|Title: I Turn
Author: Pink Rabbit Productions
Email: Yes, please. Feedback welcome and encouraged be it
good, bad, or indifferent at email@example.com
Disclaimer: Prurient, prurient, prurient. Learn it.
Know it. Use it. Oh, and it�s all this story�s about. Well,
not all. Hopefully there are a few nasty ole emotion thingies
thrown in just for good fun. Can�t have the prurient stuff
without a bit of context. Well, actually you can, but it�s not
nearly as much fun...at least in my opinion. Then again
considering that porn is pretty much the most lucrative thing on
the internet, my opinion may be the minority one. Oh, and Lena
and Binks, they belong to other folks...kinder, gentler, much
better represented folks with absolutely no need whatsoever to
sue a poor, starving artist like m�self. Really, a Cease and
Desist would do the trick, in case anyone from legal is reading
this. Actually, a strongly worded email is probably all it would
take as I�m a compete and total utter coward, unless money is
involved and then I do grow a bit of a spine (true story: I once
got a receipt for a bribe I paid to get into Russia, and got
reimbursed by my employer too---Bwah!). Meanwhile, I mentioned,
the prurient part, right? Well, just for the record, it�s
prurient action between two (gasp!) women (insert brief pause
while a 12 year-old in Topeka dissolves into a fit of adolescent
giggles), which means that if you�re gonna be offended by that
sort of all female, nudity driven, prurient action, then you
should probably go find something else to read. I would make a
suggestion, but...um...I just don�t know of anything likely to
be innocent enough. Sowwy, I�m just not built that way. *evil
grin* Meanwhile, if you�re underage, this isn�t for you �cos
of that prurient thing. You should learn about prurient stuff
the way the rest of us did...incorrectly on the streets from
your friends (though methinks Internet porn may have already
made that option obsolete). Lastly, if you live in a place where
reading this would be illegal, don�t read it. Pack, move
someplace where you can read it, then read it. And finally, for
those of you who admit to actually reading these notes, I really
pity you because you�re officially weirder than I am, and
trust me, that�s saying something because I am the original
oddball, don�t let the fact that I look like a normie fool
you, damn, she�s weird, slacker child. Bwah!
Author�s Note: I�m embarrassed to admit that I wrote
the disclaimer before writing anything else (contrary to popular
opinion, I don�t normally do that...and I don�t normally
write the stories just to try and get an audience for my
stand-up disclaimers either), and ...well...the promises of
prurient may be a bit overblown, or it�s entirely possible I
was being a tad on the mocking, sarcastic side. Anyway, while
the damn thing was supposed to be about sex and went off and got
all emotional on me, plus...well, there are times in life when
wild, gymnastic sex is not really a likely option. As it turns
out, 8+ months pregnant and making love for the first time after
being raped is one of them (yes, I did actually already know
that...but...well...apparently didn�t consider it very closely
until I actually got down to the nuts and bolts of, y�know,
writing things). *sigh* And if you think reading this is weird,
you should trying being me. It�s a scary thing. Anyway, I just
wanted to warn you that if you�re looking for a whumpa-whumpa,
burning hunk of love, ooh-baby, ooh-baby, bleep me till I can�t
bleep no mo�, hot-hot-hot action, this story will probably
disappoint you. I�m sorry for that, but then I�m sorry for a
lot of things, so this is just one more on a very long list.
One More Author�s Note: You guys are gonna get real sick
of �em soon, aren�t you? Just a brief note that the original
title of this was Connections, but I decided it was too close to
Disconnected. The title is from Melanie C�s I Turn to You
because the lyrics seemed apropos, but I hate songfic (largely
because I know almost no current music, and so the lyrics just
annoy me--heck, I only heard this song because of Bend it Like
Beckham...fun movie, btw), so they�re not here. However for
people far more up on pop culture than I, now you know.
Author�s Dyslexia at Play: And the award for the most
dyslexic, yet strangely humorous mistake of the day goes to my
wonderful phrasing, "preferred to avoid the hangman�s
ax..." So which is it, Barb, the rope or the ax? Poor Lena.
As if she didn�t already have enough problems. Yes, I caught
the mistake, but if I hadn�t, I wonder if I could have claimed
it was just the sort of small glitch a non-native speaker (or
me) might make since it was in Lena�s thoughts?
Final Author�s Note: Rewrote the ending. Hopefully it�s
working better now.
I Turn to You
by Pink Rabbit Productions
Crouched down in front of her livingroom fireplace, Lena Kundera
stirred the dying remains of the fire with a poker. Not wanting
something likely to burn all night, she�d used an artificial log and
had found from experience that if she didn�t stir them toward the end,
they sat and smoldered, leaving her livingroom with an unpleasantly waxy
odor the next morning.
And she was definitely trying to distract herself from more serious
worries if she was down to thinking about that sort of thing, she
decided even as the fire flared and sent a wave of heat through the
room. She glanced over her shoulder, a hint of a frown creasing her brow
as she noted that Bianca was still curled into one end of the couch, her
She�d been like that all evening, so serious, quiet, and not even
remotely in the mood to talk that Lena found herself wondering what the
purpose of this date was given that it was Bianca who had asked her out
for once. Certainly it didn�t seem to be an evening of entertainment
or light conversation.
Lena considered asking Bianca what she was thinking, but afraid of
the answer, she finally just set the poker back on its stand and rose.
Her instincts were all on edge, and she wasn�t sure she really wanted
to press Bianca and risk finding out what was going on in her head
because she had a definite sense that the younger woman was debating
something and weighing her options, and in Lena�s experience whenever
that sort of thing was going on it was more likely to go against her
than for her, particularly where Bianca was concerned. If that was the
case, she preferred to avoid the headsman�s ax for as long as
possible. Pure cowardice, she supposed, but life had taught her to grab
at any tiny moments of pleasure available because the misery would come
soon enough. She snagged her empty wine glass off the coffee table, then
indicated Bianca�s which was down to nothing more than a few dregs of
sparkling cider. "Would you like some more or..." she trailed
off a little uncertainly as dark eyes rose to touch on her.
Bianca shook her head. "No more for me," she said and
offered a hint of a smile that seemed strained to Lena�s eyes.
"Very well then...I�ll just put these up," Lena grabbed
Bianca�s glass as well, trying not to let herself analyze things too
closely as she carried both glasses into the kitchen and tucked them
into the dishwasher. As she closed things up, she glanced back toward
the livingroom, suddenly hesitant to return for reasons she couldn�t
quite put her finger on. She just had a sense that her head was on the
chopping block, and she�d learned to pay attention to that instinct.
Unfortunately, hiding in the kitchen all night wasn�t an option,
which meant she had to face her fate sooner or later. Taking a deep
breath, she straightened her shoulders, plastered a forced smile in
place and stepped back into the livingroom.
Bianca was already watching for her, full lips neither turned up in a
smile nor down in a frown, delicate stress lines showing around her eyes
and mouth. It was a studied look of total neutrality, not an expression
one wore by accident.
Lena couldn�t imagine that look portended well for her and she
swallowed hard as she felt her knees threaten to buckle. Realizing that
Bianca was staring, she offered a forced smile. "Sorry I took so
long." A random hand gesture that indicated nothing concrete went
nicely with her vague, "I had a bit of a problem."
A frown touched the younger woman�s brow. "Nothing serious, I
hope," she said quickly.
Lena waved that idea aside. "No...just a...." She really
had lost the knack for lying she realized as her mind went blank.
Bianca�s frown turned faintly quizzical. "That�s good,"
she murmured, sounding faintly breathless. A forced smile curved her
lips. "I mean, I�m glad nothing serious is wrong."
Lena offered a weak nod and a weaker smile. "Nothing
serious," she agreed, the words coming out in a rush. With nothing
else to say, she stood there utterly still, feeling painfully foolish.
"I...uh..." Bianca looked away, no longer meeting Lena�s
gaze. "Could you...uh...I mean...could we talk?" The words
came in halting syllables. Nervous and uneasy, it was obvious that
Bianca wasn�t looking forward to whatever she planned to say.
Lena swallowed hard, worry turning to near panic, tempted to offer up
some sort of excuse in an effort to avoid whatever lay ahead, no matter
how weak it might be. Unfortunately, it seemed as though someone had
thrown the off-switch in her brain because she couldn�t think of a
single thing to say.
"Lena?" Bianca questioned when she still hadn�t spoken a
Blinking as if to clear her vision, Lena struggled to kick start her
brain which was threatening to simply shut down to protect itself.
"I�m sorry...I think I�m just a little tired," she
apologized. "Of course we can talk...about anything you want."
A tiny flick of a strained smile touched Bianca�s lips and she
glanced down at her hands. "Thanks," she said a little
breathlessly, then looked up again. Gesturing to the other end of the
couch, she offered a look Lena suspected was meant to be calming, though
it had quite the opposite effect. "Why don�t you have a
seat," she suggested, a weak smile curving the corners of her mouth
upward as she tried to make a joke, "before I get a neckache from
tipping my head back this far."
Any answering smile she managed to summon decidedly forced, Lena sat,
her posture too straight and stiff. Flashing a sideways glance at Bianca,
she avoided meeting dark eyes, afraid of what she might see there and
instead concentrated on almost anything else, the distinctive shape of
Bianca�s advancing pregnancy, the delicacy of pale hands where they
rested on folded legs, the line of bare feet that Lena knew from
experience were more than a little ticklish.
"Lena?" Bianca said her name again, forcing to look up and
acknowledge the other woman�s close perusal.
"What did you want to talk about?" Lena questioned, hoping
she sounded calmer than she felt.
Bianca ducked her head again, staring at her hands where they sat
twined together in her lap for a long moment before looking up through
her lashes. "We haven�t really talked...since...I mean...not
seriously..." she said at last only to realize too late that she
hadn�t made the slightest bit of sense. "I mean, we haven�t
really talked since we�ve been seeing each other again," she
tried again, "about...everything."
"No," Lena agreed quietly. Afraid of making some kind of
mistake, she�d allowed Bianca to lead the way and the younger woman
hadn�t seemed eager for any more serious topics, so she�d simply let
it go, grateful to accept whatever crumbs she could get, well aware they
might have to sustain her for a long time.
Dark eyes dropped momentarily, the rose again, so wide and luminous
that Lena thought she might be able to simply lose herself in them. A
slender hand caressed the inescapable reality of her distended belly,
the gesture inherently protective but also forcing Lena to acknowledge
that very real obstacle in their path. "I�m due soon,"
Bianca whispered after a long beat.
As if Lena could forget. Michael�s child. Her fault. An ongoing
tangible reminder of the evil that had brought her to town as well as
her failure to protect the woman she loved. "I know."
"And we haven�t really talked about...things...after..."
