Chapter 1: Pieces
When the phone in her hand started ringing, Taylor couldn't even remember picking it up. She couldn't remember dialing a number, yet when she looked at the screen, she wasn't particularly surprised to see Abbie's number there. Taylor had seen her in passing on the sidewalk earlier that day and she hadn't looked good. Though they had grown apart over the past few years, Taylor couldn't ignore the part of her that immediately wanted to go to Abbie and try to fix whatever was haunting the other woman. She put the phone back to her ear and hoped that Abbie would pick up.
Abbie was only vaguely aware that her phone was ringing. It was just an extra noise blending with the television in the background, and she tried to ignore both and go back to sleep. But it kept ringing, and she reached her arm over the side of the couch and picked it up off the floor. She accepted the call and put the phone to her ear, not bothering to sit up, "Hello?" She knew she sounded like hell, but was far from caring.
"Christ, Abbie, you sound like shit." It only took her one word to hear that. It wasn't the most tactful thing to say, but it was the first thing that came to her. She was already pulling on shoes.
Abbie rolled over to face the back of the sofa, "Yeah, so what? I'm allowed." She didn't mean to take it out on Taylor, but she was the unfortunate caller. "I had a bad day in court, Judge Samson can kiss my ass. He'd probably like that though." She was expecting Taylor to hang up at any minute, Abbie couldn't figure why she'd really be calling anyway.
"Have you had anything to eat tonight?" Taylor ignored everything that Abbie said, more concerned by what she heard behind the words. "Or at all today?" Taylor pulled on a coat and started looking for her keys.
"Uhhh...." Abbie looked at the two empty beer bottles on the floor, beside the half-empty box of crackers. "....yes?" It wasn't convincing, but she didn't care to hide it.
"I'm going to assume that means no. I'm picking up some take out and coming over. Unlock your door or something." Taylor closed and locked her apartment door and headed down, taking the stairs instead of the elevator because she didn't want the call to get cut off.
"You're what?" Abbie sat up, brushing her hair back, even though the better part of it was still in a ponytail. "Taylor, no you don't have to, I'm ok, I'm just tired." Still, the brunette was standing and walking to the door to unlock it even as she protested.
"It isn't negotiable. Even if you did eat toady, which I'm highly skeptical of, I'm sure that eating again isn't going to kill you. Plus, I'm hungry and you sound like you need some company." Taylor stepped out onto the sidewalk. "Are you going to be okay if I hang up or do you want me to stay on the phone?"
"Taylor...I think I can survive without you babysitting me over a cell phone. I've been managing all week." Maybe not well, but well enough. She glanced at her reflection in the hall mirror and grimaced, adding more quietly before hanging up, "but thank you." She put the phone down, and walked into the bathroom to try and make herself look less like death warmed over.
Taylor got lucky and the Chinese place halfway between their apartments wasn't busy. Taylor hadn't been in a while, it was out of her way, but it still smelled the same. She was opening Abbie's door a half an hour later, arms loaded down with enough food to last for a week. "Abbie?"
Abbie had managed to force a brush through her hair, and put it back up again, and even found some pants to put on before Taylor arrived. She'd literally collapsed when she came home from work that day, and hadn't managed much more than opening a beer and falling onto the couch. The smell of the food made her realize how hungry she actually was, and she wandered out of the bedroom. "Hey...thanks, but you know you didn't really have to." Still, she was following the blond into the kitchen.
"It wasn't a problem." Taylor put the bags down on the counter and started pulling containers out of them. "Plates still where they were?" She didn't wait for an answer, just opening the cabinets until she found them.
Overwhelmed, Abbie just sat on one of the barstools, pushing aside a stack of unopened mail. Taylor seemed so sure, as strong as she used to be, maybe somehow stronger. Abbie chewed her lip, and watched Taylor serve two plates, "I've been meaning to call you since the service. I just....haven't done much but work."
"It's fine. How's the US Attorney's office?" Taylor smiled slightly and handed her a plate, a plastic fork and a pair of chopsticks. It had been years since Abbie took the job, but they hadn't really had the chance to catch up. Taylor thought that part of her life was gone until Abbie called for the funeral.
Abbie took a bite, muttering under her breath, "Shinier office, higher security...more red tape and Harvard boys." In truth she was getting along well with her new position, but not much seemed worth it at the moment. Abbie slid off her seat and went to the fridge to pull out another beer. She held it up, asking if Taylor wanted one too.
Taylor took the beer from Abbie and twisted the top off, pulling the liquid down her throat. "I'm sure you're getting along great with the Harvard boys." She chuckled, just trying to imagine it. As she perched on a bar stool, she looked around Abbie's apartment. It looked like a disaster zone, but she didn't say anything.
Abbie started on her own beer and resumed eating. The combination of conversation, real food, and her third drink of the night was starting to make her feel more human. "Yeah, if they'd stop hitting on me, that would be super. It only got worse when they met Alex." She fell silent again, looking down at her food.
Reaching over, Taylor put her hand over Abbie's and squeezing it. "It'll get better. I know you don't need me to tell you that, and I know it doesn't help much." Then she pulled her hand back and focused on her food, giving Abbie a moment to herself.
Abbie looked up, something about how Taylor spoke like that always made her believe whatever was being said. She just nodded silently, wondering why it hadn't been this hard with Ricci. Maybe it was shock, or maybe she supposed loss is cumulative, that we were only designed to take so much before it finally pours over and starts to drown you.
She took another drink and looked back at Taylor, thinking she wasn't the type to let someone drown in any circumstance. Something about the thought steadied her, and she gave the blond a small smile, "Thanks Taylor, really."
