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CHAPTER FIFTEEN. WHAT IS IT THEY say about the best-laid plans?
WHAT IS IT THEY say about the best-laid plans? Ginny couldn't remember, only her plan for Settler's Day had been shot out the window. She had not seen or spoken to Kara and she assumed that she could spend Sunday in the park without looking over her shoulder, worrying about where Kara was. But no.
"She said she would love to come," Nana said. "And I can't believe you didn't call her."
"I forgot," Ginny lied.
"Well, she said she has been busy. That's why she hasn't been by. Imagine my surprise to find her on the trail," Nana said and she rambled on about meeting Kara at the lake and how she gotten to watch her sketch but Ginny only pretended to listen. It had been five days since she had seen her. Five days since she had kissed her.
Oh, Lord! Not that again. She could almost get through the day now without vividly remembering her kiss, without her traitorous body still responding. Now she would have to see her. She would have to speak to her. Knowing Nana, she would insist that Kara sit and eat with them, too.
"She asked about you, by the way," Nana said.
Ginny jerked her head up. "What did you say?"
"Well, I told her that you had been sick that one day, but you were feeling better now," Nana said and Ginny closed her eyes and groaned silently. "We need to have her over for dinner again, too. She's much too thin," Nana said.
Ginny opened her mouth to speak, to tell Nana that, no, she didn't want Kara over for dinner, but Nana had turned back to the cake that she was frosting. Ginny rubbed her temples and sighed. She could get through it. Just one day. Kara wouldn't bring up the kiss, Ginny knew. If she had wanted to press the issue, she would have come to the store at some point during the last five days.
And just what had Kara been thinking, anyway? Why had she stayed away? Well, Ginny knew why. Kara thought Ginny had been playing with her. Kara thought Ginny had just been curious. And she had, she told herself. That was all! But she hadn't been playing with her, toying with her. Ginny would never do that. She was not a tease. She had simply been... what? Attracted? No, she didn't like that word. She was not attracted to Kara, she stubbornly insisted. She had simply been experimenting. Yes, that was a much safer word!
After much worrying over what to wear, Nana was finally ready to go. Ginny had simply shoved a T-shirt inside her shorts and found her cleanest pair of athletic shoes.
"At my age, shorts are a bit casual," Nana complained.
"Good Lord, Nana. It's a picnic. Don't wear a dress."
"I'd hate for people to talk," she said, but she eyed the pair of shorts that Ginny had laid on her bed.
"Everyone will have shorts on. Now quit worrying," Ginny said. "And wear your walking shoes, too."
"Oh, Ginny, are you sure?"
Ginny had rolled her eyes to the ceiling and nodded. Nana was always concerned with what other people thought.
They loaded the two cakes and the bowl of potato salad that they had volunteered to make into Nana's car and Ginny drove through town, now crowded with cars, and made their way to the park.
"Looks like a lot of people in town today," Nana said. "Maybe we'll have a good crowd this year."
"Well, the weather is gorgeous," Ginny said. And it was. Clear, blue skies beckoned and not even a hint of a breeze. Perfect summer weather.
"I hope Kara can find us," Nana said.
I hope she doesn't, Ginny thought. Oh, but that was cruel. She liked Kara, she really did. If it wasn't for... well, if it wasn't for what had happened between them, she thought that they could be good friends. That they were friends. But Ginny had ruined that with her... experiment.
The park was beginning to fill and they left the car in the shade of a giant spruce. Ginny balanced the two cakes while Nana carried the pie. Nana called out to friends as they passed and she actually blushed when Mr. Arnold complimented her outfit.
"See, I told you people would notice," Nana said quietly.
"It was a compliment," Ginny said with a laugh. "Besides, he had on shorts."
"Well, that's different," Nana said.
Ginny laughed. "Oh, yes. He's a man. He can be comfortable."
"Oh, Nana. You look great. Quit worrying."
But Ginny was the one worrying. She looked around, fearing that Kara would be there, waiting. The men were already heating the assorted grills, getting ready for burgers and a small crowd had gathered by the kegs of beer, but there was no sign of Kara. She breathed a sigh of relief, thankful she had been spared for at least a little longer.
Nana mingled with her friends and Ginny walked off, avoiding the children that ran and played in the park. A temporary stage had been set up and the band was already there, tuning their guitars, getting ready for later. Vendors had set up their goods in booths along the street and Ginny thought it looked more like a flea market than a picnic, but still, it brought money into the town.