Bianca said haltingly.
Lena nodded, her heart seemed to beat in a vacuum in her chest,
leaving a painful, hollow feeling. She looked away, the sense of the ax
falling toward her neck so intense it took considerable concentration
not to bolt. "No, we haven�t." In fact, they�d both
carefully avoided the subject, keeping things light and superficial,
never going too far or too deep.
"Everything�s going to change once she�s born," Bianca
whispered, her voice ragged with stress.
Another nod as Lena stared blankly into the distance. She thought she
could literally feel the blade tickling the hair at the nape of her
neck. She�d known there was a good chance it wouldn�t last, her
second chance with Bianca, but she�d thought they were gaining ground.
Suddenly she wasn�t so sure because Bianca didn�t sound like someone
about to offer to share her life. No, she sounded like someone who didn�t
know how to let someone else down gently. "I know," she
exhaled and leaned forward, head down, elbows braced on her knees, so
scared she was shaking.
A long moment of uncomfortable silence followed while they were both
lost in their respective thoughts and fears.
Finally Bianca cleared her throat and spoke, her voice higher pitched
than normal and tremulous. She was nervous as hell and not hiding it
well. "It�s just that...things are so complicated," she
began, the words coming unevenly in brief bursts with awkward pauses
between. "It won�t be simple ... and my life isn�t going to be
No, it wouldn�t. Lena closed her eyes for a brief moment, then
blinked them rapidly in an effort to banish the threat of tears,
fiercely determined that she wouldn�t beg. She wouldn�t do that to
Bianca or herself. If this was the end, she�d just do her damnedest to
accept her lot gracefully and not put any more pressure on the younger
woman. All of which was going to be much easier said than done.
"I mean, mom�s trying to accept that I�m going through with
this, but it�s going to be hard for her...and there�s going to be a
lot of gossip...once everyone starts to figure things out...."
Lena finally forced herself to look at Bianca. She was fiddling with
a throw pillow she�d tugged onto her lap and appeared to be close to
tears. Not exactly the look of someone about to say, �Come be my lover
and share my life with me.� More like, �I�m sorry, but it just won�t
work.� Considering her history, Lena couldn�t even blame her. Not
exactly the ideal influence for a child.
"I just...I don�t want to hurt anyone but...." Bianca
trailed off, her voice so rough she couldn�t continue.
The fingers mindlessly pulling at the fringe on the pillow were
shaking, Lena noted and her heart sank a little lower. She hated it all,
hated the pain and uncertainty, but mostly she hated what the situation
was doing to Bianca. Unable to bear it any longer, she reached out and
covered a cold hand with her own, stilling the nervous plucking.
"It�s all right," she said very gently, nearly overwhelmed
with her own pain but determined not to let it show and make this any
harder for Bianca. "I understand."
A hint of frown creased Bianca�s brow and she offered an uncertain
look. "You do?"
Lena nodded, hating the guilt she saw in dark eyes. "And it�s
all right," she repeated even as she silently castigated herself
for wanting too much. Despite her best efforts, she hadn�t been able
to hide her desire to be allowed back into the other woman�s life on a
full-time basis. She should have known it wasn�t possible. She
squeezed the hand under her own, rubbing Bianca�s knuckles lightly.
"Really. I knew going in to this that...that it probably wouldn�t
Bianca blinked, her mouth working silently, throat bobbing gently as
she swallowed hard. "You did?" she whispered, her voice
cracking mid word.
"It�s only logical," Lena croaked. Desperately wanting to
take the younger woman in her arms and soothe the pain she saw in her
expression, she pulled her hand away lest she give in to that impulse
and pushed to her feet, turning to face the last remains of the
artificial log still smoldering in her fireplace. She rested one arm and
forearm on the mantel, bracing herself to keep from dissolving
completely. She could do this. It was the best thing for Bianca, and she
just had to accept that. "And it�s all right," she said
again as though she could convince herself if she just repeated it often
enough. "I realize that my presence in your life would only make
things much harder." She massaged her temple which had begun
throbbing violently. Probably her blood pressure going through the roof.
"And that is the last thing I would ever want to do."
"What?" Bianca whispered, her voice very hesitant and
Lena forced herself to turn, struggling to project an aura of calm
control. It was a total lie, of course, but she was an experienced liar.
Unfortunately, not that experienced---nobody was that
experienced---and she heard her voice crack as she made a valiant effort
to look like she was handling the whole thing well. "After all, who
would want me anywhere near their child?" As if on cue, the last
dregs of the fire went out, throwing the room into near-total darkness
so that all she could see of Bianca was her silhouette and the
occasional glitter of her eyes. "With the things I�ve done...my
past...." She trailed to a halt, felt the burn of tears and the
sensation of choking. Still she struggled to marshal on. "And my
ties ... to...." She fell silent again, then found she couldn�t
do this while facing Bianca even if she couldn�t really see her. Lena
pivoted and went back to her position leaning against the mantel and
staring into a nonexistent fire. Her heart was throbbing too hard and
too fast in her chest, the pain enough to leave her wondering if she was
going to survive. "I just want you to know that it�s all right
and I understand," she added, her accent thick, stress making
English a challenge. Swallowing hard, Lena moistened her lips in the
hopes of getting through what she wanted to say.
"Lena---" Bianca began, but Lena cut her off, well aware
that she was one small step from falling apart completely and wanting to
get this done and over with before she lost all control.
"Let me finish, please," she begged, uncertain she could
get through this if she didn�t do it quickly.
Bianca was silent this time.
Which was easier as far as Lena was concerned. She could almost
pretend that Bianca wasn�t really there, that the words she was
uttering were meaningless, and she wasn�t helpfully slitting her own
throat to make things a little easier on the woman she loved more than
life itself. "I know you," she continued, her voice low and
rough, "how soft-hearted you are...and I just don�t want you to
feel any guilt." She closed her eyes again, clutching the
mantelpiece tightly with her hand as the world threatened to tip on its
axis. "And I want you to know that I�m very...grateful...for the
last few weeks...the time we�ve spent together...and the trust you�ve
"Grateful?" Bianca rasped.
"Very," Lena admitted, finally giving into temptation and
peering over her shoulder, eyes searching out what little she could make
out of Bianca�s shadowed figure where she sat on the couch. She only
allowed herself a moment to drink in the sight, then turned away again.
She couldn�t do this while she was facing her former lover. "I
just want you to know that I could never regret any time we spent
together...and if you ever need anything, you only have to ask."
She took a deep breath, fighting the panic and desperation, unwilling to
give in to them. "And if you want me to leave town before y-you
give birth...I�ll go." It cost her everything to make the offer,
but she just wanted what was best for Bianca, and it seemed her presence
"And if I asked you to stay?" Bianca asked, her voice very
soft in the darkness.
In some ways it would be harder than going, because it would mean
seeing what she could never have and being forever reminded that she was
permanently locked out of heaven. At the same time there was a part of
her desperate to stay, silently crying out that anything was better than
nothing. "Whatever you want."
Lena nearly jumped out of her skin a beat later as a hand landed
gently on her shoulder, and she realized that Bianca had risen and moved
to join her while she was lost in her own thoughts. She looked over her
shoulder at the younger woman, trying to make out her expression in the
darkness without success, then nearly jumped again as the hand on her
shoulder slid up, tracking the line of her throat and jaw, then brushing
her cheek lightly.
"You�re crying," Bianca whispered at last.
Lena swallowed hard, speech nearly impossible, and the right words
totally missing. Of course she was crying. She was surrendering every
damn thing she�d ever wanted in the world, trying desperately to do
the right thing, and hating every moment of it. She�d sooner have
given up a limb than do what she was doing at that moment. "I�m
sorry," she muttered helplessly. She hadn�t really even felt the
tears begin and certainly hadn�t intended for Bianca to know.
"God, what have I done to you?" Bianca exhaled, sounding
"You haven�t done anything," Lena instantly insisted.
"None of this is your fault...and I told you, I understand---"
"Stop it," Bianca hissed and laid her fingers over Lena�s
lips, silencing her. "Just stop," she continued, her tone
gentling, her fingers caressing lightly once Lena had fallen silent. She
curved her other hand to Lena�s shoulder, drawing her around so they
were face to face. Lena started to draw breath to say more, but Bianca
apparently realized she was about to speak and pleaded, "Stop,
Lena...just stop. Just stop talking."
She stilled except for the trembling she was helpless to fight.
Bianca hand dropped from her cheek to rest on her upper chest.
"You don�t understand," the younger woman breathed at last.
"I�ll be all right," Lena quickly broke in, just wanting
to spare Bianca any pain or guilt. "Don�t worry. I know that you
need to put your child first."
The younger woman made a small, angry sound in the back of her throat
and Lena flinched as though expecting a blow.
Bianca tensed, going stock still, her tone breathy and a little
shocked when she whispered, "You�re that scared?"
"No," Lena insisted too quickly, then stumbled as she tried
to continue, "just...don�t worry. It�s all right."
"No, it�s not," Bianca disagreed and slid her hand under
Lena�s blouse, spreading her fingers along the upper plane of her
chest. "God, your heart is beating so hard." She ran her thumb
very lightly along the ridge of Lena�s collarbone.
Not quite understanding, Lena remained utterly silent, waiting to see
what would happen next or perhaps simply paralyzed by her own fear.
Bianca ducked her head, taking a moment before she continued. When
she tipped her head up again, Lena could see the faint glitter of her
eyes. "I never meant to...for you to think that I...." Bianca
straggled to a verbal halt, took another long moment to gather herself
before finally speaking again. "Did you really think that I�d
spend all this time with you...start rebuilding things just to throw you
out of my life once my due date approached?"
Not knowing what to say, Lena simply shrugged, then felt a tremor
shake the hand resting on her chest.
"Of course that�s what you thought," Bianca whispered
after a long beat. "After the way I�ve..." she trailed off
and was silent for a moment before she continued, "What else could
Confused and knowing only that Bianca was hurting, Lena tried again
to offer something that might ease things for her. "Bianca,
whatever you need to do for you and your child...it�s okay. I
understand...and I�m not going to make any trouble for you. I
"Stop saying you understand when you obviously don�t,"
Bianca snapped a little impatiently, then gentled her voice when Lena
flinched again. "God, I did this to you," she murmured, and
Lena had the sense that she was speaking to herself more than anything
else, "made you so afraid...and I�m sorry." She continued
caressing the rise of Lena�s collarbone very lightly as she took a
moment to gather herself before beginning again, her voice tight with
restrained emotion. "Look...I didn�t come here to just throw you
out of my life. I wouldn�t do that...even though I understand why you
would think that...but right now I need you to just listen...okay?"
Lena�s chin dipped and rose in a hesitant nod.
