Authors: Susan X Meagher
Tags: #Lesbian, #Romance
Seven months, eight months, nine months... a lifetime. Exchanging gentle kisses at the top of Mt. Tam, Jamie and Ryan declare their love for one another. Studying for exams and training for the AIDS Ride, they experience the tentative fumblings and frustrations of adjusting to a new relationship.
Though Ryan is determined to proceed at a pace that is comfortable for her neophyte partner, their need for each other grows stronger with every passing hour-- whether they are together or apart.
We begin a magical journey. A journey of exploration, a journey of wonder, a journey of commitment. A journey we make together. The speech at the
of their 560 mile biking odyssey epitomized their feelings about the Ride, and about the beginnings of the life they plan to share.
"Are you sure I'm not dreaming?"
"Mmm, I can't guarantee anything at this point. All I know for sure is that my dream just came true."
The small blonde woman lying on the sun-warmed boulder laughed gently, her mist-green eyes twinkling as she took in the beautiful sights that surrounded her.
From a purely artistic perspective most would say that the stunning vista that spread as far as the eye could see was the most interesting feature of the landscape. The crest of Mt. Tam, a popular destination for bikers, hikers and naturalists, would top the list of the most beautiful attractions in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. And when one added a spectacular sunset, the vote would be nearly unanimous.
On this warm, dry April afternoon the sunset did not disappoint. The usual fog bank had held off a bit this day, allowing the inhabitants of the area a magnificent and rare view of the crimson and gold orb as it sank into the sea. But, the sunset lost some of its luster in the golden-haired woman's eyes, the spectacular display paling in comparison to the loveliest sight that her eyes had ever welcomed.
The object of her slavish devotion rolled onto her side, ebony hair sliding along the warm rock as she did so. Eyes bluer than the Mediterranean blinked languidly at her admirer as her lovely face broke into a dazzling smile, showing twin rows of bright white teeth. "Seven months," the woman's deep, melodic voice hummed. "In seven months you have changed my life forever."
"It does seem longer, doesn't it?" her smoothly-muscled companion asked. She sat up and stretched a bit, filling her lungs with the cool, vapor-laden air. "It feels like I've known you forever, but at the same time it's like we just met."
The dark haired woman pulled up into a sitting position also and draped her long, muscular arm around her friend's shoulders. "I remember when we met," she said, chuckling to herself as the scene replayed in her mind. "We could have saved a lot of time if I had acted on my first impulse." Her perfectly-shaped right eyebrow twitched in challenge and the blonde went for the bait.
"And that was?" she drawled lazily.
"I remember sitting at my desk in that psych class, and when the professor announced that my partner for class projects was Jamie Evans I had a momentary thought that it might be a man. And that was
why I took a class called The Psychology of the Lesbian Experience," she said in mock indignation.
"Well, you do pretty well in the androgynous name competition too," Jamie laughed. "When I saw that my partner was Ryan O'Flaherty I was totally bummed! I wanted to meet a real live lesbian!"
"Disappointed?" Ryan purred.
"Never. Not then, not now, not ever," she pledged as her head inclined and nuzzled against Ryan's tanned neck. "You?"
"No…not in the least. Which brings me to my first impulse," she hummed against her friend's fine blonde hair.
Jamie sat up and tilted her head a tiny bit in question just as Ryan's head dropped to meet hers. Their lips touched in a soft, gentle, languid kiss that slowly but inexorably began to grow in intensity. With a sharp intake of air Jamie pulled away and leaned her forehead against Ryan's. "I think I would have learned everything I needed to know if you had done that," she said softly.
"No," Ryan demurred. "As tempting as it was the time we spent building a friendship is what has allowed us to be here today. And as painful as some of your experiences have been over the last seven months I think all of them were necessary."
Now Jamie sat up completely and turned to watch the sunset for a few moments. "I suppose you're right," she mused. "I just wish I hadn't had to hurt another person in the process."
"You didn't know how you felt when you agreed to marry, Jamie. You're not the kind of woman who would toy with a person like that. And as soon as you knew it wasn't right, you broke it off."
