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Endear You To Me

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Sharon opened her eyes to find herself nose to nose with a very awake Brenda Leigh.  The blonde’s cocoa colored eyes were sparkling, and the little crinkles at their corners told Sharon that there was a smile on Brenda’s face.  She blinked rapidly to clear the fog of sleep from her vision.

“Good morning,” Brenda purred, and then kissed her, sweeping her warm tongue against Sharon’s upper lip before pulling away.

“How long have you been up?”

Brenda shrugged.  “Oh, I don’t know.  Ten or fifteen minutes.”  She smiled shyly and flushed.  “I rarely get to watch you sleep, so I took the opportunity,” she confessed.  Sharon’s heart fluttered and a pleasant warmth bloomed in the pit of her stomach.  She reached up to cup one of Brenda’s blood suffused cheeks.

“I love you.”

“Love you, too,” murmured Brenda into the palm of Sharon’s hand as she pressed her lips there, and again on the blue veined pulse-point on Sharon’s wrist.  “Yesterday was so perfect, Shari.  Maybe the best day ever.”

“Really?”  Sharon asked with a hitch in her voice.  The heat in her belly curled deliciously up her spine and she felt her cheeks and ears tingle with the beginnings of a blush.

“Oh, most definitely.” 

Sharon grinned at her.  “Well, then I have my work cut out for me, trying to top it.”

“I know you had to be nervous, laying all that out there for me.  Thank you, for trusting me enough to put your heart on the line.”  She said the last bit with the most adorable apprehensive look on her face, clearly expecting a humorous ‘I told you so’ from Sharon, and in any other situation, Sharon would have taken the opportunity to tease, but not now, not when they were both very vulnerable.  So she just smiled, beatifically, knowingly, enough so Brenda would realize that Sharon realized what she was trying to say.  Brenda flushed deeper, licked her lips and looked away, then clasped one of Sharon’s hands in her own, her eyes darting back to Sharon’s.

“Would you wear my ring, too, Shari?  Is that something you would like?”

Brenda’s question elicited a smile from Sharon that made her mouth go dry and her heart thud funnily; her mossy green eyes shone, smile lines creased at their edges, and her lips were pressed together and trembling like she was fighting back tears.

“Oh, don’t cry!” Brenda exclaimed and gathered the brunette to her, stroking Sharon’s hair and cooing into one of her little bitty ears.  Sharon shuddered once and took in a great breath.

“I’m ok,” she sniffled.  “And of course I’ll wear your ring Brenda Leigh.”

“Good.  Excellent.  Maybe we should lighten the mood a little bit.”

“Yes, please,” Sharon agreed.  “How about some breakfast?”

“I could eat,” she said and Sharon chuckled; Brenda Leigh could always eat.  “And then we can deal with the fire pit and then maybe watch a few more episodes of Dr. Who on Netflix.”

“That sounds very nice.  I have to be out of here by noon, though, to get to my pre-meeting meeting and we should probably pack some.”

“If we must,” Brenda grumbled.

“I’d rather not have to pack after my potentially obnoxious meetings.  We can always cuddle up on the couch tonight with a bottle of that McCray Ridge, to celebrate?”

“I really, really like that idea.”  Her wide-lipped mouth stretched into a goofy grin.  “You’re so thoughtful,” she sighed.

Watching Sharon Raydor pack was like taking a master class in organization and planning.  Brenda stood in the closet pretending to decide which dresses she wanted to bring (she had to pick two - apparently nights out with the Raydor family were cocktail attire only), but really she was watching Sharon neatly lay out lingerie on the bed.  Three nice sets (black, black, burgundy), three cotton sets (gray, gray, black) and two extra pairs of panties.  Brenda blushed.  She’d probably have to pack extra underwear too; it was impossible to predict when her desire for Sharon would ratchet up and leave her uncomfortably damp in her underwear with no relief in sight.  She’d taken to carrying an extra pair or two in a plastic baggie at the bottom of her purse, too.  She turned back to the small selection of cocktail attire on her side of the closet.  Everything she owned was black.

“Having trouble?” Husked Sharon from her place next to the bed.