Bianca took a deep breath, pausing momentarily before she continued.
"I need to ask you something and I need you to swear that you�ll
think about it very seriously and be absolutely honest," she said
at last, her tone deadly serious.
"You have my word."
"Good," Bianca exhaled, then caught Lena�s wrist, guiding
a long, fine-boned hand to her stomach, forcing her to acknowledge the
child growing in her womb. "Because this is important."
Working on instinct, Lena spread her hand, her gaze dropping. There
was little to see in the near total darkness, making the tactile
awareness that much more intense as she felt movement through barriers
of clothing and flesh. A miniature foot kicked and a thumb-sized fist
punched. She almost thought she could feel the shape of tiny fingers and
toes and was still involved in the overwhelming sense of another life
that she momentarily lost track of everything else.
"We�ve avoided discussing anything serious these last weeks,
but that�s not going to be possible much longer. I�m a package deal
now and I need to know if you can accept this child completely,"
Bianca whispered as they stood there like that. "...no
reservations...no looking back at who her father was."
Lena looked up, finding the glitter of Bianca�s eyes even in the
darkness. She was scared, Lena realized in a rush, absolutely
heart-wrenchingly terrified. Which perhaps explained how quiet she�d
been all evening, because this wasn�t new fear. It was something that
had been with her in her head, growing and gaining steam.
"Mom and Uncle Jack are trying...but they can�t really look
past what happened...at least not yet. I can see it in their eyes...and
Kendall�s too bound up in her own past." Her thumb was moving
lightly against Lena�s inner wrist though it was impossible to know
who the caress was meant to calm, Lena or herself. "I need to know
if you�ll look at her and see him...or if you can let that go...and
just see my baby."
Having already spent several sleepless nights agonizing over the
question after first learning the truth, Lena was surprised that it
suddenly felt like an all new question because it wasn�t theoretical
anymore. It was a tiny baby knocking fierce blows into her spread palm
as though demanding her attention just like her mother was demanding
that Lena consider the question with the gravity it deserved."I
want you to know that I�ve thought about this...a lot...that I wouldn�t
have pursued anything these last weeks if I hadn�t." She
didn�t want Bianca to think she took any of this lightly. She knew
what kind of responsibility the younger woman was facing. She looked
down again, spotting the pale shape of her hand where it rested against
the contrasting black of Bianca�s shirt. She rubbed her thumb slowly
back and forth, feeling the warmth and heat of human flesh, then smiled
ever so slightly as a tiny hand or foot made contact as if sensing she
was there. "I never felt this before," she whispered after a
beat, still rubbing her thumb lightly and feeling an occasional flutter
of movement. "A baby, I mean." She hadn�t exactly run in the
right circles to encounter many pregnant women, and certainly none
likely to invite her do something as intimate as feel their child
Bianca stood perfectly still, waiting, letting Lena work through her
thoughts now that she had some sense of what was happening. "I
understand...and I�m asking if you can...if you want...to be a part of
her life...her family?"
The reality of the new life right there, making contact, so close and
so vulnerable settled an inescapable weight on Lena�s shoulders, one
she could only ignore at her own peril and Bianca�s. She finally truly
understood what Bianca was asking and it was no small thing. "I�d
be lying if I said the idea doesn�t scare the hell out of me,"
she said at last and felt Bianca tense. Thankfully, the younger woman
appeared to have learned from her error and didn�t interrupt. "I�m
not afraid of seeing anything of him in this child," she clarified.
"That doesn�t frighten me at all." She lifted her other
hand, cupping her palm along the side of Bianca�s face. "You�re
stronger than he ever was...and he will never be a part of this baby.
You won�t let him be."
"It�s not that simple," Bianca reminded her.
"I know," Lena allowed, "and if I�m afraid of
anything it�s my own failings." She looked down again, watching
her own hand and the slow, rhythmic movement of her thumb. The baby
kicked again, apparently determined to charm her completely as it
rapidly became real to her at an instinctive as well as intellectual
level. Amazing how such a tiny hand seemed to be wrapping its way around
her heart in so short a time. Much like her mother, she thought with
some irony. "Of not being good enough or strong enough for
you...but," she whispered, "this child is a part of you...and
there could never be any part of you that I don�t love." She ran
her thumb along the edge of Bianca�s lower lip. "And if you could
find it in you to trust me, I would do anything to be a part of your
lives...to hold you and protect you both...."
Whimpering very softly, Bianca leaned her head against the support of
Lena�s shoulder. Wrapping an arm loosely around her upper back, Lena
realized she was trembling violently. "Shhh, it�s all
right," she soothed as she nuzzled Bianca�s temple tenderly,
fluttering soft kisses over silky hair and velvety flesh. Bianca wrapped
her free arm around Lena�s waist, drawing their bodies together and
clinging tightly while her other hand remained nestled on its resting
place just over Lena�s heart. They stayed like that for a long time,
simply holding one another in the darkened room.
Finally, Bianca lifted her head off of Lena�s shoulder. "Your
heart�s not beating as fast," she whispered.
Lena shrugged and her lips curved in a hint of an embarrassed,
hesitant smile. "Not so scared now." Not that she was exactly
sanguine, but she had real hope for the first time in a long time and
that made all the difference.
Bianca tipped her head back on her shoulders and Lena could almost
feel that dark gaze sliding over her skin like a palpable caress.
"But still scared?" she questioned.
"A little," Lena admitted, still uncertain what it all
meant. Apparently she wasn�t being banished as she�d feared, but she
wasn�t sure what to expect or what Bianca intended. She knew what she
hoped, but after months on the outside, she wasn�t sure how realistic
those hopes were. "I�m not quite sure what all of this means
Bianca reached up and then Lena felt a gentle finger stroke her cheek
and outline the shape of her lips. "It means that...if you�ll
have me, I want you with me in this."
Lena drew breath to answer, no question in her mind if that was what
Bianca was asking of her, but the younger woman laid fingers over her
lips, silencing her before she could speak.
"Don�t answer too quickly," Bianca cautioned, her voice
low and a little hesitant as though it was hard to say what she needed
to, "because I want you to know that I realize how much I�ve hurt
you...and that I am so sorry."
Not wanting Bianca to take that kind of guilt onto her shoulders,
Lena was ready to deny the softly spoken words, but gentle fingers
returned to her lips to silence her.
"Don�t try to deny it," Bianca commanded gently, her
voice thick in ways that made Lena want to just wrap her in a protective
hold and keep her safe from the world. "I know the mistakes I�ve
made ... and how many people I�ve hurt...and I can�t guarantee I won�t
screw up again."
The self-doubt in Bianca�s voice tore at Lena, and she reached up,
catching a fine-boned hand and peeling Bianca�s fingers away from her
lips. "No one can, Bianca," she reminded her. "We�re
all just stumbling through life making mistakes and doing our best to
get through. You, me, your mother, your uncle...everyone." She
lifted her free hand, tenderly petting silky hair back from a rounded
cheek while she continued rubbing her thumb very lightly against Bianca�s
stomach. "Even this child, when she�s born, she�ll have to
struggle through things just like the rest of us."
"But---" Bianca started to argue and this time it was Lena�s
turn to silence her by laying her fingers across soft lips.
"You were in an awful position...and not thinking clearly. You
did what you thought was necessary to survive." As much as some of
Bianca�s decisions had hurt, she couldn�t add to the recriminations
when she knew the price of those mistakes had been so high. "I
understand that...and believe me, I�m the last person to stand in
judgment of it." She let her fingers wander on, caressing a silky
cheek, the contact serving as a tactile reassurance of sorts that she
was here and this was real and not simply a particularly vivid trick of
the imagination. "But I need to know if you�re asking what I
think you are. If you want nothing more than a friend, I�ll be
that...and if you want a lover...you know I love you more than my
"Don�t say that," Bianca hissed, the sound somewhere
between angry and scared, her body suddenly rigidly tense.
Lena flinched, Bianca�s tone reminding her that her own mistakes
had caused plenty of pain. "Bad phrasing," she said softly by
way of apology. "I just meant that I love you with all my
heart...and I would do anything in my power to support you...but,"
she said carefully emphasizing the word, "I need to know what you�re
Relaxing fractionally, Bianca settled a hand over Lena�s where it
still rested on her stomach. "I�m asking you to be with
me..." she whispered, her voice little more than a ragged shadow of
itself, "...and not just as a friend...but as a partner...a
Lena dragged in a hard breath, then let it out on a shuddery gasp,
her body trembling, knees threatening to buckle under the weight of it
all. It was everything she could have wanted from Bianca, but she couldn�t
let herself answer too quickly because there was one more question she
had to ask, and it was the hardest one of all because as much time as
they�d spent in each other�s company during the previous weeks, she
didn�t know the answer. "Bianca, you must realize that�s
everything I could dream of," she admitted, very aware of the
delicate movements under her hand. The baby seemed to be settling down
now, but she still made her presence known every so often. "But
there�s one more thing I need to know...and it�s a dealbreaker."
"All right," Bianca murmured tersely.
Lena glanced down, taking a moment to gather herself. She knew she
had to ask, but who knew the question would be so hard. So tempting to
just grab at the brass ring and ignore the more serious issues. Tempting
but a bad idea. She looked up again, wishing she could see Bianca�s
face better and read her expression as she asked, "I need to know
if you love me." There, she laid it out, admitting to her worst
fears. Bianca hadn�t said the words, at least not to her, and as much
as she wanted it there was a part of her that was afraid the answer was
no. After all, Bianca had thrown her aside for so long that it was hard
to have faith. A part of her was afraid the younger woman was just
panicking and feeling alone and grabbing for someone she knew would
support her without question.
Bianca froze for a long beat, then finally reached up, fingertips
just barely making contact as she stroked them along the line of Lena�s
brow, smoothing out the frown lines. Lena half expected anger or
resentment, but when Bianca finally spoke, her tone was all sadness and
regret. "I�m sorry," she said at last, "that I�ve
made you doubt...me...yourself...us..." she said haltingly. She
brailed Lena�s cheek, then trailed a light caress along her jawline.
"I don�t blame you if you don�t believe this...because these
last months...so much has seemed so unreal...and I�ve been so shut
down...but I love you...and I have through all of this." She
caressed Lena�s hand lightly, trailing faint her fingertips along the
line of her knuckles, then tracing the cords and bones. "I�m
sorry I cut you out of everything...but I was so afraid that you�d
look into my eyes and know the truth...and I just couldn�t face
that...but you have no idea how much I regret the choices I made...and
the way I threw you to the wolves to protect a lie that should never
have been told. If you can�t forgive that and believe that I do love
you, I don�t blame you."