"That's a little bit of revisionist history, but I appreciate that you're my champion," she said as she turned to give her friend a smile. "I did the best I could at the time."
"That's all any of us can do," Ryan said firmly, patting Jamie on the thigh and calling a halt to the still-painful discussion.
Even though the air was beginning to chill, the warmth of their burgeoning connection made them all but oblivious to the changing weather. "I don't ever want to leave," Jamie whispered as she continued to nuzzle Ryan's warm neck.
"I don't either," Ryan agreed. "But continuing this discussion on a nice soft bed doesn't sound so bad, does it?" she inquired with a crooked grin as she leaned in to steal several light kisses.
Jamie felt every molecule of breath leave her chest as the implication of that question hit her. Her months of often-painful indecision had finally culminated today in her profession of love for the gentle woman at her side and had learned that her feelings were requited. She had planned this day for weeks and had run through the scenario hundreds of times in her mind. But she now realized, to her horror, that she had never gone further in her planning than the initial revelation. She had absolutely no idea how to respond to Ryan's question and the fear clearly showed on her face as Ryan once again took her in her arms and soothed, "Don't worry, Jamie. Nothing will happen that you don't want. I swear we'll go at your pace."
"I…I don't…I'm…I'm not sure…" she stammered, feeling completely foolish and more than a little immature.
But Ryan rescued her from her plight, hugging her firmly and placing a tiny kiss on her forehead. "You are a precious gift to me, Jamie. I'll do everything in my power to make you comfortable. Please don't worry about a thing," she assured her.
"Thank you," Jamie whispered softly. As she lifted her head she took a quick glance at the darkening sky and said, "I am worried about one thing though. I'm worried that we'll never get off this mountain if we don't get going."
"Now that's a valid concern," Ryan agreed as she looked around and took in the deepening gloom, seemingly for the first time.
They rose and stretched for a few minutes before climbing astride their mountain bikes for the short trip to their destination. As they rode in the fading, watery light Jamie reflected on the events that had led them to this day. She smiled as she considered that Ryan's offer to train her to participate in the California AIDS Ride had been the catalyst that had allowed them to come to know each other so well. Working with Ryan several times a week in both the gym and on the road had helped lay the foundation of a friendship that had steadily grown into something much more, and Jamie thanked God every day that their paths had crossed and then merged.
They arrived at the small, elegant hotel just as full darkness settled in. Ryan had seen the façade many times but she had never ventured inside. As she now did so she observed that the hotel was constructed in a style reminiscent of a 16
Century English manor house. It was the type of place that she never would have selected on her own, but she felt strangely at ease with Jamie at her side. They were obviously not the first bike riders that had gotten stuck on Mt. Tam since the courteous staff was very attuned to their potential needs. Jamie efficiently handled the arrangements at the front desk while Ryan spoke to the bellman about securing their bikes. The staff didn't bat an eye when they indicated that they had no luggage, and the clerk at the front desk thoughtfully offered to send up a basket with essential toiletries. After their business was taken care of they decided to walk along the beach as neither wanted to lose the ephemeral magic of the day.
When they reached the ocean they both removed their shoes and socks and rolled their bike pants up to guard against a dousing by the shallow surf. Holding hands in the cool moonlit night they walked along, feeling the warmth of their new bond. "Do you remember walking along this beach at Christmas break?" Ryan asked, breaking the silence.
"Of course I do," Jamie replied with a bright smile as she squeezed her hand. "It's one of my favorite memories. Something changed for me that day, even though I tried not to acknowledge it."
"What do you mean?"
"It makes sense to me now, since I know I was falling in love with you, but at the time I was a little confused by how warm and peaceful I felt when we walked down the beach together. I was having a really tough time at home and things were not going well with Jack, but after a few hours with you I felt whole again." She gazed up at Ryan with a peaceful smile on her face and closed her eyes as her tall partner bent to kiss her.