“All my dresses are black,” Brenda whined.  She pulled her favorite off the bar, a sheath with a dramatic ‘v’ neckline and back and flattering ruching along the torso and laid it over the chest at the foot of the bed.  “I could just wear this one twice with two different pairs of shoes,” she suggested sulkily.  Sharon gave her an affectionate smile, even though Brenda was sure she sounded like a pouting teenager.  Most of the time she loved the fact that her girlfriend cum fiancé was the best dressed woman in the LAPD.  Right now, trying to pick out clothing that would impress Sharon’s family, she was less enamored of that fact.

“How often do you have a reason to wear a cocktail dress that isn’t black?”

“Never.  Don’t want to stand out like a sore thumb at work events.”

“Certainly not,” Sharon teased and Brenda mock scowled at her.  Brenda was right, though; wearing color at a law enforcement function screamed ‘civilian’, and for women who had to fight tooth and nail to be seen as professionals, black was the only option.  And even Brenda, who regularly and almost joyfully flouted the conventions of acceptable work attire, didn’t feel comfortable breaking the unwritten proscriptions concerning proper attire at formal law enforcement functions. 

“I might have a solution to your problem, but it depends on how you feel about another gift.” 

Brenda sighed, but said, “Bring it on.  Wanting to look good when I meet your family trumps whatever peevishness I might feel about you spendin’ money on me.”

“In my defense, it was going to be one of your Christmas presents.”  Sharon abandoned her folding and left the room.

Brenda was torn.  Part of her (the larger part, if she was being honest with herself) relished the fact that her gorgeous, classy significant other sometimes couldn’t resist buying pretty, sumptuous clothing that made her think of Brenda.  Though Sharon buying her a designer outfit was, in terms of relative expense, not much different than Fritz buying her that ugly potted orchid or taking her out for dinner, she thought, reasoning away that little niggling voice that said she should be wary of being showered with gifts.  Sharon showered her with lots of other things, too: love, affection, understanding, laughter, food, wine, excellent sex.  And it wasn’t like Sharon hadn’t offered to combine her own substantial wealth with Brenda’s own income and modest savings the night before.  The salient point was, Brenda never felt like Sharon was trying to buy her affections, nor did she feel obligated to repay Sharon in anyway for the gifts she received.  Though she did repay her - with kisses and orgasms - largely because the indomitable Sharon Raydor nervous about the reception of her always thoughtful gifts was an intoxicating mishmash of sexy and adorable that Brenda found irresistible. 

Brenda resolved to let go of her reservations and dove into the pile of shoes at the bottom of the closet in search of her turquoise pumps - she just hoped she had something to match whatever dress Sharon had hidden away.

Sharon reentered the bedroom carrying a Neiman Marcus branded garment bag and a red shoe box.

“Shoes too?”  Brenda asked, and Sharon lifted her shoulders in a slight shrug. 

“I checked to see if you had anything to match first, honest.”  She put the shoe box on the bed and unzipped the garment bag, sliding it around the dress on the hanger and then up and off.  Brenda gasped.

“That’s the one from the window the other day when we were in Beverly Hills!” she exclaimed to Sharon’s shy delight.  Of course Sharon noticed that particular shimmering blue and gold jacquard dress she’d nearly face planted on the glass in front of when she’d noticed it in the window of Neiman Marcus.  She’d even offered to skip her lunch and go inside, but Brenda had declined her offer; what use did she have for a cocktail dress with color, anyways?

“I bet some poor cleaning person had to scrub my face print off that window - I can’t believe you went back,” Brenda crowed and ran a finger down the slightly scratchy fabric.  She had half a mind to put the dress somewhere safe and tackle Sharon to the bed. 

“Of course I did.  It’s a beautiful dress, and I am positive that it will look fantastic on you.”

“So are we having a little fitting room session then?”

“Well, if you want to bring the dress to Santa Cruz, you might want to find out if it fits.”

“I have no doubt, Shari.  You do know my body ever so well,” Brenda said in a purr, though she unbuttoned her jeans anyway and pushed them off her hips.  She pulled her shirt over her head and tossed it on the floor without a care.  Sharon unzipped the dress, slipped it off the hanger and handed it to Brenda before taking a seat on the bed.

Brenda stepped into the garment and pulled it up around her waist.  The bra would have to go; it was cotton patterned with flowers and would be visible through the asymmetrical neckline and cut out.  She let the dress hang and flicked open the front clasp of her bra, shrugging it off her shoulders, intending to let it fall to the floor; Sharon caught it before it could and set it gently on the bed, her fingers lingering on the soft cup, eyelids fluttering.  She caught Brenda’s gaze; her eyes glittered a darker green than usual - nearly emerald from the expansion of her pupils.  Sharon Raydor was aroused, and it became a struggle for Brenda Leigh to continue on with her task of trying on the dress.

