~An Affair to Remember~

 

By: Ambrosia

 

Disclaimers: The characters in this story are figments of my imagination. They are solely the property of me, myself, and I J

 

Sexual Content: There are intimate/sexual/loving relationships between women occurring in this tale.

 

Violence: None. Nada. Zip. Just peace, love, and harmony. (Chuckle) Weeeeell…actually, Jack tends to attract negative physical attention from women here and there. In part 5 she runs into another negative physical altercation that’s a bit more graphic than the others, but I really wouldn’t call it violence…Okay, maybe I would give it a 4 on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst.

 

Language: Nothing that can’t be aired on a network station.

 

Special Thanks: Thank you Hawke and Antigone for helping me by giving the names for the establishments mentioned in this story. I had no idea what to call them until you both offered your assistance. So thank you very much. I really appreciate it J

 

Inspiration: I would like to thank the creators of the movie “You’ve Got Mail” for inspiring me to write this piece. I’ve watched that movie so many times I just had to write a story loosely based on it. J

 

Feedback: All comments (please be gentle with me—for I’m a sensitive bard J) can be emailed to SumrBrezze@aol.com.

 

Part 5

 

Arriving at Sonny’s apartment ten minutes early on Friday morning, Jack rapped on the door as she tried to conceal the goofy grin on her lips, but she failed to do it. She was so excited about spending this weekend with the gorgeous blonde that she’d hardly gotten any sleep last night. All she did was think about Sonny and her family and hopefully the fantastic time they would have the next couple of days. Perhaps I’ll be able to eliminate Blue this weekend and Sonny and I will return as much more than friends. It was worth a try and Jack was more than willing to give it her best shot.

 

Moments later, the door was opened by a brightly smiling little blonde who looked positively adorable in the outfit she had chosen to wear. Sonny was wearing a pair of stark white cargo pants along with a short-sleeved red cotton shirt which sported tiny white stars all over it. On her bare feet were tennis shoes that precisely matched the shade of her shirt. Not only did she look good she smelled good as well. Jack caught a pleasant whiff of vanilla and naughtily wondered if the blonde would taste like it.

 

“Hey you,” Sonny said in greeting, still sporting a smile that could light up a room as she observed the woman before her, thinking how cute she looked in her casual clothing. Her black silky looking hair pulled into a ponytail, Jack wore a backward purple baseball cap with an embroidered dark blue ‘J’ on it. A pair of tight blue jean shorts clung to those strong thighs that she remembered all too well, while a sleeveless purple pullover shirt hugged a pair of firm high breasts and showed off well defined upper arms. On sock-covered feet, she wore a pair of white high top sneakers trimmed with shades of purple and blue. Suddenly desiring a glass of ice cold water for her dry mouth, Sonny managed to say, “Come on in. I was just trying to zip up my suitcase.” She pointed to a large rectangular navy blue suitcase laying on the couch as Jack walked into the apartment.

 

“I’ll take care of it for you,” the brunette stated as she strode over to the suitcase feeling eyes upon her but declining to make a comment. She merely grinned in delight. Picking the suitcase up, she was careful not to tip it so that the items within would fall out and placed it on the floor before looking up at Sonny wearing a bewildered expression. “What the heck do you have in here? A ton of bricks? We will back on Sunday won’t we? This coming Sunday?” Jack chuckled richly.

 

Softly chuckling, Sonny closed the door before replying, “Yes, we will be back this Sunday. I just tend to pack a lot of stuff. Clothes, shoes, toiletries, etceteras.”

 

As a finger was crooked in her direction, the blonde obediently walked over to where Jack was. After being informed to sit on the suitcase, she did so. Moments later Jack successfully had the suitcase completely zipped up and ready to go. Smiling at her, Sonny arose to her feet while thanking the other woman for her help. Smiling in return, Jack got up from her kneeling position on the floor before she grabbed the handle located on the suitcase and picked it up.

 

“So are you ready to roll?” Sonny asked as she reached out for her suitcase. However, Jack wouldn’t allow her to take it, remarking that she would take it down to the car. Based on the resolute expression on Jack’s face, Sonny knew it was fruitless to argue that she was perfectly capable of carrying her own belongings, so she gave up.

 

“Let’s be on our way,” Jack said with a cheery smile on her lips that the blonde found contagious. “You sure you have everything?” Jack inquired as she opened the front door. She’d checked, double checked and triple checked to make sure she had everything she wanted to bring along before she left her house.

 

Nodding, Sonny joined the other woman out in the hallway before she turned toward the door and locked it. They began to walk down the hall as the blonde inquired about Chloe, asking if she was waiting for them in the car. Shaking her head negatively, Jack replied that when she asked her sister if she wanted to come along to Canova Beach with them, she had declined saying that she already had plans to spend the weekend at a friends house. Sure she left out a few details from the conversation she had with Chloe concerning this weekend, but Jack decided that it wasn’t necessary for her friend to know every little detail.

 

A smile spread across Chloe’s lips as she placed her fork down on the plate, having had her fill of the tasty dinner her older sister had whipped up. “So Sonny invited us along to meet her family for the weekend, hmm?”

 

Nodding, Jack could just imagine the wheels turning round and round in her sister’s head. Wearing a slightly curious expression, she wondered what Chloe was thinking. Remaining quiet, Jack picked up her glass of lemonade and took a few sips while she waited for the younger woman to continue.

 

The smile remained on Chloe’s lips as she casually stated, “Well that’s a shame her parents anniversary is next weekend because I can’t go. I already have plans for the entire weekend to spend with Antonia at her parent’s beach house. Justine and Mary are coming along too. Antonia’s parents are going to be out of town so we’ll have it to ourselves.” She attempted to look sorry that she couldn’t make it, but her expression wasn’t very convincing.

 

Sitting back in her chair, Jack regarded her sister thoughtfully. “Hmm, I thought you told me a couple days ago that you didn’t feel up to going?”

 

Chloe nonchalantly shrugged. “Well I changed my mind. I’m not going to let this wheelchair slow me down.” She offered her sister a dazzling smile, which Jack quickly returned.

 

“I’m glad to hear you sounding so upbeat kid, but what’s the real reason you don’t want to go to Canova Beach? Sonny mentioned that she has a sister around your age so I’m sure you two could hang out together and have some fun. Plus, the Campbell’s live on the beach too so, the water will still be at your disposal.”

 

Not being able to come up with a valid excuse, Chloe decided to tell the truth. “Well this is the perfect opportunity for you and Sonny to have some alone time together on the road trip there and back. And sure, you guys will be surrounded by family once you arrive but the two of you will still have ample time getting to know one another and maybe just maybe,” a sly smile appeared on Chloe’s lips as she paused for effect, “you’ll be able to successfully woo her.” Her dark eyebrows wiggled up and down causing her sister to burst out in laughter.

 

Though she had tried her best to convince her sister to come along, Chloe wouldn’t budge. Later that day she had called her friend Antonia, who was thrilled to find out that she had changed her mind about going to the beach house with her, Justine, and Mary. The three friends had picked up Chloe earlier that morning, almost an hour before Jack left. Just like Hawaii, Jack informed her little sister to call her daily on her cell phone.

 

Minutes later, Jack and Sonny arrived in the parking lot and the blonde started to search for her companion’s black Mercedes as they walked through the crowded lot. Glancing up at the other woman, she asked where her car was. Concealing a little smile, Jack reached out for her hand and gently tugged Sonny toward an automobile that had to be the most beautiful one in the entire lot. Her green eyes becoming as wide as saucers, Sonny slowly walked toward the vehicle, carefully looking it over. Never had she seen such a powerful magnificent car right before her very eyes that she could reach out and touch. Sidling up next to her, Jack allowed a grin to show on her face as she watched the other woman’s reaction to the car.

 

“This is yours?” Sonny finally said as she looked up at her grinning friend.

 

The purple cap covered head nodded. “Yep, this is my baby.” Jack looked between Sonny and the car. “You like it?”

 

Slowly nodding, the blonde observed Jack’s brilliantly shining midnight blue Lamborghini Diablo VT. Though the windows were tinted, the driver’s side window was down just enough that she could make out the tan leather interior. It was truly exquisite and looked brand new. Turning to Jack, Sonny asked if she had just bought it as she lightly ran the palm of her hand across the sloping hood.

 

Shaking her head, Jack replied, “No. I’ve had her for almost a year now. I just don’t use her much. I figured since we were going to Canova Beach, though it’s not too far of a trip, that we could ride in my Lamborghini.” She gave her companion a mischievous grin. “Not scared are you? I won’t go too fast.”

 

Though the thought of flying down the freeway in such a car as this one was a tad frightening, Sonny offered Jack her best confident look. “I have a need for speed.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“Slow down you maniac!!!”

 

Releasing a devilish snicker, Jack eased her foot off the accelerator as she glanced at her passenger. As Sonny clutched onto her seat rather tightly, she stared out of the windshield, her green eyes wide. When the speed of the car decreased to a normal rate, those green eyes glared at Jack, who fought hard to keep from laughing again.

 

Jack unsuccessfully snickered, but just a little bit. “Gee Sonny, thought you said you had the need for speed?” She looked at the other woman, smiling innocently. “I was merely trying to give you what you asked for.”

 

“I…lied,” Sonny replied through clenched teeth. Instead of clutching the seat now, she felt like clutching onto Jack’s neck and not letting go for at least five minutes. She gave Jack another glare before settling back in her seat, releasing a loud exasperated breath.

 

Feeling just a tad bit guilty, Jack removed one hand from the steering wheel and reached over to squeeze one of Sonny’s as she looked at her apologetically. “I’m sorry Sonny girl. That was terribly childish of me.”

 

Smiling now, the blonde lightly patted the hand still settled on her left one. She had a sudden urge to add a kiss to the other woman’s cheek, but quelled it. “It’s alright Jack. No harm done.”

 

Reluctantly, Jack took her hand away and placed it back where it belonged as she flashed her passenger a charming smile. “We’re cool now right?” she asked, seeking confirmation that all was well between them.

 

Lightly chuckling, Sonny warmly smiled in return. “Cool as a pair of cucumbers.”

 

For the next fifteen minutes or so, the two women were completely silent before Sonny decided to open the lines of communication. Turning her head to the left, she asked Jack if she would like to hear about her family. Giving Sonny an interested look along with a nod, she waited for her to begin.

 

“Well this weekend you will be meeting around thirty of my relatives.” As the brunette’s blue eyes opened wide, Sonny laughed. “And a good percentage of those are immediate family members.” The blonde paused, gathering her thoughts. “Let’s see, I told you that I have a sister around Chloe’s age, but I’ve neglected to tell you anything about her or my other siblings.”

 

“How many do you have?” Jack interjected.

 

“Four.” When she gained another wide eye look, she burst out in laughter again.

 

“Geez, Sonny.” As she shook her head, Jack chuckled a bit. “Haven’t we been keeping the Campbell family a secret? I’ve known you for nearly two months and I just now find out that you have four siblings. Tsk tsk. Do you have a husband and a couple of kids too?” How could I know her for over a year via the Internet and not know that she comes from a big family? Jack mentally chastised herself. The answer is quite simple. I never bothered to ask.

 

The blonde smirked at her. “Haha, very funny. I haven’t been keeping them a secret. They just never came up.” Reaching over, she lightly slapped Jack on the arm, earning herself a playful scowl. “And quite frankly dear Jacqueline you never inquired about them. I would have been more than happy to tell you all about the Campbell clan had you done so.”

 

The brunette arched an eyebrow at the usage of her full first name, but didn’t make any comment about it. Having always found her name much too formal, which is why she reduced it to just Jack, she actually liked the way it sounded coming from Sonny’s lips. She briefly imagined how the blonde would utter her name while they rolled around in a king-sized bed all sweaty, hot, and filled with unwavering passion for one another. Jack wiggled a little in her leather-covered bucket seat, feeling a slight tingling sensation coming from the apex of her thighs. Perhaps it wasn’t wise to think such thoughts, no matter how delicious and enticing they were, as she drove. If I keep up the vivid imagination I’m gonna wrap this Lamborghini around a tree!

 

“You’re right fair Madison. Please excuse my sarcasm,” Jack replied, gracing her companion with a cute little grin. Sonny playfully rolled her eyes at both the name and the endearing grin. “Do continue telling me about your siblings. Are any of them as cute as you?”

 

Starting to blush, Sonny reached into her pants pocket and pulled out her wallet. Opening it, she found a photograph, which she removed and silently handed to Jack. The brunette managed to pay attention to the road and observe the picture simultaneously. The picture was obviously taken on the beach, where four women, Sonny among them along with one man posed for the camera, all of them sporting bright cheery smiles. Sonny and one of her younger looking sister’s were reclining on the sand while the other three, with the tall young man in the middle stood behind the pair, their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. Jack decided that all of them were indeed cute, the brother included in the observation, but not as cute as Sonny. However, she could have been biased. All five had the same green eyes and fair hair, except for the guy, whose hair was dark brown. A slight smile curved Jack’s lips. Makes me wanna sing the theme song to the Brady Bunch.

 

“Wow,” Jack started as she took one last look before giving the picture back to its owner. “It’s the attack of the killer blonde’s!” She laughed as Sonny lightly slapped her on the back of the head, causing her baseball cap to become askew. Chuckling now, Sonny watched as Jack reached up and carefully put her cap back the way she wanted it. Turning to the young woman, Jack stuck her tongue out and briefly crossed her eyes, causing her to chuckle even more. The brunette joined in, a delighted smile on her face. “No seriously, they look like a great group. I know you’re not the baby, so are you the second youngest?”

 

“Yes, as a matter of fact I am.” Sonny looked down at the picture of she and her much loved sisters and brother. A slight chuckle escaped her. “Briana and I were sort of ‘happily welcomed’ accidents.” She pointed to the young woman sitting next to her on the photograph. Jack observed that she and Sonny resembled each other the most out of any of them.

 

Sonny began to tell Jack a few details about her siblings, as she pointed to them on the photograph. Candace, who was standing on her brother’s right in the picture, was the oldest of them all at thirty-seven years old. She and her husband Matthew lived in Tampa and were both doctors at the same hospital, which was where they met over a decade ago. Whereas Matthew was a pediatrician, Candace was an oncologist. They had two children, Ian who was eight, and Amanda who was four.

 

Next, was thirty-three year old Isaac. To be totally truthful, their father Paul was a tad disappointed in his only son because one, Isaac felt the need to wander aimlessly from job to job, and two, he had yet to give his father any grandchildren. The majority of the Campbell’s knew that more than anything, Paul wanted a grandson in order to carry on his name, which meant that his only hope of that ever happening was through Isaac. Unfortunately, the young man didn’t show any signs of wanting to settle down anytime soon because he went through jobs almost as fast as he went through women. Because of his ‘pretty boyish’ looks, Isaac could have just about any woman that he desired and he desired to have a quite a few on a regular basis. He was both sweet and charming, but he appeared to lack any real direction.

 

Next, was Melanie who was thirty years old. Like her eldest sister, she was married and she and her husband Brian lived in Antioch, Florida with their thirteen-year-old son Jayme. Jayme was actually just Melanie’s biological son from a previous relationship in high school, but since his real father had never really taken an interest in his life, Brian adopted him nearly four years ago when he married his mother. The happy couple was now expecting their first baby together, though they didn’t know the sex since they wanted to be surprised. A few nights ago Sonny had spoken with her sister on the phone and had been told that Melanie was expected to give birth any day now. Melanie was in real estate and Brian was a high school math teacher. They met through the real estate agency that Melanie worked for. She ended up helping him to buy a condo and found her soulmate at the same time.

 

After Sonny came Briana, years after Paul and Annette decided not to have any more children. Somehow, she slipped through no matter how careful they were not to get pregnant. However, they soon warmed up to the idea of having another baby, Paul secretly hoping that it would be another boy, though if anyone asked what he preferred he gave his standard answer of “I don’t care what it is as long as it’s healthy.” Now nineteen years old, Briana still lived at home with her parents while she attended college as a freshman. She’d wanted to gain some independence by telling them that she could live in a dorm, but neither parent would hear of it. They insisted that she live at home at least during her freshman year and then promised that they would help her to get an apartment near campus the summer before her sophomore year started. Briana was sold the minute she heard apartment. That was much better than living in a dorm. Though she was a science major, she wanted nothing more than to be a professional tennis player and planned within the next few years to reach her most desired goal. She was well on her way, having not lost a single match since her sophomore year in high school. Being on the women’s tennis team at her college, Briana was the most valuable player.

 

After having named and spoken about all of the people in the picture, Sonny placed it back in her wallet before she went on to talk about her parents as Jack intently listened, trying to remember all of these names.

 

Sixty year old Paul Campbell was the commissioner of the police department in Tampa, Florida for nearly thirty years before he retired last year along with his wife who retired from being a nurse. After Briana graduated from high school, they moved to Canova Beach to live on right next to the beach. When Paul and Annette met a little over forty years ago at a restaurant Annette had been working at as a waitress, it was love at first sight. Within a couple of months, they were married despite the warnings from their parents to wait at least a year. Now forty years later, they were as much in love as they were the day they said their wedding vows. Everyday was like their honeymoon.

 

“So those are the immediate relatives,” Sonny said, finishing up. “They’ll all be staying at my parent’s house, so you’ll meet them today. I’ll tell you about the rest of the family tomorrow when you see them at the party.”

 

“Where will they be until then?”

 

“Although Mom and Daddy have a big home, there’s not enough room for everyone, so they’ll be staying nearby at a hotel,” Sonny explained as she spotted a sign on the road, noting that they were nearly in Canova Beach. Turning back to Jack, she asked if she had any questions.

 

The brunette nodded. “Yes, I do. Do your parents know that you’re bringing a friend?” At Sonny’s nod, she went on to ask, “And do they know that it’s me?” Jack was beginning to get nervous. She could just imagine Sonny’s retired police officer father glaring at her as he asked why she had put his daughter out of his business. I sure hope he doesn’t still carry a revolver. He might take a notion to use it on me. I know I might want to if I was him.

 

Sensing Jack’s sudden nervousness, the blonde reached over and patted her thigh, deciding to leave her hand there a few moments. “I’ve told them who you are Jack. Don’t worry. It’s going to be alright.” She grinned at the dark haired woman. “I wouldn’t knowingly take you into dangerous territory so relax.” Patting the woman’s thigh again, she added, “I’m sure they’ll love you.” I do. Um…as a friend that is.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

It was nearly ten o’clock when Sonny and Jack pulled up next to the two-story beach house belonging to Paul and Annette Campbell. Instantly noticing the red Honda parked next to them, Sonny informed her companion that Melanie was already there. Getting out of the car, the two women walked up to the front door, Sonny almost skipping along in her excitement. She hadn’t seen her family in months and was anxious to do so. After they stepped on to the porch, the blonde continuously pressed the tiny round white button next to the door, hearing the bell ring four times before she stopped pushing.

 

Moments later, the door was opened by a tall young man who Jack noticed as being Isaac. After politely smiling at Jack in greeting, he gave his little sister a mock frown while putting his hands on his hips. “What are you trying to do girl? Break the doorbell? No one here is half deaf!”

 

Laughing joyously, Sonny threw her arms around Isaac’s neck, happily screeching as he twirled her around a couple of times before setting her back down on her own two feet. Chuckling, Isaac grinned down at his younger sister. “Missed me, eh?” He looked behind her to Jack, still grinning. “What can I say? I’m her favorite brother.”

 

Jack chuckled as she watched her friend lean up on her tiptoes to give Isaac a sweet kiss on the cheek before she stated, “You’re my only brother silly.” Sonny smiled at him, thoroughly glad to see him. “May we come in?”

 

The dark haired man glanced behind him and then looked at Sonny, the expression on his face apologetic. “No, sorry I don’t think so. We’re kinda all booked up here at the Campbell house. Though I could give you directions to a hotel not too far from here.”

 

Smirking, Sonny gently pushed past him while indicating for her silent friend to follow. Smiling and waving at Isaac almost shyly, Jack slipped into the house making sure to stay close to the blonde she had come with. After he closed the door, Sonny introduced her brother to Jack. The brunette shook the warm hand offered to her while looking up into a pair of green eyes, which were identical to Sonny’s.

 

“It’s nice to meet you Jack,” Isaac sincerely said, deciding not to mention anything about she and his sister having been business rivals not too long ago. I’ll just let sleeping dogs lie.

 

Jack smiled, liking this man already. “And good to meet you Isaac.”

 

“Is that my little sister that I hear?” asked a female voice coming from upstairs. The trio looked up to see a very pregnant blonde carefully making her way down the steps with the help of a young boy. Smiling broadly, Sonny walked toward the stairs and greeted her with a big hug as she made it to the bottom. The two women examined one another, making sweet comments before Sonny turned to the boy standing next to her sister. Remarking that he was as tall as she was now, they hugged too, the boy revealing a shiny set of braces when he smiled. After they parted, Sonny turned and indicated for Jack to come over.

 

“Jack, this is my sister Melanie, though you know her from the picture I showed you. She’s even prettier in person. And this is my hunk of a nephew Jayme.” Jayme blushed as he reached out and shook Jack’s hand while not being able to make full contact because he already had a crush on the blue-eyed beauty. On first sight, he decided that she was the hottest woman he had ever seen. However, he noticed the gazes she had been bestowing on his aunt when she wasn’t looking so he knew he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Tartarus. Plus, there’s the fact that I’m a little on the young side.

 

As Jack and Melanie greeted each other, Sonny turned toward her brother asking where their parents were. She didn’t inquire about Briana, because she knew that her younger sibling was either in a class or on her way home from one.

 

“Mom sent Dad and Brian to the store with a grocery list.” Isaac grinned. “A long one.” He then pointed toward the sliding glass doors leading outside as he added, “And she is reclining outside on the deck reading a magazine. Though with all that doorbell ringing you did, I’m surprised she didn’t hear you.” He smirked as he headed in the direction of the deck with both his sisters and Jack following along. Jayme decided to go back upstairs since he was in the midst of playing a very important video game.

 

Once they made it out to the expansive deck, Isaac cleared his throat, successfully gaining his mother’s attention. As her hazel eyes fell on her second youngest daughter, Annette quickly dropped the already forgotten magazine as she stood up to her full height of five feet five inches. Giving Sonny a smile filled with love, she gently pulled the younger woman into a tender embrace, both not saying anything for a few moments. Finally, Annette pulled back so that she could take a good look at her daughter, smiling all the while. She acted as though it had been years instead of months since they’d see each other. However, she’d done the same exact thing with Melanie, Brian, and Jayme when they arrived. She would have with Isaac too, however since he lived in town, and made a point of stopping by at least three times a week, Annette was quite used to his presence.

 

“You look terrific Madison,” Annette said, using her daughter’s full name like she always did. Not once in the past twenty-seven years had she slipped and called her Sonny.

 

Sonny smiled at the fair-haired fifty-eight year old who could have passed for being in her mid to late forties. “So do you Mom. So do you. I’ve missed you.”

 

There were tears in her eyes as Annette drew her daughter to her again, embracing her tightly as she replied, “And I’ve missed you sweetheart. How have you been?” she asked as she withdrew.

 

The younger blonde smiled at the sweetest woman that she had ever known. “I’ve been just fine Mom. I’d like to introduce you to someone.” Looking behind her, Sonny indicated for Jack to come near. Wearing an expression filled with shyness and nervousness, Jack complied, smiling at the woman who was an older version of Sonny. “Mom, this is my friend Jack. We’ve become quite close in the last month or so,” Sonny started as she placed a hand on her tall friend’s upper arm while smiling up at her. “Jack this is my mom Annette, one of the most terrific women that you’ll ever meet.”

 

Blushing and playfully rolling her eyes at her daughter’s compliment, Annette turned to Jack, smiling at her warmly as she subtly appraised her. Her mind still sharp as a tack, Annette acutely remembered having seen Jack on the news speaking about her new coffeehouse. She also remembered wanting to get in her car and drive straight to Orlando so she could give the cocky sounding woman a piece of her mind for trying to destroy her baby’s business. Now Annette looked up into the gorgeous face and didn’t detect a trace of the arrogance, which had been plainly displayed on the television week’s prior. Hm, looks as though the Conqueror has left the building, Annette thought, sensing nothing but gentleness and warmth, along with a bit of anxiousness. I’ll give her a chance. I know my Madison is a good judge of character, so if she trusts this woman then far be it from me not to give her one.

 

“Jack, it is wonderful to meet you,” Annette graciously said as she ignored the hand that was held out to her. Instead she walked up to the brunette and wrapped her arms around her in a tender hug. Though very surprised by the display of affection toward her, Jack wound her arms around the smaller woman, fervently returning the hug. As thoughts of her own mother hugging her, entered her mind, Jack blinked back the tears, not wanting anyone to see them.

 

“And it’s wonderful to meet you Mrs. Campbell,” Jack thickly replied as the embrace ended. She instantly found that she missed the contact. Glancing at Sonny, the brunette smiled again at the older woman standing before her. “Sonny calls you terrific and now I know where she got her…’terrificness’ from.”

 

“Oh, that’s pretty slick,” Isaac interjected, playfully smiling at Jack. “Complimenting both Mom and Sonny within the same sentence.” He winked as she faintly grinned at him. “I’ll have to remember that one.”

 

Mother and daughter blushing, Annette reached up and gently padded Jack’s cheek as she thanked her. She noticed the hint of sadness and pain in those big blue eyes, but decided that now was not the time to inquire about it. Annette made a mental note to have a private talk with Jack later. “And please call me Anne,” she said as she looped an arm through Jack’s and turned her toward the sliding glass door. “Now let’s all go inside, have some coffee, and chat while we wait for Paul and Brian to return from the store. I’ll then make everyone a big breakfast.” She shook her blonde head as they all headed inside the beach house. “They’ve been gone for quite a while. I do hope they know what they’re doing.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Less than twenty minutes later, Paul and Brian arrived, carrying three full bags of groceries each. After setting his part of the bags on the kitchen counter, Paul walked over to the kitchen table where his wife, Melanie, Sonny, and Jack sat. Getting up to hug him, Sonny then introduced her father to her guest while her mother and sister arose to help Brian put the groceries away and to get breakfast started. Towering over Jack by five inches, the imposing man gave her a firm handshake as he greeted her.

 

His mother-in-law telling him that she and Melanie could handle everything, Brian walked over to the table to meet Sonny’s friend. Though Jack extended her hand for him to shake, he declined to do so. Instead, he brought it to his lips, lightly touching the back as his wife gave him a mock glare near the refrigerator, where she stood with a carton of eggs in her hands. Extracting a pristine white egg from the carton, Melanie pretended like she was going to throw it at him. Brian ducked underneath the kitchen table, causing everyone in the room to burst into laughter, as they heard the front door close.

 

Moments later, a pretty young blonde woman appeared at the kitchen entrance, her green eyes traveling around the room in amusement. “What’s so—“ She stopped speaking as she noticed the shorthaired blonde who hadn’t been there when she left a little over two hours ago. “Sonny!”

 

Turning around, Sonny grinned widely at the young woman who had just excitedly called her name. “Briana!” Emitting cute little squeals, both women started to run towards each other, meeting somewhere in the middle, as they threw their arms around one another. Nearly bubbling with excitement, Briana hugged her favorite sister (though she would never admit that) for a full minute before she let go, taking a step back to look Sonny up and down. A tiny frown creased her brow as the teenager put her hands on her hips, remarking that her sister looked as though she had lost weight.

 

Sonny inwardly sighed, about to refute her sister’s claim but then quickly reconsidered. She’s always read me better than anyone so there is no use lying. She would see right through that. I’ll just see if I can get away with a little white lie. Sonny shrugged, attempting to look nonchalant. “Just about a pound Bri. I’ve been busy lately.”

 

Briana smirked. “That’s no excuse. You’re already small enough and you can’t afford to lose too much weight. Plus, I’m willing to bet that you’ve lost five…maybe six pounds.” Crossing her arms over her chest, Briana gave her older sister a stern look, making Sonny feel she was behaving more like her mother than her sibling.

