Part 6 (conclusion!)

 

The time was just reaching one o’clock p.m. when Jack pulled up in front of Sonny’s apartment complex. The blonde had been thrilled to find that her friend drove less like a maniac on this return trip. She only had to remind Jack to slow down twice and both times the brunette had easily complied.

 

Though she was extremely glad to be home, Sonny already missed her family. Being the closest, it had taken Briana and she nearly ten minutes to finish saying their good-byes as they attempted to squeeze the life out of each other. Though the entire Campbell clan would not be getting together this coming Christmas, (Paul and Annette were going on a second honeymoon) Sonny and Briana had made plans for the younger sister to come visit while on winter break. That was something to look forward to.

 

Informed that it wasn’t necessary, Jack still escorted Sonny along with her belongings up to her apartment. Being invited inside, the brunette jumped at the chance, smiling as she entered the apartment and took a seat on the couch while Sonny went to fetch them something to drink. Noticing the November issue of Climax, the magazine which Laura worked for, Jack picked it up and began to leaf through it, stopping when she came to a page that sported a rather gorgeous yet professional picture of her ex-girlfriend Leslie. Grinning, she settled back on the couch and proceeded to read the two-page long article, thoroughly impressed with Laura’s writing as she carefully read.

 

By the time she had finished half a page, Sonny had returned with two tall glasses of slushy lemonade, which she had blended with ice in a blender that was rarely used. The blonde also set a plate of oatmeal cookies before them as she quietly waited for her friend to finish reading the article. Her eyes still glued to the magazine, Jack thanked the other woman for the snack as she reached out for a cookie, managing to easily swipe one from the plate without using her vision. Amused, Sonny washed down three cookies with nearly half a glass of lemonade before Jack was done reading.

 

Pointing at the article, Jack looked up at Sonny, remarking on how well done it was. A blonde head nodding, Sonny agreed. In her opinion, it had been one of Laura’s best articles that she had ever had the pleasure of reading.

 

“Isn’t it something how our ex’s hooked up?” Jack inquired in a casual conversational tone while reaching for another cookie.

 

Sonny nodded. “It definitely is. I think that Laura and Leslie make an adorable couple,” she earnestly replied. She wished them nothing but the best and sincerely hoped that Leslie was the one for Laura. Sonny had a feeling their relationship would be a strong and lasting one. 

 

“They absolutely do,” Jack agreed as she swallowed the remaining part of her cookie before regarding the other woman with a sly grin. “So, do you think that you and I could make an adorable couple Sonny girl? Personally, I think so.”

 

Though she rolled her eyes, there was a slight smile on the blonde’s lips. “You don’t give up easily, do you Jack?”

 

Jack shook her head. “Giving up is not in my vocabulary. I mean I didn’t become the ex-Conqueror by giving up.” She grinned as she glanced at her watch. “Ooh, I’ve gotta get moving. Chloe’s friends were supposed to have her home by early afternoon and I’m anxious to see her.” Looking at Sonny, the brunette noticed a bright smile on her face and inquired about it.

 

“It’s just so sweet how you are about your sister. I can tell that you’re real excited about seeing her and it’s only been a couple of days.” Arising from the couch, Sonny began to walk her friend to the door.

 

Jack shrugged, wearing a faint smile. “What can I say? I love the little rugrat.” Her smile turning into a full-fledged grin, she opened the front door, already missing the younger woman standing less than a foot away from her. Wordlessly, she wrapped her arms around Sonny, pleased when she was quickly embraced. Neither said anything as they stood in each other’s arms for a good fifteen seconds before parting. “I really had a great time this weekend Sonny. Your family is incredible. Thank you for inviting me.”

 

Reaching up, Sonny gave Jack’s arm a brief squeeze as she smiled. “Thank you for coming. It was wonderful having you there.” Her smile broadened as she added, “And I think my family has unofficially adopted you. They really fell in love with you."

 

“Hm, that means that I have one Campbell to go and my mission is complete.” Jack wiggled her eyebrows up and down as Sonny lightly chuckled. Though she was anxious to see her sister, Jack’s feet refused to budge. An idea suddenly forming in her mind, she asked, “Hey, why don’t you and Isaac meet Chloe and I for dinner sometime this week? Maybe Tuesday?” She would have suggested tomorrow night, but she didn’t want to seem too enthusiastic to see the love of her life again. Damn, she’s like a drug and I’m an addict who’s finding it difficult to go too long without having another hit.

 

Sonny smiled, liking that idea very much. “Excellent. Where do you want to go?”

 

“I’ll have to get back to you on that. Can I call you tonight?”

 

The blonde shrugged. “I don’t know. Can you?”

 

Smirking, Jack leaned down and stole a quick kiss, instantly wishing that it could have been longer. Barely looking into startled green eyes, she replied, “I’ll call you later. Be waiting by the phone.” With a wink and grin the ex-Conqueror flew down the stairs.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

After spending some time with her brother, eating pizza and watching a couple of movies they rented from the video store, Sonny excused herself for the evening. Taking a quick shower, the young woman slipped into a pair of boxers and a T-shirt before saying her prayers and slipping between the covers. Glancing at the clock, she saw that it was almost ten thirty and decided to read for a little while before going to sleep. Just as she opened her novel to the page where she left off, the phone began to ring. Reaching over, Sonny grabbed the phone as she placed her book on the bed.

 

“Hello?”

 

“What are you wearing?” a low sexy voice inquired, which Sonny instantly recognized as belonging to Jack. She grinned, deciding to play along for at least a moment or two.

 

“Nothing but a smile,” Sonny replied in a breathless voice. She heard her friend chuckle and smiled into the phone.

 

“Where are you?” The low sexy voice was still in place.

 

Sitting up in the bed, Sonny propped a couple of pillows against the headboard before pressing back into them. “Where should I be at 10:30 at night when I have to go to work the next morning? In bed of course.”

 

“So…you’re naked and laying in bed. Wish I could be there right now. I bet you look good enough to eat.”

 

Hearing a long moan, Sonny started to squirm on the cool sheets as she felt the beginning of a familiar dampness between her legs. It was time to stop this sensuous yet dangerous game before things got out of hand. Lightly clearing her throat, Sonny touched her flushed cheek as she asked, “What’s the matter? You didn’t have enough dinner?”

 

Jack chuckled again. “Yes, but there’s always room for dessert. And speaking of food, that was my original reason for calling. Sorry it took so long. After I arrived home, I had to take care of one thing after another and time just got away from me.”

 

Grabbing her novel, Sonny began to absently thumb through the pages. “It’s fine Jack. I wasn’t asleep anyway. So, have you decided where we’re going?”

 

“How does Italian grab you? There’s this fantastic little place that Chloe and I often go to on Evergreen Street. I tell you that their four cheese lasagna is truly out of this world.”

 

“Yummy. Italian grabs me just fine.”

 

There was a slight pause before Jack asked, “And may I grab you too?”

 

Although it couldn’t be seen, Sonny rolled her eyes. “You’re incorrigible.”

 

Jack grinned. “Yeah, that’s true. Though, I think it only adds to my charm. Wouldn’t you agree Sonny girl?”

 

The blonde laughed. “Definitely Jack. Definitely.”

 

“May I ask you a question?”

 

“You just did but feel free to ask another.”

 

“Are you really naked?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Just as she finished up with Pamela, who was a regular Thursday customer, a co-worker informed Sonny that she had a call. Ending her conversation with Pamela and telling her that she would see her next week, the blonde washed the oil off her hands before heading into the break room where the phone was. Bringing the phone to her ear, she pressed the correct button on the third try before uttering an exasperated hello.

 

“Hey there. Are you okay?”

 

Instantly knowing whom the caller was, Sonny smiled. “Yes, I’m fine. I just always have trouble getting this phone to work properly. It looks like a switchboard.” When Jack chuckled so did she. “So what’s up? By the way, Isaac said to tell you again that he enjoyed our dinner date the other night. So did I. It was fun.”

 

Smiling, the brunette replied, “Yes, it was. We’ll have to do it again sometime. Now, I was wondering if you would be interested in having lunch with me today."

 

Glancing at the clock on the wall, Sonny saw that it was almost twelve, which meant she had about an hour before her lunch break started. “Sure. That would be nice. My lunch break is at one. Could you meet me somewhere near here?”

 

“Don’t they have a restaurant at the resort? We could eat there if you like.”

 

“That’s perfect. I get an employee discount there. So I’ll see you at one?” Looking up, Sonny waved and smiled as she saw her twelve o’clock appointment walking by.

 

“Can’t wait. See you soon.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Aiming her fork at Sonny’s Caesar salad, Jack speared a bit of lettuce and a rather plump piece of chicken. Depositing it into her mouth, she munched happily, smiling sweetly at the smirk directed toward her.

 

“Are you enjoying my food?” Sonny asked good-naturedly.

 

Running her tongue along her upper lip, the brunette didn’t miss the look of desire that quickly passed across Sonny’s face. While a grin tugged at her mouth, Jack nodded. “Yes, your food is very good.” She offered her friend some of her hamburger, but the blonde shook her head deciding to just stick with her chicken salad. Taking a big bite out of her double meat hamburger with one hand, Jack attempted to steal another piece of chicken with the other but retracted her fork when a soft palm gently slapped her away. Sticking her bottom lip out, Jack pretended to pout. Sonny laughed.

 

“Why didn’t you just get a salad to go along with your greasy burger and fries?”

 

Jack snorted. “Like you don’t ever enjoy a greasy burger. I don’t know why you just got a salad for lunch.” The brunette glanced around the female laden restaurant before returning her attention to her companion. “Who are you trying to impress?”

 

Sonny smirked. “I’m not trying to impress anyone.” She pointed her fork accusingly at the other woman, though there was a hint of a smile on her face. “Because of you and my calorie loving family I’ve gained two pounds in the last week.”

 

Looking pleased with this information, Jack replied, “Good. We were saying that you needed to gain weight. You had been losing remember.” Concerned blue eyes trailed up and down Sonny’s body. “You could stand to gain a few more pounds too. I mean you look great but a few more pounds wouldn’t hurt.”

 

Touched, Sonny reached over and briefly squeezed Jack’s hand. “Thank you for caring and I am trying to gain, I just don’t think eating high calorie food is the way to make it happen. It’s not nutritious.”

 

“So after two servings of lasagna from Tuesday and a couple of fried chicken breasts last night, today you’re making a change in your eating habits?” Jack laughed when she had a tongue stuck out at her in reply.

 

“Hey, was it my fault that you brought Kentucky Fried Chicken over? It would have been impolite for me to decline eating it.”

 

The brunette chuckled. “So you sacrificed for me, eh?” At the other woman’s eager nod, she chuckled even more. “You’re so cute Sonny girl.” Jack smiled as her statement earned her a blush. “You know, I had a particular reason for wanting to see you today.”

 

“Really? And what reason is this?”

 

While dipping a french fry in a puddle of ketchup, Jack replied, “I wanted to talk with you about Blue.” Detecting a low groan from her friend, the brunette smiled as she quickly ate and swallowed the fry. “Now, now. I just wanted to find out what you know about her. I mean, this woman could be a psycho for all you know.”

 

“She’s not a psycho.”

 

“Oh, yeah? How do you know? You’ve never met her. Just because you’ve spoken on the phone with her a handful of times that doesn’t guarantee that she isn’t some masked murderer.” When Sonny rolled her eyes, Jack added, “Well she very well could be.”

 

“For that matter so could you.”

 

“Me?” Jack pointed to herself, her blue eyes wide with shock. “You know me. I couldn’t hurt a fly!” She paused. “Well…actually I could but that’s different.”

 

A blonde head shook. “Nope, for all I know you could have five bodies buried in that mansion of yours.”

 

Jack smirked. “Oh, please. Do I look like a murderer to you?”

 

“They do say that appearances can be deceiving.”

 

“Whatever.” Jack rolled her eyes as she picked up her drink and took a long swallow. “Okay, perhaps she’s not psycho. All I’m trying to say is that you should be careful. People should take caution when forming relationships with others over the Internet because some of them turn out to be dangerous and I don’t want you getting hurt. I care about you too much Sonny girl.” Jack attempted to put on her best innocent and concerned look.

 

A soft smile forming, Sonny quietly replied, “Jack, thank you but I feel completely and utterly safe where Blue is concerned. I know that I can trust her. I feel it deep inside. She would never hurt me on purpose. She loves me,” Sonny softly added while thinking of the Southern woman whom she so desperately wanted to meet. Perhaps the next time they spoke she would bring it up.

 

Jack inwardly sighed. Thus far, she wasn’t doing a good job of making Sonny’s faith in her Internet identity waver. A thoughtful look appeared on her face as she wondered how she could successfully get rid of herself. Originally, Jack didn’t think that this would be so difficult but Sonny was remaining as tenacious as a dog with a T-bone steak.

 

Okay, let’s try a different angle. “Her screen name is Blueyez right?” Remaining quiet, the blonde merely nodded while wondering where Jack could possibly be headed with this. “So what does that tell you about her?”

 

“That her eyes are blue.” Jack received an expression that plainly said duh.

 

Ignoring the look, Jack slowly nodded. “It very well could be, but you’re looking at the obvious Sonny girl. Let’s dig deeper. Blue means what? Besides being the color, it symbolizes gloom and depression. So…Dixie is it?”

 

Sitting back in her chair, Sonny folded her arms across her chest. “Uh huh.”

 

“Okay Dixie chose the screen name of Blueyez, which could mean that she’s often feeling blue and you could tell that by her eyes. Now they may or may not be blue but she is.” Jack grinned, looking pleased with her explanation. There was quite a long pause as Sonny merely stared at her with an unreadable expression.

 

“Are you on medication?” the blonde finally inquired, breaking the silence.

 

Undeterred, Jack continued grinning as she retorted, “Nope, but your Southern belle might be since she’s suffering from depression. Probably Prozac or something like that.”

 

“Since when did you have a Ph.D.?” Not giving the other woman a chance to answer, Sonny continued. “And even if you did, how could you diagnose someone without ever having met or spoken with them? Jack, I know you mean well,” pausing, Sonny’s brow furrowed. “At least I hope you mean well, but you really need to stay out of my personal business. You have your own life. Live it.” Glancing at her watch, Sonny muttered something about having to get back to work. Standing, she started to reach into her pocket for her wallet when Jack insisted that she was paying for lunch. Thanking her brusquely, Sonny headed out of the restaurant, ignoring when Jack called her name numerous times.

 

Hurriedly slapping a fifty-dollar bill on the table (most of which was the tip), Jack raced out of the restaurant to catch up with her perturbed friend. Minutes later, she found Sonny sitting on a bench at the entrance to a vast garden. Asking if she could sit down, Jack received a small nod in reply. Sitting, the brunette stretched her arms along the back of the bench before she stared up at the blue sky while gathering her thoughts. Blue eyes moving to rest on an upset blonde, Jack quietly apologized. Shrugging, Sonny didn’t offer a comment. Bringing her right arm down, Jack slowly inched her hand toward Sonny’s as though she was afraid that the younger woman would pull away. She was delighted when the blonde allowed her to hold her hand. After giving it a quick squeeze, Jack watched as green eyes fell upon her.

 

“Jack, I know how you feel about me, but you must realize that you and I aren’t going to be together. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you can move on. I can only offer you my friendship. You have to accept that I’m going to be with Dixie,” Sonny gently finished.

 

The brunette smiled at her. “If that’s what you want. I only want your happiness Sonny girl.” Turning her head away from Sonny, Jack rolled her eyes heavenward. Oh, what a great big mess I’ve created!

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Later that evening, Sonny sat at her computer staring at the nearly blank email before her. For the last ten minutes she had been trying to devise a short letter to Blue, but hadn’t gotten past the salutation. Though deep in thought, Sonny managed to catch a whiff of pleasant cologne. Looking around, she spotted Isaac primping in front of a small mirror hanging from the wall. He was wearing a three-piece suit, of which his sister was sure one of his many lady friends had purchased for him. Swiveling around in her chair, she asked Isaac where he was going with an amused smile on her face. Sonny knew that it wouldn’t be long before her brother dived back into the dating pool.

 

Glancing over his shoulder at her, he grinned, “I’ve got a date.” Turning back to the mirror, Isaac continued fussing with his tie until he was satisfied with the way it looked.

 

“A hot one?”

 

Isaac’s grin widened considerably. “Oh, it’s absolutely sizzling!”

 

Chuckling, Sonny swiveled back around to face her computer screen. “I hope you have a great time. Just don’t get into any trouble.”

 

“Nah, Sarah will keep me in line.” Turning, Isaac started to head back on the bedroom for his wallet when his sister suddenly appeared before him. Blinking, he wondered how she got there so quickly.

 

“Wh…what did you just say?” Sonny asked, green eyes filled with both anxiousness and surprise. Surely, Isaac hadn’t meant that he was going out with her Sarah did he? Sarah was quite a common name so it had to be someone else. She frowned. For his sake, it better be another woman.

 

“I said that Sarah will keep me in line,” Isaac repeated as he attempted to get around his sister. However, like a wall she wasn’t budging. Looking vaguely annoyed, he asked Sonny to move out of the way. Isaac was supposed to pick his date up at her house at 8:00 sharp and he did not intend to be late.

 

Planting her hands on her hips, Sonny remained where she was. She did not intend to move until she received answers. “Sarah who?”

 

“Watkins. Who else?” Isaac replied, looking as though he expected his sister to automatically know whom he was referring to.

 

A blonde head began shaking adamantly. “There is no way on God’s green earth that you are going out with my friend.” When her brother started to protest, Sonny signaled him to remain silent. “No, you listen to me Isaac. I know exactly what’s going to happen because you’re a predictable moron. You’ll wine and dine her for a week or two, making her feel like she’s the center of your universe and then you’ll break her heart. And when that happens I’m gonna have to break every bone in your body!”

 

Isaac was suddenly grateful that his sister wasn’t carrying a baseball bat. “I’m not going to break her heart. I care about Sarah, despite your reservations.”

 

Sonny rolled her eyes. “How many times have I heard you say that? If I had a nickel for every single time those words spewed from your mouth I’d have almost as much money as Jack!”

 

“I’ve never felt this way about anyone before Sonny. I don’t blame you for having your doubts about me, but I’m being totally genuine. Sarah…I can’t even begin to explain to you how incredible she makes me feel.”

 

“You just got here. How close could you two have gotten in such a short amount of time?” As far as Sonny knew, her brother and best friend hadn’t spoken to each other since Monday when Sarah stopped by for a visit.

 

“Well Tuesday we went out for coffee during my lunch break, and last night after you went to bed she and I stayed up for nearly four hours talking on the Internet.” Isaac smiled broadly. “It was awesome. That was when I asked her out on a date, so this little sister is our first official date, and if I have my way it will be the first of many.”

 

“Isaac…”

 

“Sonny,” the dapper looking man started in a firm yet gentle tone, “I honestly care for Sarah and I assure you that I have never experienced these feelings for anyone in my entire life. This is real. Not a game and not a fling.”

 

Sonny found pure sincerity when searching eyes the same exact color of her own. “You’re not kidding, are you?” she softly inquired. She never thought she would witness the day when her brother actually started to have genuine feelings for someone. That he would open his heart to possibly…love? This proves to me that anything is possible!

 

Isaac smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he did so. “Absolutely.” Leaning down he chastely kissed his younger sibling on the cheek. “Now would you be so kind as to scoot out of the way? I’ve got to pick my date up at eight.”

 

Wearing a hint of a smile, Sonny gently poked her brother in the center of his broad chest. “You be good to Sarah okay? She’s my most cherished friend.”  Standing on her tiptoes, she smoothed down an errant lock of Isaac’s hair. “You be on your best behavior.”

 

Isaac rolled his eyes, though he was beaming. “Yes Mom.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“Gin.”

 

“Aw, crap!” Showing what a good sport she could be, Jack threw the ten cards she held in her hand on the felt green poker table. She mock glared at the grinning face sitting across from her before they counted their cards and she added up the scores. It was humiliating losing three games of Gin Rummy in a row to someone she had just recently taught how to play. “You cheated.”

 

“Just how did I cheat?” Chloe inquired, the grin on her face wider now.

 

Jack’s expression turned pouty as she shrugged. Glancing at the tablet that they had kept score on, she noticed the final score. She had 255 points to Chloe’s 520. That was totally unfair! “I dunno how you did it, but you did. You’re a novice so how could you beat my a—my butt that well so quickly?”

 

Chloe giggled. “Just lucky I guess. You wanna play again?”