Ginny turned around and made her way back to where she had left Nana and her heart jumped into her throat. Kara was there, talking with Nana, laughing at something Nana had said and Ginny stopped and stared. They hadn't seen her, Kara hadn't seen her, and she let her eyes travel over Kara slowly, and as she did, each moment that she had stood in Kara's arms came back to her with vivid clarity. She could still imagine her mouth on her, still taste her, still feel her tongue as it slid over her own.
She groaned and slammed her eyes shut, willing her thoughts away. She opened them again and made herself move. Nana looked up and waved and Ginny forced a smile to her lips as she walked up.
"Look who I found," Nana said.
There was a moment of awkward silence between them as their eyes collided, then Kara smiled and turned back to Nana.
"I didn't realize this was such a big deal," she said.
"Well, I don't know if it's the burgers or the dollar beer that draws them," Nana said.
"Or maybe the cake you were mentioning," Kara said. She looked up at Ginny then. "How have you been?" she asked.
Ginny swallowed nervously and nodded. "Okay."
Kara nodded, too.
"Have you been working?" Ginny asked.
"Yes. A lot," she said. "I've been out every morning and evening. The sunrises have been beautiful."
"I was telling Kara that she should take you out some morning for the sunrise. You've seen her sketch in the evening, but the lake she did this morning was just beautiful," Nana said.
Ginny's eyes widened and she glanced at Kara, but her eyes revealed nothing, only slight amusement at Nana's words.
"Well, you know me... I'm not exactly a morning person," Ginny said.
"Oh, pooh. You should do it once. She's very good," Nana said.
Ginny nodded, knowing perfectly well how good she was and she wasn't thinking about sketching. She swallowed again, feeling Kara's eyes on her but when she looked up, Kara was looking at Nana. Ginny was thankful. She didn't want to have to look at her. She couldn't. Not when she still felt... something. Attracted, her body screamed, but she ignored that. No, not attracted to her. Just... something.
But Kara was being kind, wasn't she? There was no hint in her words or actions that there had ever been even the slightest indiscretion on Ginny's part. Ginny frowned. Had she spent the last five days worrying over nothing? Had their kiss affected Kara so little that she had not even given it a second thought? No. Ginny remembered that night all too well. She remembered the look in Kara's eyes. She remembered her words. "I want you."
"Hmmm?" Ginny murmured, glancing at Nana.
"I said you should take Kara to get a beer. And bring me an iced tea, please. I'm going to help the ladies cut the cakes." Nana left them standing there and Ginny looked nervously at Kara.
"You want one?" she asked.
They walked off silently, leaving ample space between them and Ginny cursed her nervousness. What did she think? That Kara would sweep her into her arms and continue what they had started that night? Lord, she felt her pulse pounding in her throat and it was wrecking havoc on her senses. She was having a hard time breathing and she opened her mouth slightly, gulping in fresh air.
Kara shoved her hands in her shorts and stared ahead, not daring to look at Ginny. She could tell Ginny was uncomfortable. Hell, she was uncomfortable, herself. They should talk. They should have talked before today, she realized.
"If I said I'm sorry-"
"Why should you be sorry?" Ginny asked. "I'm the one who should apologize. I'm the one who started it," she said quietly. "And I'm sorry."
Ginny turned and dared to look into her eyes. "Kara, I never meant... I wasn't playing with you. I wouldn't do that."
Kara nodded and Ginny pulled her eyes away.
"I wasn't going to come today, but Louise insisted," Kara explained. "I know you'd be more comfortable if I weren't here."
"I'm... okay," Ginny said. "I've practically forgotten about it, actually," she lied.
"Good. Me, too," Kara said easily.
Ginny bit her lower lip. So, it had meant nothing to Kara, after all. She probably did that sort of thing all the time. Straight women, just like herself, were probably always... experimenting with Kara. Oh, Jesus, stop it! You want her to forget it, don't you?
"Let me buy you a beer," Ginny said and she dug into her pockets for money. "Hi, Matt. Two, please," she said.
"How you doing, Ginny?" he asked.
"Fine. How's Jean?"
"Oh, she's ready to drop any minute," he said. "Her ankles are swollen so she didn't make it."
"This will be number four?" Ginny asked.
"Yes. We'll keep trying until we have a boy," he said as he handed them the beer.
"Thanks, Matt. Tell Jean I said hello."
They walked off and Ginny rolled her eyes. "Four. Can you imagine?"
"No. Let's hope it's a boy, for Jean's sake," Kara said and she winked at Ginny and smiled.
