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CHAPTER ELEVEN. KARA STAYED AWAY. For three days, she worked on her painting, finishing up the sunrise at the lake and continuing on the sunset she had shared with Ginny






KARA STAYED AWAY. For three days, she worked on her painting, finishing up the sunrise at the lake and continuing on the sunset she had shared with Ginny. Ginny. She had occupied her thoughts day and night, but Kara refused to call her. She refused to go by the store. She needed time away from her. Never in her life had another woman crowded in on her so, making her nearly crazy with wanting her. It had been so long since she had known this kind of desire.

"She's straight," she said again. Isn't she? She lit a cigarette, her sixth, and slumped down in the lawn chair. Smoking and drinking, she had done much more of both since she had met Ginny, she thought, as she lifted the beer bottle to her lips. She tried not to picture the two of them together, as they had been in her dreams last night.

She shook her head slowly, absently knocking ashes from her cigarette. It wasn't as if she were looking for someone. She had realized in the last three years that she didn't really need anyone in her life. If she got lonely, if she got the urge for someone's touch, there were always willing women in Seattle. Casual sex was much safer on the heart than going through all that silly courting anyway.

She had found a lake on the map that she wanted to look at, but she had been putting it off. She glanced at the sky, clear and blue. This evening would be a good time, she thought. Only, it was at the other end of town, past the general store, and she had not wanted to even be near there, for fear Ginny or Louise would be out front. Then she would feel compelled to stop and visit and she would be forced to look into Ginny's green eyes and she would be lost all over again.

She stopped her thoughts. She couldn't just keep avoiding her. She came out here to work. If there was a lake she wanted to go to, she would go. She was acting like a teenager with a crush, for God's sake! With that, she stubbed out her cigarette and drained the last of her beer. She would go, take a look and if the colors were good, sketch another sunset and be on her way.



She drove quickly, with good intentions not to even glance at the store, but her eyes were drawn to it. She saw Ginny sitting on the porch and she cursed when Ginny lifted a hand in greeting and, without even thinking, Kara turned her Toyota into the drive and stopped beside her.

"What are you doing?" Kara asked through the opened window.

"Just sitting," Ginny explained. "You?"

"There's a lake, out on Mill Creek," she said, motioning up the road.

"Potter's Lake," Ginny supplied.

"You've been there?"

"Many times."

"Any good?"

"Quiet. Lot's of trees," Ginny said, her eyes on Kara. "The fishing's not great."

"Oh, darn," Kara said with a smile.

They stared at each other and Ginny couldn't pull her eyes away, even when she felt her pulse begin to pound nervously. Her eyes dropped briefly to Kara's lips, remembering all that those lips had done to her in her dreams. She blushed crimson and found Kara's eyes again, trying to read them.

The screen door opened and Ginny finally broke Kara's hold on her.

"Why, Kara," Nana said.

"Hello, Louise."

"Going out sketching again?"

"Yes."

"Why don't you take Ginny? I think she's feeling cooped up."

Ginny looked from Nana to Kara and back again. "Oh, I couldn't leave the store just yet," she said.

"Nonsense," Nana exclaimed.

Nonsense? Ginny rubbed her temples, trying to think of an excuse not to be alone with Kara.

"We're not busy. You run along. I can lock up."

Ginny looked up and met Kara's amused eyes that just hinted at a challenge. "You don't mind?" she asked weakly.

"Not at all," Kara lied. Of course she minded. She didn't want to be alone with her. But she said, "I'd love your company."



Ginny crawled up in her Land Cruiser, resisting the urge to cling to the door, and she made herself relax. It was short-lived, however. Kara's arm slipped along the back of the seat behind her as she turned to back up and Ginny could almost feel it caressing her shoulders. She shivered from the heat of it.

"How have you been?" Kara asked when they pulled away.

"Fine. You?"

"Okay."

"Have you been working?" Ginny asked.

Kara glanced at her, aware of her nervousness. And of her own.

"Should I apologize for the other night?" Kara asked.

"For what?"

"For what I said."

