friend to finish talking. He didn’t want to be rude and eat when he should be listening.

Amy suddenly stopped. “David, you can eat while I’m talking.”

He smiled at her and began to eat.

She told him that she wished she could just make her product and have someone else sell it. She didn’t feel like she could, at this point, pay someone to sit at her booth. But hoped she could work toward that.

She didn’t want to be a sales person. She wasn’t a sales person. She was a social worker. A social worker who found joy and stress relief in making a product. A social worker who did not find joy in sitting and talking to people every Saturday morning in hopes that they’d buy her product.

She didn’t want to talk anyone into buying anything. “I’m just… I don’t like that part.”

He listened. She talked. They ate.

She turned the conversation to him. “So… how’s the dress barn?”

“Mmmm.” He held up a finger. He swallowed his bit of food.

“Blouse Barn.” He corrected her.

“Sorry. Blouse…Barn. How’s it going?” She asked.

“Actually, it’s… over. Didn’t I tell you?”

And then he told her about the closing of the store and the deal he garnered for Wendy. He told her she gave him some money, though he didn’t share the amount.

“Well good for you. I’m glad she showed her appreciation to you.” Amy kicked his leg under the table. “So…what’s your next step?”

He tilted his head and squinted his eyes. “I don’t know? There are… umm…some things I’ve been thinking about.”

“Well, there are plenty of jobs out there for someone who’s as talented as you are.” Amy readily assured him. “You have really good taste, David. And you’re smart. Really…there are a lot of things you could do.”

Amy insisted on paying for his meal since, as she put it, he was between jobs. She gave him a small bag of her new products. They left each other with a hug, cheek kisses, and a promise to check in with one another again.

++++++

It was only a couple of weeks later when she received a text from him.

David Rose (6:09 pm):

‘Amy. When you have time and aren’t too busy, can we talk?’

 

You (6:09 pm):

‘Just sitting here watching a cooking show on television. What’s up?”

 

David Rose (6:09 pm):

‘I’ve been thinking about my next chapter.’

‘Wondered if I could run it by you.’

 

You (6:09 pm):

‘of course’

 

David Rose (6:09 pm):

‘The store in our town is closing. I’m thinking of putting in an application for the lease.’

 

You (6:10 pm):

‘What do you want to do with it?’

 

David Rose (6:10 pm):

‘Would you consider letting me sell your product?’

 

You (6:10 pm):

‘Fuck me. I’m not having this conversation on text. I’m calling you.’

‘Right. Now.’

‘OK?’

 

David Rose (6:10 pm):

‘OK’

 

Amy called David and they immediately began to talk about the idea. He wasn’t sure he could get the lease on the store. The building was managed by the town council and they had to approve.

She wasn’t sure his idea for the store was clear in his head yet. He had trouble putting to words exactly what he wanted. But the more she asked him, the more they talked, the more she thought he had a good idea.

They hung up with the understanding that if he got the lease… and… if he had other vendors who would agree…she would consider signing a short-term agreement to sell her product in his store.

In the meantime, she would investigate creating more product for him to come look at if he got the idea off the ground.

“It might be a while,” he warned.

“Give me an estimate.”

“Maybe a few months,” he warned.

“Work harder. See if you can do it sooner.” She challenged him.

“I’ll try.” He said quietly.

“If you can free my Saturdays, David Rose,” She said with joy in her voice, “I’ll sign any agreement you put in front of me. Next week, next month, or next year.”

“M’Kay, you realize that’s not good business to blindly sign something before reading it thoroughly.” He said dryly.

She laughed.

++++++

She would have told you that the Wednesday started like any other. But it was Valentine’s Day, so there was a little spring in her step. She loved Valentine’s Day. That is, she loved celebrating Valentine’s Day with Amy.

She always wanted it to be special before she ever met Amy, but Mel always thought it was a frivolous day. A day made up by the card companies to sell a bunch of crap, Mel used to say.

But at her core, Terri was a romantic. She loved how much Amy liked being the recipient of Terri’s enjoyment for the special day. She had booked them a table at their favorite restaurant. The one where they had their first date. She had flowers delivered in the morning to Amy’s office.

Amy stopped by Terri’s office in between her afternoon appointments. She stood in the doorway and looked at her wife sitting at her desk, taking on her phone. Terri wore a red sweater over her white button-down shirt. The red sweater she pulled out once a year. One white heart knitted into the weave of the sweater over the left side of her chest. Amy couldn’t help the smile that crossed her face as she thought about the sentimentality her wife possessed over this day.

Terri turned in her chair when she saw out of the corner of her eye that someone had entered her office. She looked at Amy.

One look told Amy all she needed to know. Fuck.

Amy shut Terri’s office door and sat down across from her at her desk. She watched Terri’s face as she spoke on the phone. She listened to her words. She knew it was bad.

When Terri hung up, face crestfallen, Amy asked the question she always asked at such a time.

“Where?”

“Florida.”

“School?”

“Yup.”

Terri stood and pulled the sweater she wore up over her head and tossed it across the room into the corner.

“Fuck.” Terri whispered. She shook her head. Hands settled on her waist; she paced the room.

“Are you going?” Amy asked her.

“I have to.”

“Terr…”

Terri turned and looked solemnly at her wife.

“You know if you want to go, I completely support you. But we both know…you don’t have to go.” Amy rose and walked near her wife. She held out a hand.

“Aim.” Terri took Amy’s hand. “I need to go.”

Amy pulled Terri close for an embrace. Terri held her tightly and said quietly, “I don’t know how many more of these I have left in me.”

“You’ll know, Love. You’ll know when it’s time to stop.” Amy assured her.

++++++

The next week was a busy one for Terri, of course. She worked the project with her normal efficient and serious demeanor. But … this one seemed different.

The survivors, though filled with grief, were pissed.

They had every right to be.

And seeing their anger, Terri felt a wave of emotions she didn’t normally allow herself to feel.

In general, taking care of the survivors and the families of the victims was a task where she helped them figure out their emotions. Helped them begin to come to terms with the various levels of grief and loss. But this group? They collectively moved straight to anger and it was focused. Focused from the beginning.

And Terri was proud of them.

Well-spoken kids. No…not kids. Young adults. These teenagers had something to say from the moment they were assaulted, and they had the nation’s ear. Some people, one news outlet in particular, tried to write them off as know-it-all kids. Mouthy kids.

They were not.

They were young adults who were well spoken, organized, and strong.

 

Articulate.

Intelligent.

Formidable.

 

A few of them sat down with Terri behind closed doors to ask her for advice. She gave it to them.

Her work looked different that week.

Yes, she did the training. She met with area counselors and therapists and taught them the specialized techniques of dealing with traumatized victims. Yes, she certainly met with the families of those who died, to help them begin to process their grief.

But the survivors? Overall, they needed her in a different way.

And she loved it.

She found energy in the movement that was starting right before her eyes. She met with the survivors. Their parents. Their teachers. She listened to their words when they were in their planning meetings and when they were in front of the cameras. She applauded them and offered them anything they needed to support them in their efforts.

++++++

She sat with him the night before she was to fly home. They sat at the bar in the hotel where they stayed. Her boss. The man who started it all.

“I’m done.” Terri said to him. “I need to stop.”

He nodded slowly as his fingers turned his glass in his hands. “You’ve lasted longer than anyone else, Terri. No shame in stepping away.”

She kept talking. “I’ll help train them, if you want. I’ll help with the debriefing of the ones you send out. I’ll keep helping you with the books if you want.”

“But…?” He asked, knowing she needed to say more. Needed to unburden herself.

“No more on-sight assignments. I can’t keep leaving her at the drop of a hat for a week at a time.”

“She’s been very supportive.” Her boss said. It was true. He’d managed this program for over two decades and nobody had given him as much of their time, their talent, than Terri Morgan. And no spouse had been as gracious and supportive as Amy.

The two talked. Terri told him how she worried that nobody would give it the same attention she did. She told him how she feared walking away from it and not feeling the same sense of personal value in her day-to-day work.