"Really," Ginny agreed, trying to ignore the fluttering in her stomach.
They found Nana and gave her the iced tea she had requested, then she waved them away.
"Ginny, show Kara some of the booths. They usually have art, although I doubt it's in the same class as hers," Nana said.
Kara laughed. "Louise, I'm hardly famous."
"Nonsense," she said. "You've been in a magazine. That's famous." She went back to her cake. "Don't linger, though," she called. "I'll save us a table."
Ginny chuckled and led Kara away, shaking her head. Nana was a handful!
"She's something else," Kara said.
"Yes. And she thinks the world of you, by the way," Ginny said.
Kara raised her eyebrows and smiled. "I take it, she hasn't actually read the article?"
"No. She knows nothing about your... personal life," Ginny said.
"She would never understand," Ginny added.
They walked along the booths, pausing occasionally to pick up some of the crafts that were displayed. There were a few paintings and Kara studied them while Ginny studied her. It was safer to look when Kara wasn't aware, Ginny thought. And she did look. Try as she may, she could not stop her eyes from moving over her body, up her tan legs, past her shorts and coming to a sudden halt at the familiar tank top tucked inside. It was painfully obvious to her that Kara wore no bra and her eyes refused to move away from her breasts. Her breath caught and she swallowed with difficulty, finally raising her eyes, then blushing crimson when Kara caught her staring.
Kara held Ginny's eyes captive for several embarrassing seconds, then, with an arch of one eyebrow, she released her.
Ginny breathed again and she dared not look at Kara. What is wrong with you?
She felt totally out of control and her hands were trembling as she brought her beer cup to her lips. God, she was looking at a woman's breast! Had she lost her mind?
"I think I need another beer," Kara said.
"Me, too," Ginny murmured. She was hot and she knew it had nothing to do with the summer day!
They found Nana sitting at a table, two seats saved for them and Kara waited politely for Ginny to slide along the bench seat first.
"What do you think?" Nana asked Kara.
"I like it. It's fun," she said.
Ginny was all too aware of the woman sitting next to her to participate in the conversation. Her skin burned where Kara's leg brushed her thigh and she couldn't stop her pulse from racing through her veins. She tried to think of Phil, she tried to recall how it was to kiss him, to make love with him, but nothing would come to her. The memory of Kara's kiss pushed Phil from her mind and Ginny felt herself grow warm as she recalled standing by the lake, moving into Kara's arms, her mouth opening to Kara, her own tongue pushing wildly into Kara's mouth.
"Oh," she groaned softly and she closed her eyes tight.
"Are you okay?" Nana asked.
Ginny looked across the table at Nana and felt herself blush hotly. "I'm fine," she said. "Just a little hot," she murmured.
"It is quite warm today. I'm so glad I wore shorts," Nana said.
Ginny tried to listen as Nana told Kara about their morning but her mind was on the leg that pressed gently against her own. Good Lord, I can't stand it! What was Kara doing to her? Did she not have any idea of the effect she was having on Ginny? Ginny sighed, savoring the feeling of Kara's bare leg pressed against her own. She refused to wonder why she didn't move away from that warm touch.
Ginny was so thankful when the food was ready, she stood behind Kara and Nana in line, listening to Nana ramble on, meeting Kara's amused eyes occasionally. How could Kara act like nothing had happened between them? How could she be so unaffected by it all?
Because she's a lesbian. She's used to kissing other women! Ginny slammed her eyes shut. Well, she was not a lesbian and she was not used to kissing other women and it was driving her absolutely crazy! God, her skin crawled just being near Kara and she just wanted the day to be over and for Kara to go away again and leave her in peace.
"Are you okay?" Kara whispered.
"No, I'm not," she admitted. Her eyes flew to Kara's and she wished she had not looked. She couldn't pull away and she felt her chest heave as she tried to catch her breath. "I can't be around you like this," she whispered.
She saw a brief flash of understanding cross Kara's eyes before she nodded. "I know. I'm sorry," Kara said softly. "It's my fault. I shouldn't have come."
"Ginny, look, there's Mr. and Mrs. Dower. You remember them?" Nana called to the Dower's but they didn't hear her. "Oh, I'll have to look them up later. You were just a teenager the last time they saw you," Nana said.
"I remember them," Ginny said absently, her eyes still locked with Kara's.
They took their plates back to the table, Kara's loaded high with nothing but fries and two pieces of cake, and Ginny was again forced to endure sitting close to Kara.