Slipping her arms through the holes, Brenda lifted the bodice into place and turned her back to Sharon, pulling her hair over one shoulder, mutely asking for the other woman to attend to her zipper.  Gentle fingers bumped at the base of her spine and drew the dress closed.  Brenda took a step away and then turned around.

“You think it fits?”

“Oh my,” Sharon breathed.  “Yes, I believe it fits.  Try the shoes.”  She fumbled with the lid of the shoe box, apparently unable to look away from Brenda.  The shoe box contained a pair of Valentino peep toe pumps covered in iridescent gold bead; Brenda traced over the beadwork with a questing finger.  She fished them out from their nest of paper and slipped them on, unsurprised that they fit as perfectly as the dress, even if they were a little higher than she was used to - she wobbled a little on her way to the mirror, eager to see the full effect.

“Wow.  Sharon, you sure can pick ‘em.”

“It seems that I can,” Sharon husked, moving up behind Brenda in the mirror, placing a kiss on the shoulder left bare by the dress’s neckline.  Brenda was struck by the picture the two of them made together - they really were a striking couple.

“You think we could have someone take a few pictures when we’re all dressed up?”

“I’m sure we’ll be able to talk someone into snapping a few for posterity  I certainly wouldn’t say no to pictures of you in this dress.”

“Mmmmm,” Brenda agreed, wondering what Sharon would be packing to wear, certain that it would be gorgeous and flattering.  “Unzip me?”  Sharon did, and Brenda peeled the dress from her chest and let it slip down, stepping out of it.  With careful hands, she laid the shimmering fabric on the chest and then turned her attention back to Sharon.  Sharon who was staring and didn’t seem to be aware she was doing so.

“See something you like?” teased Brenda, hooking her thumbs in the waist of her panties and rolling them down her thighs, dragging her nails lightly across the soft skin - this shook Sharon out of her trance and her eyes snapped up to Brenda’s, smoldering.

“Yes.”  Sharon answered simply, her eyes darting down to the moisture clinging to the lips of Brenda’s sex - she looked red and a bit swollen from their lovemaking the night before and Sharon couldn’t believe that Brenda was standing in front of her in a pair of four inch heels, wet and ready and all for her.

“Touch me?” the blonde implored, kicking her underwear off and away.

“Are you sure?” Sharon gathered the blonde to her, the height difference allowing her to lean in and kiss Brenda’s neck, her lips finding the rapidly fluttering pulse under the soft skin.

“Just be gentle, I’m a little tender.”  Brenda hissed when Sharon cupped her, but as Sharon drew a finger along her slit, collecting Brenda’s arousal on its tip, she moaned and widened her stance to give Sharon better access.  “Inside,” she breathed, and when Sharon entered her with two fingers she moaned again, knees buckling, she relied on Sharon to keep her from falling; Sharon wrapped an arm around her waist until Brenda found her feet again.

“Good?”  With the pads of her fingers, Sharon applied firm pressure to the slick, silken flesh of Brenda’s inner walls, her thumb gently stroking the hood of Brenda’s clit.

“Fuck, yes.  Don’t stop.”

“Could we turn around?  I won’t let you fall.”

“Ohhh,” Brenda moaned, trembling.  “Why ever do you want…” Then she laughed breathlessly.  “The mirror.  Naughty.”  They shuffled in place a few steps, rotating until Sharon could see Brenda’s pale back in the mirror, tawny curls brushing the bottom of her shoulder blades, the muscles of her buttocks and thighs flexing and shivering in time with the movements of Sharon’s fingers.  Sharon dragged her gaze up to her face, flushed with reciprocal pleasure, staring into her own eyes over one of Brenda’s shoulders.  She’d only ever had glimpses of herself like this, before Brenda, but her newfound libido and Brenda’s willingness to have at it with her anywhere in the house had led to Sharon discovering, thanks to the reflection of Brenda kneeling between her legs in the darkened glass of the back door, that she enjoyed this low-key voyeurism.  Seeing herself with Brenda, not only in passion, but also when they were watching television, or working side by side in the kitchen, or brushing their teeth, gave Sharon a thrill.