 

Jack shook her head. “Nah, losing so terribly to my little sister is embarrassing. Why don’t we play something else? Monopoly perhaps? We haven’t played that in a long time.” Starting to smile, she fondly remembered the last time they had played the popular board game. It took so long to finish that they didn’t get to bed until nearly two o’clock in the morning and they had started playing at ten. Neither hardly kept their eyes open during the last hour but it had been terrific spending that time together. And although Jack was receiving a thorough butt kicking tonight, she was having a wonderful time just hanging out with her sister.

 

Settling on Monopoly, Jack arose to get it when the phone suddenly rang. There were two phones in the room and both she and Chloe zeroed in on the one making the noise. It wasn’t the ordinary phone, but the blue Blue one. This was the phone, which only Sonny had the number to. When she called via the dark blue phone, Jack knew to answer it as the Southern Dixie Monroe. The last time Sonny called she almost answered in her regular tone but managed to cover the slip before the other woman could notice.

 

Chloe tsked as she watched her sister hurry over to the ringing phone. “It’s time for more adventures starring Deceiving Dixie.”

 

Jack smirked. “Hush kid. I know what I’m doing.” Signaling her sister to be quiet, the brunette picked up the phone, saying a soft and breathy hello. Hearing a snort, Jack informed the caller that she would be right back. Walking over to her sister, she released the brakes on the young woman’s wheelchair despite her protests and guided her out of the room. Telling Chloe to go to her room and that she would meet her there soon with the Monopoly game and a bowl of popcorn, Jack closed the door, ignoring the slight disappointed frown on her sister’s face. Returning to the phone, Jack took a deep breath before speaking.

 

“Howdy there,” the brunette said in complete Dixie mode. “Sorry about that. I had to take somethin’ out of the oven.”

 

“What are you cooking?”

 

Jack frowned. What was she cooking? Closing her eyes, she tried to come up with something. “Um…a pie.”

 

“Oh, yeah? That sounds yummy. What kind of pie?”

 

Jack glanced at the phone, her frown deepening. What was this? An interrogation?!? “An apple pie. It’s my grandmother’s recipe. I’d tell you what it is, but then I’d hafta kill you.” Jack added a chuckle, pleased when Sonny chuckled as well. Now, it was time to change the subject. “So how are you? Is everything all right? Though I don’t mind, you’ve never called this late before.” Glancing at her watch, Jack saw that it was nearly nine o’clock.

 

“Everything is just fine and I’m doing well,” Sonny assured her. “I’ve actually been trying to write you an email for a while now and then it occurred to me that I could just call you. Plus, I wanted to hear your voice,” she shyly added.

 

More than anything, Jack fervently wished that Sonny knew whom she was talking with and that those words were meant for her. “That’s so sweet darlin’.” It was on the tip of her tongue to say that it was great to hear Sonny’s voice but Jack figured that that would only draw the blonde closer to Dixie and she was attempting to ‘wean’ her off. I’ll be pleasant, however I’ll sound a bit detached. Just enough to provoke her to have a smidgen of doubt of how Dixie might truly feel about her. Jack shoved her guilt aside. She had to pull this off. Their romantic futures were at stake.

 

“I won’t keep you long Dixie, but I wanted to ask you if you’d like to try meeting again?”

 

Jack allowed a long pause to settle between them before she offered a reply. “Sonny I would love to, but I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate right now so…” she trailed off as she began to lightly drum her fingertips on the base of the phone.

 

“Oh, well that’s okay.” Sonny tried to hide her disappointment but failed miserably. “Will you let me know when your plate is uh…emptier?”

 

“I most certainly will.” For good measure, Jack pretended to yawn, making sure that it reached her caller. “Oh! I’m so sorry ‘bout that. I must be tired.” She detected a faint sigh and nearly emitted one herself. She felt like a deceitful jerk.

 

“Okay, then I won’t keep you. Just one more thing Dixie.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“This may sound like a stupid question, but what color are your eyes?”

 

Jack almost laughed. So, their lunch conversation had stayed with Sonny after all. “Not stupid at all. They’re brown.”

 

“Brown?!”

 

“Yes. My screen name doesn’t mean that I have blue eyes,” Jack paused slightly. “Sweetheart, I hate to rush this but I’ve gotta go.”

 

“Um…sure okay. Goodnight Dixie. It was nice hearing your voice again.”

 

“Ditto darlin’. G’night.” Hanging up the phone, Jack walked over to the poker table and collapsed into her seat. Needing something to do, she began to gather the playing cards scattered across the table. “Damn, lying is hard work.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Finishing her second box of Bon Bons, Sonny placed the empty box on the slightly sticky floor before she delved into the large bucket of buttered popcorn sitting on her lap. Tossing a few puffed kernels into her mouth, she looked ahead two rows in the movie theater at her brother and best friend. They were making goo goo eyes as they took turns feeding each other from a bag of Gummy Bears. If she weren’t in such a foul mood, she would have thought the scene to be adorable. Instead, the upset blonde frowned deeply at the display of affection between Isaac and Sarah.

 

Grabbing another handful of popcorn, Sonny wondered why she had allowed herself to be coerced into coming along to the movies this evening with Jack, Isaac, and Sarah. The last thing she felt like doing was having fun. Swallowing, Sonny took a long sip from her soda before looking for another box of Bon Bons. When she failed to find one, she realized that she had eaten both boxes before the lights dimmed and the previews started. Sighing, she started to get up in order to make a trip to the concession stand when a soft warm palm landed on her arm. Turning to the left, the blonde looked at Jack questioningly. Wearing a concerned expression, Jack asked if something was bothering her. During the last two hours the quartet had been out, Sonny was unusually quiet. Announcing that she was fine, Sonny attempted to get up again, however the hand on her arm had her in a firm grip and wouldn’t let go. Obviously irritated, the blonde informed Jack none too gently to remove her hand but merely received a shake of the head in reply.

 

“Talk to me,” Jack gently said. Glancing at her watch, she saw that they had at least five more minutes until the previews started.

 

“About what?”

 

“About what’s bothering you,” Jack retorted as she unconsciously started to stroke Sonny’s bare arm with her fingertips. “And don’t say nothing, because I know something is wrong. I haven’t seen you since Thursday. Did something happen in the last couple of days?”

 

Sonny wondered if she should tell Jack what happened Thursday evening. Within a few moments, she had made up her mind. Settling back in her seat, she nodded. “Thursday night I called Blue and spoke with her about us meeting.” With a silent nod, Jack waited for her to continue. “She said that she would love to but she had a lot on her plate right now, which basically means no.” Green eyes searched blue ones as though they held all of the answers. “Do you think she might be pulling away from me?”

 

Jack’s first thought was to say a resounding yes. However, she figured that that wouldn’t cause Sonny to feel any better. No, it was time for her to act like a true friend. She glanced toward Sarah, wondering what she would say if presented with a question such as this one.

 

“Sonny girl, she would be crazy to want to do that and I honestly don’t think she is. She told you that she has a lot on her plate and I’m quite sure that she’s telling the truth. What you need to do is give her some time for things to settle down in her life and then you two can set a date to meet.” Lacing their fingers together, Jack gave Sonny’s a gentle squeeze. “Don’t let this worry you. It’s needless to do so.”

 

“Really?” Sonny asked, still unsure of how Dixie might feel about her. Tears stung her eyes and she blinked rapidly, not wanting to break down in front of at least eighty people.

 

Bringing the hand she held to her lips, Jack tenderly kissed the back of while keeping eye contact with her beloved friend. “Really.”

 

Sonny began to smile for the first time that evening as she leaned over and kissed Jack’s cheek before thanking her. She started to feel a little better after their brief talk. Perhaps Dixie really was just busy and did want to meet Sonny as much as she wanted to meet her. I just need to stay positive. Settling back, she offered Jack some popcorn and both women began to eat from it as the lights dimmed. A commercial with animated hot dogs, popcorn, and candy showed up on the grand screen as Sonny leaned toward Jack.

 

“You were right,” she whispered, not wanting to disturb the people around them.

 

“Does that surprise you?”

 

Smirking, Sonny could still see her companion’s wide grin despite the darkness of the theater. “You were right about Dixie’s screen name not meaning that she has blue eyes. They’re actually brown.”

 

“So what does it mean?”

 

Shrugging, Sonny reached for her drink and took a sip. “I have no idea. She had to get off the phone before she could explain.” Right on cue, the blonde heard Jack making the theme music from the movie Psycho. She even pumped her hand up and down, mimicking the ghastly shower scene. With her free hand, she lightly punched her arm while trying to keep from laughing. “That’s not funny.” Making it crystal clear that she was fibbing, Sonny was powerless to stop a giggle from escaping.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Arriving home five minutes before eight, Sonny kicked her shoes off as soon as she closed the door. It was the first week of December and already the stores were beginning to get crowded. It had taken Sonny ten minutes to find a parking space at the mall and nearly twice that time to checkout her items at the majority of the stores she visited.

 

Placing her bags on the floor, the blonde walked over to the couch and sat gracelessly. Feeling confined, she raised up enough in order to remove her jeans, placing them on the coffeetable. It was great to be able to take her clothes off in any room again since Isaac had moved into his own place right after Thanksgiving. She’d missed his presence when he moved out, but Sonny loved having her privacy back. Besides, she was able to see Isaac all the time since he and Sarah were seemingly joined at the hip. They officially were a couple and Sonny couldn’t be more thrilled though she was still often surprised that her brother the playboy was in a real relationship. He even held a steady job at Brew ‘n Paradise and was the employee of the month. Yes, it was obvious that Isaac was finally becoming a grown up.

 

Relaxing for a few more minutes, Sonny then arose and headed into the kitchen to find something to eat. Starving because she hadn’t eaten since her lunch break, she examined the contents of the refrigerator before choosing to have leftover pot roast. Heating the meat up in the microwave, she made a pot roast sandwich before deciding to make a salad to go along with it. Turning on the small radio sitting on her kitchen table, Sonny started to eat her dinner while listening to various tunes.

 

Feeling much better after finishing her meal, she washed her dishes before heading back into the living room and picking up her shopping bags. Dressed in only a T-shirt, panties, bra, and socks, Sonny plopped down on the couch, proceeding to wrap her purchases. Though she was by no means a professional wrapper, she did a decent job and had all her gifts successfully wrapped within an hour. Most of the gifts she had brought this evening would be packed into boxes and mailed to family members next week.

 

Deciding that she was in need of a shower, Sonny left the gifts on the coffeetable, couch, and floor as she headed into her bedroom. She was about to pull her shirt over her head when the phone started ringing. Quickly removing the shirt and tossing it on her bed, Sonny grabbed the phone and took a seat.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Whatcha up to?”

 

Sonny smiled into the phone, glad to hear the voice of her friend. “Just finished wrapping some Christmas gifts and was about to hop in the shower.” Too late, she realized that she should have left that last part off. Surely, her caller would make it her duty to comment on it.

 

“Really?” Jack drew out the word thoughtfully. “You want me to come over and scrub your back for you? I can do the rest of you too while I’m there.” The mischievous brunette grinned at the double entendre.

 

Sonny shook her head, a grin plastered on her face. “You…are…so…bad.” She heard the other woman chuckle.

 

“I…know.”

 

While laughing, the blonde leaned over to remove her socks, unconsciously beginning to fold them as she spoke. “I’m glad you called. I was planning on calling you when I finished with my shower.”

 

“Couldn’t resist hearing my voice before you went to bed and had naughty little dreams about me, eh?”

 

“Yes, that is my main reason for sleeping, so I can have erotic dreams about the ex-Conqueror all night long. You see, I simply cannot wait to remove all of the hindering clothing from my soft supple frame and slip between my cool inviting sheets so that I may meet you my dream lover. In fact, I was hoping that tonight we would try a little Kama Sutra. What do you think, hmm?” The second hand on Sonny’s small bedside clock ticked by, as there was a long silence from the other end of the line. She briefly wondered if her caller had fainted. “Um, Jack? Hello? Are you still there?” Hearing a throat clearing, the blonde grinned triumphantly. Rendered you speechless, did I Jack?

 

“I’m here,” Jack finally responded in a slightly breathless tone of voice.

 

Sonny’s grin spread. “And are you okay?”

 

“Oh, sure. I’ll have to break out my special friend tonight but other than that I’m just peachy.”

 

Though having an inkling that it would be wise to head away from the X-rated direction this conversation was going, Sonny’s curiosity won out over common sense. “What exactly is your special friend?”

 

“Come over and find out,” pausing, a grin started on Jack’s lips. “That is unless you want us to come to your place. Who knows? You might like my special friend.”

 

“If I wanted a special friend then I’d get a man.”

 

The brunette burst into laughter. “So you’re not as naïve as you were starting to sound,” she stated in a teasing voice.

 

Trapping the phone between her shoulder and cheek, Sonny reached behind and began to unclasp her bra. “I’m not as innocent as you may think Jack. I’ve dabbled in a few items that you’d never find at Toys r’ Us. Fake penises—and while we’re on the subject neither have real ones—have never held any interest for me. Been there, tried that and don’t care to try it anymore.” While removing her bra, the blonde shook her head, wondering why she was continuing to have this conversation and why she had just admitted to having used sex toys. She doesn’t need anymore encouragement!

 

Once more, there was silence, but it wasn’t as extensive as the previous time. “Er, has Jack Daniels paid you a visit tonight Sonny girl?”

 

Sonny smirked. “I’m not drunk. Anyway, I think we’ve talked enough about this subject.”

 

“But I wanted to know what particular toys you’ve dabbled in,” Jack replied in a whiny voice.

 

The other woman chuckled. “I think I’ll just allow you to wonder about that,” Sonny gave a slight pause before proceeding, “Now before we traveled down this sordid road, I did have something I wanted to ask you.”

 

“Yes, I will marry you.”

 

Though rolling her eyes, Sonny laughed. “That’s not it. I haven’t even been engagement ring shopping yet! I wanted to invite you to the grand opening of Peter’s coffeehouse next Saturday. Actually, the official grand opening for the public isn’t until Monday, but Saturday he’s going to have a get together for friends and family. We’re allowed to bring a guest so I’m asking you. Wanna go?”

 

“Gee, I’d love to but I received my own invitation in the mail and I’m bringing a gorgeous young lady with me.”

 

“Really?” The expression on Sonny’s face was one of surprise. Who could this gorgeous young lady be? She attempted to ignore the fact that she was a bit curious and jealous. After all, she didn’t own Jack. She could date whomever she pleased.

 

“Yes, really. But thanks for asking me anyway. It means a lot.”

 

Although she smiled, Sonny’s euphoric mood had downgraded slightly. “Okay, well I best get off the phone now so I can take that shower and hit the hay.”

 

“Sure, sure. Have sweet dreams. I love ya Sonny girl.”

 

“Love you too Jack.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

The grand opening celebration of the new coffeehouse labeled Jitterbugs was underway and all invited were having a great time dancing, mingling, eating, and fiddling with the high-tech karaoke equipment. Well all except for the agitated twenty-seven year old blonde sitting alone at the end of the expansive marble topped bar and nursing an iced blended mocha. This being her fourth one of the evening, Sonny could practically feel the caffeine flowing through her body and figured she was well on her way to having the name of Peter’s coffeehouse fit her perfectly.

 

Having been in a funk for the past few days, Sonny had attempted to pull herself out of it in time for this party but hadn’t done a good job. She knew that she was being anti-social yet she just didn’t have it in her to put on a happy face. Sure, she had spoken with a few people, but mostly had sat alone in her corner drinking iced blended mocha’s one after another. The whipped cream, rich chocolate, and coffee they consisted of proved to offer the melancholy blonde a touch of solace.

 

Lifting green eyes from the counter, Sonny observed various others in the large coffeehouse. She estimated that there were around fifty invitees and perhaps it was just her imagination, but everyone else seemed to be in high spirits except for her. And perhaps it was just her imagination again, but they all appeared to be paired off.

 

Sarah and Isaac were mingling solely with each other now by cuddling in a booth and feeding each other bites of a hunk of chocolate cake they had obtained. Though feeling like the Scrooge of romance, Sonny looked at the new couple in annoyance. Just what was up with those two anyway? Ever since they became an item, it appeared as though they lost the ability to feed themselves. She refused to admit that she would have liked someone to feed her some chocolate cake.

 

Sonny sighed before sucking more vigorously on her straw as her eyes flickered to another couple just as her brother started to rain playful kisses on her best friend’s cheeks and neck. She watched as her ex-employee turned professional singer, Hawke slow danced with the tall handsome man she had come with. She had introduced him as her friend but Sonny considered that they looked awfully intimate with their arms wrapped tightly around each other. Plus, the fact that they shared a kiss every so often tipped her off that there was more going on than just friendship. They looked happy together and though she was in a deep funk, Sonny acknowledged that they made a cute couple.

 

Hearing someone holler in triumph, Sonny glanced toward the area, which had been deemed the “Playpen”. Within the Playpen were four pool tables, two dartboards placed on the walls, two pinball machines, and a number of small round tables set up for playing board games, each table having its own game such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry, and even Operation. Focusing on the first pool table, Sonny watched as Peter pumped his fist in the air after obviously having beaten the dark-haired, muscular, and quite good-looking man he had been playing against. Remembering him as Kevin, the co-owner of Jitterbugs along with Peter’s cousin Doug, Sonny observed him merely shaking his head and smiling at Peter’s antics.

 

When she arrived a bit over an hour ago, Peter had somewhat shyly introduced the model lookalike Kevin as his love interest. Having spent a few minutes speaking with him, Sonny decided that she liked and approved of Kevin as her friend’s partner. She told Peter as much when the handsome man stepped away. She also slapped his upper arm good-naturedly and grinned while congratulating him on landing a “super fit stud muffin”.

 

Catching her eye, Peter smiled and waved before turning to Kevin and saying something. Giving him a quick but affectionate hug, the man purposefully headed in Sonny’s direction. Signaling the bartender, Sonny asked him for another iced blended mocha. As he proceeded to make her drink, Peter slipped onto the padded stool next to hers. Concerned eyes peered at her behind gold-rimmed glasses as the man placed his hand over the one she had resting on the marble counter and squeezed.

 

“What’s bothering you honey?”

 

“What makes you think that something is bothering me?” Spotting the cocktail napkin her drink had been resting on, Sonny busied herself by starting to fold it with her free hand.

 

Reaching over, Peter gently tugged the napkin out of her hand and waited until her green eyes were focused on him before speaking. “Well this is a party and instead of having fun, you’re sitting over here all by your lonesome looking like you just lost your best friend.” As if on cue, Peter glanced over his shoulder, his eyes falling on Sarah and Isaac who were now finished eating cake, their lips busy doing something more intimate than eating. Turning back to Sonny who was putting a significant dent in her fifth coffee shake, Peter asked, “Does Sarah and your brother’s relationship have anything to do with your mood?”

 

A blonde head shook in the negative. “No, no…I couldn’t be any happier for Sarah and Isaac. I wish them nothing but the best. Truly…really…honestly. I think they make a terrific couple. Very sweet.” Noticing that she was talking a bit rapidly, Sonny snapped her mouth shut. Putting her cup down on the counter, Sonny disengaged her hand from Peter’s before lacing her fingers together and twirling her thumbs around each other. She started out slowly, but soon picked up speed as she gazed at her hands as though the movement of her thumbs was of great fascination to her.

 

Lifting a curious brow, Peter reached for the iced blended mocha, only to have a quick petite hand clamp down on his. “What are you doing?”

 

“I…ah…think you’ve had enough of these Sonny.” His eyes falling on the nearby bartender, Peter watched the man quickly nod his head in agreement. When he made another move for the large drink, Sonny swiftly pulled it farther out of his reach. Sighing, Peter sat back on his stool regarding his friend with a look somewhere between annoyance and concern. "Sonny, do you think drowning your sorrows in a coffee drink is going to help any?”

 

“Sorrows?” The young woman adamantly shook her head. She made a show of looking around. “I see no sorrows here. Just a person enjoying an iced mocha at a bar. Don’t make more of this than what it truly is Peter.” Sonny offered the obviously unconvinced man a faint smile as she briefly patted his hand. “Now g’wan back to Kevin and play some more pool. I’m fine…really.”

 

“Uh huh.  I believe that about as much as I believe that humans can live without air. Level with me Sonny. Talk to me hon,” Peter softly pleaded. “Tell me what’s going on up here.” He briefly tapped the side of Sonny’s head with an index finger.

 

Glancing at her friend, the blonde concluded that he was likely not to give up. Sighing, Sonny took a long drag from her cup before placing it back on the counter. Swiveling around on the stool so that she was facing Peter, she gazed at him for a thoughtful silent moment before beginning to speak.