She also shared with him her larger fear that she could continue doing this until it ruined her relationship and put her in a grave and the shootings would still continue. Her original plan of doing it until the shootings no longer happened could never be a reality.

She told him she was disappointed in herself for not making a bigger difference.

“Terri Morgan.” He said, shaking his head. “I think your arms tell the story of a person who made the world of difference to some very specific people. Don’t sell their experience short, because you feel like you didn’t meet your goal.”

Terri’s steel blue eyes stung with unshed tears.

He assured her that he could still use her expertise. He asked her to help him with a writing project – he wanted to write about this uprising he felt happening. This surge of serious discontent outside and inside the NRA.

He asked her to continue to be the face for his organization, because few people could be as eloquent on camera. Few could have the same calm demeanor that she had when being interviewed.

“Plus, you’re a fucking bad ass, Terri. When you are on camera, people notice.” That complement caused her to throw her head back and laugh.

They came to an agreement and clinked their whiskey glasses to confirm it. Terri instantly felt a weight lift from her chest.

She went to her room. She felt light. On her feet. In her spirit. When she was in the room, she pulled her phone out of her pocket to text Amy.

 

You (11:01 pm):

‘Check in text.’

 

Wife (11:01 pm):

‘Hello, my love!’ *Face blowing a kiss emoji*

 

You (11:01 pm):

‘Coming home tomorrow. Plane lands at 1.’

 

Wife (11:01 pm):

*Clapping hands emoji*Clapping hands emoji**Clapping hands emoji*

‘Can’t wait to see you.’

 

You (11:02 pm):

‘Same’ *Red heart emoji*

 

Wife (11:02 pm):

‘Those kids are fucking amazing!’

‘Been watching every news report I can.’

 

You (11:02 pm):

‘They ARE amazing. Loved every minute with them.’

‘They’re going to do big things.’

 

Wife (11:02 pm):

‘How about you?’

 

You (11:03 pm):

‘This was the last one, Aim.’

‘I told him tonight.’

‘Last one. I’m done.’ *Shoulder shrug emoji*

 

Terri smiled when her phone’s vibration told her Amy was calling her.

She touched the screen to start the conversation her wife had waited to hear from the moment they had their first date.

++++++

The plane landed. Terri, exhausted, sat in her seat and let all those around her get on their way. She stood and pulled her bag out of the overhead storage area. She made her way off the plane and through the terminal.

As she rounded the corner and looked down the concourse, her face broke into a wide smile. Tears sprang to her eyes.

There she saw them. Amy. Nan and Pop. Karen, Jordi, and several others from work. Mr. Thompson. A few friends from the basketball league.

 

They held balloons.

Congratulations!

You Did It!

We Love You!

 

They held signs.

Welcome Home, Terri.

Job well done.

Thank you!

 

As she walked toward them, she brushed away a tear.

And then she laughed when she heard her wife call loud and clear for all to hear.

TERRI! FUCKIN! MORGAN!” Before she ran the length of the concourse and jumped into Terri's arms.

++++++

Terri closed up the barn. Checked on the animals for the night. She thought about her wife taking care of all the animals while she was away. Happy that they would not be doing it for long stretches of time any longer.

Sadie trailed behind her as she walked through the lower level of the house. Turning out lights. Setting the security alarm.

She hoped she would find her there.

She did.

Amy. Sitting in the middle of their bed. Wearing a pink nighty. Hair loose from the clip she’d taken to wearing to keep it off her face. Brown curls surrounded her face and glowed in the light cast from the small lamp by the bed.

The song played quietly. The song she’d been listening to virtually on a loop since November.

Terri stood in the doorway… and began to cry.

Amy knew. She knew since November that this day was coming. She knew her wife had to get there. Knew she had to be out on assignment to end the assignments.

She knew it had to be a school that drove her to it. The schools were the hardest for her. The schools made her think of her little sister.

Amy knew that nobody could make the decision but Terri. And Amy was so relieved she finally made the decision.

Amy got off the bed and went to her wife. She held out her hand and pulled Terri into the bedroom, into her arms.

Terri began to sway to the song.

“You know I listened to this song every time I come home from assignment, ever since I heard the song the first time a few years ago.” Terri said quietly.

“On a loop for at least a week.” Amy grinned as she kissed Terri’s neck.

They danced quietly. Amy’s hands on Terri’s back. Her hands slid up and down the smooth fabric of Terri’s cotton button up shirt.

“I’ve done this job for a long time.” Terri said.

“…. Since Columbine.” Amy said quietly. More kisses on Terri’s neck.

“Nineteen years, Aim.” Terri shook her head. She didn’t stop the tears. She let them fall.

“Thank you for not making it twenty.” Amy slid her hands up Terri’s chest and wrapped them behind Terri’s neck. She pulled her down to kiss her damp cheeks.

“I didn’t do enough.” Terri choked back a sob. She stopped swaying. Stopped dancing.

“Mary Terrese Morgan.” Amy’s hands did not hesitate to quickly unbutton Terri’s shirt. She tugged it out of the waistband of her pants and pushed it back over her shoulders.

Terri followed her movements and shrugged off the shirt. Tossed it to the floor by the bed.

Terri knew what Amy was doing. Her tears continued to flow. She hadn’t cried that hard for as long as she could remember.

Amy took Terri by the hand and moved her to the bed. Terri sat. Amy stood in front of her. One of Terri’s hands in her own.

Amy ran her fingers over Terri’s arm. Traced the small blocks and the letters in them. “These families? Terri, they’ll never forget what you did for them.”

Amy’s hands ran over the ivy, the butterflies. These people? That church? You went there when your own life was in danger. In spite of the threats, you went. And they had support and guidance through their grief because you were brave.

She took Terri’s other hand in hers and traced the little flower. The lily. “Your sweet little sister…the one who started it all? Oh…Terri…she’d be so proud of her big sister.”

Terri reached out for Amy. Pulled her close and rested her forehead against Amy’s breasts. She choked out sobs that wracked her body.

“Baby. It’s OK to be sad.” Amy said. “You loved the job even though you hated why you had to do it.”

Terri nodded her head. She couldn’t speak. Please keep talking. She thought to herself. Please keep going, Amy.

“It fed your sense of self-purpose. For nineteen fucking years, Terri.” Amy’s hand worked to soothe her.

Keep talking. She thought to herself. Please, Amy, keep talking.

“You’ll never be able to count the people you helped. It’s not a finite number, Love.” Amy told her as she ran her hands through Terri’s hair.

Terri turned her head. Rested her cheek against Amy’s breast. She tightened her grip around her waist.

“And it won’t end. All those you trained, they’ll continue to support and help because you taught them. And the new work you’ll do? Training. Talking to the public? Your work isn’t done, Love. You’re just going to pass the torch so that you can be here more.”

Terri nodded her head. The hiccups from her crying were subsiding.

“I’m so fucking selfish. I’m so happy you’re going to be here more. At work…here at home.” Amy breathed deeply knowing that her inhalations and exhalations were encouraging Terri to do the same.

Terri’s hands moved to Amy’s rear end. Cupped her loosely. Caressed her. Her hands slid down to caress the smooth flesh of Amy’s thighs.

“Terr…Now that we’re looking at this new future? Now…? Now… I’m ready.” Amy pulled back slightly and looked down at Terri who had pulled back and looked up at her wife.

Terri raised her eyebrows. One side of her mouth pulled back very slightly into the start of a grin.

“If you’re ready to not go out on assignment,…Love, I’m ready to start building our family.” Amy said.

“You sure?” Terri asked. She stood.

Amy’s hand moved to wipe the tears from Terri’s cheek. “Easiest decision of my life.”

++++++

They lay in bed. Spent from their love making. Amy backed up against Terri’s front. On their sides. Terri was the big spoon.

Her hands roamed over the smooth skin of Amy’s hip.

“You’re really ready? For kids?” Terri asked her quietly. Worried that Amy’s decision was an emotional one and she would change her mind.

“Yeah. I am.” Amy rolled to her back and looked up at her wife. “There are so many kids that need a home. I mean, we could start looking into it.”