“Another,” the blonde demanded, breaking Sharon from her reverie, her hips moving now in counterpoint to Sharon’s ministrations.  She slid a third finger into place alongside its fellows and relished the way her hand fit so snugly in and against Brenda’s most intimate parts.  Pressing kisses to the corner of Brenda’s jaw and along the length of her neck, Sharon was lost in the humid warmth surrounding her fingers, the scratch of Brenda’s curls against the heel of her hand, and even the slight crick in her wrist.  Brenda groaned at the stretch of an additional finger and then panted in Sharon’s ear: “I’m close.”  But Sharon already knew; she could tell by the way the other woman was clinging to her, and by the twitch in her hamstrings visible in the mirror, like she was having trouble staying upright, and most of all, by the flutter of the strong muscles clenched around her fingers.  Sharon bore down on Brenda’s clit, and curved her fingers to press firmly upwards and rubbed.

“Sharon,” Brenda moaned, then stiffened and promptly turned to jelly in Sharon’s arms.  Doing her best to prolong the blonde’s orgasm, Sharon managed to keep them both upright by slumping back to perch on the edge of the trunk, Brenda collapsed awkwardly on top of her, feet still on the floor, resting most of her weight on her arms around Sharon’s neck, head on Sharon’s shoulder.

“Standing up sex always works out better in my head,” Brenda said wryly after a moment’s pause.  Sharon snorted and gently removed her fingers from between the other woman’s legs, eliciting a twitch and a sigh.

“I don’t mind holding you up,” Sharon reassured her and as the blonde took to her own feet again, hand’s on Sharon’s shoulders, Sharon was rewarded with a lovely, post-orgasmic smile, hazy brown eyes lidded and secretive.

“And I love you for it,” teased Brenda with a wink.  Placing her hands on Sharon’s thighs, Brenda levered herself down to her knees.  “Your turn,” she husked, licking her lips and moving to unbutton Sharon’s trousers. 

Sharon should have stopped her - she was supposed to leave in 30 minutes to meet with a fellow board member about Denise’s unprofessional behavior, and being late was not Sharon Raydor’s style.  But she didn’t.  She lifted her hips so Brenda could pull off her pants and panties.  Dropped her head back and groaned at the first swipe of that agile tongue against her lips.  She watched herself, flushed and panting and slightly wild-eyed, one hand threaded through honeyed locks as Brenda’s head worked between her legs.  And finally, she came, her hips jerking up uncontrollably, her back arching like the curve of a bow as she shuddered and shook her release into Brenda’s mouth.  Surprisingly, as she pulled Brenda up to her mouth for a messy, come flavored kiss, Sharon found she didn’t feel guilty at all. 

After sending Sharon out the door (10 minutes behind schedule) with a travel mug of coffee, her laptop, and a kiss, Brenda trudged back up the stairs and fell face first onto the bed.  She was under strict instructions to finish packing, but first, she needed a nap.  She set the alarm on her phone for one hour and then curled up with her head on Sharon’s pillow, hugging her own pillow to her chest.  She closed her eyes and let the scent of Sharon and their love-making lull her into dream land. 

The shrill ringing of her phone dragged Brenda from pleasantly fuzzy dreams of Sharon and their friends and food and wine.  She groaned and reached blindly for the obnoxious device, stabbing the answer button.

“‘Lo,” she croaked, then scrubbed the back of her hand across her mouth to clear the drool that had dribbled down her chin.

“Hello?  Is this Brenda Johnson?”  The caller was an older woman - her voice was utterly unfamiliar to Brenda.

“Uh, yes, this is she.”  Brenda cringed at the significant frog in her voice.

“Excellent.  Hello, this is Margery Raydor, Sharon’s mother.”  Brenda sat bolt upright and nearly let the phone slip from her hand.

“Um, hello,” was all Brenda could manage to get out.  She must be making a stellar first impression.

“I’m sorry to spring myself on you, dear, especially since it sounds like you were napping, but I need your help with something.”

“Okay,” Brenda said dumbly, unsure of how to respond, really.  She swung her legs out of bed and headed into the bathroom, intending to splash some cold water on her face.

“Some of the cousins organized a little surprise get together for Sharon at a restaurant she likes in Santa Cruz.  Nothing fancy - just dinner and some champagne, but she’ll need an extra dress.”  Brenda turned the tap on low.