 

“I’m lonely,” she stated, her voice cracking on the last syllable. Pausing, Sonny swallowed around a tightening throat as Peter looked at her compassionately. Reaching out, he cupped her knee, giving it a squeeze for good measure. “It seems like everyone I see has someone they can call their own and here I am attempting to carry on a relationship with a person who doesn’t seem all that interested in actually meeting me.” Sonny laughed humorlessly. “If it were possible, I’d wring Cupid’s neck.”

 

Looking a bit quizzically at the dejected expression on his friend’s face, Peter wondered for the hundredth time why she didn’t take notice of what was right in front of her. Well…not right in front of her since the person she would see was him, but figuratively speaking. Did she just not recognize how perfect she and Jack were for each other? He knew that Jack did. That was plainly obvious, but why was dear sweet Sonny so slow on the uptake? Sure, the two of them had their problems in the beginning, but they had worked through them. So the million-dollar question was, why weren’t they a couple yet? Peter slowly shook his head. If only that Blue person wasn’t in the picture. She’s the thorn in something that has the ability to be a great romance!

 

“What does…what’s her name? Dixie?”

 

Sonny nodded as she stirred the thick tan substance within her cup, green eyes following the movements of the crimson straw.

 

Peter barely controlled himself from grabbing the mocha filled cup. He half expected Sonny to start bouncing off the walls. Someone has consumed far too much caffeine!  Taking a deep breath, he then asked, “What does Dixie have that Jack doesn’t?” Peter closely watched as the straw ceased to move and Sonny slowly turned towards him. After a few moments he began to think that she wasn’t going to answer since she simply stared at him, amazingly still for someone who had such a great amount of an alkaloid within them. Finally, she blinked, taking a deep breath.

 

“I love Dixie and she loves me.”

 

“Well honey if she loves you so much then why did you say she doesn’t seem interested in meeting you?” Peter inquired in a gentle tone. “Is that love?”

 

Having another burst of energy, Sonny started to drum her fingertips on the marbled counter as her mind raced for an answer to this question. Did Dixie actually love her or had she tossed the words out with little regard? And was she truly busy or did she just not want to be bothered? Sonny recalled the two emails she had sent earlier in the week. She had yet to receive a response to either one and she knew that Dixie had read them because she checked. Perhaps the Southern woman was pulling away. Perhaps she had never loved Sonny in the first place and this had all just been a game to her. Maybe nothing they had shared had been real to her. As she admitted this to herself, Sonny’s level of depression sank even lower. Had Dixie just played her for a fool? She sincerely hoped that she was wrong.

 

Unable to meet Peter’s concerned gaze, the blonde woman looked down toward her lap. “I don’t know…I don’t know what to think anymore.”

 

“How do you feel about Jack?”

 

Raising her head, Sonny looked at her friend quizzically. “Jack? We’re just friends. Why does everyone think there should be more to it than that? Gosh, my own mother called me last week to ask, ‘how things were progressing between us’. And my sisters keep hounding me with emails.” Pausing, Sonny shook her head in bewilderment. “I love Jack--I’ll admit that. But I don’t love Jack. Do you understand that?” A golden eyebrow lifted as Sonny noticed the broad grin now on Peter’s lips. She barely refrained from rolling her eyes. “What?” She asked, sounding only slightly irritated.

 

He snickered. “Sonny and Jack sittin’ in a tree. K-I-S—OW!” Peter pretended to look wounded after being the recipient of a punch in the arm. Snickering more, he stood up before leaning forward and giving his friend a hearty hug, complete with a kiss on each cheek. He was pleased to notice that she looked a bit more animated now and winked at her saying, “Sonny, sometimes what we’re looking for we later find out we already had. Don’t be so quick to overlook what’s already here.” Giving her a tender smile, he patted her back before releasing her and slipping away. A smile found its way to his lips as he glanced toward the entrance to his coffeehouse. Perfect timing.

 

Stopping, Peter waved until he had the latest arrival’s attention and then inconspicuously pointed in the direction of the bar. Quickly getting the point, the tall leather clad figure standing just within the entrance gave Peter a nod and a smile along with two hearty thumbs up. Grinning, Peter proceeded toward the Playpen, intent on kicking Kevin’s firm buttocks again via another game of pool.

 

After briefly stopping to speak with a couple of people, Jack casually sidled up to the bar, yet to be noticed by Sonny who was tapping her foot while gazing toward the wall as though she had found something of great interest on its cream colored texture. Stopping just behind the seated woman, Jack resisted the urge to press a kiss on the top of her blonde head as she slowly leaned down until her lips were a bare inch away from a delicate pink ear.

 

“What’s a sexy little thing like you doing sitting here all alone?”

 

Nearly jumping out of her skin due to the unexpected whispered inquiry and tiny puffs of warm minty breath delivered into her ear, Sonny quickly swiveled around on her stool, coming face to face with the woman who had plagued a vast majority of her thoughts during the past week. She was about to utter a reply when she suddenly lost the ability to speak as her eyes trailed up and down Jack’s body. Though vaguely aware that she was staring, she simply could not resist. Sonny shook her head a tiny bit. Does she ever not look good?

 

The six-foot gorgeous creature looked like a sensual and ultra sexy gangster. As she gazed at the black leather pants gently hugging Jack’s powerful thighs and legs, Sonny briefly wondered if it was a requirement for the millionaire to wear leather on a regular basis. And how on earth could she comfortably wear it in Florida? Sure, it was officially wintertime now, but still…

 

Above the leather pants, Jack wore a strikingly white long-sleeved button-down Oxford shirt, which she’d chosen to leave untucked. A neatly arranged golden silk tie complete with thin black stripes woven into it, complimented the shirt. On the top of Jack’s dark head was a black fedora, which she’d arranged so that her left eye was almost totally shaded. The words that came to Sonny’s mind were “sexy as hell”. On her feet was a pair of steel-capped black construction boots that fit in with the outfit perfectly.

 

“See something to your liking?” Jack rewarded the gaping blonde with a devilish smile. She had been hoping for an effect just like this one and was quite pleased to say the least. Never in her entire lifetime, had Jack taken so long to choose what she was intending to wear. If it hadn’t been for Chloe’s assistance, she might still be in her closet trying to decide.

 

Needing something to cool her parched throat, Sonny a couple long sips from her drink, enduring a bit of a brain freeze in the process. Closing her eyes until the uncomfortable chill finished racing through her head, the blonde then took a deep breath before returning her attention to the mischievous ex-Conqueror.

 

“Aren’t you here with someone Jack?” She inquired, having finally located the whereabouts of her voice, even if it did sound slightly weak. “Don’t you have enough decorum not to flirt with me when you’re on a date?” Sonny inwardly winced. If she had enough flexibility, she would have given herself a swift kick in the butt for sounding so blatantly jealous. But I am, right? It’s the reason I haven’t spoken to her in a week and for lack of a more pleasant word, been so bitchy.

 

Since Jack’s surprising revelation on the phone last Friday that she had invited someone to Peter’s grand opening bash, Sonny’s mood proceeded to spiral downward much like the day before yesterday’s leftovers into a garbage disposal. Though she was aware of her immature behavior, Sonny could not bring herself to “put on a happy face” when what she really wanted to do was break down into tears. Numerous times during the week, she had attempted to convince herself that her sudden depression was solely due to Dixie’s recent behavior but that was only a minuscule part of it. The truth of the matter was that Sonny did not relish the idea of having another woman being the receiver of Jack’s affection. Yes, it was selfish and unfair on her part, but she could not deny it any longer.

 

The blonde slowly shook her head. I insist that she needs to move on and when she finally does I put her on ignore for an entire week. Sending mixed signals much Sonny? Before she could continue on with her thoughts, Sonny was brought out of them by a deep chuckle. Looking up, she noticed that Jack was nearly doubled over in laughter and wondered what she could possibly find to be funny. Waiting until the abrupt laughter metamorphosed into tiny snickers, Sonny asked.

 

Wiping at watery and mirth filled blue eyes, Jack snickered once more before answering. “You actually.” Grinning at Sonny, she moved sideways until she could lean against the bar. “You tickle me Sonny girl.”

 

A curious expression spilled onto Sonny’s face. “Tickle you? What did I say?”

 

“If I didn’t know any better…which on second thought perhaps I don’t, I’d say you were a touch jealous that I’d brought someone with me.” That impish grin remained on her face as Jack patiently waited for a retort.

 

Though she promptly snorted, the expression on Sonny’s face proved Jack’s speculation to be right on the money. Green eyes narrowed in annoyance as Jack let out a small chuckle. A broad smile on her lips, the brunette stood erect before turning around and scanning the crowd for a particular person. Finding her sitting at a table conversing with Hawke, Jack looked back at her sulking friend while she pointed in that direction.

 

“That’s who I came with.” She watched as Sonny’s eyes settled on the person she was pointing to. When the blonde looked surprised and then relieved Jack had to bite down on her tongue in order to keep from chuckling again. Sheepish and guilt ridden green eyes slowly turned toward Jack. Though Sonny had not uttered a single word since the discovery, her expression plainly said, “Oops.”

 

“Umm Chloe…uh…,” her words faltering, the embarrassed blonde took a deep breath before attempting to speak again, “Chloe is the gorgeous young lady you were referring to on the phone last week?” She received a silent nod in reply. Looking all the more sheepish now, Sonny briefly returned her attention to the adorable mini-Jack who was making her way to the dance floor with a tall blond man whom she hadn’t met. Trying to buy some time, Sonny watched the couple as they animatedly danced while Isaac did his best to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” to Sarah on stage with a bit of help from the karaoke machine. However, bless his heart, it wasn’t helping enough, though Sarah was thoroughly enjoying the serenade anyway. It then occurred to Sonny that Chloe was dancing…standing on her own two feet…no wheelchair in sight.

 

Her face significantly brightening, the blonde gazed at Jack, who had been watching her face the entire time. “She’s walking! And dancing!”

 

The brunette laughed while glancing over her shoulder at her young sister. “Yep, that she is.”

 

“When? How? I didn’t know!”

 

“Well…I attempted to call you a few times but you never returned them. She’s been taking a few steps for a couple of weeks now but Monday was the first time she truly took the initiative to walk.” Leaning toward Sonny, she whispered conspiratorially, “Though just between you and I, I think the kid’s been able to walk for quite a while now and just pretended that she couldn’t because she liked having me running around doing just about everything for her. Of course, she won’t admit it.” Jack winked, wearing a delighted smile. She’d nearly burst into tears, (okay so she had shed a few) when Chloe walked on Monday without any assistance. It had been a very proud moment.

 

Sighing, Sonny’s head dropped forward as the guilt returned tenfold. Because of her immaturity, she had missed out on something of great importance. During the past week she hadn’t been behaving like a true friend toward Jack and was deeply apologetic for it.

 

“Hey, what’s the matter sweetheart?” Her leather-encased bottom taking occupancy on a barstool, Jack peered at Sonny’s face, wondering why she looked so rueful now.

 

Glancing up at the concerned face, the blonde sighed. “I’ve been such a bitch,” she whispered. “I completely ignored your attempts to get in contact with me just because I was upset that…that you had a date for this party.” Shaking her head, she hoarsely whispered, “I’m so sorry Jack. A true friend doesn’t act like that. I don’t even know why you’re talking to me because it’s so obvious that I don’t deserve you.” Her vision blurring, Sonny wiped at her eyes. Before she could take another breath, a pair of arms was wrapped around her body, holding her tightly. She briefly felt warm lips press against the side of her neck as she returned the hug with fervor.

 

“First of all,” Jack started as she kept the smaller woman in her embrace, “you don’t even come close to being a bitch. Now me,” the brunette released a small self-depreciating chuckle, “I’ve acted like a bitch plenty of times in the past, but never you sweetheart. Please don’t beat up on yourself,” pausing, Jack leaned back so that she could look into watery verdant eyes. “Second, why am I talking to you? How could I not? Now that you’ve entered my life I want…crave to hear your sweet voice every chance that I get.” Reaching up, Jack gently wiped away an escaping tear from Sonny’s face. “Baby, don’t you realize how much I love you? Nothing could ever…ever change that. You and Chloe are my entire world.” Trailing her thumb across soft lips Jack said, “Now give me one of those smiles that always brighten my day.”

 

Though it was a bit tremulous at first, Sonny did as she was told, her lips curving upward as Jack’s did the same. Giving her a squeeze, Jack kissed her cheek with a loud smack. “That’s much better Sonny girl.”

 

Starting to feel so much better, Sonny returned the kiss. “Thanks Jack.”

 

“Aaw, I should be thanking you.” Standing, the brunette lightly stretched, quite aware that a pair of green eyes was focused on her movements. Concealing the grin that begged to burst forth, Jack asked her friend if she knew where the bathroom was. Giving her directions to where it was located, Sonny covertly watched as lithe form began to move away. Before she could take five full steps, Jack did an about-face and sauntered back toward Sonny. Leaning down, she remarked in a slightly husky voice oozing with sexiness, “Just to keep your mind racing while I’m gone, I’ll have you know that I’m wearing leather underwear as well.” Taking great delight in the blush that suffused her friend’s face, Jack almost happily skipped toward the bathroom.

 

Before her brain had time to acknowledge what she was doing, Sonny made a beeline for the bathroom a mere ten feet or so behind an unsuspecting Jack. With a look of purpose, she pushed open the swinging door leading into the ladies restroom. Glad to not see anyone except for Jack, she quickened her steps in order to catch up with the woman before she could fully close the stall she’d chosen to occupy. Feeling a slight pressure on the door, which refused to close, Jack looked up, surprise mixed with a healthy dose of curiosity written across her face as she studied the determined blonde standing before her.

 

She was about to say something when Sonny pushed her back farther into the stall, causing her calves to touch the rim of the stark white porcelain toilet. And speaking of the toilet, it was suddenly occupied by the fedora, which toppled off of Jack’s head. However, at the moment she couldn’t care less, her eyes glued to Sonny. Looking exactly like a lion that had finally caught its prey, the petite blonde walked stealthily into the stall, briefly turning to lock the door. An audible click sailed through the air as she looked back to Jack with an expression that the brunette had seen one other time. Jack recalled it quite fondly. My pool and chaise lounge had never seen so much sexual activity.

 

When she was about to make another attempt at talking, Sonny chose that moment to get her mouth busy doing something else. Though Jack had no objections when those soft lips started attacking hers with a passion she had never experienced. And though thoroughly surprised, the ex-Conqueror melted into the fiery kiss, moaning when Sonny’s tongue wandered out to greet her own. As their tongues playfully dueled, Jack felt nimble fingers sliding beneath her shirt and tracing idle patterns along her sides. Her legs beginning to feel like jelly, the brunette was about to attempt sitting down when it became obvious that her little seductress had other plans.

 

Wrapping a hand around Jack’s silky tie, Sonny nudged her toward the wall until her back was firmly pressed against it. Her entire body feeling as though it had just been infused by fire, Jack moaned surely loud enough for everyone in the building to here it when that sweet tongue plunged back into her mouth. Wanting to touch every inch of this woman, Jack started by cupping her jean covered cheeks, giving the taut flesh an ample squeeze as their bodies began to writhe against each other.

 

“Ooh yes, Jack,” Sonny breathlessly whispered against lips swollen from their heated kisses. Pressing one last kiss to those lips, she trailed her own across the taller woman’s chin and to her throat where she took her time laving the area around Jack’s pulse point. Finding it incredibly difficult to speak coherently, Jack lightly moaned as she raised a thigh, pressing it against the apex of Sonny’s jeans. A tiny grin slipped onto her lips when she felt the movement of gently rocking hips.

 

Her brain obviously having shut down and ignoring the tiny voice inside that demanded that she stop what she had initiated, Sonny proceeded to hurriedly unbutton Jack’s shirt, resisting the urge to just rip it open in her anticipation to view what lied beneath. She had enough sensibility left to realize that it wouldn’t do for Jack to have to walk around with an unsecured shirt on. However, quite a few people probably wouldn’t have any objections to that.

 

While those skilled teeth and tongue did delicious things to her neck, Jack wondered if her little friend actually intended to…well take her in a public bathroom stall. While she had no problems with the latter occurring, she would have preferred it to occur somewhere more conventional. Such as her super comfortable king-sized bed. Jack almost chuckled. Okay, perhaps their passionate activity on the chaise lounge hadn’t been particularly conventional, but at least they had more privacy.

 

Before Jack could continue her mental debate, her thoughts were abruptly ended when she felt determined hands tugging on the fly of her pants and a soft mouth placing warm damp kisses between her bra encased breasts. Tossing her head back, Jack released a long guttural moan while a wicked little tongue delved within her cleavage and one hand slipped beneath the waistband of her now unzipped pants. Closing her eyes, Jack focused on the pleasure rippling throughout her body due to the petite woman before her. Was it possible to explode because of desire and need? She felt as though she were on the verge of doing so.

 

Screw conventionalization, Jack thought as she gazed at the blonde kissing her way down her belly. I need her now. Silently lifting Sonny to her feet, Jack greeted her with a brief grin before reclaiming her mouth. She laughed when Sonny made a panting observation.

 

“You really are wearing leather undergarments.” And though indeed she was, the matching black leather brassiere and panties showed more than they covered. Jack’s breasts seemed dangerously close to escaping their confines and had Sonny taking the initiative to pull down her pants, she would have noticed that in the back a mere thin strip of leather, which appeared to resemble onyx dental floss ‘covered’ the ex-Conqueror’s…assets.

 

“God, Sonny I want you so badly…I need you to feel you,” Jack throatily admitted just before finding an enticing pink ear to nibble on. Deciding that her younger friend needed to be more unwrapped like she was, Jack set to work on unzipping her jeans when with a soft gasp Sonny took a swift step backwards. Darkened green eyes gazed up toward her own smoky blue with a look mixed with equal parts apprehension, confusion, and passion. Uh oh. Jack suddenly had a feeling that her libido wasn’t about to be attended to anytime soon. I knew this was too good to last for long. “Something wrong?” she hesitantly inquired, hoping that the answer was no but realizing that it was most likely the opposite.

 

The blonde head shook from side to side. “Jack this is wrong. We can’t do this.”

 

Despite her first intentions to remain calm, Jack released a groan as she ran slightly tremulous hands through her hair. “Damn Sonny, you’re gonna be the death of me.” Pausing, she took a deep breath, which didn’t actually help. “Tell me, why is this so wrong ‘cause it feels extremely right to me!”

 

One word. “Dixie.”

 

Barely refraining from using a strong expletive, Jack kept her mouth shut while she proceeded to fix her clothing, starting with buttoning up her shirt. She knew that the other woman’s eyes were upon her yet she refused to make eye contact. Though she was quite aware that it was immature, Jack was on the verge of having a temper tantrum by merely walking out of the restroom without uttering another word.

 

Hearing Sonny calling her name, Jack refused to answer as she refastened her pants before straightening her tie. When she heard the desperate pleading in Sonny’s voice she couldn’t help but to look at her. When she saw the tears glistening in those expressive green eyes, she could have kicked her own butt. Drawing Sonny to her, she quietly held the smaller woman as she shed a few tears.

 

“I’m sorry,” Sonny cried as she buried her face against her companion’s shirt, tears staining the pristine whiteness. “I’m so very sorry Jack. It’s wrong to lead you on.”

 

“Hey, no need for an apology,” Jack soothed, kissing the top of Sonny’s head. “It’s quite alright sweetheart.” Leaning back so that she could see the blonde’s face, Jack grinned. “Feel free to lead me on any ol’ time.” Glad when she received a chuckle, the ex-Conqueror’s grin grew broader.

 

Inhaling deeply, Sonny stepped out of the warm embrace, taking Jack’s hands in her own. “It’s just that…well, I’m not ready to give up on Dixie. Maybe it won’t work, but I feel that I should give us a chance.”

 

Jack inwardly sighed. And yet you can’t keep your hands off of me. How exactly does that fit into your plan of giving her a chance? Before she could give considerable thought to what she was about to say, Jack opened her mouth, throwing caution to the wind. “Sonny girl, I’m Blue.” Barely realizing that she ceased to breathe, she closely observed Sonny’s face for any signs of indignation. However, she couldn’t detect any as the other woman merely granted her with an unreadable look for a few moments before she released a heavy sigh.

 

“I know,” Sonny quietly admitted.

 

Say what? Jack fought hard to keep the surprise from showing on her face, not having any idea that her friend would come back with a reply such as that one. She knew? How could she know? And the better question was why hadn’t she said anything when she first found out? Jack thought back over the course of their friendship, searching for any clues she might have given Sonny.

 

The facts.

 

Sonny knew that Blue was tall and Jack happened to be as well. She resided in Orlando as did Jack. They both had raised their sister from a small child because their parents were deceased. Also, it was quite a coincidence that Jack showed up on exactly the same day and time when Sonny was supposed to meet Blue for the first time at Disneyworld. However, she never showed up and therefore Sonny ended up spending the day with Jack.

