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CHAPTER SEVEN. KARA COULDN'T WORK and she set her brushes aside, acutely aware that she had again been thinking of Ginny and the quick brush of their bodies when Ginny had
KARA COULDN'T WORK and she set her brushes aside, acutely aware that she had again been thinking of Ginny and the quick brush of their bodies when Ginny had hugged her so unexpectedly. It had been three days since she had seen her but her image was still fresh in her mind. The way she tucked stands of blond hair behind her ears when she was nervous, the way her green eyes had flashed when she spoke of her sister, the way the corners of her mouth lifted when she smiled, the way her lips parted.
"God," Kara groaned and she shoved out the back door and onto the porch, taking in deep breaths of cool air. "What are you doing?" she asked herself. "She’s straight. Forget about it." She went back in for a cigarette and was startled when the phone rang. She wasn't even aware that it worked.
"I had hoped the Dobson's hadn't stopped their service. Listen, I was going to the park for lunch. I thought you might like to join me," she said uncertainly. She had wanted to see her again and she had been disappointed when Kara hadn't come to the store.
"What time is it?"
"Twelve-thirty. You haven't eaten, have you?"
Kara smiled. "No. I'll meet you at the store in a few minutes."
She made a quick cheese sandwich and took the remaining two beers from the refrigerator and left without thinking about her apparent haste. Ginny was waiting on the porch and walked out to meet Kara's truck even before she stopped.
"Hello." Their eyes met for an instant, then Ginny climbed in and slammed the door and Kara pulled away without another word.
"I wasn't interrupting your work, I hope," Ginny said when they had settled at the picnic table and opened their beer.
"No. Actually, I was taking a break anyway."
"I got the impression that you work right through meals," Ginny said.
"Because you didn't even know what time it was."
Kara laughed. "I forget sometimes," she admitted.
"Do you forget a lot of things when you're working?" Ginny asked.
"Well, you mentioned the other night that you're not involved with anyone, that you couldn't do both," Ginny said.
"Oh. That," Kara said and waved the words away.
"Why won't you tell me? I told you about Phil," Ginny urged. She wanted to know more about her, about her private life. She didn’t pause to wonder why.
"It's a long story," she said and smiled. "And boring," she added.
"I'll be the judge of that," Ginny said and motioned for her to continue.
"I was a struggling artist when I met Marsha." She smiled. "Only I didn't know I was struggling. My folks made sure my bank account was never empty," she said quietly.
Ginny raised her eyebrows but said nothing.
"My parents had given me a cottage on Bainbridge Island and she moved in with me and went to work for my father's company..."
"Wait, wait," Ginny interrupted. "Your parents gave you a cottage? On Bainbridge Island?"
Kara nodded sheepishly.
"A view of the Sound?" she asked.
Kara shrugged and smiled.
"Are they disgustingly rich or what?"
"Pretty much, yes."
"Okay, I'm sorry. Go on. You moved in together," Ginny said. "And?"
"And she went to work each day and I painted whenever the mood struck. I sold a few pieces now and then and we were happy enough, I guess."
"How old were you?"
"I was twenty-six when we met," she said. "Anyway, there was this gallery, down on Long Beach that wanted to show my work. Tourists started snatching it up and I had to work longer to keep up and the next thing I knew I had agreed to a showing at a gallery in Seattle and it just went on and on."
"Must have been tough," Ginny said sarcastically.
"It was, really. I wasn't prepared for it. I didn't know how to pace myself. I would get involved in my work and a month would pass without me ever leaving the house. Needless to say, our relationship went down the tubes," she finished.
"How long ago?"
"Nearly three years."
"And are you sorry? I mean, sacrificing your relationship for your success?" Ginny asked.
"I don't think that's a fair question," Kara said seriously. "I wasn't intentionally sacrificing the relationship. It just happened. One day I realized that she was gone. That she had been gone and I hadn't even missed her," she said quietly. "I stopped for awhile. Painting, I mean."