Lena caught the hand exploring her face so gently, lifted it to her
lips, and pressed soft kisses to each fingertip. "It may take a
little time to completely trust again," she admitted, struggling to
follow her counselor�s advice and not deny her own hurts so
completely. That way was madness and had already brought her too close
to the edge. "But I believe you...and I�ve never wanted anything
as much I want to be with you."
Bianca slipped her hand free of Lena�s light hold, then hooked her
fingers around the back of the taller woman�s neck, threading them
into short dark hair. It didn�t take much pressure to draw Lena�s
head down and less still to guide her into canting it to a counter
The kiss that followed was soft, hesitant, a fluttering of lips that
met, brushed with featherlight strokes, parted momentarily, then met
again, the pressure firmer with each successive meeting. Without
thinking, Lena slid her free hand around Bianca�s waist while her
other one remained firmly anchored over her stomach. The kiss stretched
out, both of them clinging, the hunger in bodies that hadn�t touched
in far too long nearly overwhelming.
Finally, Bianca broke the kiss, leaning back and peering up at Lena,
her eyes glittering brightly in the faint light. "Can I ask you to
do one more thing?" she breathed, her voice shaking.
Lena nodded unsteadily. "Anything." At that point, Bianca
could have asked her to walk the nearest plank and she�d have
cheerfully complied. Really, Bianca could have just started with the
kiss and avoided the whole discussion. Which possibly wouldn�t have
been the healthiest approach to things, but Lena had to admit, she would
have gone down like a ton of bricks.
"If we�re going to do this," the hand covering Lena�s
linked with her fingers, guiding them to spread wide, encouraging the
instinctively possessive gesture, "I want to feel like this baby is
Lena frowned in confusion, not understanding. "I don�t...
What?" she questioned.
"I want to be...to be with you...tonight...." Bianca
glanced down briefly, the words coming haltingly with long pauses
between as she continued, "I know it probably sounds
nuts...but...it would feel..." she looked up again, her voice
breathy and strained as she continued, "it would feel like she was
yours...ours...that way...and I just...I need you...."
Her heard suddenly in her throat, Lena almost couldn�t breathe for
a long moment. Amazing how something she wanted so much could be so
utterly terrifying. Bianca was asking her to make love, and she had the
urge to run for cover because the only thought in her was that she might
make a mistake and ruin things while they were still just starting.
Whether or not it was too soon for Bianca she didn�t know, but she was
terrified that she was in no way up to the task.
"Lena?" Bianca whispered after a beat when she still hadn�t
Swallowing hard, Lena took a tiny moment to compose herself, gather
her thoughts---and pray that her heart would kick-start and begin
beating again soon. "There�s nothing in this life I want
more," she admitted in a rush, then took a breath and let it out
slowly to calm both extreme nervousness and a sudden bout of raging
hormones that she would have expected to lessen under the impact of
stark terror. Apparently not. "But are you sure?" She peered
hard at Bianca, struggling to make out her expression in the darkness
and afraid she would just see what she wanted. "I don�t want you
to feel pushed in any way...or to do anything you don�t feel ready
By way of answer, Bianca tugged Lena�s head back down and kissed
her. Not an innocent or remotely chaste kiss. Hungry, passionate, it was
a storming of the walls, drawing Lena in, pressing past her lips,
exploring, so intense it nearly dropped her to her knees. When Bianca
finally pulled back, Lena was trembling and breathless, and Bianca was
little better, her breath coming quick and rough.
"Does that answer your question?" the younger woman
Lena�s brows shot up and her mouth hung open for a long moment.
Finally, she struggled to find something to say and managed to croak,
"I think so." She slid her hand up the length of Bianca�s
torso in a trailing caress that ended as cupped her palm along the side
of Bianca�s face, her voice low and intense. "But," she said
carefully, amazed at her own willpower to be able to hold off and not
simply fall into bed. It would be so easy, and it was so tempting just
give way to desire and have everything she wanted if only for a few
hours. Only it was also terrifying enough to make her very aware that
simply rushing in might well risk everything. "I need a promise
from you first...because this isn�t a small thing."
Bianca drew in a sharp breath, tensing ever so slightly, a visceral
indication that she wasn�t quite as confident or at ease as she was
trying to appear. "All right," she exhaled a little tersely.
Lena�s mouth curved in a gentle smile even though she knew Bianca
probably couldn�t see the expression. "It�s nothing awful, I
swear," she reassured the younger woman and felt her relax ever so
slightly. "But I need you to promise me that if anything bothers
you...or if you get at all scared...or uneasy...that you�ll tell me.
We can stop anytime. The point here is pleasure. If something bothers
you, no putting up with it or bearing it alone." Incredibly aware
of the weight resting on her shoulders, she had to make certain there
were a few ground rules. "I can�t do this if I�m not sure in my
heart that you�ll feel completely safe...and will take care of
Exhaling a soft curse under her breath, Bianca slumped a little.
"God, I hate this," she muttered. "I just want things to
be simple again."
"I know," Lena admitted. "I do too...but they�re
not...at least not yet." She petted a softly rounded cheek.
"Maybe sometime soon...but right now...for both our sakes, we need
to be careful." She ducked her head, brushing Bianca�s lips with
her own. "I don�t want make any mistakes...not with this."
She dropped another light kiss onto velvety lips. "That�s why I
need your word." Much as she wanted to be with Bianca, she couldn�t
stand the idea of frightening her or feeling like she�d pressed her
Bianca was silent for a brief moment, and then she nodded. "I
promise...I�ll tell you if anything bothers me."
Lena stroked a full lower lip with the pad of her thumb, trying to
lighten the moment as best she could as she leaned close to Bianca�s
ear and whispered, "You know you can also tell me if anything in
particular pleases you." A smile skated across her lips as she felt
a delicate tremor make its way through Bianca�s muscles.
"Really?" Bianca drawled, her voice little more than a tiny
breath of air.
"Mm-hm," Lena exhaled, then trailed her fingertips from
Bianca�s cheek down the length of her throat, lightly stroking a
sensitive cord in the smaller woman�s neck the way she knew from
experience she loved. "For instance, if you enjoyed that, you could
definitely tell me." If this was going to work it couldn�t just
be some symbolic gesture. They needed to enjoy each other and find a way
to let go of the fear and have fun.
A tiny, relieved laugh escaping her lips, her breathing suddenly
strained, Bianca leaned into the caress. "Oh. Then you should know
that I definitely enjoyed that."
Grinning, Lena dropped a meandering kiss onto Bianca�s throat,
following the same track her fingers had only a moment before. "How
about that?" she exhaled, her breath ruffling fluttery hair where
it curved in toward Bianca�s neck.
"That was nice too," Bianca allowed, the words coming
Turning her hand, Lena trailed her knuckles over the soft flesh open
to the air in the vee of Bianca�s blouse, not trying for anything more
intimate than that light caress. "You have the softest skin,"
"Would you like to feel more of it?" Bianca whispered and
caught the hand on her chest, putting pressure to guide it elsewhere.
Sensing that Bianca was trying to overcome any nervousness by simply
leaping in, Lena refused to be hurried, instead turning her hand in her
lover�s grasp and twining their fingers together. "Of
course," she whispered near a delicate ear, then nibbled lightly on
the lobe. "But we have all the time in the world," she added,
then lifted Bianca�s hand to her lips and fluttering tiny kisses
across her knuckles.
Another shudder shook the younger woman�s delicate frame. "It
doesn�t feel like it," she gasped, and Lena knew it wasn�t fear
that made her voice quaver that way. It was arousal. Not as intense as
it could get by any means, and a little hesitant, but very real.
Definitely a good starting point.
"Mm, it�s not supposed to," she murmured near Bianca�s
ear. "It�s supposed to make you feel like you have to have it
now...and yet you never want it to end." Bianca�s breath caught
and Lena pressed another round of butterfly kisses to her knuckles
before releasing her hand and returning to caress the faint rise of her
collarbone. "Like you�re caught in an undertow and you can�t
breathe...can�t think...and everything coalesces down until all you
are is the ache in your body." Lena allowed herself a small smile
as she heard her lover�s low moan.
"Lena, what are you doing?" Bianca questioned on a tiny
"Making love to you," Lena responded and rubbed her thumb
very lightly against the spot where a cord in Bianca�s throat met her
collarbone, the caress the smallest of brushes.
"Oh," Bianca exhaled, sounding vaguely perplexed. Good, get
her mind working on that problem instead of worrying about the past.
"But...um...shouldn�t we move to the bedroom or something?"
she muttered, sounding embarrassed. As inexperienced as she was, she
tended to have a rather direct train of thought where such things were
Lena, on the other hand, was nothing if not subtle. "Soon,"
she promised, then dropped a light kiss onto full lips. She tapped
Bianca�s temple lightly. "But right now, this is the erogenous
zone I�m concentrating on."
"Really?" Bianca drawled doubtfully.
"Mmm," Lena confirmed, then leaned even closer to whisper
silky, intimate, suggestions in her lover�s ear. She was subtle, none
of the words she used or images she painted too overt or openly sexual,
and yet every syllable had an erotic spin that soon had Bianca breathing
hard and leaning heavily against Lena.
"Oh. God," the younger woman groaned at some point.
Lena chuckled softly. "I take it the lady approves?" she
"How can you...I mean...all you�re doing is talking and
yet..." Bianca moaned low in her throat, the words coming in
disjointed phrases. "How�d you do that?"
"I have a very active fantasy life where you�re
concerned," Lena said, her voice a low, sexual growl as she ducked
her head and fluttered silky kisses down the length of Bianca�s
throat. Her free hand trailing the width of her opposite shoulder, she
whispered a few more covertly carnal ideas and felt Bianca tremble
gently in response.
Bianca moaned. No words this time, just a low, hungry sound that
bubbled up from her chest while a hand found Lena�s shoulder and clung
so tightly her fingers threatened to leave bruises.
Tugging Bianca�s collar to one side, Lena flicked her tongue into
the hollow of the smaller woman�s throat, tasting the faint salt of
her skin, the intensity of sensation and emotion of even that small bit
of freedom to touch and explore enough to make the world swirl around
"I...uh...Lena..." Bianca croaked, shuddering gently,
"do you have any idea what you�re doing to me?"
A soft, triumphant laugh escaped Lena�s lips. "Why don�t you
tell me," she suggested, her breath flowing over heated skin,
arousal running thick and molten in her veins as she continued the
painstakingly slow explorations.
A slender hand tightened possessively in her hair without putting any
pressure on where she went. "Making me a little crazy," Bianca
panted, then she released her hold on Lena�s hair, sliding her hand
around until her fingertips were resting along the curve of Lena�s
jaw. She applied just enough pressure to draw the taller woman�s head
up until their eyes met. Her expression serious, she ran the pad of her
thumb along Lena�s lower lip. "I want you so much," she
whispered after a long moment.