“I think we need to use a different agency than our own.” Terri said. Always worried about boundaries and ethical issues.

“What age?” Terri asked her.

“Don’t hate me.” Amy said.

“You want a young one.” Terri grinned. Her fingers brushed Amy’s hair off her forehead.

“I know you do a lot with teenagers, but I just…”

Terri interrupted it. “You don’t have to explain it. We will do whatever you want, Babe. Whatever. You. Want.” She punctuated her words with kisses.

“Terri…I…I just want to be a mom so bad. I didn’t want to do it if I had to do it alone.” Amy said.

“I didn’t know that was what we were waiting for. Maybe I would have…”

“No. Don’t say it.” Amy stopped her. She rolled over and faced Terri. “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to make it an ultimatum. I needed you to come to the decision to end all on your own.”

“Amy. This year…it’s going to be a big year for us.” Terri said.

Amy’s smile spread across her face and reached her eyes. “Oh my god, Terri…A big year.”

++

End of Year 5: Part 1 of X

++

Chapter Text

++++++

She sat talking at the kitchen table with her Nan after Sunday lunch. Terri was in the living room with Pop watching the basketball game. Or so Amy thought.

“Amy. You need to tell her.” Nan said quietly to Amy.

“Tell her what?” Terri asked. She stood just inside the kitchen.

“That I’m ready to go home.” Amy said with a forced smile.

Terri took in the faces of Amy and her grandmother. Watched them exchange looks. Nan’s look of frustration. Amy’s look of annoyance.

Terri didn’t hesitate. She gathered Amy and her things. They said their goodbyes and hit the road for home.

++++++

Terri gave Amy time alone, at her request. She puttered around the barn. Brushed down Cagney and Lacy. Freshened the water for the animals. Sat and played with the baby goats.

Amy drew a bath and soaked in the hot water. Let the bubbles around her fade away. As the water cooled, she drained some of it and ran more hot water into the tub. She sat in the water and held back her tears. She needed to tell Terri. She was afraid she would be upset.

Eventually, Terri made her way up to their bedroom. She found Amy still in the tub.

Terri sat on the end of the bed and watched through the doorway to the bathroom as Amy, head resting on the back of the tub, reached up and wiped a tear off her cheek.

“Just tell me, Babe.” Terri said. She untied her shoes, pulled them off, and sat them on the floor at the end of the bed. She pulled her sweatshirt up over her head and tossed it into the hamper. Nothing could be that bad, could it? She thought to herself.

“Come hold me?” Amy asked her.

Terri shed the rest of her clothing and, without hesitation, moved to the tub. Amy moved forward and Terri settled in behind her. Terri’s legs spread around her wife. Amy rested her back against Terri’s front. Amy’s hands rested on Terri’s thighs. Terri’s hands settled on Amy’s arms.

They sat in silence.

“Don’t be mad at me.” Amy began to cry.

“Babe. What has gotten you so worked up?” Terri’s hands moved down Amy’s arms. She held each of her hands.

Amy tilted her head back to rest on Terri’s shoulder.

Terri waited.

“I don’t want to adopt. At least…not right now.” Amy suddenly blurted out. She continued to cry.

Terri was glad Amy’s back was to her so she didn’t see the startled expression that Terri knew she didn’t hold in. “Oh….OK.”

Terri was disappointed. She had hoped that Amy’s desire for a child was a solid one. Terri’s worries were right. Amy’s decision to have kids was an emotional one. A reaction to Terri quitting the job.

“We don’t have to have kids, Amy. We both need to really want them to have them.” Terri said. “It’ll be OK.”

“No. No, no, no.” Amy sat up and turned around so she faced Terri in the bathtub. “No. Terri. I want kids. I want them. I just…” Amy stopped talking. She dropped her head.

“Amy. Babe. Please, just say it.” Terri shook her head.

“I want … I want to be pregnant.” She blurted out.

“Oh.” Terri was stunned. This information was not what she expected.

“I want…Terr… I’m almost 35. If I’m … if I am ever…going to have a baby…give birth to a baby… I need to do it soon. We can adopt if we want more. But… Terri I…I know it’s selfish because there are so many kids who need a home… but…I really… I really want to experience pregnancy. Childbirth.” Amy wept as she rambled and bared her soul to her wife.

Terri laughed. She threw back her head and laughed, which caught Amy off guard.

“Why are you laughing at me?” Amy slapped Terri’s arm.  

“Oh babe. You scared me. I thought you meant you didn’t want kids. I’ll take kids however we decide to bring them into our home. If you want to make a baby… let’s make a baby!” Terri pulled her close and kissed her.

Amy huffed out a laugh and wiped a tear from her cheek. “Well. I’m not sure if you remember your junior high biology class, Love. But it’s not that easy of a thing for two women to do.”

Terri shrugged. “That’s just logistics. We can figure it out. We can make it happen.”

++++++

Amy had not been happier in a long while. Terri was home with the promise of not being called out at a moment’s notice to be gone for a week or more at a time. There were plans on the calendar for her to do speaking engagements. Plans for her to conduct seminars where she trained people to do what she used to do. But none of the activities required a time commitment of longer than one or two nights’ stay away from home. And, most important to Amy, all were planned well in advance.

They purchased more goats and had kicked up production on some of the product, knowing that Amy intended on signing an agreement with David soon.

One Friday night at the end of February, they went to their room early. While Terri sat on their bed, computer on her lap typing notes for the book, Amy was in the middle of a very long text exchange with her friend.

 

You (8:09 pm):

‘So, what exactly does he do?’

 

David Rose (8:09 pm):

‘Not sure. Paperwork of some kind. For a local guy who does real estate and about four other businesses.’

 

You (8:09 pm):

‘So, he’s a real estate agent?’

 

David Rose (8:09 pm):

‘No. He’s a business major. He does paper work or something.’

‘He helped me file my license.’

‘He helped me organize my notes for my business plan.’

 

You (8:10 pm):

‘OK. And you’re bringing him with you tomorrow?’

 

David Rose (8:10 pm):

‘Yes. He offered to come along.’

 

You (8:10 pm):

‘You feel like you need him to look at the documents we’ll be signing?’

 

David Rose (8:10 pm):

‘No. Not at all.’

‘Though, he did help me draw them up.’

 

You (8:11 pm):

‘So he’s coming along because…?’

 

David Rose (8:11 pm):

‘Because it’s a long trip and I can use the company.’

 

You (8:11 pm):

‘Oh. I see.’

*GIF of Jess from New Girl forming the shape of a heart with her hands*

 

David Rose (8:11 pm):

‘No. Amy.’

‘Patrick is just a friend.’

 

You (8:12 pm):

‘Patrick.’

*GIF of Patrick the starfish from Sponge Bob leaning on two hands with hearts flowing above him*

 

David Rose (8:12 pm):

‘There will be ZERO Sponge Bob references from this point forward.’

*GIF of Jess from New Girl crossing her arms in front of herself saying ‘Shut it down’*

 

You (8:12 pm):

‘Sorry. No more Patrick GIFs’

‘So. Just a friend? How long have you known him?’

 

David Rose (8:12 pm):

‘Not long.’

 

You (8:13 pm):

‘What does that mean?’

 

David Rose (8:13 pm):

‘A few days’

 

You (8:13 pm):

‘A road trip with someone you barely know.’

‘We warn against that sort of thing in my line of work.’

 

David Rose (8:13 pm):

‘I know him. He’s a nice guy. I can learn things from him.’

 

You (8:13 pm):

‘Oh I’m sure.’ *Winking face emoji*

 

David Rose (8:14 pm):

‘Stop it.”

“I don’t know his preferences, but my read on him is that I’m not his type.’

‘You’ll see.’

 

You (8:14 pm):

‘Can’t wait to meet him.’

‘You want to come for lunch? What time will you be here?’

 

David Rose (8:14 pm):

‘We are stopping to see several vendors on our way. Should be there after noon. No time for food, but can’t wait to see all the new product!’

++++++

“What do you think about David?” Amy asked Terri. She plugged in her phone and set the alarm.

Terri leaned over and put her computer on the bedside table. “What do you mean?”