 

Before Sonny could offer a reply, Isaac meandered into the kitchen saying, “Don’t worry Bri.” He winked at Sonny. “We’ll fatten her up real good this weekend.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey Jack is that your Lamborghini parked outside?” Briana asked as she speared a couple pieces from her pancake stack on a fork. Having always loved automobiles, when the young woman pulled up earlier in her Nissan, she had walked around the Lamborghini a few times, aching to reach out and touch it, but resisting. It was one of the most beautiful cars Briana had ever seen in person, including the ones from various auto shows she had went to.

 

Nodding, Jack smiled at her. “Yes, it is. You like it?”

 

Briana granted Jack with a dubious expression. “Are you kidding? I love it. It’s totally sweet!” She was nearly bouncing up and down in her chair, her food completely forgotten as she beamed at the brunette sitting directly across from her.

 

Putting her fork down on her near empty plate, Jack fished into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out a ring of keys. Dangling the keys in the air, she grinned at Briana as she asked, “Would you be interested in taking her for a spin?”

 

Practically salivating as she quickly nodded, Briana made to catch the keys as they were tossed in her direction. However, before she could, Sonny snatched the keys out of the air and held onto them tightly as she ignored the disapproving expression on her younger sister’s face. Sparing the curious looks her family members gave her a glance, the blonde quietly asked Jack if she would meet her in the living room for a private conversation. Without waiting for a reply, Sonny excused herself from the table and walked out of the kitchen.

 

Reaching the living room, Sonny chose to stand as she folded her arms over her chest while waiting for Jack. Moments later, the brunette ambled out of the kitchen with a near fuming Briana close on her heels. Situating her baseball cap back on her head, Jack walked up to Sonny, asking if she had a problem with Briana driving her car. The blonde answered her with a curt nod, causing her younger sibling to glare at her.

 

“Why?” Briana asked. “It’s not your car.”

 

Jack nodded in full agreement. “Yeah, Sonny it’s not your car. It’s mine and I can let whoever I want drive it without having your permission.” Turning to Briana, she asked, “You have a driver’s license, correct?”

 

The longhaired blonde beamed at her while nodding enthusiastically. “I do. Plus, Daddy taught me how to drive when I was only fourteen. I’m a very responsible driver Jack. Just ask anyone. Never had an accident or a ticket.”

 

Ignoring her sister, Sonny looked up at Jack. “Jack are you really going to trust your expensive sports car to a teenager? That car cost what? A quarter of a million dollars?”

 

“A teenager?!?” Glaring at her sister again, Briana wondered what would happen if she were to slap Sonny. “For your information Sonny I am almost twenty years old. I am not a child and I resent you treating me like one.”

 

Feeling partially responsible for this argument, Jack decided to intervene as she indicated for both women to be quiet. Looking thoughtful for a few silent moments, the brunette then turned to Sonny, announcing that she had a compromise. Neither uttering a word, Briana and Sonny waited for her to continue.

 

“Why don’t we do this?” Jack started. “I won’t allow Briana to drive the Lamborghini, but I’ll take her for a little spin so she can ride in it to see how it feels.” She grinned adding, “And I promise not to drive like a maniac.” Catching the younger blonde’s look of protest at not being able to drive the car, Jack gave her a conspiratorial wink. Having been about to verbally announce her protest, Briana quickly shut her mouth, instantly comprehending what the wink meant. The protesting expression slipped into a pretend one of mild irritation.

 

In full agreement with this compromise, Sonny nodded her head, the look on her face plainly showing her relief. Turning to her sister, she asked if she would be all right with merely riding along in the passenger’s seat instead of taking control of the wheel. Managing to still look slightly irritated with the ‘change of events’, Briana nodded her blonde head as she emitted a sigh of resignation.

 

“You’re bumming me out Sonny, but I’ll take whatever I can get,” Briana replied, sticking her tongue out at her sister, the action causing her to briefly look sixteen years old again. Sonny lightly chuckled as she shook her head at her younger sibling’s antics. “At least I still get to ride in the Lamborghini.” Bright anticipating green eyes and a pair of smiling reddish lips turned to regard Jack. “Can we go now or did you want to eat some more breakfast?” Please say you’re full! A person could get filled up on just one of Mom’s thick yet delicious pancakes. You must be full after consuming three!

 

Jack chuckled heartily, finding the younger woman’s enthusiasm contagious. Out of everyone she had met thus far, Briana was her favorite with her sweet and charming mother coming in at a close second. Replying that she was finished with breakfast, Jack grinned as Briana let out a small yelp of excitement. Looking at Sonny, she held out her hand expectantly, her fingers closing around the keys after they were placed in her palm. Looping her arm through one of Briana’s, she started to lead the young woman towards the front door when she noticed that Sonny was following them. Stopping, Jack turned around to face the smaller woman as she quickly came up with a plan to get rid of her long enough for she and Briana to make it to the Lamborghini.

 

“Sonny I’m a bit thirsty, so could you do me a favor and go pour me a glass of orange juice? I’ll take it with me in the car.” 

 

The blonde nodded, not having the slightest idea that those two were up to no good. “Sure Jack. Not a problem.” Looking at her sister, Sonny asked, “Bri, would you like me to bring you some juice too?”

 

Smiling, Briana nodded while thinking that if her sister had to pour two glasses of orange juice, it would buy them more time. “That would be awesome Sonny. Thanks.”

 

After Sonny left to obtain their beverages, Jack and Briana fled from the house, running toward the Lamborghini. They were settled and ready to leave by the time that Sonny walked out of the beach house carrying two cups of orange juice, both sporting plastic tops with straws inserted into them. Only making it a few feet passed the threshold because she stopped walking, Sonny observed the person in the driver’s seat through the sloping windshield. Green eyes narrowed in suspicion. Now unless Jack had a blonde wig that she had just put on, Briana was going to drive the Lamborghini.

 

Sonny shook her head. I’ve been duped! Before she could utter a word, Jack and Briana poked their heads out of the windows, both women wearing mischievous grins that they directed at the previously clueless blonde. It must have been planned because simultaneously they said, “Sucker!!!” before the ignition started, the sports car peeling out of the driveway moments later, two hands waving back at Sonny as they flew down the street.

 

Quietly, Sonny watched the midnight blue Lamborghini until it was out of sight, wearing an expression of amusement the entire time. Raising one of the cups of juice to her lips, the blonde took a long sip as she turned around and headed back into the house while thinking of ways to retaliate on the mischievous duo. She started to lightly chuckle as she pushed the door closed with her foot. I’ll get you my pretties!

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Around two thirty that afternoon found Paul, Annette, all five of their children, grandchildren, son-in-laws, and Jack out on the deck enjoying each other’s company. Everyone patiently waited for Paul and Brian to finish cooking the hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill so they could dig into them and the array of food placed on a picnic table. Currently, Sonny, Jack, Briana, and Isaac were playing their second game of Scrabble. Having decided to play in teams, Jack and Briana had annihilated the other two during the first game, so now Sonny and her brother were on the warpath. Neither intended to lose again to the bragging and triumphantly grinning duo. However, so far Jack and Briana were in the lead by twenty-two points.

 

Watching her closely, Sonny narrowed her eyes as Jack methodically arranged her tiles on the board, creating a triple word score that gave she and her teammate fifty-four points. Emanating a joyous whoop, Briana shared a high five with her partner, both wearing broad grins. Meanwhile, Sonny and Isaac graced them with suspicious looks.

 

“What the heck is a zither?” Sonny asked, green eyes narrowed in Jack’s direction. “I’ve never heard of it.”

 

“Well dear I’m quite certain that there are a lot of things you’ve never heard of.” As the blonde woman smirked at her, Jack flashed her a saccharinely sweet smile before explaining the word she used. “A zither Sonny girl is a stringed musical instrument shaped like a flat box. A person who plays it would be considered a zitherist.” When the expression on her friend’s face remained doubtful, Jack shrugged as she pushed the dictionary they had been frequently referring to, over to her. “If you don’t believe me then check for yourself. I assure you that it’s in there.”

 

Concluding that the dark haired woman wasn’t trying to cheat her and Isaac, Sonny shook her head as she pushed the dictionary back in Jack’s direction. “I guess that’s not necessary. I’ll take your word for it.” Glancing at her brother, she quickly discovered that he agreed.

 

“That’s real gracious of you Sonny,” Jack replied with a grin planted on her lips. “I believe it’s your turn now.” Turning towards Briana, the dark haired woman started to say something when she spotted Paul purposely heading in her direction. Looking up, she offered the older man a smile, which he returned. Warmly greeting all of his children, he then asked if Jack would follow him. Managing to look both quizzical and nervous, she nodded as she arose to her full height. Announcing that she would return soon, Jack then followed Paul inside of the beach house, a million questions running through her mind.

 

Leading her into a room that Jack figured was the study, Paul then closed the door before pointing to a small couch while asking the young woman if she would like anything to drink. Nodding as she took a seat on the comfortable piece of furniture, Jack informed him that she would have whatever he did. Sitting back on the couch, Jack drew her right leg up, placing her ankle on her left knee as she watched Paul move over to a drink cart. Pulling the stopper from a decanter, he poured an amber colored liquid into two short glasses before replacing the stopper and bringing the drinks over to the couch. Thanking him, Jack accepted one of the glasses, taking a short sip as the big man sat next to her, turning a bit so that he was facing her.

 

Wearing a thoughtful expression, Paul took a tiny sip of brandy before leaning over and placing it on a cherry wood coffeetable. “Jack, I’ve noticed that no one has said anything to you about what went on between you and my daughter professionally,” Paul started as he closely looked at the woman quietly sitting next to him. “I’m going to be brutally honest with you Jack. I hated what you did to my daughter. It doesn’t bother me so much that you put her out of business because that often just happens. You open your own business and you run the risk of someone coming along and beating the pants off of you, which is what occurred in this case. What really angers me is the way you went about it. From what I saw on television, you were so indifferent and cocky about putting she and Sarah out of business. As if you really got off on making that happen and what I want to know is why? Obviously, you’ve changed because weeks later here you and my daughter are friends, but what was going through your mind then?”

 

While inwardly sighing, Jack suddenly felt like draining the whole glass of brandy in her hand. Instead, she took a few more small sips before resting the glass on her bent knee. Turning her attention to Paul, she slowly shook her head saying, “To be honest with you sir, I behaved the way I did just because I could.” Jack shrugged. “At that time I didn’t care very much about the effect my actions had on others and I was merely looking out for myself. My main goal was to run your daughter’s business into the ground until I really got to know her and care deeply for her. That was when my conscious kicked in, but by then, it was too late. The damage had already been done,” pausing, the dark haired woman collected her thoughts. “I apologize for my behavior sir and I’m extremely ashamed of myself for the way I treated Sonny and other business owners in the past. I swear that I will never ever again do business in such a tacky and thoughtless manner. It’s greatly due to your daughter that I’ve changed my ways. She’s been an excellent influence on me and I can’t tell you how much her friendship means to me. I can’t tell you how much she means to me.” Finishing off her drink, Jack then had the glass silently plucked from her fingers. Her nervousness growing, she watched as Paul took the glass back to the drink tray and refilled it. I hope he’s not putting arsenic in it this time, though I half wouldn’t blame him if he chose to.

 

Moments later, Paul handed the anxious young woman her refilled glass and took his seat. Gracing Jack with an unreadable expression he asked, “Have you told her that you’re in love with her?”

 

The surprise she felt was plainly shown on her face. Totally caught off guard by the question, it took Jack a few moments to find her voice before she hoarsely whispered, “How did you know?”

 

Smiling for the first time since they had entered the study, Paul reached over, covering Jack’s empty hand with one of his own. “Jack, I used to be a police officer and the police commissioner. Over the years I’ve learned and mastered how to read a person’s face.” He grinned, suddenly looking younger than his sixty years as he added, “I’m more accurate than a lie detector test. I could tell just by the way you looked at her and by the way you speak of her. It has to be love. I know the look well because I give it to my wife each and every day.” Paul cocked his head to the side. “So does she know?”

 

Jack nodded. “I told her in late October.” Thoughts of she and Sonny starting to make love right after she made the declaration flooded the dark haired woman’s mind. With much effort, Jack managed to push the sensual thoughts out of her mind so that she could focus on her conversation with Paul.

 

“Did she tell you that she feels the same way?”

 

The dark head shook. “I know that she doesn’t feel that way about me. I just wanted her to know how I felt.”

 

“I didn’t ask if she felt the same way, I asked if she told you that she does. Obviously, she didn’t say.”

 

Jack’s face filled with confusion as she stared at Paul. “What do you mean? What’s the difference?”

 

I know that Sonny feels the same way, I just wanted to know if you knew she did.”

 

Blue eyes opening wide, Jack regarded the older man with a bewildered expression, not offering a reply right away. “What are you saying sir? That Sonny loves me too? That she’s in love with me?”

 

Paul nodded. “I’d be willing to bet all of my worldly possessions on it,” he said in a confident voice.

 

“Did…did she tell you that?”

 

“Jack, just like you she didn’t have to. My daughter looks at you the same way you do her.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Exiting the study fifteen minutes later with Paul’s blessing that she may pursue his daughter, Jack took a seat in the empty living room as she allowed the conversation to sink in. Obviously comfortable with his daughter’s sexual preference, Paul had informed Jack that he thought they would make the perfect couple and that he would be proud to be able to call her his daughter-in-law someday. Being unusually highly emotional today, Jack promptly burst into tears after hearing the surprising yet welcome words. Paul spent the next few minutes holding and comforting her with his words and warm inviting presence. It dawned on Jack, that before Paul no man had ever embraced her with such tenderness since her father.

 

Thinking of her father and Paul, she considered the similarities between the two men. They were both big strong men who cared for the well being of their families and openly displayed their love and affection for them. Being in Paul’s arms caused the long buried deep ache to resurface. This resulted in Jack missing her father’s embrace and overall presence immensely. Her lower lip starting to tremble, the brunette covered her face with her hands as fresh tears came. Oh God, what’s the matter with me?

 

Not being able to put an end to the tears, Jack prayed that no one would come in and see her in this condition. However, God must have had other plans because moments later Jack felt a warm palm stroking up and down her back and looked up to see Annette sitting next to her on the couch. The compassionate expression that Annette wore caused Jack to burst into wracking sobs. Wordlessly, she was pulled into a motherly embrace as the older woman continued soothingly stroking the length of her back. While comforting the obviously distraught woman, Annette glanced up to see a concerned Sonny headed towards them. Silently shaking her head, she watched as her daughter helplessly looked at Jack for a few seconds before deciding to obey her mother’s wishes. Turning around, she walked back outside with a million questions roaming through her mind.

 

Never knowing that her friend had been in the room, Jack pulled away from Annette’s welcome embrace moments after she left. She started to wipe at her wet cheeks with the back of her hand when the blonde woman seemingly pulled a neatly folded handkerchief out of nowhere, giving it to her. Thanking her, Jack dabbed at her face with the lightly scented handkerchief as she sniffed. Breaking the silence, Jack apologized while gazing down at her lap. Two small fingers gently pressed on her chin until she was looking into a pair of warm hazel eyes.

 

“You have nothing to apologize for Jack,” Annette softly said. “What has you so upset? Paul didn’t say anything he shouldn’t have, did he?” She asked, sounding like she was ready to reprimand her quite outspoken husband.

 

Quickly shaking her head negatively, Jack replied, “No, he was great. We had a nice talk.” A small smile tugged at her lips as she admitted this. “Actually, I was…I was just thinking about my parents and how much I miss them. Experiencing how welcome you and your husband have made me feel makes me wish so much that I still had them.”

 

Reaching for the younger woman’s hand, Annette gave it a gentle squeeze as she looked into saddened blue eyes. “How long ago did they pass?” she softly inquired.

 

“Eleven years.” Wiping away another tear that fell down her cheek, Jack added, “And it suddenly seems like just yesterday.”

 

Scooting closer to her, Annette wrapped an arm around Jack’s shoulders. “Do you want to talk about it sweetheart?”

 

Smiling a little at the endearment, Jack nodded and took a deep breath. “I think I would.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Having been told by her mother that Jack was in the guest bathroom, Sonny went in search of her, lightly knocking on the closed bathroom door. A moment later, the door was opened to reveal a though red-eyed, fully composed brunette. Concern plainly written across her face, Sonny walked into the bathroom and closed the door behind her before looking up at her previously sobbing friend. Having not yet uttered a word, the blonde wrapped her arms around Jack, the other woman quickly doing the same. Silently, the two women held the embrace for a few seconds before Sonny let go, asking her friend if she was all right.

 

Nodding, Jack offered her a reassuring smile. “Yes, I’m fine Sonny girl.” She pointed toward the sink. “I just needed to wash my face.”

 

“Jack, I know something is wrong,” Sonny replied, her voice laced with worry. Leaning against the door she said, “I want you to open up to me.”

 

The other woman started to grin. “Am I being held hostage until I do? Because if I am, there is no one I’d rather be kidnapped by then you.” When Sonny didn’t so much as crack a hint of a smile, Jack leaned down until their noses were nearly touching. “Really honey, I’m just fine. There is nothing wrong so you need not worry.” Drawing back, she smiled. “Now if you’d be so kind as to move away from the door I believe there are a couple of hamburgers with our names on them.”

 

The blonde head stubbornly shook as Sonny remained where she was. “We’re not leaving this bathroom until you tell me what’s wrong. Did my father say something that upset you?”

 

Jack almost burst out in laughter while thinking that Sonny sounded just as reprimanding as her mother. Instead, she shook her head, though her lips were curved into a tiny smile. “No, your father was a perfect gentleman.”

 

“Then what’s the problem? Why were you crying?”

 

“Just because my eyes are red doesn’t mean I’ve been crying. I have allergies,” Jack lied, she hoped effectively. Noticing Sonny’s disbelieving expression, the brunette inwardly sighed. Nope. She sees through me like a roll of transparent scotch tape.

 

Sonny folded her arms over her chest, as she remained pressed against the door. “Then what did you call that when you were sitting on the couch with miniature drops of water falling down your cheeks while Mom held you?”

 

“So you were eavesdropping?”

 

“Don’t try to change the subject Jack.”

 

Placing a hand on either side of Sonny’s head, Jack leaned down toward her, briefly making the blonde wonder if she was about to be kissed. When it was apparent that she was not, Sonny didn’t know whether she was more relieved or disappointed. She watched as a slow grin appeared on Jack’s face and felt the tiny butterflies take flight in the pit of her stomach.

 

“Sonny girl, if you don’t move your body I won’t hesitate to move it for you,” Jack stated in a low sexy purr that sent delightful chills up the other woman’s spine.

 

Moving her head forward until her lips were less than a fourth of an inch away from the brunette’s, Sonny whispered, “Do it if you can.”

 

While resisting the urge to devour the sweet lips so close to her own, Jack silently placed her hands on Sonny’s hips so that she could move her out of the way. However, before she could successfully do so, a pair of cargo pants covered legs locked around her waist and bare arms around her neck, holding on as tightly as an octopus might. Cocking an eyebrow, Jack released her hold on Sonny’s slim waist, choosing to rest her hands directly on a pair of warm firm buns. Giving them an experimental squeeze, Jack watched as her actions caused the smaller woman to blush.

 

“So…what is this all about?” Jack asked in a conversational tone. “Not that I mind you wrapping your legs so very tight around me. I just want to know what your motive is.”

 

Sonny blushed even hotter. “I want to know why you were crying, so I’m not letting you go until you tell me.” The blonde held on tighter while she adopted a mixed expression of determination and stubbornness.

 

Looking at her for several silent moments, Jack then nonchalantly shrugged as she wrapped one arm around her burden’s waist before opening the door. Because of the extra hundred plus pounds, the brunette walked slowly and carefully out of the bathroom, nearing colliding with one of Sonny’s sisters in the process. Jack gave the curious woman a sheepish grin while Sonny chose to bury her face in the tall woman’s neck.

 

“Um…hello,” Candace said while placing her hands on hips. “What are you two nutball’s up to?” she inquired in a teasing tone.

 

Jack inwardly beamed. She hadn’t known Candace for very long and hadn’t gotten the chance to speak with her much but she was already considered a nutball. How very sweet. The brunette suddenly felt like one of the family. Placing her hands back on her hanger-on’s buns gained Jack a curious eyebrow lift from Candace. 

 

“Well eer…Sonny here…you see—“

 

Starting to laugh, Candace waved a dismissive hand in the air. “It’s okay Jack. You don’t have to tell me because I already know and I think it’s sweet.”

 

It was Jack’s turn to raise an eyebrow. “You do?”

 

The curly haired blonde nodded. “Absolutely. A little afternoon romance in the bathroom is totally cute.” Smiling, she scrunched up her nose in a way that Jack considered cute too. “Matt and I used to do stuff like that too, but then suddenly became an old married couple,” she paused thoughtfully. “You know it’s a lucky thing that I found you guys instead of Melanie. Because she would have blabbed it to anyone that would listen!” Laughing again, Candace moved around the strange looking pair, making sure to squeeze Jack’s shoulder and pinch her sister’s rear before walking into the bathroom and closing the door behind her.

 

Groaning, Sonny finally raised her head and looked at Jack. “My God, she thinks we were making whoopie in my parents bathroom!”

 

Jack fought hard to keep from laughing. “Relax Sonny girl. Based on what she said, I don’t think she’ll tell anyone what she saw so we’re cool.” She winked at the red-faced woman.

 

Sonny smirked. “You don’t know my sister. Melanie isn’t the big mouth…Candace is. Candace is the one who used to tell my parents when I would sneak out at night. Whereas Melanie would often cover for me, often going so far as to vertically place pillows in my bed to make it look like I was there.”

 

Throwing her head back, Jack let out a rich chuckle. “Perhaps Candace was only being protective of you. She didn’t want you to get hurt.”

 

Her friend smirked again and added a roll of her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. She used to feed me that ‘I’m your big sister and therefore I’m supposed to protect you’ crap. I never bought it.”

 

Jack chuckled again. “Well maybe she really won’t tell this time. After all, she is all grown up.”

 

“Hmm, maybe she won’t. Only time will tell,” Sonny thoughtfully paused. “So…where were we? Ah, yes. You were about to tell me why you were crying.” She innocently looked at Jack while still clinging to her.

 

“You’re like a dog with a bone.” Jack wiggled, trying to shake the petite blonde loose. “Never thought I’d say this, but get off of me Sonny girl. I ain’t talkin’.”

 

“Fine. Then I won’t let go until you do.”

 

The brunette arched an eyebrow. “Oh, really? I bet you will if I walk out to the ocean and dump you there.”

 

Sonny observed her face closely, getting the feeling that her threat might not be an empty one. Sighing, Sonny quietly asked, “Why can’t I know?”

 

“Because I don’t care to get into that right now. I told your mother but I can’t bring myself to repeat that story again. Not today Sonny.” Jack shook her head, suddenly looking morose. “I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I do plan on telling you eventually though. I’ve always intended on doing that.”

 

Having a sudden urge to do so, Sonny lightly kissed the tip of Jack’s nose, delighted when a smile spread across the woman’s lips. “I’m so sorry Jack,” Sonny softly replied in an apologetic tone. “I feel so bad for trying to force you. I should have backed off the moment I knew you didn’t want to talk about whatever it was that caused you to become upset.”

 

Slipping her arms around Sonny’s waist, Jack gave the smaller woman a light squeeze. “It’s quite alright Sonny. No harm done.” The brunette started to grin. “So do you want me to escort you to the post office so you can fill out one of those change of address cards?”

 

Sonny cocked a curious brow. “Pardon?” She had the sneaking suspicion that a blush was in her immediate future. Her cheeks were already feeling much warmer due to that mischievous grin alone. 

 

The grin on Jack’s face grew broader. “Well it seems that you’ve taken up permanent residence on my body.”

 

Right on cue, the blonde started to hotly blush as she carefully disengaged herself from Jack, straightening her clothing after her feet touched the ground. Coming out of the bathroom, Candace flashed the pair a knowing smile, which was complete with a conspiring wink as she headed in the direction of the deck. Rolling her eyes heavenward, Sonny made a mental note to explain what was really going on in the bathroom between she and Jack later.

 

“How about those burgers?” Jack asked as she placed an arm around the younger woman’s shoulders. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starved!”

 

Sonny smiled up at her. “So am I. Let’s go.”

 

They weren’t able to complete five whole steps before the doorbell rang. Loudly announcing to those on the deck that she would answer it, Sonny walked towards the front door, looking out through the peephole. Standing about a foot and a half behind her, Jack’s expression grew curious when she heard the blonde emit a low groan. Must be someone selling stuff or a Jehovah’s Witness. Jack personally preferred the former because they were much easier to get rid of in a polite manner.

 

Great, Sonny mentally said as she began to unlock the door. I would choose to answer the door when the visitor is my irritating and snotty cousin. Pasting on a smile that was almost too bright, the blonde threw open the door. “Alicia!” she shouted in mock joy. “I’m so happy to see you!” After displaying much talent by hugging each other without a lot touching, the two women swapped air kisses before starting to look each other up and down, though Alicia with a much more critical eye. Granting her cousin with another smile that didn’t even come close to reaching her eyes, Sonny said, “You look very good.”

 

Alicia gave her a high voltage smile, showing a set of pearly white and nicely capped teeth. “Don’t I though?” she said in a teasing voice, though it was painfully obvious that she meant every word. Not bothering to mention how she thought Sonny looked, the redhead closed the door just as her cousin turned to Jack to make the introductions.

 

“Alicia, this is my friend—“

 

“Hello Jacqueline,” Alicia softly said in a voice smooth as honey.

 

Smiling, Jack held out a hand to the other woman. “Hello yourself Ali.”

 

Ignoring the hand, the gorgeous redhead walked right up to Jack and brazenly kissed her squarely on the lips. All three women had different reactions to the sudden kiss. Snapping her open mouth closed, Sonny attempted to conceal and deny her jealous anger while shoving her hands into the pockets of her pants, afraid she might reach out and slap a certain someone. Jack adopted a calm friendly expression though she was surprised by the kiss and nervous because Sonny had witnessed it. She glanced at the blonde’s expression, not being able to tell what she was thinking. Alicia openly showed just how much she enjoyed kissing Jack. It was obvious that she wouldn’t object to doing it again and again.

 

“So…” Sonny started, breaking the tense silence that had settled between the trio, “you guys must know each other.” She looked at them both, waiting for someone to explain.

 

“Yes we do.” A saucy smile slipped onto Alicia’s reddened lips. “Jack and I know each other very well. Don’t we Jack?” she innocently asked, gazing at the woman through hazel eyes, which reminded Jack of Annette’s.

 

Jack mutely nodded, feeling quite uncomfortable. She glanced toward the deck fervently wishing that someone would come into the house, but evidently, they all felt content to remain outside. Certainly, someone must need to use the bathroom, make a phone call, or get something out of the kitchen!

 

Sonny’s hands remained in her pockets as she clenched her teeth, her fertile mind imagining all sorts of sexual scenarios involving her cousin and Jack. Sure, she’d rather not think about them in that way, but it was impossible to get the images out of her head. Of all the people in the world she slept with this…this snobby twit?!? Just what were you thinking Jack??? She could see how Jack would be attracted to and involved with Leslie for instance, but Alicia? Of course, she was beautiful, standing at five feet nine with a slim hourglass figure, finely chiseled features, a fair complexion and a flaming curly red mane, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Or at least it should be. And inside, Alicia Hastings, daughter of business tycoon Charles Hastings III, was a spoiled, conceited ice princess who wouldn’t know common courtesy if it walked up and bit her square on her perfectly round rump.

 

“Were you a…couple?” Sonny haltingly inquired, wondering why she was putting herself through this torture.

 

Alicia nodded as she winked at Jack. “Indeed we were for about four months back in college, which was where we met. At the time Jack was a freshman and I a sophomore. I guess you can say that I took her under my wing.” The redhead let out a small chuckle as she appraised the now powerful, wealthy and self-assured beauty before her. A lot had changed since the last time she saw Jack thirteen years ago. “I must say that you look incredible Jack,” Alicia honestly admitted, suddenly feeling nostalgic. The only person that she had ever loved more than herself was Jacqueline Foster. That was one of the reasons she’d had to end their relationship. The then nineteen-year-old made her feel things that she was incapable and unwilling to deal with, so Alicia deemed it safer to just let go before she got to the point where she couldn’t.