 

Okay, it was entirely possible that she put two and two together. Now, wasn’t she supposed to be upset that Jack had…well basically deceived her? Jack examined Sonny’s expression again not detecting the slightest bit of ire. Hmm, perhaps she had made a big deal out of what seemed to not have any ill effect on her beloved. But just to be sure…

 

“And you’re not upset?”

 

Looking perplexed, Sonny shook her head. “No, why would I be upset because of that Jack? I know that you’re unhappy about my attempt to possibly build something with Dixie. If anyone has the right to be upset, it’s you. It’s as though I’m constantly teasing you and I wouldn’t blame you if you told me to take a flying leap.” She shook her head in self-disgust. “I insist that you move on and then I trap you in a bathroom stall. I’m really sorry Jack.”

 

Jack slowly blinked as she digested the words just spoken. She took her declaration to being Blue as in melancholy blue. Sonny still didn’t know. Jack wasn’t sure whether to be disappointed or relieved by that fact. She actually felt a mixture of both.

 

Her lips curving into a soft smile, Jack reached out and brushed the back of her hand across Sonny’s cheek. “It’s okay Sonny girl. We can just forget this ever happened if that’s what you want.” Actually, she herself would never forget it. This was branded on her brain permanently. Surely, not ever Alzheimer’s could erase it.

 

Returning the smile, Sonny nodded. “Thanks Jack.” Secretly, there was no way she was going to forget. Even if she’d felt inclined to do so.

 

“Maybe we should…umm…get out of here.” Jack smiled again as she glanced toward the door, wondering if anyone had come in and heard them during their heated make out session. Now wouldn’t that have made an interesting headline? The ex-Conqueror and the woman she booted out of the coffee business get caught playing tongue hockey in a public ladies room.

 

Lightly chuckling, Sonny headed toward the door when she caught something out of the corner of her eye. Looking into the toilet, she spotted Jack’s black fedora floating on top of the clear water. Sheepishly, she reached down and grabbed the damp hat, shaking the water droplets from it before she offered it to Jack. “Sorry about your hat Jack.”

 

Finding this humorous, Jack laughed. “Aw, it’s okay.” She shook her head. “I’m having the damnedest luck with hats lately. Perhaps this is a sign that I should retire from wearing them!”

 

Sonny smiled at her. “No, don’t do that. You look good in them.” Not giving her friend a chance to reply, less she utter something suggestive, the blonde unlocked the door before walking out, Jack following closely behind her. They both halted when they spied the young blonde casually leaning against the sink with her arms folded across her chest. A huge knowing smile lit up her adorable face.

 

“Well, well, well,” Hawke started in a singsong voice. “Just what were you two up to in there, hmm?” She just knew it! She knew that something more than friendship had to be going on between them.

 

Whereas Jack merely looked roguish, Sonny’s cheeks were turning a deep crimson. Catching sight of Jack’s face, she slapped her on the arm, annoyed when the brunette gave her a saucy grin. Hawke chuckled as she watched the silent interaction between them. They were just too cute for words!

 

“Nothing. Nothing at all,” Sonny replied, not sounding the least bit convincing.

 

Hawke was unsurprisingly unconvinced. “Uh huh. Listen, until you two make a formal announcement I’m not going to breathe a word about your relationship. You can trust me.” She smiled sweetly just to show how trustworthy she was.

 

“There’s no announcement to be made!” Turning to regard a quiet Jack, Sonny concluded that she wasn’t going to be receiving any help from the infuriating woman. When she glared the ex-Conqueror grinned and winked at her.

 

Snickering, Hawke pushed away from the sink and sauntered towards the exit after waving at a flustered Sonny and mischievous Jack. They listened—Sonny in complete embarrassment as she began to sing lyrics (with a little editing) from an Atlantic Starr song.

 

Secret lovers

That’s what they are

Try so hard to hide the way they feel

They don’t belong to anyone else

But they can’t let go

Although they love each other so

 

As Hawke’s melodic voice drifted away from the room, Jack was nearly rolling on the floor in laughter while Sonny covered her bright red face. Surely, hopefully Hawke would make good on her promise not to tell anyone what she found in this restroom. Sonny had never known the younger woman to be a tattletale in the past.

 

Taking notice of the laughter, the blonde turned toward Jack, who actually had tears rolling down her face. Though she tried not to, Sonny found herself joining in on the laughter despite the embarrassing situation. She couldn’t help it. Jack was infectious.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Hearing the phone’s incessant ringing, Briana put the final touches on her Christmas present to Sonny. A bright red bow was placed on the small rectangular gift before the young woman found a place for it under the cheerily decorated Christmas tree. Since her sister wasn’t currently home, Briana walked over and picked up the phone just as Sonny’s voice began to play via her answering machine.

 

“Happy Holidays,” Briana jauntily spoke into the phone. Although there was five days until Christmas day, every year Briana ceased answering the phone with the customary hello between the dates of December 18th through the 30th. She then proceeded with Happy New Year’s until the second of January officially arrived. It was a tradition that she created of her very own. However, no one in her family had picked up on it except for Melanie. Briana figured that converting one was better than none.

 

“And Happy Holidays to you too,” a Southern accented voice replied after a moment’s pause. “Is Madison home?”

 

Briana’s interest was instantly awakened as she wondered just who this woman could be. The voice didn’t sound at all familiar. “May I ask who is calling?”

 

“Sure honey. Her friend Dixie.”

 

Golden brows nearly disappearing into her hairline, Briana moved over toward the couch and plunked down on it. “Dixie? Dixie Monroe?”

 

A soft chuckle wafted through the receiver. “Yes, that’s right honey. I reckon that you have heard of me?”

 

“My sister has mentioned you,” Briana answered a bit tightly. All she could think about was that this woman was the sole obstacle standing in Sonny and Jack’s way of being together. If it wasn’t for her, they might already be a couple. And what a cute couple they would make too! Gripping the phone tighter than what was needed, Briana quickly decided that she had to be the one to eliminate Dixie. Completely ignoring the fact that she was sticking her nose where it did not belong, she started to speak.

 

“I think it’s in your best interest not to call here any more. My sister hasn’t heard from you in several days yet you claim to love her. Tell me just what kind of love is that?” Glancing toward the front door, Briana silently prayed that Sonny wouldn’t enter before this conversation was done. She’d gone to pick up the ten pounds of Chinese food they had ordered and would be back at any moment now.

 

There was another pause, this one slightly longer than the last. “Are you Madison’s little sister Briana? I’ve heard so much about you. All good of course.”

 

“Yes, I am.” Rising, Briana started to pace within the boundaries of the living room. “And you didn’t answer my question. Just in case you thought otherwise, it wasn’t rhetorical.” She thought she heard a snicker, however it was much too brief to be declared as one. Regardless, Briana frowned.

 

“I do love her Briana as hard as it may be for you to believe. Your sister means a whole lot to me. I know that my behavior as of late has been less than…’gentlewomanly’ and for that I do apologize. I’ve just had a lot goin’ on but I’m calling ‘cause I’m ready and able to mend things with Madison. She means more to me than I could ever relay to you.”

 

Despite her irritation at Dixie’s presence in her sister’s life, Briana couldn’t help but to believe that she was being genuine. However, that didn’t rule out the fact that she was still an obstacle. Dixie just had to realize that Sonny was not her perfect mate. She had to be made to realize that there was someone else out there for her. She sounded like a pleasant enough person. Certainly, someone would sweep the Southern belle off of her feet before long.

 

Unfortunately, before Briana had the chance to voice any of those thoughts she detected the sound a door makes when a key is inserted into it. Looking rather annoyed at the interruption, the teenager sighed.

 

“Hold on a minute Dixie.” Walking toward the door, Briana opened it before her sister had a chance to. Giving her a distracted smile, she helped Sonny with the plastic bags filled with their dinner. As they headed into the kitchen, Sonny noticed the phone clutched in Briana’s hand.

 

“Is that for me? Is it Jack?”

 

After placing her delicious burden on the kitchen table, Briana gazed at her sister curiously. “What?”

 

“On the phone?” Sonny pointed at the hand length object.

 

Briana glanced down toward the phone in her hand as though it had magically appeared there. Briefly, she thought about fibbing but then changed her mind. It shouldn’t be up to her how her sister decided to handle Dixie. “Um…actually it is for you. Though it isn’t Jack.” Briana smirked while handing the phone to her sister. “It’s your other woman.” After enduring a swat on the butt, she left the kitchen in order to give Sonny some privacy. Before Sonny had a chance to say hello, Briana temporarily returned and rifled through the bags until she found the carton of chow mein along with a pair of chopsticks. There wasn’t any indication just how long Sonny would be on the phone with Dixie and she was famished. Giving her patiently waiting sister a wink, she once again disappeared from the cooking area.

 

Taking a seat the kitchen table, Sonny raised the phone to her ear. “Hi Dixie.”

 

She could almost feel the smile through the phone. “Well hi to you Sonny. I kinda reckoned that you weren’t home.”

 

“Actually, I just got in. Went to get some dinner.”

 

“Oh, I see,” Dixie paused. “Honey…I’m sorry for being absent lately. I wouldn’t blame you if you were hotter than slabs of bacon in a sizzlin’ grease laden fryin’ pan.”

 

Sonny burst into laughter as she propped her feet on the chair opposite the one she occupied. “Now that would be mighty hot!” She heard Dixie chuckle. “I’m nowhere near that Dixie. I understand about your full plate.”

 

The Southern woman released a relieved sigh. “Well luckily, that full plate is now practically empty.”

 

A hopeful smile suddenly lit up Sonny’s countenance. “Is that so?”

 

“That is definitely so!”

 

“Great! So…where does that leave you and I? I mean what would you like to see happen now?”

 

“I would love to see you and I cozy and getting to know one another more intimately in a little cabin I rented out by St. John’s River for New Year’s Eve and Day. How ‘bout it darlin’? It’s absolutely beautiful there and it’s not too far from Orlando.”

 

Sonny’s heart started a furious beating. She was both anxious and nervous at the prospect of finally…finally meeting Dixie in just a little over a week. Sonny mentally calculated it in her mind. The thirty-first was on a Sunday and she believed that there would be no problem with having Monday off. She had racked up plenty of time in her vacation account. Plus, it was New Year’s Day--the day after just about everyone and their mother undoubtedly partied-- so just how busy would the massage therapy department at Serenity Palace get? Okay, perhaps there would be the few who staggered in, searching for help in easing their hangovers, but still…she should be able to get the day off.

 

Sound thoroughly delighted, Sonny informed her friend that she would be able to make it at the end of the following week. Proceeding to chat for the next twenty minutes, the two women organized their plans and briefly discussed the activities they would enjoy participating in during the brief vacation. By the time they got off the phone, they had decided to try hiking and canoeing, two things neither of them had ever done before. Deep deep down inside, Sonny was a little worried about doing the former. Hiking didn’t sound like an activity that she could easily excel at. I’ll probably wimp out after walking a mile!

 

“Sonny, I heard you say goodbye nearly five minutes ago so get your butt in here—and don’t forget the goods! I’m practically dying of starvation here!”

 

Snickering, the blonde stood up before grabbing the bags and heading out of the kitchen to join her evidently impatient sibling. “You better not have eaten all the chow mein Ms. Melodramatic!”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

“Let me see if I understand this correctly. Next weekend you’re going into the secluded woods to meet up with a woman whom you’ve only known thus far from the Internet.”

 

A slight nod of the head. “Yep.”

 

“Have you completely lost your mind?”

 

“Why? Did you wanna borrow it?”

 

Sonny instantly smiled upon hearing the snickers emanating from the two younger ladies sitting on both her left and right. Her smile turned into a devilish grin as she observed the smirking form sitting across from her. “Just an innocent question stretch.”

 

This statement only proved to cause Jack’s smirk to enhance. “Uh huh.” Finding the crab salad she had ordered lacking flavor, Jack reached over toward her sister’s plate and speared a cube of steak. “I believe that about as much as I believe your heading off into the wilderness to meet Trixie is a sensible idea.”

 

“Dixie,” Briana swiftly corrected. Thanking her while giving Jack her version of the evil eye (which wasn’t even in the ballpark of being evil) Sonny started to add something else when her sister held up a hand for silence. Shutting her mouth, Sonny waited for the younger woman to speak her mind. “And, I have to admit that I agree with Jack here.” Briana pointed her half-eaten breadstick at the woman she spoke of. She received a bright smile, which she returned before turning toward her sibling. “Sonny, your Internet friend sounds like a nice person but you can never tell these days. And it’s odd that she couldn’t make your date at Disneyworld yet she’s now ready to meet you and she wants to do it in the woods instead of a public place like the theme park.” Briana shrugged as she waved her breadstick about as though she was conducting an orchestra. “I mean, what’s the deal with that?”

 

Vigorously nodding her head, Jack reminded Sonny of one of those cupie dolls you stick on the dashboard of your car. “My thoughts exactly Bri!” she shouted in a voice loud enough for the occupants at the table next to theirs to overhear. "Sonny girl I think I might be picking up some bad vibes from this Dixie character. What kind of person wants that much seclusion on the very first meeting?”

 

“Mmhmm.” Briana joined in on the nodding. “Seems kinda fishy sis. I think you should reschedule. Try pitching to Dixie the idea of you and she meeting at a restaurant or a coffeeshop.” She glanced toward Jack with a wide grin. “Heck, you could even ask her to meet you at Brew n’ Paradise. I’m sure Jack wouldn’t mind.” Briana chuckled as a pair of blue eyes rolled in her direction.

 

Choosing to ignore them both, Sonny looked to her left at a non-vocal Chloe. “What do you think hon? You agree with Ren and Stimpy?” While Jack and Briana quietly bantered over who was the Chihuahua and who was the cat, Sonny waited for a reply.

 

Needing an excuse for not immediately answering, Chloe quickly gathered a spoonful of mixed vegetables from her plate and shoved it into her mouth. Chewing ever so slowly, she held up a solitary finger to let Sonny know that she needed a few moments to swallow. While she thought about the question just posed to her, she recalled the conversation she and Jack had several weeks ago.

 

“I’m talking about you being on the phone yesterday around oh say six o’clock in the evening. As I rolled by the living room, I couldn’t help but to hear you talking and I would have kept going if it hadn’t been for the way you were talking,” pausing, Chloe slightly grinned. “So inquiring minds want to know what’s up with the Southern accent Jack? You did quite well by the way. If I hadn’t known you, I would have thought you were straight outta Mississippi!”

 

Jack laughed though there was a tinge of a blush on her cheeks. “Oh, well I was…” How much should she tell? Deciding that if there were anyone on this planet that she could trust with a secret, it would be her sister, Jack said, “talking to PerkyGrrl.”

 

Chloe’s face took on a very interested look. “That’s great! But why were you pretending to be a Southerner?”

 

Softly sighing, Jack sat back on the couch while folding her arms in her lap. Looking at her sister, she replied, “Because PerkyGrrl is Sonny and Sonny doesn’t know that I’m Blue.”

 

The look on Chloe’s face turned thoughtful as she absorbed that piece of information. “So…let me get this straight. You have somehow found out that Sonny Campbell is your online friend PerkyGrrl, but she doesn’t know that you’re Blue. And yesterday you called her pretending to be Blue, which you really wouldn’t be pretending…. giving yourself a Southern accent so that she wouldn’t be able to tell that she was talking to Jack?”

 

Jack gave her a short nod. “In a nutshell yeah.”

 

So, she had agreed not to breathe a word to Sonny about Jack being Blue. A slight smile touched Chloe’s lips after she finished swallowing. However, that didn’t mean she couldn’t have any fun with this. Looking at Sonny, her smile grew bigger and her blue eyes twinkled. Though having a strong suspicion that her sister was up to something, specifically no-good-very-bad trouble, Jack remained silent, waiting to hear what would come from between Chloe’s smiling lips. 

 

“Sonny,” Chloe started as she sat back in her chair, “though I do believe that Ren and Stimpy have made valid points, I think you should go for it. Don’t let this opportunity of possibly meeting the woman of your dreams pass you by.” Out of the corner of her eye, Chloe saw her sister staring at her with her mouth opened wide enough to allow access to a hummingbird. She barely refrained from laughing as she continued her short speech. ”After all, we only live once and therefore you need to take this chance. Don’t let yourself or other’s bother you with the what ifs and maybes. I think Nike said it best. Just do it!”

 

Having not expected Chloe to be on her side, Sonny began to smile brightly. It felt good to have someone sitting at this table in her corner. “Really? You really think I should?”

 

The teenager nodded enthusiastically. “Absolutely!”

 

“Wait a sec,” Briana interrupted while holding up a hand. She looked across to Chloe. “You don’t have the smallest problem with this? You don’t think it’s the least bit dangerous for my sister to meet a woman whom she’s never seen before in the woods? I don’t have a problem with them meeting. I would just be more at ease if it were in public.”

 

“Briana, your sister has been communicating with Dixie for over a year now and they’ve spoken on the phone several times. I would think that by now she would have an inkling if anything were amiss. And who knows? Perhaps they’ve already met. They do live in the same town.” Feeling a hand fall on her knee, Chloe looked up at her sister who was giving her a barely discernible frown. Reaching under the tablecloth, the young woman lightly patted the back of Jack’s hand while winking. The frown merely deepened causing both Sonny and Briana to notice. Almost on cue, they asked her if she was okay.

 

The brunette glanced between the two sisters, having not meant for them to see her expression. She reassured them with a quick nod that she was.

 

“Then why were you frowning at Chloe?” Briana curiously asked.

 

“Frowning?” Pointing at her chest, Jack stalled in the hopes that she could come up with a suitable answer. Oh, kid I will definitely get you back for this one! “I was frowning?” Jack asked, looking as though she had no clue that she had been.

 

Twirling a fork in the remainder of her mixed veggies, Chloe blithely answered, “Most likely she was frowning because she doesn’t like the fact that I’m pushing Sonny’s meeting with Dixie.” Glancing at her older sibling, Chloe winked again. “Isn’t that correct Jackie?”

 

Folding her arms over her chest, Jack only sighed. Was it terribly wrong to want to throttle one’s sibling?

 

Knowing where this was headed, Briana suddenly grew extremely interested in the conversation. Her attention mainly focusing on Chloe, she grinned. She liked the way Chloe Foster’s mind worked! “Is that because secretly they wanna be lovers and therefore Jack can’t stand the idea of my sister getting involved with another woman?”

 

Chloe grinned back, pleased that Briana had caught on to what she had been implying. “Very well could be.”

 

As though their brains were somehow connected, Jack and Sonny instantly thought of Hawke and the Atlantic Starr song she serenaded them with in the restroom at Peter’s grand opening. What started out as soft chuckles soon turned into robust laughter while Chloe and Briana stared inquisitively, wondering what struck their older sisters as humorous.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

After making sure that all of the mistletoe was strategically placed, Jack went to check on the food, which had just been delivered by a catering service she hired two weeks prior. Walking into the den, she headed toward the broad table, which aromatic dishes were spread across. Checking every delectable item of food, the brunette nodded as a pleased smile spread on her lips. Everything looked perfect and she was ready for the Christmas Eve fiesta to begin. She then caught sight of the silent stereo. Ah. There was one more thing to do. Walking up to it, Jack rifled through a stack of CD’s until she located the one that Chloe had specifically created on her computer for this evening. Slipping the thin disk into the CD player, she pressed the play button. Seconds later, Frank Sinatra began to sing his rendition of the classic “Jingle Bells”.

 

As if on cue, someone chose that moment to ring the doorbell. Continuing to smile, Jack hurried to answer the door while silently praying that this evening of celebration with friends and family went off without a single hitch. Just before opening the door, she reached up, lightly tugging on the bright red Santa’s hat sitting on her head to make sure that it was in place. She had started not to wear it, but Chloe insisted that she should because it made her look ‘positively adorable’. Well if her sister thought that, then who was she to deny her?

 

Throwing open the door, Jack did her best interpretation of Santa Claus by ho-ho-hoing and wishing the visitors a jolly Merry Christmas. Laughing at her antics, Leslie and Laura wished her one as well as they took turns hugging the Santa wanna-be. Ushering them inside her festively decorated home (which happened to be the envy of her neighbors), Jack led them into the den where they deposited their gifts under a Christmas tree that Shaquille O’Neal might have to stand on his tiptoes in order to place the star on top.

 

Noticing that they were the only people in the room, Leslie turned to Jack asking, “Where’s my favorite little person at?”

 

Jack chuckled. “Don’t ever let Chloe hear you call her that. She’s in her room wrapping the remainder of her gifts. You can go up there if you like because yours is already under the tree.”

