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Tara Myers picked up her five year old son from kindergarten and tried to listen to him chatter about his day as she drove to retrieve the baby from her mother’s, but her mind was not on crayons and playground adventures. Rae had not called last night. All night long, Tara had lain on the uncomfortable fold-away bed and stared at the ceiling, trying to convince herself that Rae was so busy handling the new talent that Capital Records had hired that she had not had time to call. She knew her girlfriend was tired. She could hear it in Rae’s voice when she did call. Perhaps she had gone back to the hotel after the show and fallen asleep.

Rae hadn’t called this morning, either. Sometimes, if she woke up before she thought Tara had left to take Will to school, she would call and talk to both of them in the mornings. Tara had kept her phone in her pocket all day, but it had not rang. Rae would now be at the next stop on the state tour with the singer, making certain the stage was ready and that the artist had everything needed.

Rae had not said much about the tour or the woman she had been assigned to handle. She called the singer McAllister and said that the girl would be a huge star. She said she was tired of eating on the road and sleeping in strange beds, but that the fans loved McAllister. Rae had stopped asking when Tara and the children were moving to Nashville. Perhaps that disturbed Tara a little bit, too.

Will was out of his seat as soon as Tara coasted her car into her parents’ driveway. Tara watched him disappear into the house before taking her phone out of her purse. It showed no calls. She opened the phone and dialed Rae’s cell phone number. She listened to it ring with an ache in her heart. “You’ve reached Raegan Hall. Please leave a brief message at the tone and I’ll return your call as soon as I am available.”

Tara struggled to speak over the lump forming in her throat. “Rae, Honey,” she began. She could hear the tremble in her voice and feel tears welling behind her eyes. “Baby, it’s Tara. You didn’t call last night. I miss you. I want to hear your voice. Please call me as soon as you get this message, even if you can’t talk long. Rae, I love you.”

She stayed behind the wheel for a moment longer, forcing the tears away before she faced her mother. Her parents didn’t approve of her relationship with Rae. They thought she was going to hell for being gay, but she’d tried to fight her feelings. She’d fought them all through high school and repressed them after marrying Billy Myers.

Once, after Billy had returned from hauling goods to Arizona, she had been cleaning out his rig when she found a stash of girly magazines. Instead of being angry with him, curiosity had prevailed. She had flipped through the pictures, feeling her breasts tighten with a need to be touched. Certain that Will was napping and Billy wouldn’t be home, she’d crawled into the back of the rig and lay down on the cot where he slept when he was away. Looking at pictures of beautiful naked women, she had slipped her hand into the waistband of her shorts and been startled to find herself wet. The orgasm she gave herself was more satisfying that anything Billy had ever given her.

After Billy had died, she had been too numb to think about her sexuality. Seeing Raegan Hall on Thanksgiving had finally ripped her from the haze that had been her existence. Tara remembered staring at Rae in high school. The woman had occupied too many dreams when she was a teenager, and now those dreams were coming true. Her parents refused to accept that Tara had always been gay, but Tara knew the truth about her fantasies. She also knew the truth about her heart. It had always belonged to Raegan Hall.

Her parents weren’t the only ones who had not reacted well to her pronouncement of love for another woman. Billy’s parents were threatening to sue for custody of the children if she took them to Nashville to live in a homosexual household. She thought that she could win the case, but her children were the most precious thing in the world to her. As much as she loved Rae, she was afraid to risk losing Will and Rachel. She kept hoping that Anna and Joe Myers would get used to the idea and cancel the suit, but every time she took the children to see them, she was met with hostility.

With a heavy sigh, she slipped out of the car and walked into the house, carrying her pain on her shoulders. Will was sitting on her father’s lap, giving Grant Roding the same spiel he had given Tara in the car. She had listened enough to hear him changing little details to make the story better. She waved at her father. His eyes followed her but there was no other reaction. He had been cold and indifferent toward her since the first time that she had brought Rae to the house, but she still held hope that he would eventually accept her lifestyle.

She found her mother and daughter in the back room that had been converted into a nursery and playroom when Will was born. Jane Roding was holding Rachel, rocking the tiny baby as she slept. She looked up with a soft smile. “Hi, sweetheart. Little angel just finished her snack.”

Tara’s heart eased a little as she gazed at the giresun escort tiny round face and the eyelashes fanned on round cheeks. “Any problems today?”

“She was as good as gold, weren’t you, little angel?” Jane pushed with her foot and sent the rocking chair into a steady motion. “Do you all want to stay for supper?”

“No, they are having a birthday party for one of Lacy’s daughters, so we’re going to Nora’s for a cookout,” Tara answered casually, reaching for the baby.