 

The brunette smiled at the compliment, still hoping that someone would interrupt them. “Thanks Alicia.”  Someone high above must have been listening, because Briana chose that moment to saunter into the beach house and toward them, the smile on her face slightly dissolving when she caught sight of her cousin. Having been taught to be polite, the nineteen-year-old warmly greeted Alicia, even going so far as to give her a quick hug. Taking note of Jack’s near panic-stricken face, Briana slipped a hand into hers as she smiled at the other two women.

 

“I hate to steal her away, but I have something important to show her.” Looking up at the brunette, Briana asked, “Jack will you come with me please?”

 

Oh, bless your young heart Bri! Trying not to look too relieved, Jack nodded. “Sure hon. Lead the way.” She glanced at Alicia and Sonny saying, “We’ll catch up with you two in a bit.”

 

Lightly tugging on her hand, Briana led Jack up the stairs to the second level. They walked to the door farthest down the hall and entered, Briana firmly closing the door behind them before she indicated for Jack to take a seat on her bed. Leaning against the door, the blonde asked if she was all right.

 

Smiling at her gratefully, Jack nodded. “Thanks to you, my heroine I am.” She winked at the younger woman, gaining a slight blush in return. “You’re a lifesaver.”

 

Briana’s nose crinkled up as she grinned. “Well I’m about to be even more of a lifesaver ‘cause I’m gonna go pilfer us some food. We can hang out here for a while if you like. What do you like on your hamburger?”

 

Smiling again, Jack nodded. “I would very much like to hang here with you. And I like everything on my hamburger. Pickles, mayonnaise, tomatoes…whatever you’ve got, I want it.” The brunette winked, grinning broadly as she stretched her arms high above her head, languidly stretching.

 

Displaying a broad grin of her own, Briana replied, “Lucky for you, I’ve got a lot Jack. A whole lot.” Wearing an impossibly wider grin now, the young blonde turned and headed out of the bedroom, making sure to close the door.

 

Arching a curious brow, Jack stared at the wooden door while deep in thought. Whoa. Was it just my imagination or was there some flirting going on there? Blue eyes grew wide as Jack evaluated her last statement. Whatever you’ve got, I want it. Geez, it sounds like I was blatantly flirting with her, though I honestly didn’t mean to. Question is, did she? Leaning back on her hands, the brunette thought about Briana’s reply to her accidental flirtatious comment and that borderline naughty grin on her lips. Jack slowly nodded as she answered her own question. If that wasn’t intentional flirting than her name wasn’t Jacqueline Foster.

 

Writing it off as innocent flirting, Jack let the issue drop as she looked around the bedroom, her attention occupied by the posters on the walls. Growing more curious, she observed each of the five posters. The poster directly above Briana’s bed was of the world-renowned tennis great Martina Navratilova. On the wall opposite the bed was a poster of another tennis champ named Conchita Martinez. To the left of the bed were two posters of musicians side by side. One was a picture of K.D. Lang and other Melissa Etheridge. Now Jack didn’t have a vast amount of information on any of these women, but there was one thing she knew they had in common. All four of them played for the same team. As far as she knew, Briana was straight so why were four out of five of her posters of lesbians? Not that Jack thought that heterosexuals couldn’t appreciate Martina or K.D., but it was quite peculiar that the only straight female poster present was of Minnie Mouse. Jack’s face grew thoughtful. That is unless Minnie had dumped Mickey and was recruited into the Lesbian Nation without her knowledge. She had an image of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck looking miserable as Minnie and Daisy joyously ran off into the sunset together.

 

Lightly chuckling, the tall woman arose from the bed and strolled over to a desk, which had a three-shelf bookcase attached to it. The top of the bookcase and the first shelf were littered with shiny looking trophies of all sizes, most of which were for one tennis competition or another. Closely observing the trophies, Jack found a few for basketball, two for softball, and one for being the best all around camper during the summer of 1996. The remaining shelves were filled with novels, which had been placed in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. After skimming over the book spines, Jack grew suspicious once again. She recognized most of the author’s and knew that at least two of them were lesbians whose characters tended to be gay. Hmm, she has all of these books and the majority of them were written either by Rita Mae Brown or Leslea Newman. Interesting. Very interesting.

 

Turning around, Jack headed back toward the bed and took a seat before observing the contents of the room again. There was nothing truly ‘girly’ about it unless you wanted to count the furry brown teddy bear wearing a pink bow that was sitting against the headboard. Not that she deemed it any of her business, but she wanted to figure out this ‘mystery’. Jack started to tick off the evidence she had on her fingers. Let’s see…one evidently she’s fond of famous lesbians. Two, if those trophies are any indication, she loves playing sports, especially tennis, which she wants to make her profession. Three, she loves cars and knows quite a bit about them based on what she was telling me earlier when we went for that drive. Jack thought about what Briana had on. The young woman wore a pair of baggy white cotton shorts that reached down to her knees along with a striped blue and white tank top. Completing the casual ensemble were a pair of blue sandals. Also, when they’d gotten into her Lamborghini, Jack noticed the blinding white edge of Briana’s underwear above the waistband of her shorts. She figured that the blonde must have done it on purpose because it was arranged too neatly. So she likes the “ooh, look at the rim of my undies, aren’t I cool” look. Jack shook her head, never having understood why today’s youth thought wearing their pants low enough so that people could see what they were wearing beneath them cool and attractive. Well at least Briana’s shorts don’t start below her butt. The brunette started to smile. And she does look a little cute.

 

A light knock on the door broke Jack free of her musings. Thinking that Briana might be having a difficult time opening the door because she was carrying their meals, the tall woman quickly arose from the bed and walked over to open the door. The smile on her lips faded just a fraction when she saw that the person knocking was not her new little buddy, but her old and very first lover Alicia. Obviously not noticing, the redhead gave her a bright smile as she asked to enter. Moving toward the left, Jack indicated for Alicia to come in. After she did so, the brunette quickly peered down the hall, chagrined to not see Briana. Inwardly sighing, she softly closed the door before turning around, nearly colliding with the other woman who had been standing directly behind her. Taking a step back, Jack hooked her thumbs into the side pockets of her jean shorts and graced Alicia with a questioning look.

 

The thirty-four year old chuckled. “Jack, am I making you nervous? You seem tense and I’m guessing that it has something to do with me.”

 

“I’m not nervous…just surprised to see you. It’s been a long time.”

 

Alicia nodded in agreement. “What a small world it is huh? You and I meeting up again because you became friends with my cousin,” she paused while looking at the other woman thoughtfully. “I really have missed you Jacqueline. I don’t know if you’ll believe me but I do think about you often.”

 

Jack shrugged, wondering if there was a way that she could calmly bolt from the room. “Is that why you came up here? To tell me that you think of me?”

 

A smile curved Alicia’s reddened lips. “Actually, I wanted to invite you to a girl’s only nightclub that’s having its grand opening tonight. It’s supposed to be awesome and I just wondered since you’re here, would you like to go with? I’m meeting a few friends there, so if you’re worried about being alone with me then don’t.” The smile on her lips grew.

 

Jack started to shake her head. “Though I appreciate the invite Alicia, I’m going to have to decline. You see I’m in love with someone and going out on a date with you is not going to help me win them over.”

 

Throwing her head back, Alicia heartily laughed. “Jacqueline, who said anything about a date? I just wanted to have some fun and I wanted you to be a part of that. C’mon, it’ll be great. And if at any time you don’t think it’s great then I’ll take you home.” Alicia smiled. “I promise.”

 

Before Jack could open her mouth to reply, the door opened revealing Briana carrying a plastic sack. After giving Jack a bright smile and her cousin a much dimmer one, the young blonde walked over to the bed, depositing the sack there. Reaching into the deep pockets of her baggy shorts, she pulled out two ice cold cans of soda and placed them on the nightstand before she turned to regard the other women, a smile still evident on her lips.

 

“What’s up guys?” she asked, not in the least bit liking the fact that her least favorite relative was in her room.

 

Sliding over to her, Alicia casually wrapped an arm around Jack’s shoulders as though she did it all the time. Grinning at the woman she glanced at Briana replying, “I was just trying to get Jack here to join me in having some fun tonight,” she paused, giving the brunette her most pleading look. “So will you? For old times sake?”

 

Starting to decline the invitation, Jack suddenly changed her mind when a random mischievous thought was formed. Looking down at the slightly shorter woman, she nodded a smile appearing on her lips. “Sure, why not?”

 

Squealing in delight, Alicia impulsively smacked Jack’s cheek, marking the tanned skin with a portrait of crimson lips. Smiling, she jubilantly said, “Terrific! I’ll pick you up tonight at eight o’clock alright? We can have dinner before we meet my friends at the club.”

 

“Perfect.”

 

“I can’t wait.” Winking at her, Alicia then turned toward her young cousin and blew the blankly looking woman a kiss, which Briana didn’t respond to. She wanted to roll her eyes, but managed to keep them still. “I’ll see you later little Bri. You two have fun with your little picnic here,” she said in a derogatory tone, though she was smiling all the while. Giving each woman a small wave, the redhead left the room, causing Briana to let out a huge sigh of relief as she sank down onto her bed.

 

Softly chuckling, Jack walked over to the bed and took a seat next to the other woman. “Something tells me that you and Sonny aren’t particularly fond of your cousin Alicia,” she stated as she pulled the sack over and began to open it, unconsciously licking her lips after catching a whiff of the food inside. So intent was she on extracting the food from the bag, that she missed the longing expression that briefly appeared on Briana’s face.

 

Briana smirked. “Gee, however did you guess?”

 

Laughing, Jack thanked her as Briana handed her a soda. While popping the top she asked, “What’s the problem? Sure, she seems a little…brash.”

 

As she finished smothering the homemade french fries on her plate with ketchup, Briana snorted. “Brash is putting it mildly. She’s much more than brash. She doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings but her own. She’s constantly reminding everyone of just how much money she has by telling us in detail what she purchases and how she travels all over the world on a whim,” pausing, the blonde angrily shoved a french fry into her mouth as she looked at Jack. “I’m not jealous, I’m just sick of hearing all about her life. I couldn’t care less about what she does.” Feeling that her new friend had more to say, Jack merely nodded in understanding, watching in a bit of amusement as Briana quickly chewed the fry in her mouth and then grabbed two more, eating those before continuing, “Alicia is a rude, cocky, belittling cold-hearted bitch…please excuse my french…and I wouldn’t trust her if my life depended on it!”

 

Both of Jack’s eyebrows rose as high as they could manage. “Whoa…she wasn’t half that bad in college.” The brunette almost laughed at the sympathetic expression she got. “Yes, I knew her,” she went on to say before Briana could inquire. “Though I haven’t seen her since I was nineteen.”

 

“Well she got worse over the years.”

 

Jack nodded, blowing out a loud puff of air. “Evidently.” Lifting her soda to her mouth, she took a long swallow before putting it down on the carpet and grabbing her juicy looking hamburger.

 

“So…” Briana casually started as she idly twirled a fry in a glob of ketchup, “are you still intending to go out with her tonight?”

 

The brunette was quiet for a few moments as she mulled it over. Though there was a major part of her that wanted nothing more than to cancel this ‘friendly’ date, she decided not to. Looking up at Briana she smiled saying, “Yes, I am. Don’t want to be as rude as she is and cancel on her.” Jack inwardly grinned as she took a huge bite out of her hamburger. Besides, I’m curious to see if my going out with Alicia will gain a satisfactory reaction from Sonny.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Later that evening as she added a little color to her lips, Jack peered at a grumpy looking Sonny through the mirror. Well I got my reaction. She’s ticked off with me though trying her best not to show it. Ever since Jack informed her friend that she was going to a nightclub with Alicia, the blonde had been unusually quiet and reserved. However, when she did speak to Jack, the tone of her voice was laced with irritation.

 

Capping the tube of lipstick she had been using, Jack placed it in a small makeup bag before zipping it up and turning around to face Sonny. Leaning against the vanity table, Jack crossed her arms over her chest as she quietly observed the other woman who stared right back at her. Finally sighing, Sonny crossed one leg over the other as she leaned back on the bed she was sitting on while successfully keeping eye contact. Noticing the grin that was tugging at Jack’s lips, she had an urge to wipe it off none too gently. However, instead of marching over and doing so, she merely frowned.

 

“Is something wrong Sonny?” Jack quietly asked.

 

One golden eyebrow arched. “Wrong? What makes you think that something is wrong Jack?” As had been the case since that afternoon, the irritation in Sonny’s voice reigned supreme.

 

“Well you’re frowning for one thing and you’ve been snippy with me ever since I told you that Alicia and I had plans. I know it’s not my imagination, so what’s up?” Cocking her head to the side, Jack regarded the blonde with a patient look while waiting for her response.

 

The fair head shook. “Nothing’s wrong,” Sonny unconvincingly replied. “I hope you and Alicia have a good time tonight,” she added, sounding like she wanted to say just the opposite.

 

Giving her a disbelieving look, Jack asked, “Do you have a problem with my going out with her? Please be honest.”

 

Sonny shook her head negatively. “Of course not. You can do whoever you want.” Realizing what she had just said, the blonde quickly amended her statement as a blush rose on her cheeks while Jack grinned. “I mean you can do whatever you want.”

 

“You truly mean that? Because if you don’t want me to go out with her, then I won’t.”

 

Suddenly feeling like an immature child, Sonny softly sighed as she stood up and walked over toward Jack. Placing a hand on the woman’s shoulder, she gave it a light squeeze as she looked into warm blue eyes. “I’m sorry for behaving like a jerk the past few hours Jack. I don’t particularly like the idea of you going out with Alicia because I don’t care for her and I think you could do so much better.” Plus, I’m insanely jealous though I would never admit that to you. Lord knows you don’t need anymore ammunition to tease and taunt me with.

 

Smiling at Sonny, Jack gently lifted the petite hand still resting on her arm and turned it over to lightly kiss the palm before letting go. “Thank you for looking out for me Sonny girl, but it’s just one evening. I’m not looking to rekindle a relationship. Especially after hearing what you and Briana had to say about her.” She grinned at the smaller woman. Oh, Sonny I do believe the green-eyed monster has invaded your body. I know jealousy when I see it and I have to admit that I’m loving every moment of this!

 

“So everything is okay between us, right?” Jack asked.

 

Gracing her with a smile though she fervently wished that Alicia would either forget how to get to her parent’s house or call and cancel she and Jack’s date, the blonde nodded. “Yes, everything is perfect.”

 

Dazzlingly smiling, the brunette performed a three hundred and sixty-degree turn. “How do I look Sonny girl?” 

 

Taking a couple of steps back, Sonny openly admired the outfit, which she had previously been surreptitiously admiring. She thought it would have been next to impossible to do, but Jack had managed to look even more spectacular then she did the night of Chloe’s welcome home dinner party. That night she was nearly six feet of pure sexiness, but tonight she was sexy with a dash of butchness. The simple word that kept flashing in Sonny’s brain was hot. The blonde slightly shook her head. No, on second thought hot wasn’t nearly good enough. Sizzling hot and incredibly scrumptious was much better.

 

Starting from the bottom of her outfit, Jack was wearing the pair of short black leather boots she’d had on the night of Chloe’s party. Next, was a pair of dark blue straight leg jeans that hugged every delicious curve of the tall woman’s body. They fit so well that Sonny got the impression that they had been especially made for her dark-haired friend. Though it wasn’t needed, a slim black leather belt neatly rested within the belt loops of the formfitting jeans. Whether she refused to admit it to herself or not, Sonny’s favorite part of Jack’s outfit was the tight black leather vest she wore, which showed off a delicious amount of creamy cleavage. Forcing green eyes away from the enticing mounds of flesh, Sonny took in the black leather Kangol cap, which Jack was wearing backwards. She inwardly smiled, thinking how adorable it looked.

 

Nodding, the blonde allowed the smile to show on her lips. “You look good Jack. Real good.” Too good for the president of Snobs ‘R Us!

 

“Really?” Starting to grin, Jack turned towards the mirror checking herself out. Removing the cap, she ran her hand through the dark locks, which she had brushed until they practically shined. Resettling the cap on her head, she looked back to Sonny. She could have sworn she detected a slight frown on the younger woman’s face, but it vanished the moment Jack made eye contact.

 

Sonny’s head bobbed. “Really,” she replied, not trusting herself to speak much. Her teeth were clenching so much, that her jaw had started to ache.

 

“Cool.” Winking at the younger woman, Jack looked around for her wallet, which of course was leather. Locating it, she pushed it into the back pocket of her jeans just as there was a knock on their door. Simultaneously, she and Sonny told the knocker to come in.

 

Opening the door, Isaac merely stuck his head into the bedroom, offering both women a smile, which they readily returned. “Jack, wanted to tell you that your date the ice prin—“ pausing, he grinned mischievously as the brunette playfully smirked. “Pardon me. I mean Alicia is here to pick you up. I left her at the front door.” After informing him that she would be right down, Isaac left, closing the door behind him.

 

Turning toward Sonny, Jack pulled her into a hug that the blonde hadn’t been expecting though was glad to receive. Returning it, Sonny placed a feather light kiss on the taller woman’s cheek before letting go. Letting her know that she would be home at a decent hour, Jack headed out of the room, giving Sonny a wink before she disappeared. Emitting a loud sigh, the small blonde walked back toward the bed and collapsed in the middle of it. While trying not to think of Alicia and Jack spending the evening together, Sonny gazed up at the ceiling, idly twirling her thumbs. A thoughtful look appeared on her face as she murmured aloud, “Somewhere in animal heaven there is a gigantic herd of cows cursing Jack’s name.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“So Sonny,” Candace grinned devilishly as she reached into the big bowl of popcorn that she and her sisters surrounded. Grabbing a fistful of the buttery puffed kernels she asked, “was it good?” She merely grinned more when she received a glare from the younger woman. Meanwhile, Melanie and Briana glanced between the two curiously.

 

“Drop it Candace,” Sonny responded in a tone of warning. Since they had decided to have a good old fashioned slumber party in Briana’s room tonight, for the past three hours the four of them had been snacking, playing games, talking (a.k.a. gossiping), and just thoroughly enjoying each other’s company. Sonny had been waiting for Candace to bring up what she saw earlier that afternoon. She knew her oldest sibling was dying to blab what she had promised would be kept a secret. Sonny inwardly smirked. Thirty-seven and still can’t hold water, eh Candy?

 

“Drop what?” Briana inquired in interest as she looked at Candace. “What’d she do?” A grin settled on the teen’s lips as she waited for an answer. She chuckled when she heard a low growl emanating from Sonny’s throat. Glancing in her direction, Briana’s eyebrows raised high. “This must be something big.”

 

Sonny shook her head. “It’s nothing. Nothing at all.” Green eyes zeroing in on Candace’s she said, “Right?” Noticing the mischievous glint in her eyes, Sonny sighed. It was no use. She wondered why she had even bothered in the first place.

 

“I don’t get it Sonny,” Candace started, wearing a thoughtful expression. “Why don’t you want our sisters to know what you were up to this afternoon?”

 

Briefly, Sonny wondered how long a sentence she would get for eliminating her oldest sister. Perhaps she could plead temporary insanity. “I wasn’t up to anything Candy Cane,” Sonny replied, reverting to the nickname that her sister had always detested. Apparently, she still did based on the deep frown she now sported. Sonny smiled sweetly in return.

 

“C’mon Candace, leave her alone,” Melanie spoke up, coming to her little sister’s rescue. “Are you thirty seven or seven?” As Candace smirked, she grinned. Leaning forward in the comfortable beanbag chair she was reclining in, she grabbed the large pickle lying in front of her. She then dipped the tip of it into a jar of super chunky peanut butter before taking a big bite. When Sonny gave her a grateful smile, Melanie winked in return while chewing in delight. After swallowing, she added, “If she doesn’t want to talk about it then that’s her business. Let’s talk about something else.”

 

Candace sighed deeply, thinking that the fun was over. It was now time to act her age again. “You’re right Mel.” Leaning over, she placed a kiss on Sonny’s cheek as she sincerely apologized.

 

Smiling at the display of affection, Sonny said, “It’s cool sis. Though just so you know nothing…absolutely nothing was going on. I swear.”

 

Slowly shaking her head, Candace replied, “Well I don’t know why not but I won’t pry any further.” Grinning, she began to consume the popcorn she held in her hand.

 

“So that’s it? We don’t get to know what you two are talking about?” Briana inquired, looking a bit disappointed that the secret was going to remain just that. Her mouth gaped open when a kernel hit her square in the middle of the forehead. Arching an eyebrow, she stared at the culprit, who was Sonny. “No you did not just throw popcorn at me.”

 

Sonny grinned. “Yeah, I think I did.” Grabbing another piece from the bowl, she threw it but this time missed because her sister dodged. However, Briana had perfect aim as she quickly grabbed a couple pieces of popcorn and threw them at Sonny, managing to hit her nose twice.

 

Chuckling richly, Melanie grabbed a handful of popcorn, “Let World War three begin!”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Sitting with her hands in her lap in the back of the limousine, Jack watched as Alicia poured them both a glass of champagne. As soft romantic music played, the dark haired woman had a feeling that this was a setup. Glancing at her watch, she noted that it was nearly midnight. An hour and a half ago they had left the nightclub where Alicia’s friends had never showed up. Although, Jack had an idea that they were never supposed to meet her ex’s friends. By ten-thirty, she was missing Sonny so terribly (and wanting to get away from the flirtatious redhead terribly as well), she faked a headache, informing Alicia that she had to go home right away.

 

However, Alicia had other ideas before she allowed Jack to go home. Giving the younger woman something to take for her headache, she convinced Jack to take a short stroll with her through the city via her limousine. Their ‘short’ stroll had landed the pair on a steep cliff that overlooked Canova Beach. When they had arrived, Jack happened to look out of a heavily tinted window seeing a car parked about fifteen feet away from them. A couple inside of the car was making out like they deemed the Apocalypse was among them.

 

Displaying a smile that she didn’t feel, Jack thanked her date as she handed her one of the flutes of champagne. Though she’d explained to Alicia that champagne would not help her headache, the woman insisted that she have at least one glass. As she gazed down at the glass in her hand, Jack wondered if Alicia could have slipped something into the alcohol. For some reason, she wouldn’t have put it passed her and therefore decided not to drink a single drop of the champagne just to be on the safe side.

 

Deciding that a toast was in order, Alicia recited a brief one before she leaned over and clanked her flute against the brunette’s before taking a sip. After pretending to take a drink of hers, Jack then placed her glass on a small tray where the champagne bottle rested. Surreptitiously glancing at her watch again, Jack wondered what Sonny was doing at that moment. She’s probably not being seduced. I wonder if I was to tap my boots together and recite ‘there’s no place like home’ will I end up in Sonny’s arms? 

 

As a couple of fingers snapped in her face, Jack rapidly blinked while trying to focus. Looking up, she offered the woman sitting across from her a smile. “I’m sorry. Did you say something?”

 

“I asked if the Percodan was working yet.” Crossing one long leg over the other, Alicia provided Jack a good view of the red lace panties she wore underneath an extremely short red skirt. Too bad Jack was not in the least bit interested or aroused by the action.

 

If she had any doubts before, Jack truly knew after tonight that she was deeply in love with Sonny and that there was no other woman on this planet that she desired. She had lost count of how many women at the nightclub had flirted, hit on, and blatantly asked her to come back to their place. Not once had she been tempted to flirt back or follow home. In fact, ninety nine percent of her time tonight had been consumed by thoughts of a certain fair-haired beauty. Sonny Campbell, you have ruined me for every other woman in existence. Jack inwardly grinned. Thank you very much!

 

Suddenly remembering that Alicia was waiting for an answer, the brunette looked at her, noting the curious expression she wore. “Um, it’s actually not working at all.” Jack tapped the tiny bulge in her jean pocket, where the small round pill was. “So I think it would be a good idea for you to just take me home Ali. I’m really not feeling my best.”

 

Shaking her red head, Alicia placed her flute next to the other woman’s before coming over to sit next to Jack. In fact, she was now sitting so close that there was barely half an inch of space between them. Though she was growing uncomfortable with her seducer’s nearness, the brunette attempted to hide it as she felt a long arm wrapping around her shoulders. Quelling the urge to bolt from the limousine, Jack looked out of the window. She observed as the car containing the make out couple started to drive away. Please take me with you!

 

Suddenly feeling a pair of lips just barely touch the ridge of her ear, Jack returned her attention to Alicia and started to say something when the woman pressed a lone fingertip to her mouth. Her reddened lips curving into a smile, she seductively whispered, “Jacqueline, I think I know something that will make you feel much much better.” Before the brunette could offer a reply, those red lips were being pressed against hers. Raising her hands, Jack gently yet firmly pushed Alicia back as she scooted as far away as she could get, which wasn’t more than two inches. Instead of looking disappointed, Alicia’s smile grew as she scooted closer in order to deliver another kiss. However, she missed as Jack scrambled to get to the other seat her date had previously been occupying. Although Jack was now scowling, Alicia seemed not to notice as she licked her lips like a wild animal that was on the verge of attacking its prey. Jack was about to open her mouth to reject Alicia’s advances when the woman cut her off. “Why are you being so difficult Jack? You know you want this.”

 

“The hell I—“

 

Jack’s reply was cut short when the randy redhead pounced on her, straddling her lap. Against their will, her lips found themselves occupied again and when Jack tried to push Alicia away, the edge of the woman’s teeth sank into her lower lip causing Jack to cry out in pain. Growling in anger, the brunette lost her patience, roughly pushing the other woman off of her. Screeching, Alicia fell to the floor with a loud thump. As the redhead glared daggers at her, Jack wondered if the limo driver was able to hear the commotion. She hoped that he would come investigate but doubted it.

 

Sticking the tip of her tongue out, the blue eyed woman tasted the tang of blood on her lower lip. “Alicia,” she started between clenched teeth, “I want to be taken home…now.”

 

Slowly shaking her head, Alicia moved on the floor until she was kneeling. Hazel eyes looked at Jack with determination. “Not until I get what I want.”

 

Suddenly, a chill coursed up and down Jack’s spine. She realized that her ex-girlfriend was not a well liked person but would she really go so far as to force her? Observing the gleam in her eyes, Jack answered her own question. Alicia without a doubt would go that far. Glancing at the door, Jack wondered if she could exit the limousine without either of them getting injured in the process. Before she would attempt it, she decided to try reasoning with Alicia. Taking a deep breath, she looked down at the kneeling woman.

 

“Alicia, I think that you are a very desirable woman. I’m just not interested in getting involved so I would appreciate if you’d just take me back to Paul and Annette’s. This has been a fine evening. Let’s not ruin it now. Okay?”

 

After staring at the brunette for a few silent moments as though she was seriously considering giving in to her request, Alicia then started to slowly grin as she inquired, “I kind of like it that you’re trying to play hard to get Jack.” Quickly reaching out, the redhead grabbed at Jack’s vest. Showing a great amount of strength that one wouldn’t suspect that she possessed, she tugged until the bigger woman landed on the floor, Jack’s Kangol cap flying off of her head. Straddling the backs of the brunette’s thighs before she had the opportunity to arise, Alicia moved until she was lying along the length of Jack’s squirming body.

 

Trying to buck her off, Jack demanded that she get up, but of course Alicia didn’t listen as she snaked a hand under the woman’s body. Struggling, Jack let out a scream trying to get the chauffeur’s attention as Alicia quickly managed to unbuckle her belt and then unbutton her jeans. Once more, she demanded that the redhead get off of her, only to receive a manic chuckle in reply as deft fingers pulled her zipper down.

 

Leaning close to the younger woman’s ear, Alicia whispered, “Why are you fighting me Jacqueline? Don’t tell me I’m not turning you on.”

 

Turning her head to the side, Jack glared at her, her face flushed with anger. “You…are…not…turning…me…on,” she replied, clearing enunciating each word. Just as Alicia began to slide her hand beneath the waistband of Jack’s underwear, the brunette growled low in her throat as her blood began to boil. She failed to remember the last time she had been this pissed off. All of her patience vanishing, Jack reached back and grabbed a fistful of crimson hair. She then proceeded to tug none too gently, almost grinning when Alicia yelped in pain. Jack continued to pull until the woman wisely dislodged her hand from the brunette’s underwear and then removed herself from her body. Only then did Jack let go before she hurried into a sitting position, breathing harshly as she and Alicia exchanged glares. Her hands nearly tingling with the idea of slapping Alicia, Jack refrained from doing so, not wanting to make the situation any worse than it already was.