"You're welcome." Taylor quickly finished eating and went to stick her plate in the dishwasher, only to find that it was already full of dirty dishes. She put it in the sink instead. She sat back down, letting the already sparse conversation lapse while she waited for Abbie to finish eating. It only took a few moments, and the brunette sat back, suddenly more tired than she'd even been upon coming home. She finished her beer and set the bottle down on the counter.
"Done?" Taylor took Abbie's plate and sat it on top of her own. She would take care of them later. Right then, Abbie was more important and when she reached the other woman, she just pulled her into her arms. Abbie's head just reached her shoulder and Taylor held her there. "It's going to get better, sugar."
Abbie didn't even attempt to push her away, to protest that she was fine. Because she wasn't, and the week had been battle enough. She only vaguely felt herself guided into the bedroom and gently laid on her bed. She had to stop herself from trying to hang onto Taylor's shirt when she pulled away. The tears had returned, but it was no surprise, they seemed almost ever-present the last weeks.
Taylor pulled the covers up over Abbie and kissed the top of her head. "I'll be right back." She quickly checked that the door was lock and turned the lights off before she returned to the bedroom and pulled off her shoes. Less than two minutes after she had left, Taylor crawled into bed with Abbie and pulled her back into her arms, holding her close and letting her cry.
Abbie coughed, burying her face in Taylor's shoulder. She wanted to talk, to tell Taylor she didn't have to stay, that she would be alright and could take care of herself, but the words wouldn't come and she eventually started to drift to the feeling of the blond's fingers working the ponytail out of her hair and holding her closer.
"That's it, get some sleep, sugar. I'll be here when you wake up." Taylor kissed the top of Abbie's head again, running her fingers through her hair and letting her fall asleep.
Taylor didn't know how long she lay there, stroking Abbie's hair and watching her sleep. The brunette's body had given up before her mind, and she'd shuddered with faint sobs well after she'd lapsed into unconsciousness.
Faint light from the street was coming through curtains Taylor had forgotten to close. She had attended too many funerals over the preceding years, and Alex's had been just another in that string, another reminder that one day it would be her coffin draped with a flag. Looking down at Abbie made her feel selfish for even thinking it. She was as safe as anyone could reasonably expect to be. Far too many of her friends weren't.
Sighing lowly, and making sure that Abbie was still, Taylor slid out of bed. She closed the curtain, then closed the bedroom door behind herself as she stepped into the hallway. A lamp in the living room reveled the clutter that had to have been piling up for weeks. Taylor ignored it in favor of the kitchen, grabbing another beer from the fridge before she started to formulate a battle plan. She could get the kitchen and the living room clean and still get a few hours of sleep before Abbie would be anywhere close to waking up. She didn't want Abbie to wake up alone, not after promising her that she would be there. Mopping and vacuuming would have to wait until after that happened.
Taylor sighed again as she turned on the dishwasher. She knew better than to try to make any sense of it. She knew some the bad guys won and the good guys lost and that fate was cruel but her own thoughts sounded hollow. Abbie had taken some kind of comfort in her platitudes, but Taylor was sure that was because she simply needed to hear something, anything to make the rest of the day more bearable. That wouldn't last forever. Taylor put away half empty packages of food, threw out the ones that were completely empty, and wiped off counters, going through each task by rote. That the stove was still spotless didn't surprise her.
She went to the living room and started the process again, putting things back where they were supposed to go and throwing out an impressive collection of beer bottles. She didn't want to speculate on how many of them Abbie had had that day, so she worked on getting rid of them. She took out the garbage. And then suddenly she was done. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than it was, and it would do. Abbie's bed was starting to sound inviting again. Taylor stole a pair of sweatpants and a tee shirt before she crawled back in, wrapping herself around Abbie's hunched back and relaxing as Abbie slowly started to uncurl.
Chapter 2: Companionable Silence
Whatever Taylor was cooking smelled really good, and Abbie wasn't too proud to admit it. The brunette glanced cautiously around her own kitchen, feeling slightly out of place. "Can I help with anything...or...get you anything?" Abbie had protested when Taylor had run into her at the store and informed her that beer and chicken nuggets was not a balanced diet, and that she would see to it herself that Abbie didn't try to make it one. Still, the brunette was secretly glad for Taylor's impromptu company. It had been some time since Alex, and the casual inquiries about how she was doing had faded, as everyone else went back to their normal lives. Meanwhile, Abbie still wasn't sleeping well, and admittedly, eating worse.
"I think I've got it covered." Taylor smiled at Abbie, trying to keep the mood light. "Why don't you go figure out what we're watching?" She started getting out plates, glad to see that Abbie's apartment had at least stayed relatively clean since the last time she was there.
"Okay." Abbie nodded, and went into the living room. When she'd suggested a movie with dinner, she hadn't thought it all the way through, not entirely sure what she could even offer. In the end she just flipped on the television and put on one of the movie channels. She had faith in Taylor to change it if she wanted. Abbie wandered back into the kitchen and pulled down a few plates and glasses, it seemed like the least she could do.
Taylor started putting food on the plates, handing them to Abbie as she finished. "Just, stick them on the coffee table. I'll grab us some drinks." She had been surprised to see tea in Abbie's fridge earlier, amazed that she had taken the time to make it, but she didn't want to start Abbie drinking so early in the night.
Abbie smiled a little at the familiarity, and grabbed a couple of napkins on her way. "Thanks, looks great." She made her way to the living room and put the food down, still smiling when Taylor joined her a few minutes later. "So how was your week?" She didn't protest when the blond handed her tea instead of something stronger, she didn't need it tonight.
"Long, but not bad." Taylor grabbed a plate and a fork and started eating. "How was yours?" The movie Abbie had found was utterly banal, but Taylor didn't mind. It was really just there to provide background noise.