 

Leslie smiled. “K. I’m going to go talk to her.” Placing a small yet heartfelt kiss on her girlfriend’s lips, she headed out of the den and up the stairs leading to the second level.

 

Switching into hostess mode, Jack asked Laura if she would care for a drink. “Among other beverages we have the traditional eggnog. The ‘adult’ and ‘kiddie’ kind.”

 

Chuckling, Laura came to a quick decision. “I think I’d like eggnog. Some of the adult kind first and then I’ll switch to the kiddie for the duration of the evening since I’m driving.”

 

“You’ve got it.” Striding over toward a much smaller table situated next to the catered buffet, Jack ladled brandy laced eggnog into a crimson mug with a hand painted picture of Santa’s cheerful face on each side. Just as she handed the drink to Laura, the doorbell rang again. Excusing herself, Jack went to the answer the door, hoping that it was Sonny. She wasn’t disappointed. Wrapping her arms around the petite woman, Jack gave her a big hug while wishing her a merry Christmas before doing the same to Briana. 

 

“How are you two lovely ladies doing?” Jack jovially inquired, closing the door and winding an arm around each of their shoulders.

 

Reaching upward, Briana tugged on the white fuzzy ball sticking at the end of Jack’s cap. “We’re doing just fine Santa.” She grinned at the taller woman and received one in return.

 

“Are we the first to arrive?” Sonny asked, slipping an arm around Jack’s silk covered waist. She had made a mental bet with herself that the ex-Conqueror would most likely be wearing some form of leather this evening and was a little surprised to find that she was wrong. After having surreptitiously examined Jack from head to toe, she noticed that she wasn’t wearing a stitch of it. Sonny smirked. Then again, after that little discovery in the bathroom stall, Jack very well could have leather underwear on. Well it’s not like I’m going to be finding that out for sure!

 

Heading toward the den with the latest arrivals, Jack shook her head. “Nope, your ex and mine beat you here.” Stopping them just before they entered the den where Laura was currently admiring the variety of ornaments on the Christmas tree, Jack asked Briana in a whispered tone if she could have a moment alone with her sister. Grinning from ear to ear, the young woman nodded glad to give the could be lovebirds some time to themselves. After grabbing a shopping bag filled with the presents they’d brought from her sibling, Briana headed into the den.

 

Her arm still around Sonny’s shoulders, Jack gazed at the blonde’s curious expression for a few moments before she slowly raised her eyebrows along with her eyes toward the ceiling. When Sonny’s expression only grew more curious, Jack repeated the action.

 

Sonny cocked her head to the side in question. “Have you suddenly developed a twitching habit?” She chuckled when the other woman looked amused.

 

“Very funny short stack.” Placing two fingertips under Sonny’s chin, Jack lightly pressed upward until green eyes focused on the small bit of mistletoe hanging from the archway. A mere couple of seconds later, a blonde head was shaking.

 

“Tricky Jack, but I’m not going for it.”

 

“No trick.” The ex-Conqueror attempted to look innocent. “You owe me a kiss because we got caught under the mistletoe. Those are the rules. I didn’t invent them.”

 

Sonny poked a finger at her chest and then realized she’d come dangerously close to a breast. If the slight smirk on Jack’s face was any indication, she’d also noticed. However, to her credit she didn’t seem inclined to mention it. “You planned that.”

 

“I did no such thing!” So what if it was quite obvious that she had? She still wasn’t going to admit it!

 

“You did too!”

 

“I did not!”

 

Muttering something under her breath, Sonny glanced into the den where Laura and Briana were conversing over mugs of eggnog and not paying them any attention. Turning her attention back to the woman before her, she decided to give in and get this over with while ignoring the fact that deep down inside she wanted to comply with the rules of what a couple had to do after being caught under mistletoe.

 

Remaining silent, Sonny cupped Jack’s face while gazing up into piercing blue eyes, which were gazing back into her emerald ones with a passion a part of her ached to return. Standing on her tiptoes, she lightly pressed her lips to the brunettes, both of their eyes closing on contact. She had intended the kiss to be brief, but declined to pull away the instant she felt the tip of a warm tongue brushing against her lips. However, she did manage to pull away when cheers erupted around them and she heard the unmistakable click of a camera.

 

Standing before them were Laura, Leslie and Chloe who they discovered had been the photographer since she was holding a Sony camera. All three women were wearing matching grins as they looked at them. Almost simultaneously turning to their right, Jack and Sonny spied the smiling quartet standing before the open front door, all of them laden with presents. Whereas Jack returned the smiles, Sonny looked as though she wanted to vanish into thin air. She had a feeling that she was going to receive a healthy dose of ribbing about this throughout the evening. Glancing at Hawke who was busy whispering something to her “friend”--the same one she’d brought to the Jitterbugs grand opening--Sonny instinctively knew that she would be the main one.

 

Coming forward, Isaac placed a kiss on both Jack and his sister’s cheek. His green eyes twinkled with mirth as he looked at his younger sibling. “Merry Christmas Sonny. Our we getting an early start on unwrapping our main present?” He inclined his dark curly head toward Jack, just in case it wasn’t obvious what or rather whom he was referring to.

 

Sonny groaned. Let the (although good-natured) teasing from friends and family begin.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

The party was moving along quite well. Everyone had full tummies and were thoroughly enjoying themselves and the time had come to start opening presents. Excitedly (who doesn’t like opening Christmas gifts?), some guests chose to sit on the floor surrounding the tree while others sat occupied the couches and chairs. Having been initiated as the official gift giver, Chloe stood by the Christmas tree ready to start handing the guests their presents.

 

Before she could get started, Isaac said that he and Sarah had an announcement to make. After obtaining everyone’s attention, Isaac reached into his pocket and pulled a small object out, which was concealed in his hand. With a tender smile on his face, he looked at Sarah as he began to slip the object, which turned out to be a though modest in diamonds—exquisite engagement ring. Isaac then announced that a few days prior to this evening he had proposed to Sarah and that they were to be married on New Year’s Eve. Yes, it was quite soon but Sarah and Isaac were anxious to start the new year as husband and wife. They were planning on having a small and intimate wedding and Sarah took this opportunity to ask Sonny to be her maid of honor.

 

Squealing in delight, Sonny ran up to her best friend and nearly hugged the life out of her, exclaiming, “I’d be honored to be your maid of honor!” Returning the exuberant hug, Sarah richly chuckled. 

 

After a hearty round or two of congratulations for the happy wife and husband to be, it was time to litter Jack’s clean carpet with torn gift-wrap, bows, boxes and decorative tissue paper.

 

Occasionally sipping from a mug filled with eggnog (the kiddie kind) Jack watched, a slight smile on her lips while everyone exchanged gifts, sharing smiles, hugs and thank you’s as they unveiled their presents. Though she had already given away most of her presents to the people gathered tonight at her home, she had decided to wait for everyone else to get done before she gave Chloe, Sonny, and Briana theirs.

 

Her smile growing larger, Jack looked down at the slim white and gold accented box lying on her lap. Lifting the cover, she fingered the lovely certificate stating in bold Italics that she had ten free one-hour massages to be used anytime at Serenity Palace. While Jack proceeded to open the neatly wrapped gift, Sonny had mentioned that she had no idea what to get her. After all, what do you get someone who could buy just about anything they wanted? However, Jack quickly assured her that the gift was perfect. And it was. A grin lifted the corners of Jack’s lips as she thought about just whom she would be collecting the ten massages from. Sonny girl, I predict we are soon going to be spending quite a bit of time together at your place of business!

 

So caught up in imagining those soft, warm, petite hands on her body for a solid hour ten different times, Jack nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt a tap on her shoulder. Glancing toward her left, she spotted Leslie leaning against the arm of the couch she was occupying. Putting her mug down along with her gift from Sonny, she turned to face the woman, one eyebrow raising in question.

 

“Now that you’ve nearly scared the living daylights out of me, may I help you?” She smirked when her ex-girlfriend grinned.

 

Leaning down so that only Jack could hear her, Leslie said, “We need to talk.”

 

“I told you that the edible panties were Chloe’s idea.” She grinned, blue eyes twinkling with obvious mischief. “I was against it, but of course she wouldn’t listen to me. You know kids these days.” Trying not to laugh, Jack thought back to when Leslie opened the gift, first reading the small Christmas label attached, which said that what lay inside was truly for she and Laura. A smile forming on her lips after reading the label and then handing it to her girlfriend, Leslie revealed her gift, which turned out to be licorice panties in an assortment of flavors and colors including cherry, grape, and peach. Both women had turned bright red, however Laura quickly recovered by holding up a pair of purple grape panties and exclaiming that she hoped they fit. Everyone laughed.

 

It was Leslie’s turn to smirk. “Only someone as twisted and bad as you would give someone edible panties for such a family oriented holiday.” Reaching out, she lightly cuffed Jack on the back of her head, though there was a bright smile on her face. In all actuality, Leslie didn’t mind receiving the panties, which turned out to only be her ‘joke’ gift from Jack. Both she and Laura had been the recipients of two tickets for a one week long Caribbean cruise, which they were to say the least thrilled about. It would be their very first vacation together. Leslie briefly wondered if the panties would keep until they went on the trip.

 

“Anyway, I wasn’t referring to the panties,” Leslie continued as she rose from the arm of the couch. “I want to talk with you about something else. Could you come with me please?” Wrapping a hand around Jack’s biceps, she tugged until the other woman got to her feet and then led her out of the den and into the empty kitchen where they each sat in a chair at the breakfast table. After scooting her chair closer to Jack’s, Leslie said, “I wanted to speak with you about that gift you purchased for Briana. Jack are you sure you want to give that to her? I mean think about this. Really think about this.”

 

Jack sighed, having received a few calls and even a couple of emails from her ex-girlfriend during the past week concerning the not so small gift she bought for Sonny’s little sister. Having gone shopping with her, Leslie had been against it the moment Jack revealed to her what she intended to purchase. As a matter of fact, the first words out of her mouth had been, “Are you nuts? Sonny is going to flip!”

 

“Les, I have given it considerable thought and I know what I’m doing. She’s going to love the present,” Jack replied as she absently began to fiddle with a button near the bottom of her shirt. Perhaps she was a bit nervous about Sonny’s reaction, but last week she had decided not to let that stop her. Her mental debate was what is the point of having an abundance of money if you can’t feel free to spend it on the people you care about?

 

“Of course she’s going to love it. What nineteen-year-old wouldn’t? Don’t you think it’s a bit…extravagant though? I’m sure that Sonny will.”

 

Shrugging, Jack stood up having had enough of this conversation. The more they discussed it, the more nervous she became. “Look Les, I bought it and I’m not taking it back. If Sonny doesn’t like it then that’s her problem. I bought it for Briana not her and if she’s going to get an attitude over the amount of money that I spent then so be it.”

 

Slowly nodding, Leslie decided to let the subject drop. Apparently, Jack had made up her mind and there was nothing she could do to change it. Standing, Leslie wrapped an arm around her friend’s waist as she released an overly dramatic sigh.

 

“Good luck Jack,” she said in a solemn tone. “May the force be with you.”

 

Playfully rolling her eyes, Jack led them back where the party was in full swing.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Observing the two festive envelopes covered with miniature Santa’s and wrapped up in thin ribbons--one red, the other green--Chloe wondered what could be inside. Ever since she was old enough to start opening her own gifts, she enjoyed trying to guess the contents, mainly using the method of shaking. However, this method didn’t prove fruitful since ninety-eight percent of the time during the last fifteen years she was wrong.

 

Since shaking wasn’t going to work with the slim envelopes, Chloe decided to just find out what lay inside the old fashioned way. She began to pull the ribbon of one envelope when her sister informed her to open the other first. Becoming more curious, the young woman picked up the envelope tied with the green ribbon and started tugging it off while everyone in the room watched with interest. Jack had mentioned to her sister that she would be receiving the rest of her gifts tomorrow but she was eager to give her this one tonight, her ‘big Christmas present’.

 

Prying open the envelope, Chloe pulled out what she recognized as gift certificates. She quickly counted four of them and upon reading, learned they were supposed to be redeemed in order to receive one hundred thousand frequent flyer miles on each certificate. A post-it note stuck to the first one, Chloe read it aloud for everyone’s ears.

 

Ho-ho-ho kid,

 

I figured since you enjoy traveling with Justine and the gang you can take them or three of whomever else you might want on a vacation. You can go virtually anywhere you want with these frequent flyer miles, so have a great trip. Just remember to call me on a regular basis ;-) Merry Christmas kid. I love you with all my heart.

 

Your Big Sis

 

A blinding smile on her lips, Chloe practically threw herself into her older sibling’s arms, nearly crushing the certificates still held in her hand. Branding each of Jack’s cheeks with kisses, she thanked her profusely as the guests shared smiles and chuckles. Chuckling as well, Jack returned the sweet kisses before asking Chloe to open the remaining envelope.

 

“Oh! I almost forgot!” Resembling a little kid who had just been let loose in a vast candy store, Chloe placed the certificates and post-it note back inside their envelope before grabbing the yet to be opened one. After sitting next to her sister she proceeded to open the envelope covered in red ribbon. Spying another post-it note, Chloe read that before checking out the four long slips of paper and four small plastic cards inside.

 

Ho-ho-ho again kid,

 

You all are going to need some cash, so these are to help with your expenses. Don’t I just think of everything? ;-)

 

Jackie

 

Taking out the plastic cards first, Chloe laughed when she saw that they were actually phone cards worth three hundred minutes each. Obviously, her sister expected her regular calls to last a long long time. Looking up into smiling blue eyes identical to her own, Chloe kissed her sister again before she returned her attention to the envelope and pulled out the last part of her gift, which was four American Express traveler’s cheques. And what pretty cheques they were, valued at one thousand dollars each.

 

Surviving another bone-crushing embrace (which she could honestly never have enough of), Jack smiled broadly, pleased that Chloe liked her gifts.

 

“Thank you so much Jack. You are by far the best sister a girl could ever have,” Chloe enthused, nearly bouncing up and down on the couch in her excitement. Of course, she planned on taking Mary, Justine, and Antonia and she could barely wait to call them. In fact, she probably wouldn’t even be able to wait until morning.

 

“I’ll say,” Peter chimed in while sitting next to the Christmas tree with his partner Kevin. He grinned up at Jack. “You interested in adopting me? I’ll be the best brother you could ever have Jack!”

 

She laughed. “You’re on. I’ll have the papers drawn up.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Ten minutes later, Jack had corralled everyone into the front yard of her home where both Sonny and Briana would be receiving their presents from her. Before she revealed them, her guests took time admiring and commenting on multitude of decorations and lights strewn about the two-story mansion. There were even lights in the bushes and trees surrounding the home. All of Santa’s reindeer along with the big jolly man himself in his gift filled sleigh were situated upon the roof, looking as though they were about to ride off into the sky at any moment. In the lead of the bunch, Rudolph’s famous red nose shone brightly, blinking every so often like a beacon of light. Hanging along the edge of the roof were lighted ‘icicles’ of different shapes and sizes.

 

The ground was covered with a thick layer of realistic looking snow, which glowed as if tiny crystals were imbedded into it. Although none could be created with the pretend snow, there were still pre-made glowing snowmen standing amongst the pure white flakes. One of them was a man and the other a woman (distinguished by her fluorescent earrings and necklace). It was obvious that the life-sized duo were exclusive since they were holding stick hands and Mr. Snowman was puckering up for a kiss.

 

Obviously having decided to work outside for a change, six of Santa’s little elves surrounded by lighted red and white candy canes taller than them, diligently labored, creating toys for all the boys and girls of the world. One of them even moved as he repeatedly pumped his little fist up and down while hammering at the wheels on a blue toy truck. Another elf admired his handiwork, watching an eight-car choo-choo train riding along an oval track. It even played a Christmas melody as it hurried along the track.

 

“Wow, Jack this is gorgeous,” Leslie commented as she along with everyone else took in the entire scene. “I just hope there isn’t a massive blackout in Orlando because of all the juice you must be pulling!” She grinned, letting the other woman know that she was only teasing. Yet, she inwardly winced, wondering just how much higher than usual Jack’s electricity bill was going to be for the month of December. Luckily, she can afford it, but this isn’t going to be cheap!

 

Returning the grin, Jack retorted, “No need to worry. If there is a blackout I’ll just buy the whole city candles.”

 

“Aw, that’s so very sweet of you Jack,” Briana interjected, suddenly looking quite mischievous. “However, you needn’t buy any of us candles. Just plant a steamy kiss on Sonny here and she’ll light up as brightly as that Christmas tree of yours.” The young woman squawked when a handful of snow found its way into the back of her shirt. Although artificial, the snow still managed to be cold since it primarily consisted of water. Turning around, she spied the culprit who wore a satisfied smirk.

 

Briana slowly shook her head. “You shouldn’t have done that Sonny.”

 

Sonny arched a golden brow. “And yet possibly knowing that I did it anyway. Question is, now what are you gonna do Bri?”

 

Answering for her, Chloe cupped her hands around her mouth before loudly declaring, “SNOW FIGHT!”

 

As though it was planned, everyone immediately bent down and began to gather handfuls of snow that they tossed at anyone who caught their attention. A dozen grownups giggling like little children dodged flying snowballs (jumping over hardworking elves and whatnot) while attempting to hit as many people as possible. Hawke’s date Stephen performed an impressive back flip swiftly followed by a tuck and roll that landed him behind Mrs. Snowman, who protected him from three snowballs soaring in his direction.

 

It was more than likely that they were the only people in the entire city who were having a snow fight at that time and they were enjoying themselves immensely. So involved in their horseplay, none of them even cared when others slowly drove by giving them curious looks. They didn’t even care when a couple of the neighbors peeked out of their windows toward the Foster home after hearing a plethora of shrieks and boisterous laughing. One of the neighbors quickly glanced toward the sky thinking that it had miraculously began snowing. He felt a bit foolish as he observed the clear midnight blue sky.

 

After being almost simultaneously pummeled by five snowballs, two of which came from her own sister (oh yes, she would most definitely pay) Jack raised her Santa cap in the air and waved it back and forth signaling an end to the rambunctious snow battle. An errant snowball caught her squarely in her mouth, which happened to be open at the time, before everyone ceased fire. Turning, she mock glared at Leslie, the one responsible for the albeit non-toxic, fake snow in her mouth. Leslie merely grinned and others chuckled while Jack spit the soft flakes out. She then chuckled as well, thinking that it was sort of funny. She wished that she had recorded all of this on her video camera.

 

Replacing her crimson cap on her head, Jack asked Sonny and Briana if they were ready for their presents yet. When two blonde heads nodded, Jack crooked a finger at the oldest one, gesturing her to come nearer. Sonny carefully made her way through the snow toward Jack, a smile on her face. Smiling back, the brunette leaned down to grab the thick red velvet bag lying next to the only girl elf in the entire bunch. Reaching into it with both hands, she pulled out a gift wrapped box large enough to contain two toaster ovens. Handing the present to Sonny, she and everyone else waited expectantly for her to open it. 

 

“Wow, what could this be?” Sonny wondered aloud.

 

Jack smiled again. “Why don’t you open it and find out?” Her friend chuckled.

 

“Good idea, Jack.” Sitting the box on the ground, Sonny kneeled in the snow and began to tear off the paper. Once it was totally removed, she lifted a corner of the box and pried the top back before pulling out what was inside. “Jack this is nice.” The blonde drew out the last word of her statement as she admired the full-face helmet. Shining as though it had just been polished, it was candy apple red with chin bar and tinted face shield. The interior of the helmet was lined in black leather and felt soft to the touch. Prompted to try it on, Sonny did so, noticing that it was a perfect fit. Removing it as she rose to her feet, Sonny tucked the helmet under her left arm and hugged Jack with the other. “Thank you honey. I love it, it’s so cool.” She gave the woman a thousand-watt smile. Though it was the sort of helmet one would use for a motorized bike, she fully intended to try it with her twenty-four speed.

 

“You’re welcome, but that’s not all,” Jack replied. “What good is a cool helmet without a cool bike to use it with?” Without waiting for a reply, she grabbed Sonny’s hand and led her away from the house with everyone choosing to follow them. When they stopped next to the curb, Jack removed the sheet from a large object parked next to it with a flourish. A few appreciative whistles sailed through the air.

 

“Oh, my,” Sonny softly uttered as she slowly walked toward her present, almost hesitantly running a hand along it’s length. Now her helmet would go with this splendidly. This was a candy apple red Aprilia Scarabeo motorbike and the first word that came to Sonny’s mind to describe it was ‘sweet’. It resembled a motorcycle with its sleek form, comfortable two-person riding positions, and sixteen-inch alloy wheels. Tearing her eyes away from the bike, Sonny looked up at Jack. Shaking her head, she started to say something but didn’t get the chance as the other woman covered her mouth with two fingertips.