“I mean…What do you think of him being our donor?” Amy said.

“Oh….” Terri sat for a moment thinking about it.

“Oh…What?” Amy asked.

“I don’t love the idea of knowing the donor. We’d have to get lawyers involved. But… he’s a nice enough guy. If you’re interested in him… we can talk about it, I guess.  But…can you wait to talk to him until we’ve discussed it more?”

“Oh….for sure.” Amy shook her head. “I wouldn’t want to ask him right now, anyway. We’re doing this business deal and I wouldn’t want him to think we’re tying a donation to the deal we are about to do.”

“He’s a smart guy. I’m sure he’d understand that.” Terri said.

“I know, but….I just don’t want us to send any wrong message.” Amy clarified.

“Alright. Well… let’s just hold it for a while…do a little research on options… revisit it down the road?”

“I don’t want to wait too long, though. Terri I don’t want to be much older with a pregnancy. It needs to happen this year.”

“I know, Babe. But give it a month or so. Then we can talk about it.”

“But you’re OK with David being on the table?” Amy asked.

“Sure. I’m OK with him being one of the options…if you are.” Terri turned off the lamp and settled under the covers. Amy curled up under her arm.

Terri’s hand settled just under Amy’s breast. She rolled onto her side and moved her hand up to cup her. Her fingers danced over Amy’s nipple, causing it to pucker under the cotton nighty she wore.

“Terr… I’m tired.”

“Mmm?” Terri made a sound indicating her request, as she nuzzled Amy’s neck.

“I have to get up early in the morning. David will be here and I want to get everything set out before he arrives.” Amy mumbled as she turned into Terri and slide her hands into the back of the waistband of Terri’s shorts.

“MmmHmmm.” Terri made a sound of satisfaction as her hand moved to slide under Amy’s nighty while her mouth glossed over her lips.

Amy’s legs spread, inviting her wife to move between them. Terri moved, settling her knees between Amy’s. She sat up, momentarily, pulled off her tank top and dropped it beside her on the bed.  

“Damnit.” Amy said with a smile. Her hands settling on Terri’s breasts. Squeezing her.

Terri settled back over Amy. Her arms holding herself just off her. “It’s OK, Babe. I can stop.”

Amy’s arms and legs worked in unison, wrapping themselves around Terri. “Don’t stop now. Momma needs some lovin’.” Amy pulled Terri down for a kiss.

Terri pushed Amy’s nighty up over her head and nuzzled her face between her wife’s ample breasts. She couldn’t imagine them getting any more spectacular than they already were.

Terri had been turned on ever since Amy told her she wanted to carry a child. Terri couldn’t get out of her mind how Amy would look pregnant.

Terri’s fingers stroked the tight, caramel colored skin of Amy’s breasts. Her lips settled over one of her nipples and she licked and nipped at her the way she knew Amy liked.

Amy went from feeling playful to feeling the intensity of Terri’s hands. Her hips rolled under Terri. Begging for touch. She felt the heat of Terri’s breath on her skin. Felt the calluses on her hands as they roamed down over her hips. Amy’s hands joined Terri’s to help push her panties down her legs. Then Amy’s hands moved to the waist of Terri’s shorts and worked to push them down.

“What’s your pleasure, Babe.” Terri asked her. Legs slid along legs.

Amy reached over to the drawer beside the bed and pulled out the vibrator and handed it to Terri in a wordless ask to be fucked.

Terri kissed her. The type of kiss that made Amy wet. Tongue plunging into her mouth. Sucking her. While Terri’s fingers threaded through Amy’s curls. Amy’s legs wrapped tightly around her waist. Amy’s damp pussy pressed against Terri’s lower abdomen.

Terri rocked her hips pressing Amy tightly against her. Amy moaned.

Terri moved down her body and, with one hand under each of Amy’s thighs, she raised Amy’s legs, spreading them so that Terri could give Amy the type of kiss that was Terri’s favorite to give.

Legs spread sufficiently, Terri moved her hands to spread Amy’s lips and expose her damp, pink, sensitive flesh. Terri’s clitoris tingled and she felt a herself grow wet in anticipation at the sight. The smell. She smiled to herself as she so often did when she went in for her first taste.

Amy moaned when she felt Terri’s firm tongue as it started at the back of her slit and worked its way, strong and sure, up to her clitoris. She knew her wife was lapping up every drop of her juices and she knew Terri loved it. She let her knees drop wide open. She relaxed. Her feet propped on Terri’s shoulders as she reveled in the feel of that talented tongue and how it danced around her clitoris.

When Terri slid the vibrator into Amy, she felt Amy’s hands settle into her hair. Her tongue still on Amy’s clitoris, circling her in a steady, rhythmic motion, she slowly moved the vibrator to a higher speed.

As she fucked her the way she knew she liked to be fucked, she licked and sucked her clit. From the first sounds of contentment to the sounds of a woman edging along the outside of an orgasm and trying to break through to feel the waves of pleasure – each of the sounds caused Terri’s clit to throb harder.

And soon, Amy’s legs moved to close around Terri. Her fingers dug further into Terri’s hair and tugged at her. And Terri’s tongue pressed against her and she smiled when she heard the words she loved to hear.

“Terri. Fuckin’. Morgan.” Amy said the words. She loved saying them. And she knew that hearing them stroked Terri’s ego and turned her on.

Terri didn’t waste any time. She crawled up her wife’s still quivering body. She straddled one of Amy’s legs. Amy’s other leg wrapped up and over Terri.  Terri’s mouth latched onto Amy’s breasts and she moved the vibrator from Amy’s body to rest along her own clit, between her and Amy’s leg.

Terri rocked, the vibrator pressed between their bodies. She sucked and kissed her wife’s flesh. Amy’s hands moved up and down Terri’s arms as they flexed, holding her up.

Amy moaned as Terri caught her nipple between her teeth.

“Oh, Baby, yes.” Terri mumbled into Amy’s flesh.

Terri pressed to her. Amy felt Terri’s legs tighten around her. Terri reared up, holding herself up on her arms. Eyes closed. Mouth open. Lips damp. Face flushed.

“You’re so fucking sexy, Terr.” Amy told her; one hand grasping Terri’s rear end. The other on Terri’s arm. Terri’s hips bucked against her and Amy watched her face as the waves of pleasure rocked through her.

Terri collapsed on top of her. Amy wrapped both legs around her. Her hands stroked her smooth, strong back.

Terri nuzzled her breasts. Kissed them. “Thank you.” Terri murmured.

Amy rolled to her side, pressed her back against Terri who wrapped her arm and a leg protectively over Amy.

“I’d say that you owe me…but you gave as good as you got, so…” Amy teased.

“I’ll do the morning chores.” Terri offered as she pulled the blankets up over them.

“Yeah, you will…” Amy joked as she snuggled into the warmth of her wife’s embrace.

++++++

“They’re going to be here soon.” Amy said from the doorway of the barn.

“What did you say the other guy’s name is? The one coming with?” Terri put the horse brush back on the nail. Closed the stall door.

Amy leaned over the gate of the stall holding the newest goats. She scratched one behind the ears. “Patrick. He’s David’s… friend. I guess he helped him with the documents for the store.”

They heard the car drive up. Amy waved her hand to Terri, indicating she needed to follow, and headed out of the barn. Terri, hands jammed into her pockets, dutifully followed her wife.

Amy, as always, greeted David with open arms. David moved to Terri who opened her arms slightly, but saw that David held out a hand. So, Terri moved to hold out a hand. But then, David put each of his hands on her arms in a half-attempt at an awkward hug. Terri grinned.

Amy watched the two of them and then looked at David’s traveling companion and shrugged at the awkwardness they were witnessing.

“Patrick.” He smiled and said to her. He held out a hand.

“Hi. So nice to meet you. I’m Amy.” She shook his hand. She motioned to Terri, “This is my wife, Terri.”

“Hi Terri. I’m Patrick.” He said with a smile and shook her hand.

