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Disclaimer:   First, this story is copyrighted to the author as of 4/22/99. This story is an uber story of sorts with characters resembling Xena and Gabrielle in personality only. If I've infringed on Xena and Gabrielle, then let me say that those two belong to MCA. However, Rowan and Jessie belong to me.

Sex/Violence:   There are two women falling in love in this story. And there is a good deal of violence, both of the domestic and street variety. Please be aware of this before reading the story. I don't want you reading if this is something that you can't handle. Also, foul language seems to prevalent as well. I just want everyone to be aware of what they're reading before they start. No surprises.

Feedback:   I'd like it. A lot. Please, please, please, please, please, please, please let me know what you think! E-mail me at


By GabTBard

Chapter 1-6   Chapter 7-11  Chapter 12-18 » Chapter 19-24 «


Chapter Nineteen

Luis watched the cabin, lights flickering in the windows from the lanterns and fire inside. He envied them for having fire because that meant food. Not to mention warmth. It was still early evening, and since it was summer it was still warm, but as the air cooled, a fire would be very helpful. He wasn't sure what he was going to do, or when he would make a move. He wanted to hurt that bitch, mentally and physically. He wanted to drain her strength and show her that she wasn't better than he was.

He swatted at a mosquito as it tried to land on his face. Damn nature! He was a city dweller, through and through. The forest by the Mississippi river was dense, filled with strange noises you didn't think existed when you lived in the city. The feeling of steel tucked into his jeans gave him confidence. If anything came after him, he'd shoot until it was dead, simple enough.

The door to the cabin was opening. It was the bitch and that smaller chick. They were carrying some dishes or something. Thinking as quickly as he could he realized they were going to go rinse the plates. Maybe he should take out his revenge now with the other two still in the cabin.

He rubbed his palms together as he anticipated the rush he was going to get killing that girl and the mother.

*   *   *   *   *

Making their way to the river, Jessie and Rowan were quiet, each lost in their own thoughts. Neither one knew how to bring up what had happened between them, yet that was what consumed both their thoughts.

Jessie had another concern on her mind. Vamp had pulled her aside before they left the cabin and had told her that someone had followed them. She could sense someone watching them, but she wasn't sure if it was Luis or not. The fact that the predicament they had just finally gotten away from was still haunting them concerned Jessie. She had no doubt that one on one she could take Luis out. But, there were three other people involved, three people she cared deeply about. Glancing over at Rowan's form walking along side of her she felt her concern for Rowan irrepressible. Her friend had already gotten hurt once, the bruise and cut on her head a memento of what had happened. That thinking brought her back to what had happened in the bedroom earlier.

"Rowan, I..." Jessie stopped, unsure what to say. She felt that she should be the one to broach the subject, but she had no idea how.

Anxious to hear what Jessie would say, Rowan tried to prompt her to finish. "Yes? You what?"

"I...uh...think we're almost to the river." Berating herself for not being able to handle the situation, Jessie scowled.

Disappointed, Rowan frowned.

The river appeared before them, the moonlight giving it an unearthly appearance.

Quickly the two friends deposited the things they were carrying on the ground. With efficiency, Rowan and Jessie washed the dishes in silence.

"Do you want to take a bath before we go back in?" Jessie asked quietly, not looking up from the dish she was scrubbing.

Bath means naked, doesn't it? All kinds of ideas and possibilities came to Rowan's mind. Hell yeah I want to take a bath! Aloud she said, "Yeah, that would be good."

Rowan decided to bring up another matter they probably should discuss since she didn't know where to start the conversation they needed to have.

"I've been thinking about Vamp. What's going to happen to her?" She spoke as they set the dishes out to dry.

Jessie stood and started to undress. Standing there without her clothes on, she stretched her tired muscles as she replied. "I don't know, but one way or another I'll make sure she's taken care of. I'm not going to let her back on the streets again." In a quiet voice she finished. "I already left her once, I won't do it again."

Mesmerized by the vision in front of her, Rowan felt her mouth go dry. Muscles rippled under Jessie's golden skin. The woman's eyes traveled the smooth, well defined planes of Jessie's body, trying to take her eyes away from the woman's full breasts.

"Uh, okay, just wondering." Rowan's voice cracked and her cheeks grew warm. Forcing her eyes off Jessie she concentrated on getting her own clothes off.

Not noticing Rowan's reaction, Jessie stepped into the river. "Don't worry, we'll think of something." She replied as she watched the woman before her undress, knowing that they would have to talk about what happened and soon. She realized that the warm sensation that had started between her legs was growing as she watched the other woman gracefully enter the water.

"Yes, WE will." Rowan spoke as she made her way through the water toward Jessie.

"I think that Vamp deserves to be happy." Jessie couldn't take her eyes off Rowan.

"So do you Jessie," nothing more than a whisper, the words spoke to Jessie's heart.

Rowan motioned for Jessie to turn around so that she could wash the woman's back.

As the younger woman caressingly used the bar of soap to wash her back, Jessie felt her body respond. While her body urged her to give into the wonderful sensations, her mind couldn't let go of what Rowan had said.

"What do you mean?"

"Hmmm?" Rowan knew what Jessie was asking, but she wanted to hear the woman say it. That and she loved the sound of Jessie's sultry voice.

"You said 'so do you'. What did you mean?" Jessie's mouth was all of a sudden dry. Rowan's hands didn't stop as she further explained herself.

"You spend so much time making sure that others are happy, what about you?" Cupping water in her hands, Rowan carefully rinsed the soap off Jessie's back. In the moonlight, Jessie's hair gleamed brightly. Rowan wanted to bury her face in it.

"What about me?" Jessie wasn't completely sure that she understood where Rowan was going with this.

"You deserve to be happy too." Holding her hand in front of Jessie's face to prevent her from protesting, Rowan continued. "I know, you think you don't deserve happiness because of your past. But, you're wrong Jessie. You do deserve happiness." Then in a soft voice, she continued, "and so do I."

Turning around, Jessie avoided Rowan's eyes as she motioned for the woman to turn so that she could return the back washing.

Jessie thought carefully before she responded to what Rowan had said. In her heart, she hoped she knew the answer to the question she was about to pose. But, her mind told her to look at this in a more logical manner.

Carefully soaping Rowan's back, Jessie weighed the different events in their five years as friends. On one hand, what happened earlier in the cabin weighed strongly in her favor. On the other hand, the girl who had screwed with Rowan in college weighed strongly against her. There were dozens of supporting points for both sides; the kisses they had shared the past few days, Rowan's many Saturday night dates. The way Rowan's eyes lit up when she saw Jessie; the times Jessie had seen Rowan's eyes follow any cute guy they passed.

The list went on and on.

Rowan respected the silence, knowing Jessie needed room to think.

Finally, Jessie responded as she rinsed the sculpted back in front of her. "You're right," she spoke in a quiet voice, full of unshed emotion. "You do deserve happiness. Tell me Rowan, what would make you happy?"

Swallowing hard, Jessie closed her eyes. Rowan wasn't stupid, she knew what Jessie was asking.

Slowly turning around, Rowan moved closer to Jessie until their bodies were almost touching. Jessie steeled her body, willing herself not to take the woman into her arms. It was driving her crazy to know the woman she loved was so close. Her eyes still closed, Jessie dropped her head, waiting for Rowan's response.

Putting her hand under Jessie's chin, Rowan lifted it until their eyes were lined up.

"You would make me happy. You, Jessie." Slowly, she leaned forward and brought her lips to Jessie's.

At first shocked, Jessie didn't respond. Soon, her lips began moving in response to Rowan's. Slowly at first, they simply relished the feeling of the other woman's lips. Softness meeting softness, although not for the first time, still an exquisite sensation. Mouths opened and tongues intertwined as the heat and passion between them started to build.

Rowan pressed her body into Jessie's, getting as close as she could, wishing she could be even closer. The feel of the other woman's body against her own sent amazing jolts of electricity through Jessie's body. She moaned into Rowan's mouth, the woman returning the sound with a moan of her own. Wrapping her arms around the supple body pressing into her, Jessie rubbed her hands across her back. Rowan shivered at each touch. She brought her hand up to caress Jessie's face.

Finally, Jessie pulled back, realizing they couldn't continue like this. Hugging Rowan to herself, she whispered in her ear. "We can't do this here, now. I don't want our first time to be in the river. I don't want to start something that we can't finish either."