 

“It’s like I can read what’s going on in that head of yours. You were about to say that you couldn’t except, right?” Wordlessly, the smaller woman nodded while Jack did the same. “Well I’m asking you to change your mind. It was my fault that your bicycle was destroyed and though I know you purchased another one, when I saw this it just screamed ‘buy me for Sonny girl’,” pausing, Jack grinned. “Evidently, I listened. So, please don’t hurt my feelings by refusing to except this gift. I know you want it. Please take it. She wants to go home with you.”

 

Sonny chuckled softly. “She told you that?”

 

Jack nodded. “She sure did. A.S.—that’s what I call her for short—has been sitting in my garage for the past week asking about you. I kept telling her that she’d have to wait until Christmas Eve to meet you. She was so very anxious.” Somehow, the brunette managed to keep a straight face, though Sonny clearly had a problem with mimicking it as she burst out laughing.

 

Walking up to her, Sonny threw her arms around the other woman, hugging her tightly as she thanked her for the presents. Sonny hadn’t ridden a scooter in a few years but she couldn’t wait to try this one out. Hopefully, it was like riding a bike. Once learned then it was never forgotten.

 

Not being able to stay back one second longer, Briana sidled up to the Aprilia, reverently running a hand over the handlebars. Since she had previously learned to operate a Harley motorcycle on her own, she knew that she could handle this. Though she and Sonny had arrived at Jack’s home in her car, she wondered if Sonny would allow her to ride this crimson beauty to her apartment. Turning toward her sister wearing the most charming smile she could muster, Briana asked. Before Sonny could offer a reply, Jack thrust a small object into Briana’s hand.

 

“If you want to go home on Sonny’s Aprilia then how do you intend to get your own new ride there?” Jack inquired. She had a faint smile on her face as she watched two matching pair of verdant eyes look down at what lay in Briana’s hand. It was a keychain, however, not just any keychain. Briana instantly recognized it as merchandise from that television show Xena: Warrior Princess she faithfully watched each week. It would be a great addition--along with the X: WP poster and two action figure dolls Sonny had given her earlier--to her growing collection. The keychain was the gold and silver toned new improved chakram, which was a part of the heroine Xena’s fighting gear. A short link chain attached the circular chakram to a D-shaped screw clasped keyring where a single key and small silver car alarm remote was hooked.

 

Briana glanced between the keychain and Jack’s face once and then twice. She could hardly believe what her eyes were seeing…what was right in the palm of her hand. It was a keychain with a key on it. A key that she expected belonged to an automobile. And it sure as heck wasn’t her Nissan key! Her hand beginning to shake ever so slightly, Briana closed it around the keychain, holding it as though it were her lifeline. Slowly, her eyes moved upward to the blue ones closely watching her. Was it just her imagination or did Jack look the slightest bit nervous? Briefly, the teenager wondered why.

 

Meanwhile, the expression Leslie wore was one of obvious nervousness as she studied her ex, looking for any signs of animosity. Well so far, Sonny didn’t look as though she wanted to shove Jack into the chimney with Santa. Noticing the look on her girlfriend’s face, Laura leaned toward her so that she could talk without being overheard.

 

“Percentage wise, I think there’s only a twenty-five percent chance that she’ll freak out over the giving of this gift.”

 

Inclining her head toward Laura, Leslie retorted, “How did you come to that conclusion?” Inwardly, she smiled, pleased that her new love interest instinctively knew what she was thinking about without her even having to mention it. Ah, I’ve just got to love her.

 

“Sure, she was upset when Jack attempted to give her money in the past, but this is different. It’s a gift…an extremely nice gift for Sonny’s sister and has absolutely nothing to do with her. There’s no way she could benefit from it.” Shrugging, Laura added, “So there shouldn’t be any problems.”

 

“Then what does the twenty-five percent chance of Sonny freaking out allude to?” Hearing a high-pitched joyous scream, both women turned their heads in the direction of the trio standing by the brand new Aprilia motorbike. Actually, Sonny was leaning against the bike, her arms folded over her chest as she regarded her sister trying to seemingly fracture every bone in Jack’s body. It was impossible to gauge the expression on her face.

 

“Well,” Laura drew out the word, looking thoughtful as she and everyone else watched Briana--taking her new buddy Chloe along with her--suddenly sprint down the street as though she had just shoplifted from an expensive boutique and a slew of security guards were hot on her trail. She had been sent on a treasure hunt to find her gift. Her only hint: It was either on that street or the next one over. “There’s always the possibility of her being a little envious that her friend bought her baby sister an exotic sports car. Especially, since she’s not exactly in a position to do so herself.”

 

“An exotic sports car?” Isaac asked, having overheard (okay, perhaps he had been trying to listen) what Laura just said. “Jack bought Bri that for Christmas?” Hearing his semi-rhetorical question, other guests started to migrate toward the small group.

 

Laura nodded. “Yes, she did. You know how your sister loves her cars.” Giving a brief nod in Leslie’s direction she continued, “Les went shopping with her to buy it.”

 

Pointing toward herself, Leslie quickly amended, “But I never condoned this. In fact, I tried to talk her out of buying it. No teenager is ready for a six-figure car and there’s no telling how Sonny will react.”

 

Isaac glanced toward his sister who was quietly talking with Jack. From his standpoint she didn’t look in the least bit upset. Though, from countless experiences with them he knew that women could be tricky and complex creatures. Often it was difficult to tell what they were truly feeling and thinking. Glancing toward Sarah, he resisted the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her senseless. Rarely, was it difficult for him to read her and on those occasions when it was she tried her best to help him understand. This was one of numerous things he adored about her. Isaac considered himself a lucky man. Never would he have guessed that his younger sister’s best friend from high school would end up being the love of his life.

 

“I personally think she’ll be fine with it,” Sarah spoke up as she unconsciously slipped an arm around her fiancé’s waist, bringing him closer. “Sonny has a lot of pride, which is why she was ticked with Jack before when she wanted to give her money, but this is a totally different situation. It’s not a payoff, it’s a gift with no strings attached for Briana.” Isaac nodded his head, indicating that he agreed, though only half of his attention was on this conversation since he could feel the warmth stemming from the petite beauty holding on to him. Casually, he lightly kissed the top of her dark head, earning a few beguiling smiles from those around them and a tender one from Sarah.

 

“I sure hope you’re right Sarah,” Hawke uttered, gazing toward Jack and Sonny. “There has been enough bickering between those two. They don’t need another obstacle just when they’re so close to building something meaningful.” Apparently, everyone in attendance agreed as they all gave a collective nod. Even Stephen and Kevin, who didn’t know either Sonny or Jack that well, joined in on the nodding.

 

“You think they are?” Peter asked, as he glanced up and down the street wondering where Briana could be with this exotic car. Though, he wasn’t anywhere close to being a car buff, he was interested in seeing how it looked. “Isn’t Sonny supposed to go see this Blue lady in a few days?” Why she would choose this woman whom she hadn’t met and who didn’t even have the decency to show up at Disneyworld over Jack who obviously wanted to be with her and practically worshipped the very ground she walked on was beyond him. If he swung in the traditional direction and so did Jack, he would pick her in a heartbeat!

 

Hawke shook her head affirmatively with a mildly dissatisfied look on her face. When she’d first learned of Sonny’s upcoming trip, she briefly thought about popping all of her tires on New Year’s Eve so she wouldn’t be able to go. However, a little voice way in the back of her head told her that somehow Sonny would find out who committed the misdeed and then she would be in a world of trouble. Plus, it just isn’t nice to poke holes in someone’s tires, now is it?

 

“Maybe she’ll see this woman and then discover like we already have that she and Jack are destined to be together,” Sarah offered.

 

Slowly shaking her head, Leslie added, “If it wasn’t for stubbornness and pride they might have been together weeks ago.” A chorus of agreement resonated through the gossiping group.

 

Unobserved by anyone except for Sonny, who came along with her, Jack sneaked up behind Leslie sweetly inquiring, “Exactly, which of us is stubbornness, and the other pride?”

 

Only blushing on the very rare occasion, Leslie felt her cheeks practically glowing with heat as she glanced between Jack and Sonny. Last she knew they had been conversing near the curb so just how they gotten there so fast? And why did they arrive at such an inopportune moment? Damn sneaky people! “Umm, I wasn’t uh…” Her usually quick mind could come up with nothing to say.

 

Laura tried to come to the rescue. “Oh, we were discussing an article from Climax.

 

One of Jack’s eyebrows arched as both of Sonny’s lips smirked. “Really? What kind of article is this? Did you write it?”

 

“No. Actually, a colleague of mine did,” pausing, Laura nearly put her brain into overdrive while trying to quickly come up with an explanation. Luckily, she was saved from having to do so.

 

“Yeah,” Isaac started, picking up where the magazine writer left off, “It was one of those advice columns.” Sarah nodded, attempting to give validity to his fabricated story. “A woman wrote in about her inability to tell her friend that she loved them and when you guys came over that’s why you heard Leslie talking about stubbornness and pride keeping those two people from moving on to the next level of their relationship.” Finishing, he looked quite pleased to say the least. However, one look at his sister let him know that she wasn’t buying the tale. Glancing at the tall brunette, he noticed that she wasn’t either. The young man inwardly sighed. Oh, well. At least he gave it a try.

 

Before either Jack or Sonny could form a response, every head in the group swiveled around when they heard the unmistakable sound of a car horn beeping, all of them knowing that it must have been Briana with her new car. Well it was about time that she and Chloe returned! Beginning to move toward the curb, nearly every mouth opened wide enough to inhale a Big Mac when the car parked adjacent to the sidewalk. This was one sexy automobile. Well, if one could refer to a car as sexy that is.

 

As its passenger and driver wore equal grins, everyone else, including the purchaser of the vehicle openly admired it. It was a Ferrari 355 F1 Spider Fiorano and those in attendance wholeheartedly agreed that it was the greatest looking car that they had ever seen up close and personal. A two-seater convertible, the Italian beauty sported black leather interior and a smooth curvy silver physique complete with double wishbones on all four corners of the car.

 

Her hands still wrapped around the suede steering wheel, Briana located Jack’s whereabouts and beamed at her. She loved—no. She was positively no doubt about it enamored with the car and would live in it if that were practical. Twice during her and Chloe’s test drive around the surrounding neighborhoods, she had felt her throat getting that familiar tightening and a few tears escaped her eyes. Briana could hardly believe that this Ferrari was hers. It belonged to her. How surreal.

 

“How does she feel?” Jack inquired while sidling up to the car.

 

Wearing a grin that was surely in danger of tearing her cheeks, Briana tenderly ran her fingertips along the steering wheel, her eyes on Jack’s. “She’s terrific in every way. A smooth ride and feel.” Slowly, she shook her blonde head from side to side. “I’m half expecting to wake up at any moment.”

 

Chuckling, Jack replied, “You’re very much awake.”

 

“You sure?” Suddenly the look of wonderment on Briana’s countenance was replaced with a slight mischievous one. “Maybe you should pinch me just to make absolute sure. Or,” dramatically pausing, the young woman glanced in her sister’s direction. Sonny almost looked mortified, certain that her sibling was about to say something that she rather not be witness to. “Or you could pinch Sonny for…well just because. I’m sure she’d get a thrill out of it.” A few laughs erupted due to the teasing remark. Covering her mouth with a hand, Jack broadly smiled behind it.

 

Briana barely had time to give her sister a playful wink before the small blonde came barreling toward the driver’s side of the car. Uh oh. Heeding Chloe’s advice that she should start the car, Briana turned the key in the ignition before hurriedly pulling away from the curb, carrying she and her passenger down the street. And just because she knew that her sister couldn’t possibly catch her now, Briana stepped on the brake before she half turned in her seat and stuck her tongue out at Sonny who stood about fifty feet away. Moments later, the silver Ferrari was flying toward the end of the block, the laughter of the two youngsters inside it floating through the still night air. Standing in the middle of the empty street, Sonny followed the car.

 

“That’s alright,” she called in as loud a voice as she could muster. “You can run but you can’t hide! I know where you’re temporarily living!”

 

Heartily laughing, Jack walked toward the middle of the street to collect her embarrassed little friend. Wrapping an arm around Sonny’s shoulders, she gave her a brief squeeze, a smile on her lips. Nearly forgetting why she was so embarrassed, the blonde returned the engaging smile while unconsciously slipping an arm around the other woman’s waist. Together they began the short trek back to Jack’s yard where the snow fight had suspiciously resumed. They would never know who started it. Seemingly, not paying them any attention whatsoever, the adults bolted around the wide yard while trying their best to hit human targets.

 

“You want to adopt my baby sister along with Peter?” Sonny asked while glancing at the scene before them in amusement. “After all, I’ve got two more and I’m about to inherit a sister-in-law so that’s plenty.”

 

Jack chuckled and then ducked, narrowly missing a snowball hurled in her direction. After gracing Laura with a mock glare, she turned back to a grinning Sonny. “Tell you what. You agree to marry me and then I would automatically inherit Bri.”

 

“Jack…”

 

Stopping them just as they stepped onto the sidewalk, the brunette faced her friend, gently placing a fingertip against her lips. “Sssh, no reply is needed.” Tenderly smiling, Jack brushed her lips against Sonny’s. “Merry Christmas Sonny girl,” she whispered.

 

Sonny wrapped her arms around Jack, hugging her tight. “Merry Christmas Jack.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Well today was the day that the happy couple would become Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Campbell. Certainly, quite a few women scattered around Florida were in mourning today if they knew that the ex-playboy was finally tying the knot. Both he and his fiancee had planned on a small intimate wedding, but once Briana let the cat out of the bag to their parents that plan incinerated as quickly as a wooden house doused in kerosene. On the day following Christmas, Paul and Annette arrived back in Canova Beach from their vacation and promptly received a phone call from their youngest child who let them in on the little secret that Isaac and Sarah were getting married on New Year’s Eve.

 

Though Briana completely understood that her brother did not want the family to know of his impending wedding until after it was over, she decided to tell anyway, claiming that she had done it for his own good. And although he wanted to swipe one of her tennis rackets and pretend her bottom was the ball, deep down Isaac knew that she had done the right thing. He could only imagine how his father would react if his only son (his playboy son at that) were to get married without his knowledge. The retired police officer would be a very disgruntled man and it wouldn’t be simple for Isaac to assuage his anger. Yes, Briana had definitely saved him—a thirty-three year old man—from being in trouble with his dad and possibly mom as well. Though Annette was much easier going than her husband, she undoubtedly would not take hearing the news of her son’s secret wedding lightly.

 

After Paul and Annette were made aware of Isaac’s upcoming nuptials they immediately placed a call to Sarah’s parents who they were still close with even after all these years of not living less than a mile from. Needless to say, Faye and Michael Watkins (who was previously on the force along with Paul) were less than pleased to hear that their only daughter was intending to get married for the first time without even bothering to tell and involve them in the ceremony. The Watkins and Campbell’s conversed for over an hour via their speakerphones about what they were going to do in order to make this small intimate wedding not so small and intimate. Afterwards, Sarah was the recipient of a phone call from her parents, which quickly turned into a lecture on why she should have told them about the wedding in the first place. She lost count of how many times she apologized.

 

Though their children repeatedly informed them that it would be impossible to pull off a grand scale wedding with only four days to plan, the Parents would not be dissuaded. As far as they were concerned, this wedding was going to be Sarah and Isaac’s first and last. Therefore, they would send them off down that road of happily marital bliss with a big bang. They saw it as their responsibility to take over…ahem…take care of the wedding plans. After all, they were the Parents.

 

By sunset of December 26th, Paul and Annette arrived in Orlando where they met up with Michael and Faye at their home to discuss wedding plans. The first business to be discussed: they would split the bill fifty-fifty, although Michael insisted that the bride’s parents were supposed to pay for the wedding. Of course, Paul wasn’t going for that so it was unanimously voted half-and-half. By the evening of December 30th with much help from renowned wedding coordinator Lance Mitchell—Faye knew him through a friend whose daughter had gotten married a few months back—everything was in place and they were ready to begin the ceremony at 11:00 sharp the next morning. And thank goodness for the invention of the Internet because due to their electronically sent RSPV invites (a few relatives and friends who didn’t subscribe to the Internet had to be called), they mostly received affirmative replies.

 

So, it was just passed 10:30 am on New Year’s Eve and all one hundred plus guests had arrived and were being escorted to their seats. The bride and groom sides were nearly equal in the number of guests they had and all of them waited in anticipation for the ceremony to begin. Those that knew Isaac could hardly believe that he was finally settling down. Practically everyone had expected him to be a wandering-eyed playboy until the day he died. Well today he was proving them wrong and they couldn’t be more thrilled.

 

After having helped Sarah with her wedding dress and giving her some much needed words of encouragement since she was unsurprisingly a bit nervous, Sonny left the bride in the capable hands of her mother. Walking into the main part of the church, she paid careful attention to not tripping in the high heels she wore as she moved down the aisle searching for a particular person. Finding her, Sonny smiled as she slid into the pew four rows back from the platform where the ceremony would take place. Taking a deep breath, she slipped her feet out of her shoes. She had been wearing them less than an hour and they were already causing her feet to start aching. Briefly, she wondered why she had worn them when it was well known that she detested the irritating shoes so much. The only positive attribute about high heels was that they made her appear taller. That is not worth having to deal with them, Sonny thought as she started flexing her stocking covered toes. And speaking of stockings, she hated those too.

 

“How’s Sarah?” Jack asked as she played patty cake with the tiny person sitting in an infant car seat on her lap. On she and Chloe’s arrival at the church, Jack had immediately searched for Sonny’s sister Melanie intent on kidnapping her namesake for a while. Luckily, Melanie and Brian had been more than happy to let her baby-sit. They dearly loved the new little addition to their family, but it was nice to get a break every once and a while. They just hoped that the baby wouldn’t start fussing after the ceremony started.

 

Leaning toward the duo, Sonny took a playful munch from her niece’s soft cheek, earning a small giggle in the process. At least, it sounded like a giggle. No matter what, it was adorable. “She’s a little nervous but she’ll be fine. Her mom is finishing her up.” Glancing passed her friend, Sonny’s brow lifted in curiosity as she watched Chloe and Briana quietly talking amongst themselves. When she’d left a while back to attend to Sarah, they had been in that same position nearly sitting on top of each other while discussing one topic or another. Hmm. They seemed to have warmed up to one another quickly, Sonny thought as she crossed one leg over the other. In fact, the two were almost inseparable during the last few days. That’s nice. A smile lifted the corners of her lips, which quickly faltered when she caught site of a person whom she would have been happy to never lay eyes on again. What was she doing at the wedding? Certainly, no one had seen fit to send her an invitation.

 

Looking at her friend, Jack noticed the distasteful expression she wore and wondered about it. She asked. Wordlessly, Sonny pointed straight head and Jack followed the movement of her finger. She did a double take before she believed what her eyes were seeing. Oh crap, what in the world was Alicia Hastings doing at Isaac’s wedding? It wasn’t like she cared about him or anyone else for that matter.

 

As though she felt the two sets of hostile eyes upon her, a carefully coifed red head swiveled around the large church until Jack and Sonny were found. Excusing herself from the conversation she was having with a person who didn’t know her all that well, Alicia began to make her way toward the two women sitting a few rows back from where she stood. Noticing that she was headed in their direction, Jack and Sonny released simultaneous groans.

 

Throwing decorum completely out of the window, Sonny asked, “What the hell are you doing here? Don’t tell me you were invited.” Somehow, Alicia kept the borderline polite smile on her lips as she regarded the frown on Sonny’s face.

 

“Sonny please,” Jack managed to say in a whisper that almost sounded like a quiet shout. “No matter how annoying your cousin is don’t forget that we are in the house of God.” The polite smile disappearing, Alicia gave Jack a dirty look, which the brunette gladly returned. “Also,” pausing, Jack protectively cupped the baby’s small pink ears with her hands, “remember that there is a young impressionable child here who can hear you. She doesn’t need to be subjected to that type of language.”

 

Having paid rapt attention to her minute lecture, Chloe and Briana exchanged amused looks while trying not to outright laugh at the expression that the ‘blaspheming’ blonde sported. Looking properly chastised, Sonny promptly apologized to both Little Jack and God, though not in that order.

 

Thoroughly amused as well, Alicia leaned against a pew before folding her arms over a tight red blouse that showed so much cleavage one could successfully insert a wallet into it and it would stay put. A smile on her lips, which was nowhere close to reaching her eyes Alicia said, “In answer to your brusque questions Sonny, I’m here because my cousin whom no one thought would ever do so, is getting married. I’d like to witness the event. And I’m sorry to tell you this,” in truth she looked extremely delighted, “but I was invited.”

