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Authors: Emma Weimann

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Lesbian

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BOOK: Heart's Surrender
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Thankfully enough he said goodbye and disappeared again.

Sam grimaced. “Sorry. I think he is a bit curious.”

“About?”

Sam rubbed the side of her nose. “You.”

“Oh, right.” Gillian offered a smile. “How do you know each other?”

Shit.
The PG version of that particular story would be a stretch. She sure as hell didn’t want to tell Gillian too much about her relationship with Diana. Sam rubbed her neck. On the other hand, if this, tonight, was about finding out if Gillian and she had a chance at anything…lying wasn’t really an option.
Try a neutral approach. Maybe she won’t ask more questions.
Sam took a deep breath. “I, um...ran into his daughter...and then I met Luca and we liked each other and the food here is exceptional.” She looked up again and met Gillian’s gaze.

Gillian blinked. “You ran into his daughter? What does that mean?”

Now would be the perfect time for Luca to come back and interrupt them again. Or for a fire alarm to go off. “In a bar.” Sam fought against the urge to drop her head on the table. Why hadn’t she made reservations somewhere else?

“I’m sorry.” Gillian laid her hand over Sam’s. “I don’t want to pry.”

Sam stared down at their linked hands. Gillian’s was soft and warm and so very different from her own rough hand, which this afternoon had been stuck in a toilet. Sam snorted softly. “It’s not prying. We…we kind of dated a few years ago and remained friends.”

“That’s amazing.”

Sam frowned. “What is amazing?”

“To be able to remain friends after…you know. Not many people can say that.”

Sam pressed Gillian’s hand. “It works if both parties really want to make it work.”

“Is that so?” Gillian’s voice had dropped.

Sam suddenly wasn’t sure if they were still talking about her relationship with Diana or about something entirely different.

For a long moment neither said a word. Then Gillian let go of Sam’s hand, took her chair and set it down next to Sam’s. “Hi.”

Sam lifted an eyebrow. “Hi.”

“As much as I love to talk to you and ask questions and act like a grown-up…I really hate to sit so far away from you that I can’t touch you.” Gillian’s eyes twinkled while her thumb drew lazy circles on Sam’s hand.

“Is that right?”

“Yes. No sex is fine. Well, for tonight. But sitting on opposite ends of the table is really, really not.”

Sam couldn’t help but chuckle. “Yeah, it sucks.”

Gillian leaned her head against Sam’s shoulder. “So, where were we?”

Sam dropped a kiss on Gillian’s head. The scent of cinnamon tickled her nose. She closed her eyes and inhaled. “I like how your hair smells.”

For a moment they were quiet.

“I love to be able to touch you,” Gillian murmured, breaking the silence.

“I love to be touched by you and touching you.” Sam closed her eyes and enjoyed their connection. This date wasn’t half as bad as she feared.

Sam stared at the sleek, black, sporty Mercedes.
I bet those are leather seats.
The woman definitely was classy. And rich. Not that there had ever been any doubt about it.

“Thank you for the wonderful evening.” Gillian took the keys out of her pocket and opened the car’s door. “Let’s do it again.”

Sam grasped her hand and gently kissed Gillian’s palm. “I’d love that. But the next time you’ll choose the location.”

“Great. Yes.” Gillian scanned their surroundings before she stepped even closer, her body lightly pressing into Sam’s. “You know that I can’t let you go without a goodbye kiss.”

“Yeah?”

“Yes. Let me thank you properly for a lovely evening.” There was that seductive purr that made Sam’s knees go all jelly.

Gillian cupped her cheek and then soft lips brushed against Sam’s. She closed her eyes, losing herself in the kiss and in the feel that was equally soft, sweet, and hot.

A moment later Sam broke the kiss as slowly as it had begun. With a last nip to Gillian’s lower lip, she let go. “You make it really hard not to do something inappropriate in a parking lot.”

Gillian leaned her forehead against Sam’s and whispered, “Being grown-up as well as behaving responsibly is highly overrated.”

“Yes, it sucks.” Chuckling, Sam stepped away and moved one of her fingers across the tempting lips of her lover. “You want me to take a cold shower tonight, right?”