Terri eyed him as he respectfully offered his hand to greet Amy and then Terri. Blue button up shirt. Clean cut. Dark jeans. Eye contact. Strong handshake. Quiet. Serious look on his face. Terri instantly took a liking to him.

++++++

Amy sat on the couch with David. Patrick sat near him. Terri leaned against the side of the armchair and watched them. Amy had set the products out on the coffee table. Each fragrance of bar soap. The liquid soaps – both hand and body. Each of the two lotions. And the newest product.

Terri watched Patrick as he watched David. David picked up the different bars and smelled each one. He handed a bar of goat milk and lavender soap to Patrick. “I use this at home.”

Terri watched Patrick’s cheeks begin to turn a light shade of blush as he took the bar from David. He smelled the soap. Terri watched his shaking hand return the soap to the table. Terri worked to suppress a grin.

Amy offered a bottle of body milk to Patrick. “This is the new product I was telling you about, David.” Amy said.

“Oooo! The body milk!” David picked up a bottle of the product and opened it to smell.

He asked Amy if he could sample it. She gave him the go-ahead.

David pushed up the sleeves of his sweater and poured body milk in his hand. Terri watched Amy’s face, knowing that Amy saw how much he poured into his hand. It was too much.

According to Amy, David had regularly used the body milk that was made by the last person who made the product. Surely, he knew a little went a long way.

David rubbed the lotion into his arms and hands. And Patrick asked, “I’m sorry. Body milk?”

“Yes!” David responded. “Isn’t it great?” He held out the bottle he had opened for Patrick to smell.

And then Terri watched the two as they began to bicker over the word milk.

“It smells nice. But – body MILK? It’s a lotion. Right?” Patrick shook his head at David. He sat the bottle down on the table.

Then, to Terri’s amusement, David reached over to Patrick and took hold of his hand. He rubbed the excess moisturizer on Patrick’s hand and forearm. David took his time, massaging Patrick’s hand. His forearm. Each of his fingers. Then, he picked up his other hand and did the same.

As he did so, Terri took in the look on Patrick’s face. At first, he looked surprised, then his face changed. She noticed how his eyes dropped to watch David’s hands on his arms. She saw the blush creep back up his cheeks. Saw his ears turn read. She saw the intake of breath. The shaky exhalation.

Terri cocked her head and looked at her wife who watched the same display. Amy turned her head slightly and looked at her wife with a cocked eyebrow while also suppressing a grin.

Terri turned her attention back to Patrick. She watched him respond to David in all the ways one responds when one is attracted to someone.

Their bickering continued throughout the display the women witnessed. “Well, it’s not a lotion, Patrick.” David seemed completely oblivious to Patrick’s response to having his hands and arms massaged. “It’s a different consistency and has different ingredients.”

It appeared to Terri that David believed that if he repeated himself and gestured with his hands more that Patrick would understand him better.

Terri was delighted to see that Patrick wasn’t backing down. “Won’t the customer get confused if they see MILK on the label and it’s a lotion?”

And then David stopped and looked at Patrick. “I don’t see how they can get confused, Patrick. It’s MILK… for your BODY.” He gestured at his body while he spoke.

A bubble of laughter came out of Terri. She tried to cover it with a cough.

“Hey. Patrick. How about we go take a tour of the property while these two talk product?” Terri offered. She was relieved when he agreed. It got her out of the house and she knew it would allow Amy time to talk business with David.

++++++

Terri walked Patrick over to the barn. Showed him the goats. The horses. The chickens. He told her that he grew up on a small acreage and his family had a few animals. She pulled out the two seat John Deere and drove him around the farm. Took him down to the lavender field and explained it wasn’t lavender season for a few months. “But if you want to come back at harvest, you sure could.”

“That would be great.” Patrick said. “Not sure that David would want me to do that, but if he invites me back with him, I’d love to see harvest.”

One side of Terri’s mouth pulled back in a subtle grin. He’s so serious. “Well, you’re welcome whether you come with him or not.” She liked this kid.

She drove him around to a small secluded area by a stream where she and Amy liked to go on a hot day. Drove him down near the area where their property butted up against the neighbor. And then headed back toward the house.

“So…Patrick. How long have you guys been together?” Terri couldn’t keep herself from asking the question. She of course knew they were not saying they were a couple, because they clearly weren’t…yet. But she knew what she witnessed in the living room. She knew what she was seeing.

“I’ve only known David for about a week. I’m just helping him with his start-up.” Patrick offered.

“Hmmm.” Terri grinned as she drove them back to the house.

++++++

Amy watched David as his eyes followed Patrick as he left the house. Watched his eyes settle on Patrick’s rear end. When they were alone, she smacked David’s knee with her hand. “He is fucking adorable.”

David did not hide the startled look on his face. “I…uh…I…ummmm…I hadn’t noticed.” David shook his head and rolled his eyes.

“Right. Yeah. You didn’t just pour extra body milk into your hands so you could share some with him?”

David pointed at her. “That… that was just… that was an accident. It came out faster than I remember. I needed to share.”

“And you didn’t share with me…” Amy grinned. She nudged his knee. “It’s ok, David. Your secret is safe with me. My wife, on the other hand, has an eagle eye. It’s hard telling what she’s talking to him about.”

“Oh god.” David mumbled.

He opened the file folder he brought with him and pulled out the contract and handed it to her.

++++++

Amy poured four glasses of lemonade. She handed two glasses to David, “One for your… friend,” she said with a wink. The two of them went to sit on the porch and wait for Terri and Patrick to return from their tour of the farm.  

She enjoyed her friend and was glad they met. She was excited about his new business venture and what it meant for her.

“David. I can’t tell you how happy I am to not have to go and sit at that damned farmer’s market every Saturday.” She told him. “I like going there. Don’t get me wrong. I just… I am not a sales person.”

“I understand. Thank you for trusting me and investing your product in my store.” David told her. “It will sell. It’s a quality product.”

David asked her about Terri, and Amy did not hold back her excitement as she told him of Terri’s decision to no longer go out on assignment. “What a tough job that would be.” David said.

Amy noticed he perked up as they heard the John Deere drive around the barn. He leaned forward and tilted his head to see around the banister of the porch. He watched Patrick walk toward them.

Amy didn’t hide her amusement.

“How was the tour?” David asked.

“Good. Really good.” Amy watched Patrick’s eyes danced as his eyes quickly trailed up and down David’s body.

“Ohhh. Lemonade.” Terri reached for a glass and handed it to Patrick. “Patrick. Lemonade?”

She enjoyed seeing him look to David who was clearly not moving from his spot on the porch swing as he sipped on his own glass. Patrick took the glass and stood, somewhat awkwardly.

Terri sat on the chair near Amy, leaving the only seat available the one beside David on the swing.

“Sit.” David said. He stopped swinging and patted the seat.

Patrick pressed his lips together and nodded his head once. He sat. David kicked his foot and the swing began to move again.

Amy watched Patrick’s stiffness keep him from relaxing into the swing. She stole a glance at her wife who leaned back in her own chair and crossed one ankle over her knee and say, “I’m guessing you all finished your business?”

“Sure did.” David said.

“What did you think of the place, Patrick?” Amy asked.

“It’s really nice, Amy. How long have you two lived here?” He asked.

Terri told him that it was her childhood home. That her parents sold it to her when they retired and moved out of state. Terri worked on the interior of the home to modernize it.

“Barn’s in good shape.” Patrick nodded toward the large building on the other side of the drive.

“Yeah.” Terri nodded her head. “It was a newer structure that my dad had built. Didn’t take quite the fixing that the house did.”

“Did your dad grow the lavender?” Patrick asked.

Amy reached over and took Terri’s hand with a smile. “She planted that for me.”

Amy told them about Terri proposing to her in the gazebo she had built. And how their folks had worked with Terri to plant the field of lavender so that it would bloom in time for their wedding.

“So, you weren’t making soap back then?” Patrick asked.

David filled in the story about how he and Amy had met looking for the soap vendor from whom they both had purchased product.

“Terri bought a couple of goats and we tried out the recipe and it worked!” Amy told him.

“That’s…wow…that’s quite a story.” Patrick nodded.

