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CHAPTER TEN. KARA CALLED GINNY at the store two days later
KARA CALLED GINNY at the store two days later. She had stayed away, hoping to give herself time to quell the budding attraction she felt between them. Attraction that she knew now was not one-sided. Ginny's eyes were too expressive to hide that. But Kara would take it no farther. That was a line she would not cross. Instead, she would try to be a friend to Ginny. She knew that Ginny was having some issues with her relationship with Phil. Maybe she just needed a friend to talk through them. Kara could do that.
"I'm having an early dinner," she said. "Want to join me?"
Ginny hesitated only a moment before agreeing. She realized she had missed Kara.
Kara fussed over the lasagna most of the afternoon, thankful there was some garlic bread in the freezer. She had not shopped with the intention of having a dinner guest when she'd left Seattle but her homemade lasagna was one of her favorites.
They sat on the porch while the bread heated, sipping wine and Ginny watched as Kara lit her cigarette.
"You don't smoke much, do you?"
Kara laughed. "I've been in the process of quitting for several months now. Does it bother you?"
"No," Ginny said. She wondered if it had bothered Marsha. "Do you date?" she asked suddenly. If Kara was surprised by the question, she didn't show it.
"Some," Kara said. "You?" Kara raised one eyebrow as she watched Ginny.
Ginny smiled and looked away. "No."
"Still holding out for Phil?"
"Well, there aren't a lot of eligible men out here in Chiwaukum," she said.
"Not that I've been looking," Ginny added quickly. "I mean, technically, Phil and I are still an item," she said.
"But, like I said before, there should be more. You know?"
"He's a wonderful man, and I should be thankful that he wants me, I guess."
"But you're looking for that maddening desire?" Kara asked with just a hint of teasing in her voice.
"Yes. You probably think I'm silly," Ginny said.
"Not at all. Everyone should hope to find that," Kara said.
"What about you? Are you still looking for it?"
"I guess we're all looking," Kara said and shrugged.
"Has there been anyone since Marsha?" Ginny asked.
"In my life or in my bed?" Kara asked with a grin.
"Well, I've dated, if that's what you mean. And a few have stayed the night, but none that I wanted to start a relationship with."
"Do you get lonely?" Ginny asked.
"Not really. I've always been a loner. I've never felt the need to surround myself with people, friends. That's where Marsha and I differed. She always had a lot of friends."
"And when you painted?"
"She left and went out with them," Kara finished. "I didn't mind, really."
"Do you miss her?" Ginny asked gently.
Kara shrugged. "Sometimes. I'm not certain if I miss her or I just miss what we had."
"Does it bother you to talk about her?"
"No. I'm past that. It has been a long time."
"Were you still in love with her when she left?" Ginny asked.
Kara leaned forward and smiled. "You certainly are full of questions tonight," she said.
"Were you?" she asked again.
Kara sat back and inhaled deeply on her cigarette, letting the smoke out slowly. "I guess I thought I was," she finally said.
"Meaning I hadn't realized that we had fallen out of love," she said quietly. "It just happened and I never even knew."
"You blame yourself?"
"I guess you were right. I got so involved with my work that I forgot about my relationship."
"Enough!" Kara said and laughed. "Dinner, please," she said.
Kara again lit a candle and placed it between them, then served them both heaping plates of lasagna with the garlic bread.
"My turn," Kara said after she had filled their wineglasses.
"Phil. What's it like with him?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I know he wants to marry you and you're hiding up here, trying to decide. But, what do you do with him?"
"In bed?" Ginny asked, shocked.
Kara laughed lightly. "Please. Spare me the details." She grinned. "No, I mean, what do you do together? Where do you go?"
"Oh," Ginny said, relieved. "Well, the usual things. Dinner, movies, out with friends. That sort of thing. Phil likes to cook, so we stayed in a lot, too."
"Did you live together?" Kara asked.
"No. I was firm about that. I needed my space," she said.
"Is he any good?" Kara asked and flashed a grin.
"In bed?" Kara asked easily.
Ginny blushed hotly. Why on earth were they having this conversation? "It's okay. I mean... sure, the sex is... fine," she stammered, feeling a sudden need to defend her relationship with Phil. The sex wasn't great but she would never admit this to Kara.
"He's surely not the only one you've slept with, is he?"
Ginny blushed again. "No, he's not."
"Good. I would hate to think that I've slept with more men then you have," Kara grinned.
"That would be ironic, yes," Ginny said and matched her grin. "There was only one other, though. I won't count my high school sweetheart. He was only allowed to touch my breasts," she said.