Swallowing hard, her throat suddenly too tight to allow her to speak,
Lena nodded, well aware of the gift Bianca was giving her. "Thank
you," she breathed when she finally managed to summon enough oxygen
to say something.
She caught a glimpse of even white teeth, then felt the hand on her
jaw slide back around to the back of her neck. "Thank you,"
Bianca said with extra emphasis on the last word, then pulled Lena to
her, taking the lead with a degree of confidence Lena hadn�t expected.
Even if some of it was more illusion than reality it was a sign how much
she wanted this and Lena found herself sinking into the kiss that
followed, sinking in and surrendering her heart in a way she wasn�t
sure she ever had before, not even the in the beginning. No lies. No
games between them. Plenty of fears, but they were the honest kind, and
for the first time in her life none of them involved the risks of being
completely honest with another person.
Mouths danced a slow waltz as hands searched and clung, and their
breathing grew heavier with every passing moment. Despite the fire
burning in her belly, Lena was trying to think her way through it all
and be careful and when a sudden thought occurred to her no matter how
much she wanted to just ignore it and move ahead, she had to pull back.
Wrenching her mouth from Bianca�s, she gasped in air, one hand finding
a slim shoulder and maintaining some distance when Bianca started to
lean in again. "Wait a second," Lena groaned, "Is this
okay?" She glanced down, staring at the pale image of her hand just
barely visible where it still rested almost possessively over Bianca�s
stomach. She rubbed her thumb lightly to draw her lover�s attention
back to the obvious reality. "I mean, the baby? Is it safe?"
She had no experience with such things. Her principal knowledge of
pregnancy involved methods for avoiding it.
This time Bianca laughed softly, clearly enjoying being the one with
superior knowledge for once. "It�s fine," she quickly
assured Lena. "I spoke to the doctor and he assured me it�s
okay...provided things don�t get too gymnastic."
A soft laugh escaped Lena�s lips as it occurred to her that Bianca�s
answer meant she�d asked---that she�d been thinking about it for
some time and this wasn�t just an impulse. Somehow that helped soothe
some of her fears. "I guess that means the trapeze is out of the
question?" she teased, smiling as she felt Bianca lean into her,
her body shaking with gentle laughter.
"For a little while yet," the younger woman answered
through soft chuckles, the light banter drawing an answering laugh from
And then laughter was the last thing on Lena�s mind as Bianca
tugged her head down and found her lips again, kissing slowly, hungrily,
pressing past her lips and exploring at will. In an instant, Lena felt
her knees turn to jelly while certain other key regions seemed to become
molten. Suddenly she couldn�t breathe, couldn�t think, could barely
stand. She�d been controlling herself remarkably well up until that
point, the last vestiges of the intellectual still at least marginally
in control, but she was abruptly all hormones and naked desire.
"Lena," Bianca whispered and curled the fingers of one hand
into Lena�s collar, tugging her closer, hot breath playing over her
face, "I think it�s time for you to put some of those ideas of
yours into practice." She kissed her lover again, fast this time,
but tender and passionate, then caught the hand resting on her stomach,
twining their fingers together as she tugged gently. She turned away and
Lena was surprised by the sense of loss she experienced as her hand
broke contact with Bianca�s stomach, but then Bianca was pulling her
in the direction of her bedroom, and suddenly the baby and her growing
sense of connection to it were the least of her thoughts.
Actually they were no thoughts at all because every neuron and
molecule in her brain was dedicated to exactly one subject.
The woman leading her into her bedroom.
Her apartment was small and Bianca had been there more than enough
times to easily navigate her way in the dark, and then they were in her
bedroom, and it seemed as though a flood of illumination washed over
them even though the lights were off. The curtains were open and the
illumination from a full moon reflected off the pale walls and seemed to
make Bianca�s skin glow as she turned back so they were facing each
other. She was the most beautiful thing Lena had ever seen, and she
found herself struck dumb, unable to do more than stare for the longest
"Lena?" Bianca whispered a little uncertainly.
Blinking at a few hot tears, Lena swallowed hard, so overcome by
emotion that she couldn�t speak. "I just...you�re
beautiful," she whispered after a brief pause, swallowed hard
again, then reached out with her free hand to caress Bianca�s cheek,
just barely making contact. "So beautiful." She glanced down,
fighting for some measure of control, then looked up again. "I�ve
just missed you so much."
A hint of a frown touched Bianca�s forehead as though she was
struggling to understand and then she stepped forward, putting them
almost toe to toe. She released her hold on Lena�s hand to rest her
palm at the curve of her waist. "I don�t deserve you," she
said at last, guilt and recrimination still sadly evident in her tone.
"Don�t say that," Lena disagreed, still caressing Bianca�s
cheek lightly. "You are the most perfect thing that has ever been
in my life. Meeting you changed who I am. You drew me out of the pits of
hell...and I will forever be grateful to you."
Staring up at Lena with haunting intensity, Bianca tightened her hold
on Lena�s waist and pulled her closer. "I�m not looking for
gratitude," she whispered as she searched dark brown eyes, then
continued with burning intensity, "I just want us back."
Lena framed that delicate face in her hands, studying the rises and
hollows for a long moment. "We can do this," she breathed,
then ducked her head, finding Bianca�s mouth, lips meeting, mating,
making love the way their bodies soon would.
Minutes passed as breathing roughened, hands searched and clung, and
bodies leaned into each other. Lena felt a thin layer of sweat gather
between her shoulderblades and every time Bianca touched or caressed she
made a soft sound low in her throat akin to purring. She was right where
she wanted to be, where she�d dreamed of being, and in the one place
she�d long feared she�d never be again. "I love you," she
breathed near Bianca�s ear, the sound ending in a sharp gasp a
fine-boned hand slid under her blouse and stroked the flesh just over
And then Bianca was peeling the front of Lena�s blouse apart and
fluttering soft kisses over her upper chest above the edge of her bra.
Wanting Bianca to feel totally safe and in control of the situation,
Lena let her lead the way, eager to be certain, but also incredibly
careful her lover�s feelings and the fact that this might not be an
easy or comfortable thing for the younger woman. Arousal threatened to
make the world spin around her, but at the same time awareness of the
responsibility resting on her shoulders tempered the raging need
somewhat. This was not the time to make a mistake.
As if sensing that line of thought, Bianca pressed the softest of
kisses onto Lena�s upper chest, then looked up, her eyes suspiciously
bright as she whispered, "We�ll be okay." Another soft kiss
and another doe-eyed look. "I�m not scared...not with you."
Lena just nodded, instinctively understanding what Bianca was trying
to say. Only one response was needed. "I love you." She wasn�t
so deluded as to think that perfection or simplicity were even possible,
but she had total faith that with care, they could reestablish that old
connection. She ducked her head, kissed softly, moaning into the
blending of their mouths as she felt gentle fingers begin to very
lightly brail her body, searching out the shapes and textures they�d
touched before but not in months. Bianca was hesitant, careful, as
though she was a little afraid of doing something wrong, but as moments
stretched into minutes, her touch grew more confident, gentle fingers
stroking runs of bone and muscle. Finally, she pushed at Lena�s blouse
and the taller woman shrugged out of the silky fabric, letting it fall
away to be forgotten, moaning low in her throat a moment later as
trembling fingers fought with her bra, fumbling with the hooks until
Bianca gave up and simply pushed it off over her head.
Lena was startled when Bianca caught her hands and drew them to the
bottom edge of her sweater, guiding her to lift the soft knit. "Are
you sure?" Lena questioned as she stared into eyes that looked wide
and a little frightened to her. "Because if you�re not
Bianca�s eyes darted down then up again. "It�s not
that," she said quickly, her tone soothing Lena�s fears. "It�s
just that..." Her gaze fell again. "The baby...I mean...I�m
not exactly...I�m a little---"
"You�re beautiful," Lena over-rode the younger woman�s
burst of self-consciousness as she stroked her cheek very lightly to
draw her chin back up, "the most beautiful thing I�ve ever seen
in my life."
Then suddenly it was like they both knew they were exactly where they
wanted to be and they leaned into each other, hands reaching, moving,
pulling and pushing at soft fabric, whatever was needed to make way for
flesh to touch flesh until they stood together amid randomly scattered
clothes, the only thing remaining between them a few random sprays of
They stumbled to the bed together, still touching and exploring even
as they moved. Lena paused long enough to pull the comforter aside, then
Bianca tugged her close again and they were sinking down. Moaning into
the kiss that followed without either of them even thinking about it,
Lena fitted a hand to the small of Bianca�s back, offering a
supportive brace as the younger woman sank into the mattress.
Stretching out next her lover, Lena broke the kiss as she tugged the
comforter back over both of them, blocking out chill air and trapping
the heat between them. A beat and then she pushed up on one hand to
stare down at soft features for a long moment. Their gazes held, both
lovers so perfectly still they barely breathed. And then Bianca reached
up, ruffling silky hair with gentle hands, then framing her face.
Another long moment passed and then she drew her lover to her.
Slow kisses, the kind a body can get lost in, followed, and then Lena�s
mouth was floating lower, Bianca�s fingers in her hair a loose guide
and ongoing encouragement. The faint salt of flesh on her tongue, a hint
of remaining perfuming filling her senses, she roamed over Bianca�s
shoulders and upper chest, relearning familiar terrain until she felt
the pressure in her hair shift, guiding her lower. Bianca�s heart was
hammering in her chest as she tasted the thudding beat with her lips
where they rested on soft flesh. Worried, Lena looked up, then smiled as
she saw nothing but arousal in the dark eyes watching her.
No fear. They were okay.
She ducked her head again, fluttering butterfly kisses onto breasts
that had changed with pregnancy, growing fuller and also more sensitive.
Slipping one hand under Bianca�s shoulder, she found the curve of her
hip with the other as she leaned over her lover�s prone form. Hearts
beating in sync, silky kisses, low moans. Her head swirling, Bianca�s
hands playing restlessly in her hair, Lena took her time, exploring the
warmth and heat of her lover�s breasts, discovering old erogenous
zones and inventing all new ones. In no hurry to go any faster than
necessary, she swept her tongue around gently puckered flesh, tasted
delicate goose bumps as cool air touched moist skin, laughed low in her
throat when Bianca moaned heavily.
Pushing up on one hand, Lena stared down at her lover, trailing the
hand on Bianca�s hip up and over the mounded sweep of her stomach,
spreading her fingers and stroking very lightly. A tiny flutter of
movement under her palm drew her eyes down.
Bianca obviously felt the movement as well. "I think she knows
you," she whispered very softly and ruffled Lena�s hair, tenderly
petting it back from her forehead.