Gillian sighed. “Why should I be the only one being tortured?”

“See you Wednesday?”

“Yes.”

“Nine p.m. at the apartment?”

Gillian slipped into the driver’s seat. “Yes. But I have only two hours.”

“We can work with that.” Sam gently closed the door, her eyes never leaving Gillian’s until the light inside the car went out.

Shortly after, Sam watched Gillian drive away. Wednesday couldn’t come soon enough for her.

CHAPTER 9

“Hey, Chloe,” Sam shouted down the hall. “I’m ready. Come on.” Without waiting for a reply she entered the pink nightmare, otherwise known as her niece’s bedroom. Nothing much had changed since Sam last set foot inside this room to assemble the new wardrobe several weeks ago. Setting down the hammer and nails next to a pile of books on the desk, her eyes were drawn to a poster that she hadn’t seen before. Justin Bieber’s face grinned down at her. Sam shivered.
Oh shit. I hope this is just a very short phase in her life.
Sighing, she sat down on the bed that looked as if a tornado had hit it. The room gave her a headache. How could a niece of hers love so much pink and girly stuff? “Chloe. I need instructions. Hurry up.”

Chloe whirled into the room, all smiles and energy, her blonde hair held back in a ponytail. “Cool. I want it there.” She pointed at the wall above her dresser.

Two minutes later the framed picture of Chloe’s cheerleading group hung exactly where she had wanted it. Sam grinned down at her niece. “All right?”

“Yes. Thanks, Sam.” Chloe leaned into her aunt’s body. “The frame is beautiful.”

Sam forced a smile on her face. Little did Chloe know how Sam had abhorred spraying the gorgeous wooden frame in the pinkish color. “Good. Glad you like it. I hear a mega, extra big slice of double cheese pizza calling my name.”

“Yeah, me too.” Chloe grabbed Sam’s hand. “Come on.”

When they entered the kitchen, Victoria held out a plate with a huge piece of steaming pizza on it. “Who’s hungry?”

“Gimme.” Chloe’s hand was faster than lightning and, without so much as pause, she consumed a piece of pizza.

Sam couldn’t help but grin. Chloe looked like a chipmunk.

“Excuse me child of mine but ‘gimme’ is not what we say when we want something.” Victoria glared at her daughter.

Chloe’s cheeks bulged even more. “I’m hungwy.”

“Manners, manners, manners.”

Sam grinned at her sister. “You sound just like Mother.”

The glare she received in return was an exact copy of the one they both had regularly received as kids. “Stop it. I feel like a ten year old.”

“Well, then stop behaving like one and sit down. Both of you.”

Sam chuckled, picked up a piece of pizza and put it on a plate before offering it to her sister. “Here. Have at it. You behave like a diva when you’re hungry.”

Chloe chuckled and sat down.

Victoria growled. “Hey, no ganging up on me.”

“But we always do, Ma.”

Sam smirked. “Yes, Ma. We always do.”

“Oh, shut up you two.”

Sam accepted the plate that held a huge piece of steaming pizza. She inhaled the smell of cheese and tomato sauce and fresh basil before she took her first bite. The taste exploded in her mouth. She groaned. “That is so amazing. And I’m so thankful for your vacation in Italy.”

“You will be delighted to hear that we’re going back next year.”

Sam nodded. “That’s great. The whole summer?”

“Four weeks in Tuscany.” Victoria’s eyes twinkled. “I’m counting the days.”

“Oh, I’m counting with you and I can’t imagine what kind of recipes you’ll come back with this time.” Out of the corner of her eye, Sam noticed how Chloe stuffed a second piece into her mouth as fast as she could.

Victoria cocked an eyebrow. “What exactly is the hurry, Chloe?”

“Ma, I have to call Laurie in,” she glanced at the clock on the wall, “about two minutes.”

“And why is that?”

“Her birthday party.” The unspoken “duh” rang loud and clear in the air.

“Make it five minutes and eat properly. All right?”

Chloe’s sigh was pure drama queen. Sam had a hard time not laughing out loud. Her niece was at times a copy of a much younger Victoria.