Panting, Rowan's mouth curled into a smile. "Too late, I think we already started."

Smiling back, Jessie kissed Rowan's jaw, planting a row of little kisses from ear to ear, finally coming to rest on soft, full lips. "I promise it will be well worth the wait." Pulling back, she lowered and raised her eyebrows suggestively.

Capturing Jessie's lips with her own, Rowan languidly treated the woman to the most sensuous, passion filled kiss she'd ever had. Moaning, Jessie was helpless against the onslaught, just hoping she would be able to withstand this wonderful torture.

In due time Rowan released Jessie's lips, giving her a suggestive look of her own. "Just understand that I won't wait forever! It's taken me this long to get your attention and I don't want to have to start all over again, got it?"

"Ro, you've always had my attention. You certainly aren't going to lose it now."

Rowan gave Jessie a full smile. It wasn't often that the stoic woman admitted her feelings, even to her best friend. It had taken a long time to come to terms with what her body already knew. Rowan had the ability to create new emotions, new sensations in Jessie, and that scared her. But, after fighting her body's responses for this long, she was finally able to admit to them both that she loved Rowan completely, and there was no one else who even came close to competing.

Pretending to grumble, Rowan relented. "I guess I've waited this long, I can wait a little bit longer" She reached for the other woman's hand. Bringing it to her face, she softly kissed the tip of each finger, and then the palm. "I love you, Jess."

Squeezing the hand that held hers, Jessie whispered back. "I love you too." Then looking at their hands together, she brought the other woman's small hand closer, examining the palm closely. "You're starting to get all wrinkly. We'd better finish up and head back. I don't want to leave mom and Vamp alone for too long. Who knows when Luis is going to make his move."

*   *   *   *   *

By the time they got back to the cabin, Anne and Vamp were both fast asleep. Mindful of the sleeping women, Jessie and Rowan silently put things away. After everything was done, Jessie took Rowan's hand and led her into the bedroom. Both of them once again took their clothes off, leaving only their underwear on in an unspoken agreement.

Lying down on her side, Jessie patted the spot in front of her. Rowan laid herself down where Jessie had indicated, facing the woman, her head on Jessie's breasts. Snuggling closer, Rowan sighed with contentment as Jessie put an arm around her waist, tucking her tightly against her body.

"Jess?" Whispering, not sure if the other woman was still asleep, Rowan remembered something.


"You didn't answer your own question."

Yawning, Jessie asked, "What question?"

Rowan shifted so that she was looking into her friend's familiar face. "What would make you happy?"

Cradling the younger woman against her, Jessie kissed her dark crown of hair. "You Ro. You are all that I have ever wanted and you are what will make me happy."

Tilting her head, Rowan's lips found Jessie's. A soft kiss to begin with, it became more enflamed, both women pressing harder against each other. Breathless, Rowan pulled away, needing to breathe. "I think we started again."

Placing short, light kisses on the other woman's mouth, Jessie spoke between each kiss. "" She ended her sentence with one more long kiss, brushing Rowan's lips with her tongue.

Delicately moaning, Rowan replied, her voice husky. "But we are soooo good at it!"

Laughing softly, Jessie pressed her lips to Rowan's forehead before she pulled the woman against her. "Good night my sweet angel."

Settling her arms around Jessie's firm body, Rowan burrowed further into her embrace. "Good night," floated back up to Jessie's ears as she shut her eyes and let herself be lulled to sleep by the feeling of Rowan's heartbeat.


Chapter Twenty

Something was crawling on his face. He brought his hand and swatted at it, unhappy that something had interrupted his sleep. Trying to fall back asleep he realized he was now too awake to fall back asleep. "Oh shit!" He sat up quickly. There was a mist settling over the ground of the forest, making his already sleep blurred eyes difficult to focus. He felt as though he were sitting on a moist mattress, the ground being springy and yet wet.

Rubbing at his eyes, Luis tried to stand up, but as he braced himself to rise, his hand slipped into something that squished underneath him and his first reaction was to get away from it. As his hand lifted, his body tilted and he went face first into the ground.

"Goddamn that bitch!" He growled as he finally got to his feet. Mud covered his face, and his clothes were wet from having slept on the ground. He had intended to go back to his car for the night, but had fallen asleep in the grove of trees directly in front of the cabin.

Checking his 38 Special, he decided to go and wash off. Today was going to be the day, no matter what. Luis wasn't going to wait much longer.

*   *   *   *   *

The cool air contrasted sharply with the feeling of warmth coming from her body. That's what happens when someone's asleep on top of you. Jessie grinned to herself, then felt embarrassed by her giddy feelings. Rowan had moved during the night so that she was on top of Jessie's stomach. Their bodies had instinctually stayed close, entangling arms and legs together. Rowan was laying with her head on Jessie's chest, her arms flung over the other woman, her legs tangled with Jessie's longer ones. The weight was a pleasant reminder of the fact that she and Rowan had finally gotten past their fears. Opening her eyes and looking down her body at the dark hair that lay fanned on her chest, Jessie gave a blissful sigh. She couldn't resist the urge to touch the hair, feeling its softness as it slipped through her fingers. In her sleep, Rowan sighed, her hand moving and covering Jessie's breast. The hand didn't flex, it just rested there, as if it were a natural place to keep a hand. Stifling a laugh, Jessie put her arms around the sleeping woman and clasped her tightly against her. God, this is nice. It was almost a source of strength to have Rowan that close, as though she derived vigor from just having contact with the other woman. That just might be possible, Jessie thought to herself.

As comfortable and warm as she was, Jessie knew that she would have to get moving soon. Looking through the window she could see that the sun had started its glide though the sky and she wanted to get up and start working on cleaning the cabin before the day got too late. They needed to first deal with Luis and then figure out where they would go. Madison wasn't safe anymore, and Jessie didn't want to think about leaving her mother there. The bookstore would have to be dealt with as well as their belongings. It was a lot to consider, and it also meant it would be awhile before she and Rowan could be alone.

Funny, it took her a long time to feel that she could be alone with someone. Before, she had craved being totally isolated, not a soul in the world bothering her. That way she didn't have to worry about anyone other than herself. When Rowan first offered her a place to live, she would sometimes go away for days at a time, just so that she could have some time to herself. Eventually, that changed. When it was just the two of them, she felt more at peace than at any other time in her life. In fact, she didn't much like to be without her friend these days.

Looking again at the sleeping woman, Jessie tried to discern how she could get out from under the woman without waking her. As she was figuring, she heard a chuckle in the door way.

Anne was standing there, watching her daughter. "How are you doing to get up without waking her?" She whispered, not wanting to wake up the woman herself.

Shaking her head at her mother, she whispered back, her voice husky with sleep. "That's what I'm trying to figure out, I seem to be pretty well pinned."

Smiling, Anne commented. "She looks so peaceful and sweet."

"Peaceful?" Jessie snorted softly. "That's because she's using me as a bed!"

"So, how are you going to do it?"

"I'm not." Putting her hands on Rowan's shoulders, Jessie started to gently shake her, talking to her at the same time. "Come on Ro, it's time to get up. Wake up Ro..."

A yawn came from the sleeping woman. One sleepy eye popped halfway open. "It can't be time to get up yet, I haven't finished sleeping!"

Laughing at the woman, Jessie ruffled her hair. "If you had it your way, you'd sleep all day long."

Both eyes open now, Rowan gave her a mischievous sneer. "I can think of something else I might have us doing all day..."

Clearing her throat, Jessie used her eyes to gesture toward the doorway where Anne was standing.

"...eating is something I'm always in the mood for!" Rowan rushed on. She didn't know how Anne would react to what was going on, but she didn't intend to find out now.

Awake, Rowan finally noticed where she had been sleeping. Blushing, she attempted to roll off Jessie, but strong arms kept her in place. "Well mom, what do you think?" It was clear that Jessie did intend to find out her mother's thoughts.

Anne walked further inside the room, and sat on the edge of the bed. She looked at the way Rowan and Jessie's bodies were so comfortable with each other and she saw the way her daughter was lovingly holding Rowan close to her. Then she noticed Rowan's troubled eyes. Smiling at both of them, she started laughing. "I think it's about damn time!"

"What?" Rowan squeaked.