"What did you do?" Ginny asked softly. "Did you find her?"
Kara shook her head. "She had already met someone else."
"Oh. I’m sorry."
"Anyway, I went to San Francisco for awhile, but it wasn't Seattle, so I came back home. Picked up a brush and . . ." she raised her hands again. "Here I am."
"And the mural?"
"Lord, that was a mistake. I was sorry I had been commissioned for that one. I like to work alone, most artists do. Not have tourists and town officials hanging over my shoulder with each stroke of the brush, making suggestions, asking why I did this, why didn't I do that. I couldn't wait to finish. Needless to say, it's not one of my best, but it's proudly displayed in downtown Yakima, Washington," she said and grinned. "And I haven't been back since."
"Well, if I'm ever in Yakima..."
"Yes, be sure to go by and pay your respects," Kara said and laughed.
Ginny grinned, too. "I enjoy your company," she said.
Kara arched an eyebrow. "And that's bad?"
"No. I didn't mean it like that. I just enjoy talking with you."
"Well, from what Louise said, you don't have much to choose from around here."
"You're being difficult," Ginny said with a smile. "Just say thank you."
Kara leaned forward, resting her chin on her palms. "Well, not to frighten you, but I enjoy your company as well."
Their eyes met for an instant and Ginny felt a blush creep onto her face. "Thank you."
They were silent for a moment, both finishing their sandwiches and tossing bread to the chipmunks that came begging.
"Nana says you sketch in the early morning," Ginny said.
"Not always. Sunset, too. The evening is my favorite time of day," she said quietly. "All of the colors come together at that one precise moment and it's as if they're suspended in time, just for the barest of seconds and I'm never quick enough to get it just right, though I try time and again," she said.
"What?" Ginny asked, mesmerized by her soft voice.
Kara smiled. "I paint mornings, evenings, never daylight. It's too sharp, there is no color, only brightness," she explained.
Ginny nodded, as if she understood perfectly.
"And the moon," she added.
"That's right. There's a full moon in all your paintings," Ginny said, remembering the article.
"I love the moon. I could stare at it for hours, I think," Kara said softly. "It's like it's watching you. Everything you do, the moon sees."
Ginny stared at her, feeling hypnotized by her words as those blue eyes pulled her in.
"I'm going out this evening. Would you like to tag along and see what I mean?" Kara asked, surprising herself. She normally hated having someone watch her work.
"I wouldn't be bothering you?"
"No. As long as you don't offer suggestions."
Ginny smiled. "I'd like that," she said.
"So would I," Kara said as their eyes met. "I'll come for you at seven."
Nana was envious that Ginny was going to watch Kara work. She had only spied her that first morning. Kara had never again been on the trail by the lake.
"What about dinner?" Nana asked.
"I'll get something when we come back," Ginny said. She was drying her hair and it was nearly seven already. She hated to make Kara wait.
But Kara was seated patiently in the living room, listening to Nana and she raised her eyes to Ginny and smiled.
"Sorry," Ginny said. "Bad habit, but I'm working on it."
"No problem. We've got time," Kara said. Her eyes followed Ginny as she bent to kiss Louise on the cheek and they flickered over her jeans before resting again on her face.
Ginny felt Kara's eyes on her and she was acutely aware of the sensations rippling through her body. She wouldn't meet her eyes as they walked to the door.
"Have fun, you two," Nana called.
"Where are we going?" Ginny asked.
Kara backed out of the driveway, her arm resting along the back of Ginny’s seat and she peered out the rear window.
Ginny felt Kara's fingers graze her shoulder as she turned back around and Ginny felt goosebumps on her neck from their touch. It frightened her.
"There's a small lake on Battle Canyon Creek," Kara said.
"How did you find that? It's a well-kept secret among the locals," Ginny chided.
"You've been there?"
"I used to fish there with my grandfather," Ginny said. "I haven't been there in years."
