Note from author: Back in 1998 and 1999 I wrote two short stories called THESE DREAMS, and THE ENEMY WITHIN. This new story is a completely rewritten, novel length, version of those two stories.
By V.H. Foster
Chapter One: Broken Dreams.
Panic filled the young woman as she ran blindly, the sound of her pounding feet echoing in her ears. She had no idea what pursued her, but the thought of it catching her struck terror in her very soul. Looking over her shoulder to see if her pursuer still followed, she could see nothing, but she was certain it was still there. Suddenly she was looking down at the body of a beautiful woman. Her short dark hair disheveled, and her head resting in a pool of blood. Sinking to her knees, she sobbed over and over "I killed her I killed her
The sound of the phone ringing woke Samantha with a start, and she sat a moment staring at it, trying to push the dream out of her mind. Her heart was pounding; this dream had really shaken her. Taking a deep breath, she reached for the receiver. "Hello?" she said, as her other hand rubbed the sleep from her eyes.
"Samantha, dear," came her mother's voice over the phone. "I'm going to be in your area this afternoon, and I thought I would stop by and see your new home."
"Ah, Mother I don't think that "
"I really have to run, dear. See you around three?"
"Mother " Samantha heard a click, and the line was dead. I really wanted to get this place a little better organized before she sees it, Samantha thought wearily. Running her fingers through her hair, she wondered how long she had been asleep at her drafting table. She looked down at the drawing she had been working on and noticed that she had drooled on it as she slept. Shaking her head, she crumpled the paper and tossed it into the trashcan on the floor beside her table.
Yawning, the little blond raised her eyes from her work to glance at the clock. Damn, she thought, Im gonna miss my deadline. Samantha was an artist, an illustrator of childrens books. She needed one more illustration for the book she was working on, and there was just no time left. The FedEx driver would be here any time to pick up the CD. Riffling through the rejection pile, she found one that would have to do and quickly scanned the images, burning them onto a CD. Slipping the CD into a FedEx envelope, she sighed. What a relief, she thought as she leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. That was too close. She hated sending something she was not totally pleased with, but they had had too many delays on this book as it was and the deadline was firm. She had pushed herself to near exhaustion these last weeks, and Samantha knew that was one of the reasons she was not happy with her work. She was so tired that she would nod off at the drop of a hat. It seemed in this business that when it rained, it poured. Several books would be given to her at once, and then there would be dry spells when they would send her nothing. This had been the last book for this storm, and she was looking forward to relaxing a little before the next squall blew in.
The afternoon sun streamed through the window, warming her, relaxing her. She caught herself drifting off and jerked herself awake. Get your lazy butt out of that chair, she told herself. Remember, Mom is coming this afternoon and this place is a mess. And besides, she wasn't ready to have another dream like the one that she had wakened from a little while ago. Why would I dream of killing someone? She thought, and especially her? Perhaps working on organizing this place was just the thing she needed to take her mind off the dream.
She glanced around the room wondering where to start. There was just not enough room for everything; the little bachelor apartment was filled to the brim, leaving just a winding path that connected her bathroom, her bed, the drafting table, and the kitchenette. That was all the empty space to be found in the small room. One entire wall was filled with shelves packed with her art supplies, and the wall space between the bathroom and her bed was stacked with canvases. Boxes were everywhere, filled with books mostly. She had a passion for reading, and when she was not into her artwork, her nose was in a book. Standing, Samantha stretched her five-foot two-inch frame, heaving a sigh of relief as she heard the familiar pops as her spine re-aligned itself. Looking around the small room, she shook her head at the impossibility of actually finding a place to put everything.
Samantha found it impossible to concentrate on putting her apartment in order. The dream kept creeping back into her consciousness, and she found it hard to shake the image she saw of herself sobbing over the body of the woman she had killed in her dream.
Samantha heard the sound of rapid footsteps coming up her stairs, then the familiar rhythmic pattern tapped on the door. Dusty must have broken up with another boyfriend, she thought, as the door burst open and the petite brunette breezed into the room. Dusty had been her next-door neighbor and best friend since she was ten years old, but she rarely saw her these days unless she was between boyfriends. Somehow, when you are single, and your friend is paired up, you feel like a third wheel when they try to include you in their activities, and Samantha usually politely declined.
"Youre not going to believe who I saw today," Dusty said, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "Come on," she continued, as she leaned over the drafting table. "Try to guess."
Curiosity got the best of the young artist, and she took the bait. Looking eagerly at Dusty she asked. "Who?"
The pretty brunette frowned. "You're supposed to guess."
"Come on now Sam, I'm serious. Take a real guess."
Samantha thought a moment as she absently picked up her pencil and chewed on the end. "Is it someone we knew from school?" she asked.
Dusty's grin widened. "No."
"At least give me a hint," Samantha pleaded. She was into the game now, and eager to figure out the puzzle. "Is it male or female?"
Samantha nodded. "Have I known her long?"
"All your life."
Oh, Samantha thought, this is too easy. The only female she had known all her life was "My mother," she said, a satisfied smirk on her face. She still couldn't figure out what was so exciting about seeing her mother, though.
Dusty shook her head. "I told you you'd never guess."
"Come on, Dusty, my mother is the only woman I have known all my life."
"Okay, I'll give you that. You don't technically know this woman."
Samantha shook her head again. "This is silly, just tell me who it is."
"Your dream girl."
"Ha ha, very funny," Samantha said as she pretended to work.
"No, Im serious."
"Whats that supposed to mean? Just because I'm still a virgin doesn't mean I'm a dyke." Samantha had considered the possibility that she might be a lesbian, but rejected it. She had never fantasized about having sex with other women, and after all, isn't that what lesbians do?
"Hey, I never said that," Dusty replied holding her hands up in supplication. " Methinks thou doth protest too much. What I meant is exactly what I said." Dusty continued, as she walked to the canvases stacked against the wall and began looking through them.
" Ah, here she is," she crowed, holding up a painting of a beautiful woman with striking blue eyes. " I saw her today Blue Eyes," Dusty said as she carried the painting back to Samantha.
"Youre kidding me, right?" The young artist replied, suddenly very interested. Could it really be her? She thought, as she unconsciously snapped her pencil in half.
"No, Im not kidding. It was uncanny, Sam, she looked just like her." Dusty laughed as she sat on the arm of Samanthas chair, gazing at the painting. "She must have thought I was crazy when I kept staring at her, but I couldnt help it. It was just so weird."
"Did you find out her name?"
"No, I just stared at her like an idiot."
"Did you follow her and find out where she lives?"
"Are you crazy? I aint no freakin PI for Christs sake."
Samantha realized immediately how silly that sounded, expecting her friend to follow this stranger home. "Wheres your sense of humor, Dusty?" She grinned. " I was just kidding." Her face took on a more serious look. " I would like to see her though, you know, see if she really looks like the woman in my dreams."
"Believe me, she does."
"How would you know, you arent privy to my dreams."
"How could I not know?" The look she flashed Samantha was incredulous. "Youve been telling me about her for years. And lets face it, youre a wonderful artist. Ive never seen you paint anyone that wasnt a good likeness."
" How tall do you think she was?"
"At least six feet, maybe a little taller."
Nodding Samantha asked, "What was she doing?"
"She was talking to some creepy looking guy; a real loser. She noticed that I was watching her and I looked away. When I looked back she was smiling at me, so I just did an about- face and got out of there. I know she was laughing at me, thinking, whats that idiot staring at."
"She probably thought you were coming on to her." Samantha replied, trying to keep a serious look on her face. Turnabout is fair play, she thought.
"God, do you really think so?" The look of embarrassment on Dustys face was priceless, and Samantha couldnt help but laugh. Realizing that Samantha was joking, Dusty joined in and their laughter filled the room.
Wiping the tears from her eyes Samanthas gaze turned serious again. "Where exactly did you see her?"
"She was coming out of the 'Right Way Health Club', and the loser guy I told you about came up to her and started talking to her. She was dressed in sweats, so I guess she must have been working out."
Great! Samantha thought, at least I have a place to start. "What time was it that she came out?"
"About 1 PM." A frown crossed Dustys face. "Samantha, youre not gonna stalk her, are you?"
"Dont be silly. I just want to see her in the flesh instead of in my dreams." Shaking her head she added, "Dont you see Dusty, shes real and I didnt even get to see her. I have to find her. I have to see her for myself."
The frown on Dustys face deepened. "I never should have told you about her. Now youre gonna be more obsessed than ever."
"I am not obsessed with her."
"Call it what you want, but I call it obsession. How many drawings of her have you done, a hundred? How many paintings? Your little imaginary friend is going to take over your life if you dont watch out"
"But you have to admit that this is strange. Ive been dreaming about her for as long as I can remember, and now to have proof shes real "
"Wait a minute, this woman looks like the women in your dreams but shes not her. Thats impossible."
Samantha reached over and let her fingertips gently brush across the canvas, as if stroking the face of a live person. "How else would you explain it?"
Dusty watched her friend and frowned. "Coincidence?"
"Get real, Dusty. I could accept coincidence perhaps if it was just the face, but you said she was six feet tall. What do you think the odds are that there would be someone with her face and height? Astronomical."
Dusty walked to the door shaking her head. "If you get yourself arrested as a stalker, Im gonna give you a big fat I told you so."
With that she left the room, but Samantha didnt even notice. "Shes real," she whispered, pulling the canvas close. "And Im gonna find her."
Samantha arrived at the fitness club and parked her car. She didn't know why she had to come here this evening; she just couldn't stay away. Her logical mind told her that Dusty had seen Blue Eyes here at lunch time today, therefore a fare assumption would be that Blue Eyes worked out during lunch and would not be back today. But, here she was sitting in her car like a fool, watching for someone that would most likely not show up.