They talked for a while longer about David’s plans for the store. Amy’s plans for her product line.

Patrick took a drink of his lemonade and pulled the phone out of the pocket on his shirt and checked the time.

David who had been watching Patrick immediately stood. “It’s getting late. We didn’t mean to keep you both so long.” David said to Amy.

++++++

They stood arm in arm as they watched Patrick’s car drive down their lane toward the road. Amy tucked under Terri’s arm. Terri patted her wife’s rear end.

Terri chuckled.

“Terri Morgan. You stop that.” Amy scolded her wife as they walked together toward the house.

“Those guys are smitten.” Terri said.

“You should have seen David watch him leave the house. His eyes were glued to Patrick’s butt.” Amy laughed.

“Did you see his face when David put that lotion on him?” Terri asked. She shook her head. “That poor kid. He doesn’t know that he’s not straight, does he?”

“Here’s hoping a long car trip will get them talking.” Amy said.

“God help him when it hits him.” Terri said.

“They’re two very different personality types. I’m not sure about that working out.” Amy picked up the lemonade glasses.

Terri held the door for her. “Yeah. Different personalities never work out, do they?” She said sarcastically and patted her wife’s rear end, again, as they went into the house.

++

End of Part 2 of X

++

 

 

Chapter Text

++++++

On Monday, Terri and Amy left work early. They loaded the truck with every box that Amy had filled. Twenty boxes in all. Five fragrances of bar soap. Two types of liquid soap. One goat milk hand soap. Two fragrances of body milk: lavender and unscented. They drove the two hours to Schitt’s Creek to deliver them to the store that David would open later in the month.

When they arrived, David greeted them outside. He propped both doors to the store open and walked Terri through to show her where he wanted her to put the boxes.

Amy watched her friend. Shoulders were a bit slumped. Normally he had a zest for life about him. Amy pulled him aside and asked, “David. What’s wrong?”

He leaned against the counter and shook his head. “He’s gone,” he whispered.

“What do you mean he’s gone?”

“He just… he just left.”

Just then, Terri walked past them to head out for another load. “Hey, David,” She stopped, hands on he waist, to talk to him. “Where’s Patrick? Is he around?”

A pained looked crossed David’s face, “I don’t know, Terri.” He said. Amy looked at Terri with large eyes and shook her head.

“Oh. Sorry.” Terri half shrugged and walked out of the store to get more boxes. She kept to herself as she made the remaining trips.

David told Amy about how he and Patrick had a lovely trip home from the goat farm and then David had invited Patrick to spend the day with him on Sunday and Patrick had declined. Then, to David’s horror, when he was cleaning the store and listening to music and dancing and … when he turned, he saw Patrick standing in the street. He was looking in the windows at him. Patrick seemed to be laughing at him.

“Oh. I’m sure he wasn’t laughing at you.” Amy tried to assure him. “Did you talk to him?”

“I did. I went out and invited him in for some water and he just… Amy…he just ran away.” David said. “He literally ran away…I haven’t heard from him since.” 

“Honey. That was only yesterday.” Amy patted David’s shoulder. “Give him some time.”

“Oh, I think he has the time he needs. I think he realized I am… a lot… and I took too much of his time and … I probably took advantage of …whatever kind of friendship we were starting. I probably should have paid for…”

“David. Listen to me.” Amy stood in front of her friend. She took in his body language. His arms were crossed over his chest. His eyes darted around the room. “Just give him some time. Seems like he has had a lot of change over the past few weeks. Just wait a little bit and see if he gets in touch with you. Be patient with him.”

“I was hoping I was making a new friend.” David whispered.

“You were. And... friendships… sometimes take time. People sometimes pull back before … allowing themselves to …get closer.” Amy chose her words carefully.

David nodded his head. His eyes focused on his shoes.

Amy turned to see Terri leaned against her black truck in front of the store.

“OK. Now… when you get the new labels made, let me know. I want to see them. And… seriously… when they’re done just mail some sets to me. I can put them on the bottles. There’s no reason for you to have to label them here. I can do them when I package them.” Amy patted him on the arm.

David nodded.

“And… text me when you hear from him. I suspect it will be soon.” Amy pulled David in for a hug. She held him tightly. Her heart ached for him. She could tell he had taken a liking to Patrick. She hoped that Patrick would come back around, but if he was struggling with what Amy imagined he was struggling with, me might just be gone for good.

Terri poked her head into the building. “Hey David. Keep us posted on opening date. We’ll make the trip down.”

“I will, Terri.” David moved to her. She held out her arms and he willingly went into them for a brief hug.

++++++

She sat on the porch waiting for her. She was out in the field on one of the horses. Checking the fence, she calls it. Amy learned a long time ago what that meant. It meant that Terri wanted time to herself. Time on the horse. Time being out in nature.

It was one of her favorite things to watch. Her wife on a horse. Riding back to the house. Sliding off the saddle. Amy thought for sure she’d never tire of it.

As she watched Terri’s boots hit the ground, her eyes took her in. The weather was warmer, so Terri was wearing a short-sleeved shirt and her tattoos were out. Amy leaned her elbow on the arm of the chair. Her hand holding her chin. Fuck. My wife is hot.

“Penny for your thoughts.” Terri said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She knew why her wife sat on the porch when she went to check the fence. To be honest, Terri’s heart raced a little every time she came back from the field to find her sitting there, on the porch, waiting. She would always have a little bit of worry about the day that Amy wasn’t sitting there to watch her return on a horse.

Amy stepped off the porch and joined her wife as she took the horse to the barn. “I heard from David.”

“How’s he doing?” Terri asked.

“Patrick came back.” Amy said.

“Oh?’ Terri grinned. She walked Cagney to her stall. Removed the tack and hung it on the wall.

“He’s going to partner with David…the store. They’re going to run it together.” Amy said.

“Well, that’s interesting.” Terri brushed Cagney down. “Wonder if the store will sustain two people’s salaries.”

“Yeah… I guess he’s got a plan for that.” Amy said.

++++++

They sat on the couch watching a basketball game. Terri’s feet in Amy’s lap. Amy squeezed them. Massaged them. Terri drifted in and out of sleep.

“Terr?”

“Hmmm?” Terri willed herself to stay awake.

“I want to talk with him. Ask him.” Amy said. She was ready to ask David to help them start a family.

“Did we ever put anyone else on the table? Are we going to talk about asking anyone else?” Terri asked. She couldn’t put to words why, exactly. Her concern on the matter seemed rather irrational at the moment, but her gut was starting to talk to her about it and she was growing increasingly concerned about Amy’s desire to ask David.

“No. I don’t think I want to consider anyone else. Think about his qualities. Why wouldn’t he be the only one on the table?” Amy asked her.

“Tell me the qualities that you like.” Terri prompted.

Amy thought for a moment before she began to list the qualities she liked in David. “Healthy. Handsome. Tall. Kind. Intelligent Funny. Generous….”

Terri cut her off. “OK, Babe. But, half of those are a product of nurture not nature.”

Amy slapped Terri’s shin. “Smart ass.”

“Let’s wait until after the store opens, all right? Can we just… wait a little longer?” Terri asked her, knowing that every week they waited was putting them closer to Amy being more frustrated.

++++++

They left work a little early to get to Schitt’s Creek for the store’s opening. They arrived toward the end of the day and Terri had trouble finding a place to park. They ended up parking across the street, over near the garage, and walking over.

“My god! It’s so busy!” Amy declared as they walked across the street hand-in-hand.

“Looks really good. I like the name. Apothecary. Kind of…pretentious.” Terri said as they stood outside and took in the signage.

“You think?” Amy looked up at her. “Nah. I think it’s… old-fashioned… timeless.”

Terri opened the door and put her hand on Amy’s lower back as they walked through the door. David was over to the side of the room helping a couple as they looked through the woven baskets. Patrick was behind the register ringing up a customer. He looked up when they entered. His face broke out into a smile and he held a hand up and waved at them. He quickly shifted his attention back to the customer he was ringing up.

The two made their way around the store. They started near the door and looked at the products on display.