Kara leaned forward and raised her eyebrows mischievously. "Lucky him," she said.
Ginny blushed yet again and had a hard time dragging her eyes away from Kara's.
"What's it like? With a woman, I mean," Ginny asked shyly.
"You mean, what do we do?"
"No. I can imagine... I mean, I know what... you do, I guess, but... I don't. What I mean is... oh, never mind," she said, thoroughly embarrassed now. "Forget it."
"No. What do you want to know?" Kara asked seriously.
Thoughts of Renee suddenly came to her and Ginny very nearly blurted out her story but she stopped herself. There was absolutely no need for Kara to know about Renee.
"Never mind," she said again.
Kara stood and took her empty plate into the kitchen, but called over her shoulder. "It's okay to ask, you know. It's only natural to be curious about things you don't understand."
Ginny rested her head in her hands. Curious? Much too curious, she told herself.
Kara stood in the kitchen and watched Ginny as the candlelight flickered around her. She had been clearly surprised by her question. She wondered how she would have answered it.
Ginny nodded when Kara returned with the bottle of wine and she watched her pour, her eyes locking on long fingers that held her glass lightly. She had really nice hands, Ginny noted.
"That was a delicious meal, by the way," she murmured, pushing her plate away.
"Thanks." Kara searched for a safe topic, something to put them both at ease, but nothing came to her.
"I am curious about one thing," Ginny finally said and the words were out before she could stop them. "What kind of women do you find attractive?"
Kara nearly choked on her wine. Darkness had settled and the candle flickered between them. Ginny met Kara's gaze shyly but did not look away.
"I was just wondering," Ginny said.
Kara let out a deep breath, knowing she was dangerously close to crossing that line. And telling herself that Ginny was straight was doing absolutely no good.
"Okay. You mean physical appearance or what?"
Ginny was aware of the sound of her heartbeat and her hand trembled as she set her wineglass down. But she asked anyway.
"If I were a lesbian, would you be attracted to me?" Ginny asked quietly.
Jesus. She actually expects me to answer that?
Kara twirled her wineglass nervously in her hand, desperately searching for a safe answer to the unexpected question that hung between them. She leaned forward slightly and rested her elbows on the table.
"You want me to honestly answer that question?"
Ginny was swallowed up by blue eyes and she knew she had crossed into dangerous territory, but yes, she wanted her to answer it honestly. And she realized she wanted the answer to be "yes".
"I'm just wondering what kind of women you find attractive," she murmured.
"You're very... attractive," Kara said softly as she took in every detail of Ginny's face. "And if you were a lesbian, we wouldn't be sitting at this table talking. We'd be in my bed, making love until dawn."
Ginny's breath caught in her throat and she swallowed with difficulty, knowing Kara could see how much her words had affected her. She forced her eyes away and took her wineglass, nearly spilling it as she brought it to her lips.
"But, since you're not a lesbian, it doesn't really matter, does it?"
Ginny shook her head but refused to meet Kara's eyes.
She slept fitfully, images coming to her in the night, images of a woman, touching her, kissing her. Images of Kara as she laid beside her, her naked body warm to her touch, her naked body sliding over her own. And Ginny went to her willingly, her own hands seeking, her own mouth opening under Kara's.
"God," she whispered and she sat up, perspiration glistening on her body and she buried her face in her hands, embarrassed by her dreams. She brushed her damp hair away from her face and closed her eyes, pushing Kara away from her.
It wasn't even yet five, but she got up, her feet carrying her numbly to the kitchen and she made coffee, then stood under the cool spray of the shower, washing away the last images of her dream.
"You were up early," Nana accused later.
"Couldn't sleep," Ginny said and she looked away, afraid her eyes would reveal her thoughts.
"You need to get more exercise. Why don't you walk with me in the mornings?"
Ginny laughed. "Someone's got to open up the store."
"Well, then, do it in the evenings. You ought to ask Kara. I'm sure she would walk with you," Nana said.
Ginny nearly blushed and shook her head. "I would hate to disturb her work," she managed to get out.
"Did you have fun last night?" Nana asked.
"Yes. We just had dinner and visited," Ginny said carefully.
"She's a nice girl, isn't she?"
Ginny nodded. "Yes. She is." Very nice.
"Did you get a chance to see any of her paintings?"
"No. I didn't think to ask," Ginny said.
"Well, what do you talk about, if not her work?"
Ginny stared at her, at a loss for words.
"Ask her sometime, will you?" Nana continued.
"I will," Ginny promised. She bent to kiss her cheek. "Enjoy your walk. I'll see you later."