Perhaps she just wanted to get away from the apartment for a while. Whether it was foolish or not, she was an adult and it was her choice to sit here and make a fool of herself if she wanted to. The more she thought about it the more she realized that she was just too excited to wait until tomorrow morning to come check the place out. Somehow sitting here in a place she knew that Blue Eyes had been made her feel closer to her. For the first time in her life she had an actual physical place to start looking. Getting out of the car, she walked to the entrance of the club and stood a moment. She took a deep breath. Just think, Blue Eyes has actually stood in this very spot; breathed in this very air. A smile crept to her face at that realization.
Samantha walked back to her car and sat a while longer, looking at the place wistfully. Soon, she thought. I'm gonna find you and clear up this mystery once and for all. Then another thought popped into her head. What will Mom and Dad say when they find out I found her? "No," she said out loud, "they wouldn't understand. Why should they when I don't even understand myself?" She thought again about the visit this afternoon with her mother. It had been dreadful. Her mom had ridiculed everything about Samanthas new abode and made her feel like she was a little girl again. "You left home for this," she had said, looking around with great disdain. Her parents were not happy when she had decided to move out, and to leave home for this was unacceptable to them. "Its all I can afford right now, and besides, I like it," she had countered. The rest of the afternoon had been much the same and Samantha breathed a sigh of relief when her mother finally left.
Samantha's mind drifted back to the mystery woman, and she contemplated why it was so important to find her. She thought about the dreams. Why have I been dreaming about you? Why? Her mind tried to sort through the conflicting emotions she felt when she thought about Blue Eyes. And she thought about her a lot. Dusty had long ago gotten tired of hearing about her dreams, and she avoided the subject all together with her parents. They had even sent her to a shrink when she was a teenager to find out why she was so obsessed with a woman - granted an imaginary woman - but a woman just the same. When the age of first love, boys, and crushes came and went without their precious even dating at all, it was just too much. But Blue Eyes was not imaginary, not someone she created. Samantha had always believed that she was real. Now she planned to come face to face with the flesh and blood reality.
Samantha had been watching the Health club between 11:AM and 1:30PM for almost three weeks now; still there was no sign of Blue Eyes. Perhaps she was not a regular customer. There was also the chance that lunch was not her regular time to work out, and the day Dusty had seen her had been an exception. After waiting with no success, she decided she needed to come up with a better plan. She needed to find out if Blue Eyes was, indeed, a member of this club. Perhaps she had never been in the place before, and Dusty just happened to see her the one time she had been there. There was only one way to find out; she had to go in and ask. Samantha knew the odds were against her and that she was grasping at straws. Most clubs would protect the privacy of their members - but it was worth a try.
Samantha went home to get one of her paintings of Blue Eyes that she hoped someone at the club would recognize. She'd had a lot of time to think while she sat and watched the health club. She thought about the dreams, and the one that repeated most often. Samantha was sleeping, and in the midst of a terrible nightmare. She would be wakened by an incredibly tall woman with the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen, who would take her in her arms and say, "Its okay. Ive got you." She would immediately relax and let herself be held in those strong, comforting arms. She had discovered that if she was upset about something in her waking hours, she could just close her eyes and picture those blue eyes, and the stress of the day would leave. However, now that she knew Blue Eyes was real, things had changed; the dream had changed. No longer did it end with just those soothing words and an embrace. Blue Eyes would nuzzle her hair and whisper "I love you" while nibbling on her ear, and then they would make incredible love. In the dream she could feel her body responding, and it baffled her. She had never been in love, never really been interested in sex like the other girls. She had felt like an outsider in high school, and in college, when all the girls would talk about their latest crush. Some had questioned her about why she had no interest in men, and teased her about being a lesbian, but in truth she had never been interested in the girls either. She just figured she was one of those rare people who have no sex drive, and left it at that. Now things had changed. She had felt her body respond in the dream, felt the unbelievable fire and joy of their lovemaking. It felt so real so right. She awoke to find herself in a state of arousal she would never have believed possible. Her whole world had changed and her body rejoiced in this newfound wonderment.
Samantha paused in front of the door to the health club and glanced down at the painting in her hands. "Please let them know you," she said out loud, as she pushed the door open and went inside. Glancing around the room, she saw a man wearing a T-shirt that proclaimed in large letters Do it the right way at RIGHT WAY.
Mike Harper was tall and built like a Greek god. He looked good, and he knew it. He saw the beautiful little blonde walk in the door and he immediately stood up straighter, striking a pose to show off his fine physique to the green-eyed beauty. "Can I help you?" he said, extending his hand, and striding toward her.
"I hope so," Samantha replied, allowing the man to take her hand and squeeze it firmly. "Im trying to get some information about a woman who I believe is a member of your club." Pulling her hand from his grasp, she turned the painting around, and held it up for him to see. The look of recognition that briefly crossed his chiseled features was unmistakable.
"Is this your work?" Mike asked, admiring the skillfully crafted likeness of Tess Richmond. He had known her for years, and had given up trying to get the beautiful woman into his bed. She had made it clear long ago, and in no uncertain terms, that she was a lesbian.
"Yes, it is," Samantha said, hoping against hope that her search was finally over. "Do you know her?"
"I wish I did," Mike said, glancing down at the portrait again. "Shes a real beauty." The look of disappointment was clear in the young womans eyes, and Mike briefly considered giving her the information she wanted, just to see if it would help him seduce her. He quickly rethought that decision. Tess was a good customer, and he would not jeopardize that for a quick roll in the hay. Besides, if the woman was looking for Tess, she probably batted for the other team as well. Hell, shes probably one of Tess ex-lovers, and I certainly dont want to get in the middle of that. "I dont know where you got the idea that she's a member of this club, I think someone steered you in the wrong direction. Im sorry."
Samantha nodded her head, unable to speak for fear of releasing the tears she was holding back. She quickly turned and hurried to her car where she let the tears flow unhindered. "Damn, damn, damn!" she shouted, pounding her fists into the steering wheel.
Tess Richmond sat staring off into space, mentally reviewing the meeting she'd had this morning with Tucker. She had bested him again; taken another contract he thought he had sewn up. She ran her fingers through her short dark hair and smiled at how he had been forced to control his temper with so many business associates present. If they had not been there, he would have called her every name in the book.
"Alls fair in love and war," she had told him.
"This isnt war," he reminded her.
"Well it certainly isnt love," she shot back. The competition between them had escalated as Tess company had grown. The more power she had to wield, the more she went after him, and she was a very shrewd businesswoman. She was brought out of her reverie by the slamming of her office door. She looked up to see John, one of the two business associates she was lunching with today.
"Hey, Tess, how'd it go with Tucker this morning? I heard from Russ that hes sending some investigator to try to get something on you."
"He can have them investigate 'til the cows come home. Ive got nothing to hide." A loud rumbling in her stomach caused Tess to look at her watch and frown. "I didnt eat breakfast today and Im starving. Where the hell is Stewart anyway? This was supposed to be a late lunch, but at this rate it will be dinner." At that moment the door opened and Stewart ambled in with a big grin on his face.
"You been breaking little girls hearts again Tess?" The balding man said with a smirk on his round face.
Tess glanced up in time to catch said smirk. " Have to, you know. Its part of my job description."
"Mike Harper from the health club just called. I guess one of your little castoffs was in the club asking about you. He said she was a cute little blonde number. Said your taste has definitely improved. "
"Whats that supposed to mean? I have impeccable taste. And I dont go for little blondes; you know I like my women long, lean and dark."
"Patterning them after ourselves are we?"
"Not that long." Tess laughed and stood, stretching her six-foot frame.
"Well anyway, they sent her packing. Said they didnt know you"
"You dont suppose shes the one Tucker sent? I wouldnt put it past him to send some cute little innocent looking thing around that I wouldnt suspect. He must be having them investigate my personal life too if theyre checking the place where I work out, for Christs sake."
"When are you going to get over this vendetta with him anyway?" Stewart asked, walking to the door. "Are we gonna eat or what? Im starving," he added, not waiting for a reply.
Tess grabbed her leather shoulder pouch and followed them out the door. "Ill get over it when I put him outta business. When I own it all and he is groveling at my feet."
Samantha sat in her car across from the health club, she didnt know what else to do. It was her only tie with Blue Eyes. She had decided to spend the entire day there instead of just lunch hours. She was sure the man at the health club recognized the picture of her mystery woman, even though he had said otherwise, so the only thing to do was wait. A rumbling in her stomach reminded her that it was well past dinnertime; she was contemplating getting something to eat when a gold Lexus pulled up in front of the club. When Blue Eyes got out of the vehicle, Samantha thought her heart would stop. She just stared at the woman with her mouth open. She was not dressed in sweats, or any type of exercise attire for that matter. She wore form fitting Levis with boots. The blue silk shirt she wore was sure to bring out the color in those gorgeous blue eyes, and Samantha wished she was close enough to see her face and feast on the beautiful image. She watched the tall woman walk into the club and contemplated following her. She thought better of that idea though; someone might tell her that Samantha had been asking about her, and it would get them off to a bad start. She decided the thing to do was to follow her home. Once she knew where she lived, she could figure out some way to casually meet.
Tess had spent the rest of the day wondering about the blonde investigating her, deciding to drop by the health club on her way to the nightclub she owned called Girls Night Out. She wanted to talk to Mike about the blonde and find out exactly what she had been asking. To her dismay, Mike had gone home early and no one else knew anything about a blonde woman asking questions. The fact that Tucker sent a woman suggested that he was going to try to seduce her into giving up company secrets. What other reason could there be? Well just see who seduces whom, Tess thought as she got back in her car. It only took a couple of blocks for her to realize she was being followed. Hmmm, cute little blond, she thought, this must be her. She decided to go on with her plans for a night at 'Girls Night Out'. She was not in the closet, and if the woman had done her homework she would know that Tess was a lesbian. Taking care not to lose her tail, she drove to the nightspot and parked in the back. Getting out of her car, she walked to the edge of the building to see if the blonde was going to follow her. The parking lot was well lit, but there was a shadowy area just around the corner between the lights in front and in the back where she hid herself from sight and settled in to wait.