"Great, until I went to work." Even with her dismal assessment, she took a moment to enjoy. "Wow. I think I'd forgotten what real food tastes like." Taylor just smiled at her and shook her head. They both pretended to watch the movie in companionable silence while they ate, occasionally making a comment that didn't really matter. It was what Abbie liked about Taylor, that they had little to prove to one another anymore.
Taylor just put the dishes on the floor when they finished eating and slung an arm around Abbie's shoulders, pulling her back against her chest, just holding her there as the next movie came on. She kissed Abbie's temple, falling back into the easy routine of it. "How have you been? Really?"
Abbie sighed, and all but melted into Taylor. It had been a long time it seemed since someone had really held her. "Well...alright I guess. There's some worry over funding at work, so people are on edge. And other than that, just going day to day I guess." The brunette slipped an arm around Taylor and pulled herself closer, "Had lunch with Jack last week, he hasn't changed...never will I'd expect."
"Mmm." Taylor nodded and shifted until she was comfortable with Abbie's weight, practically letting Abbie lie on top of her. "Jack McCoy is going to be sitting in a nursing home one day, railing about the injustice of being served banana pudding instead of chocolate." She rubbed a hand down Abbie's back, offering unasked for comfort.
Abbie snorted, laughing for what seemed like the first time in weeks. "Yes he will, and will be screaming about freedom of speech if they try and tell him not to complain." They both smiled, and Abbie found her fingers running quietly along one of Taylor's collarbones without really thinking about it.
"Abbie..." Taylor covered Abbie's hand with her own, stopping it's progress, but she didn't try to move or pull away.
Abbie didn't reply, but just continued. She just wanted that closeness, it had been years since she'd felt Taylor's skin on hers, and the other woman was too close, too comforting and strong for her to pull away. She turned and started to slowly press her lips to the blonde's neck, kissing her quietly. It just felt so good, and Abbie didn't want to stop, or think at all.
"Abbie, you have to stop." Taylor pushed a hand into Abbie's hair and slowly pulled her away, shifting upright. "This isn't going to happen tonight."
Abbie's expression shifted to someplace between hurt and need. She sat back as Taylor encouraged, and glanced over at her, "Why? What's wrong?" She knew herself why Taylor would stop it, but she wasn't ready to admit the other woman probably knew better.
"You know why. And I love you too much to let you do something now that you're going to hate yourself for in the morning." Taylor sat up and ran a hand through her hair. "I'll stay as long as you want, but we're not having sex tonight."
She blushed and looked down for a moment. "I...I'm sorry Taylor." She wanted to say Taylor was being silly, that she knew what she wanted, that it was simpler, but didn't. She and Taylor had been getting along better than they ever had really, and Abbie had enough respect for that to let it go. She leaned back and pretended to watch the movie again, letting herself settle. "Stay for awhile? I think I might have some ice cream someplace in my freezer."
"Yeah." Taylor put her arms back around Abbie, kissing the top of her head. "Ice cream sounds good." She didn't care about either the movie or the ice cream, but she would do anything she could to make Abbie feel better.
Chapter 3: Trust
Abbie smiled as she folded the paper and looked it over while she finished her coffee. She was almost used to getting a cup by herself on Sundays now. It helped that spring had finally decided to grace New York with its presence, and people were starting to emerge from hibernation. The park was full of joggers again, and people were pausing to talk on street corners, rather than just running to their destinations.
The brunette looked back at the black and while image in front of her. It was a photo from Friday of Taylor on the courthouse steps, announcing the conviction of her latest nemesis. That was one thing Abbie did miss about the homicide unit, seeing herself occasionally on page 1-A above the fold. Taylor looked, as always, both strong and solemn, ever the good public servant. Abbie smiled and shook her head as she stood and moved off down the street.
A few blocks, and she turned toward Taylor's apartment. She knew the woman well enough to know she would have gone out to celebrate on Friday, been back in the office Saturday to clean her desk, and by today would be doing laundry, or something equally homebound. A few more blocks and a stop at a flower vendor later, Abbie was nodding to the doorman and knocking at the Taylor's door.
Taylor opened her door wearing little more than a thin tank top and very old running shorts and she was completely surprised to see Abbie standing there with flowers. "Hey..."
Abbie grinned at her, holding out the flowers in one hand, and the paper in the other, "Congratulations darlin'" Then she couldn't help a smirk, "laundry day?"
Taylor took the flowers and stepped back, letting Abbie in. "Among other things. I decided that I needed to rearrange the furniture." And her living room was disordered enough to prove her words. "And thanks. What brings you by?"
Abbie looked around, noting the uncharacteristic disarray of the place. "Nothing in particular, just didn't have a chance to catch up with you since the verdict." She raised an eyebrow at the couch clearly only half-way to whatever its final destination was, "And apparently, fate sent me to keep you from pulling something." Though Abbie was pretty sure Taylor could manage it herself.
"Then it seems like fate has been kind to me." Taylor disappeared long enough to put the flowers into water, then grabbed one end of the couch. "I'm going that way." Taylor pointed and waited for Abbie to help.
Abbie grinned and did as she was instructed, glad once she tried to find that it wasn't as heavy as it looked. She slowly backed across the room, doing her best to follow Taylor's directions. When the blond was finally satisfied with the location, they set it down and Abbie considered for a moment. "What about the chairs?"
Instead of turning to them, Taylor flopped down onto the couch. "I don't know yet." She waved Abbie over. "And I'm not worrying about it right now. I just... wanted to be able to see the view."
The brunette smiled as she sat, "I approve of that, it's beautiful out." She sighed and leaned against Taylor almost out of habit. "But they probably wouldn't be bad on that side of the room," She gestured to the wall to the left.