The next minutes were filled with laughter and stories from Chloe’s school. Sam basked in the feeling of family and belonging that always enveloped her at times like this. She couldn’t hide her smile when Chloe finally jumped up and Victoria rolled her eyes at her daughter. This was all so familiar and safe. A warm feeling spread through Sam. This was how family was supposed to be. She swallowed the rest of her pizza and patted her stomach. “That was really good. I love your pizza.”

“Really?”

Sam threw her napkin at her sister and hit her square in the chest.

Victoria picked the napkin up between her thumb and her forefinger and threw it in the trash can. “Coffee?”

“No, thanks.” Sam took the plates and put them into the dishwasher while Victoria busied herself with her shiny coffee machine.

The sound of grinding beans vibrated through Sam’s teeth. “A sledgehammer has nothing against this monster.”
She took a closer look. I’m pretty sure that the last time the coffee machine was black and not a silver monster of steel.
“A new one?”

Victoria sighed. “Yes.”

“From?”

Victoria peered into her coffee cup before she set it down and pressed a button on the steel giant. Dark liquid poured into the cup. “Daddy dear.”

“Oh, so what has he done now?” Sam couldn’t hold back the bitterness in her voice.

“He forgot to attend Chloe’s theater group premier last month even though he promised to be there and take us out for dinner afterwards.”

“Sure he did.” Sam rolled her eyes. “And a new coffee machine for you is supposed to do what?”

“A new machine for me and a new iPad for Chloe.” Victoria held up her hand. “And yes, we did accept the presents.”

“I really don’t get how you can let that asshole—”

“Stop.” Her sister pinched the bridge of her nose. “We’re not discussing this again. He is her grandfather. And I’m not cutting him out of our lives. And as fucked up as it is—presents are his way of saying sorry. You have to accept that.”

“More his way of buying himself an ‘it’s all right we forgive you’—again.” Sam balled her hands into fists. They would never agree on their father’s behavior and the way he tried to manipulate and buy everyone around him—including his family.

“Sam.” Victoria reached out and took hold of Sam’s hands. “He is her grandfather. And I really don’t want to lose another part of my family. I want my child to have contact with him as long as she’s up for it. Once she decides that she doesn’t want to see him anymore…” She shrugged. “Well, then it is her decision. But until then, he’s going to be part of our lives. A very small part as it is.”

Sam shook her head. “I’m sorry. I’ll never get it. But it’s your decision.”

“I know. Come on, let’s relax a bit on the sofa.”

“Yeah.”

They settled on the sofa in the living room, Victoria scooting close enough to rest her head against Sam’s shoulder.

Anger was still coursing through Sam. Anger about her father’s behavior, Victoria’s decision to let him stay in her life and, on top of all of that, an anger burning about the way all of this still affected her. Even after all of these years.

“So, what’s up in your life?”

“Why?”

“You haven’t stopped fidgeting around like a five year old since you crossed the threshold.”

“Have not.”

Victoria just hummed quietly.

Sam found it hard to breathe. She had been looking forward to and at the same time feared telling her sister about Gillian. Talking about “it”, about Gillian, would make everything real and Sam still wasn’t sure if that was what she wanted. But her mind and her emotions had been spinning in circles over these past days and she needed to tell someone. “I met a woman.”

“And?”

“She’s funny. She’s interesting. She’s,” Sam chewed on her bottom lip, “an amazing lover. Sexy as hell.” She sighed. “And she’s getting under my skin.”

Victoria whistled. “Wow. And?”

Sam grimaced. “She has money. Loads of it. She’s rich.”

“Oh no. What a shame.” Victoria laughed out loud.

“This. Is. Not. Funny.”

“Oh yes, it is.”

Sam’s hands curled into fists. “No, it’s not.”

“I really believe you’re the only person that has a problem with having a rich girlfriend.”

Sam bit down on the bitchy response that was lingering on the tip of her tongue. Needing some distance, she got up and went into the kitchen. She took a bottle of beer out of the fridge. “It’s not funny at all,” she said to herself, before opening the bottle and walking back to the living room. She stopped in the open door. “I don’t cope well with…you know…rich people.” Though it wasn’t mainly the money but the behavior that came with it. The whole “we own the world and you” attitude that she hated like an ugly rash.