 

The redhead obviously didn’t care about the situation escalating as she reached out toward Jack. Before the brunette could even think to move out of the way, an open palm struck her left cheek causing it to began stinging within seconds. Though her hands balled into tight fists, Jack didn’t reciprocate while attempting to draw in deep calming breaths.

 

“How dare you!” Alicia bellowed, surely loud enough for inhabitants of China to hear.

 

Blue eyes opened wide in indignation. “How dare I?! How dare I what? How dare I defend myself against your unwanted advances? You’ve got some nerve!”

 

Alicia pointed an accusing finger at her. “You’ve been giving me signals all night and now you act like you don’t want me. You’re a tease!”

 

Looking at her as though she was a rose short of a dozen, Jack slowly shook her head from side to side. Not once that evening had she given the woman any indication that she desired her. “I think you need to seek psychological help Alicia,” Jack somberly stated. “I really do.”

 

Scrambling to the seat, Alicia tugged on her skirt, which had somehow slid up to her waist. Reaching over, she unlocked the door before pushing it open with a great flourish. Turning back to regard Jack, she said, “I really don’t care what you think.” Pointing toward the open door she heatedly added, “Now get out of my limo. Your ass can walk home.”

 

“My ass would be more than happy to!” A little apprehensive about passing Alicia, Jack nonetheless did it, quickly exiting the black stretch limousine. Buttoning, zipping, and clasping her clothes, Jack didn’t notice that she was being watched until she looked up to meet angry hazel eyes.

 

“By the way, I’m not coming to that stupid party tomorrow.”

 

Jack gave her a look of mock disappointment. “That’s too bad Alicia. I’m sure everyone will be heartbroken that you won’t be gracing them with your spectacular presence,” she said, her voice laced with sarcasm.

 

Her eyes narrowing, the redhead obviously decided not to comment as she slammed the door shut. Within moments, the limousine started as Jack took a few steps backward, running a hand through her disordered hair. It was then that she noticed her cap was missing. She started to shrug it off, but found that she couldn’t. The leather Kangol cap was one of her favorites and though she could easily purchase another, she didn’t want to lose it. Releasing a loud sigh, she walked towards the car and light rapped on the window. When she didn’t get an immediate response, she knocked a bit louder until the tinted glass started to lower. Giving the woman an irritated look, Alicia silently waited for her to say something.

 

“Could I have my cap please?” Jack inquired in as polite a voice as she could muster. “It must have fallen off my head during our…scuffle.”

 

Mutely turning away from her, hazel eyes roamed around until they zeroed in on the black cap lying on the floor. Reaching over for it, Alicia grabbed the cap before she pressed a button, which caused the sunroof to open. While Jack watched her curiously, Alicia carefully stood on the seat and poked her head out of the sunroof. Looking down at Jack, the redhead grinned sardonically as she held the cap up for the other woman’s inspection.

 

“You want this?” When Jack wordlessly nodded, Alicia flipped the cap over and showing just how ladylike she could be, spit in it…twice. Drawing her arm back as though she was about to pitch a baseball, the redhead then swiftly brought it forward, releasing the cap in the process. Both women watched as Jack’s favorite Kangol cap soared over the edge of the cliff where it would most likely not be seen again unless some animal with a keen fashion sense decided to retrieve it. Her eyes suddenly blazing, Alicia glared at Jack, who now wore an apathetic expression. “Then I suggest you go after it! Goodbye Jacqueline. If I don’t see you again until the year 2050 it’ll be too damn soon!” With that said…or shouted, Alicia vanished inside the limousine, which took off seconds later.

 

Good riddance. Releasing a breath that she wasn’t aware she had been holding Jack watched until the limousine disappeared from view. That was by far the worst date she had ever had. Jack wondered what had happened to Alicia to turn her into such a…was monster the right word? She shook her head. It would do.

 

Looking around, Jack was chagrined to notice that not a single car remained. Didn’t people want to venture here on a Friday night to make out with their sweeties? The brunette sighed. Apparently not. Reaching into her back pocket, Jack extracted her wallet and opened it, gasping as she stared inside. What a freaking moron! Displaying the maturity of a five-year-old, she stomped her feet on the ground as she snapped the wallet closed and shoved it back into her jeans. Having packed two different wallets, Jack had somehow forgotten to transport the contents of her other wallet into the one she now had. Since that was the case, she had no identification, no credit cards, and most importantly zero money. After patting her pockets, Jack deduced that she didn’t even have so much as one little penny. She had planned on taking a taxi home, but now couldn’t afford to make a phone call in order to get a taxi. This is turning into my worst nightmare!

 

Shoving her hands into her pockets, Jack accessed her situation. One, she had no money. Two, she didn’t know where she was and therefore had no clue on how to get back to the Campbell household, which in a nutshell meant that she was lost. Pulling her hands out of her pockets, Jack restlessly ran one through her hair as she contemplated the edge of the cliff. For a split second she thought about joining her Kangol cap, but then quickly decided that she had too much to live for. Despite enduring an evening that she had no wish to repeat ever again, Jack was quite satisfied with life.

 

Glancing at her watch, the brunette started walking as she threw her hands up at her sides. “What else could go wrong tonight?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Someone would have to vacuum all of the popcorn from the carpet tomorrow, and each woman in the room wondered which one of the others she could cajole into doing it. The majority deemed that they could get Briana to. One, it was her bedroom, therefore she should be solely responsible for keeping it in order. And two, she was youngest which meant that she might be the easiest to manipulate. Sure, they felt the slightest bit guilty about planning to manipulate their little sister, but who in their right mind truly wants to vacuum?

 

After the four blondes had finished a rousing game of Monopoly and were just settling in their sleeping bags on the floor to tell ghost stories, Melanie’s stomach started to gurgle. The pickle smothered in peanut butter she’d consumed earlier had long been gone. Since Sonny was directly to her left, she slipped a hand out of her sleeping bag and tapped the younger woman on her shoulder. Looking at her sister quizzically, Sonny remained silent, listening as Melanie asked if she would do her a favor. Slowly nodding, Sonny waited for her to explain what this favor would be and nearly pouted when she found out.

 

“You mean you’re gonna make me go out at,” glancing at the clock on the wall Sonny continued, “nearly two o’clock in the morning because you have a craving for vanilla ice cream and olives? And you’re in your ninth month, so aren’t you supposed to be over the cravings by now?”

 

Shaking her head, Melanie replied, “That doesn’t always have to be the case. When I was pregnant with Jayme, I craved until I gave birth to him.” She graced her younger sibling with a super sweet smile, which she knew would be difficult to deny. “Please Sonny? I can’t get it out of my head and it sounds so delicious!” Keeping her eyes riveted to Sonny’s, the pregnant blonde ignored the dramatic gagging sounds stemming from Briana and Candace. “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need this treat so very badly.” Melanie fluttered her eyelashes for good measure.

 

Playfully rolling her eyes, Sonny nodded. Reaching toward her, she gently pinched her sister’s cheek as she grinned at her. “How could I possibly say no to that face?”

 

Melanie grinned in return. “Thank you Sonny.” As she watched the younger woman start to extract herself from her sleeping bag, Melanie reminded her to get the green olives, not the black ones.

 

Quickly nodding as she stood up, Sonny repeated, “Right. Green olives not black ones. I’ve got it sis.” Her green eyes traveled to Briana when she heard the teenager calling her name. “Yes?” she managed to draw out the word as though it had four syllables instead of just the one.

 

“Could you get me something too?” Briana asked, a charming smile pasted onto her lips.

 

“Since I’m apparently the designated store flunky, sure,” Sonny good-naturedly replied.

 

“Awesome. I need tampons. Preferably O.B. because that’s my favorite brand.” As an afterthought she added, “Oh, and just regular absorbency please. I’m almost done so the flow is very light.”

 

“T.M.I. sweetness,” Melanie stated while slightly smiling at Briana. “I know we’re siblings, but we don’t need to know the details of your menstruation cycle.”

 

Looking a bit sheepish, Briana apologized.

 

Sitting up, Candace crossed her legs as she thoughtfully looked at Melanie. “Oh, but everyone loves to hear how much you adore ice cream and olives, pickles and peanut butter, cottage cheese with Bacon Bits tossed in it…I could go on.” Candace arched a challenging eyebrow at the pregnant woman. Out of all four sisters, she and Melanie were the most likely to get into an argument. On the occasions that they did argue, most of their disagreements pertained to either Sonny or Briana.

 

Melanie scoffed. “Cravings and periods are two very different subjects.”

 

Sonny inwardly groaned as she told her sisters to shut up. That was one of the last things she wanted to purchase. She hated buying feminine products for herself! No matter how hard she tried not to be, she was always embarrassed when it was time to bring her feminine items to the check out line. However, deciding to be a good sport, Sonny informed her sister that she would gladly get her tampons.

 

Casting Melanie an annoyed look, Candace called out to Sonny as she headed toward the door. Turning back around to face her, Sonny had a feeling that her sister was about to make a request. At this rate, she would need to write down a list. Wordlessly, she raised an inquiring brow.

 

Looking almost as sheepish as Briana had moments before, Candace asked, “Mind picking me up some…uh…protection?”

 

Sonny’s eyebrow elevated even further. Had her sisters secretly congregated to play an outrageous practical joke on her? That must have been what this was. “Please…oh please tell me that you need some tampons too?” As Candace shook her head negatively, Sonny sighed. “Can’t you get it tomorrow? It’s not necessary to have it now since you’re with us, unless you two can have sex via osmosis.” Briana and Melanie shared a chuckle while their oldest sibling smirked.

 

“While you do raise a valid point Sonny, I think it would make sense for you to get them since you’re going to the store anyway,” Candace matter-of-factly replied. “That way I’ll have them in the morning just in case.” She wiggled her eyebrows up and down, causing Briana and Melanie to break into another round of chuckles.

 

Sonny rolled her eyes. “Whatever. I’ll get them.” Without waiting for a reply, she headed towards the door again just as Candace began to speak.

 

“Sonny please get the Trojan extended pleasure. Remember that. Extended pleasure. You should be able to get a twelve pack for around six bucks. I’ll reimburse you for all of us when you return.”

 

Hearing the short-haired blonde groaning as she silently left the room, all three remaining siblings burst into laughter.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Since there were very few customers in the grocery store this time of night (or early morning depending on your opinion), Sonny quickly obtained her items before walking up to the checker with a bright orange basket in hand. Trying to act as calm as possible though she was feeling beyond embarrassed, the blonde placed her few items on the conveyor belt. She had hoped that the cashier would at least be a woman, thinking that a fellow female could sympathize but that of course was not the case. Sonny had been forced to come to checkout line number seven, which was currently the only checkout open where a teenage male stood wearing a bored expression.

 

Flashing her a half-hearted smile, Danny (that was what his nametag read) began to swipe the items across the scanner, his pimple ridden face growing more animated as he did so. Noticing, Sonny grew alarmed while wondering what he was thinking but not wanting him to verbalize his thoughts. Her cheeks started to redden as the cashier glanced up at her, wearing a hint of a smirk. Oh, please just finish scanning them, bag them, and let me pay so that I can get outta here!

 

The last item was the condoms. After running them over the scanner several times, the teenager finally gave up. To Sonny’s great horror, he picked up a phone and punched a button before speaking into it. Unfortunately, everyone in the grocery store was able to hear what he said due to the fact that he announced the message over the loudspeakers. “This is Danny at checkout #7. I need a price check on some Trojan extended pleasure condoms. They’re the twelve pack.” When people began to look in their direction, Sonny didn’t think the situation could get any worse. However, she was wrong. Just as he was about to put the phone down, Danny’s sadistic streak must have kicked in full force as he raised the device to his mouth again. “And please hurry because the petite blonde woman here is undoubtedly waiting to take these home and try ‘em out!”

 

Wishing that there was a convenient hole in the glossy floor that she could vanish into, Sonny attempted to block out the chuckles and whistles Danny’s last comment produced. As she glared at him, he innocently smiled in return. While they waited for a reply, the teenager thoughtfully observed the other purchases before looking at Sonny, with the smirk in place again. “So…olives, ice cream and tampons,” he started in a conversational tone. Remembering the box of Trojans in his hand, he raised those. “Oh, and let’s not forget the condoms.” Danny’s smirk grew, as did his customer’s glare.

 

“Please don’t say anything else,” Sonny demanded in an equal parts angry and embarrassed tone of voice.

 

Ignoring her warning, the teenage comedian snickered. “I guess if you’re buying tampons then you’re not pregnant, eh? And the condoms are to guarantee that you don’t get knocked up! But you do know, as they tell us in school, the only way to one hundred percent guarantee that you won’t get pregnant is through abstinence.”

 

“You really need to shut up now.” Balling the hands at her sides into fists, Sonny internally began to slowly count to ten while trying to tune out the obnoxious twerp. Though it seemed that the harder she tried, the louder he became. Pleadingly gazing at the phone, Sonny wondered how long does it take to look up the price for one measly pack of condoms?

 

Leering at her, Danny said, “Though if I was the guy you were buying the Trojans for, no way in hell would I abstain because you have a knockout body.”

 

Cocking her head to the side, Sonny gave him a look that could kill. Well, it would have killed if looks had the ability to truly do that. My God, he’s even more annoying then Jack was when we first met! “Did you leave your brain at home? It’s like American Express. You should never leave home without it.”

 

Continuing to ignore her, Danny’s lascivious brown eyes moved up and down her body. Well at least to her hips, this was as far as he could see, but he figured that she probably looked good all the way down. “We would use up those dozen condoms with extended pleasure quickly ‘cause I would ride you all night long baby!”

 

The next few things happened in rapid succession.

 

Danny’s unconscious body slumped to the floor due to a tight accurate fist slamming into the left side of his jaw.

 

A woman approaching checkout line number seven with a cart laden with groceries gasped as she witnessed it happening.

 

Someone in the store yelled for someone else to call the police because the insane horny blonde hit the ‘innocent’ teenage cashier.

 

And the voice on the phone announced that the twelve pack Trojans with extended pleasure cost $6.32, tax included.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

After thanking the driver for giving her a lift, Jack walked up to the beach house and started to ring the doorbell when she remembered that Annette had informed her to use the key under the welcome mat. Taking a step back, the brunette leaned down, pulling up the welcome mat. Locating the key, she opened the door before putting it back where it belonged. Walking inside the darkened house, she switched on a light before closing and locking the front door behind her. Just as she started upstairs, she heard the telephone ringing. Hurrying toward it, Jack picked up the phone while hoping that no one had been disturbed.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Jack?”

 

“Is that you Sonny?” Blue eyes curiously looking towards the stairs, Jack wondered why Sonny was calling when she should have been home. She tried to quell her jealousy, thinking that perhaps the young blonde had found someone to spend the evening with. When the caller confirmed that she was indeed Sonny, Jack asked her where she was, her eyes widening at the answer. “You’re where?!?”

 

“I’m in jail,” the blonde repeated with deceptive calm.

 

“Why?”

 

“Ah…well…for assault.”

 

“What?!”

 

Jack could feel the other woman’s smirk through the phone as she remarked, “Geez, Jack. Where, why, what. Now all you need is when and who.”

 

“Don’t get smart with me young lady!” Jack rolled her eyes. Don’t get smart with me young lady? I sound like her mother. And believe me that is the last thing I wanna be! “I mean, I’ll um…be right there.”

 

“No that’s alright,” Sonny replied rather quickly. “Could you just go get my dad? He can come get me.”

 

“Nonsense. There’s no reason to wake your parents when I’m fully capable of bailing you out. I’m on my way. Hang tight.”

 

Before Sonny could protest, Jack ended the call before hurrying up the stairs. Entering the bedroom she and Sonny were bunking in, Jack removed her vest and boots before putting on a red pullover along with a pair of sneakers. It felt incredible to remove the boots, which had started hurting during the three miles Jack walked before she obtained a ride. After switching wallets and making sure that she had identification and money, Jack left the room. Just as she began to descend the stairs, the brunette turned around when she heard someone calling her name.

 

“Hey Bri,” Jack said, while smiling at the younger woman, who was peeking out from her bedroom.

 

The younger woman returned the smile as she took a step out. “Hello Jack. I thought I heard footsteps. Hoped they belonged to Sonny. Did you just get home?”

 

Jack nodded. “Yes, about ten minutes ago. So you’re aware that she’s missing?” Jack waved as Candace and Melanie appeared behind their sibling.

 

“How do you know she’s missing?”

 

While walking toward the trio, Jack replied, “Actually, she just called and I’m on my way to go pick her up.”

 

Candace gasped, as the brunette drew nearer to them. Noticing the faint bruise on Jack’s cheek and her split lower lip, the blonde asked, “What happened to your face?” Switching into doctor mode, Candace walked up to Jack and gingerly touched her left cheek. Noticing faint outlines, Candace guessed that an open palmed slap had caused them.

 

“Did Alicia do something to you?” Briana inquired, her eyes narrowing in anger. She had visions of herself playing tennis and her least favorite cousin being the ball. For years, she had been desperately waiting to kick the stuffing out Alicia and now it seemed that she had a good reason to.

 

Shaking her head, Jack momentarily sandwiched Candace’s hand between both of hers. “No, she didn’t lay a hand on me. I just had an accident.” When all three women looked unconvinced with her reply, Jack added, “It’s not a big deal. I’m fine ladies.”

 

“What kind of accident did you have?” Melanie spoke up. Folding her arms across her chest, she closely eyed Jack, giving her the same look she gave Jayme when she knew that he was trying to lie to her.

 

The look almost worked because it was on the tip of Jack’s tongue to admit that Alicia’s temper was the reason for her minor injuries. “Well…Alicia and I went to a nightclub and while we were there a fight broke out between these two women and I decided to get involved despite the fact that Alicia told me not to. And well…” Jack pointed toward her mouth and cheek, “these are what I get for butting in on someone else’s business.”

 

Melanie curiously arched an eyebrow. “And one of the women bit you on your lip?”

 

Jack quickly nodded, not knowing if they were buying her story or not. “Yes. In fact, she’s the same one that slapped me.”

 

“You poor baby.” Leaning on her tiptoes, Briana gently kissed Jack’s bruised cheek and fleetingly thought about kissing her lips, but decided that might not be a smart idea. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

 

The brunette smiled down at her. “You just did Bri. Thank you.” Oh, yes she definitely plays for my team. She has to ‘cause my gaydar is practically screaming!

 

“You said that you were going to pick Sonny up. What happened? Did she have car trouble?” Candace asked, deciding to return the discussion to their sister though she knew there was more to Jack’s story. There would be time to prod the truth out of her later.

 

Deciding that it would be up to Sonny if she told her family about her sudden run in with the law, Jack said, “That’s it. She has a flat tire.” Giving them a reassuring smile, she added, “But not to worry ladies. She’s just fine. I’ll just go get her and then you can see for yourselves.” Noticing that all three women wore the same guilty expression, Jack asked them if something was wrong.

 

“Well,” Melanie started in a hesitant voice, “we’re the reason…actually I’m the main reason she went out in the first place. You see I had a craving for ice cream and olives and asked Sonny to go to the store. If I hadn’t done that then she’d be here right now, safe and sound.”

 

Reaching out, Jack squeezed the pregnant woman’s shoulder. “Don’t blame yourself Melanie. This isn’t your fault.” She smiled at Melanie, gaining one in return. “Things happen, and sometimes people just get flat tires. It’s no biggie. Now why don’t you three go back to your slumber party and before you know it, your sister will be rejoining you. She might not have the ice cream and olives though.” Jack grinned as her small joke caused the other women to chuckle. After thanking her, they headed back into the room. The brunette was about to leave when Briana turned back around to face her. She could tell by the look on the younger woman’s face that she wanted to ask something. “Yes?” Jack prodded, wearing a hint of a smile.

 

Cocking her head to the side, Briana allowed a smile to surface as she asked, “Could I tag along with you Jack? I’ll even let you drive.”

 

Jack burst into laughter. “That’s very sweet of you to allow me to drive my own vehicle Bri.” She grinned, as did the other woman. “Unfortunately, you can’t go sweetie because my car as you know is a two-seater.”

 

“That’s right. I wasn’t thinking,” pausing, Briana grew thoughtful. “Well we could take my car.” The teenager looked happy to have come up with what she thought was the perfect solution.

 

Jack inwardly sighed, not wanting to say no to Briana, but feeling that she must. If she were to tag along, then she would discover that big sister was sitting behind bars. Why? Because Sonny had assaulted someone before she reached the grocery store, at the store or afterwards. Jack wasn’t sure which scenario it was, but if she were betting, she would put her money on the store. Perhaps Sonny and another woman had gotten into a physical altercation because they both wanted the last jar of olives.

 

“Why don’t you stay here with your sisters okay?” Jack gently asked. “And in the morning you and I can go for breakfast and a little drive. You may be the driver the entire time.” The brunette grinned as she fished a set of keys out of her pocket and dangled them in front of Briana.

 

The disappointment melting away as she ogled the keys, Briana nodded enthusiastically. “You’ve got a deal if when you guys return you’ll join our party.”

 

“The next time you see me I’ll be wearing my pajamas.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Alone in the jail cell, Sonny quietly sat on a wooden bench while lightly running her fingers across the bruising knuckles of her right hand. Starting to flex the hand, the blonde slightly winced. What had she done? She had allowed the annoying comments of a seventeen-year-old checker to get the best of her and slugged him because of them. Many people probably would admit that he had it coming, but that wouldn’t stop Sonny from feeling a great deal of guilt. How was she going to explain this to her family? Before the blonde could answer her own question, she heard the door leading to the cells opening. Looking up, she watched as someone entered. Though she could not see the person’s face since they were turned away from her talking with the guard, Sonny instantly knew that it was Jack. She sighed, wondering how much teasing she would get for her current predicament. Surely, Jack would take advantage of the situation because after all she was Jack and teasing Sonny appeared to be one of her favorite pastimes.

 

Remaining silently seated, the blonde quizzically watched the guard as he left, closing the door behind him. She wondered where he was going since his job was to keep an eye on the prisoners. Now the only people present were Sonny, Jack, and another prisoner who was in the cell adjacent to the blonde’s.

 

As Jack turned toward her, Sonny knew she was in for trouble based on the mischievous expression the other woman wore. However, she immediately forgot about that as she studied Jack’s face. Rising from the bench, Sonny hurried towards the bars, wrapping small hands around them as she continued to stare at the bruises.

 

“Hello jailbird.” Jack grinned at her as she arrived at the cell bars. Before Sonny could question her she added, “Don’t worry about my face. I had a little accident but I’m fine.”

 

“Bullshit!” Sonny blurted out, uncharacteristically using extremely foul language. “Why did she do that to you?” Petite hands gripped the bars tighter, suddenly wishing that they were her cousin’s neck. She’d already assaulted someone. Might as well add homicide to the list.

 

All thoughts of mischief having suddenly vanished, Jack curled a hand around Sonny’s. “Sweetheart, I’m alright. They don’t even really hurt.” Just as long as I don’t smile too broadly or touch my cheek.

 

“Though I’m glad you’re alright, that’s not what I asked you.”

 

Knowing that she couldn’t keep the truth hidden from Sonny, Jack sighed before starting to tell the younger woman what had happened. During the entire retelling of the evening’s events, the blonde remained quiet while she listened intently, her hands managing to clutch even tighter to the cell bars in anger at what her cousin had done. She had known that Alicia was a snobby jerk, but had no idea that she was capable of attempting to force someone into having sexual intercourse with her. If I ever see that bitch again, I’ll probably spend the rest of my life behind bars for what I intend to do to her!

 

“So after I find out what direction to go in order to get to your parent’s house, I walked a few miles before I was lucky enough to obtain a ride. I know it’s not a good idea to hitchhike nowadays, but my feet were hurting and my instincts told me that I could trust the people that offered to give me a lift.” As she finished, Jack noticed that Sonny’s vision had become blurry. Reaching between the bars, she gently caressed the younger woman’s cheek. “Hey sweetheart, don’t cry. I’m all right. Honest.”

 

Despite her best efforts not to, Sonny broke down into tears as she hung her head. Her heart breaking in two at the sight before her, Jack reached into her pocket and pulled out a large ring filled with keys. Finding the correct key, she inserted it into the lock, quickly unlocking the cell door. Pushing the bars backwards, she then reached inside and drew the sobbing blonde to her, wrapping her arms tightly around her. While whispering words of comfort into her ear, Jack rubbed up and down the woman's back. Clinging to the taller woman, Sonny concealed her face in Jack’s chest as the tears poured down her flushed cheeks.

 

Though they had only spoken a few words to one another thus far, Sonny’s neighbor walked to the bars and looked toward them, her face showing concern for the cute little blonde. Having decided that she had a crush on Sonny, the woman (who had been arrested because she attempted to lift a box of cigarettes from a gas station mini mart—she claimed to the police that she had been intending to pay) felt envious of the brunette who was holding her so close. Lucky broad. What I wouldn’t give to be able to wrap my arms around that sweet little thing. Blinking, the would be thief shook her head, thinking that she was supposed to be concerned not lusting.

 

Opening her mouth, she asked Jack if Sonny was okay. Blue eyes quickly shifting to the other cell, Jack looked at the other woman in surprise, as though she had forgotten she and Sonny weren’t the only ones there. While her companion continued to cry, albeit a bit softer now, the dark-haired woman shook her head, even going so far as to give the slightly heavy blonde looking at Sonny a reassuring smile. Satisfied that her crush was in good hands, the prisoner returned Jack’s smile before returning to her bench so they could have some privacy.

 

When Sonny grew quiet except for a few sniffles, Jack gently lifted her face before planting a tender kiss on her forehead. Softly smiling at the action, Sonny wiped at her wet cheeks. She apologized for crying, however Jack informed her that it wasn’t necessary to. Nodding and smiling again, Sonny looked around, noticing for the first time that she was no longer inside of the cell. Raising a curious brow, she looked up at the taller woman questioningly. A grin working its way upon her lips, Jack fished the keys out of her pocket again and dangled them in front of the blonde’s face, almost bursting into laughter when the expression on Sonny’s face turned comically shocked, her green eyes widening considerably.

 

Looking around as though she expected someone might be listening in on their conversation, Sonny asked in a hushed whisper, “Where did you get those? You wanna end up in here with me for stealing property belonging to a police department?! I can just see the headlines now. The owner of Brew n’ Paradise and the former owner of Bean There, Done That end up in the big house together. One for assault of a minor and the other for thievery.” When Jack started to chuckle, Sonny granted her with an incredulous expression. “Just what do you think is so funny Jack?”

 

Her eyes dancing with mirth, Jack smiled at the smaller woman. “You are my dear.” Tossing the heavy ring of keys high into the air, she effortlessly caught them before explaining, “Relax Sonny girl. One of the police officers allowed me to borrow these keys.”

 

“Why would they do that?”

 

Jack shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe they couldn’t resist my charm.” She grinned as her companion rolled her eyes. “I talked with them a little bit and then asked if I could borrow the keys to let you out of here and they acquiesced.”

 

“So you bailed me out already?” Reaching up, she squeezed the woman’s arm. “Thanks Jack. I’ll pay you back the money. It might take me a couple of paychecks but I’ll get it done. I promise.”

 

“Even if I had bailed you out, which I didn’t you should know that I wouldn’t accept your money.”

 

“Wait a minute.” The look on Sonny’s face changed into confusion. “You didn’t bail me out yet a police officer gave you a key to let me out? I don’t understand Jack.”

 

“I don’t need to bail you out because you’re free to go.”

 

“How is that possible?”

 

Starting to grin, Jack wrapped an arm around Sonny’s shoulders before leading her back into the cell. When they took their seats on the bench, the brunette started to relay what happened after she arrived at the police station.