“I think I can handle that - I think she was gonna pack an extra, anyways.  In case of emergency cocktail party, I guess,” Brenda joked, and stuck her wrist under the cool water.  She smiled a little when Mrs. Raydor laughed at her quip.

“One never knows when and where a fancy dress event will spring up, dear.”

“Should I bring the trinket I got her with me?  Are ya’ll doing gifts?”

“Why don’t you give her yours whenever you planned to originally.  I don’t know if you’ve had occasion to find this out, but my daughter doesn’t really like receiving gifts in public.”

“You know, that doesn’t surprise me, but thank you for the heads up.”  Public praise and recognition also made the good Captain rather twitchy.

“My hope is that no one has done the ridiculous and gotten gifts on top of everything; they mostly know better.  The party will probably be about all she can handle.”  Brenda knew what that meant - Sharon would be wearing what she’d come to think of as her ‘Captain Raydor’ mask.  She was confident in her ability to deal with any grumpiness Sharon Raydor could dish out; give her a good bottle of wine, a bathroom with a tub and door with a lock and she’d have Sharon purring like a kitten, else she’d throw her in the pool and tell her to swim out her grouchies.  Though it was too bad that Sharon’s cousins apparently thought that celebrating was more important than Sharon’s feelings on the matter.

“Oh dear.  Well, I’m glad her cousins are excited for her,” Brenda offered diplomatically. 

“That’s nice of you to say.  Have a pleasant afternoon, Brenda.”

“You too, m’am.”  The older woman hung up.  Brenda put her phone down on the counter and looked at it as it might bite her.  She was supposed to call her own mama later, but Brenda was feeling like one parental phone conversation per day was more than enough.  Sighing, she turned the tap back on and splashed some water on her flaming cheeks.  She still hadn’t worked out how she was going to handle Sharon’s parents in person - she’d never really had to deal with the ‘I really enjoy putting my face in your daughter’s vagina, in fact I’d really like to do it right now’ aspect of a romantic relationship before.  ‘Fake it till you make it’, she supposed.  On the upside, Mrs. Raydor seemed nice enough.

Utterly mystified by the inner workings of families, Brenda moved into the bedroom to resume her packing. She opened her underwear drawer, wondering if she could tell Sharon about her mother’s phone call without the other woman getting suspicious about the party thing.  Because she was going to tell Sharon about it; thus far, near complete honesty (Sharon didn’t need to know about her vending machine addiction, really) had worked extraordinarily well for Brenda in this relationship.  Probably, she should just tell Sharon about the party so she could prepare herself; she had no doubts that Sharon Raydor could feign surprise well enough to fake out a few well-meaning cousins.

Brenda assembled her clothing methodically; underwear, a couple pairs of socks (her toes got cold easily and Sharon grumbled about chilly feet in bed), nightshirt, a pair of Sharon’s old sweatpants, swimsuit, shoes and dresses on their hangers laid out on top of the chest.  Casual was what she had been told to pack, though Brenda was wishing she’d been able to see what Sharon would choose for herself - that would have made this process easier.  She decided to simply split the difference by rolling up two pairs of jeans, a pair of relaxed gray slacks and one of her skirts and tucking them into the suitcase Sharon had left out for them to fill.  Shirts and a pair of warm sweaters went in next, then she filled in the holes with the smaller articles she’d gathered on the bed.  When she was done, she noted with a little pride that she’d taken up exactly half of the bag.

Across town, Sharon had just endured a fraught meeting with another board of directors member - Anne, and Denise.  It worried her that despite being told that her job was on the line, Denise had still railed against the injustice of having her behavior called into question while a board member was ‘shacking up’ with a married woman.  Was Sharon immune from criticism because she and her family were financial backers of the shelter?

Sharon’s colleague, with whom she had worked for nearly twenty years, had been taken aback by Denise’s vehemence.  Sharon’s position on the board did have something to do with her financial contributions to the shelter, but her work as emergency counsel for victims was purely a result of her abilities and her disposition - it was difficult to find reliable lawyers for pro bono work who wouldn’t run roughshod over the shelter’s clients.  Seeing hurt bloom on Sharon’s face, and then harden into icy cold anger, Anne had dismissed the still verbally pugilistic Denise to wait in her office.