Samantha couldnt believe her luck. Blue Eyes was going into some type of nightclub, and it would make a casual meeting easier for her to arrange. She was having a hard time controlling her excitement, adrenaline rapidly pumping through her body. This was really it; she was going to meet Blue Eyes. She had to try to come up with a way to bump into her and not seem too obvious. So deep in thought was she, Samantha did not see the figure waiting around the corner until she almost ran into her. Samantha froze as the blue eyes fell on her. She hadnt thought it was possible, but those eyes were even more striking than she expected. She couldnt help staring. This woman was breathtaking and oozed sex appeal. She let her artists eye study the beautiful face before her, those prominent cheekbones, the perfect lips. This was Blue Eyes; there was no doubt in her mind. Her throat seemed to close up and her palms were sweating. She was in the presence of a Goddess and had been struck mute.
"Youve been following me," Tess purred as she stepped out of the shadows. Teasingly she arched an eyebrow. "Why?"
Samantha tried to speak but no words came out. She couldnt believe Blue Eyes was actually here and talking to her. She tried to decide whether to tell the truth or lie. The truth doesnt come back and kick you in the butt later, she thought. The decision was made; she would tell the truth, just not quite all of it, yet. Taking a deep breath and willing herself to calm down, Samantha was finally able to get her frozen body to respond. "Have you ever seen someone and instantly known that there was some kind of connection, and you have to know more about them?" What a stupid line, Samantha thought. I cant believe I said that.
The little vixen is trying to be coy. I guess I'll just see how far she's willing to go. "Yes, as a matter of fact I have." Tess let her gaze wander down the blondes body and back up to her eyes; such beautiful clear green eyes, so open and innocent. Damn shes good, Tess thought, I can almost believe she's the innocent she appears to be. She raised her hand to Samanthas face and let her index finger trace along the line of her jaw, stopping on her lips. She felt the involuntary tremble and thought, this is going to be easy. "Why dont you come inside with me for a drink and well get to know each other."
Samantha couldnt believe it. She had finally talked to Blue Eyes and the woman had felt the connection too. "Yes I um would like that," she stammered.
"Good. Shall we start by introducing ourselves? Im Tess," the tall woman said, reaching out and grasping Samanthas hand.
"Samantha." She wanted to say more, but her vocabulary had been swept away by the piercing gaze of the blue eyes that had haunted her dreams.
"Samantha," Tess said, tasting the syllables on her lips and liking the taste. " What a pretty name." She squeezed her hand gently. "Shall we go?"
Tess led the way into the nightclub. There was a woman just inside the door collecting a fee to enter and checking IDs. Samantha started to get in line but Tess just nodded to the woman as she walked by. " Shes with me." The woman nodded back as they breezed on by.
Samantha was disappointed at how incredibly loud it was inside the club. She had hoped they would be able to sit and talk, but it looked like they would be lucky to hear themselves think. When her eyes became accustomed to the dim light, Samantha realized that there were no men in the place at all. Women sat together at tables and danced together on the dance floor. She had never been to a bar of any kind, and thought it strangely appropriate, considering the circumstances, that the first time was a lesbian bar.
The place was packed with small tables surrounding the busy dance floor. Tess did not turn toward the few remaining empty tables, but continued across the room toward the bar. Just to the right of the bar, she turned down a hall that led first to the bathrooms and then opened up into another room with four pool tables. At the far end of the room was a door marked PRIVATE. Tess produced a key to this door and escorted Samantha into an office with a large wooden desk, two chairs and a large comfy looking couch. Tess deposited her small leather pouch and keys on the desk. "Make yourself comfortable," she said picking up the phone. "What would you like to drink?"
"Just water please."
"Dont tell me youre a teetotaler."
"Hey, I dont mind if you do. I just dont like the taste of it."
Smart girl, Tess thought. She doesnt drink while shes working. "Water it is," she said while dialing the phone. "Jan this is Tess; I need a bourbon and water and a glass of water brought back here to the office." Looking again to Samantha she asked. "Would you like a lemon slice in your water?"
"And Jan, put a slice of lemon in the water. Thanks." Tess crossed to the couch and sat beside Samantha. "I hope you dont mind being back here in the office, but I thought it would be easier to talk. Its so loud out there."
That brought a grin to Samanthas face. "It was awful out there, wasnt it?" There was a quick knock on the door, which opened to admit a stocky looking woman dressed in black leather. She set two glasses on coasters on Tess desk. As she turned to leave, Tess touched her sleeve.
"Thanks, Jan. We're not to be disturbed," Tess said winking at her.
"Gotcha, boss lady." And with that Jan was gone.
"Now, where were we?" Tess said, handing Samantha her water.
"I think we were getting to know each other?"
"Ah yes. And I plan to get to know you very well." Tess took a couple of sips of her bourbon then set it down and let her hand drift to Samanthas thigh. Leaning forward she let her lips gently brush against Samanthas and then pulled away. Samantha could feel the blush rising up her neck and cheeks, and her heart was beating so fast she thought she would pass out. This was happening too fast, and she wasnt sure how to slow it down. How could she tell Tess that when she said she wanted to know her, she didnt mean it in the biblical sense? Well actually, she realized, she did, but not like this. Now that she had met Blue Eyes, she knew she wanted her, but Samantha was looking for forever and not a one-night stand. She just had to explain to the woman and hope she understood.
"Tess, we need to talk."
"Oh no, my dear, talking is not what I had in mind," Tess purred seductively as she leaned in to capture Samanthas lips. The young woman, half-heartedly, tried to push her back a little but Tess just pulled her closer and covered her mouth with her own. The kiss was more urgent this time, and she ran her tongue over Samanthas lips, demanding entry. Samanthas dream had become a reality and she couldnt think clearly any more. The dream had felt so right, but this was no dream, and all rational thought left her as she parted her lips to allow Tess entry. The kiss deepened and Samantha could feel Tess hands sliding under her shirt and kneading her aching breasts through her bra. Samanthas body was on fire. She arched her back to push her breasts harder against Tess wonderful hands.
"Do you really want me to stop?" Tess growled as she pushed the shirt higher.
"No please dont stop." All thoughts of taking it slow were gone. Blue Eyes was real and wanted her, nothing else mattered.
A few quick tugs and Tess removed Samanthas clothes and was gazing hungrily at her breasts. She brushed gently across the puckered flesh of Samanthas nipples causing the young woman to gasp. "Youre so beautiful," Tess said as she ducked her head sucking a sensitized nipple into her mouth. With each pull on her nipple Samantha could feel convulsions in her center.
"God you taste good." Tess moaned as she pushed Samantha back on the couch and covered her body with her own. Capturing her lips again she began thrusting her hips into Samanthas, causing the young woman to be nearly frantic with desire. All Samantha could think about was that exquisite pressure, never wanting it to end.
When Tess rolled off Samantha, the feel of loss was almost unbearable.
"Dont stop, please dont stop!"
"Oh no" Tess purred, "I have no intention of stopping." Tess captured a nipple in her mouth and alternated between nipping with her teeth and suckling as her hand found the moist opening to Samanthas need and pushed two fingers inside. Samantha gasped and began thrusting her hips to force the fingers in deeper.
Tess released the nipple and slid down Samanthas body. Her tongue left a moist trail down Samanthas belly as she made her way to her goal, hidden beneath the golden curls at the apex of the young womans legs. She parted the hair with her tongue, finding Samanthas aching clitoris and sucking it into her mouth, matching the rhythm set by her fingers. Samantha was moaning constantly as her body stiffened and her inner muscles released and grabbed Tess fingers. The orgasm roared through her body, then released it in a quivering heap.
Tess gazed at the beautiful woman beneath her and as their eyes met, for a brief moment, a feeling of connection and contentment flowed through her. Drawn into those beautiful eyes, she wanted to take the young woman in her arms and never let her go. Where did that come from? She thought, quickly pushing the emotion back down, remembering Tucker and why Samantha was here in the first place.
As Samanthas heart rate and breathing returned to normal, she thought about how much she wanted to bring Tess the same ecstasy she had just experienced. Tess was still fully clothed and Samantha reached to unbutton her shirt. "Ah, ah, ah," Tess said as she pulled Samanthas hands away and quickly stood up. Picking up her bourbon she downed it. "Its been fun," she said, striding to the desk to retrieve her things. "Dont follow me any more, Samantha, or next time I wont be so nice," and with that she was gone.
Stunned, Samantha stared at the door in disbelief. A few moments ago she had felt the connection to Blue Eyes, felt special, desired. Now she just felt dirty and violated. She wondered what had happened to her resolve to take it slow and not let it turn into a one-night stand? More like a one-hour stand she thought, and the phrase Wham, bam, thank you maam, came to mind. She had to get out of there before she made an even bigger fool out of herself and broke down. She couldnt let that happen; at least not here.
Quickly she dressed and tried to compose herself before she had to walk through the throng of people out there. Would they know what had happened and laugh at her? Was this the normal routine for the women Tess brought to her private room? How could she have been so stupid and naive to let something like this happen? She could still feel Tess hands on her body, and it disgusted her. The first time was supposed to be beautiful, yet she felt so sick and dirty; her only thought was to get home and wash Tess touch from her body. Samantha felt the bile rise in her throat and knew she was going to be sick. She thought she might make it to the bathroom, but she remembered that the line had been enormous and she could not let it happen out there. She took a deep breath and swallowed, hoping to calm her churning stomach. If I can just hold on long enough to get outside it wont matter if I lose the contents of my stomach. No such luck, it was going to be now. Franticly she looked around the room and spotted the trashcan by the desk. She managed to get there in time, and sat on the floor with her face over the can. Samanthas first thought was to clean up after herself. She stood up and started to the door with the trashcan in her hand. What am I doing? She put the can back down and started again toward the door. I hope it smells really ripe in here when she gets back. And if she doesnt like it, she can go to hell!