 

After having been given the details of what occurred at the grocery store between Sonny and the checkout boy, Jack spotted the ‘victim’ quietly sitting on a chair holding a plastic bag filled with crushed ice to his face. As she began to stroll over to him, the teenager gave her a quizzical look while wondering who she was and what she wanted. Perhaps she was the blonde’s attorney. Whoever she was, she looked like the type of person who would not take crap from anyone. Loudly gulping, Danny attempted to keep his hands from shaking as he diverted his eyes from her.

 

“You’re Danny right?” Jack asked, as she towered over the teenager. Glancing up at her, he mutely nodded. He was relieved when she graced him with a friendly smile. “I thought so. Could you and I have a little chitchat?” After he nodded again, the brunette asked him to follow her. Putting his ice pack on the floor, Danny followed the older woman outside of the police station. His heart rate started to considerably speed up as he wondered why it was necessary for them to be out of sight from the police officers while they had this little chitchat.

 

As she leaned against a wall, Jack looked at the teenager standing before her. “How is your jaw?” she asked.

 

Shrugging, Danny replied, “Okay, I guess. Hurts a bit.”

 

The brunette slowly nodded. “Hmm.”

 

Shuffling from foot to foot, Danny asked, “Are you her lawyer?”

 

Lightly chuckling, Jack shook her head. “No, I’m not a lawyer. I’m actually a friend of Ms. Campbell’s.”

 

“Oh.” The teenager shoved his hands into his pants pockets. “So what did you wanna talk to me about?”

 

“Are you intending to go through with filing charges against Ms. Campbell?”

 

Danny adamantly nodded. “Yeah, of course I do. She never should have put her hands on me. If she’d been cooler, I wouldn’t have this bruise on my face and she wouldn’t be locked up behind bars. I know she’s your friend lady, but you need to tell her to chill out.”

 

Though she raised one eyebrow and the expression she wore turned mildly amused, Jack refrained from commenting on the teenager’s suggestion. “From what I’ve learned, your behavior at the grocery store prior to being hit was a bit…lewd. Are you going to deny that?”

 

Danny shrugged. “I might have said a thing or two that I shouldn’t have, but I was only playing around lady. She still shouldn’t have touched me.”

 

“One or two things Danny?” Tsking, Jack pushed away from the wall and took a couple of steps towards the teenager, who instantly took two steps backwards. Noticing the action, the brunette attempted to look non-threatening as she stated, “In Ms. Campbell’s report of what happened, she said that you told her such suggestive things as what you would do to her and how the both of you would use up the condoms she attempted to purchase within one night. She also said that she tried to appeal to you to be quiet but that you totally ignored her. So finally, she couldn’t take it anymore and she struck you. Now is she lying?”

 

Looking up into those clever blue eyes, Danny knew that he wouldn’t be able to get away with a lie. Sighing, reluctantly he shook his head. “No, she’s not lying. I did say all of that and she did try to get me to shut up but I didn’t listen.”

 

“Having admitted that are you going through with filing charges?” At his quick nod, Jack sighed. “Are you close with your mother Danny?”

 

Danny looked confused as he wondered what the change in subject was all about. What did his mother have to do with anything? Despite not having a clue as where she was headed with this line of questioning, the teenager nodded, while telling her that he still lived with his mother. Next, the brunette asked what his mother’s name was and he told her, growing more confused by the second.

 

“So is Debra a good mom?”

 

The teenager nodded. “Yeah, she’s the best. My dad skipped out on us when I was in kindergarten and she’s done a great job of taking care of me all by herself. She’s been both Mom and Dad to me and I appreciate her for always being there for me and for loving me.”

 

Jack slowly nodded. “That’s wonderful Danny. Speaking of appreciation, overall do you think that women should be appreciated? Not to knock men, but women rock Danny. They are the ones responsible for us being on this earth.”

 

“I do appreciate women. Hell, I love women.” The teenager grinned broadly.

 

Despite her best effort not to, Jack chuckled. “Cool. That’s something we have in common,” she paused, before continuing, “I want you to think about Debra, Danny. Picture your mother in a grocery store and she walks up to the cashier with her items. He proceeds to tell her the same things that you told my friend earlier and finally she gets fed up and hits him. Do you think she should be arrested? How would it make you feel to learn that that happened, hmm?”

 

Without even thinking about it, Danny replied, “Hell no she shouldn’t be arrested and I would be pissed! I’d wanna get my hands on that guy and kick the sh—“ Suddenly taking note of the tall woman’s arched brow, the teenager trailed off while sighing. While shuffling from foot to foot, his expression became thoughtful for a few silent moments before he looked back up at Jack and slowly nodded. “I see where you’re coming from lady. I wouldn’t want anyone to do to my mother what I did to your friend so how can I blame her for striking me?” He shrugged. “I was way out of line.” Reaching up, he touched his sore jaw. “I deserved this.”

 

Reaching toward him, Jack lightly squeezed the youngster’s shoulder. “You’re wise beyond your years Danny.” At that comment they both smiled. “So I take it that…”

 

Nodding, the teenager dramatically rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah of course I’m dropping the charges. Will you tell Ms. Campbell that I apologize for my behavior?”

 

Jack shook her head negatively. “No, I won’t tell her but you can. That is, after I talk with her first.”

 

Danny nodded. “Alright.” Glancing over his shoulder, he pointed towards the police station. “So do you wanna head back inside now?” He watched as Jack shook her head while reaching into her back pocket. When she said that she had something for him first, the teenager became alarmed, inanely thinking that she was about to pull out a gun. His first instinct was to collapse to the ground but the youth decided to appear brave by just standing there to see what happened next. Relief flooded his body as the woman merely withdrew a slip of paper, which she handed to him. Noticing his relieved expression, Jack gave him a questioning look but remained silent as she watched him open the small rectangular piece of paper. Danny’s lips formed into the shape of an O as he realized that he was holding a check that had more zeros on it then what he made at the grocery store in six months. His hand starting to shake, he looked up into amused blue eyes. “Th…this is for me?” At the brunette’s nod he added, “Why?”

 

“Actually, if I couldn’t appeal to your sense of decency I was going to bribe you with that check. However, since you obviously have a conscious, I started to keep the check but then decided to give it to you anyway. Are you a senior?” When Danny wordlessly nodded, his eyes riveted to the check Jack asked him if he planned on going to college.

 

Tearing his eyes away from the check, the teenager looked up at Jack replying, “Yes, I do. Probably Notre Dame next fall.”

 

Jack looked impressed. “Wow, good school Danny. How are your grades?”

 

“Pretty good. My best subjects are chemistry and calculus.” Glancing at the check he added, “I like working with numbers and symbols,” pausing, Danny held the check up to Jack, a look mixed with apprehension and hope on his face. Although he had a feeling that he would be able to obtain at least a partial scholarship, this check would be a great help towards his tuition, boarding, and books. However, Danny wasn’t positive that it was right to accept the money. Guilt ridden due to his earlier actions, he felt that he didn’t deserve this. “Are you sure you wanna give me this? This is an awful lot of money.”

 

Smiling down at him, Jack nodded. “Absolutely. It should help with your college fees. I know Notre Dame isn’t one of the cheapest schools to attend. Now put it in your pocket so you won’t lose it.”

 

Deciding to give in, Danny refolded the check before slipping it inside his jeans pocket. Surprising them both, he stepped forward and gave the woman a slightly awkward hug before letting go, earnestly thanking her as he did so. Announcing that he was welcome, Jack playfully ruffled his hair while deciding that the kid was all right. Despite his earlier actions, she liked him and felt that he was basically a good kid. Suddenly thinking about it, Jack asked Danny why he was still at the police station.

 

“The police brought me here to make a statement and now I’m waiting for Officer Hoyt to give me a ride home. I don’t have a car. I walk to work ‘cause I don’t live far from the grocery store.” Glancing at his watch, the teenager added, “Officer Hoyt should be ending his shift within the next hour so I don’t have much longer to wait.” 

 

“Can’t you call your mom to come pick you up?”

 

“No, she went out of town with her sister for the weekend.” Danny started to grin. “My aunt dragged her to some retreat. She didn’t look too happy when they left.”

 

Jack chuckled. “Tell you what. I’ll give you a ride home just as soon as I talk with my friend.” Cocking his head to the side, Danny asked her why she was being so nice to him. Wrapping an arm around his shoulders, the tall woman began to lead him towards the police station entrance. “’Cause despite your annoying behavior earlier I think you’re a cool guy and I’m willing to give you a chance.” When Danny smiled at her, she smiled back.

 

“Plus, I’ve displayed an annoying behavior towards Ms. Campbell plenty of times and she’s always given me another chance.” The pair laughed as they walked inside the building.

 

“…and shortly after our little talk I came in here,” Jack finished as she smiled down at the blonde sitting next to her.

 

Sonny looked at her companion in amazement, relieved to hear that she no longer had a record. “So the charges have truly been dropped?” Jack mutely nodded. “And I’m free to walk out of here right now,” it was said in more of a statement than a question.

 

Jack nodded again. “That you are. You’re free as a bird.” She smiled broadly as she started to rise, Sonny doing the same. For the second time in fifteen minutes, the brunette found herself wrapped in someone’s arms. Except this time there was nothing awkward about it as she eagerly returned the warm embrace. Holding on to Sonny a little longer than was necessary for a complete hug to last, Jack finally forced herself to let go, pleased to see that the blonde had a bit of trouble releasing her as well.

 

Looking down into emerald green eyes, Jack saw…was that adoration? Well, well, well. Sonny girl, I do believe that I’m steadily wearing you down. Then it’ll be sayonara Blueyez! The brunette gave a slight shake of her head. There I go referring to myself in the third person again. Focusing on the gorgeous blonde standing before her, Jack decided to take a chance. Her lips curving into a tender smile, she placed her hands on the smaller woman’s waist before her mouth started to descend towards Sonny’s. However, before she could fully complete her journey, a petite hand placed in the middle of her chest stopped her. Sonny then gave her a smile that appeared apologetic.

 

“Jack…thank you for coming to my rescue,” the blonde sincerely stated as she allowed her hand to linger on Jack’s chest a moment before she removed it. I cannot fall for Jack. Don’t fall for Jack! Remember Dixie? She’s the one for you not Jack. Having mentally chastised herself, Sonny looked up at the other woman. By the expression on her face, it was evident that Jack had just said something and was waiting for a reply. Sheepishly, Sonny asked her to repeat.

 

“I said that I’ll be there anytime that you need me. That’s a promise.” Smiling as the other woman blushed, Jack leaned down placing a chaste kiss on her rosy cheek. “Are you ready to go?”

 

Sonny nodded enthusiastically. “Let’s break outta here.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Having dropped a grateful Danny off at his home, Jack and Sonny were now headed back to the grocery store in order to retrieve Isaac’s car. During the ride there, both had been silent while lost in their respective thoughts. Glancing at her companion, Jack suddenly broke the silence by relaying to Sonny the explanation she had given to the woman’s sisters earlier on why she was late returning home.

 

“However you can tell them the truth if you want, “ Jack further explained. “I just wasn’t sure that you’d want everyone knowing what happened.”

 

The blonde chuckled. “We’ll just let them continue to think that I had a flat. Last thing I want is everyone at the party prodding me about the details. And knowing my dad he’ll march right down to the police station and berate them about arresting me in the first place.” Resting the back of her head on the headrest, Sonny covered her mouth while yawning. “I just want to forget this ever happened, you know?”

 

“You want to forget what ever happened?” Jack regarded the blonde with a blank expression as though she had no clue of what she was speaking about.

 

While gazing at Jack, a smile slowly appeared on Sonny’s face. Shaking her head, she reached over and squeezed the other woman’s knee before forcing herself to release it. “Anyone ever tell you how cool you are Jack?”

 

Jack shrugged nonchalantly. “Mostly their opinion is that I’m hot.” Flashing Sonny an impish grin, the brunette wiggled her eyebrows.

 

Starting to laugh, Sonny pointed in the direction of her brother’s car as Jack pulled into the parking lot belonging to the grocery store where Sonny had been arrested. Driving up next to the blue Nissan Jack shut off the ignition before turning her attention to her passenger. Though they would be reunited shortly, Jack found that she would miss Sonny during the few minutes they would be separated. Could I be anymore sprung? Surely, this woman must have put a spell on me!

 

Finding it a bit difficult to remove herself from the car, Sonny smiled softly at Jack as she said, “Thank you again for helping me tonight Jack and for not telling anyone what happened. You’ve become my second best friend.”

 

As Jack arched an eyebrow, Sonny laughed. “Second? I’m second?”

 

“Well, yeah Sarah comes first,” the blonde replied, broadly smiling.

 

Jack started to chuckle. “Oh, yes sweet and sassy Sarah. How is she anyway?” The brunette inquired, trying to delay Sonny’s imminent departure.

 

“She’s doing great. I told you that she’s now Hawke’s songwriter didn’t I?” At Jack’s nod, she added, “Sarah and I often chat on the phone or on AOL Messenger and she told me that they’re now working on Hawke’s first CD. It’s going terrifically and they hope to have it out by early January.”

 

“That’s wonderful news!”

 

The blonde nodded. “Absolutely. Oh, and you know how CD’s have titles? Sometimes it’s just the artists name?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“Well check this out! They’ve decided to name Hawke’s CD Been There, Done That! They just changed the bean to been. Isn’t that cool?”

 

Finding Sonny’s enthusiasm catchy, Jack smiled broadly while eagerly nodding. “Absolutely! I think that’s an awesome title name.”

 

Sonny nodded in agreement. “And the name of the number one track on the CD is Been There, Done That. I downloaded a demo which Sarah sent me of the song and it goes something like this…” Having started to sing, Sonny abruptly changed her mind. “Well um…I’ll just tell you the words—“

 

“No,” Jack interjected. “No, I’d like to hear you sing.” She gave the younger woman an encouraging smile.

 

“Trust me, you don’t want to hear me sing.” Sonny chuckled a bit nervously.

 

Having decided to try a little reverse psychology, the brunette shrugged as though it didn’t matter one way or the other what Sonny did or didn’t do. “Okay, it’s fine then. Not a big deal.” Offering her passenger a smile, Jack turned toward her steering wheel as though she was ready to go. She had a difficult time hiding a triumphant smile when Sonny quickly changed her mind about singing. It worked like a charm. Turning in Sonny’s direction, Jack said, “You know, you really don’t have to sing. It’s not necessary. I would never…ever want you to do anything that you’re not one hundred percent comfortable with.”

 

She didn’t completely understand why, but now Sonny wanted to sing more than ever! She gave her companion a slightly suspicious look, thinking that somehow Jack had messed with her mind. Green eyes narrowing she thought, you’re a crafty ex-Conqueror, aren’t ya Jack? Despite having a strong feeling that she was being played like a fiddle, Sonny decided to sing anyway. Announcing that she was about to start, the blonde replayed the words to Hawke’s song in her head before starting.

 

I’ve been there and done that

And I won’t go down that road again

I’ve been there and done that

I know it’s just a dead end

 

So if you decide to travel that way

Then you’re going on your own

That’s all I have to say

 

Now I know the difference

Between right and wrong

I’ve been there and done that

Now I’m headed where I belong

 

Finishing, Sonny’s cheeks turned a beet red as Jack started to clap and holler like she was at a concert. Starting to chuckle, the blonde shook her head from side to side. “Though we both know that my voice isn’t at all good, thank you for your enthusiasm Jack.” She smiled.

 

Jack shook her head in disagreement as she captured Sonny’s hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the back of it and in the process causing Sonny’s cheeks to further redden. “No, Sonny girl. I think your voice is positively beautiful.” Jack tenderly smiled, still holding Sonny’s hand in her own. She began to stroke back and forth across the smooth skin with the padding of her thumb. “Thank you for sharing.”

 

Trying to ignore the pleasurable tingle in her hand, Sonny slowly nodded. “You’re welcome.” I better get out of here pronto! Glancing out the window toward her brother’s car, Sonny informed Jack that they should head home. Agreeing, Jack reluctantly released her grasp on the blonde’s hand. Just as Sonny started to exit the car, she heard her name being softly called and turned back to Jack with questioning eyes.

 

“There’s something I’ve been wondering all day…”

 

Sonny raised a golden eyebrow in a fairly good imitation of Jack. “Yes?”

 

“Well,” Jack started, smiling a bit mischievously, “is anyone else in your family gay?”

 

The expression on Sonny’s face registered surprise at the unexpected question. She wondered where Jack could possibly be headed with it and asked why she wanted to know. Shrugging, the brunette simply replied that she was curious. Though suspicious, Sonny closed the door, the overhead light shutting off as she turned in her seat to face the other woman. As Jack quietly listened, Sonny informed her that besides Alicia (who the blonde had a difficult time referring to as family—especially after what she had pulled earlier) the only other family member that she knew to be gay was her cousin Robert. He was the youngest son of Paul’s ‘little’ brother Ronald. Since they were small children, Sonny and Robert had always gotten along fantastically and shared what they considered a special bond. Robert was one of Sonny’s favorite family members and the feeling was highly mutual.

 

Sonny excitedly informed her friend that she would get to meet Robert tomorrow at the party along with his small son Thomas. Smiling, Jack replied that she couldn’t wait to meet them both before she asked Sonny if she was sure that no one else in her family was gay. Arching a curious brow, the blonde simply stared at the woman for a few silent moments while thoughtfully biting on her lower lip. She would have stopped had she noticed the effect this action was having on Jack, but instead failed to detect the hint of desire in the expressive blue eyes.

 

“Not that I know of,” Sonny finally replied. “I mean I don’t know the sexual orientation of every single person in my family, but I’d bet that everyone else is straight.”

 

I’m guessing that’s a bet that you would lose Sonny girl. “I see. What about immediate family members?” Jack casually inquired. “Siblings perhaps?”

 

“What?!” Sonny laughed in a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ sort of way. She then stared at Jack as though she had just discovered that the woman was a being not of this planet. “Are you seriously asking me this Jack?” When the brunette mutely nodded, she sighed. “Okay,” Sonny started, drawing the short word out, “I doubt that my married sisters Candace and Melanie are into women, since they are very much in love with their husbands. And before Matthew and Brian entered the picture, I can assure you that they enjoyed being courted solely by the male half of the population. And Isaac…” Sonny laughed finding the mere thought of someone thinking that her brother might be gay amusing, “he’s probably had more girlfriends then you, Laura, Leslie and I combined! He loves women…he worships the ground they walk on. He’s been flirting with women since preschool. And just in case you’re thinking it, Isaac’s not using women as a cover because he doesn’t want people to find out that he’s “in the closet”. He honestly adores the fairer sex.”

 

“And Briana?” Jack quietly questioned.

 

“She’s not gay either,” Sonny stubbornly retorted. “I’m the only offspring of Paul and Annette Campbell who is.” Looking at Jack, she noticed her disbelieving expression. “Where is all this coming from? Why the sudden interest in one wanting to know if any of my other relatives are gay?”

 

“Because I think Briana is.” Taking in Sonny’s shocked expression, Jack barely refrained from rolling her eyes. Did none of the young tennis player’s family see it? Talk about being in denial! Either that or just totally clueless! “Don’t tell me you’ve never had your suspicions that she might be,” Jack said, giving Sonny a ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ look.

 

“She’s not,” Sonny almost whined. She suddenly had a longing to strangle Jack. Was it truly possible for them to spend any significant amount of time together without getting into an argument? How were they going to be friends if every now and then they wanted to slap each other silly? Sonny concluded that somehow they would have to make their relationship work because no matter how much she wanted to kick the sometimes annoying and pretentious ex-Conqueror’s butt, the fact remained that she adored her and needed Jack in her life. I really do need her, Sonny thoughtfully admitted to herself. This nut really is my second best friend and you know what? I wouldn’t change a thing about her, because then she wouldn’t be the person that I…well…love.

 

“Does she now or have you ever known her to have a boyfriend?”

 

Giving it some thought, Sonny then shook her head negatively. “No, but that doesn’t mean anything.”

 

“It’s a clue.”

 

A pair of green eyes rolled. “You need to listen to yourself Jack. This is ridiculous. You can’t say someone is gay just because they’ve never had a boyfriend or girlfriend.”

 

Cocking her head to the side, Jack gazed at her friend thoughtfully. “Are you in denial Sonny? Would you have a problem with your sister being a lesbian?”

 

“No! Of course not,” Sonny added a bit more quietly. “I would support her just like our family did me, but she’s not gay.”

 

“Speaking of your family, do you think she could just be afraid to come out?”

 

The blonde head shook. “No way. Mom and Daddy took my news about being a lesbian surprisingly well.”

 

When she was sixteen years old, Sonny had worked up the courage she needed in order to inform her parents of her sexual orientation. Having decided to tell them separately, she flipped a coin to see who would be first, since she had a difficult time choosing. If it turned out to be heads then her father. If tails, her mother would be first. After the penny landed in the palm of her hand, the face of Abraham Lincoln was staring to the right of her. Listening to honest Abe, the teenage Sonny went in search of Paul, finding him in the den watching football. 

 

Sitting next to her father, Sonny silently watched him as he yelled at a player for fumbling the football. Having a feeling that his daughter wanted to have a “serious talk” he looked at her, offering her the bowl of popcorn that he held. He wouldn’t ask, he would instead wait until she was ready to talk about whatever was on her mind. Granting him with a grateful smile, Sonny reached into the bowl and grabbed a handful of the fluffy buttery stuff.

 

They both proceeded to watch the game as Sonny popped a piece of popcorn into her mouth and chewed one at a time. When the palm of her hand was empty, she looked up at her father again while nervously swallowing. Noticing out of the corner of his eye, he offered her a sip of his beverage, but the blonde shook her head.

 

“Daddy?” she finally got out. It was the first thing she had said to him since arriving in the den.

 

“Yes?” Paul answered while looking at the television. He had the ability to concentrate on multiple things at once and was currently paying attention to both the football game and his daughter, although it wouldn’t appear that way.

 

“Daddy, I’m a lesbian,” Sonny blurted out before she could even think about changing her mind. She was tired of being in the closet and she was anxious for her parents to meet her girlfriend.

 

“That’s great honey.” Ungluing his eyes from the television, Paul gave his daughter a broad smile. “I’m happy for you.”

 

Sonny stared at him in confusion and bewilderment. “What? Did you just hear me correctly?” The teenager had the urge to grab the remote control in order to switch off the television. Her own parent wasn’t paying her any attention and she was trying to have a very important conversation!

 

Paul nodded as he reached over and placed the bowl on the coffeetable. “Yes, I heard you correctly love. You said that you’re a lesbian.” He continued to smile at her, though he had turned it down a little.

 

He’s lost his mind! “And? That’s it? You’re happy for me?! What parent says they are happy for their child after that child just admitted that they were gay?! There’s usually shock, surprise, disappointment, denial, and even revulsion in some unfortunate cases, but I’ve never heard of ‘I’m happy for you’!”

 

“Well now you have!” Winking at her, Paul glanced back toward the television after hearing a great hoopla. Seeing that his team was still lagging behind, he scowled before turning back to his daughter. “Sonny, I just want you to be happy and I want you to know that I support this. I love you and it doesn’t matter to me what your sexual preference is.”

 

Though still a bit dazed, Sonny left her father to the rest of his game after they had a small discussion. That had gone almost too well! He was so understanding and accepting that it was freaky! Pinching herself, Sonny decided that she definitely was not dreaming. She took a deep breath as she located her mother in the kitchen cooking dinner. One down and one to go. She figured that her siblings would be easy. She had already told Melanie months ago and that had gone well.

 

Standing in the entryway to the kitchen, Sonny called out her mother’s name (which was Mom to her). Looking up, Annette stopped stirring the contents of the pot on the stove and smiled at her second youngest.

 

“Dinner will be ready soon sweetie,” Annette stated, before she closely read the expression on Sonny’s face. Growing concerned, she put the wooden spoon down and walked over toward the young girl. Placing her hands on her daughter’s shoulders, she asked, “What’s wrong Madison?”

 

“I’m gay,” Sonny whispered.

 

“Don’t tell me you’re okay. I know something is wrong,” Annette replied. “Now tell me what it is sweetie,” she gently added.

 

Sonny would have laughed had the situation been different. “No Mom, I didn’t say that I was okay. I said that I was gay,” she clearly enunciated.

 

“Oh.” Annette’s mouth formed into the shape of an almost perfect O. She then squeezed her daughter’s shoulders. “Well it’s about time you figured it out.”

 

Staring in disbelief, Sonny found that she was rendered speechless. Both of her parents had lost their minds! She didn’t know which was harder to absorb. The fact that her father had told her he was happy for her or that her mother acted as though she had already known about her being a lesbian. This was all so unreal!

 

“Madison?”

 

Rapidly blinking, Sonny focused on the concerned face of her mother. “Sorry umm…guess I zoned out there for a minute. Mom…you already knew?”

 

Annette nodded. “Yes, I did.”

 

“How?”

 

She took a deep breath as she sat down on a chair at the table, Sonny joining her by plopping into one. “I already had my suspicions, but then you confirmed it one evening when I saw you and your friend Gina…” Annette blushed as she added, “studying each other’s lips in the den instead of the ignored books surrounding you.”

 

Jack laughed as Sonny finished telling her the story of when she came out to her parents. Her lips curving into a smile, the petite blonde had to admit that it was sort of amusing. Very strange but amusing all the same.

 

“So…are you going to drop this crazy idea of yours that my baby sister is gay?”

 

Jack shrugged. “Yeah, sure.” Since Sonny looked like she could use a good eight or nine hours sleep, Jack decided to take pity on her. They could resume this conversation later. “So I’ll see you in a few minutes then.”

 

Sonny smiled again. “Yeah, you will.” Turning she opened the door before glancing over her shoulder at her friend. “Drive carefully you speed demon.”

 

Jack merely grinned.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

After finishing a delicious breakfast consisting of Belgian waffles, cheese omelets, crisp bacon and tender sausage, Sonny went out to the beach with her nephews and niece in tow. While everyone enjoyed breakfast, she had been cajoled into promising the little rugrats that she would help them build a sandcastle. Sonny smiled, not minding one bit as she instructed Ian and Jayme to fill the plastic buckets they had brought along with them. As she and Amanda waited, collecting sand as they did so, she recalled the last time she and her niece and nephews made a sandcastle. Sonny didn’t mean to gloat, but with her helping, it was a thing of beauty! She hated for it to be destroyed, but the thing about sandcastles was that one couldn’t admire their beauty forever. They were like snowmen. Only available for viewing for a limited amount of time.

 

As the four started working on their sandcastle after having thoroughly discussed a plan on how they wanted it to be built, Sonny’s thoughts drifted to Jack, who she expected to be back at any moment with Briana. The two women had been the only ones missing from the breakfast table since they had decided to go out for breakfast and then a drive around the city with Briana behind the wheel. While she helped Amanda to dig the moat with plastic shovels that matched the buckets, Sonny kept repeating to herself that she was not jealous that Jack and her younger sister seemed to spending so much quality time together. It didn’t bother her that whenever Briana granted Jack with a worshipful expression that the brunette in turn gave her a heartwarming smile that could melt all the ice in Alaska. Nope, she had not a care in the world. They could bond all they wanted to!

 

Noticing that she was digging into the dirt with much more force than what was needed, Sonny eased up, sitting back on her haunches. This kind of attitude was ridiculous. Where did she get off having a problem with Jack and her sister bonding? It wasn’t as though she owned Jack and the woman was free to spend time with anyone that she wanted. Even if that person was Sonny’s kid sister. Suddenly, Sonny began to frown as she thought of something that had never crossed her mind before. 

 

Wait a minute. Just wait one darn minute! While Jayme, Ian, and Amanda continued to faithfully work Sonny thought back to the conversation she and Jack had shared in the early hours of the morning. Jack had been awfully interested in wanting to know Sonny’s views on Briana’s sexual preference. Last night after they returned to the house, Jack and Briana had stayed up until nearly dawn whispering and giggling like schoolgirls while Candace and Melanie slept and Sonny attempted to. Now this morning they had declared that they were going out for breakfast and that they would be back in a little while.