"Don't be silly," Ginny said with a lightness she wasn't feeling. "I asked the question."

There were no other cars at the lake and Ginny glanced at the sky, mindful of the approaching evening and how utterly alone they would be. She shouldn't have come, she thought. She shouldn't be out here alone with Kara. She felt confused and all mixed up inside whenever she was near Kara. Whenever she found Kara's eyes on her.

She watched as Kara got out, sketch pad tucked under her arm, and she looked at her through the opened window.

"Coming?" Kara asked.

Ginny nodded and her eyes followed Kara as she walked away but she was still sitting there when Kara turned back around to glance at her questioningly.

"Coming," Ginny said and she finally opened the door.

"Don't be afraid of me," Kara said as they walked. "I would never . . .."

"I know you wouldn't," Ginny said sharply. "I'm not afraid."

"Aren't you?"

"Not of you, exactly," Ginny said.

"Then what?"

"Nothing," Ginny murmured. "Let's don't talk about it, please."

Kara nodded. "Okay. We won't talk."

They walked along the path, Ginny following Kara as the trail narrowed toward the water. Kara looked overhead, trying to pretend that she was interested in the colors, but she wasn't. Her mind wasn't on sketching. She was thankful for the trees. They blocked out the setting sun and the lake reflected only the forest as it darkened with only a hint of the colors of sunset.

Kara knew she should simply tell Ginny that the colors were no good and that they should turn back. Go home, where it would be safe. Where she would not be tempted. But she didn't. They were completely alone and her pulse raced at the thought. She wanted to be alone with her, she realized and she felt foolish. Ginny wanted nothing from her, she reminded herself.

They walked to the shore, the lake surface smooth as glass in the still evening. Ginny noticed that Kara made no move to take out her sketchpad, but Ginny made no mention of it. She wasn't sure she could speak. She felt her heart pounding and she took in a deep breath of air, trying to still her racing pulse. What was she expecting? That Kara would sweep her into her arms and kiss her? That she would say she had been dreaming about her, too and she just had to see what it would be like to kiss her? Is that what she wanted? Did she want Kara to take her in her arms? God, of course not! She wanted no such thing!

Oh, she brought a trembling hand to her throat, feeling her pulse beat wildly and she knew that she had probably worked herself into a frenzy over nothing! Surely, Kara was having none of these same feelings. Surely, Kara was not the least bit attracted to her. Was she?

They stood there, the silence nearly deafening as they both looked out over the lake. When Ginny turned, Kara's eyes were on her, and her own lifted and met her questioning stare. What was she thinking? What was she feeling? Kara tried to find the answers in her eyes but failed.

Ginny touched a hand to her chest, feeling the tightness, wishing her heart would slow to normal. She felt the pull between them and wondered if Kara felt it, too.

"Too many trees," Kara finally managed.

Ginny nodded but her eyes never left Kara's. She was quickly losing the battle with herself and she took a hesitant step toward Kara.

"Ginny?"

"Show me," she whispered. "I need to know." She saw Kara's jaw clinch nervously and she wanted to put her hand there. "Please?"

Kara shook her head. "Ginny, don't," she warned. "You don't know what you're doing."

Of course not but that didn't stop her as she reached out and captured Kara's warm hand. "I want to know," she said softly. "Kiss me."

Kara felt the last thread of sanity flee at those softly whispered words. Her eyes dropped to the lips that were so inviting. Yes, she knew she should stop this, she knew she should walk away. But she couldn't deny herself the pleasure.

Ginny felt Kara pull her towards her and she went willingly. When Kara's hand touched her face to guide her, she closed her eyes and waited for Kara's lips to touch hers.

"Ginny," Kara whispered again and Ginny felt Kara's breath, warm on her face. She turned towards it and when their lips met, it was not slow and gentle. It was hurried and hungry and Ginny's mouth opened under hers and she whimpered softly when their tongues touched briefly for the first time.