“Oh,” her mother mumbled, giving Rachel to Tara. “You are going to see her family.”

Tara sighed at the tone of her mother’s voice. “They accept me and include me, Mother. I wish you could do the same of Rae.”

“It’s not like I have had the opportunity. When she does come to see you, she doesn’t come here. How can I get to know her if she is always in Nashville? Honestly, I don’t really understand if she loves you how she stays away.”

“I’m afraid that’s my fault,” Tara said wearily, touching her lips to Rachel’s brow. “Rae has a job and a house payment to consider. She can’t drop everything until Joe and Anna get used to the idea that I’m moving to Nashville. Next time she comes for a visit, we’ll come over. Will you make her feel welcome?”

Jane pinched her lips angrily and didn’t answer. She didn’t know if she could welcome her daughter’s lover with open arms.

“You know, rejecting her is rejecting me. Rae could get tired of waiting and break things off, but it wouldn’t change who I am.”

“Do you think she’ll do that?” Jane asked eagerly.

“Mother, I know you hear me. Why won’t you listen? It doesn’t matter if I am living with Rae or not, I am still gay.”

“You don’t suddenly become gay,” her mother snapped.

“No, I didn’t.” Tara shook her head and began shoving things into Rachel’s diaper bag with one hand. “If this is the conversation we are going to have every day, I will find another babysitter for Rachel. I’m having a hard enough time as it is without my mother beating me up for the way I’m wired.”

“Your father and I are perfectly normal. God doesn’t make gays.”

“Will,” she called as she stormed through the house. “Go to the car.” She turned at the doorway and glared at her mother. “I am still your daughter and I still love you, but you can’t keep berating who I am. I need your love and support.”

“Of course we love you, dear,” Jane said softly.

“Then show it, Mother,” Tara commanded. “Say, ‘I still love you even though you are gay.'” Tara waited a moment, but when her mother could not form the words, she turned and started toward the car. Will was waiting beside the car with wide eyes. She forced a smile on her face for his benefit. “Come on, son. Let’s go see Nanna and Poppa Max.”

“Tara,” the voice behind her was soft. Tara stopped but did not turn to look at her mother. “Bring Rachel tomorrow. I’ll try to do better.”

Tara nodded and continued to the car. She secured Rachel in her car seat and made certain Will had buckled his belt before climbing behind the wheel. When she looked up, her mother was standing beside the door. “I saw Clay Ashe at the store yesterday. You remember Clay, don’t you? You went to the prom with him.”

“And stared at Raegan the whole time,” Tara replied.

“He’s still single. He asked about you.”

“Mother,” Tara stated. “You just can’t help yourself, can you? I’ll see you in a few days, when things are going better for me.”

“Don’t take those babies away from me.”

“You made that choice, Mother.”

Tara cranked the car and backed out of the driveway. She fought tears as she steered her vehicle toward Rae’s mother’s house. Will did not chatter and she couldn’t find her voice to encourage him. She sped up as she thought about being in the arms of Rae’s family. She wished that her mother and father could be as open and understanding as Nora and Max Hall. “I don’t understand it,” Nora had told her once, “but it’s who Rae is. What purpose would it serve to isolate her?”

By the time they reached the Hall residence, Will had recovered. He was out of the car as soon as she parked and in a moment Tara saw him running through the yard with Lacy’s two daughters. She glanced at the screen on her phone and debated calling Rae again. She pushed the re-dial button and listened, but it immediately went to voice mail again. She didn’t leave a message, but she breathed a silent prayer for her lover. “Please, be okay, Rae. Call me.”

She bundled Rachel and walked into the house, bending to kiss Rae’s father’s cheek on her way into the house. Nora Hall met her at the door. “Give me that grandbaby,” she commanded, taking Rachel from Tara’s arms. “Come on in the kitchen. Where is Will?”

“Last I saw, he was being chased by Megan,” she answered as she followed Nora into the warm and friendly kitchen.

“Uh-oh,” Lacy said.

“That’s all right. He was chasing Mary. Nora, have you talked to Rae today?”

“Today? No, she didn’t call today.” Nora frowned. “Why do you ask?”

Tara lowered her eyes and bowed her head, hoping that the pain on her face was not obvious. yalova escort Nora patted her shoulder. “She’s not called in a couple of days,” Tara said with a weary sigh.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Nora assured, “She’s busy with this tour, so she just hasn’t had time to call. If something was wrong, we would definitely hear from her.”

“I know you are right, but we’ve not gone a day without talking since New Year’s. I just . . . I just worry that perhaps she has grown tired of waiting for me,” Tara reluctantly admitted her deep fear, afraid that giving it voice would mean she was right.