 

Sonny’s eyes narrowed. That couldn’t be it, could it? Jack would never stoop so low as to…Briana was even younger than Chloe! That would be totally robbing the…A thirty-two year old woman and a nineteen-year-old girl just didn’t sound like a grand idea! Sonny started to rise to go back into the house, but then changed her mind. She had promised the sandcastle building trio that she would help them and she was not intending to break that promise. Glaring toward her parents beach house, the blonde then got to work, pasting a smile on her lips for the rugrats benefit.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Finally finishing the sandcastle, Sonny and her niece and nephews stood back to admire their handiwork. As she had suspected it would be, this sandcastle was another thing of utter beauty. In fact, it was better than the last one they had made. Nearly as tall as Amanda, it was around four feet wide. They had put some water in the moat, but unfortunately, the dirt had soaked it all up within a matter of minutes. Telling them that she had a plan on how to get it to stay, Sonny heard footsteps behind her and looked around to see Jack headed toward them, a bright smile on her gorgeous tanned face. The smile faded away when she caught sight of the glare being directed at her. What had she done now? Perhaps she should have invited Sonny to come along with her and Briana to breakfast. Sure, she would have had to take Isaac’s or someone else’s car since the Lamborghini only seated two people, but it was doable.

 

Arriving at the quartet, Jack smiled at the sand-coated children and clapped hands with Ian who held his small one up to her. Reaching out, she gently ruffled Jayme’s hair, causing him to playfully roll his eyes in the process. Even at the young age of thirteen, Jayme could detect the tension between his aunt and his secret crush, so taking each of his cousin’s hands he asked them if they would like to go watch Saturday morning cartoons. Jumping up and down in excitement, they eagerly excepted the invitation. Giving Jack and Sonny a smile that they returned with a grateful one, Jayme led his sudden charges into the house.

 

After they disappeared, Jack turned to Sonny asking her if something was wrong. She then rolled her eyes. Evidently, something was wrong if the woman was giving her that seething look. Before Sonny could answer, Jack corrected her question by asking instead what was wrong. Remaining silent, the blonde folded her arms across her chest as she indicated for Jack to follow her with a shake of her head. Deciding to be obedient, Jack quietly followed the other woman. They kept walking until they were nearly half a mile from the beach house. Sonny then sat down in the sand about ten feet away from the shore with Jack choosing to on her left. There was maybe six inches of space between them. For a few seconds they silently watched the waves gently breaking against the shore before Jack repeated her question.

 

Keeping her eyes riveted to the ocean, Sonny asked, “What’s going on between you and my sister? Or better yet, what do you want to be going on between you and my sister?” Not receiving a quick reply, Sonny turned her head and looked at Jack, who wore an incredulous expression. The blonde lightly snorted. “Please don’t pretend like you have no idea what I’m talking about. I’ve finally figured it out Jack. You…for some reason have an interest in Briana, but let me tell you that nothing will happen between you two. You have to accept the fact that she is not gay and plus she’s young enough to be your…well…sister.” Turning her head away, Sonny rolled her eyes at her ‘brilliant’ argument. Still not gaining a response, she looked back at Jack quizzically. “Well?”

 

“Have you totally lost every bit of sense that you possessed?” Jack inquired in a low and almost pained tone of voice. Upon hearing it, Sonny started to feel just a tad bit guilty. “Nothing…and I mean absolutely nothing is going on between Briana and I. I like her but I don’t like her that way! In case it slipped your mind there is only one woman that I want, no matter how much she just insulted my integrity!” Jack started to rise, intent on leaving in a huff when a restraining hand landed on her arm.

 

“Please Jack don’t go,” Sonny pleaded, all traces of anger having melted away. Of course, what had she been thinking? Now her entire argument sounded ridiculous! Looking sheepishly at Jack, Sonny said, “I’m sorry. I should have known that you would never…that you wouldn’t try to go after Briana. I apologize for my outburst.”

 

Jack slowly shook her head as she looked at Sonny with an unreadable expression. “When will you admit it Sonny?”

 

“Admit what?”

 

That you love me you goof! Starting to smile, Jack shook her head again. “Nevermind. It’s not important,” pausing, she collected her thoughts, “So are you done being pissed with me? I think there’s been enough hostility between us to last a lifetime, don’t you think?”

 

Turning around so that she faced Jack, Sonny wrapped her arms around the woman in answer. Quickly wrapping her arms around the petite blonde, Jack hugged her with all her might while placing a tender kiss on her cheek. “I love you Sonny,” the brunette uttered in a barely heard whisper. She got a good squeeze for the declaration. Though this wasn’t the answer she preferred, it was more than she had expected. Staying in the embrace for a few moments, the two women then released each other, sharing a warm smile.

 

The majority of the time having the ability to come up with something to talk about, Sonny got a conversation started and soon the two had been yapping away for a good half hour on one topic or another. It had gone unnoticed by them when Jayme slipped outside to make sure that they hadn’t murdered each other. He saw them peacefully chatting a ways from his grandparents home. Smiling in delight, the young boy had drifted back into the beach house.

 

“I’m ready to tell you,” Jack stated, having waited for a lull in their conversation so that she could bring up this subject.

 

“Tell me what?”

 

“What I told Anne yesterday.” Jack looked down at the sand as though it was suddenly of extreme interest. She soon found herself staring into a pair of concerned green eyes when Sonny gently lifted her chin. Quietly, the blonde earnestly stated that it wasn’t necessary and that she didn’t have to if she rather not. Jack shook her head. “No, I want you to know and there’s no time like the present.”

 

Reaching over, Sonny pulled Jack’s hand into her own. “Are you sure? I’m not in any hurry. I can wait until you’re ready.”

 

The brunette tenderly smiled, loving this woman more every second. “I’ve never been more ready then I am at this moment Sonny girl. I’ve related this story to two other people in my life and those were Leslie and your mother. Well now, I’m ready to tell you…to tell you about what happened to my parents all those years ago. How they died.” Remaining silent, Sonny gave the hand she held an encouraging squeeze. Jack had told her early on in their friendship that her parents had died, but she never went into detail. Sonny had assumed that they might have been in an automobile accident. “They died when I was in college and Chloe was just a little thing.”

 

“Was it an accident?” Sonny gently prodded.

 

Jack shook her head as she looked out toward the ocean. “No, their deaths were very intentional,” she softly replied. “My Dad…his name was Jack too, short for Jackson, he died a few days before my Mom did. He was on his way home from work one evening when three younger men assaulted him in the parking lot. I know the details of what happened because they were caught within a couple of hours. There was so much evidence against them that they couldn’t possibly deny what they had done. Anyway, they ordered my Dad to give them his wallet and the keys to his car. He willingly gave up both. They said that they were about to leave him alone when they spotted the wedding ring on his finger and told him to give them that too, but he refused to. They put a gun to his…” trailing off, Jack wiped at the tears that had started to fall down her cheeks. Though she had not been a witness, for the past eleven years she had played the scene from what happened that night repeatedly in her mind.

 

As Sonny began to stroke the length of her back, Jack attempted to get her emotions under control before she continued. “They umm…they put a gun to his head and repeated for him to give them his ring, but he still wouldn’t do it. Even after they threatened to shoot him, he refused. So finally, one of the other two grabbed the gun from the guy holding it and shot my Dad. Afterwards, they pried the ring from his finger, piled into his car, and sped away. A witness saw them driving off and quickly called the police and an ambulance but it was too late. Dad died immediately after they shot him,” Jack paused before adding, “And for that I’m grateful. At least he didn’t suffer.” Starting to cry, Jack felt a pair of arms wrapping around her and buried her face in the crook of Sonny’s neck. Though it had happened eleven years ago, the pain was still fresh. Beginning to cry as well, Sonny held on tight while she gently rocked the upset woman in her arms.

 

“Why couldn’t he have just given them the ring? I miss him so damn much,” Jack whispered in a heartbroken voice.

 

“I know you do baby. I know.”

 

Neither woman said anything else for the next five minutes as they continued to embrace. As the tears ceased to flow, Jack disengaged herself from Sonny while telling her that she was only halfway through the story. The blonde asked if she wanted to go on, to which Jack nodded.

 

“Yes, I want you to know this,” she quietly stated.

 

Sonny nodded as she once again slipped her hand into Jack’s. “Then I’m ready when you are.”

 

There was a brief silence before Jack started, absently rubbing her thumb against the skin on Sonny’s hand. “Two days after we buried my Dad, I was helping Mom to pack his belongings—clothes and such—and then she suddenly stopped folding a shirt and looked at me saying…”

 

“Jack, I can do this. Why don’t you take Chloe to the park?” Ellen offered as she resumed folding the cotton shirt in her hands. “She’s been spending so much time in her room and I think getting out would do both of you some good.”

 

Jack glanced around the bedroom, looking at all of the unfilled cardboard boxes. “Maybe later. We still have a lot of work to do.”

 

“But I can do it. You can help me some more when you return. For now, I want you to drop that tie and go to the kitchen. Make you and Chloe some sandwiches to take along with you. I think we have some chips to. That child needs to get out of this house and so do you.”

 

Tossing the tie on the bed, Jack placed her hands on her waist. “And what about you?”

 

“Jacqueline I am your mother. Do what I say.” Ellen attempted to look scolding, but a small smile found its way to her lips. “Please, just do this for me?”

 

Sighing, Jack faintly smiled in return. It was the first time she’d done so since before her father died. “Okay, okay. I’ll take Chloe to the park for a couple of hours but then I’m coming back here and helping you with all this stuff.”

 

Ellen’s smile widened. “Deal.”

 

Fifteen minutes later, Jack and Chloe were about to leave for the park, the older of the two carrying a picnic basket. As they walked through the living room, they spied Ellen sitting on the couch, looking up at her daughters as though she had been waiting for them. She shook her head after Jack asked if she wanted to come along. Arising from the couch, she replied that she just wanted to see them off. Walking over to her daughters, Ellen gave each a soft smile complete with a warm and tender hug. While she had her arms wrapped around them, she told the young girls that she loved them and they in turn said the same.

 

Albeit a bit curious as to her mother’s sudden behavior, Jack kissed the woman’s cheek before she ushered her sister out of the front door. Getting in Jack’s dark blue Hyundai, they were about to take off when they noticed Ellen standing in the front door blowing kisses at them. After tossing kisses back at her, they backed out of the driveway and then headed down the street. As she drove, Jack twice attempted to get a conversation started with Chloe, but the young girl only gave one or few word answers. Sighing, Jack hoped that a trip to the park would do the nine-year-old some good.

 

About to make a right turn at the end of their street, Jack pressed her foot to the brake as a sense of foreboding swept through her. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong. Her thoughts drifted to her mother and how she had been acting just before they left. Sure, Ellen had always been affectionate with her children, but something just didn’t seem right about the display of affection she had just bestowed on them. It almost seemed as though she was saying goodbye…

 

“Oh my God,” Jack whispered much too softly for Chloe to hear. That’s why she wanted me to take Chloe to the park. Pulling over to the curb, Jack switched off the ignition before she turned toward her little sister who was staring dejectedly out of the passenger side window. “Chloe, honey let’s play a game. I want you to stay here in the car until I get back. If you are still sitting in your seat by the time I get back to the car then I’ll give you ten bucks, okay?”

 

Though giving her sister a quizzical look, Chloe shrugged. She had never heard of this game but it sounded easy and all she had to do was remain seated, which was what she wanted to do anyway. “Okay.”

 

Reaching out, Jack ruffled the young girl’s hair. “Great. Be right back.” Grabbing the keys from the ignition, she bolted from the car and headed in the direction they had come, running as fast as her long legs would allow. Jack faintly heard someone calling her name but merely kept running instead of stopping to see who it was. She had to focus all of her concentration on getting home. Hopefully, her instincts were wrong and she would arrive home to find her mother still busy folding her father’s clothing.

 

She has to be all right, she has to be, Jack kept thinking as she furiously pumped her legs. Her lungs started to burn and her breathing was labored as her feet pounded a steady rhythm on the sidewalk. Finally reaching the Foster home, Jack bounded up the few steps leading to the porch. Turning the knob, she found that the front door was locked. She was about to attempt to knock it down when she remembered that she had her keys. Lifting her right hand, which held the keys, Jack shakily found the correct one and inserted it into both locks. Seconds later she was inside the house and anxiously calling Ellen, only to receive silence as an answer.

 

With sweat pouring down her face and heart beating rapidly beneath her chest, Jack ran from room to room all the while calling her mother. Entering her mother’s bedroom, she spotted clothes and various other belongings of her father’s scattered around the room.

 

“Mom where are you?!” Jack shouted as her eyes focused on the closed bathroom door. She recalled that it had been wide open when she left the room earlier to make she and Chloe’s picnic lunch. Telling herself that Ellen was probably just washing up or using the restroom, Jack knocked on the door, not hearing a muffled reply as she had hoped. “Mom answer me!” Placing her hand on the doorknob, the brunette turned. She was chagrined to find that the door wouldn’t budge. “Damn it.” Jack could never recall her mother locking the bathroom door, even after she and Chloe walked in without knocking on more than one occasion.

 

Walking across the room, Jack gritted her teeth as she stared at the bathroom door. On the count of three, she hurried toward the door and slammed her body against it, causing parts of the wood to splinter as the door swung open. Not noticing the immense pain that one experienced after dislocating one’s shoulder, Jack stormed into the bathroom only to stop dead in her tracks after just a few steps. As soon as she located her voice, she let out a piercing scream while looking at the woman who had given birth to her twenty one years ago, hanging lifelessly from the shower stall with one of Jack senior’s belts.

 

Though she knew that it was much too late to help her mother, Jack carefully lifted the woman and removed the belt from around her bruised neck. Gently lowering her to the cold bathroom tile, Jack kneeled next to her while tears coursed down her reddened cheeks. She tipped her mother’s head back and proceeded to perform CPR while alternately pressing on Ellen’s chest between the breaths. Jack did this for a full five minutes before she checked her mother’s motionless pulse once more before finally giving up.

 

Her tears ceasing to fall, Jack arose from the floor and walked out of the bathroom almost in a zombie like state. Sitting on her parents’ bed she picked up the phone and punched in the three-digit number used for an emergency. Bringing the phone to her ear, Jack heard a female voice immediately answer her call.

 

Getting her mouth to work properly after a few seconds, Jack apathetically said, “My mother just committed suicide by hanging herself from her shower stall. I tried CPR but it was no use therefore there isn’t any reason for you to rush getting here. Just do so soon. Thanks.” Before the woman could offer a reply, Jack placed the phone back in its cradle before she arose from the bed and walked back into the bathroom. Stepping over her mother’s prone body, she sat down on the floor with her back against the tub. Drawing her legs up until the bottom of her feet were touching the tile, she wrapped her arms them and rested her chin on her right knee. Blue eyes devoid of any emotion fell on Ellen and silently watched for nearly five minutes before Jack spoke.

 

“Dad didn’t have much of a choice but you left us intentionally,” the brunette flatly started. “You left your nine-year-old daughter without a single parent to guide her and for that I will never shed another tear for you, you spineless coward.” Done, Jack fell silent again, not speaking until she had to answer the questions of the ambulance team when they arrived.

 

Speechless, Sonny stared out toward the ocean while she gave the hand she still held a light squeeze. Although they hadn’t died at the same time, she never would have guessed that Jack’s mother had committed suicide. Slowly turning her head, she looked up at Jack’s face which was as emotionless now as she guessed it might have been moments after the woman ceased to give CPR to her mother all of those years ago. That must have been so hard for you and Chloe to deal with. Deciding to, Sonny softly voiced her thoughts, instantly drawing Jack’s attention to her.

 

“It was for Chloe. Imagine being a child and losing your parents within days of each other. And in such violent horrible ways.”

 

“It wasn’t for you?”

 

There was a healthy dose of silence before Jack gave a response. “My Dad yes…my Mom…to a certain extent.”

 

“Meaning?”

 

The brunette released a long sigh. “Moments after I accepted her death, I lost all respect for her and I was angry because she willingly left her children and Chloe needed her.” Jack paused before admitting, “Hell, though I was an adult I needed her too. And she made it perfectly clear by taking her life that she didn’t give a damn about us. I will never forgive her for abandoning her family. Sonny, her death wasn’t as hard for me to deal with because I have too much hostility and anger built up to be truly saddened by it.”

 

Sonny didn’t believe for a minute that Ellen’s death hadn’t evoked any feelings in her daughter other than anger. It was obvious that Jack was perturbed, but she must have grieved the loss of her mother.

 

“I don’t condone what your mom did, but Jack I’m sure that she loved you both. She was just hurting too much,” Sonny softly stated as she noticed a pair of saddened blue eyes starting to glisten with unshed tears.

 

“And we weren’t?” Jack retorted a little more sharply than she had intended. Quickly apologizing for her tone of voice, she then calmly repeated her question.

 

“Of course you were.” Placing her hand on Jack’s back, Sonny began to rub it. “Think about it. She lost her husband…the other half of her soul in such a senseless act. I don’t know what state of mind I would be in if I were to lose y--…the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.” Biting her lower lip, Sonny hoped that Jack hadn’t caught what she had been about to say. Since the brunette’s expression didn’t change, Sonny figured that she hadn’t noticed. That was far too close.

 

“Would you kill yourself? What if you had children? Would you?”

 

Giving it a considerable amount of thought, Sonny then answered, “I would like to think, especially if I had children that I would not go that far. Ending my life would not be the right solution and it would not make anything easier.”

 

Jack slowly shook her head. “I don’t see how a person could do that. I thought my mother was such a strong woman and in the end, she proved me wrong. I don’t think I can ever forgive her for that,” pausing, the brunette took a shuddering breath. “I do love her, but I don’t like her.”

 

“Have you honestly tried to?”

 

After a few silent moments passed, Sonny started to think that her companion did not intend to answer the question, until she shook her head negatively, blue eyes glued to the sand. Snaking an arm around the taller woman’s waist, Sonny gave a gentle tug until Jack scooted close to her. Resting her cheek on Sonny’s shoulder, the brunette slightly smiled as she felt the faint pressure of lips on the top of her head. Before she could even think to stop them, the tears began to fall down her cheeks, her shoulders shaking with the force of the sudden sobs.

 

Remaining silent, Sonny moved so that she could wrap both arms around the crying woman. Feeling a longer pair of arms encircling her, she placed soft kisses on Jack’s cheek as she held on tight. Only when Jack’s crying settled down until she was just sniffing, did Sonny speak as she pulled back slightly to look into watery azure eyes.

 

“Jack, I know it might be difficult for you to do, but forgiveness is an important step if you want to heal and I know you do. No matter what she did, your mother loved you and Chloe and if she could now she would apologize for her actions.” Removing an arm from around her, the petite blonde touched her palm to Jack’s chest. “Look deeply into your heart and it’ll lead you in the right direction. It’ll show you that forgiveness is the correct path.”

 

Gently lifting Sonny’s small hand from her chest, Jack placed a tender kiss in the palm of it, all the while watching as green eyes started to gather moisture. As a tear escaped, Jack quickly reached up and wiped it away with a fingertip before kissing the smooth soft cheek. Taking a deep breath, she rested her forehead against Sonny’s, both women instantly closing their eyes as they enjoyed this intimacy. Though one of them would never want to admit it, neither wanted this moment to end. More than ever before, Jack wished that she had the ability to freeze time.

 

“I love you Sonny girl,” she whispered after a considerable length of silence settled between them.

 

Sonny tenderly smiled, her eyes still closed. “And I love you Jack.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Three hours later, Paul and Annette’s anniversary party was in full swing! Everyone was having a grand time conversing, dancing, playing games, and munching on snacks while their mouths watered waiting for Brian (the designated chef) to finish barbecuing with Jayme his assistant. The party taking place directly on the beach, Jack sat there at a picnic table talking with Sonny and her cousin Robert. Although Paul had referred to him earlier as “Gay Robert” when he informed Isaac that even his cousin “Gay Robert” had a child and most importantly it was a boy, which meant that he would be carrying on the Campbell name. Paul had promptly ceased to use the nickname after his wife who had been in hearing distance at the time scolded him. Of course, the retired police officer had not meant to offend his nephew. He only wanted to make a point that his thirty-three year old son should settle down and finally give him some grandchildren and most importantly grandsons.

 

Jack smiled as she listened to Sonny and Robert excitedly conversing, taking turns telling her wacky stories from their youth. She started to laugh as they relayed to her the story of how they obtained fake ID’s in order to get into a gay & lesbian nightclub, which had a minimum age requirement of twenty-one. At the time Sonny had been sixteen and Robert nineteen. Having just come out to her parents nearly a week ago, Sonny had wanted to celebrate and with little effort coaxed Robert into joining her in a night of fun. Soon after they arrived at the nightclub, they found themselves participating in a rambunctious game of “who can swallow the most tequila shots without falling down drunk on their rumps”. Of course, they both lost. They lost the game and the contents of their stomachs all over the dance floor while attempting to do the electric slide, but looking more like a couple of bumbling drunks with two left feet.

 

Bursting into tears because she was thoroughly humiliated and felt like someone was setting off firecrackers in her tummy, Sonny was ushered off of the dance floor, the protective arms of her though equally inebriated, dependable cousin around her. Having enough sense to know that they shouldn’t be driving in their condition, they reluctantly called Sonny’s parents to come pick them up. The next day, they had to endure an extreme hangover along with a lecture from their parental units and although he was nineteen Robert had his license taken away for a week for being so irresponsible and for not looking out for his “innocent, impressionable baby cousin”. It was on the tip of his tongue to tell his mother and father that it had all been Sonny’s idea, but he quickly decided that it wouldn’t do any good. Plus, he would never rat out Sonny. He loved the mischievous little blonde too much.

 

“Aaw, that’s sweet,” Jack remarked, grinning as the other two finished up their latest story. “Sounds like you two have had a lot of good times over the years.”

 

Robert playfully nudged his cousin’s shoulder with his own. “She drives me buggy sometimes but I gotta love her!” Both Sonny and Jack chuckled with the blonde adding a playful eye roll. Before anything more could be said, a tow-headed toddler carefully waddled over towards the trio. Bypassing his father, the little boy stretched his arms out to Jack, silently asking to be picked up. From the moment they had been introduced when he arrived earlier, he’d wanted to inspect the shiny thin gold chain wrapped around Jack’s neck and now was as good a time as any.

 

“Hey you,” Jack crooned as she gently lifted the toddler onto her lap. Not liking the fact that he was facing away from the object of his interest, the baby carefully turned around with some assistance from his human chair. Content now, Thomas Campbell got to work. Boldly wrapping his tiny fist around the expensive jewelry, he gave it a good shake, joyously giggling as the rays from the sun danced off the gold. It was very lovely and he would have said so had his vocabulary been more extensive.

 

“Thomas no!” Bolting from his seat, Robert profusely apologized as he reached out for his son.

 

Shaking her head, Jack refused to let him take the boy. Meanwhile, Thomas continued to play as though he hadn’t heard his father’s warning. Actually, he heard him loud and clear but chose to ignore him. His need to explore his human chair and her shiny gold stuff was just too great. “Robert it’s just fine,” Jack stated, a smile on her lips. And it truly was just fine. She didn’t mind in the least bit and enjoyed watching the fascinated expression on Thomas’s adorable little face as he lightly tugged and shook her chain. Jack felt a sudden maternal urge tugging at her. I want one of these!

 

“Are you sure?” Robert inquired, worry etching his brow as he slowly sat down on the bench. “Once he was playing with my mother’s pearl necklace and the next thing she knew she looked down and tiny white balls were falling all over the floor.” Not being able to stop herself, Sonny broke into laughter as did Jack. Despite his best efforts not to join in, so did Robert. “So you see Jack, my little bundle of love can be quite destructive.”

 

She grinned at him. “I’ll take my chances.”

 

“Do you have children Jack?” Robert asked, as he plucked a small carrot from the array of appetizers the three were sharing as they anxiously waited for the real food.

 

The brunette shook her head wearing a wistful expression as she glanced at her new little buddy. “No, but I’d like to someday soon.” She chuckled. “I can just hear my biological clock ticking away."

 

Robert waved a hand at her as he crunched on his carrot a few moments before swallowing. “Nonsense. It can’t be ticking already. What are you? Twenty-five?”

 

“Ooh, marry me Robert,” Jack replied in a serious tone before she allowed a playful grin to surface.

 

Chuckling richly, Robert stood up and stretched as he said, “Me a gay man marries a lesbian and we along with the mother of my child raise Thomas together. Now that would be an unconventional family!” As the three adults shared a laugh, Thomas took the opportunity to join in, though he hadn’t a clue as to why he was laughing. “Do you ladies mind if I go join them for a game?” Robert pointed to where various family members and in-laws were about to start another game of beach volleyball. After Sonny and Jack replied that they didn’t mind at all, Robert started to take off before he turned around and asked them if they would like to play. He already knew that his cousin’s answer would most likely be no since she was always self-conscious about her height when it came to sports which were better suited for those who were not vertically challenged. Getting two simultaneous no’s, Robert kissed his preoccupied son on the top of his head before he trotted off to join one of the teams that consisted mostly of those with the Campbell last name.

 

“I like him a lot,” Jack said as she unconsciously nuzzled Thomas’s soft pale blond hair.

 

Sonny smiled at the scene before her. It occurred to her that Jack would probably make an excellent mother. In a way, she already was to Chloe, having raised her on her own. “Now you can see why he’s my favorite.” She started to say something else, when she noticed the rakish grin on her companion’s lips that hadn’t been there a second ago. Uh oh. I sense that Mischievous Jack is on the loose. Jack you are a near six foot chameleon! Sonny thought rather fondly. “Yes?” she drew out the single syllable word, unknowingly holding her breath in anxious anticipation.

 

Taking her sweet time responding, Jack chose a celery stick from the platter on the table and heavily dipped it into a cup filled with ranch dressing. Knowing that Sonny was watching her every move, Jack brought the coated light green vegetable to her lips and proceeded to gently suck off the ranch dressing alternately rolling her tongue around it. Noticing that her mouth was hanging open, Sonny snapped it closed before glancing around to see if anyone was looking. She was relieved to not detect any witnesses and glared across the picnic table at Jack, who had finally taken a bite into her celery.

 

“What?” Blue eyes widened in innocence causing Sonny to lightly snort.

 

“Jack, in case it slipped what is left of your mind,” pausing, the blonde grinned at the smirk her statement was responsible for, “you are holding a child who doesn’t need to see you erotically eating your food.”

 

Jack glanced down at Thomas, who still held a fistful of her chain while he contentedly slept, his left cheek pressed against her bosom. Giving the sleeping baby a tender smile, Jack gently stroked his cheek with a lone finger as she looked at Sonny again. “He didn’t see me,” she responded, grinning. Before Sonny could reply, the brunette announced that she was going to deposit Thomas inside the house. Securely wrapping her arms around him, Jack arose from the bench and headed toward the deck, carefully walking up each stair leading to it. Disappearing inside the beach house, she strolled over to wear a playpen had been set up for Thomas and his twenty months old cousin Andrea. Carefully placing him inside it on his stomach, Jack pulled a small blanket around him and rubbed his blond head for a few moments before she headed back outside.

 

Instead of sitting across from Sonny, Jack slipped in next to her, close enough to feel her body heat and craving to feel her body. Every single inch of it with my hands and—Jack shook her head, trying to clear it of the deliciously naughty thoughts. Now, now, let’s not get off track here Jackie. She was just about to speak when Sonny turned so that she facing her and straddling the bench. Sonny wore a look of interest as she waited for her friend to start talking. Standing for a moment, Jack mirrored the other woman’s position.

 

That rakish grin made its appearance known again. “So…Sonny you love me, eh?”

 

Arching a golden eyebrow, Sonny gazed at Jack in confusion. “Umm, that is what I said. I’ve realized during this weekend that I do and I figured that was a good time to announce it.”

 

Her grin broadening, Jack placed a warm palm on Sonny’s knee. “Did you mean that you love me or you…love me?” Her sneaky palm somehow found its way to the blonde’s exposed thigh, caressing the smooth skin as blue eyes held contact with green ones. When it became apparent that Sonny was having a difficult time forming words, Jack slowly leaned toward her, intent on giving her an earth-shattering kiss. Perhaps it would help her to decide. However, Cupid must have been feeling particularly puckish today because the kiss didn’t happen due to Melanie trotting over and unknowingly breaking the heated moment. Holding in a groan, Jack removed her hand from Sonny’s thigh as they both looked up, smiling at the pregnant blonde standing before them.