Smoothing her hand over taut flesh, Lena leaned down and pressed a
soft kiss over Bianca�s belly, her voice low and husky as she
whispered, "Will you let me take care of you and your mama, little
one?" As if in response, a tiny hand pressed against her palm.
"I think that was a yes," Bianca said after a long beat,
her voice soft and sepulchral in the darkness.
Lena looked up, catching the glitter of bright eyes. "And will
her mama trust me as well?" she questioned seriously.
"She already does," Bianca responded without pausing.
Dark eyes dropped back down as Lena watched her own hand moving
restlessly over Bianca�s stomach, caressing lightly, then moving on.
Cautious, once again aware of the weight of responsibility on her
shoulders, she leaned closer and let her fingers float lower, brushing
Bianca�s upper thigh lightly, painting erotic designs in random
patterns, ready to pull back if she sensed any fear or tension.
As if sensing the direction of her lover�s thoughts, Bianca tugged
Lena�s head up until their eyes met. "It�s okay," she
assured her, stroking Lena�s cheek very softly with her thumb.
Then gentle pressure brought Lena back up until they were nose to
nose and she could see her own reflection in impossibly deep brown eyes,
her expression heavy lidded and sensual, yet somehow frightened at the
"I know who I�m with," Bianca assured her, pressing the
softest and sweetest of kisses to her lips before settling back into the
pillows. Cupping Lena�s face in her hands, she whispered, "And
what I want...you."
Her heart was hammering violently in her chest, Lena suddenly
realized. She wasn�t sure whether or not Bianca was afraid, but she
was suddenly scared to death.
"It�s okay," Bianca breathed, leaving Lena feeling
hopelessly foolish that she was the one in need of reassurance.
"I just don�t want to make any mistakes," Lena admitted,
her voice tight and throbbing, the fear of doing something wrong washing
"You haven�t and you won�t," Bianca said confidently
and kissed her again, not letting go this time, her tongue slipping into
Lena�s mouth. No hesitant foray this time, but firm and self-assured,
full of arousal and desire.
Lena moaned into that kiss, her heart so lost she could barely
breathe. Bianca knew her, wanted her. No question about it. Despite
earlier thoughts of drawing things out, it wasn�t the time. They both
needed this, needed to know, and to touch, needed to answer the
questions and put away the doubts that couldn�t help but nag at them.
Later they could take all night. Right now, it wasn�t the right time.
Stretching out next to her lover, Lena trailed her foot very lightly
up and down Bianca�s calf even as she let go of her self control a
little, relaxing into the arm that hooked around her shoulders, the lips
that toyed with her own, and the hand that slid over her chest, trailing
light caresses and drawing low moans.
Working her fingers into the hair at the nape of Lena�s neck,
Bianca� tugged lightly, breaking the kiss and pulling her head back
until their eyes met. "I want feel you...be with you," she
breathed, her tone part plea, part command.
And then Lena�s hand was moving, caressing, sliding over Bianca�s
stomach and lower, smoothing caresses along the curve of her hip, then
over the top of a firm thigh. Her own body trembling under the intensity
of emotion and sensation, Lena darted her tongue into Bianca�s mouth,
far less confident than her lover, but hungry all the same, and needing
the comfort only Bianca�s could offer.
Then she trailed her fingers higher, stroking a soft inner thigh,
feeling the gentle quiver of taut muscle beneath a covering of velvet
skin. Bianca shifted restlessly, her hips rolling slowly, instinctively
hunting for more sensation. Her fingers tightened in Lena�s hair, her
kisses growing more demanding while her fingers grew almost rough as she
molded firm breasts and ran her thumb back and forth over tightly
Still hesitant, even a little afraid, Lena massaged Bianca�s inner
thigh, her touch firm, but went no higher, still avoiding the source of
the heat she could feel radiating over her skin, threatening to sear her
Finally, Bianca slid her hands back into position on either side of
Lena�s face, her expression intense as she drew Lena�s chin up and
peered deeply into dark eyes. "Touch me." She pronounced each
word carefully and with utter clarity, leaving no doubts about what she
Holding that dark gaze, Lena ran her fingers higher, stroking slowly,
lightly, watching for any sign of fear, aware of every tiny tremor and
quiver that slid through her lover.
"Go on," Bianca urged, her voice little more than a ragged
quaver, her body shifting restlessly in anticipation.
Passion, not fear. Desire, not rejection.
Reclaiming soft lips, Lena sank into the kiss even as her fingers
danced higher, played, teased, taking it slow, giving Bianca time to
adjust, well aware of both the symbolism but also the very real
importance of what was happening. Silk, heat, wet. Suddenly her senses
were swimming in the awareness of a thousand details. Amazing how
instantly sensory memory seemed to be kicking in, and a good thing too,
since her brain seemed to be shutting down almost as quickly. Bianca
moaned into her mouth, then abruptly broke the kiss as Lena�s fingers
pressed into silky-wet flesh, her head slamming back into the pillows,
body trembling in time with the slow rhythm Lena adopted.
Bianca gasped, clinging to Lena with desperate strength, one hand
spread against her upper back, fingers pressing into firm muscle.
"It�s all good," she whispered, turning her head so her
breath played over Lena�s ear.
And it was. God, how it was. Lena�s head was spinning, her body
throbbing so hard she was close to imploding. Words like arousal,
desire, and need barely began to cover the rich banquet of feelings
burning through her. Stretched out alongside her lover, weight braced on
her left elbow, left hand smoothing silky hair back from Bianca�s
face, she moved slowly with the younger woman in a native
point-counterpoint rhythm. "I love you," she groaned, trailing
silky kisses along the line of Bianca�s cheek, dusting a fresh kiss in
time with every stroke. Her lover was close. It was there in the ragged
quality of her breathing, the slow thrust of her body, the come and go
tension in her muscles.
The knowledge made Lena shake and tremble, her body aching in ways
she�d only experienced once before and had more or less accepted she�d
never feel again. Oh, how wrong she�d been.
Her hand tight in the hair at the back of Lena�s neck, Bianca,
tugged Lena�s head down until they were eye to eye. "I love
you," she whispered almost inaudibly. Her gaze dropped, trailing
over Lena�s upper body, the look so intense it was almost like an
actual caress. "But you aren�t...I mean...," she stammered
Lena shook her head, her pleasure bound up in the other woman�s to
a degree that nothing else was important to her. "It doesn�t
matter," she whispered.
"It matters," Bianca disagreed, skating a hand into the
space between their bodies, her touch sliding and pressing. "We�re
both in this and I want you with me."
Lena shuddered violently as she was touched and stroked, her body
already so close to the edge that even the briefest caress had her
shaking. Her focus on Bianca, she again started to deny that it mattered
only to fall silent as she saw the look on her lover�s face and gentle
strokes sent hot runners of fire over every nerve ending in her body.
Bianca touched again, smiling tentatively when the delicate caress drew
a tiny whimper, clearly enjoying her power. She was right. They both
needed this, needed to be completely invested in making love as equals.
"With you," she gasped, then kissed Bianca again, surrendering
to her own need.
They quickly found a rhythm, moving together, flesh sliding against
flesh, bodies shaking in time with each other. And then they were both
trembling, low cries erupting to fill the room, lips meeting, parting
briefly to make way for desperate gasps of air, then meeting again.
Finally Lena buried her face in the curve of Bianca�s neck,
whispering words of love and pure adoration, her lips fluttering against
soft skin, the length of her body pressed against her lover, aware of
every thrust and caress, her hips rocking gently to meet Bianca�s
touch. When the hand in her hair tugged her head up, she made no effort
to resist the gentle pull, instead falling gratefully into the kiss that
For their first time, Lena made no effort to stretch things out.
Neither of them was up to those sorts of games. They needed the
pleasure, the answers, the relief.
Another thrust, another stroke, a ragged gasp shared through a hungry
kiss, tiny shudders that signaled the final moments that came amid the
heated rush of sensation, and then Bianca collapsed into the mattress
while Lena sagged against her lover, her face buried in the curve of her
Not a wild moment, the intensity coming as much from emotion as
Weak and shaking, both lovers lay sprawled, cool air ghosting over
damp skin where the covers had been knocked aside, the only sound the
ragged, mismatched rhythm of their breathing as they struggled to drag
in much-needed oxygen.
Nuzzling into the curve of Bianca�s neck to hide the sudden burn of
hot tears, Lena inhaled the mixed odors of perfume, sweat, and sex even
as she slid her still-damp hand up over Bianca�s stomach. Feeling
faint tremors of movement, she spread her fingers wide, absorbing the
experience, reminded that they weren�t completely alone and if Bianca
was serious and their relationship went forward, never would be again. A
hand covered hers, a soft, uncallused thumb stroking the back of her
"She�s ours now," Bianca exhaled.
Yes. Theirs. Bianca was still caressing Lena�s knuckles very
lightly while her other hand was spread over her upper back, rubbing
slowly, the gesture affectionate in the aftermath. "Ours," she
mumbled against hot skin, the reality of it sweeping over her in a
fiercely protective wave. Hers and Bianca�s. This child, this
relationship, their future. All of it. Bianca in her life, the other
half of her life.
Everything she could have ever wanted; everything she�d already
lost once before and then some.
Bianca, a life together, a child shared. The sheer enormity of what
she�d been granted swept over Lena with the force of a tidal wave,
leaving her blind and small in the face of the overwhelming nature of
it. It was almost too much to take in and she was nearly lost in the
realization of what she�d been granted.
Along with the realization of what she�d gained came the knowledge
that it could so easily be taken away. She�d lost so much in her life.
Lose this and she truly didn�t think she would survive. She would
finally break utterly and completely, just shatter down to random atoms
that would be dispersed on the winds.
Lose this and there would be nothing left of Lena Kundera.
And suddenly she was shaking violently, a few stray tears turning to
outright weeping, months of pressure and stress combining with the
realization that for the first time in a very long time she truly had
something to lose and an appreciation of just how easy it could be to
lose it. It was terrifying. She fought the sudden influx of emotion,
tried to get the hot tears under control through sheer force of will,
but the harder she tried the worse they became and the harder she cried.
"Lena?" Bianca�s worried voice echoed in her ears as the
hand on her back slid higher to cup the back of her head. Obviously her
lover had noticed.
Unable to stop crying and ashamed of her weakness, Lena tried to hide
her response, turning her face deeper into Bianca�s shoulder, muscles
clenching as she tried to control the harsh shudders shaking her from
head to toe.
"Lena, are you okay?" Bianca questioned hesitantly, tensing
She sounded worried, even a little scared, and the tenderness and
caring in her voice only made it that much harder for Lena to hold back
on the overwhelming surge of emotion that had trembling from head to
toe. "Fine," she mumbled, determined not to let Bianca see
that was coming apart at the seams. Despite her intentions, her voice
came out thick and choked with tears.