Kara pulled her in close, dropping her sketch pad to the ground and fitting Ginny's body with hers, feeling Ginny's breasts press against her own and she lost what little resolve she had. Her hands slid to Ginny's hips and she cupped her roundness, pulling Ginny flush against her as Ginny's trembling hands moved over her shoulders and around her neck.

"Yes," Ginny breathed against Kara's lips and her tongue explored Kara's warm mouth, pushing past her lips. Soft lips, not a man's lips. She was on fire.

It was magic. Their kisses were hot, wet and Ginny felt unfamiliar desire pool between her legs and she moaned softly against Kara's lips. Kara started to pull away, but Ginny followed, refusing to release her, all thought gone except these insane feelings that this woman created in her. Kara's lips softened and now they moved with exquisite gentleness over her own and Ginny felt her legs threaten to collapse as Kara cupped her face between her hands and touched her lips again and again.

"Ginny," Kara whispered when she finally drew back. "Why?"

"You know why," she accused. Ginny lowered her head and buried it against Kara's chest, her breath coming fast between her parted lips. "I just... had to know," she whispered.

Kara tipped her chin up and looked deep into her eyes. "And now you think you know what it's like to kiss a woman?"

"Yes," came the whispered answer.

"And are you curious, too, as to how it would feel if I touched your breasts?"

Ginny took in a deep breath, afraid to answer as Kara's hands slid dangerously close to her breasts.

"Do you want to know?" Kara whispered and she bent again to take Ginny's mouth, which opened instantly to her tongue. Her hands stopped, the tops just brushing the swell under Ginny's breasts.

"I'm so afraid of what I'm feeling," Ginny whispered, although her body begged for Kara's touch and she pressed closer, feeling her nipples harden at the thought of Kara's hands on them. In the early twilight, her eyes sought Kara's, trying desperately to make some sense of her feelings.

Kara's hands trembled. It would be so easy, she knew. One more kiss, one touch. But she heard the fear in Ginny's voice, could see the uncertainty in her eyes.

"You should be afraid," Kara said finally and pushed Ginny away, nearly causing her to stumble. She stepped back, her hands brushing her hair from her eyes. Jesus. What are you thinking? What are you doing?

"I'm so sorry," Ginny whispered, her own hands trembling as they wrapped around herself. "I never should have asked."

Kara turned her back to Ginny, needing time. "Why are you sorry? It's not like I didn't want to kiss you."

"I don't know what to say, Kara. I'm sorry..."

"Please stop saying that. I'm the one who..."

"No." Ginny swallowed with difficulty. "I've been thinking about you," she admitted. "Thinking things I shouldn't." She took a deep breath and turned away. "I can't stop... I mean... you're thinking I'm just curious, aren't you?" she asked.

"I don't know. Are you?"

Ginny touched Kara's arm and turned her around to face her. "Maybe. I've never really thought about being with a woman before," she said. Her mind refused to bring up Renee. "Until I met you."

Kara laughed and shoved her hands inside her pockets to stop herself from reaching out to her. "Well, if you're thinking of experimenting, you'll have to look elsewhere. I'm not really into that." She jerked up her sketchpad and began walking back along the trail and Ginny followed, running after her.

"Kara, wait. I need to talk about this."

"Well, I don't," Kara snapped. Stupid, stupid fool, she cursed herself.

"You don't understand," Ginny said, trying to keep up with Kara's long strides.

"No, I suppose I don't," she said.

"Goddamn it, will you stop," Ginny shouted.

Kara stopped and turned around, her eyes angry. "What?"

"I know what you're thinking," Ginny said.

Kara laughed without humor. "Oh, I seriously doubt it."

Ginny stared at her, her thoughts gone suddenly as she saw the desire still shimmering in Kara's eyes. It scared her more than she thought possible.

"Don't play with me," Kara warned softly.

"I'm not," Ginny said. "I'm sorry."

"Because you don't know what you're doing," Kara continued, her voice now gentle. "I want you. But then, I guess you already know that."

Ginny nodded weakly and she was frightened by the look in Kara's eyes. But more than that, she was frightened by what her own might reveal.



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