Tess closed the door and walked back into the main room. Her little excursion with Samantha had been very stimulating, to say the least. She smiled when she thought about how the young woman felt in her arms, how she tasted. A slight shiver ran through her body. Wow, she thought, that woman really got to me. Damn, I wish I'd met her under different circumstances. Tess was not into relationships, but it might have been fun playing with this one a little more than she did her usual bed partners. There was just something about Samantha that appealed to Tess. She shook her head. Don't go there, Tess, she reminded herself. Just think of Tucker, and put her out of your mind. She walked to the bar and ordered another drink; then glanced around the room to see if she could find a pleasant diversion to take her mind off the blonde in her office.
"Here you go, " Jan said, placing a bourbon and water in front of Tess.
"Thanks." Tess picked up her drink as she continued to let her eyes sweep the room. Her gaze fell on a lovely tall redhead who was clearly giving her the eye. She smiled. Bingo. Tess was still aroused from her encounter with Samantha and the sooner she found a receptive partner, the better.
"Jan," Tess said. "Let me know when the blonde in my office leaves." Placing her drink on the bar, she walked toward the redhead, her gaze appreciatively sweeping the woman's body. "Dance with me," Tess said, taking the woman's hand and leading her to the dance floor.
They reached the dance floor and the redhead wrapped her arms around Tess' neck. "I'm Libby," she said, by way of introduction.
Tess wrapped her arms around Libby and pulled her close. "I'm Tess."
"The bartender called you boss lady. Do you own this place?" Libby asked. Tess nodded. "I saw you come in with that beautiful blonde, so I must admit I was surprised that you asked little ol me to dance."
"Why would you be surprised? You're a very beautiful woman, Libby," Tess said as she leaned down close to her ear. "
By the second dance Libby was putty in Tess' arms. The tall woman's hands wandered lower cupping Libby's butt, pulling her hips hard against her. She leaned to nibble on the woman's neck and was rewarded with a moan, as the redhead's arms tightened around her. "I want you," Tess purred into Libby's ear. "Want to go someplace quiet?" Tess asked, as her hands continued to caress the redhead's backside. "We could have a real good time, No strings attached. What do you say? Hmmm?"
Libby nodded, and Tess led her back to the bar. "Is my office still occupied?" she asked Jan.
"Afraid so, Boss lady."
"I guess we'll have to go someplace else," Tess said, picking up her drink and downing the rest of it.
"I'm sure my apartment would be a lot cozier than your office anyway," Libby said, draping herself around the tall woman. "Want to come to my place?"
"I thought you'd never ask," Tess said, but her thoughts momentarily drifted to the blonde in her office, and she hoped she wasn't trashing the place. She couldn't think of any other reason Samantha would still be in there.
As if on cue, the door to Tess' office opened and Samantha started toward the main room. She entered the larger room and headed for the exit.
"Geeez Tess, what did you do to that one? She looks like someone just ripped out her little heart and stomped on it."
Even in the dim light Tess could see the sadness and hurt in Samanthas eyes, and how pale she had become. An overwhelming feeling of guilt came over her, and she tried to shake it off. Why should she feel guilty? The woman had been sent by Tucker in one more of his attempts to take her down; she owed her no apology.
Samantha managed to get to her car before the tears started. "Shes not Blue Eyes, shes not," she sobbed. "She just looks like her." Samantha didnt want to believe that Blue Eyes could be so cruel, but deep inside she could feel the truth. Tess was the woman of her dreams; and that realization broke her heart.
Samantha hardly remembered driving back home and getting out of the car. A splitting headache had settled in by the time she walked into her apartment and saw the portrait of Blue Eyes in front of the stack of canvases. For a moment she stared at it as a raw sense of anguish engulfed her, too soon replaced by an anger she couldn't have controlled if she had tried. Picking up a letter opener she plunged it again and again through the painting, tossing it aside only to start looking through the canvases stacked against the wall in a desperate effort to destroy all the likenesses of Blue Eyes. As she looked for the next one, she realized she could not just destroy her work. Pulling all of the portraits out, Samantha bundled them up so she did not have to look at the face that had haunted her dreams for so long. She decided to take them to the little gift shop that sometimes sold her work for her. She couldnt bear to destroy them, but she didnt want to have to look at them either.
Getting in the shower, Samantha scrubbed herself until she was raw, and still she could not feel clean. She wondered if she would ever feel clean again, as she slid down the wall of the shower to sit on the floor, letting the water hit her. The feeling of emptiness was overwhelming. Starting to shiver, she realized that the hot water was gone and she left the shower, still in a daze. Emotionally devastated and exhausted, she collapsed on her bed and cried herself to sleep.
Tess splashed water on her face then patted it dry. Seducing Libby had had the expected result. The sexual tension she had built in her game with Samantha had been released; it was time to go home. Opening the bathroom door, she strode across the room to the chair she had tossed her clothes on an hour before.
"You're leaving already?" Libby said, as she watched the tall woman pull her clothes on. "I was just getting my second wind."
"I can't stay and play any longer. I've got an early day tomorrow," Tess said, sitting down to pull on her shoes.
Libby slipped out of bed and walked over to Tess as she stood to leave. Draping her nude form around her she said. "Tonight was really special to me Tess. I'd like to get to know you better. Can't you stay just a little longer?"
Tess felt trapped when the redhead wrapped her arms around her neck; the smell of sex still clinging to her nude body. Reaching up, she removed Libby's hands from her neck and stepped away. "Sorry, but I really need to go."
"Not even a good-bye kiss?" Libby said, as she stepped up to Tess and started to wrap her arms around her again.
Tess caught her hands and held them. "Good-bye hugs and kisses are for someone you have a relationship with. This was just sex Libby. A one night stand. I'm not interested in kissing or cuddling, or anything else that suggests a relationship. I told you no strings attached up front."
"I know you said that, but I thought "
"You thought wrong," Tess interrupted. "I needed to release some tension tonight. You helped do that. End of story." Tess turned and abruptly left. A bewildered Libby watched her go.
Tess lay on her side; her head propped in her hand. Her gaze fell on the nude form of the small blonde woman, scant inches away. She watched as her breasts gently rose with each breath. She smiled at how content and happy she felt just looking at Samantha, and she ached to reach out and touch her.
Suddenly Samantha's eyes opened, and her serene expression changed, confusion and hurt clearly etched into her beautiful features. A tear started down her cheek. "I love you," she said, her image slowly fading.
"No!" Tess called as she reached out to hold on to her. "Don't leave me "
Tess awoke with a start, her heart pounding in her ears. The dreadful feeling of loss the dream engendered in her so strong it was almost painful. This was the forth night that her dreams had been filled with images of Samantha, and each night the emotions seemed to grow stronger until she wasn't sure how much longer she was going to be able to stand it. The young woman's beautiful face indelibly etched into her memory. Green eyes looking up at her, so warm and full of innocence, then her face peaceful in repose. She could still feel the heart-wrenching loss when Samantha vanished, and guilt joined the other emotions warring for dominance. Again she wondered why she should feel guilt at getting the best of the young woman; after all she was just a pawn used by Tucker in the game of cat and mouse they played. Wasnt she?
How can you be so sure? A voice screamed from deep inside her and she questioned what she had done. Why hadnt she seen it before? Perhaps Samantha truly was an innocent. She could feel it in her gut. Suddenly she knew she had to find Samantha, to know for sure, and if this feeling proved to be correct, to apologize. She did not expect to be - or even believe she should be -forgiven, but whatever it was worth, she had to try.
Tess sat at her desk thinking about the dreams she had been having about Samantha since that night at 'Girls Night Out'. The disturbing dreams were starting to ware on her, along with the lack of sleep. She seldom managed to get back to sleep after one of them wakened her. Tess was so tired, she felt like she was sleepwalking. Yawning, she picked up her coffee cup and walked out to the coffeepot. Perhaps a good jolt of caffeine would help keep her awake.
"You look like hell, Tess," Stewart said, as he approached with his own cup. "Are you okay?" he asked, noticing the dark circles under her eyes.
"Just tired, Stew. Haven't been sleeping well lately."
He studied her for a moment. "Worried about Tucker and that investigation?"
"I'd only have to worry if I was hiding something, Stewart. Believe me, I'm not worried about that."
"Why don't you take some time off and get some rest, Tess. I'll cover for you."
"Thanks, perhaps I'll take you up on that one of these days." She filled her cup. "There is something you could do for me though. Find out what you can about that investigator. "
"Thanks," she said, taking a sip of her coffee, then heading back to her office.
Chapter Two: A Needle in a Haystack.
When Tess got to the office the next day, Stewart was waiting for her. "I got the scoop on that investigator Tess. Her name is Norma McNeil, forty-three years old and, by all accounts, a real barracuda. She's been visiting all our accounts and asking questions just as bold as you please. Tuckers not trying to sneak behind your back and get some dirt. Hes trying to make everyone think youre into something shady by making it obvious that youre being investigated. Very clever actually. He doesnt have to produce any dirt and he still shakes their confidence in you."
Tess felt as though she had been hit in the gut. She had her proof now that Samantha was just some sweet innocent kid that had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. Again the trusting green eyes came to her mind, and the waves of guilt she felt were almost too much to bear. Slowly she sank to her chair unable to get those trusting eyes out of her mind.
"Are you all right, Tess?" Stewart said as he watched her face grow pale. "You look like youre gonna pass out."
"Yeah, Im fine, Stew. Just leave me alone for a while, okay?"
"Sure, Tess, if youre sure everything's okay."
"Im sure." The color was starting to come back to her face and she gave him a smile.