 

“Hi guys,” Melanie stated jovially. “I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” Pleased when they announced that she wasn’t, she asked Jack if she could help her with something.

 

“Of course. What’s up?”

 

“Brian ran out of barbecue sauce and I volunteered to go get some more. However, I refrained from driving when it got to the point where I could no longer stand up and see my feet.” Melanie along with her sister and Jack laughed. “So I was wondering if you would be so kind as to drive me there Jack?” Actually, Melanie could have asked almost anyone else at the party to go get the barbecue sauce, but this gave her an opportunity to get Jack alone for a little bit, so that they could have a chat.

 

Jack smiled while thinking that Melanie had something up her sleeve. Though not literally because she was wearing a sleeveless shirt. Turning toward Sonny, she told her that they would be right back before she stood up. Jack was about to go get her keys, when Melanie stopped her with a gentle yet restraining hand on her arm while shaking her head. Fishing her own keys out of her pocket, Melanie gave them to Jack as she said that they would be taking her car because Sonny had told her that Jack drove like a bat out of hell when she was in her Lamborghini. Giving Sonny a wordless smirk, Jack gently ruffled her short blonde do before she was led away by Melanie.

 

Easily managing to ditch her constant sidekick, who was too busy playing a competitive game of volleyball to notice that she was leaving, Jack headed into the beach house with Melanie and soon out the front door. Getting into the drivers’ seat of Melanie and Brian’s Ford Explorer, Jack adjusted the seat before she put on her seatbelt. Noticing that her passenger was having a difficult time with her seatbelt, Jack helped her to buckle up. Melanie thanked her while giving her a grateful smile.

 

Inserting the key and starting the car, Jack wrapped her hands around the steering wheel as her eyes moved around the interior of the car. She’d never been in an SUV before and thought that this was one was pretty snazzy. She told Melanie as much while starting to pull away from the curb.

 

“Thank you. When we found out that we were pregnant, Brian suggested that one of us trade in our car and get an SUV. It took some getting used to, driving so far up from the ground but I like it.” Pointing for Jack to make a right, Melanie slipped a sheet of paper out of her pocket and unfolded it. She then informed Jack that these were the directions on how to get to the gourmet grocery store, which happened to be in the next town.

 

Jack arched a quizzical brow. “Couldn’t we just go to a regular grocery store? All he wants is barbecue sauce right?” Noticing another pointing finger, Jack made a quick left.

 

Melanie shook her head. “My Brian should have been a chef instead of a school teacher. He doesn’t think that Kraft or Bullseye are worthy of being lathered on his meat. No, the only barbecue sauce he’ll use is from this gourmet market. There is one in Antioch and after a little searching on the web, I found one near here in a town called Rockledge. Do you mind driving seventeen miles just to get a couple bottles of barbecue sauce?”

 

Jack chuckled as she dutifully made a right turn. “Not at all.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Sonny along with a few other family members was growing worried as well as even hungrier. It had been an hour and there was no sign of Jack and Melanie. Having decided to call Jack on her cell phone, Sonny gave up after discovering that her friend had left her little electronic device upstairs. She irritatingly wondered what was the use of Jack having a cell phone if she neglected to have it with her.

 

After she along with Candace convinced Brian to at least let those under the age of sixteen eat hamburgers, hot dogs, and shis kabob, Sonny pulled the man inside the house where they could speak privately in the living room. However, before she could start Thomas awoke in the playpen and started crying for both his mama and daddy. Telling her brother-in-law that she would be right back, Sonny picked up the distraught and confused toddler and comforted him while she walked outside to find his parents Lisa and Robert. After depositing him with them, she hurried back into the house, finding Brian sitting on the couch, a contemplative look on his adorable face. Walking over to him, Sonny plopped down next to the man before lightly slapping the back of his head. His eyes widening, he asked her what that was for.

 

“For making your pregnant wife traipse around Florida looking for your precious gourmet barbecue sauce!” Sonny had an urge to slap him again but controlled it. Barely.

 

Brian instantly went on the defensive. “I didn’t make her. She volunteered! And don’t be so dramatic Sonny. The market I sent her to is less than twenty miles away from here,” he paused, ducking as a hand came flying at the back of his head again. Glaring just a tad he added, “I’m sure they are fine. There was probably just some traffic, which is why it’s taking so long. Just relax.”

 

Standing up, Sonny began to pace back and forth across the carpeted floor. “I can’t shake the feeling that something is wrong Brian. Call it women’s intuition. Those two are in some kind of trouble.”

 

“What do you think could be wrong?”

 

Both Brian and Sonny turned toward the source of the voice, which was Paul. Annette was standing beside him, the expression on her face mixed with concern and worry. Trying to calm down for her mother’s benefit, Sonny stopped pacing and sat down on the couch again, waiting until her parents were seated before speaking.

 

“I’m not sure…” Sonny hesitantly started. She then looked at Brian as a sudden realization struck her. “Maybe Melanie went into labor. You did say that it could happen at anytime, right? Maybe today is the day." Glancing at her parents, she studied their faces for a reaction to her best and only theory.

 

“Then we need to call all of the hospitals in this area,” Paul spoke up before anyone else had the opportunity to.

 

Quickly coming up with a plan, Paul used the phone in the living room while Annette hurried into the study to use the second line. Meanwhile, Sonny and Brian remained on the couch as they both looked at the retired commissioner hopefully. Within ten minutes, Paul and Annette were done calling local hospitals. Unfortunately, they hadn’t turned up anything. Silently, the quartet sat in thought before Sonny brightened with an idea. Turning her head, she looked at her brother-in-law.

 

“Brian, does Melanie by any chance have her cell phone in the car?”

 

He grimly shook his head, now as worried as the others, wondering if his baby was somewhere in labor having his new little baby without him being there to comfort her. “No, she only uses it when she’s working. It’s been in the drawer at home for the past three months.” As he noticed the look of dejection that appeared on her face, Brian reached out and gently patted her back while he offered her a smile. “But that’s a good try though.”

 

“They haven’t returned yet?” Isaac inquired as he walked into the house with Briana tagging along behind him. After hearing that one of her favorite people in the entire world was missing in action along with her beloved big sister, Briana became anxious. Everyone silently shook their heads before Isaac asked them if anyone had called the gourmet store which Melanie and Jack had been headed to.

 

“It’s not as though they’d know the identities of the people we asked about,” Brian stated.

 

“True, but how many female pairs consisting of a medium height pregnant blonde and a tall brunette with piercing blue eyes do you think have entered that particular market during the last hour? Believe me, I think they might be memorable to someone who works there.”

 

Getting up, Paul walked over and clapped his son on the shoulder while giving him a smile filled with pride. “And you always said that you didn’t want to follow in my footsteps.”

 

Isaac smiled a little. “And I still don’t relish the idea of having a job which might result in bullets flying at me.”

 

Before Paul had the chance to reply, his wife was on the phone with an employee of Epicure Market. All eyes in the room turned to her as she spoke describing Melanie and Jack to the employee. She was then put on hold as the male on the line went to inquire with his co-workers. Within five minutes, he returned to the phone with the unfortunate news that no one had seen anyone with those descriptions. Thanking him, Annette hung up the phone. It wasn’t necessary for her to tell her family that she hadn’t discovered anything because they could tell by her disappointed expression.

 

Turning to her father, Briana asked, “Should we call the police Daddy? Or maybe go look for them?” She was already patting the pockets of her jean shorts looking for her car keys.

 

Glancing at his watch, Paul noted the time. “Let’s give them a little while longer. Perhaps we’re jumping to conclusions much too quickly. If they’re not here within the next thirty minutes then we’ll take action,” pausing, Paul’s eyes darted toward the front door. “I’m sure they’ll come barreling through the door any minute, claiming that they couldn’t find the market.”

 

Listening to his father-in-law’s last statement, Brian grew anxious anew. He audibly gulped before asking, “You don’t think they’ll come strutting in here with Bullseye barbecue sauce, do you?” His question successfully breaking the tension in the room, everyone laughed.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Meanwhile, Jack and Melanie had a bit of a dilemma. Okay, actually it was much bigger than a bit. For one, they hadn’t a clue as to where they were and there wasn’t anyone they could ask, because they had seen neither hide nor hair of another living, breathing soul for miles. Up until a couple of miles ago, Jack showed her stubborn streak by refusing to admit that they were completely lost and kept driving, evidently thinking that they would magically happen upon Epicure Market eventually. They now figured that they never even made it to Rockledge. The second reason they had a dilemma was because the Ford Explorer had suddenly stopped running. She just gave up and died. They had no idea why and Jack now had the hood up and was tinkering around the engine acting as though she knew what she was doing when it all actuality she hadn’t a clue.

 

While fanning at her face with a hand, Melanie realized that they now had yet another dilemma. This dilemma was much bigger than the first two combined. As she felt warm water sliding down her bare legs, Melanie poked her blonde head out of the passenger side window and called out Jack’s name. Appearing from under the hood, the brunette looked at Melanie questioningly, small black smudges on her cheeks and a few on the front of her sleeveless black and white plaid shirt. However, most of those were camouflaged by the dark color.

 

“I have sort of good news and sort of not good news—at least not with the situation we’re in.”

 

A dark eyebrow slowly rose as Jack walked up to the passenger door, leaning her folded arms on it. “What’s the sort of not good news first?”

 

Melanie shook her head. “I’ll tell you the sort of good news first. That is I know what the problem is. Why the car will no longer start,” she paused, wincing just a bit as a sharp pain struck her abdomen. “It’s easy to fix. Well it would be if conveniently there was a Chevron around here.  We’re out of gas.” How many times have I told Brian to make sure he kept gas in the tank when he drove the SUV? It’s always left up to me. Well, now I’m gonna have to kill him! Too bad, he’ll never see his son or daughter.

 

That same dark eyebrow rose again, looking dangerous this time. “And how long have you known this?” Jack inquired in a voice so low that it was almost impossible for Melanie to decipher her words.

 

Gritting her teeth as she felt another sharp stab of pain, the blonde then answered, “About two or three minutes. I was going to tell you right when I found out but during that time you were cussing like a sailor so I decided to keep my mouth shut until you had calmed down a bit.”

 

Jack almost imperceptibly nodded. “And what’s the other bit of news you have for me?”

 

“My water just broke.”

 

It seemed as though an hour passed before Jack finally was able to locate her voice. “Plea…please tell me you have a bottle of Arrowhead in there somewhere.”

 

Despite her discomfort, Melanie managed to find that humorous and chuckled. “Sorry, no bottled water. This is the real thing.” She gave Jack, who was starting to look like a deer caught in the headlights of a car, a meaningful look. “It’s time.”

 

“Oh, God no. This simply cannot be happening,” Jack muttered as she started to pace just outside of the passenger side door, a dreadful look on her semi dirty and sweaty face. As she took quick short steps, blue eyes were riveted to the ground while she repeated the words ‘not now’ over and over as though she expected by saying them several times Melanie’s labor pains would miraculously cease. However, Jack found that her mantra wasn’t doing a bit of good when her passenger suddenly gripped the window ledge tightly as she let out a short scream. In sympathy and in fear, Jack winced as she detected the expression of pain on Melanie’s equally sweaty face. Stopping her pacing and telling herself that she had to get a grip because she was needed right now, Jack gently placed a hand on the other woman’s forearm, giving it a small squeeze. She even managed to dredge up a reassuring smile, which the pregnant blonde returned.

 

“Okay, Mel, let’s just try to calm down.” Though she said this to Melanie, Jack realized that she was solely speaking to herself. Despite her pain-ridden face, Melanie didn’t appear to be the least bit afraid. A person might have thought she had given birth a half dozen times before instead of just the one. “I don’t know much about giving birth, but if you just started having contractions then the baby probably won’t be born for hours, which means we still have a chance of getting you to a hospital.” Jack smiled again. “I know this Explorer is cool, but an epidural would be even cooler.” Her smile broadened when she received a chuckle for her little joke.

 

Melanie shook her head. “Actually, Jack I’m not sure we have much longer before the baby arrives because I…” she trailed off as another wave of pain went through her middle. When she felt a warm palm covering and lightly squeezing the one she still had attached to the window, Melanie managed a slight smile before slipping her hand out from underneath Jack’s. It was getting to the point where being touched was more of an annoyance than comfort although Melanie knew that the other woman was only trying to be helpful. The blonde recalled her first delivery. She had nearly given one of the nurses a black eye for attempting to massage her shoulders.

 

Taking a deep breath, Melanie continued. “I’m not sure how much more time we have because I started having contractions hours ago. I swear that I could push at any moment.” Biting on her lower lip, Melanie’s brow furrowed as fat drops of sweat slid down her flushed forehead.

 

Blue eyes widened in part disbelief and trepidation. “Hours? Why didn’t you say anything?”

 

“Because I’ve lost count of how many times Brian and I have hurried to the hospital only to find out that they were false alarms. Though I’m due any day now, I figured I might as well wait and be sure.” Melanie glanced down at her damp legs. “I’m quite sure now.” Letting out a low, pain filled moan, Melanie tried to remember her Lamaze breathing.

 

Wincing, Jack grabbed the latch and opened the door. Leaning across Melanie, she pushed the release for the seat belt before carefully removing the long straps. Informing her passenger that she was going to escort her to the back of the SUV, Jack helped the moaning woman out of the car. Slowly but surely, she began to lead her toward the back where there would be more room. Hoping that she had watched enough episodes of ER and Chicago Hope, Jack prepared herself. Unless someone happened to pass by, she was going to deliver this baby alone. She attempted to comfort herself with the fact that Melanie had experience. I can conquer businesses, make improvements and millions on them, but I’m afraid to deliver an itsy bitsy baby? Can’t be that hard right? Right. Just tell her to push. It will be a piece of cake. Jack rolled her eyes with that last thought.

 

Within a couple of minutes, Melanie was settled on the floor of her Explorer, lying on her back. She practiced her breathing techniques while Jack knelt in front of her, a worried look on her face as she nibbled on her lower lip. She knew what she had to do next; it was just difficult to come up with the words. Jack opened and closed her mouth several times before she finally got up the courage to ask.

 

“Um Mel…could you lift up so I can um…remove your pant—your underwear?” Jack could have rolled her eyes again. Since when did the ex-Conqueror stutter? She gave herself a mental slap. Jack get a hold of yourself! You’ve got to take care of business now. Melanie is depending on you, so you better not let her down!

 

There was a hint of amusement in Melanie’s eyes as she got a slight reprieve from the contractions. Nodding her dampening blonde head, she slowly raised the lower half of her body so that Jack could remove her unmentionables. With slightly shaky hands, the brunette hooked her fingers into either side of Melanie’s underwear before starting to gently pull them down and off. She took the time to neatly fold them before setting them aside. Jack nearly blushed when she was graced with an amused expression for her actions. Moments later, she succeeded when Melanie bent her knees until the soles of her shoes were flat against the floor. The blush grew deeper as the legs spread open and Melanie pulled up her skirt so that Jack had an excellent view of what lay beneath. Knowing that her face was glowing, Jack caught sight of golden curls before she looked away. God, this was a side of Sonny’s sisters that I did not intend on seeing!

 

Despite the fact that her contractions had started again, Melanie couldn’t help but to chuckle as she softly called the obviously embarrassed woman’s name. Looking up, blue eyes locked with green. “Jack, there is no reason for you to feel embarrassed. I’m not, and I’m the one who’s on display here.” Reaching for Jack’s hand, she encased it in her own while keeping eye contact. “I know we can do this. Let’s just work together, ‘kay?”

 

Smiling reassuringly, Jack suddenly felt five times better as she nodded. “Let’s.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Exiting Epicure Market, Sonny and Briana got into the car with dejection expressions. They had shown a picture of Jack and one of Melanie to every worker they could find at the market but no one had seen them or anyone that could have remotely looked like them. Having a lot of weight with them, Paul had called the police department and they were on the look out for the two women and the Ford Explorer. Meanwhile, other family members were on their way to various hospitals as others drove around Canova Beach and the surrounding cities, hoping to get lucky by spotting Melanie’s car.

 

Sitting behind the wheel, Briana pulled on her seat belt while she glanced at her watch, releasing a loud sigh. Glancing at her sister, she said, “It’s been over three hours and we haven’t found a thing! Where could they be?” The nineteen-year-old looked on the verge of tears and Sonny reached over to give her a reassuring hug while telling her that everything would be fine, although she still had a gut feeling that something was amiss. She hoped and prayed that her sister and Jack would turn up soon and that they would be okay. Maybe they really were just lost. Sonny tried to create an image of the two arguing right that moment on which way to turn. It made her smile just a little. I’m gonna strangle those two for making all of us worry like this. Don’t they know how to pick up a phone?

 

Quietly thanking her sister for the hug and patting her on the back, Briana disengaged herself before reaching for her cell phone, which was clipped to the side of her shorts. Informing Sonny that she was calling home, she did so. Candace, being the only adult there answered the phone before the first ring was complete. She had chosen to stay at the beach house to watch after everyone’s children and to monitor the phone just in case Jack and Melanie were to call. Quickly finding out that Candace hadn’t heard anything, Briana ended the call before passing along the information to Sonny.

 

The two women sat in the parking lot of the gourmet market in silent thought. It wasn’t until nearly five minutes passed before Sonny turned to her, getting ready to ask if Briana was going to drive. However, before she could, her younger sibling uttered something in a soft tone of voice. Having not heard a word of it, Sonny asked her to repeat. Prying her eyes away from the steering wheel, Briana looked at Sonny, her lower lip trembling as though she would cry at any moment.

 

“Why don’t you see Sonny?”

 

Growing confused, Sonny slowly shook her head. “I don’t understand. What are you getting at Bri?”

 

“Perhaps this is an inopportune moment to ask, but why are you not willing to give Jack a chance? Don’t you see how much she loves you? I could tell at the party today. The way she looks at you…how she finds little ways to touch you…why are you trying to ignore that?”

 

Momentarily rendered speechless, the older woman then located the whereabouts of her voice. “I know how Jack feels and I’m not ignoring it…I just don’t return those same feelings. I mean, I do have feelings for her, but I can’t force myself to be in love with her.” Why does it feel like I just lied through my teeth?

 

Briana smiled, though there wasn’t a hint of amusement in it. It was akin to a sympathetic smile. “You just lied to two people in this car Sonny.” Turning ahead, she turned the key in the ignition. Before pulling out, Briana’s inquisitive eyes fell on her sister again. “Now I just wonder how long it will take you to figure that out?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“OH SWEET JESUS TAKE ME NOW!!!” Sweat pouring down her reddened face, Melanie pushed with as much force as she could manage. It felt as though she had been pushing for an eternity and she didn’t feel much closer to delivering this baby. Right now, she hated every man on the face of the earth and sympathized with every woman that has had the courage to experience childbirth. This was torture, plain and simple. Melanie didn’t recall it being this bad when she had Jayme. However, she had to remember during that time she was in a hospital and had been pumped up with as much drugs as the doctor would allow. Sure, it still had hurt like hell, but this put the H-E-L and L in the word!

 

And bless her heart, Jack was being a real trooper, trying to calm her down as much as possible while coaching her though the delivery. In fact, after she got over her initial embarrassment, the businesswoman had indeed gotten down to business and almost acted like an expert. She hadn’t even so much as flinched when a pain riddled Melanie had called her just about every improper name she could come up with. After all, Jack realized that it had only been the pain talking and she didn’t take an offense.

 

Her hands resting on Melanie’s knees, Jack closely inspected her vagina, thinking that she was beginning to see something. Becoming almost giddy with relief, she informed Melanie that the baby was on its way. Replying with a tight smile, though she looked a tad relieved, Melanie continued breathing loudly. Her relief was short lived when her ‘doctor’ informed her to start pushing again. Gritting her teeth, the blonde managed to hold in another colorful name that she had just invented as she prepared to start pushing. Leaning up on an elbow, Melanie grabbed Jack’s left hand like she’d done the last few times and nearly squeezed the life out of it while she began pushing for all she was worth. Ignoring the pain flowing from her hand and through her wrist, Jack started spouting encouraging words, sounding just like a football coach who was revving up the team because they were about to take part in the Superbowl.

 

“I can see the entire top of the head!” Jack suddenly said, as she looked at the glistening crown in amazement. This was one of the most remarkable things she had ever been lucky enough to witness. She softly sighed as Melanie released her death grip after ceasing to push. Looking at watery green eyes, Jack offered a tender smile, hating to say her next words, but knowing that it was necessary. Slowly counting to fifteen, in order to give the blonde some time to rest, Jack then stated, “Okay sweetie, just one more good push and I think this baby will enter the world.” Rubbing Melanie’s left knee with her free hand, she added, “C’mon. You can do it Mel. One more baby…just one more for me.”

 

Hissing through her teeth, Melanie then took a few deep breaths before she silently counted to three before starting to push with all her might. Loudly groaning as both tears and beads of sweat poured down her face, the blonde tightened her hold on Jack’s already aching hand. If it hadn’t been firmly attached, surely it would have popped off like a cork shooting from a bottle of champagne.

 

Managing to disengage her hand so that she could grab the infant, Jack’s eyes and mouth opened wide as she watched the miracle unfolding before her. Within a few more moments, she had a screaming and slippery newborn in her hands. Grinning much like a proud parent, Jack closely examined the baby from head to toe, thinking that it looked plump and healthy. And if the earsplitting crying was any indication, the baby was sporting an excellent pair of lungs. As she and Melanie shared a triumphant smile, Jack asked her if she would like to hold her baby. Nodding eagerly, Melanie attempted to sit up but found that she was much too weak to do so. Noticing her dilemma, Jack carefully set the baby on her lap before removing her shirt. Wrapping it around the baby, she placed it on the floor before crawling over to help Melanie sit up with her back against the wall for support.

 

Moments later, Melanie was holding her tiny bundle of joy, who by now had grown quiet and was staring up at the sweaty, haggard and happy looking blonde. “Beautiful. Simply beautiful,” Melanie uttered in a soft voice while caressing the baby’s cheek with a finger.

 

Smiling, Jack nodded her agreement. “You don’t by chance have any sharp objects do you? We should cut the baby’s umbilical cord.”

 

Melanie was about to shake her head but then remembered the all-utility pocketknife that Brian had bought nearly a year ago when they along with Jayme went camping. Brian had insisted that the expensive knife would come in handy, but during the entire trip, they didn’t use it once and to this very day had yet to use it for anything. Now Brian would be happy since it would come in finally come in handy. Well, that’s only if Melanie would allow him live since he neglected to keep the tank full.

 

Informing Jack that the pocketknife was in the glove compartment, Melanie proceeded to count her newborn’s fingers. For a split second, she grew alarmed when she counted nine, but then realized she’d counted too fast and overlooked one. All ten were there and surely, they were the cutest little digits she had ever seen.

 

Returning with the heavy pocketknife, Jack proceeded to look for the blade. This proved a difficult feat since there were so many gadgets. She discovered there was a corkscrew, spoon, fork, nail file, and magnifying glass before finally pulling on the sharp looking blade. After being informed that she could do the honors, Jack pulled back her shirt turned baby blanket, and gingerly grabbed a hold of the umbilical cord. Having seen this done many times on television, she was confident that she knew where to make incision and proceeded to do so with much care and diligence.

 

Already knowing that she looked a mess, Jack wiped the blade clean on her shorts before carefully pushing it back in. She then noticed another gadget peaking out that could have made her job of cutting the umbilical a lot easier. Chuckling, the brunette pulled out a pair of scissors and showed them to Melanie who chuckled as well.

 

“Those could have come in handy,” Jack stated, smiling as she placed the pocketknife on the floor. Looking at the baby, her smile broadened, as tired little brand new eyes looked her way. “Do you and Brian have a name picked out for her yet?”

 

Excited green eyes locked on blue and then Melanie laughed. “I was so happy to have the baby I didn’t even notice what the sex was. I have a girl?” Pulling open the shirt again, she discovered that her newborn was penis-free. Though she would have been ecstatic either way, Melanie had been hoping for a girl.

 

Jack snickered. “Yes, you do unless I accidentally pulled a Lorena Bobbit.”

 

Laughing, Melanie indicated for the other woman to come nearer. Doing so, Jack was promptly rewarded with a kiss on each dirty cheek. “Thank you so much for your help Jack. I couldn’t have done this without you. You’re a lifesaver.” Pausing, Melanie cocked her head to the side thoughtfully. “You know, I think my sister would be lucky to have you. Well actually, you’d be lucky to have each other. I think you compliment one another extremely well.”

 

A lump forming in her throat and tears stinging her eyes, Jack didn’t quite know what to say. After a few moments of speechlessness, she managed to croak out a heartfelt thank you before gently hugging Melanie and the baby. After adding a kiss to each of their foreheads, Jack sat back on the floor, a thoughtful expression on her face.

 

“What are you thinking?”

 

Softly sighing, Jack made eye contact with Melanie. She hadn’t watched all of those medical shows for nothing and therefore knew that her job was not quite complete. And though she loathed bringing it up, she felt that it was important.

 

“I’m thinking that there’s one more thing we must do before I go get us some help.”

 

A thoughtful expression on her face now, Melanie inquired, “What’s that?”

 

Jack sighed again while hoping that the blonde wouldn’t have an urge to smack her right cheek, which was currently free of bruises. Unconsciously, Jack gingerly touched the left side of her face. That morning she had been irritated to find that there was a significant purplish mark. “Your placenta needs to come out.”

 

“Now?” Haven’t I went through enough pain without drugs already?!? I might have to kill Jack along with Brian. What a pity.

 

The brunette pasted on an upbeat smile. “No time like the present.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“What business is it of yours anyway?” Looking rather annoyed, Sonny eyed her younger sibling questioningly.

 

Her brow crinkling in confusion, Briana glanced at her sister for a split second before returning her attention to the road. “Huh? What are you talking about?”

 

“I’m responding to your last statement.”

 

There was a full minute of silence before Briana chuckled. “I haven’t said anything since we left the market. It took you this long to come up with a response?” An amused smile curving her lips, she added, “A little slow, aren’t we Sonny?”

 

Not the least bit amused, Sonny grew more annoyed as she looked out the passenger side window. Noticing a small mini-mart and that one of the buildings was a coffeeshop, she asked her sister to take them there. Silently obeying, Briana made the necessary turns in order to drive into the mini-mart. Easily locating a parking space, the sisters then went inside and took their seat at a booth, choosing to sit across from each other. The waitress appearing seconds later, the two women both ordered coffees.

 

“Where were we?” Briana asked in a conversational tone as she sat back in the booth. “Ah, you were telling me that…what? Your love life is none of my business?”

 

Sonny gave a short nod. “Precisely. You hit the nail right on the head. I’m tired of people telling me how I feel. None of you know how I feel because I am the only one inhabiting this body. I know myself better than anyone does, and I know that I do not love Jack. At least not in the way you guys seem to think I do.”

 

Before Briana could respond, the waitress returned with their hot drinks. Both women became lost in their thoughts as they proceeded to doctor up their coffees and take experimental sips. Content with the way her coffee tasted, Briana took another sip before putting it down and looking across the table at her sister.

 

“You love her and for the life of me I can’t figure out why you’re denying it.” Briana thoughtfully paused. “Wait a second. Does this have anything to do with that woman you met over the Internet? Her name is Pixie?”

 

Sonny frowned, knowing that her sister had mispronounced the Southerner’s name on purpose. “Dixie. And she’s the one that I want. She and I would be perfect for each other and we will be together.”

 

Briana rolled her eyes. “You don’t even know her. For God sakes the woman stood you up at Disneyworld!”

 

“I’ve known her for over a year and I told you that she was just scared. That happens to the best of us,” Sonny replied in a defensive tone. “We’ve been talking on the phone and we’re probably going to meet soon.”

 

Briana softly snorted into her coffee before taking a cautious sip. “Look Sonny, my gut feeling tells me that Jack is the perfect one for you.”