"Oh, the band's good this year, Ginny," Nana said.
"Yes." Although she had hardly been listening. She ate in silence, her mind far away from the conversation between Kara and Nana.
Kara gathered up their plates when they had all finished eating and went for more beer and Ginny looked up and smiled at Nana.
"Having a good time?" she asked.
"Wonderful," Nana said. "But are you?"
"You've been awfully quiet," Nana said. "Are you not feeling well?"
"I feel fine," Ginny said. Why, oh why must Nana always notice?
"Do you think Kara's having a good time?"
Ginny nodded. "I think so." Was she? It was hard to tell. Kara, too, had been quiet.
"Here you go," Kara said, balancing two cups of beer and an iced tea in her hands. Ginny reached out to help her and when their hands touched, she trembled from the electricity between them, spilling beer on the table.
"God, I'm sorry," she murmured, mopping up the spill with her napkin.
She couldn't stand it. Not another minute. They had to talk. This was slowly driving her insane, this... attraction, yes, okay, attraction, that she had for Kara. And she could not stand it a second longer. She needed to... what? Talk? Yes, she needed to talk to her about it. She was so confused inside. Her traitorous body screamed for release but her mind refused to listen to it. This couldn't be happening to her. She was not a lesbian!
Ginny leaned toward Kara, speaking softly so that Nana would not hear. "We need to talk." When Kara looked at her, she added, "I need to talk."
"Okay," Kara agreed. "Why don't we take a drive?"
Ginny nodded and turned to Nana. "We're going to walk around a bit, Nana. You'll be okay here?"
"Of course. You run along."
They walked towards Kara's Land Cruiser without speaking and Ginny wondered what in the world she would say to Kara. She only wished for one thing; that her heart wouldn't pound so whenever Kara was near.
Kara opened the door for Ginny and she crawled inside, remembering the last time she had been in Kara's truck. They had been driving back, after The Kiss. They had not spoken. Not one word. Kara had stopped in front of the house and Ginny had nearly run from the truck then.
"Where to?" Kara asked.
"It doesn't matter," Ginny said.
Kara drove slowly down the deserted streets and she reached into the console, fishing out her crumpled pack of cigarettes. She shoved one into her mouth, then glanced at Ginny.
"You don't mind, do you?"
"Of course not," she said.
Kara inhaled deeply, letting the smoke settle in her lungs, calming her. So, Ginny wanted to talk. Great. Just what she wanted to do. Talk about how she had kissed her and screwed up her life.
"Why don't we go to my house?" Ginny said. "We can sit and talk, then."
Kara hesitated. The last thing they needed was to be alone in Ginny's house. But she nodded anyway.
Ginny walked quickly ahead of Kara, suddenly nervous at being alone with her. Maybe they should have kept driving and talked in the truck. She wrapped her arms around herself and turned to Kara as soon as the door was closed.
"I can't stop thinking about it," she said quickly. "What's happening to me?"
"Ginny, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have ever..."
"I... begged you to," Ginny reminded her. "And now, I can't stop thinking about it." She turned away from Kara, unable to look at her. "I've never thought about a woman before, not like this." She remembered Renee. No, it had never been like this with Renee. She would not have allowed it. But maybe, if she'd continued to see her, it might have evolved into a sexual attraction. Who was she kidding? It was a sexual attraction. She just couldn't admit it at the time.
"Ginny, I don't know what you want me to say."
Ginny met blue eyes filled with regret and she shook her head slowly. It wasn't Kara's fault.
"There was a woman once," Ginny said quietly. "I was just out of college. She was my boss. At the time, I thought it was just friendship. We spent a lot of time together but I wouldn't allow my feelings to grow into something else. She wanted more but I couldn't... I didn't know. I met Phil shortly after that."
Kara caught her breath. This, she was not expecting.
"But I'm not a lesbian," she whispered. "I'm... just not. I don't want these feelings."
"Okay. You're not," Kara said, trying to say the words that she thought Ginny wanted to hear. "Maybe you're just questioning your love for Phil and this was... something to try."
"Is that what you think?" Ginny asked. It could be true. She wanted it to be true. Kara moved closer and stood in front of her. "Ginny, it was just a kiss. I didn't touch you," she said. "We weren't even close to... anything."