Before long, David moved to greet them. With hugs he thanked them for coming. He reported a busy day and happy customers.

He took Amy with him to look at the area where her products were shelved. Terri stood back and watched Patrick work. When he completed a sale, she watched him walk the customer to the door and open the door for them. God, he’s a nice kid. She thought.

“Hi, Terri!” Patrick moved to greet her with a handshake.

“Hey, Friend.” She patted his shoulder. “Looks like you’ve made a new life decision.”

Patrick’s brow furrowed, wordless asking her what she was talking about. A slight blush crept onto his cheeks.

“Working here? Left your other job?” Terri clarified. Amused that he might have thought she meant something else.

“Oh. Yeah. No. I’m still doing the other job on the side. Doin’ both for a while.” Patrick stumbled on his explanation.

“That’s great. Congratulations. Looks like today was successful.”  Terri nodded. Hands on her waist.

“Yeah…yeah. We’re gonna close up soon. Seems like we did well. Lots of people in. Glad you two could make it… see it…” Patrick motioned with his hand to indicate the store around them.

“Looks good. When we were here to drop off the product it was nowhere near this nice. Didn’t see you when we were here….”

“No. No, I was…away. Had some…personal business to attend to.” Patrick shoved his hands in his pockets.

“Everything OK?” Terri asked, mirroring Patrick’s body language. Hands in her pockets.

Patrick tilted his head down. Looked at his feet. “Yeah. It’s fine.” Head still tilted down, his eyes rose and he looked at Terri. “Just had some stuff to deal with.”

“Mmmmm.” Terri nodded.

Across the room Amy and David watched the two as they talked quietly at the front of the store. They both noticed the similarities between Terri and Patrick.

“Well that’s what it’s like to see the two quietest people in the world have a conversation.” Amy joked. She smelled the candle in her hand.

“They look uncomfortable. Look, he’s blushing.” David said.

“Have you guys…” Amy wiggled her eyebrows at him.

“What? No. Amy. No. We are business partners.” David said adamantly. He waved his hand at her as if to shush her.

Amy laughed.

Upon hearing her wife’s laughter, Terri turned to look at her.

“Hey, Terri…” Patrick said, pulling her attention back to their conversation. “It’s been…um….pretty busy around here. And…I recall you saying when we were last out to your place that you were getting ready for harvest.”

“Yup,” Terri nodded in confirmation. “We have a couple of weeks before we cut the lavender.”

“Would you…uhh…would it be…if we took a road trip this weekend,…could we…?”

“Patrick.” Terri interrupted him to put him out of his misery. “Do you have plans on Sunday? Want to come out and spend the day?”

A small smile pulled at Patrick’s mouth. “Yeah. Yeah, I think David would like that. He’s been… putting in a lot of hours.”

“Just…have him talk to Amy. Let her know what time you’ll get there. Come for lunch. We’ll take you down to the field and cut some lavender.” She smacked his shoulder.

He nodded his head. “Thanks. Thanks, Terri.”

“No problem, Kid.”

++++++

Amy made sandwiches and packed them in the picnic basket. Terri sat at the island and watched her.

“Want help?” Terri asked.

“I’m good. Hey, why don’t you let me and David go set up while you and Patrick spend some time with the animals. Let me have some alone time to talk with him.” Amy suggested.

“Babe. I’m not ready for us to talk to him about…”

Amy cut her off. “No. Not about that. I want to talk with him about Patrick.”

“Aim. Don’t get mixed up in their shit.” Terri warned her. Her phone vibrated and she pulled it out of her back pocket.

 

Unknown (11:31 am):

‘Terri this is Patrick we ran into a situation. We’ll be about a half hour later than planned.’

 

Terri (11:31 am):

‘Everything OK?’

 

Terri took a moment to put Patrick into her phone.

“Hey, Aim. What’s Patrick’s last name?”

“Brewer, why?” Amy asked.

“Just… puttin’ him in my phone.” Terri said.

 

Patrick Brewer (11:31 am):

‘Stopped to help someone out. At gas station in Cedar Grove. David needed to stop.’

 

Terri (11:31 am):

‘See you soon.’

 

“They’re going to be a little late. They stopped to help someone.” Terri said. “I’m going to go feed the goats.”

“Wait. Terr. Don’t do it all. Save some for when they get here.” Amy had a plan and wanted to keep Patrick busy so she could talk with David.

++++++

She heard the car pull into the drive so she left the barn to greet them. She eyed her wife bounding down the stairs off the front porch toward the car.

Amy got to the car quickly and wrapped first David and then Patrick in hugs. Terri joined them. Another awkward hug from David. A firm handshake from Patrick.

“Hey, Patrick. I’m just getting ready to feed the goats. Want to help?” Terri pointed her thumb over her shoulder toward the barn.

“Sure.” Patrick nodded. He followed Terri.

++++++

Amy and David loaded the picnic into Terri’s truck and headed down to the field.

“Oh m’god, Amy!” David declared as they crested the small hill that looked down over the lavender field that was in full bloom. “It’s stunning!”

“Isn’t it? She knew what she was doing when she planted it for me, that’s for sure.” Amy told him. “Wait until you get out and smell it.”

She pulled the truck to a stop beside a large gazebo near the field. He slid out of his seat to the ground. He took a deep breath. “Beautiful.” He said. “You were married here? With this in bloom?” David snapped a picture of the field.

“Yup. In June. Just before harvest.”

“I want to see pictures.” David said.

“I’ll show you back at the house… or you can do a deep dive on my social media.” Amy told him.

David helped Amy set the table to prepare for lunch. They chatted about the store. The launch. The air smelled sweet with lavender and it was a beautiful day.

“I’m so happy to have a day off.” David said quietly as they worked.

“You’ve put in a lot of hours…getting the store ready.”

“We have.” He confirmed.

They set out the food and David’s eyes widened. “There are a lot of sides here.” He said.

“Oh. Sorry. I like a smattering of sides.” She said. “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t like them. I just think options are important.”

“Amy… it’s like we’re the same person.” David put an arm around her and eyed the potato salad.

“So, why were you late? Someone needed help at the gas station?” Amy asked him.

“Not quite. We were almost to Cedar Grove and there was a couple who had tire that was flat. Patrick stopped to help them. He changed the tire for them.”

“He’s quite the gentleman.” Amy said.

“Yes. Yes, he is.” David confirmed with a smile.

“So, tell me again, David. Why you two aren’t a couple?” Amy teased.

“Amy, I’ve told you this. I don’t know his preferences. And besides that, he’s my business partner. I am not going to ruin that good partnership trying to figure out if it can be something else.” David said.

“Yeah. Well, Terri didn’t know my preferences, until she made a move.” Amy said as she bumped shoulders with David. “And partners can make really good partners.”

“Right. But we work together every day. I don’t know how that would work. Working together all day and then being a couple. That wouldn’t work… right?” David asked.

“We do.” Amy shrugged. “No real problems.”

“No. I don’t mean like you work together on making soap. I mean all day.” David said.

“We do. That’s how we met. We work together. Well… technically now I’m a supervisor so… I’m kind of over her.” Amy chuckled. She sat down and poured both of them a glass of wine.

“I’m sorry… what?!” David looked shocked. “I thought she traveled and did that thing with the gun violence. I mean… I know she just stopped that…but..” 

“No. We work at a place in town. She does therapy. I manage part of the program and carry some cases. Do home visits. That sort of thing.”

“Do you ride to work together? Eat lunch together? Like… interact… all day?” David asked. He sat across from her. Leaned forward to listen. Took a sip of his wine.

“Yeah. In the early days we took separate cars because I had appointments all over the county…but yeah, now? Now we’re together almost 24/7.” Amy nodded.

“And… it works for you.” David stated more than asked. He tapped two fingertips to the table, accentuating his question.

“Oh yeah. Yeah it works.” Amy turned her head when she heard the little John Deere pull up beside the truck. “David…” She leaned forward and said quickly. Quietly. “If you like him, let him know.”

“Amy. I just don’t think …”

“Hey, you two! Lunch is on!” Amy stood and called out to them.