"Rowan dear, I couldn't have picked out someone better for my daughter. You bring her peace. She needs that. So, that means that she needs you." Anne finished by rising and kissing both women on the tops of their heads. "Now, get up and help me find something for breakfast." She started walking out the door when she called over her shoulder, "Don't forget to put shirts on!"

Both women's eyes got large as they remembered what they had forgotten. Looking down they saw that their naked breasts were firmly placed together. Jessie started to laugh loudly, crushing the blushing Rowan to her. All the smaller woman could mutter was "Oh my..."

Another figure appeared in the door way. Vamp's hair was sticking out in all directions, her face bearing pillow marks, and her clothes wrinkled. "Some people are trying to sleep around here you know. It's bad enough you three all think loud in the morning, but you didn't have to start laughing so loudly!" Then a thought crossed her mind. "What are you guys laughing at?"

*   *   *   *   *

The morning meal was easily procured. After a bit of hunting through the cupboards, Jessie found some trail bars and that combined with the Pringles they got yesterday, they had breakfast. Rowan put a pot of water on the fire, and they had instant coffee to go with their odd assortment of food.

After they ate, Jessie told them she needed to show them something. Together, they all went into the spare bedroom/storage room. Jessie went to the closet in the room, and opened the door. Inside was a large metal chest, as well as an older, steamer trunk. Both here heavily locked. "I kept this stuff here in case of emergencies." She opened the steamer trunk first.

Inside was a small arsenal. Guns, magazines, and boxes of bullets filled the case. "But, what I really wanted to show you is in the chest."

Finding the right key, Jessie inserted it and turned, unlocking the lid which she then lifted slowly.

"Oh my!" Anne exclaimed at the same time that Rowan whistled loudly and Vamp screamed "Coooool!"

Inside the chest were bundles of money. Stacked neatly, the bundles contained hundreds of hundreds.

"It's drug money," Jessie stated unnecessarily. "But, it's all mine."

"Wha....why?" Rowan stuttered. She didn't understand why Jessie hadn't used this money when she had decided to leave the business. She could have taken the money and gone anywhere she wanted rather than living with Rowan all these years.

Jessie's serious eyes looking into Rowan's eyes. "This is part of what I was running away from. I didn't want to have anything to do with it. I wanted a fresh life, which I got. I've worked hard in my new life and I didn't want to have to use this money. It would have just confused the whole purpose." She sighed, then looked at the money again. "But, with recent events, I think we're all going to need it. Madison's not safe for us anymore. None of us'll be safe there so long as people are after me, which I have a feeling will always be the case."

"But, Jess, my bookstore!" Anne exclaimed, not wanting to have to give up the little store that meant so much to her.

"And what about my job?" Rowan was just as worried about her position at the UW. It had taken a lot of hard work to be able to get where she was.

Vamp was the only one who didn't say anything. She had no ties anywhere, so where ever she ended up, she'd be fine.

"Mom, I would feel better if we found you another bookstore somewhere else. We'll have everything moved, and find the perfect location for your new store. It just won't be in Madison, okay?" Jessie knew it would take some time for her mother to get used to the idea, but she was hell bent on making it as easy for her as possible.

Jessie put her hands in the chest and pulled out one of the wrapped packs of twenties. Closing the lid of the chest and locking it again, she stood up. "We're going to be here a couple of days, so let's try to get things cleaned up, okay? Mom, Rowan, why don't the two of you go back to Lake City and see if you can find some place that sells clothes? I think there might be a WalMart or something near there." She handed Rowan the stack of twenties. "Get whatever you guys think we'll need. Vamp and I will stay here and start working on getting the cabin in better shape."

The women filed out of the room, Rowan starring at the money in her hand. It was a bit of a power surge having seen all that money. She was a little upset by the way her concerns for her job were brushed off like they didn't matter. But, she'd wait and discuss that with Jessie at a later time. Right now, shopping seemed more important and she did love to shop.

Getting the car keys from Jessie, Rowan pulled her aside as Anne tried to figure out what size clothes Vamp wore. Rowan didn't need to ask the blonde her size, she already knew. "Is there anything specific that you need?"

Jessie thought about it. "Just make sure you get me some clean underwear and some T–shirts. Other than that, I leave it in your hands."

Despite still feeling put off, Rowan's arms seemed to gravitate toward Jessie's waist and before she really thought about it, she had pulled the other woman into a tight embrace.

"See you soon love." Rowan thought that had a nice ring to it as it rolled off her tongue.


*   *   *   *   *

Luis noticed he younger and older women had left, leaving the bitch and that little witch, Vamp. He grinned to himself as he watched the Pontiac drive out of sight. This was perfect. Eventually one of the two remaining people would leave, leaving one alone. That's when he'd make his move. Yes, it was going to work just as he wanted it, because he was the one calling the shots whether or not the bitch knew it.

Sneaking closer to the cabin, Luis waited behind a large Maple tree near the door of the cabin. Soon enough he'd have his revenge.


Chapter Twenty–One

"He's out there JB," Vamp said suddenly. She'd been sweeping the floor of the main room when the man's thoughts hit her full blast. "It's definitely Luis, and man, he's pissed."Jessie looked up from where she was kneeling in front of the fireplace. She'd doused the fire they'd built that morning so that she could clean out the ashes. "Well, I guess he's waited long enough."

She sat back on her heels and thought. This man was a potential threat, one that she didn't want to have hanging over her head. It would be better to draw him out now and do what needed to be done. "Can you tell who he's aiming his anger at?"

"Oh definitely you. There's no doubt to that, a total revenge plot."

Jessie grimaced at the Vamp's enthusiasm. The girl sometimes overdid it.

"Hey before this I was living a boring life at O'Connor's. This is like the shit on TV!"

Thinking aloud, Jessie ignored Vamp's last exclamation. "Well, if he's after me, than I guess I'll have to use myself as bait. Hmm..." She gave a short chuckle. "I've never had to do that before!"

"Whadda want me to do?" Vamp's eagerness to help was evident in the way she started to bounce around the room.

Giving her a stern look, Jessie put her hand on the girl's shoulder to stop the bouncing. "Nothing, I want you to stay here with the doors locked. Don't open the door for any reason." The girl's disappointment almost broke Jessie's heart, but she wasn't going to let Vamp lose her life the same way her brother did.

Grabbing her gun, Jessie headed out the door. Thinking of something else that would come in handy, Jessie turned and went to the kitchen area. Opening a few drawers, she finally found what she wanted. Brandishing a pair of heavy handcuffs, she stuffed them into her back pocket, making sure that her T–shirt covered the lump they made in her jeans pocket. Turning again to the door, she stopped. She turned again to Vamp. "Listen, promise me that no matter what, you'll stay here." She tossed the keys at the girl. Vamp caught them easily. "That has the spare key to the cabin on it and the keys for the stuff in the closet." She stumbled over her next words. "If...If I don't...come back, make sure that my mom and Rowan take the money, and you, with them. " One last thing crossed her mind. "And tell Rowan that I love her."

"I promise," the girl said solemnly. The flood of thoughts and emotions coming from Jessie silenced Vamp. Jessie didn't need anything more to worry about right now. In this case, what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her.

Nodding her head, Jessie opened the door and left without looking back.

*   *   *   *   *

There's the bitch. I knew she had to come out at some point. Luis smiled to himself. It would be so easy, catching her off guard and then showing her who was better. Funny, that's not why he had originally followed her, but that's what his goal was now. It wasn't merely revenge anymore, his need to show who was better had surpassed that.

The tall woman started for the path on the side of the house that led down to the river. Perfect, he could dump the body in the river, letting nature's current take her away. One more drug dealer dead. When the cops found out who she was they wouldn't search too hard for the person who'd killed her.

Slowly, he got up and started to follow the woman, not losing sight of her blonde hair through the trees, but not getting too close. It was almost too easy.

*   *   *   *   *

Jessie tried to appear relaxed, but her entire body was tensed for this final showdown. Her mind thought of the message she'd received the night before. Her body remembered the feeling of Rowan's small hands roaming her skin, caressing her muscles to relaxation. Unwillingly, her body shivered. In the past, she had never been afraid to die. In fact, she never thought about it. It was part of her job. If she were killed, the people who would be glad would out number those that mourned her. That didn't bother her before because she never had a reason to care about living or dying. Now she did. She wanted to spend more time with Rowan, she wanted to make love to the body she had lusted for. How ironic was it that when she finally was on the verge of starting a deeper relationship with Rowan, her past would come back and threaten to kill her.