Once alone the guilt came back with a vengeance. I know what I did to that girl was wrong, but damn, I dont even know her. Why does this hurt so much? None of this made any sense. Why had Samantha been trying to find her, and why couldnt she get her out of her mind? Most importantly, How was she going to find her? She didnt even know her last name? Damn, why didnt I notice the license number on her car? She knew that in a city this size, it would be almost impossible to find Samantha without her complete name. That left the health club. Perhaps Samantha had said something to Mike that would help, and Tess determined to stop by the club and talk to him.
Tess walked back and forth in her office, watching the clock that refused to move quickly enough. She had called, and Mike would not get to the club until two PM, today; the wait seemed an eternity. She still could not figure out why finding the blonde and apologizing to her had become so important, but it had. She kept seeing that sweet face over and over again. So innocent and trusting when they first met, and so sad and pale when last she saw her. She remembered the connection she had felt to Samantha, and subsequently pushed away. If only I had listened to my gut. It was trying to tell me something, but I wouldn't listen. "Damn you Tucker," she shouted. "Why'd you have to pick yesterday to hire an investigator? Why?"
Tess walked through the doors to the 'Right Way Health Club' with a purpose. She intended to find Samantha, and this was the only lead she had. There were several people milling around the small lobby, but she hardly noticed them as she breezed by. She veered to the right and headed to the door to the weight room. That seemed the likeliest place to find Mike.
Mike looked up as Tess walked through the door. She was not dressed for a workout, and he guessed she must be here to find out about the blonde woman from yesterday. "Hey gorgeous," he called out. "Where's your work out gear?"
"Didn't come to work out, came to talk. I hear there was someone here yesterday asking questions about me. Care to elaborate on that?"
"Sure, what do you want to know?"
"For starters, did you get her name?"
Mike looked puzzled. Tess had to know the woman's name. She had allowed the woman to paint her portrait hadn't she? Perhaps Stew had not relayed that part of the message to Tess and she did not know about that yet. "No, she didn't give me her name, just showed me a painting she did of you. It was darn good too."
Tess couldn't believe what she was hearing. Samantha had painted a portrait of her? Why? This mystery just kept getting more puzzling. The tall woman felt that sense of connection settle over her again, and remembered what Samantha had asked her when they first met. She had asked if Tess had ever felt a connection so strong that you just had to pursue it. She hadn't understood at the time, but now, it was all too clear. To find out that Samantha had even painted her portrait, somehow made the ache to find the young woman even stronger. "Did you notice if she signed the painting?"
"Are you trying to tell me that this blonde painted you and you don't even know who she is?" Mike shook his head. "That takes the cake."
Tess was getting angry; this was not getting her anywhere. "I don't need your sarcasm Mike. Just tell me, did you see a name on the painting?"
The large man could see the anger flashing in Tess' eyes. "Hey, don't get mad at me, I'm trying to help here. There was only a first name, I think it started with an S."
"Yeah, that's it. Samantha."
"Thanks Mike." Tess abruptly turned and walked out the door.
The only thing of any use Mike had told her was that the woman was an artist. With so little to go on, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Well at least I know shes an artist, and a pretty good one according to Mike. Tess decided to start by checking with all the local art galleries to see if any of them displayed her work.
Two days later, Tess was still calling galleries. She had checked with all the local ones and had come up empty; now she was widening her search. She had worked her way to about a 100-mile radius when she finally hit pay dirt at the Harrington Gallery. They were having a showing of Samantha Petersons work this weekend, and the artist would be there to discuss it. Tess couldnt believe her luck; not only did they know her, but also she was going to be there this weekend. Now she had to figure out what to say to her. She wondered if she could even get Samantha to listen to her at all.
The drive to the Harrington Gallery seemed to take forever. Tess stomach was doing flip-flops and her palms were sweaty. She had never lost her cool like this over a woman before, and was at a loss to explain it. She felt like a silly schoolgirl with her first crush. Pulling into the parking lot, Tess took a few deep breaths and tried to pull herself together. Another new emotion swept over her fear. What if she wont let me explain? Taking another breath Tess got out of the car. The closer she came to the door the more her stomach did flips. Once inside she looked around. There were several small alcoves connected to the main room. Over the entrance to one of them was a banner reading: THE WORKS OF SAMANTHA PETERSON. Tess headed for the door and was surprised to see the beautiful, but surreal, images that greeted her. Somehow she had not pictured Samanthas work this way. There were several groups of people wandering around, but no sign of Samantha. She could see a woman talking to one of the groups, and everyone seemed to be hanging on her every word. Tess surmised that she must work here; perhaps she could tell her where to find Samantha. Striding over, she waited for the woman to finish speaking. As Tess listened, it soon became apparent that this woman was Samantha Peterson. The disappointment she felt was overwhelming. While Tess had felt much fear and apprehension at the thought of this meeting, the disappointment was so much worse.
On the long drive back to work Tess finally allowed herself to accept the possibility that she might not find Samantha; never tell her how sorry she was. How strange it was that finding the young artist had become so important. Why do I care so much? She had already admitted to herself that she had felt some sort of connection that first night, but her hatred for Tucker overshadowed everything else. She had pushed the feeling back, not willing to let it emerge. Then the dreams started, and now all she could think about was finding Samantha. Tears started to trickle down her cheeks, and she angrily brushed them away. This is stupid. I have never had an emotional response to any sexual encounter; they are just physical releases, nothing more. Now here I am reacting like I just lost my best friend. I dont even know her, for Gods sake.
Chapter Three: A Place to Start.
As the weeks passed, Tess life slowly returned to normal. She had accepted the fact that she could not find Samantha. The sense of loss had eased somewhat, but she knew it would not leave as long as the dreams continued, and continue they did. Sitting in the steam room at the club lost in thought, Tess suddenly realized that the woman next to her was speaking. "Im sorry, what did you say?"
"I said I bought a painting the other day, and I would bet money the woman in it is you. Its an amazing likeness, do you model?" The woman said, her hungry gaze devouring Tess' body. She smiled seductively and let her towel slip to show full cleavage.
Tess couldn't believe that a piece of the puzzle to finding Samantha had just fallen into her lap. Trying to keep her composure and not sound too anxious, Tess responded. "No, I dont model." She had noticed the woman's not too subtle attempt at seduction. She was really quite attractive, and at one time Tess would have responded to the obvious invitation, but her thoughts were on finding Samantha. "I'd love to know the story behind the painting. Where did you say you got it?"
"At Unique Gifts on Meyer Rd, just off 7th," she smiled enticingly. "I would love to show it to you, it really is quite lovely. Perhaps you would like to come over and see it."
Standing, Tess bundled her towel more securely around herself and started for the door. "I'd love to see it, but I'm really pressed for time today. Perhaps I could have a rain check?" Tess glanced quickly at the woman as she walked away, receiving a resigned nod of acceptance. She didnt even take time for a shower, and was walking in the door of the gift shop in only twenty minutes. It was not a very large shop. The few paintings she saw in the tiny art section, were reproductions and not original art. She was disappointed to see that they had nothing else on display by Samantha.
"Is there something I can help you with?"
Turning, Tess found a small balding man smiling up at her. "Yes, thank you. A friend of mine bought a painting here by an artist named Samantha, and I was wondering if you have anything else by her?"
"Oh Samantha, yes. I have a few of her pieces in the back. She leaves them here on consignment, and when I have room I put one up and sell it for her. Wait here and Ill go get them."
Tess watched him disappear into a back room and then return with several paintings in his hands, a puzzled look in his eyes. He looked at the face on the canvas again and then looked back to Tess. "This is you," he said as he looked again at the image in his hands.
"No, actually, its not, but I was told that it does look like me." Reaching for the paintings she asked, "May I see?" Receiving a nod, Tess took the paintings. Holding her breath, she let her eyes fall to the canvas; a gasp slipped out before she could hold it back. It was her, but it wasnt. The eyes, they looked out at her from the painting with such love and caring, and Tess knew, without a doubt, that she had never looked at anyone that way. Is this the way she saw me? Tess shook her head sadly. Well she certainly doesnt see me like this anymore. It was almost more than she could bear to realize that Samantha would probably never see her like this again. Handing the little man her credit card she said, "Ill take them all."
The proprietor's face lit up as dollar signs filled his head. "Just let me wrap these up for you and Ill be right back." Then he ducked into the back room again.
Tess tried to will her heart to slow down; she felt like she wanted to scream. She had looked at herself through Samanthas eyes, and the reality of what she had done to her sunk in again. Taking several deep breaths, she pulled her emotions back under control as the little man emerged again with her purchases safely bundled up. "I would love to get in touch with the artist and let her know how much I love her work. Do you have an address, or phone number I can have?" Tess said, as she watched him zip her credit card through his machine.
"Im afraid I cant give out any personal information without Samanthas consent." He looked at her again with a puzzled look. It was obvious to him that she was the woman Samantha painted, so she should already have this information, and if she didnt then it was probably because Samantha did not want her to have it.
Tess tried to think of something she could say that might change his mind. She decided to hit him in his wallet. "Could you get more paintings of hers for me? I dont care what they cost."
"Yes, I'm always more than happy to special order something for a good customer."
Handing him her business card, Tess said. "When do you think you can have them for me?"
"If she has any on hand, I can probably have them in a day or two."
"Good," Tess paused, then reached and took her card back, scribbling her cell-phone number on the back. "Call me at that number when you talk to her and let me know when you'll get them in." Tess turned and left him standing there with dollar signs floating around in his head. She knew he would get in touch with Samantha as quickly as possible. The sooner he got more paintings from Samantha, the sooner he got his money. When Samantha delivered the goods, Tess would be waiting for her.
Samantha sat staring at the blank piece of paper before her, but nothing came. Concentrating on her work the last few weeks had been so difficult. She felt as if a part of her had died; the grief was overwhelming. The dreams kept reminding her of something precious that was lost forever. Interestingly enough, her dreams had changed, well, not really changed. The content of the dreams remained the same, but the woman she saw no longer looked like Blue Eyes. Even with the physical difference, there was no doubt in her mind that it was still her. Her own physical appearance had also changed in the dream, yet she knew in her heart, that even though they both looked different, it was still her and Blue Eyes. She could feel it.