“We’ll deal with her,” Anne had said simply and then left, presumably to do just that.

She slumped down into the chair she had occupied during the board meeting and rested her head in her hands, resisting the urge to thump it against the table a few times.  How had this happened?  She knew what Brenda thought: that Denise, faced with evidence that her unrequited affection for Sharon was just that, was striving to assert some sort of control over Sharon’s life.

But could it be that simple?  Was Denise really willing to risk her livelihood by acting out this petty jealousy?  And what about Lynn?  Sharon didn’t feel comfortable calling to make sure the other woman was ok.  What if she was happily oblivious?  What if she blamed Sharon?  She scrubbed her hands over her face and then woke up her laptop; she had set up her machine so that an absent board member could at least attend the meeting through the magic of Skype.  Sometime since the end of the meeting, her son had signed on and sent her a message:

Jackson: Moooooooooooooom

Sharon rolled her eyes.  She’d raised a charming child.  She clicked on the video call button - she needed to talk to him, anyway.  It rang a few times and then the screen shifted and her son’s handsome face appeared in the Skype window.

“Moooooooooooooom,” he exclaimed with a big wave.  Sharon could only smile indulgently.  He leaned towards his monitor and peered around at the scenery behind her.  “Hey, where are you?”

“I’m at the shelter.  Our monthly meeting just wrapped up.”

“Were you chatting during your very important and very serious meeting, Sharon Raydor?”  He accused playfully, narrowing his eyes and raising an eyebrow at her.

“No, Jackson Raydor, I was not chatting.  We had an absentee member and he participated by video call.”

“How technologically savvy of you, mother dearest.  Though I’m not sure I believe you weren’t gossiping with Anne or sending mash notes to Ms. Brenda Leeeeeeeigh.  When am I going to meet her, anyways.  Will she be around at Christmas?”  Sharon felt herself smile at the mention of Brenda.

“Actually, I wanted to talk to you about Christmas, Jax,” she started, resting her head in her hand, elbow on the table, but he interrupted her. 

“Awww, you’re not going out of town, are you?  Gin is dying to see you and I have like three new recipes I want your opinion on…”

“Jackson!  Relax.  My plans have not changed, ok?  I have some news though, that might affect Christmas and hopefully future holidays as well.”

“Hopefully?  What is it?”

“Brenda moved in with me, so she’ll be around for Christmas.”

“Awwwwww, Mom.  Are you happy?  Does she fit?”  Sharon blushed, and nodded.

“She fits, and I fit.  And I haven’t been this happy since you grew up and blew away.”

“I’m glad.  You deserve it.”  He smiled at her, and Sharon blinked back tears.  So many emotional talks over the past few days - she was ready for a little smooth sailing.  “Don’t cry, Mommy.  Let me go get Gin so you can tell her, too.”

Sharon found herself looking at a threadbare t-shirt from some surf competition in Huntington Beach as her son wandered off into the small bungalow he shared with his longtime fiancé, Ginny.  Sharon had become close with Ginny in a way she would probably never know with her own daughter, and she cherished the time she got to spend with the young woman, thankful that Jackson’s taste in the opposite sex had proven to be much better than Sharon’s.

“Mama Sharon!” Ginny practically shouted as she threw herself into the rolling desk chair and disappeared from view for a moment.  When her face came back on screen she was grinning.  “Jackson told me the news about your lady.  I might have mentioned girl-talk so he would stay in the kitchen.”

“I can’t believe he still falls for that trick.”  Ginny would occasionally play the ‘girl-talk’ card so she and Sharon could get away and have dinner or drinks or see a movie that Jackson wasn’t interested in.  Her son never objected because Ginny had him wound up believing that ‘girl-talk’ meant his fiancé was talking about sex with his mother.

“Can’t go wrong with the classics, Shar.  Speaking of girl-talk, does this mean I can stop sending you pictures of ridiculous vibrators?”

“Well,” Sharon said, smirking wickedly, “toys are always fun, solo or otherwise.”  Ginny clapped her hands together in delight.

“I’m happy for you, Mama Sharon.  I’m sorry now we’ll be in Louisiana for Thanksgiving.”

“I can’t believe I haven’t seen you two since August.”  Sharon had been so wrapped up in Brenda Leigh that fall had passed by without her taking her customary long weekend to drive up to Berkeley for a visit.