++++++

Terri turned to look that he was following. She saw that Patrick had stopped just outside the barn, hands in his pockets. He watched David walk up the stairs and into the house, behind Amy.

“You want to go help them? I can do this by myself.” Terri offered.

Patrick turned toward her. “No. No, no. I’m good. Happy to do some chores.”

“If it’s a chore you want, take your pick. Feeding the goats, fresh water for all of them, or mucking out some stalls.” Terri threw the last one in there because it was her least favorite.

“I’ll muck. It’ll take less energy from you to teach me what you want done.” He eyed the shovel hanging from the barn wall and went to it without hesitation.

“I like the way you think, Brewer.” Terri said. She grinned as he responded to the use of his last name. “Start down at the end. Once that one is done, move a horse into it and then do that stall.”

They worked quietly. Terri fed the goats and changed the water in each of the livestock buckets in the barn.

“So, you grew up here?” Patrick asked.

“Yeah. It was different then. Dad worked the farm for a living. Had a functioning crop. Small herd of cattle.” Terri said.

Patrick finished one stall, spread fresh hay onto the floor, and then moved a horse. He started in on a second stall.

“How about you?” Terri asked. “Grew up in the country?” She grabbed a shovel of her own and started on the other end of the barn with her own stall.

“Parents worked in town. Just a few head of livestock. Couple horses. But…yeah…it was nice. This place… reminds me of my folks’ place.”

“Do you see them often?” Terri asked. Trying to find ways to connect with this new friend of hers.

“Was just there a couple of weeks ago.”

Terri stopped mucking and put her shovel down. Leaned on the handle. “Ohhh. That’s where you went.”

Patrick stopped what he was doing. His back was to her and he turned to face her. “Huh?”

“When you disappeared. You went home.” Terri said.

“I didn’t… disappear. I … I had…There was something I needed to take care of.” Patrick said. Terri noticed the blush on his cheeks.

“OK.” Terri nodded and returned to the mucking.

They worked without talking.

“This one’s done.” Patrick spread hay and moved the second horse over to the clean stall.

“Mine too. Probably should head down to have lunch. Let’s go inside and wash up.”

As they walked toward the house Patrick asked, “Terri? How… how much do those two… David and Amy… How much do they talk?”

“Oh, Patrick. I’ve learned those two tell each other virtually everything.” Terri said, probably too casually.

Patrick looked at Terri and stopped walking.

“Yup.” Terri smacked him on the back and encouraged him to keep moving forward.

++++++

Goats fed. Hands washed. Terri led Patrick outside to get on the little John Deere to head to the lavender field.

“So, remind me, Patrick. How long have you and David been together?” Terri grinned as she chided Patrick.

“We’ve been business partners for about 6 weeks now, Terri.” Patrick clarified.

“Business Partners. That’s not a bad place to start.” Terri said wryly.

++++++

“Wow.” Patrick said. “Wow, Terri. That’s a really good lookin’ field.”

“Yeah. Looks better every year.” Terri said as they got out of the vehicle.

“Hey, you two! Lunch is on!” Amy stood and called out to them from the gazebo.

“You built it?” Patrick asked. They walked toward the gazebo.

“With help.” Terri nodded.

They sat to eat. Sandwiches. Sides. Wine. Pie.

The women asked David and Patrick about their opening day. It was the only question they need ask to open the conversation. Patrick excitedly told them about sales. The traffic. About how David had wanted to do a soft opening, but once the town found out about it, they all wanted to attend.

David talked about the products that moved easily, the goat milk products from Amy among them. He talked about the difficult to move products and what they might do to sell them.

Patrick brought up that they’d kicked around selling some products online. “Probably down the road a bit, but for sure a market we want to explore.”

Amy reached under the table and tapped Terri’s thigh. She watched the two men. Once they were talking about the store, they were both clearly excited. Faces alive with animation. They turned to each other as they talked about the store. They finished each other’s sentences. They touched each other’s arms. Shoulders. Backs.

Terri and Amy shared a knowing glance.

“Babe. That lunch was delicious. Thank you.” Terri leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek.

“So good.” Patrick said.

“Loved the potato salad. Thank you.” David chimed in.

Terri went to the back of the John Deere and brought back twine and clippers. Amy brought two baskets from the back seat of the truck. Together the four of them walked down to the field. Terri and Amy showed them how to cut bunches of lavender by tying them with twine at the base of the stems and then clipping them. They put the bouquets in the baskets. Filled two baskets.

Amy talked with David. Told him how to hang them so that they would dry properly.

Terri took the twine and cutters to the truck. Before she headed back over to them, she stopped and watched the two men standing together by the field. David took a picture of Patrick with the field behind him. Patrick took one of David.

She went over to them, “Guys. Let me take one of the two of you with the field behind you.”

“It’s OK.” David waved her off. “We got a selfie.”

“Selfies are fine. But…that field of lavender behind you is too pretty. Let me take one.” She held out her hand. It was Patrick who stepped forward with his phone. Handed it to her and then stepped back to stand. Pressed against David’s side. One of his hands at his side, the other disappeared behind David. Terri took the picture and handed his phone back to him.

Terri stepped up onto the gazebo to help Amy pack up the remnants of lunch. David and Patrick quickly joined them. Amy told them to not bother, she and Terri would clean it up. She shot a look at Terri who told Patrick that the two men could take the two-seat John Deere for a ride around the farm.

“I’ll ride back to the house in the truck with Amy.” She tossed the keys to Patrick.

Without being told twice, the two men quickly moved to the vehicle and drove away. Down around the lavender field toward the creek.

“Thank you, Love.” Amy said to Terri. She pulled her in for a kiss.

“That kid’s got it bad.” Terri said.

“They both do.” Amy told her.

“David’s going to have to take the first step,” Terri said. “Or it might never happen.”

++++++

“Where on earth are they?” Amy asked. She stood at the front door looking outside.

Terri chuckled. “You know the things we’ve done down by the creek. Give them some time.”

“They’re smitten, aren’t they?” Amy joined Terri on the couch. “David’s worried they won’t be able to work together and have a relationship.”

“Not everyone can.” Terri stretched out on the couch. Laid her head on Amy’s lap.

“You set some pretty serious limits for me at work back then. Remember?” Amy poked Terri in the stomach. Terri laughed and grabbed her hand.

“You broke ever fucking boundary I ever set.” Terri looked up at her.

“You do give in to me a lot. You always have.” Amy leaned down and kissed Terri’s forehead. Ran her fingers through Terri’s hair dark hair. She noticed, not for the first time, the strands of grey that were starting to run through it.

“You’re hard to say no to.” Terri smiled.

Just then, they heard the engine of the vehicle. The guys had returned. They got up and went out to greet them.

Patrick handed Terri the keys.

“Good time?” Terri looked him in the eyes. Noticed he quickly looked down at his feet.

“Yup. Just kind of sat down by the creek. Rested a bit. Nice down there.” Patrick said. His hands were deep in his pockets. He kicked the dirt.

“You guys want to come in?” Amy asked.

“No… Thanks, Amy. We need to get going.” David told her.

David offered hugs and kisses to them. Patrick gave handshakes. Patrick put the baskets of lavender in the backseat of his car. Then moved to hold the front passenger door open for David.

David got in and waved at Amy. Patrick shut the door and walked around to the driver’s side.

“Be careful.” Terri said to him.

“Will do.” Patrick stopped and looked at her. “Thanks, Terri.”

“You come back any time.” Terri said. “I could use help with chores.”

Terri moved to stand behind Amy. They watched Patrick’s car go down the drive toward the road.

“He held his door open for him.” Amy swooned.

“I saw.” Terri said.

++++++

As Amy bounded up the stairs to the house and Terri walked out to the barn to close it up for the day, she felt the weight press down on her shoulders.

“Damnit.” She mumbled to herself.

She tossed a bit more feed in with the momma goats. She sat down on a bale of hay and put her elbows on her knees. Leaned forward. Hear face in the palms of her hands.

Damnit. She thought. How the fuck am I going to tell her we have to take David off the table.

 

++

End of Part 3 of X

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