Samantha looked again at the book she had just finished reading. She had been in a used bookstore, looking through the titles to see if something would catch her eye. She wanted something to read. Something that would take her mind off Tess and everything that had happened. Her eyes fell on a title that made her gasp. The book was called: The Search for the Girl with the Blue Eyes, by Jess Stern. Thumbing through it she found it was a book about past life regression through hypnotism, and reincarnation. It had been a fascinating book and had, in her mind, explained what had happened to her. She thought for a moment that she might seek out a past life regression therapist, but decided against it. Blue Eyes was dead to her now, and she determined she did not want to go back and find out just how much she had really lost. She was certain now that she had known Tess before, in another time and place. The changed dreams were now showing her the way they had been in that life. The dreams were still a mystery though. How had she been able to dream of them the way they are now when she was just a child? If it was some sort of a past memory, why not see them the way they had been in that past? None of this made any sense, but her curiosity was not going to be satisfied. She wanted nothing to do with Blue Eyes ever again.
The sound of the phone ringing brought her out of her thoughts. Answering it she found it was Mr. Davis, the owner of the shop she had taken her paintings to.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Davis?" She asked, hoping that he had good news. One of her paintings had finally sold a few days ago, and she wondered if she would be lucky enough to have another sell this soon.
"I sold all your paintings and uh was wondering if I could get some more as soon as possible?"
"All of them?" Samantha replied, truly shocked. "I cant believe after all this time they all suddenly sold at once."
"Yes, that was quite unusual, but you see an art collector saw the painting that sold a few days ago and came in looking for more of your work. He was really quite taken with them and wanted me to get more pieces by you as soon as I could."
Flattered that there was someone out there eager to collect her work, Samantha said, "I don't have any more like the portraits you just sold, but I do have more pieces. I can bring some to you tomorrow. Perhaps he will like these as well. Will 2pm work for you?"
"Sure, anytime tomorrow is fine. Ill be there all day. See you then ."
Samantha couldnt quite put her finger on it, but Davis had seemed so nervous. She finally decided that he was just anxious because it was a possible sale and he wanted to make sure he could keep his customer happy. The important thing was that the paintings were gone. She hoped that this would help close that part of her life, and she could finally get over this obsession with Blue Eyes.
Tess had propped the paintings up along the wall and just stood back staring at them. They were mostly of her face and some of them were like the first one she had seen, looking out with a look of complete devotion. There were two though that were different and the look in the eyes was haunted and forlorn. It was clear that the young woman had been watching her for quite some time. How else could she have had the time to paint all these portraits. The question was why? She was sure she had never met Samantha before that night, and yet she seemed so familiar. She just had to get Samantha to talk to her and perhaps, in time, solve this mystery.
Just as she was wondering when she would receive a phone call about the paintings, the phone rang. The caller identified himself as Richard Davis, the proprietor of the gift shop. He advised her that she could pick up more of Samanthas paintings anytime during store hours on Thursday. Thanking him she hung up the phone. Well, if I can pick them up any time on Thursday, Samantha must be delivering them tomorrow. She decided to spend however long it took on Wednesday waiting for Samantha. She could then follow her home. Once she knew where she lived she would just keep trying to talk to Samantha until she gave in. It was not much of a plan, but it was all she could come up with. She did not want to confront her at the shop because if Samantha wouldnt have anything to do with her and she got away, Tess would not be able to find her again. This little trick would only work once.
Tess had been sitting in the little coffee shop across the street from 'Unique Gifts' for hours, and had seen no sign of the Jeep Cherokee that Samantha drove. There was nothing to obstruct her view of the entrance to the gift shop, and she could see the little bald man puttering around and dusting shelves, through the large plate-glass windows. He looked up suddenly and went into the back room and came out a short while later with what appeared to be paintings. Could Samantha have been there and she had missed her? She crossed the street and went inside. When he saw Tess, Richard worriedly glanced at the door to the back room, then came over to talk to her. "I thought you were going to come by tomorrow." He said, as he sat the paintings down on the counter.
"Did Samantha just drop those off?" Tess asked as she walked toward the back room.
Running after Tess, the little man grabbed her arm. "Hey, you cant go back there." The look on Tess face made him quickly let go. "Shes already gone," he said as Tess pushed past him and through the door. Quickly she crossed the small room and exited out into a small parking lot off an alley. She could see Samanthas Cherokee as it turned the corner and disappeared. "GOD DAMN IT!" she shouted, as she slammed her fist into the side of the building. Turning, she leaned against the building and slowly slid to the ground. Then she noticed the pain in her hand and looked to see that her knuckles were bleeding and starting to swell. She crossed her arms over her knees, and lowered her head to her arms in defeat. "Damn Damn Damn."
"That must hurt," Richard said, looking at her hand.
Tess hadnt noticed the proprietor standing there until he spoke. "Yeah, it does." She flexed her hand. "Its not broken though, pretty stupid thing to do."
"I have a first aid kit. Come on in and well clean that up." He turned and went back inside the shop.
Tess followed him into his shop. He was her only connection to Samantha, and she knew she had to convince him to help her. She stood quietly while he cleaned and wrapped her hand.
"You still gonna buy those paintings?" He asked hopefully.
"Sure, if youll give me Samanthas address and phone number."
"You know I cant do that, its unethical." He looked at her curiously. "Why are you trying to find her?"
"We had a " Tess paused, "a misunderstanding, and I need to apologize." Tess looked at him sadly. "Will you help me?"
He looked for deception in her eyes, and all he saw was genuine sorrow. He believed she meant Samantha no harm and only wanted to apologize. "All right, Ill do it, but dont tell her I gave you the information, okay?"
"You have my word," she said, extending her good hand.
Chapter Four: Face to Face, at Last.
All the way to Samanthas apartment, Tess pondered how she should approach the young woman. She decided she didnt want to just show up on her doorstep. She would try the phone first to see if she could get Samantha to meet her to talk. She knew the odds were against it, but thought it best to try that approach first.
Stopping in front of the apartment building, Tess sat in her car staring at the cell-phone in her hand, afraid to dial the number. What will I say to her? She thought. Getting out of the car, she walked around the building until she could see the stairs leading up to Samanthas apartment. Glancing behind her, she could see the Jeep parked in a space not far away. At least I know shes home. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Finally she mustered enough courage and dialed the number. When the phone started ringing, she almost hung up. Whats wrong with me? Why does the thought of talking to her terrify me so much?
"Samantha, this is Tess, Please dont hang up." She heard the click as the phone was disconnected. What did you expect? She hates you. Tess began to pace back and forth, running a trembling hand through her hair. Just hearing the young womans voice had caused her stomach to do more flips, and her limbs were threatening to give out on her. Walking to the stairs leading up to Samanthas apartment, she sat on the bottom step and attempted to pull herself together. These feelings were so foreign to her, so overpowering. I have to talk to her, make her understand. Standing, she swallowed the lump in her throat and started up the stairs. Hell, what have I got to lose, she thought. From somewhere deep inside a voice screamed.
The sound of Tess voice had sent a wave of emotions through Samantha, and the humiliation she had felt that night at Girls Night Out flooded over her again. She was still sitting in stunned silence when she heard a knock at her door. Hesitantly, she walked to the door and peeked through the tiny peephole and felt her heart leap into her throat when she saw Tess standing there. Why is she doing this? She asked herself as she backed away from the door. The knocking came again, louder this time. Samantha sat on the bed and stared at the door unable to move.
"Samantha." Tess called through the door. "Samantha, please, I need to talk to you." No sound came from within the apartment. Closing her eyes, she leaned her forehead against the door and sighed. She couldnt blame Samantha for not wanting to talk to her. Turning away from the door, Tess walked dejectedly down the stairs. She had no idea how she could ever get Samantha to give her a chance to apologize. There had to be something she could do to make her listen, but what?
Samantha heard the sound of footsteps walking down the stairway. How did she find me? She thought, as she quickly packed clothes into an overnight bag. "I'll go stay with Mom and Dad for a while, she won't find me there." She felt like a coward, running away like this, but the emotions that Tess engendered in her were overwhelming. She checked out the window for any sign of the tall woman, and finding none, she quickly made her way to the Cherokee.
Samantha backed out of her parking space only to find that Tess had appeared from nowhere, and stepped in front of the Jeep blocking her retreat. Total and complete shock soon dissolved into panic. I cant face her again, I just cant. "Get out of my way," she yelled as she rolled her window down.
"Im sorry Samantha, please let me talk to you."
Samanthas shock and panic was quickly replaced with anger. This woman had one hell of a nerve; first she seduces her then dumps her like a piece of trash, and now she was trying to do it again. "GO TO HELL!" she screamed, beginning to inch the Jeep forward.
Tess had started around the Jeep toward the door when she saw that it was moving again. She quickly returned to her position blocking the young woman's exit. "Please Samantha, just hear me out, then if you want to leave I wont try to stop you."
Samantha realized she had allowed Tess to take control in their previous encounter and she would not allow that to happen again. "Get out of my way, Tess, or I swear Ill run over you"
"I guess thats what youll have to do then, because Im not moving," and Tess stood her ground.
Samantha was sure Tess would not be fool enough to keep standing there if she stepped on the gas. There was only about three feet between Tess and the hood of her car, but she figured Tess would have time to get out of the way. Lets see how good she is at playing chicken, she thought, and stepped on the gas.
Samantha couldnt believe it when Tess didnt move. She closed her eyes as she felt the Cherokee hit the woman and slammed on the brakes. " OH GOD, OH GOD!" she screamed as she bolted out the door, eyes searching for the body of the tall woman. To her amazement, she could not find her until it dawned on her to get down and look under the Jeep. Tess was lying on her back under the car; blood seeping from a gash on the back of her head. Samantha was sure she was dead. It was just like in her dream; Tess was lying there in a puddle of blood. She got back in the Cherokee and slowly backed up. The tears had started again as she approached Tess, and she sank to the ground with her face in her hands. "I wait my whole life to find the other half of my soul, and when I do, I kill her," she sobbed.