"Yeah. I think that's a plan." Taylor put an arm around Abbie and stretched her legs out in front of her. It was only then that she realized that she was covered in a fine layer of dust and sweat. "God, I need a shower."
She smiled, "Yeah, you kinda do, babe." Abbie smirked, "Want some help?" She was joking, mostly...a little. Abbie did have to admit, however, that Taylor didn't look bad with a bit of sweat on her- never had.
"I should move the chairs first." Taylor sighed and forced herself up, going for the first of the chairs. "You can help with that." And she would think about the rest of the offer after that was done. It didn't give her much time to stall, but she would take it.
Abbie smiled, and set about pushing one of the chairs across the room. They weren't overly heavy, and she noted that Taylor hadn't entirely turned her down... though she didn't know really if she was considering it. Abbie knew their attraction never really faded, but they had both been just letting this friendship grow, neither wanting to take the next step lest that upset whatever balance there seemed to be. However, Abbie couldn't help but watch Taylor's bare arms as she shoved the furniture to the spots she wanted them, and she knew she was blushing.
"Thanks." Taylor leaned against one of the joints between the windows, crossing her arms. "So... are we going to talk about whatever it is that's going on here?" It wasn't that she didn't want Abbie to join her in the shower or whatever else might happen afterward, but just jumping into something hadn't worked the first two times they had tried it.
Abbie nodded and perched on an arm of one of the chairs. Taylor was right, they weren't overworked first year ADAs anymore dragging each other home from bars on work nights. Overworked still- maybe, but definitely not 25 anymore. Abbie appreciated the candor, and there was a different weight now to the question that they had learned how to spend time together, which wasn't either in bed, a bar, or fighting. There was a chance they might care what happened the next day, and it was both quietly thrilling, and deserved saying.
She took a breath, "I'll admit I don't know the extent, Taylor, but you know I never stopped caring for you." God, it seemed so long ago they'd gone their separate ways, and now her reaction seemed so petty. "But now I care even more, and I trust you." Then she laughed, "and I can't think clearly at all with you wearing that shirt."
Taylor had to smile at Abbie's last comment. It was impossible not to. "I trust you too." It was harder to say than she thought, but it was true nevertheless. "There's only one problem..." Taylor smirked as she pushed away from the wall and sauntered over to Abbie, pulling her shirt over her head as she did, clearly unconcerned with the open blinds behind her. "My bed is covered with clean laundry."
Abbie's breath caught, and she didn't hesitate when Taylor got close enough to wrap her hands behind the blonde's neck and pull her into a long-planned kiss. It felt so good, and it seemed like minutes before she was willing to break the contact long enough to smile, "Hell, darlin', I wouldn't even care if it was dirty." Abbie kissed her again, and pushed Taylor's shorts off quickly, leaving her naked in the living room. Abbie grinned, and ran her eyes over the other woman slowly, "But yes, I think a shower first. You've obviously been working hard today." She stood, and pulled Taylor into the bathroom.
She laughed as she followed Abbie, catching her around the waist and pulling her close. "Still going to help me wash my back?" She nibbled on Abbie's neck as she started untucking her shirt. "We should probably go on a date or something first."
Laughing too, Abbie let Taylor pull her shirt off, "Good to see chivalry is alive and well in New York," she smirked and turned on the water, "but I'm not taking you out until you're clean."
"Then we should get in the shower." Taylor started working on Abbie's pants, kissing her stomach lightly. "God you feel good." Taylor shivered as she pulled Abbie's pants down.
"Agreed...to both..." Abbie smiled and stepped out of the pile of clothes at her feet, kissing Taylor as they both stepped into the shower. She couldn't help herself, and pulled the blond against her, kissing her and sliding her hands over every inch of skin she could as the water ran over them. It felt so good, so right finally.
"Mmm." Taylor leaned back against the shower wall, pulling Abbie with her. "I've missed you." She pushed one of her legs between Abbie's, her hands going to her ass. "So much." She pushed her tongue into Abbie's mouth, tasting her, remembering how she felt. It wasn't exactly how she remembered it, but things changed, and that wasn't bad.
Abbie was too intent on responding to say anything back, and she just pressed against Taylor, not challenging, just letting her senses pleasantly blur. Eventually, her hands found their way to the blonde's chest, working her nipples between her fingers slowly. "Mmmnnn...so much.." Abbie's knees were weak from arousal, and she didn't fight it, letting herself slowly slid down the blonde's body, kissing as she went.
"Oh... God, Abbie." Taylor pushed her fingers into Abbie's hair as her stomach clenched pleasantly. Her knees were already weak. "I don't know if I can do this in here." Her head was spinning.
She kissed Taylor's hip, "I don't think I can wait long enough to leave." Abbie slid her fingers down Taylor's lower back, resting them around her hips, "I think you'll manage." She'd been waiting far to long, and she had the rest of the day for Taylor to fill however she saw fit. The brunette pressed between the other woman's legs without saying anything further, dragging her tongue over her clit, letting out a low moan.
"Fuck, baby." Taylor slid down the wall for a second before she could stop herself. She was already so close that it was painful, and if she was honest with herself, she had been since Abbie had shown up. She flexed her fingers in Abbie's hair, no longer feeling the water hitting her side, or anything really, beyond Abbie's tongue. When her climax hit, her knees buckled again, but she didn't bother trying to stop herself and she ended up half in Abbie's lap and half on the shower floor, her arms still shaking as she wrapped them around the other woman.
Abbie did her best to catch her, and they ended up hopelessly tangled together, Abbie still quietly kissing Taylor's warm skin. "God...you're amazing..." She muttered, holding the blond closer, slowly working her fingers through her wet hair.