Yeah, that was believable.
"Lena," Bianca whispered her name again. "You�re
Lena abruptly realized the tears she didn�t want were sliding off
her cheeks and splashing onto Bianca�s shoulder, hitting bare skin,
their heat and moisture inescapable. "No, it�s not...I�m
not..." she tried to deny the obvious without much success,
stiffening as she felt Bianca slide down a little and turn more toward
"Talk to me," her lover urged, her tone tender but clearly
worried. "What is it? What�s wrong?"
"It�s nothing," Lena choked out, every effort to banish
the rough tears only seeming to make things worse. "I�m
fine." Horrified that she would lose all the ground she�d gained
and maybe destroy the trust she�d worked so painstakingly to
establish, she tried to pull away, thinking that maybe if she could get
into the bathroom before Bianca realized just how shaken she was, she
could get things under control, only to find Bianca unwilling to let go.
"I-I just...it�s nothing...really...I�m fine," Lena
whispered desperately as though she could make it true simply through
repetition. Panicked and close to bolting, the only thing holding her
there was Bianca, though it was more her fear of failing the younger
woman than any physical restraint.
"No, you�re not," Bianca disagreed, refusing to be put
off. "That much is obvious." The hand across Lena�s back
spread, while Bianca reached across with her other hand, catching Lena�s
forearm and refusing to let her flee. "Talk to me. It�s okay to
tell me what�s going on...because something is."
Lena shook her head. No, it wasn�t okay. She�d meant to be
strong, to show Bianca she could be trusted and leaned on and instead
she was falling apart and she didn�t even know why. After everything
that had happened, to be here, now, she should have been laughing with
joy, not breaking down. "I�m sorry...I don�t mean to...it�s
just that...." It was just that she was falling apart and couldn�t
seem to get it under control. No, that was the last thing she could say.
God, Bianca would run screaming if she knew just how scared Lena was.
"It�s just what?" Bianca whispered, petting her hair
tenderly, holding on, not sounding disappointed or afraid. Lena drew
breath to demur, but Bianca hushed her, "Shhh," her tone low
and soothing. "Just talk to me."
"I can�t," Lena cried, shaking her head, her face still
hidden against Bianca�s neck. "I was supposed to be strong for
you...so you�d know you could always rely on me." How could
Bianca trust her if something this wonderful was enough to leave her in
a puddle of frightened tears? The younger woman needed someone she could
lean on, someone to protect her, not another person for whom she felt
Ashamed of her weakness, Lena would have turned away, but Bianca
wouldn�t let go. Instead, she tugged Lena�s head up, curving a hand
to her cheek and not letting her turn away. Her expression gentle she
forced her lover to meet her eyes. "I know that, Lena...I know,"
she repeated with added emphasis as she smoothed her thumb along the
ridge of a high cheekbone, rubbing at hot tears. "And I know I can
trust you and lean on you...but you don�t have to be the strong one
all the time---"
Lena shuddered, her whole body rattling under the force of harsh
tremors as she shook her head back and forth, rejecting Bianca�s
softly spoken words. "No, I need to take care of you...make sure
you�re all right---"
"Lena, I�m fine," Bianca said firmly and gently smoothed
chestnut hair out of dark eyes. "I�m fine." And she did seem
completely calm and totally in control, a hint of a reassuring smile
playing about her lips though it was obvious she was worried. "You
did everything right." Lena�s hair fell back into her eyes almost
instantly and another gentle stroke brushed it back. "I know
exactly where I am and who I�m with." Bianca�s voice quavered
ever so slightly as she continued signaling that she was more affected
by Lena�s reaction than she was trying to let on. "And I am so
glad that I�m here with you...that we�re together...but now I need
you to let me take care of you for once."
The tenderness nearly splintered Lena into a thousand pieces. After
months of feeling so alone and so lost, of protecting Bianca from the
knowledge that she was hurting, convinced the younger woman didn�t
need that awareness on top of her own problems, she couldn�t quite
trust that it was real, and at the same time she wanted it more than she�d
wanted almost anything in her life. "I can�t, I---"
"You can," Bianca overrode her attempts to deny the
obvious. "When you love someone, you take care of them...and
sometimes you let them take care of you." She continued smoothing
dark hair back in slow, rhythmic strokes, staring into Lena�s eyes.
"Let me take care of you for once."
In an instant, the dam shattered. The last of Lena�s self-control
completely lost, she didn�t even try to resist as Bianca gathered her
close once again. "I wanted to take care of you," she
whimpered, still fighting the influx of emotion even as she sank into
protective arms with a low moan.
"I know...and you did," Bianca whispered, pulling Lena�s
head to her shoulder and holding her close. She pressed a soft kiss to
her lover�s temple. "You did. It�s okay to let go...to let me
look after you for a little while."
"I-I didn�t mean to-to lose control...I-I---"
"It�s okay," Bianca assured her. "I
understand." Another soft kiss. "The counselor warned me this
could happen...though I think she meant to me," she added with a
touch of wry humor, then dusted another kiss onto Lena�s temple.
"But I was the lucky one. I had you looking after me."
The soft words brought another round of tears a body-wracking
shudders. God, she had been scared. So terrified of doing something
wrong, making another mistake that would cost her everything yet again.
After months of walking on eggshells, it was all more than she could
deal with. "I was trying to be strong."
"I know," Bianca soothed. "And you were...just like
you have been all along. You�re strong now. It�s just all catching
up with you...an overload of stress, adrenaline, and endorphins. It
doesn�t mean you�re weak. Just means you need to let go for a little
while." She continued tenderly petting silky hair, offering any
comfort she could as she encouraged, "Just cry it out." Lena
coiled tightly against her, hiding her face in Bianca�s shoulder,
while Bianca tenderly snuggled her lover close. "Have you even let
yourself cry through all of this?" she whispered.
The question only brought a fresh round of sobs, reminding Lena of
the only times she�d been unable to squelch the need for tears. She�d
cried when she�d found out the truth, alone that one night in the
boathouse after Maggie had made it clear Bianca had no desire to see
her, and the night she�d tried to kill herself. Other than that, she
hadn�t let the tears begin for fear once she did they�d never stop.
Only now they�d started, and there wasn�t much left to do but
ride out the storm.
Lena kept expecting Bianca to push her away. Instead her lover only
drew her closer, petting her hair, whispering in her ear, rubbing her
back, pressing soft kisses onto her hair. "That�s it," she
soothed. "Just let go...let yourself cry. You need this. We both
Nothing could have held back Lena�s tears at that point. She simply
broke down. With Bianca�s voice soft and soothing, whispering mindless
nonsense phrases in her ear, she sobbed, crying until she had no tears
left and sagged against Bianca in an exhausted slump.
"I�m here," Bianca whispered, still massaging Lena�s
back lightly. "I�m here...and I�m not letting you go."
"Why?" Lena mumbled against skin that was damp with her
Cupping Lena�s face in her hands, Bianca gently drew her head up.
"I love you," she said very seriously, her brows drawing into
a frown as their eyes met. "Please believe me."
Lena looked away, not quite knowing what to say. Her brain was
running slow, the aftermath of passion and the emotion storm leaving her
so exhausted she was numb. Gentle fingers drew her chin back around,
forcing her to face worried brown eyes. "I do...b-but
sometimes...." Unable to finish, she shook her head, paused to draw
a breath, and tried again, "It�s just that...this last
year...." Again she trailed off and couldn�t finish. "I�ve
been so alone..." she whispered at last as a hard shudder shook her
Dark eyes slid closed and Bianca flinched as though struck, her
throat bobbing as she swallowed hard.
It was impossible to ignore the hurt in the younger woman�s
expression, and Lena instantly regretted the bout of honesty. "I-I�m
sorry," she apologized, eyes downcast. "I-I shouldn�t have
"Don�t," Bianca said sharply, cutting her off, then
gentled her voice when Lena reacted with an instinctive flinch. "I�m
sorry. I didn�t mean to snap," she whispered, her voice rough
with emotion. Her hands suddenly trembling, she rubbed Lena�s
shoulder, then gathered her close in spite of any resistance, pulling
Lena to her with almost desperate strength and wrapping her in a strong
hold. "But you�ve done nothing to apologize for."
Lena�s back was to Bianca, and she felt the warmth of her lover�s
breath on the back of her neck as the younger woman pressed closer and
nuzzled into her hair. "But I---"
"Nothing," Bianca repeated firmly, her voice muffled in the
softness of Lena�s hair. "I�m the one who..." she trailed
off, was momentarily silent, then tried again, "I never want you to
be afraid to tell me the truth." She was quiet for a brief moment
before she spoke again, her voice rough and sad. "I never want you
to be afraid at all." Another moment passed, leaving Lena with the
distinct sense that the other woman was struggling for words, or perhaps
struggling to face the herself and the things she�d done. "And I�m
sorry...so sorry you�ve been alone...that I couldn�t see what I was
doing to you." She stroked Lena�s shoulder lightly, ducked her
head and pressed a soft kiss to velvet flesh. "But, Lena, you can�t
go on being afraid...we can�t survive that." Bianca nuzzled
deeper into soft hair, her voice low and muffled. "You did
everything right tonight...but you are going to make a mistake, sooner
or later...we both are...but that doesn�t mean I�m going to throw
you out of my life."
The ache in her chest and throat making speech impossible, Lena
curled tighter into herself. Even if she could have spoken, she wouldn�t
have because every possible response she could think of seemed to reek
of leftover resentment and anger for the way she�d been treated for
months on end and too many other emotions that threatened to turn into a
deluge if she ever let them out.
A long moment of silence followed, and then Bianca tightened her hold
on the woman in her arms, and Lena thought she heard a tiny catch in her
lover�s breath, the sound bordering on the smallest of sobs.
"Lena," Bianca pleaded when she finally spoke, "say
Lena shook her head, the idea of speaking up feeling far too
Bianca was perfectly silent for a long moment, waiting, then finally
she exhaled, "Okay." Another moment of silence. "Then I�ll
do the talking," she said when she spoke again, her voice shaking
gently. "I�ve hurt you...made it so you don�t know whether you�re
coming or going...and I know you may never completely trust me
again." She ruffled Lena�s hair gently. "I�m sorry for
that...but I have to live with it...and if you�re with me so do
you." More silence, and then Lena felt Bianca take a deep breath,
then warm air against the back of her neck as her lover exhaled the air
in her lungs. "Was this a mistake for you?" she asked at last,
her voice tremulous and high pitched. "Are you
Bianca choked off, and Lena could feel her struggling for breath.