"Im not dead."
The words were low, but Samantha was sure she heard them. Uncovering her face she found those blue eyes gazing at her in a rather unfocused manner. Relief washed over her when she realized that the dream had not come true. Or perhaps it had. She believed that she had killed Tess in her dream, just as she had believed it now. "I thought you would move," she whispered. "I really wasnt trying to kill you."
" I wasnt trying to get myself killed either, I thought you would stop." Tess replied as she started to sit up.
"I dont think you're supposed to move until the paramedics check you over." Samantha said as she started to rise. "Ill go call 911 and get you some help."
"Thats not necessary." Tess replied as she continued her attempt to get up. She was dazed, and the wind had definitely been knocked out of her. She wasnt sure, but she thought she may have been unconscious for a brief time. She had some scrapes on her back and arms but nothing seemed broken. The back of her head had taken quite a bump and was throbbing. Blood still dripped from the wound on her head. As she got to her feet the world started spinning and she thought she was going to go back down. Samantha realized what was happening and was there in an instant, hoping to steady her or at least break her fall should she indeed pass out. Tess held on to Samantha until the dizziness went away, then slowly straightened up. "I guess I stood up too fast," she grinned.
"I think you have a concussion and Im taking you to the hospital."
"No, really, Ill be fine. I just need a minute to get my sea legs back."
"Now you listen to me, Tess, Im taking you to the hospital and thats that. What if I just left you here because you said you were all right, and you died? I would be a murderer."
"It was an accident. You thought I would move."
"Okay, I did think you would move, but Im still taking you to the hospital. I have to make sure youre all right. I couldnt live with myself if something happened to you." Samantha took the scarf from around her neck and reached up to put pressure on the still bleeding gash on the back of Tess' head. "You're losing a lot of blood, Tess. If nothing else, this cut needs to be stitched."
Tess really did not feel like arguing, and the truth was her head hurt like hell. "Okay, let's get this over with then." Reaching up, she took the scarf from Samantha. "I've got it."
Samantha nodded and took a step back, but quickly stepped forward again, wrapping her arm around the tall woman when she saw her waver. She walked Tess around to the passenger side of the car. She was taking no chance of another dizzy spell toppling the tall woman before she could get her into the Jeep.
"Where are they taking her?" Samantha asked the nurse, as she saw an orderly pushing Tess down the hall in a wheel chair.
"That was quite a knock she took on the head," the nurse responded. "Theyre taking her for a C-spine series, and a CT scan. We need to check for concussion, and rule out possible spine injury." She looked at Samantha. "I still cant believe she managed to run over herself." The nurse said grinning; she walked away, still shaking her head.
She told them she ran over herself? How could she come up with a story like that? Samantha thought. Walking back over to her chair she sat down again to wait. Thinking about what the nurse said about a possible spine injury, Samantha shuddered. God I hope she's not seriously hurt. I'd never be able to forgive myself. The time seemed to drag by and Samantha started to pace around the waiting area. Visions of Tess on the ground under her car kept playing in her head, and her panic began to grow.
Samantha shook her head, "No," she said aloud, to no one in particular. "She was able to walk into the hospital under her own steam, she'll be okay." Another thought suddenly occurred to her. What am I going to do with her when I get her out of here?
Samantha toyed with the idea of just dropping her off at her car and being done with the woman, but she kept thinking, what if she tries to drive home and gets dizzy and kills herself or some innocent person in an auto accident? No, Ill make sure she gets home safely, then Im done with her.
The young woman had plenty of time on her hands as she waited for them to finish with Tess. Flashes of an unpleasant dream flashed in her mind. She was kneeling next to Tess, thinking she had killed her. Somehow she had seen into the future, but how? She leaned forward and placed her elbows on her knees, her face in her hands. Tears started down her face again; this was all too much for her to take in at once.
Chapter Five: An Uneasy Truce.
"Why did you tell them you ran over your self? Samantha asked as she opened the door for the tall woman, and reached to help her into the Jeep. "And how is it possible for someone to run over themselves anyway? I can't believe anyone would bye a story like that."
"Purposefully running someone down is a felony Samantha, and even if we said it was an accident, it would have gone against your record. Do you know what that would do to the cost of your insurance? Besides, it was my fault. I shouldnt have stood in front of your car. It was a stupid thing to do." Tess got in the Jeep and watched Samantha walk around and get in on the driver's side. "I didn't tell them I ran over myself. What I said was I left the car in neutral and it started rolling and knocked me down and rolled over me." She looked over at Samantha. "I just didn't want you to have any problems with your insurance. It seemed easier this way."
Samantha nodded her head. She supposed the story Tess came up with did make things easier for her. She hadn't been looking forward to reporting this to her insurance company.
The trip to Tess house was traveled in silence that was broken only when the young woman needed directions. As they pulled up in front of her house, Tess realized she was running out of time. She had to think of a way to get the young woman to come in and talk. Samantha walked Tess to her door and said goodnight. She had done what she had planned to do; she had gotten her home safely. She turned to leave when she felt a hand on her arm.
"Please dont go," Tess pleaded. "I need to talk to you, try to explain."
Samantha pulled her arm away and turned to face the tall woman. Fear showed in her eyes. "Why do you think I would believe anything you say?" The truth was that even after everything that had happened, she didnt want to leave. She was torn, not wanting to leave, yet afraid to stay. She pushed the fear back, knowing that the need to talk it out and bring closure to their past encounter was needed; perhaps after that she would be able to go on with her life.
Feeling utterly defeated; Tess closed her eyes and let herself fall back against the door. Samantha's right, she thought, why would she believe me?
When Samantha saw Tess sway into the door, she assumed that the tall woman was having another attack of dizziness. Quickly she grabbed her arm and leaned into Tess to make sure she didnt fall. "Give me your keys and Ill help you inside."
Tess realized instantly that Samantha had misinterpreted her action. Deciding to let the misconception stand, she handed the young artist her keys. At least it would keep her here a little while longer. Samantha unlocked the door, then wrapped an arm around the tall womans waist. Tess clung to her, adding to the illusion that she was in need of help.
They walked through the entry and into a spacious living room. Samantha looked around the room for a close place to deposit the large woman who was leaning heavily on her small frame. A leather couch to her left looked like the perfect spot, and she headed toward it.
Tess was feeling guilty at again deceiving Samantha, and stood up releasing her grip on the young woman.
" Is the dizziness gone?" Samantha asked as she felt Tess weight lift away from her.
"Yes, thanks for helping me again." Tess found she could not look Samantha in the eye.
"You said you had something to tell me and asked me to hear you out. I wasnt ready to listen then, but I am now if you still want to tell me."
"Yes, Id like that." Relief flooded through the tall woman at the realization that Samantha was at least willing to listen to what she had to say.
Tess led the way to the kitchen and nodded toward a chair. "Please, sit down. I thought I'd make some coffee." She looked at Samantha. "Would you like some?" Tess felt so awkward talking to this woman and she realized that it was because she cared what Samantha thought about her, and right now she knew the young artist didnt think much of her at all.
"I'd love a cup, but why dont you sit down and let me make the coffee? Youre supposed to be taking it easy right now."
Tess shook her head. "Thanks, but I think I can manage to get a pot of coffee going without doing too much damage," she laughed.
"I know, I just thought "
"I know, but Im okay, really." Turning back to the coffee maker she set it to brew.
Samantha took in her surroundings as Tess set up the coffee maker. It was a lovely large kitchen with pale cream walls and burgundy appliances. She had never seen appliances in that color before and found it attractive. The counter tiles were a very pale gray, almost white really, with a soft dusty rose pattern running through them. The floor was also done in those same tiles, just larger. "You have a lovely house," she said as Tess joined her at the table.
"Thanks," Tess said, smiling at the young womans approval.
"So, what is it you wanted so desperately to tell me that you were willing to let me run you down?"
Unable to look the young woman in the eyes, Tess picked at a nonexistent piece of lint on the tablecloth in front of her. "I told you, I thought you would stop." She tried to think of how to explain her actions of that night at Girls Night Out, how to make Samantha understand that it was nothing personal. What an understatement, she thought, nothing personal. In her whole life, sex had never been anything personal. She always made it clear to any woman she was interested in having sex with that she was not interested in a relationship of any kind, just sex. If they would go for that, fine, otherwise there were plenty out there who would. But in Samanthas case she made nothing clear. Tess had purposefully given her the impression that she was interested in getting to know her better, was interested in a relationship, and then twisted the knife in her gut when she left the office. She had allowed her hatred for Tucker to color her perception of the young woman, and that had not been fair.
"I found out that afternoon that my father had sent an investigator to get something on me," Tess began, averting her gaze from the young woman. "When they told me that a cute little blonde was asking questions about me, I assumed that she was the investigator. You fit the description, so I just " She hesitated trying to find the right words, feeling the guilt wash over her again. "I made a terrible mistake " Tess paused a moment, then she looked up into Samantha's sweet face. " Im so sorry, Samantha."
Samantha had seen the hatred flash in her eyes when Tess mentioned her father. How could a father deserve this much hatred from his own child, she thought.
"What did he do to you that made you hate him so much?"
"He pretended I didnt exist." Tess answered bitterly, " I'd rather not talk about him " She broke eye contact again, unable to continue looking into those searching eyes. "I have no excuse Samantha. There is no excuse for the way I treated you."
"Are you asking me to forgive you?" Not waiting for an answer, Samantha continued. "Im not ready to do that, not yet."