"Mmm, so are you." Taylor nuzzled against Abbie's neck. She was perfectly content to stay tangled up with Abbie, but the shower wasn't where she wanted to do it. "Yet somehow, I don't think that I'm any more clean than when we got in here."
Abbie chuckled and started pulling away and turning off the water, "Maybe not..." She helped Taylor up after her, stopping to run her fingers more than suggestively over her bare form, "but I'm not waiting for you to fold laundry."
"It's already folded. I just haven't put it away yet." Taylor dried off just enough not to leave puddles in her bedroom. She ignored the clothing and pushed Abbie down on top of it, then climbed on top of her. "But I can always refold it."
Abbie's eyes flashed with humor and definite arousal as she felt her only slightly dried skin dampening the laundry and linens. She wrapped Taylor tightly in her arms, and was overwhelmed with urges, to beg Taylor to make her come, or to try and flip her over and hear her come again. Both seemed irresistible, and she just kissed her again, since that was possible without making the choice. "Ohh...good plan...mmm..."
"Yeah." Taylor started pushing things off of the bed in between kisses, and all too brief touches. Once the bed was mostly clear, she ran her hands down Abbie's sides. She wanted to feel every inch of the other woman's skin and she wanted to do it immediately. "I wanna see you come, Abbie." Taylor pushed her hand between Abbie's legs, quickly pressing her fingers into the other woman. "It's been too long since I've gotten to see you come..."
Moaning, Abbie shifted willingly and let Taylor do what she wanted. The bond's touch was as sure as she remembered it, and she pressed her head back against the comforter, any thoughts of dragging the moment out fading, "Oh...god...Taylor...yes...too long..." She was almost embarrassingly close already, and reached to pull the blond into a kiss.
Taylor squirmed even closer to Abbie, rubbing her thumb over Abbie's clit, trying to make her come quickly. She didn't have any patience left to wait. "Now... God, now."
Abbie responded almost immediately, though her voice caught in her throat, and she just shook under the blonde's touch, pressing into her until she lost all control and came hard against Taylor's fingers. The room was spinning pleasantly, and Abbie felt Taylor pull her closer, and she buried her face in the other woman's neck while she quieted. It was so beautiful, so needed, and Abbie couldn't remember finding anything before so worth waiting for.
"Mmm..." Taylor twined her legs through Abbie's as she held her. "I've missed you." She traced her fingers over the small of Abbie's back. Something told her that they wouldn't be making it out of the apartment that day, and she didn't mind that thought at all.
Chapter 4: Fresh
The breeze made the pages of the uppermost books--the lightest--one her stack flutter, but it was only a minor annoyance. She steadied them against her chest, just as she had done when she was a girl, leaving those library steps what seemed both like a lifetime again and just a moment and a half before. And she smiled to herself at the memory, at the way the familiar weight of books in her arms always seemed to bring that one, of all the countless others, back. Perhaps it was the sunshine, the hints of fading summer as well. But she was happy in her way. She was settled and had been for a while. But it took some time in getting back to herself--though she was glad to have taken it.
The books could have gone in a bag, but she was past the age of slinging too heavy things over her shoulders. The coffee shop wasn't far from her office or from the library; she liked the walk, liked the way that carrying her work only added to her sense of accomplishment in doing it. But she was, perhaps, a little too wrapped up in her thoughts, in the words she would soon be writing, the classes she would be teaching that evening, and so much more. She only jostled a passerby's elbow, but it was enough to push her slightly off balance, enough to make her spill her load.
"Oh,' she murmured, automatically, slowly, kneeling to salvage them, "I'm so sorry..." It was automatic, and she was shaking her head as someone knelt with her. "I suppose I just wasn't watching..." The flash of dark hair caught Nora's attention, and when she looked up, a slow smile spread across her face. "Abbie... My god, you look..." Nora shook her head. Abbie looked Normal. The past several times she had seen her--and it had been some time since then--Abbie had not. "Wonderful."
Abbie paused and turned at the commotion, smiling at the familiar voice. "Nora!" She shifted from where she was kneeling to help. "Sorry about that but..." She would have hugged her but the books made it impossible. "Thank you, you too."
"Do you have time for a cup of coffee?" Nora asked, smiling as she balanced the books carefully in order to adjust her glasses, which were slightly askew. She didn't bother to ask what Abbie was doing there. She believed in coincidences, and this one was incredibly pleasant.
"Of course." Actually she was for once running early to meet Taylor for lunch, her hearing having been continued. "I'd love that."
Nora took the few steps to the shop, going in as Abbie opened the door. She was pleased to see that her favorite table was open, and the deposited her load on it, taking a breath as she rubbed her hands together lightly. "Sit...let me get you something," she said, moving before Abbie could protest. Nora guessed that the brunette took it the same way--black, simple--and that's how she ordered it. Little things like that could not be counted on as constants, but Nora was confident in her choice. There were other things, she knew, that had to have changed about Abbie recently. She put the cup down before her and sat, carefully arranging her teabag in the steaming water in her cup. "It's been...a while," she finished softly, not wishing to bring up the events at which they had last spoken.
"It has." Abbie waited for her coffee to cool before taking a sip. "You look well; teaching seems to be good for you. I'm sure you're glad you wet back."
"I wasn't quite comfortable in my retirement," Nora admitted before chuckling softly. "And the US Attorney's Office is still suiting you, I see. I read the latest in last week's paper...very flattering of you, but they should have included a picture."
Abbie laughed, "And to think I was wearing my best suit for the closings and everything. The work is good though, and as long as the funding keeps up we might actually change some things." Abbie nodded toward one of the books, "criminal procedure? I still have nightmares about my final in that class."