Chastising herself, Jessie knew that thinking of death wasn't the way to face this. If she had it her way, this was going to be the final confrontation of her past, the last time it could haunt her, hurt her. And damn it, she was going to win. She had to win; she finally had something to live for and she wasn't going to let some little "wanna be" take her out.

Her step surer, her body still tensed, but in a solid way, Jessie approached the river. Sitting down on a boulder, she waited for Luis to make his move.


What the fuck is she doing? Luis saw the blonde sitting on a large rock, her hair gently lifted in the breeze. She seemed to be starring at the water that was not more than 100 feet away. One booted foot was propped on a smaller rock, the other resting on the ground. He adjusted his grip on his gun, cocking it once he was closer.

"What do you want?" The sounded floated to him, seeming to carry on the wind. Low and caressing his ears like velvet, the voice was controlled, without fear. Dammit, she was supposed to be afraid of him.

With grace that belied her strength, Jessie rose from her seated perch and turned to face him, arms hanging casually at her side. The sight of Jessie's scar made him grin. She wasn't perfect, and that scar showed that she made mistakes. She raised her eyebrows in a silent repeat of her question, seeing his stupid grin. He's underestimating me already.

"What do you think I want?" Luis asked, gun pointing at her head, a sneer on his face.

"To kill me," she said breezily, not appearing concerned by the idea. She took in the sight of Luis. He was covered with mud, his clothes hanging off him with limp disregard. He'd tried to wash his face, but traces of dirt still remained, leaves clung to his hair. Allowing her gaze to return and focus on his eyes, she could see the way his black eyes gleamed at her, excitement obvious within the inky pools.

"I'd heard you were smart," sarcasm saturated his tone. "Yea, I want to kill you, to show you that you're not such hot shit." He opened his hand that gripped the gun slightly, adjusting his hold in favor of a firmer grip. Sweaty palms made the gun slippery. An idea popped into his head, something he'd seen in the movies. "Beg for your life."

Rolling her eyes, Jessie smiled. "Oh come on, can't you think of something more original than that?" Then she brought her hands together, raising her voice to a higher pitch. "Oh please mister bad guy, don't kill me!" Her voice dripped with sarcasm. She allowed her eyes to grow wide in supposed fear. Then she froze, her eyes narrowing as something else momentarily caught her attention. Damn that girl, I told her to stay in the cabin. She promised! Not wanting Luis' focus to wander, she ignored the movement behind him and snarled at him. "I'm not going to beg a little idiot like you for my life. You should be begging me for yours."

Laughing, the small man moved closer. "Listen bitch, I don't know what kinda mixed up world you're livin' on, but usually when someone has a gun pointed at your head it's a good idea not to piss him off!"

"Okay Luis, now I've got a gun pointed at YOUR head. Now what?" A voice came from behind him, catching him by surprise.

"What the fuck!?" He spun around, taking the gun off Jessie. Using the diversion, Jessie ran the short distance between them, diving toward the ground to tackle his legs. Her momentum took him off his feet. Falling on top of the woman, Luis had no time to realize that she was rolling. He found himself face down in the rocky ground. As they rolled, Luis pressed the trigger, hoping to hit the woman. The sound of the gun going off echoed through the woods, but didn't stop the woman he was grappling with.

Finally, Jessie used her strength and size to trap him beneath her. Flipping him on his back, she pressed her knee into his back, forcing him to stay still. Grabbing his arms, Jessie forced them back and grabbed them with one hand while the other grabbed for the handcuffs in her back pocket. Snapping them into place, she stayed where she was for a minute, catching her breath.

After taking a few deep breaths, she looked up. "You promised."

The girl looked a bit chagrinned, but didn't drop her gaze from the woman's eyes.. Brushing the dark hair out of her eyes, she thought of excuses. Vamp realized that the truth was what Jessie deserved. "I know, I lied."

Angry, Jessie got off the writhing Luis. Grabbing the man's gun, she tucked it into her jeans, and went to the girl. Grabbing the girl by her shoulders, Jessie started shaking her. "Are you out of your fucking mind? What if he had shot me? What then? You can't save the world, you can't keep trying to save me! Dammit, look at...." She broke off suddenly, her anger broken as she realized what she was about to say. Her hands fell away from Vamp's shoulders, moving to cover her own face.

"Look at what happened to Jake? That's what you were going to say?" Vamp's own anger was radiating from her body. "I'm not my brother. Get used to that. I'm not Jake." She grew quiet too. She'd almost finished with 'You'll never love me like you loved him.' Turning, she started back toward the cabin.

"Wait," a large hand was once again on her shoulder, this time in a gentle grasp.

Turning around, Vamp saw tears making path's down Jessie's face. Speechless, she stared. She had never seen Jessie cry before, not even when Jake was killed. Flashes of pain emanated from Jessie, but they were more than just the mental anguish. Physical pain was mixed in. She looked at Jessie's pale face. No! She thought. The bullet couldn't have...her eyes scanned the woman's body. Relieved that she didn't see any sign of a wound on Jessie's chest, she quickly saw where the bullet had hit. A dark stain was spreading on Jessie's shoulder, just above where the sleeve of her black T–shirt ended. "J.B...." she moved forward and lifted the woman's sleeve. The wound was on the outside of the woman's arm, a gash meaning that the bullet had grazed her rather then entered her.

Watching silently, Jessie felt drained. She knew she'd been shot, experience telling her it wasn't life threatening. But her mind had been more focused on Vamp than her own pain. She knew that Vamp wasn't her brother, but she couldn't get the image of the boy's small body in arms as he died. A part of her died with him, leaving her empty, like she'd lost her own son. Vamp and Jake were nothing alike, her love for each of them different. The boy was like a brother or son, but Vamp reminded her of herself. She knew that she had hurt the girl by distancing herself from her, but Jessie felt that she was doing it for the girl's own good. Vamp looked up to her. Eventually the girl would see the similarities, and Jessie didn't want to responsible for being the girl's role model. God knew she wasn't someone a young girl should emulate. She didn't want the girl to become the monster that Jessie herself had become.

Listening to Jessie's scattered thoughts, Vamp understood finally why Jessie had always held herself emotionally out of touch. "Hey, let's get back to the cabin." Vamp's voice was soft and soothing. Jessie needed to get into the cabin so that they could take care of the wound. Vamp wasn't even sure how bad it was. However, there was one little detail they needed to work out first. She looked at the man who had finally stopped writhing on the floor. "What do you want to do with him."

Recognizing the girl's attempt to focus her on action, Jessie answered, "We're going to take him to someone who can put him where he belongs." Her arm was throbbing now, but it didn't cloud her thoughts. Moving toward the man, she used her good arm to heft him to his feet. Taking her own gun out, she shoved it into his back. "Move."


Chapter Twenty–Two

Jessie let Vamp clean off the wound on her arm, her ruined shirt lying on the ground.

They'd brought the man back to the cabin, using some rope to tie his feet together. His eyes had gotten wide when he saw Jessie bring a length of chain from the cabin. Threading it between the cuffs on his hands, Jessie then looped it around and secured the two ends to a tree. Bringing it tight, she'd fastened it securely using a clamp. For yet another time she was thankful that she had supplied the cabin with a number of useful items. They'd left him laying against the tree, ignoring the daggers his eyes were shooting.

"Ouch!" Jessie hissed as Vamp poured hydrogen peroxide on the laceration.

"Be still, I want to make sure it's clean." She almost grinned as the tough woman winced. After the peroxide stopped bubbling, she dried the area around the injury and then, placing a square sterilized pad on the wound, she wrapped gauze around the woman's upper arm to keep the pad in place. Finally, she used a piece of medical tape to secure the whole thing.

Jessie flexed her arm, testing the bandage. "Thanks Vamp, good job." She was rotating her arm when Rowan and her mother came in the front door.

Taking in the sight of a shirtless Jessie and the bandage, Rowan dropped the bags she'd been carrying and quickly went to the woman. "What happened?"

"We caught Luis." Jessie said simply, smiling at Rowan to show her that no permanent damage was done. "His aim wasn't all that."