“I’ll forgive you this time - you had good reason.”

“I guess I did.  Travel safe and say hello to your parents for me.”

“I will.  Love you, Mama Sharon.”

“Love you, too, Gin.  Talk to you soon.”  Sharon closed the app and closed her laptop.  Brenda was waiting for her at home, and she had packing to finish before they could begin their celebrating.

Sharon found Brenda in the kitchen, of all places, laboring industriously with a knife, slicing a tomato into wafer thin slices. 

“Hey, gorgeous,” Brenda offered in greeting.  “How did your meeting go?”

“It went fine,” Sharon said distractedly, amazed by Brenda’s voluntary foray into food preparation.  She pressed herself against Brenda’s back and rested her chin on a narrow shoulder.  “Are you cooking?”

“I am assembling a pizza for our consumption later this evening.  I think the actual cooking will be up to you, darlin’.”  She hmmmm’ed as Sharon’s arms snaked around her waist and worked the knife against the tomato a few more times.  “Unless you enjoy burnt pizza?”

“I think that I can take care of the application of heat to the victuals since you have put so much effort into this lovely pizza.”  Instead of sauce, Brenda was layering the pizza with the tomatoes.  A bag of shredded mozzarella and a container of spinach leaves waited in the wings.

“I was going to do spinach and mushroom and maybe some chicken breast left over from the other night.”  Brenda ended the statement like a question, looking for Sharon’s approval of her plan.

“Perfect.”  Sharon released Brenda’s waist and stepped away to shrug out of her blazer.  She dropped it over the back of a kitchen chair.  “How was your day?  Did you finish packing?”

“I did finish packing.  It took about ten minutes once you made my choice of dresses so much easier.”  She arranged the tomatoes on the last empty spots on the crust.  “So, I talked to your mama today.”

“What?” Sharon’s head whipped around, shiny brunette hair sketching a surprised circle around her head.  “Really?”

“Yes.”  Brenda opened the bag of cheese and began spreading generous amounts of mozzarella over the tomatoes.  “I had been nappin’, so I don’t know how coherent I was to start off, but we had a nice chat.”

“About anything in particular?”

“Uh, well, we’re supposed to bring two dresses with us.”

“Brenda Leigh.”  Sharon resumed her previous position behind Brenda, this time sneaking fingers under Brenda’s shirt to find bare skin, lightly stroking the baby-fine hairs on Brenda’s belly, cooing directly into her ear:  “Brenda Leigh.  Why did my mother call you to make sure I brought another dress?”  Brenda shivered against her.

“Not that I don’t appreciate your methods of interrogation, but I was going to tell you, Shari.”

“So you’re telling me if I did this:” she bent her neck to suck one of Brenda’s earlobes in to her mouth, laving it briefly with her tongue.  Brenda gasped.  “It would have absolutely no bearing on what you were going to tell me?”

“I’m gonna make a mess with this cheese if you keep it up,” groused the blonde, but she was relaxed against Sharon, so Sharon did keep it up.  Brenda kept talking as her neck was lavished with gentle affection.  “Apparently some cousins have planned a surprise thing for you Wednesday night.”

“What kind of thing and where?”

“Dinner and champagne at a restaurant you like.”  Sharon huffed a sigh.  “Hey now, no bein’ grumpy.  It’s not for three more days.  Why don’t you go get set up on the couch with the good Doctor and I’ll be in as soon as I finish with this.”

“Alright.”  Sharon placed a final kiss behind Brenda’s ear.  “Do you want to open the wine now?”

“Let’s wait for the pizza.”

Sharon left the kitchen, and Brenda heard the leather of the couch creak as the other woman settled herself upon it.  That was a familiar sound that was soon replaced by the newly familiar music of the Doctor Who credits.  Brenda sliced a few mushrooms and applied them liberally to her creation, then did the same with some chicken. 

Kitchen back in order and pizza waiting in the refrigerator, Brenda curled up against Sharon on the couch to watch a slight man in a pinstripe suit and a red-headed woman fight wheeled metal trashcans with plungers that came out of their faces.  She was reluctant to admit she found this show quite amusing in spite of herself.  As the story unfolded, cradled comfortably in the space behind Sharon’s knees, Brenda realized that she hadn’t thought about murder (except for briefly homicidal thoughts directed towards Denise) or work all day.