Nora smiled as she ran her fingertips over the bolded title. "If that's all my students ever have nightmares about..." For some, that might end up being the case. For Abbie, she knew it wasn't. She knew what nightmares the brunette had faced, and she'd done what she could to assuage some of her fears, her guilt...her pain. Nora would again in a moment if it was what Abbie needed. "Tell me what else you've been doing yourself," she said, looking up, meeting Abbie's eyes, searching to see if the brunette was really as held together as she looked.
Abbie knew what Nora meant, and her smile only grew a little, but she glanced down, almost an expression of shyness at being able to freely admit happiness. "Taylor and I got back together." Or perhaps it would be more fitting to refer to it as the first time. What they had been years ago didn't really resemble what was being built now. "And we're...we're good Nora. Things are different, I think we're both ready." And how she at least had been forced to be ready was obvious, but that didn't change the facts.
The almost girlish expression took Nora by surprise, but it did not look out of place of inappropriate on Abbie. She could see the genuine happiness. She could feel the way that Abbie was finally settling, and it was obviously good for her. "I'm glad," she said. And any twinge of selfishness at knowing that the quiet, intense moments she had shared with Abbie would now only be memory, she kept to herself.
She laughed again, though more quietly. "Life's funny that way, sometimes you have to go in a full circle to realize you were where you needed to be in the first place." She sipped her coffee, "nothing's perfect all the time, but somehow she puts up with me."
That almost sounded like something Nora would have told Abbie to comfort her, to reassure her. She carefully lifted her teabag out of her cup and wound it around a spoon, squeezing out the last carefully before she took a long sip. "You deserve that happiness." And she would begrudge Abbie it. It was good to see the brunette so sure in settling in. "The two of you should come for dinner one night when we can all manage to drag ourselves away from our work."
"We'd like that, thank you." She was strangely sure of the acceptance, though she hadn't been in Nora's townhouse in quite some time, and those last visits seemed a lifetime ago. Their banter continued, about cases and classes, until Abbie had to finally glance at her watch. "I hate to say it Nora.." She looked apologetic as she smiled at the other woman, "But I'm due for lunch soon."
"Of course, don't let me keep you," Nora said, smiling as she rose. She pulled Abbie into a hug, holding her tightly only for a brief moment before letting her go. "Don't be a stranger, Abbie."
Abbie smiled, "I won't, promise." She glanced warmly at Nora for a moment longer, then headed back to the rest of her day, grateful for small surprises.
As Nora watched Abbie disappear into the passers by, she shook her head, smiling to herself. It was good to see that some things found resolution.
Chapter 5: Routine Anticipation
Taylor let out a sigh of relief when she stepped out of the elevator. Abbie's secretary was nowhere to be seen and Taylor hoped that meant that she was taking a very long lunch someplace very far away. It wasn't that she disliked the man, but they often had very divergent ideas about how Abbie should be spending her time and he got huffy when she summarily overruled him. It meant that he was guaranteed to find something that required Abbie's attention two minutes after she had closed Abbie's office door behind her.
But right then, he was gone and Taylor took at as a good sign. Abbie's mood had been getting progressively worse all week and she had spent the night before snapping at Taylor's every move, and though Taylor knew it wasn't personal, she wasn't prepared to spend another night dealing with Abbie when she was sullen. Yet she couldn't bring herself to tell Abbie to stay home until she remembered how to be human again. So, she was being proactive and doing something to change it. Taylor barely tapped on the office door before she pushed it open and invited herself inside.
Abbie cringed when she heard the knock. If Jason brought her one more unwanted message before the end of the week, she was about to ruin his weekend, whether that meant disappointment for some other guy with more v-neck t-shirts and hair products than she had herself or not. Besides, he was supposed to be on lunch, and she was supposed to be getting this request done. The brunette had to forcefully rearrange her face when she realized it was Taylor instead. She gave her a small smile. "Hey. What are you doing here?" Abbie was worried she didn't really have time for lunch.
"Hopefully making your day a little better, so stop scowling at me. I figured that you wouldn't have time to go to lunch, so I brought it to you." Taylor put three different plastic bags down in the middle of Abbie's desk. She closed the door behind her hoping that if Jason came back before she left, he wouldn't realize she was there.
Well that was a pleasant surprise, and Abbie had to admit she approved of both the food, and more secretly, the tone Taylor got when she'd already made up her mind about something. She got up and rounded the desk to kiss Taylor's cheek. "Sorry...I wasn't scowling really." She looked at the bags. "What did you bring?" The brunette would be lying if she said she wasn't hungry.
"Barbeque," Taylor sat down and started pulling things out of bags. "From three different places, because I couldn't remember which one was your favorite." She could feel her cheeks getting hot, but she tried to ignore that.
"Mmmnnn... Your lack of attention to detail is now my gain." The brunette reached over and started opening the bags, not bothering to move away from Taylor, letting the toe of her shoe brush over the blonde's pant leg. The smell of the food was starting to make her stomach growl.
"Well, try to save some of that for me." Taylor held a hand out for whatever Abbie wanted to hand her. Abbie's mood already seemed to be getting better and Taylor was happy that her plan was working. She slipped her heals off and curled a leg underneath herself.
Taylor rolled her eyes good-naturedly as she opened the container. "What would Jason think?" She shook her head in mock despair as she started eating.
"What? That you brought me lunch?" She smirked. "Or that I'm going to thank you properly for it?" The brunette laughed at the color in Taylor's cheeks. "And I'm allowed a lunch, and as overprotective as he is, he does actually work for me."
"You can thank me tonight, and Jason is more than overprotective. He's obsessive, and he doesn't like me," Taylor wrinkled her nose, pouting slightly. "I don't care how good he is at keeping your files straight."