"I'm assuming that's the man tied to the tree outside." Anne said dryly as she dropped her own bags on the counter in the kitchen area.

"That's him." Vamp said proudly as she started to route through the bags. "Cheetos! Yum!" She tore the bag open and started munching.

"You're okay?" Rowan warily eyed the bandage on the other woman's arm.

"Yup, doing just fine. Vamp's had some experience bandaging me up." The girl made a snorting noise in response. Anne went to the bags Rowan had abandoned. Finding what she was looking for, she threw a new T–shirt at Jessie. "Thanks," the woman said, catching it with her good arm. She quickly put it on. It felt good to have a clean shirt despite the scratchy starchiness of new clothing. "What else do you have in there for me?"


They all changed into new clothing, glad to be rid of the day old clothing they had been wearing. Wearing new underwear and socks, Jessie felt almost like a new woman except for the persistent throbbing coming from her arm. Finding her mother emptying shopping bags, Jessie approached her.

"Mom, would you mind staying here with Vamp? Rowan and I will take care of Luis, but I think that Vamp had better stay here."

Smiling at the girl who was frowning down at the Garfield T–shirt Anne had picked out for her, the older woman agreed. "What exactly do you plan on doing, or do I not want to know?" Seeing Jessie's mouth turn up in a grin, Anne nodded. "I don't think I want to know."

Catching Jessie's thoughts and realizing what Jessie intended to do, Vamp suddenly looked up from her study of the shirt, her eyes wide. "OHMYGOD JB! You have to let me come, please???" The girl was jumping up and down in front of the black clad woman.

"No way Vamp, you're staying. Rowan and I can take care of this."

Seeing that arguing with Jessie would prove pointless, she sulked away, mumbling audibly. "Just cause you want to spend time along with your girlfriend doesn't make it fair. I want to go and see Luis get what he deserves...."

This time when Anne looked at Jessie her face held a note of seriousness it hadn't had before. "Jessie, what exactly are you going to do?"

"Don't worry, mom, we're just going to play with him a little before we let the cops have him." She patted her mother's arm, and left Anne still frowning to herself.

Walking into the bedroom, Jessie's breath left her momentarily when she saw the expanse of creamy white back. Rowan hadn't changed shirts yet and was sitting on the bed looking out the window with just her bra on. Though her build wasn't as impressive as Jessie's, Rowan still had a quiet physical strength. Her shoulders were strong, her back well muscled from her time at the gym and in kick boxing class. Jessie allowed her eyes to travel up Rowan's back and along the smooth line of her neck. Something in her started a shudder, and it didn't take long before the rest of her caught up.

Her body seemed to move of its own will, climbing into the bed, she straddled Rowan's body from behind, wrapping her arms around the woman as she pressed up against her.

Startled for a second, Rowan was quick to relax against the woman behind her, marveling at the way their two bodies fit together. The material of Jessie's shirt rubbed against her bare back, sending subdued bolts of electricity to the rest of her body. Nestling into the firm, but tender hold, Rowan sighed.

"There you go sighing again," Jessie's voice came out against her ear, creating vibrations that tickled the smaller woman's sensitive lobe. Holding the squirming woman tighter, Jessie spoke again, this time softer. "What's making you sigh like that this time?"

The silence from the woman in her arms caused Jessie some distress. In the years she'd known Rowan she'd never known her to be quiet when given the opportunity to talk.

Fortunately, Vamp wasn't the only one who had an idea of what people were thinking. "We're going down to the lake for a swim." Anne's voice called into the bedroom.

Turning her head so that she wouldn't yell into Rowan's ear, Jessie warned them to be careful. They left, closing the door softly behind them.

Tightening her hold on Rowan, Jessie nuzzled the soft ringlets crowing the other woman's head. "Do you want to talk about it?" She asked carefully, realizing it was something she'd never had to ask Rowan before, but Rowan had asked it of her on many occasions.

"Huh?" Rowan came out of her reticence as she realized Jessie was talking to her.

One hand began to caress the top of Rowan's arm. "Something's bothering you. Do you want to talk about it?"

Rowan thought over what that question meant. Did she want to talk about it? She'd love to, except she couldn't. Jessie was in the center of what was bothering her. It wasn't anything huge, but it nagged at the sidelines, tickling her brain in an annoyingly persistent way.

Jessie had really hurt her when she dismissed Rowan's life in Madison without a thought. It wasn't that she didn't want a life with Jessie, but she had a contract with the university. She'd worked hard to get her position so young and she couldn't just give it up without warning. Jessie didn't seem to want to listen to that, she was more concerned with getting them away, which Rowan did appreciate. However, the way her own concerns were ignored bothered her. More than that, it hurt.

Deep in the recesses of her own thoughts, Rowan straightened slightly, shifting away from Jessie's warm, distracting body.

Rowan's silence combined with her movement away from Jessie caused the woman to feel a twinge of fear in the recesses of her heart. Was Rowan unsure? Had she changed her mind? Here it comes, she tells me to get lost. There was no doubt in her mind that Rowan was just trying to figure out an easy way to let her down. Jessie would never force Rowan into something she didn't want, but she also wasn't ready to let Rowan go without telling her how she felt.

"Rowan? Listen Rowan, I need you to hear me." Jessie waited till she felt the woman nod. "Okay, I know that the last few days have brought a helluva lot of changes." She stopped again as Rowan indicated her agreement. "You are the most important thing in my life, Rowan. I need you in my life, I need you"She shook her head in frustration. As usual, when she needed to express feelings her mind worked faster than her mouth. "You give me something, whether you realize it or not, you make me feel at peace."

Sighing, Jessie let her arms drop from around the other woman. She looked out the window of the bedroom, not actually seeing the trees and clear sky. "I can understand you having second thoughts about us..." she wasn't sure how to continue with that thought. Feeling as though speaking it would make it come true, Jessie let the words hang in the air, leaving it in Rowan's hands.

Hanging her head, Jessie closed her eyes, rubbing at them with the back of her hand. She felt Rowan's body shift again, and she had a feeling that if she opened her eyes, Rowan would be gone. Surprise filled her being when she felt a light, but stinging slap on her cheek. Eyes flashed open, staring into the heated cobalt eyes of the woman standing on the floor in front of her.

Rowan hadn't left, she had merely stood so that she could feel more at ease with the swelling anger she was feeling. Her face shone with fury, her eyes flashing dangerously. "You think that I don't know what I'm feeling? You think I'm confused?" Jessie had never heard Rowan's voice shake with anger as it was now. Her hands made wild gestures in the air.

"Rowan, I..."

"No, you listen to me! How dare you try to tell me how I feel?! I KNOW I'm in love with you, goddammit! I have been for years."

Both women were silent, Rowan having thrown all her feelings out in plain sight, making it clear that she wasn't having doubts. Jessie was puzzled and relieved at the same time. Watching as Rowan's head drooped, as though the burst of anger had taken her energy, Jessie once again found herself moving toward the other woman. She slid forward till her legs were over the side of the bed, letting her feet rest on the ground. With long arms, she reached for Rowan, drawing her in, holding her tight.

Rowan didn't resist as Jessie pulled her close. Letting her head rest on a strong shoulder, she willed her body to relax using cleansing yoga breaths to control the wild beat of her heart.

One hand holding Rowan's waist, the other started to run through Rowan's silken hair. Finding some comfort in the physical touch, Jessie finally spoke. "Please tell me, what is it?"

"Why didn't you mention my job when you talked about moving? Why didn't you ask me what I wanted?" The words sprang from Rowan's lips without her thinking about them. Her voice was soft, almost childlike, revealing her fear.

Jessie's hand instantly stilled, her face went blank. "I...I'm sorry, I didn't think about it, I guess." That was true, she hadn't thought about. "Sometimes I'm so stupid," she muttered to herself, letting go of the smaller woman. How could she just have start planning without talking to Rowan? Especially when part of the reason she wanted a fresh start in life was because of her?

Rowan sat down on the edge of the bed next to Jessie, not quiet touching the woman. Jessie was berating herself, that much was obvious. "Why Jessie?" She just wanted to know if this was how their life together would be; Jessie making the decisions, expecting Rowan to dutifully follow.