"Weren't we?" Ginny whispered. She felt as if she were in a dream. Her eyes clouded and all she could see were the two of them, as they had been that night. She remembered Kara's hands resting just under her breasts. She remembered how her body had begged for Kara's hands to move, how it had begged for Kara to touch her breasts. She remembered how she had imagined Kara's mouth on them, how she had imagined Kara's hands... on her, her fingers inside her. She raised her eyes to Kara's and she felt the rise and fall of her chest as she tried to keep pace with her uneven breathing. She didn't understand the burning need that was consuming her body, moving through her with each uneven breath, settling at the pit of her stomach and demanding relief.
"Ginny... please don't look at me that way," Kara whispered.
Ginny swallowed down the lump in her throat but her eyes refused to leave Kara's. "This is madness, what I'm feeling," Ginny murmured. Her tongue came out and wet her lips and Kara's eyes followed. Ginny moaned low in her throat from the look in Kara's eyes and she took a step towards her.
"Kiss me again," she begged. "Show me that there's nothing here, Kara. Show me that I just imagined it all."
Kara shook her head, no, but Ginny's hands were already touching her, already moving up her arms to her neck. "Kara, please," she whispered as she was drawn to Kara's warm body.
Kara couldn't have refused even if Louise had chosen that moment to walk in on them. Her hands went quickly to Ginny's face and she cupped her, pulling Ginny's mouth to hers. Ginny's lips were parted and wet and Kara devoured them hungrily, her resolve having vanished with the brush of Ginny's tongue against her own.
Ginny's hands gripped hard at Kara's shoulders and she was certain that she was going to pass out from the intensity of it all. Blood pounded in her ears and she couldn't breathe. Then Kara's mouth turned gentle and she could breathe again and she wanted to breathe Kara in. Her hands moved over Kara's back and she pressed her body close, her hips moving instinctively against Kara.
"Dear God, Kara," she whispered, when she was finally able to pull away, finally able to take her lips from Kara's. Barely.
"I'm sorry," Kara murmured and she tried to pull back but Ginny held her.
"Don't stop," Ginny pleaded and her mouth went back for more. One more kiss, one more touch of her tongue.
"Ginny, no," Kara said. She held Ginny at arms length. "What are we doing?" she whispered.
Ginny stood there, her breathing rapid as she looked at Kara. "I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do." She reached out and took one of Kara's hands and brought it to her breasts without thinking. "Oh, Jesus," she murmured. "Oh my God." Her eyes slid shut as she felt Kara's hand close over her breast, when she felt Kara's thumb caress her erect nipple.
Kara's mind screamed for her to stop but her body wouldn't listen. Both hands now cupped Ginny's breasts and her mouth found a throbbing vein in the soft neck that was exposed.
Ginny pressed closer, desire crowding out all other thoughts. Her dreams didn't do justice to the pleasure that Kara brought to her. It was through a deep fog that she felt her shirt being pulled from her shorts, felt warm hands touch her hot skin. She didn't stop the hands that moved over her flesh, hands that impatiently shoved her bra away.
Kara had to have her mouth there. She had lost all sense of propriety. She no longer cared if what they were doing was wrong or not.
"Oh, Kara, yes," Ginny breathed when she felt a wet tongue rake across her nipple. She pulled Kara closer, gasping when Kara's hot mouth closed over her, gently sucking at her nipple, driving her insane with desire. Her eyes slammed shut as she held Kara to her breast. Her legs parted instinctively and pressed down hard on Kara's thigh.
It was only then, when desire shot through her, right to her center, making her press harder against Kara, that she realized how far they had gone, had quickly she had lost control. It was only then that fear replaced desire.
"No," she whispered. "No, Kara."
Kara immediately pulled away, her eyes clouded with desire.
"Oh, Jesus, I'm sorry, Ginny," she said quickly, moving away from Ginny, away from temptation. She ran both hands through her short hair and groaned softly. "I didn't mean to go that far."
"I'm sorry, too," Ginny whispered before tears closed up her throat. She could say no more.
"Please don't do this," Kara begged. "Please don't cry. This is all my fault. I let it go too far."
Ginny shook her head but still, no words would come. She sat down heavily on the sofa and pulled her T-shirt down. Her hands were shaking and she covered her face with them.
"Please, Ginny," Kara pleaded.
Ginny finally lifted her tear-stained face to Kara and she was shocked by the genuine regret she found there.
"I think I just want you to go now, Kara." At the anguish that crossed Kara's face, Ginny reached out a hand and captured Kara's fingers. "I just need to be alone and sort this all out. I'm not angry with you. I can't be angry with you when I'm the one that wanted this."
"I wanted it, too," Kara whispered.
"I know. That's what scares me so."