Abbie shook her head and continued eating. She paused between bites, "What makes you say he doesn't like you?" She watched at Taylor gave her a warning glance, "Okay...okay...you're right, but I don't know why." The brunette sat back and licked a bit of sauce off her fingers, "Hmm....this one," she indicated the plate, "this is my favorite...for future reference." Abbie gave the blonde a wicked smile, "Now I'll just have to think about how to thank you tonight...it could prove quite distracting."
Taylor flicked up the lid of the container to double check the name. "I'll remember that. And I hope it's a welcome distraction. Maybe it will put you in a better mood." She gave Abbie a significant look, silently telling her that another night like the last was completely unacceptable.
Abbie blushed, it was, and it did as did the impromptu and unexpected visit. She caught Taylor's tone, one the blonde wouldn't use unless Abbie was being irrational and knew it, and gave her a sheepish smile, "Yes Taylor, of course." She could hear Jason hanging up his coat and turning back on his computer at the desk outside her office, and cringed slightly.
Taylor shook her head as she finished her lunch. "You're the one who brought it up." She got up and sauntered over to Abbie, carefully balancing her knees on either side of Abbie's lap. "And I'm looking forward to you making good on that promise." Then she kissed Abbie, pushing her fingers into the hair at the nape of her neck and letting the kiss linger. A tiny, petty part of her really wanted Jason to pick that moment to announce his return, but most of her mind was focused on the kiss.
"Mnnhmm..." Abbie leaned into Taylor's lips, taking every moment she could before her day had to move on. Though, now there was a bit of promise for the evening, and it made her stomach drop pleasantly. "Good, you should."
Taylor got off of Abbie's lap and slid her shoes back on. "I'll see you tonight then." She smirked as she left the office, throwing a glance over her shoulder at Jason and just catching his irritated look. With such pleasant things to look forward to, the rest of the day passed quickly. Taylor left just before five, purposefully not sticking around and tempting fate into putting something else on her desk at the last minute, and now that she was at home, she was practically vibrating with anticipation, waiting for Abbie to come over.
Abbie took out her keys, but paused before unlocking the door, thinking better of it. If Taylor wasn't home she'd let herself in, but knocked in case.
"Abbie? Is that you?" Taylor didn't bother waiting for a response before she opened the door, smiling when she saw Abbie there.
She smiled and stepped inside, kissing Taylor and shrugged out of her jacket. "Hope you weren't expectin' anyone else."
"Just you." Taylor pulled Abbie against her with one arm and kissed her deeply. She stayed close once the kiss was over, shoving the door closed. She brushed her nose against Abbie's cheek. "How was the rest of your day?"
"Mmm...good." Abbie laced her fingers behind Taylor's back, letting the moment linger. She looked up, as if trying to remember, "Better. I sent Jason to file some things with the court, then I sent him home after." The brunette laughed lightly, "And I may have had second lunch. You brought a lot of food with you."
Taylor chuckled and finally let Abbie go, pecking her lips. "You should find a new secretary."
Abbie rolled her eyes, "At least he's dedicated." She looked Taylor over as she walked toward the living room, "but I believe I still owe you a thank you." And it went without saying, probably an apology for the last few days as well.
"Yes, I remember you saying something about that." Taylor followed her into the living room. "I've been looking forward to finding out just how you plan on doing that."
Smirking, Abbie pushed Taylor down on the couch, crawling over her and straddling her legs, "Well, I thought we could just have a relaxing night in." The brunette kissed her, brushing her fingers through the other woman's hair before standing back up. "I'll be right back." She smiled again and went into the bedroom, shuffling for a moment through Taylor's drawers of neatly folded clothes until she found something appropriate. She slipped out of her skirt and blouse, changing quickly, and returned a few minutes later much more comfortably attired in just one of Taylor's old crew tee shirts, which was a bit shorter on her long frame, her panties, and heels. The brunette smirked at Taylor as she came back and resumed their earlier banter, though this time slipping to the floor beside Taylor's legs. "There. Much better."
Taylor chuckled and trailed her fingers over Abbie's shoulders. "I had forgotten that I even still had that shirt." The Hamilton written across Abbie's shoulders was fading but Taylor traced it nonetheless. "Though this isn't a particularly active way of saying thank you." Taylor leaned down and kissed Abbie again.
Abbie kissed the blonde back, then reached up and tucked her fingers around the waist of the woman's jeans, using her grip to pull herself closer between the blonde's knees. She licked her lips as she started to unfasten the pants, looking up at Taylor, "Someone's eager," Abbie teased.
"I've been thinking about this all afternoon and you aren't the only one who's had a long week." Taylor lifted her hips to let Abbie pull her jeans off. "I thought eager was the point."
"Wasn't talkin' about you." Abbie smirked, and slid a finger under Taylor's panties, moaning lightly as she felt how wet the blonde was already.
"Mmmm..." Taylor pushed her panties off. "My mistake." She guided Abbie's head between her legs, draping one of them over her shoulder.
Abbie closed her eyes and willingly let Taylor pull her down, starting to lick her without further teasing. Her hands were sliding over the blonde's legs, encouraging her, and Abbie had to press her legs together against her own want. It wasn't until she felt Taylor pressing back against her tongue that she realized just how long of a week it had become without her noticing.
"God, Abbie." Taylor arched up off of the couch as she came, tightening her fingers in Abbie's hair and curling her leg along Abbie's back. When she finally settled, she was much more relaxed, most of the week's tension gone. She reached down for Abbie, pulling her up into her arms and onto her lap. "I am so glad that you are in a better mood," she said as she nuzzled against Abbie's throat.
"Getting there anyway," she said, smiling as she squirmed in Taylor's arms.