"I...I honestly don't know!" She turned her body and looked at Rowan. "I am so sorry, I wasn't thinking. I didn't mean to hurt you." Yes, she'd should have known something like that, leaving Rowan out of her own life, would hurt the woman. Rowan was very proud sometimes, the stubborn resolve something that Jessie loved in her, and hated at the same time. And here Jessie was, trying to take over both their lives. Sweet goddess, sometimes I just shouldn't open my mouth! "No wonder you're mad at me..." She sighed, laying back on the bed, grateful that the soft mattress would hold her head, which had suddenly seemed to heavy for her neck.

Feeling rather silly at having made such a big deal out of a mistake, Rowan laid down next to her on the bed. "So, let's talk about it."

Jessie rolled onto her side and, using an elbow to prop her head up, looked down at the woman lying next to her. Immediately her eyes focused on the gentle curves of Rowan's breasts, seeing a faint outline of the woman's dark nipples through the thin material of her bra. Waves of desire flowed over her, and she let herself get lost in the feelings, just getting satisfaction that it was okay to think this way now.


"Huh?" Is my tongue hanging out? She wondered to herself. Forcing her eyes to move up the strong shoulders, and long neck, she finally found herself looking into a pair of warm eyes. "What was that?" She blushed despite herself.

Rowan could only shake her head at the idea of that Jessie was actually starring at her with that passion in her face. It was difficult to get used to the idea, but Rowan was willing to try it.

"I said, let's discuss all of this." She rolled over on her side, mimicking Jessie's casual example.

Resigned to 'talk business' Jessie closed her eyes for a moment, attempting to move her thoughts away from the woman who was scant inches away from her. "Um...okay, I guess first, we need to talk to mom and find out where we're going to move. I was thinking New Mexico, or Washington even."

"I guess it's clear that we need to leave the area." Rowan frowned at the idea, not happy to leave a place she finally considered home.

Reaching for the other woman's lose hand, Jessie entwined their fingers. "We can make a home anywhere we go." She sounded so self assured, Rowan wondered what made her so sure of that.

"I have one semester left on my current contract. I'm scheduled to sign another one in December. I...I want to stay there for that last semester." She was hesitant, afraid of how Jessie would react.

But the blonde just nodded, not able to look Rowan in the eye. "I guess you need to do what's going to best for you. When does the fall semester start?"

"Um, end of August, about three weeks from now."

"Mom and I will need to go back and get her store and house packed up anyway. I guess that we could stay till the semester starts, then head to wherever we decide." She fell quiet a moment, trying to process the idea of being away from Rowan for four months. She found that she didn't like the idea at all. It was purely selfish, she knew, but she wanted Rowan with her. Looking into familiar eyes, Jessie spoke. "I could offer to buy you out of your contract?" Her eyebrows raised in hope.

With a laugh, Rowan put her arms around Jessie, rolling them over the top of the bed. They stopped with Rowan on top, a comfortable Jessie on the bottom looking up. "That's one of the things I love about're so creative!" Rowan gave another little laugh, then grew serious. "I don't want to be separated from you either, but I really need to finish this. I can't go through life bailing out of things. It's important that I stay and finish, then I'll join you wherever we decide to end up."

Jessie really didn't like the idea of leaving Rowan behind. Not because the woman might be in danger, but because she didn't want to be without her. But, she knew she had to respect Rowan's decision. She used one hand to trace Rowan's face, touching all the dips and curves of the surface, pleased by the flushed look that came over the other woman.

"If that's how you want it, then I can live with that." Thinking quickly, she suddenly had a plan. "Hey, three weeks till you go back, right?"

Nodding, Rowan wondered what Jessie was up to. There was no doubt that she was coming up with some sort of plan, the corners of her mouth twitched up as she thought.

"Well, what if I let mom take care of getting her things packed, and we take a little vacation, say for a week? We'll go anywhere you want."

Her facing breaking into a huge grin, Rowan laid her head on Jessie's chest. "That sounds wonderful to me."

"Where do you want to go?" Stroking the dark curls that laid across her chest, Jessie found a great deal of peace in the simple action.

"Where? Hmm...I dunno...somewhere we can be alone maybe..." she thought for a minute and then realized that the answer to the perfect spot was right before her eyes. "Can we come back here?"

"You want to come back here? For a vacation?" It sounded rather silly at first, but as Jessie got the chance to think about it, the more she liked that idea. Just the two of them, the fireplace, the quiet and isolation of the area. "If that's what you want, then that's what we're going to do."

They lay there for awhile longer, just being comfortable with their physical nearness. While their bodies urged them to go with the fires ignited within their souls, they both knew they would have to wait. However, they both silently agreed that the sooner the better.

*   *   *   *   *

"See? I told you they'd be doing something with us out of the cabin!" Vamp stood in the doorway, pointing at the two dozing figures entwined on the bed. Anne poked her head in the door to see for herself, pleased to see the two women did take advantage of their swim.

"We'd better wake them up. Mr. Luis needs to be taken care of at some point." Moving toward the bed, Anne gently shoved her daughter. One lazy eye opened and stared at her. "Time to get up sleeping beauties! Evening is coming soon, so it's time for you two to get to work."

Groaning, Jessie started to get up, but couldn't. Opening both eyes, she saw the dark hair fanned out on her chest, and the gentle rise and fall of a familiar body. Rowan was pinning her down, all her weight settled on top of Jessie. Finding the woman's face in the mass of hair, Jessie pushed the hair away and started to rub her check with the back of a hand.

"Hey Ro, it's time to get up." A small squeaking sound came from the sleeping figure as Rowan turned away from the intrusion and tried to burrow deeper into her human pillow. "Don't you want to find out what I plan on doing to Luis?" Finally, the dark head rose slightly and Jessie saw one eye blink open. "Thought that might work." She grinned down at the scowling woman, noticing the cute wrinkles on her face from where she had been pressed up against Jessie's shirt.

Rowan started to get up, realizing that she still didn't have a shirt on, she grabbed at the new T–shirt she had been planning on wearing. Hearing a snicker from the door way, she looked over to see Vamp barely containing her laugh. "What?"

Taking a deep breath to calm the laughter threatening to bubble up, Vamp grinned. "I just think it's funny that you two fell asleep before you could do anything!" Pointing at the shirt in Rowan's hand, she started laughing again. "You couldn't even get each other's clothes off!"

Rolling her eyes, Rowan pulled the shirt over her head. Looking at Jessie, she smiled. "Okay, ready boss."


Chapter Twenty–Three

Behind the wheel of Jessie's car, Rowan focused on the car ahead of her as her thoughts wandered. She wasn't sure why she had to follow Jessie in Luis's car, couldn't they have just taken one car? Instead, here she was driving alone, while Jessie and Luis lead the way in the man's car. Actually, she doubted that Luis was conscious yet. Jessie had given him a pretty good whack with the handle of her gun, knocking him out cold.

It was completely dark now, making it hard to see the road. Inky night surrounded them, their headlights just barely lighting up the shrubs and trees on the side of the road. It was like only getting a glimpse of what was out there, catching site of something in the quick moving headlights. The tail lights before her kept her going in the right direction, she was sure of. Jessie would know exactly what she was doing.

Rowan smiled as she thought about the other woman. As hesitant as she was about talking with Jessie about what was bothering, she felt so much better having done it. A weight that she didn't know she had been carrying was lifted from her, leaving her feeling light, almost giddy.

Finally, the first street light of the sleeping town came into view soon followed by another. The small town was dark. Rowan didn't see any of the neon bar signs that you normally would see. They must go to a bigger town to do their late night drinking, she thought. Some towns were too small to do anything but sleep there.

Following Jessie's lead, Rowan pulled to the side of the road, in front of a small building. She soon saw Jessie's familiar figure climb out of the car. Waiting for some acknowledgement to get out, Rowan watched the ease with which Jessie carried herself. If someone were to watch Jessie without knowing her, they would assume by just the way she walked that she was conceited. She carried herself with so much confidence, you automatically would assume that she thought she had all the answers. But, Rowan knew that it was more of an unconscious movement. It was nice to watch though.

Finally, Jessie gave Rowan a little wave. Getting out of the car, Rowan softly shut the car door, almost afraid that if she closed it too loudly the town would suddenly come to life.

Approaching Jessie, Rowan allowed her eyes to travel up and down the other woman's fit body. Not the time for this, not the time for this! She said over and over in a mantra of self control.