 

“Who in their right mind would invite you to this wedding?” Jack asked, voicing Sonny’s next question before she got the chance.

 

Alicia tsked as she looked at her ex college sweetie. “What’s the matter Jacqueline? You’re not happy to see me?”

 

“I thought we made it perfectly clear last month that neither of us wanted to see the other ever again?”

 

Laughing, Alicia waved a dismissive freshly manicured hand in the air. “Jack honey, I didn’t mean what I said that night.” A smile that could only be described as devilish appeared on lips, which perfectly matched her blouse. “Come on Jack. Don’t tell me that you didn’t have any fun that night. It was sort of exhilarating don’t you think? I was so turned on when I left you.” Hazel eyes glued to Jack’s face, Alicia completely ignored the irritated stares from her two blonde cousins and Chloe.

 

Having a temporary mental blackout Sonny blurted, “You call trying to rape her exhilarating? How twisted can you be?”

 

For long moments, none of them said breathed a solitary word. It was as though time chose that moment to stand perfectly still. Even Little Jack stopped her gurgling as her expressive green eyes glanced between her stunned looking playmate, the equally surprised and incensed expressions on the two young women sitting to her right and the reddened face of the blonde now standing as she glared at a silenced redhead. Her shaking hands were at her sides as they repeatedly clenched and unclenched.

 

Blinking as though her dark eyelashes were in slow motion, anguished blue eyes traveled between her sister and the woman whom she hadn’t seen since she was in elementary school. Scooting forward in her seat, Chloe failed to notice when Briana slipped a comforting hand into her own as she stared in disbelief toward Alicia.

 

“Rape?” The word came out in a barely audible whisper. “You tried to rape my sister?” When Alicia failed to respond as quickly as Chloe would have liked she repeated her question in a louder tone of voice, which caught the attention of a few people around them including the wedding coordinator who happened to be within hearing distance. Hastily, he headed in their direction arriving just in time to witness Jack wrapping an arm around and trying to mollify her younger sibling.

 

“How come you didn’t tell me?” Chloe quietly inquired.

 

“Sweetie it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. Honestly. There was just a bit of a miscommunication between Alicia and I.” Looking toward the redhead, Jack asked, “Right?” Without vocal comment, Alicia eagerly nodded while wishing that she had never come over there in the first place.

 

When Chloe appeared unconvinced, Sonny attempted to alleviate the situation. “Chloe she’s telling the truth. I overreacted and I’m sorry for my outburst.”

 

“As you should be,” Alicia said, having the audacity to look exasperated as though she had done nothing wrong.

 

Wanting to smack the woman into the next state, Jack angrily stated, “Shut up Alicia.”

 

Deciding to get a word in edgewise, Lance Mitchell wedding coordinator extraordinaire, held up a hand for silence. Amazingly, every one of the women ceased to speak. After quietly giving directions into the tiny microphone attached to his headset, the tall slender man dressed in an impeccable Armani suit glanced between the women and even the baby before his brown eyes squarely landed on Jack searching for answers. He didn’t want there to be any problems. This wedding had to go off without so much as the smallest hitch.

 

“Okay, mind telling me what’s going on here?”

 

She tried out a nonchalant shrug. “It’s okay now.”

 

One of Lance’s carefully plucked eyebrows raised. “Okay now? Okay? I heard something about an attempted…rape,” he whispered the last word, “and everything is magically okay now? Honey I accept that answer about as much as an ATM machine would accept a library card. You need to get real with me,” he replied in his usual fast-paced voice, which sounded like he had recently consumed at least a gallon of coffee.

 

Jack looked a bit stupefied as she gazed toward the wedding coordinator who appeared as though he might start lecturing her at any moment. In his presence, she suddenly felt ten years old again. How did he do that? “I umm…I uh…well…I am real…ah…Mr. Mitchell.”

 

“That’s Lance honey. Referring to me as Mr. Mitchell reminds me of the dad on Dennis the Menace. Now,” with a pause, he turned his attention on Alicia and Sonny. Without a word, he indicated for Sonny to retake her seat and she promptly did so without comment. Pointing at Alicia, Lance donned a piqued expression as he remarked, “I have a suspicion that you’re bothering these fine ladies and that really chaps my hide, you know?” Not waiting and truthfully not caring if he received a reply, Lance placed a hand on Alicia’s elbow before twirling her around until she was facing the tall double doors leading outside. “So I think it’s time that you leave. The wedding will start soon and I don’t want you anywhere in the building.”

 

Yanking her arm out of his grasp, Alicia regarded him with an insolent look. “Do you know who I am? I have every right to be here!”

 

Lance placed his hands on his hips as he gazed toward her. “Honey,” he managed to make it sound as though he was truly calling her bitch, “not only do I know who you are, I couldn’t care less. And no you actually don’t have any right to be here. You weren’t invited and you’re not anyone’s guest so if you would be so kind, if only for this one time in your miserable little life, please vacate the church before I call someone to assist you out. Now is that what you want Ms. Hastings? I know we would like to avoid a scene, wouldn’t we?”

 

If looks could truly kill, Lance Mitchell wedding coordinator extraordinaire, would have dropped dead right there on the carpeted church floor in his neat Armani suit. “You cannot make me leave. I am a part of this family. My own mother, “ Alicia pointed at Sonny in an almost accusatory fashion, “is her mother’s older sister and you’re telling me that I don’t have an invite?”

 

Cocking his head to the side, Lance stared at her thoughtfully for a moment before answering. “Did you not comprehend the words which rolled off of my tongue? I thought I was speaking English. Did it sound like I was speaking English to you ladies?” He directed his question at Jack, Sonny, Chloe, and Briana. All of them immediately shook their heads in the positive. Little Jack released a small giggle. With a pleased smile, the wedding coordinator turned back to the perturbed Alicia. “I thought as much. Anyhoo, you need to make like a banana and split honey. I repeat you are not on the list of invitees.”

 

Alicia stood her ground not liking to be told what to do one little bit. She was the one and only beloved little girl of Charles Hastings the III who had made the Fortune 500 list more than once. No one dared to order her around. Heck, she did the ordering and she took great pride in that task! Deciding that a little ordering was now required, Alicia demanded to see the wedding guest list only to have Lance swiftly shake his head while telling her that she couldn’t.

 

“Why not?” she huffily inquired. This man was starting to get on her last nerve. She made a mental note to talk to her daddy about him later. If she had her way, Lance Mitchell would never plan another wedding for as long as he lived!

 

Tapping the side of his head, Lance replied, “Because the list is in here. I have a memory that an elephant would be envious of. Take my word for it Ms. Hastings. You’re not on the list so I’m asking you again to please leave.” After glancing around them to make sure that no one was listening, Lance took a step closer to Alicia. Wanting to hear what he was about to say Jack, Sonny, Chloe, and Briana scooted so far to the edge of their seats that they were in danger of falling off. “If you are not out of this building within two minutes, “ Lance began in a low serious voice, “I’m afraid that people might find out what happened between you and Jacqueline Foster. More importantly, they might find out what you attempted to make happen and I’m sure this would generate a lot of adverse publicity for both you and your tycoon father. After all, you are his daughter so what does that say about his parenting skills, hmm? He didn’t raise you to treat people with dignity and respect? And if certain people were to delve into your past would they find out other not so nice information about you? And would they hesitate to take this information public?”

 

Though hazel eyes narrowed in anger, there was a hint of uneasiness in them as well. “Are you threatening me?”

 

Suddenly, Lance’s lips curved into a charming smile. “No honey, I’m just filling you in on what could possibly happen should you choose not to follow my suggestion. I know quite a few people who might take an interest in your background. I would like to save you from having to deal with any problems that may arise,” pausing, Lance studied Alicia’s face. She didn’t look quite so snooty now.

 

Pushing the strap attached to her purse higher on her shoulder, the redhead shrugged while trying to look indifferent. “Fine. I don’t care about this stupid wedding anyway and as far as I’m concerned you can all go to,” Alicia made a point of looking directly at Jack when she emphatically said, “hell.”  With as much dignity as she could muster, Alicia headed towards the double doors, ignoring the various looks cast her way. Pushing them open with more force than what was required, she vanished from the church.

 

Looking after her, Lance dramatically whispered, “Amen.” He then turned his attention on the four women who were gazing up at him with expressions ranging from awe to curiosity. He smiled. “Now that the she-devil has left the building, we can focus on more important matters,” Lance started in his usual energetic voice. Glancing at his watch, he remarked that it was almost show time and then pointed toward Sonny, indicating for her to stand again with a short wiggle of his index finger. She popped up from the seat in a fairly good imitation of a Jack-in-the-box.

 

“Honey, you’re the maiden of honor so I need you to get in your correct place.” Glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Matthew sitting and chatting with his wife Candace and their two children. “And Sonny please pick up the best man and flower girl on your way.”

 

A blonde head nodded obediently. “You’ve got it Lance.” After giving Jack, Chloe, and her sister a quick ‘see you later’ Sonny headed in the direction of her brother-in-law.

 

Brown eyes then zeroed in on Briana who offered up a smile that was returned. “Briana, sweetheart what are you doing on this row?”

 

“Um, I was just visiting until the wedding started,” she replied in a voice, which was almost meek.

 

The wedding coordinator nodded, seeming to accept this answer. “Okay, well since you’re an immediate family member, I need you to get to pew number two pronto.” He held up two fingers just to make himself abundantly clear. Either that or he was giving her the peace sign. “So scoot your booty.” His brown eyes twinkling, Lance winked at her.

 

Squeezing Chloe’s hand, which she still held, Briana kissed both Big and Little Jack’s cheeks before she slid out of the row and headed farther toward the head of the church. Lance was about to say something to Jack when he suddenly heard someone speaking to him via the headset he wore. Nodding and listening intently for a few moments, he then reciprocated with instructions, speaking rapidly into the small microphone near his mouth. Done, Lance pointed at the baby. However, before he could get a single word out Jack was speaking.

 

“Can’t she just stay with me?” The ex-Conqueror protectively wrapped her arms around the car seat carrying her namesake. She wasn’t ready to give the baby up just yet. In fact, if it were possible she would take the little bundle of joy home with her. Little Jack was positively too cute for words!

 

“Oh, sure sure,” Lance hurriedly replied. “One little one out of place isn’t going to upset everything.” Smiling, he leaned down and tenderly brushed the back of his hand across the baby’s cheek to have her smile at him for the attention. She took it anywhere she could get it, which fortunately happened to be a lot of places. “Aren’t you a beauty? Yes you are. Yes you are,” the man cooed, losing his professionalism for a few precious seconds. Jack and Chloe exchanged grins at the display being put on before them.

 

Straightening, the wedding coordinator unzipped a black fanny pack that was fastened around his waist and pulled out a small plastic bag, which he handed to Jack. Inspecting the contents of the bag, she noticed that it was filled with a few sliced and frozen bananas. She then looked up at Lance curiously.

 

“Those are for the baby in case she gets a little fussy during the ceremony. I know she’s just shy of being two months old, but she can still suck on them. You’ll just have to hold them for her. They’re nice, cool and sweet so Little Jacqueline should enjoy them. Also, do you have a bottle for her?”

 

“Yes, her mom gave me one filled with ‘homemade’ milk,” Jack replied as she pulled out a plastic bottle containing a white substance from Little Jack’s pink and blue bunny covered baby bag.

 

Lance nodded. “Good, good.” He then glanced at his watch again. “Okay ladies, I best be on my way. I have to make sure that Sonny, the bridesmaids, the groom’s gorgeous boys and everyone else are where they are supposed to be.”

 

“Thanks for the bananas and for getting rid of Alicia.”

 

Lance smiled at her. “Honey, you’re welcome for the bananas and extremely welcome for the she-devil.”

 

Jack, Chloe, and Lance shared a chuckle, which Little Jack did an impressive imitation of.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

Checking her watch, Sonny noticed the time. It was just half passed three o’clock, which was the time she had intended to leave in order to get to St. John’s River before sunset. Deciding to change since she didn’t want to ride all the way there on her motorbike with a skirt on, Sonny exited the reception hall and headed to her Aprilia. At first, she was going to take her car but then changed her mind, thinking that she would give her scooter a bit of a workout. It might take longer to get there on her scooter but she wasn’t in that much of a rush.

 

Grabbing her backpack from the handlebars, Sonny headed back into the reception hall and then toward the restrooms. Once inside, she slipped into a stall and proceeded to change into something a little more comfortable. Dressed in chinos and a white long-sleeved button down blouse, Sonny checked her appearance in the mirror taking the time to fluff her short hair a bit and add some more color to her lips before she walked out of the restroom with the backpack slung over her shoulder.

 

Before she could take five full steps after leaving the restroom, a hand wrapped around one of her own. Leading her to the bustling dance floor, Jack wrapped her arms around Sonny’s waist and pulled the woman’s body against her. Both women quelled the moans that wanted to escape at the contact of their bodies. Instinctively winding her arms around Jack’s neck, Sonny looked up at her as they began to dance to the slow song that the talented band was playing.

 

“Where were you off to in such a hurry?” Jack quietly asked, brushing her lips against the other woman’s forehead.

 

Sonny’s eyes briefly closed at the contact of that soft mouth. “Um, I’m getting ready to go meet Dixie in Astor.”

 

“Ah, yes,” Jack nodded, pretending as though she had forgotten. Her hands started stroking the small of her companion’s back, thumbs moving back and forth in a slow rhythmic pace.

 

It suddenly occurred to Sonny that the longer she stayed in Jack’s arms, the harder it would be to leave them. She had to leave and she had to do it now. “Jack, I should be going,” Sonny stated in a hoarse whisper. “I…Dixie…she’s waiting for me. I told her that I’d try to be there by sunset.” Was it just her imagination or did her arms wrap tighter around Jack’s neck? Sonny gave a slight shake of her head. Traitors.

 

While looking into Sonny’s eyes, a tender smile tugged at Jack’s lips as she kept her arms right where they were. “Stay with me, Sonny girl,” she asked in a hushed tone. “She may have you for the rest of your life if that’s what you choose. I’m only asking to have you for the duration of this song.”

 

Swallowing with a bit of difficulty, the blonde nodded. “Okay, Jack. Okay.” Neither woman needing to speak another word, they held each other tighter as their bodies moved in unison.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

When Sonny arrived at the St. John River campground, it was a quarter after five that evening. Taking off her helmet, she settled it on the handlebars as she gazed at the cabin standing about twenty feet ahead. She took a deep relaxing breath. Behind that door was Dixie Monroe, the woman whom she’d been anxious to meet for over a year now.

 

Removing the straps of the backpack from her shoulders, Sonny brought it in front of her before unzipping the pouch located in the front. Pulling out her new cell phone, she proceeded to punch in Briana’s cell number. Before she left the reception, her sister had made her promise that she would call her the moment she arrived in Astor. Since she would be staying at Chloe and Jack’s house, Briana informed her sister to call on her cell phone instead of at the apartment.

 

The phone rang a total of five times before a breathless and giggling Briana picked it up. “Helloooo?”

 

Sonny smiled into phone. Her sister sounded like she was in good spirits. “Helloooo back to you sis.”

 

“Hey Sonny! You got there okay?” Briana inquired, though her voice sounded distracted.

 

“Yes, ma’am. And the first thing I did was call you like I promised that I would.” She didn’t receive a quick reply as she heard a creaking noise in the background shortly followed by a high-pitched laugh. Arching an eyebrow, Sonny wondered what they could be doing. She asked and it took a couple moments before her sister answered.

 

“Oh, Chloe and I are just fooling around.” Another laugh in the background, which Sonny now guessed belonged to Chloe. Briana giggled. “We’re playing around—talking. Yes. We’re having a great time…talking.”

 

There was a thoughtful pause on Sonny’s end of the line. “Well, I’m glad you’re having fun. Talking that is.”

 

“Yes, indeed, we are. So, I should let you go meet…Dixie then.” Twin chuckles rang through the phone, giving Sonny the sneaking suspicion that they shared a private joke.

 

The other brow joined its twin as Sonny speculated if the two young women had gotten into Jack’s liquor cabinet. Although, Briana didn’t sound inebriated. It was more like she seemed…deliriously happy. Yes, that was it exactly. However over what, Sonny hadn’t much of a clue.

 

“Okay, I’ll see you tomorrow then.” As an afterthought she added, “You be good.” Sonny could have sworn that she heard Chloe whisper something to the effect of ‘she definitely is’ but wasn’t positively sure.

 

“I will Sonny. You have fun with Dixie.” Sonny could feel her sister’s grin even through the phone. “I want all the details tomorrow. Every bit of ‘em. I love you.”

 

Smiling, Sonny countered with, “I love you too Bri. Goodnight.” Ending the call, she placed the phone back where it belonged before standing and bringing her leg over the bike. She could feel the muscles in her thighs pulling just a bit after having been straddled on the motorbike for nearly an hour. Slinging the backpack over one shoulder, Sonny leaned down and checked herself in the rearview as best she could. Straightening, she deeply inhaled and then exhaled, repeating a few times before allowing her feet to propel her towards the front door.

 

Arriving much too quickly, she paced back and forth on the porch for a good thirty seconds before getting up the nerve to knock on the door. Afterward, she took a step back while waiting for the door to be opened. So nervous, Sonny didn’t even realize that she was holding her breath as she waited for the click that signified that the door was being opened. It didn’t take long before she heard the unmistakable turn of the doorknob, even over her rapidly beating heart. This is it. I’m finally going to meet Dixie. Oh God, please don’t let me faint before she can fully open the door.

 

Within moments, Sonny found herself staring up into the eyes of…

 

Jacqueline Foster.

 

Sonny blinked twice, her mind trying to process this information.

 

And then she finally allowed her lungs to do their intended job and breathed. A shaky breath, which was louder than the evening wind rustling through the surrounding oak trees. 

 

And then she promptly burst into tears, only to find herself wrapped in Jack’s arms within a couple of heartbeats.

 

“Ssh ssh,” Jack softly comforted her as she rubbed the other woman’s back. “Please don’t cry PerkyGrrl. It’s alright.”

 

Removing her face from the crook of Jack’s now damp neck, the Sonny gazed up at her wearing the tiniest of smiles. “I wished…I secretly wished that Dixie was you,” pausing, she took a deep shuddering breath. “I guess those little things really do come true sometimes.”

 

Both women shared a soft chuckled before Jack asked, “You’re not upset with me?”

 

“Perhaps later on after I’ve truly had a chance to think about all of this I’ll kick your butt.” The blonde playfully grinned, as did her companion. “However, at this moment I couldn’t be anymore ecstatic.” Noticing Jack’s lips, which were so close that she could feel wisps of warm breath, Sonny realized that she couldn’t wait another moment to have them on her own. “Please kiss me, Jack.”

 

Smiling, the brunette began to lower her head as she whispered, “Your wish is certainly my command Sonny girl.” Jack brushed her lips against Sonny’s twice in an almost teasing fashion before she decided to add more pressure, molding her mouth against her beloved’s. They released equal sized moans into the air as they held each other tighter, their kiss deepening, tongues languidly exploring.

 

Wanting a bit more privacy, Jack gently pulled Sonny inside of the cabin while managing to keep contact with her lips the entire time. After unceremoniously dropping her backpack on the floor, Sonny felt her back brush against the closed door as a pair of hands roamed up and down the sides of her body and an incredibly soft mouth gently sucked her tongue into it. The entire length of her body suddenly felt as though it was on fire, a delicious fire that she wanted extinguished yet at the same time didn’t. Slipping a hand underneath the back of Jack’s shirt, Sonny felt the heat of her naked skin and ached to feel more. In fact, she wanted to caress every inch of Jack’s body and had every intention of doing so.

 

When Jack came up with the idea of them going upstairs, Sonny readily agreed. After temporarily ceasing the heated kisses with a great amount of difficulty, the pair almost flew up the flight of stairs leading to the loft. Stopping on the last step, Sonny stared at the scene before them while Jack stood off to the side, watching her face. It was simple yet breathtaking. Red and white rose petals were strewn on the floor leading to the double bed, which was also covered with a few of the fragrant flowers along with one long stemmed red rose laid against a pillow. Instead of using the lamp, Jack had created natural light with a few white candles lit around the small space. The glow of one candle near her, illuminated Sonny’s smiling face somehow managing to make her appear even more beautiful.

 

Slowly walking toward Jack, she softly kissed her lips. “I love it,” after a brief pause she added, “And I love you.”