"I understand. I didnt expect you to forgive me, I just wanted you to know that I am truly sorry." Tess thought about how upset Samantha had been when she thought she had killed her. Anyone would have been upset under those circumstances, but that wasnt it. She remembered the words uttered in despair by the beautiful little blonde. . I wait my whole life to find the other half of my soul, and when I do, I kill her.
"Why did you call me the other half of your soul?"
Samantha thought frantically, trying to remember telling Tess this, and drew a blank. "I dont know what youre talking about."
"When you thought I was dead you said something like you waited your whole life for the other half of your soul just to kill her."
It came back to Samantha in a rush. She remembered sobbing over what she thought was a dead body, and the words just tumbling out. She had been so relieved that Tess was alive that she had forgotten she said it out loud. Again faced with the option of telling the truth or a lie, she chose the truth.
"Youll probably laugh at me and think Im crazy if I tell you." Samantha gazed into Tess eyes and saw genuine concern and curiosity.
"I wont laugh. Please, I need to know." Tess covered Samanthas hand with her own and squeezed gently.
Uncomfortable with the physical contact, yet at the same time craving it, Samantha pulled her hand away. Silence fell between them again, and Samantha thought about the feeling that just this small touch brought to her. Too much had already happened because of half-truths and misunderstandings. This is it; I cant hold anything back.
" This is gonna sound strange, but I swear its true." Taking a deep breath Samantha began her tale of a lifetime of dreams and confusion, and her final realization that she believed that they had known each other before in another life, had been soulmates in that life, and had been irresistibly drawn back to each other in this one.
"As far back as I can remember, Ive been having dreams about a woman I called Blue Eyes. In the dreams, she was very loving and caring. She made me feel special, and when I was upset, she comforted me. I always felt safe in her arms. When I told my parents about my friend Blue Eyes, they just assumed that I had created an imaginary friend to deal with my loneliness. Until I was ten, I was an army brat. We moved around a lot, so it was impossible to keep friends. I guess its not that uncommon an occurrence. They didnt discourage me from talking about her, and at first they even thought it was cute. It was a bit confusing to me that I was an adult in the dream. I knew it was me though, and after awhile I just accepted that in your dreams youre grown up. Kids dont seem to ponder inconsistencies like that." Looking up to Tess, she gave a little smile. "I didnt anyway."
"When I was a little older and we stopped moving around, my parents started to get concerned. It wasnt cute anymore when it came from an older child. We had settled down in a stable environment, and I had made friends. They scolded me and told me she wasnt real and to stop talking about her. That hurt a lot because she was so real to me. I think I developed my interest in art just so I could put her on paper and be able to gaze on her with waking eyes." Samantha took a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair. "Eventually I became careful not to talk to the folks about her anymore because it just upset them." Samantha got up and began to pace back and forth as memories long pushed back found their way to the light of day. "When I was sixteen, my mother found my hidden drawings of Blue Eyes and the shit hit the fan. The other girls had crushes on boys and her little girl was obsessed with an imaginary woman. She and my dad argued about putting me into therapy. She won, and I was sent to a shrink." Samantha closed her eyes as the memories continued to wash over her. She had not intended to go into quite so much detail, but once she started, it just came pouring out. She opened her eyes and looked back at Tess. The look on the tall womans face was hard to read, and Samantha wondered if she was going to believe her.
The coffee finished dripping and Tess stood on shaky legs. Samanthas story was affecting her more deeply than she had anticipated. She went to the cupboard and retrieved two mugs. "How do you take your coffee?" She asked walking to the pot.
"Black, with a little sugar."
Tess gave a relieved sigh. She drank hers black also, and had no milk or cream in the house, and hadnt even remembered that little fact until time to serve the coffee. Pouring two mugs and grabbing a spoon, she returned to the table. She handed Samantha the sugar and sat back down so the young woman could finish her story.
Sitting at the table again, Tess watched Samantha stir a half spoon of sugar into her coffee before she continued.
"When my friend Dusty told me she had seen Blue Eyes come out of the health club, I finally had a place to start looking for you. I always believed you were real, but I didnt know how to find you. I thought my heart would stop when you got out of your car at the club that night. I dont think Ive ever been more excited in my life." She looked at Tess with eyes that showed the emptiness in her soul. Her lip trembled and she took a shaky breath as she continued. " When we finally met, it felt like like I had known you all my life, it felt so right." Samantha turned away as a tear started down her cheek. "I was wrong, I didnt know you at all."
The bittersweet realization of what Samanthas hopes had been that night, and how she had destroyed them, engulfed Tess. She wanted to just crawl in a hole and die. She lifted her hand to Samanthas tear stained face and wiped the tears from her cheek stroking gently. When Samantha pulled away from her touch, Tess' heart sank. She didnt blame Samantha for not trusting her any more, and she was filled with self loathing for the fear that she could see in those beautiful eyes, knowing she put it there. It was not a fear of physical injury, but fear of a much deeper hurt. "Im so sorry," she whispered, dropping her gaze to her hands once more; unable to bear the pain reflected in Samantha's eyes.
Samantha watched Tess, and the anguish she was going through was plain to see. She saw a tear make its way down Tess face and she wished she could take her in her arms, make it all right, but she couldnt. She didnt know if she would ever be able to respond to the need to hold this woman, to feel complete again. Awkwardly she handed Tess a napkin.
Taking the napkin, Tess dabbed at her eyes. "Samantha, if you believe nothing else, believe me when I tell you that I will never hurt you like that again."
"I want to believe to trust but Its gonna take time."
"I know." Tess responded, letting their eyes meet again. "Its just so hard knowing that I cant take it back. I look at you and see the sadness in your eyes, knowing that I'm the one that put it there breaks my heart."
Not knowing what else to do, Samantha decided to finish telling Tess about her belief that the dreams represented a past life that they had shared together as lovers. "Tess, Ive been reading about reincarnation. I think the dreams were triggered by a memory of a time when you and I were lovers. I think thats why I felt I knew you, why your touch felt so right."
Tess had never believed in anything but the here and now. We are born, we live, we die, thats all there is. She had always referred to the crazies who believed in such nonsense as reincarnation, or any type of spiritual mumbo jumbo, as Hugga Buggas. Now she sat listening to Samantha and she didnt know what to believe anymore. She had no doubt that Samantha believed in this reincarnation theory of hers, and Tess found herself desperately wanting to believe it too. How else could she explain the strange events that brought them together?
The protective walls Tess had built when her mother died had remained intact throughout her life. Her world was filled with people, some of which she considered friends; yet she never let anyone inside that wall, never let anyone get close. She never noticed the empty loneliness of her life because she kept it filled with hatred for Tucker and she let that emotion fill her so that she had no room for anything else. Somehow, Samantha had broken through that wall, and it felt good to feel something other than hate.
Samanthas stomach picked just that moment to rumble and she rolled her eyes.
"Are you hungry?" Tess asked as she got up and went to the refrigerator and peeked inside, glad for the chance to change the subject and lighten the mood in the room. "About all I have is lunch meat," she said, looking over her shoulder at the young woman. "We could make some sandwiches."
"That would be great, Im starving." Samantha said, as she joined Tess in peeking into the near empty refrigerator. "Wow, you must not cook much, theres nothing in there," she said looking up at the tall woman.
"I dont cook at all. I make sandwiches, or I go out." Tess gave her a lop-sided grin. "We could go out if youd like."
"No, a sandwich is fine." Samantha said quickly, not wanting to let the outside world intrude.
Plucking the lunchmeat out of the refrigerator, Tess said, "Good, I really didnt want to go, but I wanted to give you an out if you were too uncomfortable staying here." She smiled at Samantha, relieved that the young woman wanted to stay. When Samantha flashed that beautiful smile at her, it took her breath away. How does she do that? She thought, Just a smile from her and I cant breathe. Reaching for the bread, Tess carried the lunch items to the table. Turning back to the refrigerator she asked, "Would you like mayonnaise, mustard, or both?"
"I like everything." Samantha picked up a tomato that Tess had deposited on the table. "I love tomatoes, would you like me to slice one up?"
"Sure, theres a knife in the end drawer under the counter over there."
They sat at the table eating their sandwiches in awkward silence, neither knowing quite what to say. Smiling, Tess spoke breaking the quiet. "So, who were we in this past life you think we had together?"
The levity in Tess voice, coupled with the use of the word think crashed down on Samantha. "Youre making fun of me. I didnt think you would believe me, but I didnt expect such sarcasm." Sadness flashed across Samanthas face and she started to rise.
Grabbing the young woman's hand, Tess said. "Please dont go, Im sorry if I seem to not be taking this seriously. I was just trying to keep the mood light. Ive never believed in these types of things and always thought the people who did were a little wacko; now I find I'm one of those wacko people." Tess took a deep breath, as she tried to find the right words that would convey to Samantha how she really felt. She realized her attempt at levity had been taken the wrong way. It was imperative to her that she make her true feelings known. "I wasn't making fun of you, Samantha. Too many strange things have happened to both of us. I have a hard time believing this, but I cant come up with any other logical explanation. I didnt tell you before, but Ive had dreams too. Not all my life like you have, they started that first night after I " Tess looked away, guilt evident on her face. "I am so sorry so sorry." Tess whispered, as she tried to blink back the tears that insisted on falling.
Samantha squeezed her hand and said gently, "Its okay."
"No, its not okay!" Tess said, pulling her hand away and striding across the room. "How can you be so kind after what I did to you?"
"Tess " Samantha said, collecting her thoughts. "Im not saying that what you did didnt hurt me, because it did. But I want to put the hurt behind us and start over. I understand a little better why it happened now, and that helps a little. I still feel a connection to you, Tess, and I'd like it if we could try to be friends. I " Samantha's eyes dropped to her hands, unable to look into Tess' eyes as she continued. "I dont know if anything else will ever be possible.
"Friends, I like the sound of that." Tess said, relief evident in her voice. She had not been sure any kind of a relationship with Samantha would be possible, and was willing to take anything she could get.
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