"Hey, you ready to get this done with?" Whispering, Jessie pointed at the prone figure of Luis with her thumb.

"I would be if you told me what we're going to do!"

"I'll show you instead." Jessie climbed into the back seat of the car with Luis. Deftly, she removed all of his clothes, leaving him completely naked. The man didn't wake up, his eyes shut peacefully. Manipulating his body, Jessie sat him so that she could fasten the seat belt around his slim waist.

Bewildered, Rowan watched. Finally, Jessie climbed back out, the man's reeking clothes in her hand. Grinning again at Rowan, she hit the power lock switch and then pocketed the keys. "Ready?"

As Jessie drove away from the other vehicle, Rowan got a glimpse of a sign. Its said "Police Station" with an arrow pointing to the building they had parked in front of. "Oh God!" Rowan began to laugh as they drove away.

*   *   *   *   *

"It would have been funnier if he'd been awake when you'd left him." Vamp was grinning nonetheless at hearing their tale of dropping off a naked Luis at the police station. "You can bet he really woulda squirmed then!"

They were all having a good laugh at Luis' expense while sitting on the floor of the cabin near the blazing fire. Anne had hot chocolate waiting for them when they got back with a demand to hear what happened. Rowan was now cradled in Jessie's strong arms, her back resting against the front of the other woman's body, making it hard to tell whether it was the fire or the woman behind her that was making her warm. Sleep overcame her before she knew it, her body responding naturally to the comfort Jessie provided. Soon the smaller woman was lightly snoring, much to the enjoyment of those around her.

"Does she always fall asleep so easily?" Anne remarked, smiling softly at the sleeping woman.

"Yup, she can sleep anywhere within five minutes if she's tired enough." Jessie's gaze never wavered from the woman in her arms. Without thought, her arms tightened around Rowan, causing the woman to sigh softly in her sleep.

"Jess, we need to talk." Anne waited till Jessie finally gave up the hold her eyes had on Rowan. Once two familiar eyes were looking in her direction, she continued. "Do we really have to move?"

The fire crackled as the woman thought about her mother's question. "Mom, you're going to be a target if you don't. I know you don't want to, but I don't want to have to be worrying about you all the time." She sighed under her breath. "I made a lot of enemies. They wouldn't think twice about using you to get to me. If Nick Kosta could find you, then the others can, and will."

Understanding her daughter's concern, Anne conceded that moving might be the answer. They talked a bit more between Rowan and now Vamp's chorus of snores. Liking the idea of Washington, Jessie agreed to talk to both Rowan and Vamp about it tomorrow.

"Rowan wants to stay here till the fall semester is over." Seeing her mother's questioning look, Jessie waved it away. "It's in her contract. She will be coming after that, I promise."

"Doesn't the semester start soon?"

"Three weeks. So, we're going to head back to Madison. I'll stay long enough to make sure that you're well on your way as far as packing goes, and then Rowan and I are going to come back here for a week."

"I don't have to be a mind reader to know why you want to get away." Anne's mouth turned up in a large smile as she saw the blush creep into her daughter's face.


Chapter Twenty–Four

"Are you packed yet?" Jessie stuck her head into Rowan's bedroom, a smile lightening her face when she saw the other woman sprawled on her queen size bed.

Without moving, Rowan's tired voice came from her weary form. "What am I gonna need?" One hand raised into the air, flopping back and forth at her wrist as she continued. "We've got you, we've got me, what else?"

Still lying on the bed, Rowan didn't see the devilish grin that formed on the blonde woman's face. Taking a running start, Jessie feigned a belly flop onto the bed, her arms and legs stopping her from crushing the other woman. Staring into familiar eyes, she almost blushed from the amount of love she saw coming from those orbs. Gently lowering herself, she almost moaned at the contact of her body against Rowan's. Shifting until she was off Rowan and on the bed, she reached out and pulled the other woman tightly against her.

The three weeks before the fall semester seemed to be flying by. The two women had been rushing around, trying to settle things before Anne, Jessie, and Vamp moved. The bookstore needed to be closed, and being the money conscious business woman she was Anne declared a sale. Vamp was taught the register and she and Anne spent days there and nights were spent getting Anne's house packed up. Because of the packing, Anne and Vamp were sleeping in Jessie's room at the apartment while Rowan and Jessie shared the other bedroom.

Despite the fact that they were usually exhausted by the time the climbed into bed, Rowan and Jessie spent their nights exchanging at first gentle kisses which soon would inevitably grow more fevered, until one of them pulled away. It was an unspoken agreement out of respect for Anne and Vamp that they wouldn't consummate their relationship with Jessie's mother sleeping in the bedroom next door.

Vamp's lewd comments about this fact were starting to get on both women's nerves.

When the day finally came that Jessie and Rowan packed to leave for a week at the cabin, they both were not only sexually charged, but in desperate need of a break. After the week at the cabin, Rowan would be spending her days at the university and the others would be off to set up life in Washington. Although they hadn't talked about it, both Rowan and Jessie were looking forward to their time at the cabin even though it was coming right before their involuntary separation.



The drive to the cabin was peaceful. There were spaces of comfortable silence as well as laughter and gentle teasing.

When they finally arrived at the cabin, Jessie was ready to jump into bed, wanting to make love to Rowan all night. But, as she watched the sun set over the water, she realized that Rowan deserved a long, slowly sensual, and romantic night.

They ate a quiet dinner by the fire, cuddling afterward. Finally, Rowan got up and offered to take the dishes down to the lake.



The cabin was quiet when Rowan returned. The main room was empty. Carefully putting the dishes on the counter, she took a deep breath. She couldn't believe that she was feeling nervous. It wasn't like she'd never had sex before, or even sex with a woman before, right? For some reason having sex with Jessie was so much more. Enough to make her nervous and excited at the same time. Grinning to herself, she focused on the latter emotion as she walked into the bedroom.

"You look happy," A sultry voice floated out of the shadows of the bedroom.

Moving toward the voice, Rowan saw the outline of a familiar figure lounging on the bed. As she got closer, the moonlight helped her to make out the sight of Jessie. Rowan could see her lying there, a sheet wound around her body, an alluring smile on her face. The sheet just barely covered Jessie's long body, revealing a good amount of toned skin.

"Why shouldn't I be happy? I'm here with you," Rowan gazed into warm eyes, feeling herself moving closer to the woman. The pull was almost magnetic, her feet moving without her consciously thinking about it. She stopped in front of the bed, moving her eyes over Jessie's body. Feeling a rush of warm heat, she closed her eyes. Without thinking, Rowan blurted out what was on her mind. "You are beautiful."

Taking the other woman's hand and pulling her onto the bed, Jessie wrapped long arms around her love, holding her close against her. "No, YOU are the one who's beautiful. You take my breath away." Then she brought her lips to Rowan's, lightly pressing against her mouth.

Rowan opened her mouth in response, inviting Jessie's tongue to explore. Leisurely, passionate kisses were exchanged. Rowan became lost in the sensations she was feeling. All the time spent daydreaming about this moment had greatly affected Rowan and she felt her passion rising quickly.

Pulling away Rowan looked into Jessie's eyes, seeing the need there. Slowly, she raised onto her knees. With deft fingers she undid her jeans, slipping out of them, shoving them off the bed followed by her shirt. Smartly, she hadn't worn any underwear. She didn't take her eyes off the other woman, wanting to see her reaction. Rowan wasn't disappointed as she saw Jessie's eyes grow large at the sight of her freed breasts.

Kneeling next to the other woman, Rowan's hands reached out and unwound the sheet from Jessie's body. As she removed the sheet she watched as Jessie's breasts were revealed. A soft moan escaped her lips.

Not being able to stand the distance between them, Jessie reached up and pulled Rowan to her. Both women felt a shock of electricity when their bodies met. Running her hands over the other woman's back, Jessie brought her mouth to Rowan's, kissing her more forcefully this time, needing to feel Rowan's passion.

As she returned the kiss, Rowan's hands explored Jessie's body, running over every inch of skin within her reach. Finally, her hands came to rest on large full breasts. Each hand cupped one and Rowan pulled away from Jessie to watch. She lightly ran a finger over one of Jessie's nipples and saw it stiffen in response.