 

For a split second, the brunette figured that her heart would swell out of her chest due to those three little words, which she had ached to hear. With her throat tightening, joyous tears sprang to Jack’s eyes. “I love you too Sonny. Oh, I love you so much,” she fervently whispered just before her mouth sought out the other woman’s.

 

As their tongues mapped out the contours of each other’s mouths, Jack urgently began to unbutton Sonny’s shirt, desperate to feel the heat of her skin. After undoing the last button, Jack pushed the shirt from her companion’s shoulders and allowed it to drop to the floor. Thinking that undressing was a terrific idea, Sonny tugged on the edge of Jack’s shirt until the other woman got the idea and raised her arms so that it could be removed. The shirt didn’t fair as well as Sonny’s since it was catapulted over the banister and gravity pulled it to the first floor.

 

As the woman stood before her, Sonny raised her hands, her fingers beginning to trace the swell of Jack’s breasts, which were partially covered by her bra. Closing her eyes, the brunette enjoyed the light caress, shivering when those warm hands were replaced with an inquisitive tongue that traced the same paths Sonny’s fingers had taken. Softly moaning, Jack felt the insistent tugging on the clasp of her bra until it finally released. She shrugged her shoulders, helping the straps to slide off and faintly heard as the bra made impact with the floor. Instantly, her legs turned to mush when a hot mouth enveloped her right nipple, gently suckling the aroused tip. Two hands planted themselves on a leather-covered rear and squeezed in a slow rhythm as that mouth explored more of Jack’s breast.

 

Her legs weren’t going to hold her weight much longer. Thinking that it wouldn’t be suave to collapse on the floor, Jack raised Sonny’s head and proceeded to kiss her senseless as she led them toward the bed. Falling backward onto the soft bed, Jack brought Sonny along with her and she landed snugly on top of the brunette. A grin curving her lips at the delicious weight laying on her, Jack undid the other woman’s bra as she nibbled on her lower lip, eliciting a low moan in the process. Placing her hands on either side of Jack’s head, Sonny pushed the upper half of her body upward, helping to remove her own bra before she slowly started to lower herself, allowing her nipples to brush ever so lightly against Jack’s. A rush of heat passed through both of their bodies on contact of the sensitive tips. Doing it again, Sonny caused the same thing to happen along with a faint growl from her about to be lover. Lazily, a grin spread across her lips as she gazed down at Jack while managing to keep her upper body from fully touching her own.

 

A dark eyebrow arched. Was little Sonny purposefully teasing her? It certainly seemed like it. Though she didn’t think it possible, Jack’s libido elevated even further. Did she mention that she loved this woman? “Sonny?” she called in a voice thick with need.

 

“Yes?” The blonde drew out the word as she leaned down and placed a kiss on the tip of Jack’s nose before raising her body again. She moaned in pleasure as two hands found purchase on her lower back.

 

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” Jack teasingly inquired, closely watching a pair of full breasts dangling above her. She was on the verge of salivating.

 

Noticing where Jack’s eyes were, Sonny scooted upward until her chest was directly above the other woman’s face and most importantly her mouth. “Now why would I want to do that?” Though not receiving a verbal reply, she obtained a much more gratifying one when Jack successfully drew a rosy tip into her mouth. Sonny couldn’t have gotten away, even if she had truly wanted to, since that mouth was holding her nipple captive firmly yet gently as a tongue brushed back and forth across the tightening bud. As the blonde moaned, her lower body beginning to unconsciously rub against Jack’s, the strong arms around her tightened their hold before Jack smoothly switched their positions with Sonny now laying on her back.

 

Deciding that it was time for them to lose every stitch of clothing they had on, Jack knelt between the other woman’s legs before she worked on unfastening her chinos before drawing them down her body until they were completely off along with Sonny’s shoes and socks. Unhurriedly, Jack slid her fingertips along the blonde’s legs and up toward the outer region of her thighs, all the while hearing her shallow breathing as she waited for her beloved to touch her anywhere and everywhere. After stroking along the tops of Sonny’s thighs, Jack’s agile fingers moved inward, caressing the heated sensitive flesh of her inner thighs causing her to writhe on the bed.

 

“You like that?” Jack softly inquired, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear it.

 

“Mm, you know I do Jack…feels so good,” Sonny breathlessly replied.

 

Smiling now, Jack’s fingers began to travel further south, heading down quivering legs before they made a U-turn, stopping when they reached the waistband of Sonny’s panties. Hooking her index fingers into the sides of them, Jack tugged on the underwear trying to remove them, which proved an easier task when Sonny helped by raising her bottom slightly above the bed. After dropping the cute little undies on the floor, Jack quickly removed her own clothing, tossing her leather pants and bikini briefs across the room before settling between Sonny’s legs again. Leaning down, she placed the sweetest of kisses on the blonde’s lips while simultaneously reaching for the lone rose on the pillow. As she continued to kiss her love, she trailed the soft petals of the rose against her cheek, instantly feeling the lips below hers curving into a smile. Finding it contagious, she smiled back after breaking the tender kiss.

 

Staring into darkened green eyes, she whispered, “I can hardly believe that you’re here with me. I’m so lucky.” The rose still in her hand, Jack gently traced the contours of Sonny’s lips with it.

 

Reaching up, Sonny brushed the palm of her hand over Jack’s cheek. “I’m here and I don’t plan on going anywhere.” She smiled again. “And as for being lucky, I think that extends both ways.”

 

Turning her head towards it, Jack cupped the hand resting on her cheek and delicately touched its palm with her lips before sitting up. Holding on to the rose’s stem, Jack placed it against Sonny’s cheek, caressing the slightly reddened skin with the petals before gliding it back toward her ear, making sure that the very edge of a petal kissed along the ridge of her ear. Green eyes fluttered shut as Sonny enjoyed the contact, almost feeling as though it were Jack’s very lips on her skin. Her heartbeat quickened as the petals danced along her neck, gliding along ever so sensitively…slowly…sensually.

 

Jack watched, almost mesmerized as the tender petals left goosebumps in their wake while skimming along her lover’s arms and then her shoulders. The smaller woman started to moan when the rose made contact with her breasts, first stroking the valley of them before soft petals languidly circled her aureoles, the circular movements becoming larger and larger until her entire breasts were being caressed. Watching as Sonny’s breasts moved up and down quickly because of her shallow breathing, Jack couldn’t help herself. Leaning over, she proceeded to love them with her mouth, making sure to take equal time with each one. Arching into her mouth, feeling that skilled tongue laving her tips, Sonny placed a hand on the back of Jack’s head, holding the woman to her.

 

Too soon, Jack moved on, trailing hot damps kisses along Sonny’s tummy, her abdomen, and then coming back up to kiss her navel before dipping the tip of her tongue inside it. Hearing a sharp gasp of both surprise and rapture, Jack started to stroke the navel, her tongue delving in and out of it at a leisurely pace as the body beneath her stirred in excitement. Trailing her mouth down farther, Jack grazed over Sonny’s pelvic area with her tongue, causing her hips to jerk slightly. Attempting to keep her body still, Sonny waited for Jack to make her next move. Her mouth was close…so close.

 

However, Jack’s mouth had other plans as it bypassed the glistening golden curls before it and began kissing the insides of Sonny’s thighs, gently nipping at the skin every so often. Her body starting to squirm at the pleasurable feeling of Jack’s teeth and tongue, the blonde thrust her hips upward trying to insinuate. Immediately getting the hint but not acting like it, Jack moved the rose in her hand until it was resting on Sonny’s tummy. Raising her head, she winked at the woman, her lips curved into a sensuous smile as she lightly caressed her beloved’s skin, even trailing the crimson petals around and in her navel.

 

“Jack…” The petite woman hoarsely whispered as she clutched handfuls of the cover beneath her. She hungered for release so much that she could almost taste it.

 

“Yes sweetheart?” As she waited for an answer, Jack slid the rose downward until it was delicately pressed against Sonny’s womanhood. The hips before her jerking again, Jack smiled as she allowed the petals to flicker across swollen sensitized lips.

 

“Oh, God! Jack please…” Moaning, Sonny’s hips moved as she tried to press her against the fragile flower.

 

Twirling the rose around the blonde’s center, Jack noticed the beads of Sonny’s natural juices beginning to coat the petals. She suddenly wanted her tongue to be those petals. However, she was determined to wait for Sonny to tell her what she wanted. Continuing her ministrations she asked, “Please what love?”

 

Licking parched lips, Sonny almost shyly made contact with a pair of tender blue eyes as she softly replied, “Please touch me…with your mouth. I need you inside me.”

 

Very happy to oblige, Jack coaxed the other woman’s legs onto her shoulders as she dropped the rose on the bed. Moving into toward Sonny’s center, she grazed her nether lips with her mouth, feeling the thighs she had her palms pressed against shiver. Not being able to wait a moment longer, Jack slowly slipped her tongue between Sonny’s lips, tasting her and instantly knowing that she could never tire of it. Urgent hips pressing against her mouth, Jack thrust her tongue matching their pace.

 

Loudly moaning and writhing on the bed, Sonny clutched the covers tighter as her hips began to move faster and faster, Jack’s tongue keeping a steady rhythm with them. As the mouth pressing against her suckled the bit of engorged flesh between her lips and a tongue swirled around it, Sonny knew that she wouldn’t be able to hang on any longer.

 

“Jack…baby…yes, oh God yes…” Her hips bucking, Sonny threw her head back as she shouted the name of the woman so brilliantly loving her, again and again. Breathing laboriously, Sonny felt as Jack made her way up her body, leaving a path of kisses that caused her to delightfully shiver. Soon a mouth found its way onto her own and Sonny slipped her tongue out to greet Jack’s as she loosely wrapped her arms around the woman’s neck, immensely enjoying the weight on top of her.

 

“Mmm,” Sonny moaned against Jack’s lips creating a slight vibration. “That was invigorating,” she whispered, a lazy smile on her face. She felt like a queen after a hearty banquet.

 

Softly chuckling, Jack kissed her again while nodding in agreement. “Absolutely.”

 

“And do you know what would be even more invigorating?” The blonde inquired as she slowly began to trail a hand down the side of Jack’s body, smiling as the action caused the brunette’s breath to catch.

 

“What’s…what’s that?”

 

Brushing her lips against Jack’s ear, she softly intoned, “This.” Before Jack had a chance to contemplate on what ‘this’ was a stealthy but very welcome little digit found its way between her legs.

 

“Ooh, that,” she replied in a voice, which sounded wobbly to her own ears. Observing the grin on her lover’s lips, Jack captured that grin with her mouth as her hips bucked against Sonny’s hand.

 

While her tongue continued its dance with the brunette’s, Sonny nudged until Jack’s fuzzy mind processed the hint and slipped off of her. Lying on her side now, Sonny sucked on a tender full lower lip as she slipped another finger inside Jack, thrusting within her, keeping pace with her gyrating hips.

 

“Sweetheart…yes,” Jack whispered between moans, her body tense, hips steadily pitching forward to meet Sonny’s hand.

 

Leaving tiny kisses along the other woman’s jaw and then the ridge of her ear Sonny ardently whispered, “You feel so good. Come for me baby.” Noticing how tasty it looked, Sonny took a flushed lobe into her mouth, earning another moan of approval.

 

She felt Jack’s inner muscles contracting around her roaming digits, her hips pressing upward at a more hurried pace and instinctively knowing that she was near her climax, thrust as deeply as was possible. Raising her head, Sonny watched her lover’s face, small beads of perspiration dancing along her brow and hairline, joyous tears sitting in the corners of eyes currently almost dark as the evening sky, mouth swollen from their intense kisses partly open as she took gulps of air. What a beautiful sight she was.

 

Feeling an abundance of love for this woman flowing through her, Sonny pressed her lips to Jack’s as she catapulted over the precipice, her hips bucking furiously now against the fingers continuing to move within her. Wave after wave of ecstasy rippled through her body as she declared her love for Sonny, whispering against her lips while tears slid down her face.

 

They lay quietly for a few moments sharing sweet little kisses before Sonny removed her digits and brought them to her face, knowing that she had the other woman’s full attention as she cleaned her index finger. After tasting a sample of her lover’s essence, she concluded that she would have to get up close and personal in the very near future. Done, she offered the remaining digit to Jack who teasingly twirled her tongue around it before bringing it into her mouth where she proceeded to suck the finger clean, tasting herself.

 

Taking twice as long to finish, Jack finally released Sonny’s finger as a grin started to form on her lips. Wrapping her arms around the smaller woman, she gently pulled until Sonny was resting on top of her and kissed her mouth as she stroked the length of her back with both hands. “PerkyGrrl?”

 

Sonny pressed herself into Jack, wanting to get as close as she could. “Yes Blueyez?” she countered, smiling now, trying to remember when she had ever felt so jubilant.

 

“You rock.”

 

Chuckling, Sonny kissed her again, not being able to get enough. “Why thank you very much. You pebble.”

 

They shared a laugh before their mouths began to share in another activity.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Epilogue

 

Around eleven months later…

 

They were on their way out of the door when Jack suddenly stopped, patting her pockets before concluding that she had forgotten her wallet.

 

Sonny glanced at her watch. “Hurry honey. We’re gonna be late.”

 

“Okay, be right back.” After kissing her love, Jack headed up the stairs, taking them two at a time. Opening she and Sonny’s bedroom door, she walked inside, faltering after taking a couple of steps as she noticed five pairs of large brown hostile eyes staring at her. Thinking that her mind was playing some sort of cruel trick on her, she rapidly blinked trying to clear the image before her. Unfortunately, it refused to budge. Oh, God I’ve lost my mind!

 

“I…I…must b…be…drea…dreaming,” she stammered. She tried to move but her feet suddenly felt like they consisted of lead.

 

One pair of the brown eyes before her rolled. “No, you’re awake. Unfortunately.”

 

Jack heard Sonny calling her name from downstairs but she couldn’t respond as she stared at the five large white and black spotted talking animals. “You’re cows! Talking cows. Cows can’t talk!”

 

“Oh, but we can,” the cow who spoke before said. Evidently, she was in charge. “We’re the ghosts of cows passed Jack!” Her brown eyes narrowed as she took a step towards the brunette who still couldn’t move. “Or should I call you murderess?” Four heads nodded, obviously liking the unappealing nickname.

 

Closing her eyes, Jack slowly counted to ten before she reopened them, chagrined to find that the bovines were still in her bedroom. “What do you want with me? Why are you here?”

 

Not answering the question right away, the head cow turned and indicated for the cow standing in the back to open Jack’s walk-in closet. Wrapping her mouth around it, she pulled the door open before they all quickly stepped back, as though they had been scalded. Raising a hoof, the leader pointed toward the closet, her eyes now filled with anguish along with anger as she looked at Jack.

 

“That is why we’re here,” she said, her voice even sounding anguished.

 

The brunette glanced between her and the closet. “What do you mean?” Again, she heard Sonny calling out her name, this time louder than before. “Sonny I’ll be down in a minute!” she called back, not removing her eyes from the talking bovine.

 

“You,” the head honcho pointed her hoof in Jack’s direction now, “aren’t you ashamed?”

 

“What do I have to be ashamed about?” Jack retorted, starting to get indignant. She wished that the cow would just get straight to the point so that she could go check herself into a clinic for psychiatric treatment.

 

“What do you have to be ashamed about? How could you ask that question?” Another cow said before the leader indicated for complete silence. Obediently, the cow shut her mouth.

 

“I’ve lost count of how much leather you’ve purchased over the years,” the leader started. “That closet is a disgrace. Leather pants, leather jackets, shoes, belts, hats, wallets…even leather underwear!” She glared. “How much leather does one person need Jack? And you live in Florida for goodness sake!”

 

“I…I…it’s not like I’m the only person in the world who buys leather.”

 

“I’m not talking about other people…I’ll deal with them later. I’m talking about you right now!” she pointed her hoof again. “Do you not realize that you are affecting the lives of others when you go gallivanting around stores for leather this and leather that?” She indicated her subordinates with a nod of her head. “We perish so that you humans can be fashionable. Well thanks a lot.”

 

Speechless, Jack heard footsteps nearing the bedroom door. She briefly wondered if it could be another one but then decided that it sounded like a two-footed being. The ex-Conqueror watched as Sonny slipped into the room, a quizzical expression on her face.

 

“What’s taking so—“ Stopping, Sonny slowly turned to the left where she noticed the bovine posse standing. An eyebrow arching, she looked back at her partner. “Um, Jack why are there cows in the bedroom? For that matter, why are there cows in the house at all?”

 

“We’re here to confront Jack on her leather purchasing habits,” the leader interjected.

 

“Oh.” Sonny nodded as though it made sense now. She leaned against the doorjamb watching.

 

“In fact,” the leader looked thoughtful. “Jack we want you to come with us.”

 

A slight pause. “Why?”

 

The four-footed creature headed toward Jack with the others following her, all of them having dangerous glints in their eyes. “Because we want you to see what happens to us. And after you see…you can experience. I wonder how you’d look as a pair of pants.”

 

“You’re not about to find out!” Her feet lighter now, Jack turned and ran headlong into Sonny, who was blocking the exit. “Sweetheart, c’mon let’s go. We have to get out of here!” she urgently stated while glancing over her shoulder at the advancing cows.

 

“Jack, you’re not going anywhere,” Sonny replied in a casual voice.

 

“What?” The brunette stared at her in shock. “Baby…honey…sweetie…move your rear, okay? I really think they mean to do us harm.”

 

A blonde head shook. “No Jack, that’s where you’re wrong.” She pointed at the anxious woman. “They mean to do you harm.” She smiled a smile so very full of charm. “You see, I’m more of a cotton lover myself.”

 

“Sonny,” Jack glanced back again. The cows were only a couple feet behind her. “Sonny move. Please!”

 

“No.”

 

“Sonny get out of the way now!”

 

“Nooo.”

 

“Please, please…”

 

Placing her hands on Jack’s shoulders, Sonny gently shook her. “Jack, you’re dreaming.”

 

“Mooove!” She thought she felt a hoof touch her back.

 

“Jack…Jack…honey…JACK!!”

 

Opening her eyes, the brunette noticed that she was in bed and Sonny was hovering above her, hands still on her shoulders. Wordlessly, blue eyes flitted around the room, which thankfully was bovine free. Breathing a sigh of relief, Jack wiped at her damp forehead. Releasing her shoulders, Sonny back down on the bed.

 

“Did you have that dream again?”

 

The brunette nodded.

 

“That’s the sixth one this month.”

 

“I know,” Jack croaked. “This time you were in it.” Sitting up in the bed, she sighed just before her eyes landed on the cow sitting at the foot of their bed. Growling low in her throat, she pointed at it. “It’s that thing’s fault.”

 

Following her finger, Sonny bit back a laugh. Reaching over, she grabbed the small stuffed cow and placed it on her lap. “How is Callie the Cow responsible? She’s an innocent little toy.”

 

“Well it’s your fault then. You’re the one who brought it here as a little ‘joke’. I started having the dreams a couple nights after her arrival.”

 

Sonny couldn’t contain her laughter anymore and burst into a fit of giggles while Jack attempted to look peeved, but there was a smile on her face. Plucking the stuffed animal from her partner’s lap, Jack looked at, a sigh escaping her lips.

 

“I think I’m gonna cut back. I have enough leather as it is.”

 

Grinning, Sonny inquired, “Think you can do that?”

 

Turning to her, Jack kissed her lips. “With you, I can do anything.” They both chuckled. “Meanwhile, I think we should give Callie to Chris. I think he’d like her.” Jack nuzzled the mouth of the toy against Sonny’s neck, eliciting a giggle. “In fact, we should do it tomorrow when we go see him at the hospital.”

 

Sonny smiled as she thought about the newest little addition to the family. Her nephew and Isaac and Sarah’s first child Christian. Paul was to say the least, a very proud and happy grandpa when the baby entered the world the day before yesterday. He finally had a grandson to carry on the Campbell name, although his brother’s grandchildren would have done so. Also, he and Annette had another grandchild to spoil rotten.

 

“As if we along with everyone else haven’t given him a lot already.”

 

Jack laughed, thinking of all the baby supplies and toys Christian had received. “That’s a lucky little guy.”

 

Sonny agreed, as she took Callie the Cow from Jack’s hands and placed her on the nightstand before she kissed the other woman’s neck suggestively. “Now what were you saying about with me you could do…anything? Did you mean that?” Gently turning Jack’s head toward her, Sonny traced her lips with a finger as she smiled.

 

Slowly starting to grin, Jack nodded. “Oh, yeah.” She kissed the lips before her as she lowered them both down until they were stretched out on the bed. “I meant every single word.” Forgetting all about bovines and leather, Jack set to concentrating on her beloved PerkyGrrl.

 

 

~The End~

 

Taiko's Scrolls of the Xenaverse