Knowing the younger woman was upset, she wanted to offer some kind of
comfort, but her own emotions were already too shredded and she was so
tired she couldn�t think straight. Nothing was making any sense and
the emotion storm had left her so physically exhausted that just taking
a fresh breath almost felt like more effort than she could manage.
"...because if you are," Bianca continued shakily, "it�s
"No," Lena insisted as she finally parsed the words and
found some meaning to them, shaking her head back and forth to reject
the idea, Bianca�s offer driving some of the paralysis back. She
wanted this more than she knew how to express. It was just that there
were fears, maybe logical, maybe not. Moving slowly, she pulled free of
enveloping arms, pushing up on her hands and turning to face Bianca.
Kneeling, she silently reached out, brushing a few strands of hair off
of Bianca�s cheek and tucking them behind her ear. Feeling tears
threaten to well up again, she rubbed her eyes with her other hand,
swallowing hard in the struggle to contain the emotional response.
"I love you," she said at last, her voice low and strained.
"I could never regret being with you." She caught one of
Bianca�s hands in her own, lifting it to press soft kisses across her
knuckles, then simply held it gently, her eyes dropping to study the
play of light across the intricate twining of bone and muscle. "But
most of the time I don�t know where I stand anymore." She wanted
to sink into herself and hide away. It would be so much easier and safer
that way. But do that and she�d lose everything. Sad to say, but her
counselor was right about the need for honesty and the need to admit her
own angers and hurts. "Everything...it�s been wrong for so
long...that I don�t always know what right is anymore."
Dark eyes slid closed and Bianca took a deep breath. Her hand turned
in Lena�s hold, fingers wrapping around hers and clinging tightly.
"I want right to be us...together..." she said at last.
Lena squeezed the hand bound to her own tightly. "I do
too," she said honestly. "I want you to know that. What
happened now...it wasn�t me wanting out."
Her eyes still tightly shut, Bianca nodded.
Slipping a hand around the back of Bianca�s back, Lena tugged very
lightly, leaning forward until their foreheads were almost touching.
"I love you," she said again, her own voice thick and raspy.
"Nothing has changed that...don�t doubt it...and I want to be
with you." She settled her free hand lightly on Bianca�s
midsection, laying a tactile claim to both mother and child. "With
both of you. That�s one thing I am absolutely certain of." She
knew she was repeating things as she worked her way through her own
thoughts and feelings, struggling to understand them on the fly. She
loved Bianca---no question about that---loved her and wanted a life
together, but they�d been both affected by everything and to go on
denying that basic fact almost certainly doomed them. "But there�s
a part of me that�s afraid you don�t feel as much as I do...that
whispers in my ear, suggesting you couldn�t possibly really love
Bianca was silent for a long moment, her eyes downcast. Finally, she
looked up, her expression as open as it had been in months, drawing Lena
in until she had the strangest sense that they were totally in sync.
Lena had never believed in the notion of hearts beating as one, but if
someone had told her theirs were, she wouldn�t have doubted it. A
slender hand rose between them, stroked Lena�s cheek, then ran along
the line of her jaw before pressing into the pulsebeat in her throat.
"Your heart�s beating hard again," Bianca said very softly.
Lena nodded, wondering if Bianca�s was doing the same thing or if
the sense of being so totally in tune with each other was a figment of
her imagination. As if to answer the question, Bianca caught the hand
resting on her stomach and carried it up to her chest for Lena to feel
the too rapid, unsteady beat of her heart. God, they were both scared to
death. Lena hated knowing Bianca was afraid, but at the same time it was
almost a relief. If she was frightened it was because she cared.
"Yours is to."
A slow nod. "I�m terrified," Bianca admitted quietly.
"Afraid that it�s too late, that I�ve hurt you too much, that
you�ll never quite believe anything I say ever again."
Lena didn�t argue, simply letting her lover have her say. She
understood all of those fears all too well. That was the problem with
lying. It left so many time bombs in its wake.
"But I love you," Bianca continued, her voice low and
serious. Her gaze dropped, touching on Lena�s hand where it rested on
her upper chest. "And I want our lives back."
Incredibly aware of the warmth of velvety skin and the hard driving
beat of Bianca�s heart, Lena caressed very gently. "I�m willing
to try if you are," she said at last.
Brown eyes tipped up, filling with gratitude and tears, while Bianca�s
chin and lower lip quivered in the way that Lena had always found
particularly endearing. "More than willing," Bianca whispered,
her voice so strained as to be nearly unintelligible. She shuddered
gently as a few tears escaped her eyes and slid down rounded cheeks.
Without saying a word, Lena simply nodded and gathered Bianca close
as she shifted to lie down next to her lover. This time it was Bianca�s
turn to cry as she turned into Lena�s body, burying her face in her
shoulder and clinging tightly. Not the desperate wrenching sobs that had
torn at Lena, but small shivers and an unsteady trickle of hot tears.
"I�m here," Lena breathed as she held her lover close. A
quick tug brought disarrayed blankets back up over them, trapping mutual
warmth and blocking out the cold night air, enforcing the sense of
intimacy. "We�ll be okay," she assured Bianca, petting her
hair and whispering loving reassurances in her ear until the smaller
Lena pressed a soft kiss onto silky hair. "Feel better?"
she questioned tenderly.
Exhaling a wry, muffled laugh, Bianca nuzzled deeper into the warmth
of Lena�s shoulder. "Define better," she mumbled weakly.
Lena thought about it for a moment. "Just better," she
sighed at last, unable to think of a more complete definition.
A moment and then Bianca lifted her chin, offering Lena a watery
smile. After some consideration, she nodded. "Better," she
allowed and reached up, outlining full lips with the very tip of her
finger. "A lot better." She did a slow roll onto her back,
sliding an arm around Lena�s neck as she moved and tugging her along
for the ride. "I do better on my back these days," she
explained, her tone practical.
Curling against her side, head pillowed on her lover�s shoulder,
Lena didn�t complain. She draped an arm across Bianca�s midsection,
her palm resting lightly Bianca�s stomach. A hint of a weary smile
touched her mouth as Bianca rested a hand over hers, but she didn�t
speak, simply lay there, absorbing some measure of comfort in the
Bianca was equally silent, apparently just as lost in her own head
until finally, several minutes later she looked down, studying Lena with
a thoughtful look. "Thank you," she said at last, her tone
Lena started to respond, only to have the words die unspoken as
slender fingers landed lightly on her lips.
"Not for that," Bianca said softly, "wonderful as it
was...and not for holding me while I cried either."
The Polish woman frowned, not understanding. "Then what?"
"I know how hard it can be to open up to someone...to trust them
enough to let yourself be vulnerable." She brushed her fingers
along the curve of Lena�s cheek. "And I know how hard that is for
you," she added seriously.
Lena shrugged, fighting the urge to coil tightly on herself and hide
away when she thought about just how she�d fallen apart by silently
reminding herself that this was Bianca and she could trust her. "It�s
not exactly my specialty," she admitted through gritted teeth.
Years of hiding and lying hadn�t exactly enhanced her skills on that
"Mine either as it turns out," Bianca sighed, sounding far
older than her years. "But thank you for trusting me. After
everything that�s happened, I wouldn�t have blamed you if you hadn�t."
So many secrets and lies, and so much damage. Sometimes Lena wondered
how much any of them would ever really heal. Needing to banish that
thought she turned her head to press a small kiss over her lover�s
chest, tasting the steady beat of her heart. "I trust you,"
she murmured, sensing that Bianca needed some assurance. She sometimes
forgot the other woman had own list of guilts, fears, and regrets, that
it wasn�t so simple as just having been a victim. She�d made
mistakes and bore the responsibility for them even though no one else
blamed her. Lena offered a lopsided smile, trying to mute any hurt.
"More than I trust myself sometimes." It was meant as a
compliment though she wasn�t entirely certain her lover took it that
way from the way she looked at her.
A moment passed and then finally Bianca reached out, brushing Lena�s
bangs out of her eyes, but didn�t speak, her expression dark and a
little sad as though the weight of the world rested on slender
shoulders. "Funny," she exhaled at last, "I could say the
same thing." Suddenly she caught Lena�s hand in her own stroking
her knuckles lightly as she twined their fingers together. She rubbed
her thumb lightly against the silver ring that still encircled one
finger. "You still wear it," she said very softly when she
Slim shoulders dipped in another shrug. "I�ll never take it
off." That was simple enough. "It�s a part of me." As
much as she wanted to ask Bianca to wear the matching ring, she held
back, afraid of pushing things too quickly in spite of everything they�d
shared. She was still figuring out her place and her rights, still not
quite believing she really had any. She wasn�t so foolish as to
believe it would be a quick or easy process only that it would be worth
the time and effort required.
As if reading her thoughts Bianca offered a faint smile.
"Soon," she said, the words not quite a promise, but something
close to it. "Meanwhile...." She carried Lena�s hand back
down, sliding under the covers until their bound hands were resting over
her belly. "We�re together."
Together. Yes. They�d used those words once before. Before
everything went to hell. Lena allowed herself a moment to absorb the
heat and shape, the rhythm of Bianca�s breathing, and the tiny
fluttery movements of the child she carried. Their child now, because
strangely enough, it did feel as though it had become hers in a way she
didn�t even begin to understand. "It�s not going to be
easy," she said with quiet practicality. There were still so many
things to face, so many things they needed to learn and relearn about
each other, so many expectations and judgments from the people around
them, so many truths yet to come out that would affect them all.
"But we can do this, can�t we?" She rubbed her thumb very
lightly against tightly stretched skin. "Be together...protect
The arm wrapped around Lena�s back slid up, cupping the back of her
head, ruffling silky hair with a gentle touch. "We can,"
Bianca agreed quietly. "We will." She brushed Lena�s hair
back from her face with one hand, massaged her knuckles lightly with the
other. A long moment, then she gently tugged Lena�s head to her
shoulder. "Sleep now," she exhaled almost inaudibly. "We
both need to sleep."
So exhausted she could barely keep her eyes open, Lena settled,
curling up against Bianca�s side, her hand still resting over Bianca�s
stomach, one leg loosely tangled with her lover�s. "I love
you," she sighed as she felt her body relaxing into slumber.
"I know," Bianca said very softly, then her voice echoed in
the darkness. "Lena."
"I love you too."
It occurred to Lena that perhaps she should have been dancing with
joy, but she was too tired, and in some respects more relieved than
happy. Bianca had said the words before, but she understood better than
most the difference between vows uttered in moments of passion and those
whispered in times of lassitude. She pressed a soft kiss to Bianca�s
shoulder, then relaxed comfortably against her. "I know," she
sighed even as she felt the peace and darkness of sleep start to wash
over her. Later there would be time for more serious considerations,
plans, and long discussions.
For the moment, they were both right where they wanted to be.
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