"You're starting to chill," Ryan observed as she wrapped her long arm around Jamie's shoulders. "It's time to go back." She noticed the reluctance in her partner's face so she placed her fingers on her chin and gently tilted her head back. "Remember my promise, Jamie. Nothing will happen that you aren't comfortable with."
She gave a slight nod and cuddled up against her warm body as they turned to head back to the hotel.
When they arrived back at the inn Jamie stopped at the front desk and arranged to have dinner sent up to their room. While she was occupied Ryan used her calling card at a pay phone to call home. "Hey, Rory," she said when her brother answered.
"Hi, where are you guys?"
"We're still in Marin. We got stuck on the top of Mt. Tam and just didn't have time to make the last ferry. We found a hotel on Stinson Beach so we're staying over."
"Do you have the money for that?" he asked. "I'm happy to come get you guys."
"No, I don't want to put you out, we'll just stay over and go for another long ride tomorrow."
"It's really no trouble, Ryan. I could be there in less than an hour."
"That's okay, Rory, we're kind of having fun," she explained rather lamely. "It's nice to stay in a hotel once in a while."
There was a moment of dead silence on the other end until Rory finally said, "Ryan, is that really you?"
"Of course it is," she laughed. "Who else would it be?"
"Umm, some imposter that throws their money away on hotels?" he ventured.
"You're too funny, Rory," she said with a short laugh. "Tell Da that we'll be home on the last ferry tomorrow night."
"Okay, Ryan, take care of yourselves. I love you."
"I love you too, Rory," she said, wrinkling up her nose at Jamie who was making eyes at her.
As she hung up Jamie said, "I think that's so cute. I don't know anyone else who tells their brothers how much they love them."
"Well, the boys don't do it to each other," Ryan replied with a goofy grin. "That would be odd even for us. But each one of them still kisses Da goodnight. It's just always been acceptable to show each other how you feel."
"I think I'm going to learn an awful lot from being around the lovin' O'Flaherty's," Jamie said in a relatively poor Irish brogue.
Since they had no luggage they showed themselves up to the room. As she opened the heavy carved door Ryan stood at the opening and stared for a minute. Their room was absolutely adorable and much more elegant that any hotel room she had ever been in. Ryan couldn't imagine that all of the rooms were this spacious and lavishly decorated, so she guessed that Jamie had secured one of the best. The big fireplace crackled with a recently lighted fire, lending the room a decidedly romantic flavor. But even though the room was generously sized, there was just one big bed in the center of the room. Ryan immediately noticed that Jamie was staring at it like a deer in the headlights, and she nearly had to push her to get her to cross the threshold.
She didn't think she needed to repeat her reassurances since Jamie would obviously only be reassured by her actions. So she wrapped her in her arms and said, "Go draw a bath to stretch out those legs. I'll wait for dinner to arrive."
Jamie gratefully did as instructed. Ryan lay back on the bed and allowed the feeling of contentment and excitement to build. She wasn't at all sure what would happen between them this evening, but she knew that eventually her patient approach would reassure Jamie.
If it kills me, I'm not going to put one bit of pressure on her
, she vowed to herself.
I'm going to let her take the lead and go at her own pace.
While she reflected on the way Jamie's soft lips had tasted she sighed deeply and thought,
just because I'm going to let her take the lead doesn't mean that I can't hope she'll come out of that bathroom stark naked and ready for love!
Even as Ryan was dreaming about the possibility of an intimate evening her inexperienced companion was lying in the tub, her body shaking despite the warmth of the water. She knew that Ryan was a completely trustworthy person and that she would, without question, honor her pledge to go as slowly as Jamie needed. But as she shivered away she realized that the problem wasn't with Ryan, it was with herself.
I just don't want her to think I'm a big baby
, she thought glumly as she sat up to add more hot water to the tub.
I mean, I know that she's patient—God knows she's patient!—but her opinion of me means so much…I don't want to disappoint her.
The water was now so hot that she feared it might scald her, but still she shivered.
Come on, Jamie
, she commanded,
get your head on straight. You should be enjoying every minute of this experience!