“Would you blame her?” Lacy said quietly.

“Lacy,” Nora snapped.

“Mom, I love Tara just as much as the rest of you. I’ve seen the way that Rae is with her. I’ve also seen the way that my sister is without her.”

Weakly, Tara sank into one of the kitchen chairs, her shoulders slumped. “What if she’s found someone new?” she whispered.

“Oh, now, Tara,” Nora said, passing the baby to Lacy. She put her arm around Tara’s shoulders. “One thing I know is that Rae loves you. She may be frustrated, but she’s not going to let you go too easily.”

“I want to be with her,” Tara insisted. “You have to believe me that I want to be a family with her, but I can’t risk losing the children. Oh, why hasn’t she called today?”

“Maybe you should give her friend Beth a call. She would know if something was wrong on the road that had kept Rae from being able to call. Maybe her phone is broken?”

“Beth is not my biggest fan, either,” Tara said with a sigh. “She’ll call. I know she’ll call.” She took a deep breath and stood up. “What can I do to help get ready for supper?”

Nora smiled and hugged her daughter’s partner and attempted to move the conversation on to more cheerful subjects. They ate hamburgers cooked on the grill and birthday cake and Mary opened her presents. The light was fading when Tara loaded Rachel and Will back into the car. Nora handed her Rachel’s diaper bag and hugged her warmly. “Rae will call.”

“I know. I know.” She resisted the urge to call again as she drove across town to the small apartment she had rented after her husband’s death. She pulled into her parking space and wearily gathered Rachel and the baby’s belongings. Will climbed out of the car and clamored up the steps. She followed without looking around. Will carefully worked the key, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip as he turned the lock. He opened the door and together they walked into the open room. He jumped up to turn on the light while Tara set aside Rachel’s bag.

“Aunt Rae!” he exclaimed suddenly. Tara turned sharply, holding Rachel to her breast. Rae was lying across the couch, her eyes closed. She didn’t budge at Will’s excited voice and Tara laid her hand on his shoulder before he could wake her. “But Mom!”

“Shh. Go put on your pajamas.” She nudged him toward his bedroom and carefully laid Rachel in the bassinet before walking to the couch and gazing into the sleeping face of her lover. Relief and concern competed for attention in her mind and heart as she perched on the edge of the sofa. Her trembling fingers reached out to brush Rae’s bangs off her forehead and then lovingly traced the soft skin of her cheek. Relief won and overwhelmed her. Tears started flowing down her cheeks and she put her hand to her mouth in an attempt to contain her sobs.

The sound of her crying woke Rae. It took the sleeping woman a moment to remember where she was and for her brown eyes to focus on Tara. She sat up quickly. “Hey, Hey! What’s wrong?’ She wrapped her arms around Tara, who leaned into the embrace, slipping her arms around Rae’s waist. “Shh, honey, shh,” Rae whispered, trying to calm her lover. She pushed Tara back and wiped the tears off the girl’s cheeks. “What’s going on?”

“I’m sorry,” Tara muttered. “I just . . . what are you doing here?”

“Tell me why you are crying first,” Rae demanded, her brow creasing.

“I feel so silly,” she said, ducking her head. “You didn’t call last night and you didn’t answer your phone today. I’ve imagined a hundred different reasons why.”

Because her head was down, Tara missed the uncomfortable expression that crossed Rae’s face. “I’m sorry, baby. I didn’t have my car charger today. My phone died. Everything’s all right.”

“Why are you here? I thought you had a few more weeks on the tour.”

Before she could answer, Will emerged from his room wearing Buzz Light-year pajamas. “Aunt Rae!” he called, his bare feet slapping across the floor to the couch. He leapt onto her lap and wrapped his tiny arms around her neck. “Did you come to tuck me in tonight?”

“I sure did, buddy, because I missed you so much.”

“I’ve missed you, too. Mommy said you were working and it would be a long time before you could come see us again.”

“I couldn’t stand it any longer. I needed hugs and kisses.”

Will giggled and obliged before launching into his litany about his day. Tara slipped away while her girlfriend spent time with her son. Her heart filled with love and tenderness as she watched the duo interact.

Tara felt yozgat escort Rae’s eyes on her the moment her lover emerged from Will’s bedroom. She had changed into a short, lacy gown that she had been saving for a special occasion with Rae. She was straightening the blankets on the sofa bed, her back to the little boy’s room. Knowing she had Rae’s attention, she bent slowly, stretching across the bed to smooth the opposite side. She felt the gown rise, revealing her silky thighs and round bottom. She glanced over her shoulder, casting a teasing smile at her lover before climbing onto the bed. She turned to her back, propping herself on her elbows and raising one leg so the gown slid to her waist.