“So, you can’t cope with us, either?” There was a bite to Victoria’s words.

“That is not the same.”

Victoria made an irritated sound deep in her throat. “Why not? And since when have you become such a snob?” Her sister’s voice was so soft that it nearly took the sting out of those words. “Come here.” She patted the empty space next to her on the couch.

“A snob? Me?” Sam pointed at her breast. “I’m a snob?”

“Come here, you goof, before I drag you here.” Victoria pointedly stared at the empty space beside her.

“As if…” Sam grumbled but sat down. She placed her beer on the low table.

“Oh yes. You are some kind of snob. You don’t judge people by who they are but by how much money they have. And you think you’re a better person because you’re not rich.”

Sam leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees. She couldn’t deny that what Victoria said was true. “Can you blame me?”

“No, I don’t and you know that. What they did to you was totally, utterly wrong and shitty as hell. But that doesn’t mean that every person with more money in their bank account than you is a monster. And I’m sure that whoever ‘she’ is didn’t give off those kinds of vibes or we wouldn’t be sitting here, having this conversation.”

Sam knew that Victoria was waiting for a reply. She wouldn’t let it go. Being the mother of a nine year old made her some kind of Mistress of Patience.
Might as well give in.
“That’s not the point. I can’t remember one positive experience with white collar people. Not as a child, not as a teenager, and certainly not as a grown-up. I just don’t relate. It’s not my world.”

“Oh, Sam.” Victoria rested a hand on Sam’s back. “I bet you still don’t know much about her, right?”

“No.” Sam sat upright. “We haven’t talked that much. Just the one date so far.”

“You only met once?”

“Well, no. But we only talked once.”

Victoria burst out with laughter. “You’re unbelievable.”

Sam groaned.

“And you have no idea how she made her money, right?”

“No.” Sam let her head roll onto the back of the sofa.

“And you pout like my daughter.”

Sam growled. “Not true.”

Victoria bumped her shoulder. “Yes, true.”

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t.” Victoria rolled her eyes.

“I’m afraid.”

Victoria ruffled Sam’s hair the way she would with Chloe. Affection was written all over her face. “I know.”

“I haven’t been in love since Cheri.” Speaking the name still hurt.

“Five years is a very long time.”

Sam once again let her head fall back. Why couldn’t she just let go of the past? After nearly twenty years of leaving her old life behind, it still hurt. And talking about Cheri was just as painful. Her gaze fell on a glass jar that held lots of small notes. “What is this?”

“Good memories.” Victoria got up and walked over to the sideboard. “Every time Chloe is overwhelmed or angry about what happened to,” she picked the glass up, “her father, we’ll write down some good memories.” The shaking in her voice was unmistakable. “I do too.”

Sam swallowed hard. Even two years after Martin’s accident, talking about him was hard for Victoria. They had been a couple for over ten years. One drunken driver later—all had been over. Martin was gone. And Victoria and Chloe left behind. Alone.

Victoria sat the glass down and joined Sam on the couch. She let her head fall down on Sam’s shoulder. “I miss him so much.”

Sam pressed a soft kiss on her sister’s head. “I know.”

“And I want you to find the happiness we had. You have to make some good memories and for that you have to take a risk.”

A risk was exactly what Sam didn’t want to take. Sure, a happily ever after would be great. But how often did that happen in real life? The chance of being hurt, of having her heart ripped out once again were a lot higher. “I hate being a grown-up person.”

“So, what are you going to do?”

Sam shrugged. “Well, since not seeing her anymore isn’t an option…I think I’ll just see where this leads.”

“And if it leads to something serious?”

Contradicting thoughts and emotions swirled through Sam like a tornado. However, she had to admit that her heart felt at least a bit lighter now, after bringing her worries and fears out into the light. “Well, if it becomes more serious, I’ll come banging at your door in the middle of the night.”

Victoria chuckled. “Great. Except the middle of the night part.”

BOOK: Heart's Surrender
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