 

“Bri, my gut feeling tells me that you should mind your own business. You along with everyone else who has the insane idea that Jack and I are meant to be.” What was it with everyone? Why were they so intent on playing matchmaker with her and Jack? Even her own parents were rooting for them to be a couple. Sonny thought back to that morning when her mother pulled her aside and asked why she had yet to tell Jack that she loved her. When she replied that she didn’t love Jack in a romantic way, she could tell that her mother didn’t believe a single word coming out of her mouth. Before she allowed the conversation to end, Annette gave her daughter what she deemed wise advice: Don’t let this one get away. After those words were spoken, Sonny had an image of herself standing at the edge of a lake with a fishing rod and a wriggling fish in her hand, which she promptly threw back into the water. What they all didn’t realize was that Jack was the wrong fish. Sure, she would be an incredible catch but Blue was the perfect trout for Sonny. The blonde suddenly scowled. What in the world am I talking about? Glancing at her sister, Sonny noticed that the younger woman was looking at her expectantly. Apparently, she had missed something while pondering women and cold-blooded vertebrates. Sheepishly, Sonny asked her sister to repeat.

 

Sighing, Briana leaned forward, clasping her hands together on the table as she eyed the other woman thoughtfully while choosing her next words. Suddenly feeling brave, the young woman decided to bite the bullet and tell her sister something that she had been keeping a secret. Well at least, from the majority of her family. When Sonny started to speak, Briana indicated for her to be quiet. Doing so, Sonny curiously waited.

 

“Sonny, do you have any idea how lucky you are to have found someone that practically worships the ground you walk on? And I’m not saying that you should be with Jack just because of the way she feels for you, but because of your own feelings toward her. I know you love her and I think deep down inside you know it too,” pausing, Briana licked her lips nervously. She indicated for her sister to remain silent as she lifted her cup and took a few more sips from the rapidly cooling beverage before looking at Sonny. “If Jack looked at me that way, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second. She’s everything that I could ever want in a woman.” Her heart beating furiously beneath her chest, Briana anxiously waited for her sister to respond to her declaration. Her nervousness grew every second that Sonny remained silent, a surprised expression on her face. “Aren’t you…aren’t you going to say anything Sonny? Are you in a daze?” Raising her hand, Briana snapped her fingers several times in front of her sister’s face, finally getting her to blink. You’d think I’d just told her that I killed someone!

 

“Are you telling me that you’re gay?” Sonny asked in a whispered tone.

 

Briana nodded. “Yes. And why are you whispering? Are you embarrassed?”

 

“No,” Sonny whispered. “I mean no! Of course not,” she added in her regular voice. “That wouldn’t make any since. I don’t…it doesn’t matter to me what your sexual orientation is. It’s just a shock is all.” Jack was right! Inwardly groaning, Sonny could just imagine the woman later stating that annoying phrase “I told you so” that no one wants to hear.

 

“You never suspected? You were in my room. You didn’t look around?”

 

Sonny shrugged. “I didn’t think anything of it.”

 

“Clueless and slow, eh?” Grinning, Briana ducked when a sugar packet suddenly flew in her direction.

 

“Am I the first person you’ve told?”

 

“No, I’ve already told Melanie. Plus, my friends know.” Gaining their waitress’s attention, Briana mouthed for her to bring the check.

 

Sonny’s eyebrows drifted skyward. “You told Melanie before you told me?” She and Briana had always shared everything. Well, mostly everything and Sonny would have thought that she would be the first to hear this. “When did you tell her?”

 

You told her before you told me. She found out back in February.” She ducked again as another sugar packet soared her way. Briana mocked scowled as she glanced at the check, which the waitress had just placed on the table. Reaching into her back pocket, she extracted her wallet.

 

Smirking, Sonny replied, “You were eight at the time!”

 

As she chuckled, Briana deposited three one-dollar bills on top of the check before replacing her wallet back in her pocket. “Good point.”

 

The two women were just about to leave when Briana’s phone started to play the tune from a certain television show’s theme song. As she unhooked the cell phone from her waistband, her sister chuckled.

 

“Is that from that show you’re totally obsessed with?” Sonny asked, grinning. She suddenly wondered why her sister didn’t have a poster from it hanging in her bedroom. I know one item a certain someone is getting for Christmas.

 

Briana stuck her tongue out, temporarily looking ten years younger. “I am so not obsessed with it. Just an intensely devoted fan.” Just before she pushed the button to speak, she asked, “Hey don’t you think that Jack looks like—“

 

Throwing her head back, Sonny burst out laughing. “Oh my God! She does!”

 

The younger woman grinned while picturing Jack in a leather skirt. “One more reason you’ve simply gotta love her.” Focusing her attention on the phone call, Briana listened, her grin drifting into a broad smile as she did so. Suddenly rising, she asked a waitress if she could borrow her pen. After obtaining it, Briana scrawled directions on a paper napkin before ending the call and looking at her sister excitedly. “That was Candace. She doesn’t have all the details, but apparently, Jack and Melanie ended up lost in Kissimmee. Mel went into labor and Jack had to deliver the baby in the car.” Briana showed her sister the ink-laden napkin. “They’re at this hospital so let’s go.” Getting up, Sonny began to follow her sister out of the coffeeshop while asking if they were all right. Briana eagerly nodded. “Yes. Candace said that Jack, Melanie, and the baby are all doing fine.” After getting in the car, Briana smiled at her sister. “Now she’s a heroine. How could you not love her?”

 

Sonny growled, though she merely looked jubilant. “Just drive the car Aphrodite.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Finally making it to the hospital nearly an hour later, Briana and Sonny went to the Obstetrics Unit via an elevator. As they stepped out of it, they caught sight of Jack dressed in blue hospital scrubs drinking from a water fountain. Hurrying up to her, they took turns hugging the startled woman.

 

“Hey! When did you guys get here?” Jack inquired.

 

“Just now,” Briana spoke up as her eyes moved up and down the taller woman’s body. She then grinned as she stated that Jack looked cute in the scrubs. Her grin grew when she noticed that her compliment caused the brunette to blush.

 

“Thank you,” Jack replied. “You want me to take you to your sister? When I left they were about to bring the baby in so that she could feed her.”

 

Briana and Sonny beamed as they simultaneously asked, “It’s a girl?”

 

Nodding, Jack smiled. “Yes, and she’s a beauty. Cute little blonde curls and gorgeous green eyes. You’ll melt when you see her.”

 

Asking what room Melanie was in, Sonny informed her sister to go ahead of them after Jack explained where it was. Sonny wanted to speak with her friend alone. Heading in the direction of Melanie’s room, Briana suddenly turned around and gave her sister two thumbs up along with a bright smile. Sonny merely smiled and shook her head. Waiting for her sister to disappear around the corner, she then looked up at an expectant brunette.

 

“You are something else,” Sonny softly admitted.

 

A grin turned up one side of Jack’s mouth. “I’m assuming you mean that in a good way.”

 

Warmly smiling, the blonde wrapped her arms around her friend. “I mean that in a very good way. You never cease to amaze me.” Loosely keeping her arms around Jack’s waist after giving her a good squeeze, Sonny asked, “Have I told you how happy I am to have your friendship?”

 

Resisting the urge to kiss the soft pink lips so close to hers, Jack rested her forehead against Sonny’s. “You’ve shown me. And I’m absolutely thrilled to have yours.”

 

Sonny stared up into blue eyes filled with adoration, tenderness, and love. “Jack…when I said I loved you I—“

 

The blonde didn’t get to finish as two fingertips pressed against her lips. “I know,” Jack whispered as she took a step back, breaking their contact. Both women missed it instantly. “I know exactly what you meant Sonny girl.” But did you? “You want to go see your newest niece now?”

 

Sonny smiled, relieved that there wasn’t a misunderstanding between them. The last thing she wanted was for Jack to get the wrong idea. “Absolutely.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Sitting in the back seat of Briana’s Nissan, Jack beamed a smile brighter than the sun’s rays as she looked out of the window. Earlier that afternoon after she and Sonny arrived in the hospital room, Melanie, and Brian had made the announcement of what the baby’s name would be. For months, they had been trying to come up with the perfect name but had yet to agree until then. The newest addition to the Welch family was to be named Jacqueline Annette. Both Jack and Little Jack’s (everyone caught on quickly to calling her that) grandma instantly became teary-eyed and were extremely touched.

 

Jack had a difficult time parting from her namesake when Briana and Sonny decided that it was time to head back to Canova Beach. Kissing the little girl on her forehead, Jack promised to visit regularly and was rewarded with a smile. At least, she insisted that it was a smile, ignoring the fact that Little Jack was only a few hours old and therefore should not have mastered the art of smiling just yet.

 

Munching on a package of peanut butter crackers that she’d bought from a vending machine in the cafeteria, Sonny ruminated on the conversation that she had with Melanie less than an hour ago. Evidently, her sister had officially joined the “we want Jack and Sonny together” club because she ushered everyone out of her hospital room so that she could talk to her younger sibling about her love life. After announcing that she knew she was sticking her nose where it didn’t belong, Melanie informed Sonny that she should stop being stubborn and just admit her feelings for Jack. When Sonny refused to admit that she loved Jack “in that way”, her sister told her that life was much too short to ignore love.

 

Finishing the package, Sonny balled up the plastic. Opening the small ashtray compartment, which was almost sparkling clean, she pushed the plastic inside before closing the tiny door. Catching the disapproving expression on Briana’s face and knowing that her sister was thinking that she didn’t want her clean ashtray used as a trash can, Sonny quickly looked in the opposite direction, keeping silent. Now that was a classic case of ignoring! The blonde gave a short nod of her head. She wasn’t ignoring her love for Jack because there was no love. At least, not the kind everyone seemed to think she had. Really, what was their problem? It was strange how so many people were wrong and how insistent they were that their theories were correct.

 

Laura was one of the very first people to accuse her of being interested in Jack in a romantic way. When they broke up, Laura had insisted that Jack was the one for her. She insisted that there were sparks between them. After her there was Sarah, who constantly teased her best friend about “having a thing” for Jack. Just about every time that they spoke, Sarah asked Sonny if she had declared her love for the ex-Conqueror yet and when she was given a no, asked why her friend was taking so long. Sonny didn’t know exactly when or why it happened, but suddenly Peter and Hawke had joined the club as well. Deciding not to beat around the bush, Hawke told her ex-boss that she would be crazy not to nab Jack while she had the chance. If she didn’t, eventually someone else would and then Sonny would be extremely sorry that she’d let the blue-eyed beauty slip through her fingertips. Peter had basically said the same things, but in a gentler way.

 

And then there was her blood-related family. Her parents, sisters, and various relatives who had met and instantly taken to Jack at the party earlier all thought that she and Jack would be the perfect item. Sonny was waiting for Isaac to jump on the bandwagon. So far, he hadn’t said a word about it. Hmm, maybe he won’t, Sonny thought as she ran her tongue along the roof of her mouth, dislodging a bit of peanut butter that had gotten stuck there. After all, it’s not as though he’s an expert on love since he has a different woman every time that I see him. That would be like a person who can’t even boil water trying to give someone advice on how to cook a five course meal!

 

No, they were all wrong. Dead wrong. Blue was the only person on this earth that Sonny was meant to be with and she would in time prove them all wrong. Soon they would see how happy Blue made her and would give up on their insane assumptions that she and Jack were meant to be. And though she knew how Jack felt about her, she was sure that the businesswoman would find her one and only. Sonny chose to ignore the fact that thinking of Jack with another woman made her stomach churn. Sonny shook her head as she released a small sigh. They were definitely wrong.

 

As she pulled on to the street leading to her parents beach house, Briana opened the ashtray compartment and pulled out the plastic, which faintly smelled like peanut butter. Giving her sister another disapproving look, she tucked the plastic into her pocket so that she could correctly dispose of it later. Seeing that Sonny was trying to look in the back seat (undoubtedly at Jack) via the mirror on the passenger side, a knowing smile making its way to Briana’s lips as she slowly shook her head. We are so not wrong.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Glancing at the clock, Jack noted that it was nearly midnight. Suppressing a yawn, she folded her hands beneath her head as she looked toward the ceiling, thinking that Sonny was in the bathroom and would be joining her any moment now. A slowly forming smile appearing on her lips, Jack felt like a giddy teenager. Though she had been told in no uncertain terms that there wouldn’t be any hanky panky, she was still excited that she would get to share a bed with the love of her life. This would be what…the fourth time that they’d slept together? Twice on a bed and once on a couch. Though the hospital bed had been uncomfortable and small, it had been wonderful to get the opportunity to hold Sonny.

 

Hearing a faint click, blue eyes darted toward the door as it began to slowly open revealing a blonde angel dressed in silk cornflower blue shorts along with a matching short-sleeved night shirt. Remarking on how adorable she looked, Jack watched as a blush reddened the other woman’s cheeks. Quietly thanking her, Sonny closed the door before she walked towards the bed. Instead of getting in, she knelt beside it and proceeded to say her prayers while Jack watched, wearing a tender expression. Done minutes later, Sonny slipped between the sheets, practically gliding on them due to her silk clothing.

 

Reaching over, Jack turned off the lights before scooting over and wrapping an arm around the smaller woman. Easily giving in to the temptation to cuddle, the blonde scooted closer and slipped an arm around Jack’s middle while resting her head on the woman’s shoulder. Unconsciously, her fingers began to caress up and down Jack’s side, delighting in the smooth warm skin. Sonny’s brow furrowed as her hand slid to Jack’s stomach…her naked stomach. Hurriedly sitting up, the blonde turned on the light before whipping around to face Jack. Pulling down the covers, she lightly gasped before covering the brunette.

 

“You’re naked!”

 

Jack smirked. “You should have went to Harvard. It’s amazing that you managed to figure that out!”

 

Growling low in her throat in what Jack thought was such a sexy way, Sonny moved so that she was no longer under the covers. Looking at the mischievously grinning brunette, Sonny calmly inquired why she had chosen not to wear clothing to bed. Jack offhandedly replied that she hadn’t wanted to. Smirking, Sonny slowly shook her head while insisting that Jack should get dressed.

 

“Why?”

 

“Because…because I said so.” Sonny mentally rolled her eyes at her brilliant reply. Honestly, the idea of sleeping with a completely nude Jack was just too tempting and Sonny currently did not feel trustworthy of her self-control. Hey, I’m only human.

 

A trace of her grin still in place, Jack turned on her right side so that she was now facing the other woman. As she perched her chin in the palm of her hand, the covers slid downward, enticingly revealing the very top of her breasts. Instantly, green eyes zeroed in on creamy cleavage before slowly tracing the contours of two plump globes. After a few moments of inspection, Sonny realized what she was doing and turned the other way, unable to look Jack in the face. Her cheeks growing hot along with other places on her body, Sonny excused herself and all but ran from the bedroom. Consciously not knowing where she was going, her feet led her to the kitchen, where she sat at the table not bothering to even turn on the light. Folding her arms over her chest, the blonde quietly sat in thought.

 

So what if she had openly admired Jack’s body. Did that mean that she wanted her…loved her? It absolutely did not. If anything, that was hormone’s not love. A soft sigh escaped Sonny’s lips. No matter what it was, she was sure that she would receive some ribbing from Jack. There was no way that she was going to let this opportunity pass her by.

 

As though she knew that she was the subject of Sonny’s thoughts, the brunette wandered into the kitchen and felt along the wall for the light switch. Finding it, she flicked it and the kitchen was instantly illuminated. Both women blinked at the brightness before their eyes quickly adjusted. An unreadable look on her face, Jack now dressed in plaid yellow and blue boxer shorts and a bright yellow tank top, asked if she could have a seat at the table. Silently nodding and feeling embarrassed all over again, Sonny kept her eyes riveted to the table as her friend chose to occupy the seat next to her own. When she heard a heartfelt apology, the blonde looked up at the other woman in surprise, not having expected that. She should have learned by now that Jack could be unpredictable.

 

“What are you apologizing for?”

 

“For behaving like an idiot. There was a small part of me,” Jack held the thumb and forefinger of her right hand close together, “that insisted I should have put my pajamas on but of course I chose not to listen and I am sorry Sonny girl. It wasn’t my intention to embarrass or upset you.” Jack morosely looked down toward her lap. “Sometimes I just don’t think before I act.”

 

Unfolding her arms, Sonny arose from her chair before kneeling in front of the brunette and taking her hands in her own. Peering up at her, she waited for Jack to make eye contact with her before saying, “It’s okay Jack. Don’t beat up on yourself. I wasn’t upset with you but embarrassed that I was openly staring at your body,” pausing, Sonny then whispered, “I liked what I saw.” Instantly catching sight of a slight grin before it quickly vanished, the blonde head shook. I just had to give her ammunition. However, to her credit Jack didn’t comment on Sonny’s last statement. Instead, she chastely kissed her cheek before asking if she was ready to go to bed now. Nodding, Sonny began to smile as Jack almost shyly offered a hand to her. Slipping her hand inside of the bigger one, the blonde allowed herself to be led out of the kitchen and up the stairs to their room.

 

Within moments of entering the bedroom, Jack and Sonny were again snuggling beneath the covers. Resting her head on the brunette’s chest, Sonny listened to the steady soothing rhythm of her heartbeat allowing it and the long fingers gently massaging her scalp to lull her to sleep. Just before she drifted off, Sonny softly wished Jack to have sweet dreams. A contented smile on her lips, Jack bid her the same.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Since Jack insisted that they must go to the hospital in order to see Little Jack and Melanie before they left today, she and Sonny had just returned from Rockledge and now the blonde was just getting ready to pack her belongings. As she neatly placed clothing into her suitcase, she thought of what a terrific weekend it was despite Jack having been attacked by her psycho cousin Alicia, in spite of she herself being arrested, and Jack and Melanie being lost for hours. Sonny lightly chuckled. No one could say that this had been by any means a boring weekend.

 

The blonde smiled, thinking how much closer she and Jack had become during the weekend. She felt the beginnings of a bond between them, and it thoroughly delighted her. No, with she and Jack becoming closer, with her friend instantly connecting with her family and the addition of Little Jack to the family, it had been a spectacular weekend never to be forgotten. Sonny was extremely happy that she had asked Jack to come along. It was probably one of the best decisions that she had ever made.

 

So lost in her thoughts was she that the blonde failed to hear the knocking on the door and therefore was nearly scared out of her wits when she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Gasping, she turned around to see her brother standing behind her, a smile on his handsome face, which he tried so desperately to conceal. Smirking, Sonny placed her hands on her hips before asking him what he was smiling at. Shaking his head, Isaac evidently declined to answer since he continued to silently stand there.

 

Arching a golden brow, his sister looked at him curiously, wondering what was on his mind. She had a feeling that he most likely had something to say that she didn’t care to hear. “Well? Is there something I can do for you Isaac?”

 

Wordlessly nodding, Isaac walked back toward the bedroom door and peeked out looking both ways. Relieved that no one was coming, he closed the door walking back to the bed and taking a seat on it, Sonny doing the same. Drawing a leg beneath him, Isaac turned so that he was facing her. Sonny watched as he cupped his left hand in his right and proceeded to crack his knuckles. Wincing because the sound always grated on her nerves, Sonny also slightly grew alarmed. The only times she’d known Isaac to crack his knuckles was when he was nervous or upset about something. Observing the expression on his face, she concluded that he was now nervous. She inwardly sighed. About what? He hasn’t said one single word!

 

About to scream due to the obnoxious habit, Sonny reached out and covered one of Isaac’s hands with her own before he could start to crack the knuckles of his right hand. Again, she asked him if there was anything that she could do for him.

 

Gently disengaging his hand from hers, Isaac folded his together in his lap. “Actually Sonny I wanted to speak with you about something. Something that I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of days. Now I—“

 

Isaac suddenly stopped speaking when his sister held up a hand. Looking at her bewildered expression, the man wondered what she was thinking. He had no idea that she was thinking he had just jumped on the bandwagon and wanted to become a member of the “we want Jack and Sonny together” club.

 

“Isaac I know that you’re just trying to help but whether Jack and I end up together or not is solely our business and I’m a little bit fed up with everyone trying to get involved. The last time I checked this was my life and only my life. It’s my decision what I choose to do with it and with whom. Understand?” I can’t believe that my playboy brother is trying to give me advice on love! He wouldn’t know romantic love if it came up and bit him on the butt!

 

Albeit thoroughly confused, Isaac slowly nodded. “Um, yes I understand Sonny, but I didn’t want to talk about you and Jack and your relationship…or lack thereof.”

 

Albeit now thoroughly embarrassed, Sonny managed to locate her voice. “Oh?”

 

Nodding again, her brother gave her a sweet smile. “Oh.”

 

She apologized although Isaac said that it wasn’t necessary. Sonny then asked him to continue what he had been trying to get out when she interrupted. Isaac positioned his hands to crack them again, but then recalled that his sister didn’t care for it. Instead, he shoved his hands into his pockets before quickly getting out what he wanted to say. He spoke in such a rush that it was questionable if he was breathing at all while doing so. When he finished, he offered Sonny a charming smile--the one he used when he really really wanted something. It very rarely failed him where the ladies were concerned, but thus far, it wasn’t working on his sister, who was adamantly shaking her head in the negative.

 

“Why not?” To his own ears, it sounded as though he was whining, which was a rarity. The handsome and debonair Isaac Alexander Campbell didn’t have to whine in order to get his way. All he had to do was flash one of those patented adorable smiles and allow the smoothness of his words to caress a woman’s ear and she was putty in his hands. Hey, it was a gift and he had been using it to suit his purposes since he was a preschooler and wanted fellow classmate five-year-old Susie Thompson to give him one of her cookies during snack time every day. Isaac wasn’t a jerk, just a man who had been successful with the fairer sex for the past thirty years. What good would it do to let his talent go to waste?

 

For the second time in the last twenty-four hours, Sonny gave an answer that really wasn’t an answer at all. “Because…I said so.” When exactly was it that I lost the ability to reply in an intelligent manner?

 

“That’s not an answer.”

 

Shaking her head, Sonny admitted, “I just don’t think it’s a good idea.” Jumping up from the bed, she continued to pack her belongings.

 

“And why isn’t it? And don’t say because you said so!” Isaac quickly added before his sister had the opportunity to speak.

 

Practically throwing her toothbrush in her suitcase, Sonny then looked at her brother, slightly irritated. “I like my peace Isaac. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to move in with me because I know you’ll have women coming in and out. I don’t want that.”

 

Isaac shook his dark head. “No I won’t!”

 

“Yes you will!”

 

“Will not!”

 

“Will too!”

 

“Na ah!”

 

“Ya ha!”

 

Both promptly burst into laughter at their childish and silly words. Thinking that the sudden laughter might have softened his sister’s resolve, Isaac smiled at her very sweetly as he arose from the bed and gently ruffled her hair.

 

“So may I?” he softly inquired, his long dark eyelashes blinking as he gazed at her.

 

Sonny rolled her eyes. “Good gracious Isaac I am not one of your women who would melt like a ball of wax that’s been tossed into a bonfire.” She pointed at his face while shaking her head. “That look won’t work on me.”

 

“Aw c’mon Sis.” Isaac was well aware that he was whining again, but he was way past caring. He needed to get out of Canova Beach and pronto! Right now Orlando sounded like a great city to move to and plus he had already landed a job there so now all he needed was a place to live. Thinking that it might work in his favor, he told Sonny that he had employment and therefore would be able to pay half the rent and utilities. He even offered to give her back all the money she had already paid toward the November rent. Based on the expression on her face, Isaac could tell that she was thinking about it. “I won’t be any trouble, I promise. Rule number one—I won’t bring any women back to your apartment. I promise you that Sonny. And I won’t be there long. Just until I get a place of my own.”

 

“If you already have a job then why can’t you find an apartment too? I’m sure there are even empty apartments in my complex and the rent is affordable.”

 

“That might take a little bit of time and I must leave now.”

 

Two curious eyebrows lifted, as a petite blonde became suspicious. Those last three words ‘must leave now’ left her feeling uneasy. And looking at him closely, Sonny noticed that her brother looked a bit desperate as though there was a reason why he needed to leave Canova Beach as soon as was possible. As she zipped up her suitcase, she asked him to explain his last statement. What have you gotten yourself into now big brother?

 

“I just uh,” trailing off, Isaac shrugged while offering his sister a smile that appeared more sickly than charming. Thinking that the truth was his best option, the young man loudly sighed as he ran a nervous hand through his hair. “Sonny, I’ve gotten myself into a little bit of trouble.” He watched as a pair of golden brows managed to elevate further. “Okay, a lot of trouble.”

 

“What kind of trouble are we talking about here?” Sonny inquired in a deceptively calm tone of voice.

 

“You know my girlfriend Veronica right?” Isaac asked as he retook his seat on the bed. Joining him, Sonny’s brow furrowed, as she grew thoughtful.

 

“I thought her name was Ronda?”

 

Isaac looked clueless. “Ronda?”

 

“Yes Ronda, the woman you called to speak to me about two weeks ago. You described her as a cute little Irish redhead with verdant eyes that sparkled like a sun-kissed diamond.”

 

Recognition dawned on his handsome face and he nodded. “Oh, yeah! Ronda O’Connell.” Isaac waved his hand dismissively “She and I parted ways just a few days after I talked with you.” Trying to formulate his thoughts, he missed his sister rolling her eyes heavenward. Sonny didn’t think that it was possible for her brother to stay interested in one woman for any period longer than two to three weeks. So far, he wasn’t proving her wrong and Sonny was starting to get the impression that he never would. He’ll probably be a playboy for life!

 

“Last week I met this incredible tall buxom blonde with a body to die for,” Isaac started, his green eyes glazing over with evident lust. Rolling her eyes again, Sonny quickly snapped her fingers in his face, causing the man to blink twice before he looked at her in embarrassment. “Anyway, Veronica and I instantly hit it off and things were going just fine until her husband came home unexpectedly Wednesday night to catch us in umm…a compromising position. And--”

 

“Wait a minute!” Sonny interjected. “I thought you decided that you weren’t going to court any more married women?” The last time she knew of that her brother dated anyone wearing a wedding band was when he had to take a leap out of a two-story window in order to avoid a confrontation with an angry six feet and seven inches tall husband. While a doctor reset his broken arm Isaac vowed to only date unattached females from then on.

 

Isaac nodded. “I had, but Veronica informed me that she and her husband were separated and that they would most likely be getting a divorce so I thought what the heck ya know?”

 

A blonde head slowly shook at this foolish line of reasoning. “Uh huh, sure Isaac. Please proceed. What happened after he found you doing the dirty with his tall buxom blonde wife?”

 

“Well to say the least, he was very upset and though he didn’t lay a hand on me, he did tell me that if he ever laid eyes on me again that he wouldn’t hesitate to kick the crap out of me,” Isaac briefly paused.  “Of course, he didn’t put it quite that nicely.”

 

“So in order for that not to happen you think it’s best to leave town?”

 

The dark-haired man nodded. “Exactly.”

 

“Are you never coming back to Canova Beach? I mean, our parents do live here.”

 

“Oh, I’m not worried about visiting. I think that after a while has passed, he’s bound to cool off. Plus, I doubt that marriage is going to last much longer. I just think it’s best if I leave now. You know, while it’s still fresh in his mind. So please Sonny?”

 

Sighing loudly, the blonde looked at her brother, a thoughtful expression on her face. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad having him around for a few weeks. After all, they didn’t get to see each other that often. Plus, if she kept an eye on him perhaps he would stay out of so much trouble where women were concerned. Sonny shook her head, quickly disagreeing with that thought. I’ve got about a snowball’s chance in hell of keeping Isaac out of trouble.

 

Sonny was quickly pulled into a pair of strong arms when she informed her brother that he could be her temporary roommate. Placing a semi wet kiss on her cheek, the delighted young man told her to expect him in Orlando later that evening. After talking with her for a few more minutes, Isaac stood up to leave, heading toward the door when she called him back. Asking him where he had obtained a job so quickly, Sonny curiously watched as a grin spread on Isaac’s lips.

 

“I’m the newest employee at Brew n’ Paradise. I figured that since you and Jack are such close buds now that you wouldn’t mind a family member working for the ‘ex-enemy’.” Flashing a mischievous smile, Isaac quickly fled from the room, missing his sister’s chuckle.

 

“Well, well, well,” Sonny said aloud to herself. “Seems that my brother’s record remains unbroken. Not only did he charm me into giving him a place to stay, but he charmed the ex-Conqueror into giving him a job.” Fully laughing now, she arose from the bed and continued her packing. “Big brother you are good!”

 

Continued…Part 6

 

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