Rae closed the distance quickly, placing her knee on the bed and her hands on either side of Tara’s head as she maneuvered over her lover. Their lips met softly at first, tenderly tasting and touching. Rae lowered herself into a comfortable position without releasing the kiss. She held Tara’s head in her hands, her fingers combed through her lover’s long blonde hair. Tara’s hands moved over Rae’s shoulders and back, affirming that the woman was really there and in her arms.

Tara’s fingers began bunching the material of Rae’s shirt, her fingertips longing for the feel of her girlfriend’s flesh. Her nails scratched along Rae’s back and her fingers counted Rae’s vertebra as their kisses deepened. Rae’s tongue was exploring inside Tara’s mouth and Tara was hungrily meeting each advance, her tongue dipping into Rae’s mouth. Their tongues twirled and dueled as they tasted one another. Rae sat up enough for Tara to remove her shirt but immediately resumed the devouring kisses. Rae mover her hand to Tara’s thigh, sliding up the smooth flesh to push the gown further up. Her hand came to rest on Tara’s hip as she bit and sucked on Tara’s lower lip.

Tara’s trembling fingers worked free the clasps on Rae’s bra. She pulled the cups free from Rae’s small breasts, her hands cupping and squeezing the exposed globes. Her thumbs rubbed Rae’s nipples, rotating over and massaging the hard pebbles. Rae moaned into Tara’s mouth. Her lips moved along Tara’s jaw line and nibbled her lover’s earlobe. Tara squeezed Rae’s nipples between her fingertips, tugging lightly on the sensitive buttons.

Rae’s hand continued pushing upward, her fingers moving over Tara’s flat belly. Tara’s heavy breasts were swollen with milk and sensitive from Rachel nursing. As soon as Rae’s fingers brushed against Tara’s nipples, Tara arched her body and moaned deeply. Rae’s lips moved down Tara’s neck, nipping and tugging with her teeth and soothing with her tongue.

Both women were breathing heavily as Rae’s fingertips skirted along the edge of Tara’s panties. Tara opened her legs as Rae pushed aside the cotton material and slipped her fingers between Tara’s slick lips. Rae’s quickly found Tara’s sensitive clit and began rubbing it in a steady rhythm. Tara inhaled sharply, her whole body arching upward. She moaned deeply. “Oh, Raegan.”

Rae shifted so she could watch her lover’s face. She wore a smile as her fingers continued their assault. “I love it when you saw my name,” she whispered huskily, her fingers moving from Tara’s tender button to her deep canal. She pushed two fingers inside and began gliding in and out in quickening strokes. She placed her thumb on Tara’s clit, causing dueling sensations to rocket through her lover’s small frame.

“Darling,” Tara groaned, her hungry body rocking in time to Rae’s unrelentless attack. “Oh, yes, Rae.” Because of the children, her volume remained low, but her sounds of pleasure were continuous. She alternated between begging Rae to stop and pleading with her to never cease. “Raegan, Raegan, Raegan.”

Rae smothered Tara’s cries with her mouth as she increased the intensity of her attack. She added a third finger and quickened her pace, knowing her lover’s body was close to climaxing. Tara tensed, arching her back as every muscle in her body spasmed. “Raegan,” she sighed one last time as she collapsed back. Rae smiled warmly, brushing a sweaty strand of hair from Tara’s forehead and kissing her softly. “I love you,” Tara whispered, her eyes closed.

Rae dropped another kiss on Tara’s cheek. “I know.” She pulled blankets over them and pulled Tara close. She inhaled deeply, not just smelling her lover but also the aromas associated with the children in the house. To Rae, those smells had come to mean home.

Tara woke the next morning to the smell of muffins baking. She stretched, smiling as her body ached in the familiar spots that said Rae’s presence had been real last night and not just another vivid dream. She heard Rae’s soft voice followed by her son’s answer. He was talking about muffins and soccer and the playground at school. Tara sighed in contentment and settled comfortably into the blankets. When Rachel woke, Tara started to sit up, but heard Rae making her way across the room to the bassinet. Rae bent over the side of the crib, talking to the baby before picking her up. When she turned, her eyes landed on Tara, who rewarded her with a sleepy smile. “Well, good morning, sleepy head,” she greeted, leaning over to touch her lips to Tara’s. “Good morning,” Tara answered. “I could wake up like this for the rest of my life.” She turned her head to glance at the clock so she missed the curious expression that flashed across Rae’s face. Her eyes widened and she sat up. “Oh my goodness, why did you let me sleep so late?”

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