Smiling, Jessie watched as the woman explored her breasts with light touches. "You like that, huh?" A gentle hand brushed dark hair away from Rowan's forehead.

"I like the fact that you react to my touch." Rowan's fingers never stopped moving over Jessie's nipples, never ceasing their pleasurable torment.

"Trust me, my body loves it when you touch me." Jessie moaned softly as she felt currents running from her breasts to her center.

Rowan couldn't resist any longer. She brought her mouth to Jessie's breast. With slow licks, she slid her tongue across the breast, not touching the erect nipple.

"Rowan..." Jessie growled from deep within her chest causing Rowan to feel the vibrations through her mouth's contact with the other woman. As warm sensations spread through her body, Jessie entwined her fingers in Rowan's curly brown hair.

Lavishing the same attention to the other breast, Rowan suddenly sucked Jessie's nipple into her mouth. Moaning loudly at the contact, Jessie arched toward the woman who had her completely in her grasp. Suckling one of Jessie's nipples, while tugging at the other one with her fingers, Rowan began to immerse herself in the pleasant task. Jessie's moans of pleasure only encouraged her to continue. Finally she lifted her head and looked into Jessie's eyes. "I have always wanted to do this."

This idea caused Jessie to moan louder and both women knew that she was agreeing. For so long she had wanted this kind of contact with Rowan and now she finally had it.

Already floating from the feeling of Rowan's hot, wet mouth on her breast, Jessie acknowledged her surprise. She hadn't expected Rowan to take control like this. It was unusual for Jessie to give in; she was usually the one who controlled things, dictated how things would be. However, Rowan was different.

Feeling Rowan's mouth lift off her breasts once more, Jessie struggled to open her eyes. Heavy lidded, she saw Rowan start to kiss down her rib cage, then her stomach. Rowan moved down, sticking her tongue in Jessie's belly button, causing her hips to rise off the bed. As she realized where Rowan was headed, she rolled her head from side to side, feeling a desperate need for release rise from inside of her.

Enjoying the reactions she was getting from Jessie, Rowan continued her path downward. Opening Jessie's legs wider, she slid her body between strong legs. Grinning at the sight of the patch of fair hair between Jessie's legs, Rowan could smell her partner's arousal. Intoxicated by both the smell and the sight of what she was doing to Jessie, she brought her mouth to the curly thatch and kissed it gently, drawing a moan from the other woman.

With a wicked grin, Rowan slid her tongue between Jessie's folds. Tentatively at first, her tongue began stroking Jessie with more energy as she found the sensations meeting her tongue enjoyable. Some parts were smooth against her tongue, others were rough, and they were all wet.

Jessie's hips were trusting against Rowan's mouth with each stroke of her tongue. Ragged moans and cries of pleasure were coming from her, unable to control her body's reactions. Her hands had grabbed the sides of the bed as she tried to cling to some degree of control, but the more Rowan's tongue lashed, the less control Jessie had.

Finding a hard knot and knowing that was her goal, Rowan sucked Jessie's clit into her mouth, occasionally sliding it through her teeth. Jessie began thrashing around, and Rowan desperately tried to keep her grip on the woman. Finally, with a loud cry, Jessie's body went rigid as she went over the edge.

Rowan stilled her tongue, just resting it inside of her lover. As she saw Jessie relax, she pulled out, licking her lips as she crawled back up Jessie's body and into her waiting arms. She snuggled next to the panting woman, listening to her shallows breaths.

Flying on a cloud of pleasure, Jessie felt completely happy and contented, the first time in a long time, she realized. Never before had she had sex with someone that could make her feel so much. Putting long arms around the smaller woman, she squeezed her tightly against her. "I love you," she whispered, her eyes still clenched tightly closed.

Happy at being able to satisfy the woman she loved, Rowan softly kissed Jessie's face, brushing lips over eyelids, cheeks, and nose. "I love you too," she finally whispered into Jessie's ear.

Without opening her eyes, Jessie rolled herself and the other woman over until she was on top. Planting one knee firmly between Rowan's legs, she opened her eyes and starred into the beautiful, desire filled blue eyes of her love. "Do you have any idea what you mean to me?" Jessie's voice, filled with satisfaction, sounded for all the world like the purr of a contented cat.

"I think so..." Rowan managed to get out, overwhelmed by her own desire for Jessie.

"Hmmm...then I guess I'm gonna have to show you, aren't I?" With an evil grin Jessie brought her mouth down, capturing Rowan's lips with her own. In sensuous motions, she kissed Rowan, using her tongue to excite the other woman.

Pulling away, Jessie watched Rowan's face as she brought one hand up, cupping a firm breast. Moaning at the contact, Rowan threw her head back when Jessie's skilled fingers pinched her nipple. " responsive. I like that."

Again bringing her lips to Rowan's, Jessie gently kissed her than began kissing a searing path to her chest. Stopping on Rowan's neck, Jessie sucked at a spot at the base of her neck until a purplish bruise appeared.

Kissing across Rowan's collarbone, Jessie's mouth rested at the top of the swell of Rowan's breasts. Using her tongue, she painted circles, making each circle smaller and smaller until she reached the waiting nipple. She slowly licked the nipple, feeling it stiffen at the contact. Keeping her tongue there she began licking faster and faster, finally taking the nipple into her mouth.

Rowan surrendered all thoughts of watching Jessie make love to her. The sensations she was feeling were too intense to do anything but feel them. She was moaning constantly now, her body writhing in response to what Jessie was doing.

One hand fondling a breast, her mouth on the other, Jessie was lost in her own world of sensations. The soft skin in her mouth felt so good, so right. She had imagined so many times what it would be like to suckle Rowan's perfect breasts, and she found that the reality was better than her imagination.

Jessie's knee began to press against Rowan's center, gently at first and then harder and harder and with more pressure as she felt Rowan responding. Moaning when she felt Rowan's sweet juices cover her thigh, Jessie knew Rowan wouldn't be able to handle much more before she went over the edge.

Her hand left Rowan's breasts and traveled over a firm stomach, finally finding the soft thatch of hair. She cupped Rowan's sex, firmly pressing on it, then moved her hand and caressed the inside of Rowan's firm thighs.

Thrashing wildly now, Rowan couldn't believe the fire she felt between her legs. She could feel her own juices soaking the insides of her thighs, and a tight sensation between her legs. She jolted when she felt one finger slide between her nether lips.

"God Jessie!" She was barely able to get the words out, her breathing had become so heavy. She'd had sex before, but it had never been like this, so powerful and all consuming. "Please Jessie, I need..."

Carefully, Jessie pushed two fingers into the tight hole, moaning at the sweet sensation. Thrusting more firmly as Rowan's hips began to meet her fingers, Jessie added another feeling. Moaning loudly at this, Rowan felt a tremor start from her center, soon consuming her whole body. She yelled out Jessie's name as she went stiff, feeling incredible waves of pleasure wash over her entire body.

Carefully pulling her fingers out, Jessie wrapped her arms around the trembling woman, cradling her against her body. As Rowan returned to earth, Jessie whispered words of love into her ear, letting her know that she was there and that she loved her.



A light snow was falling outside as Rowan left her office on campus. She carried with her the last box of her things. The office was empty now, waiting for whoever came along. All her papers were graded and left with the department secretary for those students who wanted to have theirs back. Turning to look one last time at the building, Rowan was surprised that she didn't feel any remorse or sadness. Maybe it was time for her to move on anyway.

The cold broke through her thoughts, causing her to shiver. Her mother had always told her to think warm thoughts when she was cold, so Rowan thought of the warmest thoughts she could. They were filled with Jessie's face, the feeling of Jessie's hands on her, her arms around her, her fingers in her. Oooo..went too far with that one! Rowan laughed to herself.

In four days she would be back with Jessie. In four days they'd be able to start their life together. In four days, weather permitting, she'd be home.

It was strange, after Jessie, Anne, and Vamp left Madison, the town suddenly seemed very lonely and estranged. It took some time for Rowan to realize that her home wasn't a place, it was a person. Now, after four months of being alone, Rowan was ready to go to her home and be happy.

Finally reaching her car, Rowan added the box she'd carried to the others in the back of the car. Getting in, she fastened the seatbelt and started the car. As she waited for the windows to defrost, Rowan's thoughts were on those who were waiting for her in Washington. That's where her thoughts would remain for the entire trip home.

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