Kara shrugged and turned down a Forest Service road. "It wasn't hard to find, but the road's bumpy as hell," she said.
The sun was falling below the trees when they parked, but Ginny suspected that the colors weren't yet right, because Kara didn't seem to be hurrying. She gathered her sketchpad and colored chalk and led the way along a path. There were only two other cars there and Ginny recognized them as locals.
"There's a break in the trees just as the sun sets," Kara explained. "The lake is a perfect reflection."
They walked up the trail, but instead of heading to the water, Kara went into the trees and stopped at a rise with the water below them.
"I don't mean to ignore you," Kara apologized as she flipped open her sketchpad.
"Go ahead. I'll just watch," Ginny said. She sat down in the grass a few feet from Kara and pulled her knees up to her chin. Kara sat cross-legged on the ground, faded jeans covering the tanned legs Ginny was used to seeing. She watched as Kara's fingers found the color she wanted and before Ginny's eyes, the lake appeared on the paper. As the sun crept lower, Ginny became aware of the changing colors. The few clouds in the sky reflected the orange of the sun and she watched as Kara added that, too. Ginny took her eyes away from the woman next to her and forced herself to look at the water as it changed from a brilliant blue to a shimmering orange.
Kara added color, too and soon her lake was as orange as the sky as the sun hung, suspended just over the horizon for a split second and Ginny held her breath as it silently slipped from view. Kara's hand stilled and Ginny looked up to find Kara watching her.
"Well?" Kara’s quiet voice broke the silence.
"It was beautiful," Ginny said softly. "Can I see?" she asked.
Kara hesitated, then handed over her sketch and she watched Ginny's face break out in smile.
"You've captured it exactly. It's as if the sun is still there, hanging on to the day," she said quietly. "You've put your moon in, I see," she said.
Kara clinched her jaw and met Ginny’s intense green eyes as they searched her own. She could almost see the currents that passed between them, feel the electricity in her veins as green eyes locked on blue. Ginny finally lowered her gaze, her eyes closing heavily as she sighed.
Ginny felt her pulse throbbing in her neck and she acknowledged the growing attraction she had for this woman. She could feel it. She took a deep breath, trying to push it away. They sat quietly, legs crossed before them and watched the color drain from the sky. Ginny became uncomfortably aware of the intimate setting as dusk settled over the forest. She should get up, she should suggest they go back, back to the safety of Nana’s company.
But she didn’t.
"Kara?" Ginny asked, as she leaned back on her elbows.
"What's it like?"
"What?" Kara asked, turning to her.
"Kissing a woman?" she asked before she could stop herself.
Kara tried to read her eyes, but the approaching darkness prevented it. "Why do you want to know?"
"I was just... wondering, I guess. Kissing is nice, you know, but some men, well, they just forget about it, I think."
Ginny shook her head. Phil wasn’t much for kissing. She sighed again. Why in the world had she started this conversation?
"Never mind," she murmured.
Kara smiled. So, Ginny was curious. That surprised her.
"From what I remember, men were much more interested in bigger and better things. Never wanted to take the time for kissing. That’s the great thing about women," Kara said. "Most women like to kiss. And of course, a woman knows."
"Knows what?" Ginny asked hesitantly.
Kara turned to Ginny. "A woman knows what you want and how it makes you feel," she said quietly.
Ginny swallowed, the sound echoing in the quiet forest and she felt herself drawn to this woman sitting so close to her. Like a magnet, she thought, as she struggled to pull her eyes away from Kara’s. She felt as helpless as a moth drawn to fire. She was far too aware of her and was thankful for the darkness, as images of Kara's lips on hers flashed through her mind, making her stomach flutter. They stared at each other for countless seconds, then Kara moved away and gathered up her work.
"Come on. We better get you back," she said.
Ginny accepted Kara's outstretched hand and their fingers entwined as Kara pulled her to her feet. Kara didn't immediately release her hand and Ginny didn't pull away. Not until she felt the fire burning between them did she finally drop Kara’s hand.