"Well, I think I've already done my part, on that end." She pushed Abbie down onto her back and slid her hands under Abbie's tee shirt, slowly pulling her panties down her very nice, very long legs. Then she propped herself up against the other arm of the couch, tangling their legs together. "So I think that any further improvement in your mood is your responsibility." Taylor smirked and laced her fingers behind her head, settling in to watch.
Abbie tried not to groan, but failed entirely. The combination of Taylor's expectant stare, and her still-growing arousal were far to much. She just shook her head in slight disbelief at the blonde even as she slid her fingers between her own legs. "God...Taylor...you're mean." She tried to pout, but it wasn't working well, and she was already close, "Kiss me...please."
Taylor shook her head, licking her lips. "I want to watch, and I have much better view from over here." She pulled off her own shirt, but left her bra where it was. "Touch your breasts, Abbie. I want to see your hand moving under my shirt." Taylor ran a hand up one of Abbie's legs, rubbing it slightly as she waited for the other woman to comply.
Abbie moaned, both out of renewed arousal at the order, and at being denied the contact. Already, she was doing as asked without even thinking about it, "Yes Taylor..." She closed her eyes, opening them a long moment later to look up at the blonde, "like this?" The brunette so badly needed the affirmation, the permission.
"Just like that." Taylor met Abbie's gaze and smiled approvingly, still rubbing Abbie's leg. She slowly withdrew herself and stood. "I'll be right back. Don't come while I'm gone." And with a light kiss on the top of Abbie's head, she disappeared into the bedroom.
Abbie let out a breath. "Taylor..." She didn't even bother to try and not have the word come out as a whine, but did as the blonde requested, slowing her movements, drawing it out.
When Taylor returned, it was with a dildo and a bottle of lube. She sat the bottle on the coffee table and held the dildo out to Abbie as she sat back down and wrapped their legs back together. "I want to watch you fuck yourself. Will you do that for me?"
Abbie's eyes went wide when she realized the blonde's intent, but she was far too wrapped up in the moment to be taken aback, and she never was one to be shy in the first place. Without getting up she reached for the toy, deciding the lube was definitely unnecessary at that point. "You like this too much," Abbie smirked, and then moaned lightly as she pushed the toy into herself, arching up off the couch.
"You don't sound unhappy about that." Taylor licked her lips again, watching Abbie intently. Her skin tingled as Abbie pushed herself against the toy and she finally unhooked her own bra, rolling one of her nipples between her fingers.
"I...I'm...not.." Abbie was past finding a retort, and just tried to pull Taylor closer, wanting to press against her. She moved her free hand down and slid her fingers between Taylor's legs, "God...Please..."
Taylor grabbed Abbie's hand tightly, using it to pull herself closer to the other woman. She let it go in favor of grasping Abbie's hip and squeezing it. "I want to see you make yourself come, baby. Let me watch you."
Abbie wanted to say something about it being Taylor who was making her, letting her really, but the words wouldn't come out. She just gasped instead, reaching to grab a handful of Taylor's hair, twisting it as she started to come. Her release was so strong after the build that it was almost painful, still filled with the toy, but she didn't move it, and finally dragged Taylor down into a deep kiss when she relaxed enough to know she needed it most.
Taylor returned the kiss, letting Abbie cling to her as she reached down as started lightly touching the toy. She slowly pulled it out of Abbie, then just as slowly pushed it back in. "You're beautiful. Absolutely beautiful."
Abbie's pulse was still calming, and she moaned at the continued touch, but didn't have the strength or want to move away. "Taylor..." The quiet word was all she could manage, that trailing off as the blonde filled her again.
"I'm not done with you yet." There wasn't much room on the couch for her to lie beside Abbie, so she perched awkwardly, continuing to move the toy in and out. "Rub your clit. I don't have enough hands." And if she tried to use her other one, she would end up falling. She didn't intend to make Abbie come again immediately, but she did want to leave her wanting. She had made dinner reservations and she had every intention of keeping them.
Abbie's breath grew short again, and her eyes met Taylor's, need and surprise mixing even as she moved to do as she was told. And she couldn't help but love every moment of it.
Chapter 6: Close Call
"...and that's why Kevin Smith can simply go to hell with my compliments." Abbie concluded her small tirade against the other attorney and crossed her legs decisively. She was sitting on the edge of Taylor's desk, waiting while the blonde organized a few things before leaving for the weekend. They had plans which currently included a movie, bed, and dinner—but in no particular order.
Taylor chuckled as she closed her laptop and unplugged it. "Well..." Her comment got cut off by the knock on her door. She raised her eyebrows as she said, "come in," letting Abbie know that she didn't have any idea who might be coming to see her five minutes before she left for the day.
As soon as he heard that someone was in the office, Detective Robins opened the door. "I'm sorry to interrupt you at the end of your day, Ms. Hamilton," he said before nodding to her companion as well. "But it's important." Normally he would have asked to speak to Taylor alone, but time was of the essence. "We've received a threat, and I need to know if you've noticed anything, absolutely anything, out of the ordinary in the past few hours."
Taylor frowned and tried to remember. "I've been here doing paperwork all afternoon." She shook her head, still trying to think. "I haven't left this room for more than a couple of minutes at a time. Just long enough to go get coffee." And nothing strange had happened while she walked down the hallway.
Abbie's smile faded as she listened, and she felt her stomach drop. She turned to face the detective, sliding off the desk as she listened.
"You've gotten no phone calls, no mail or packages?" he asked, urgency in his voice.
"No, nothing." Taylor looked at Abbie, knowing that this would probably upset her far more than they did her. "There might be something in my email. I haven't checked my spam folder recently." She opened her laptop back up.
Abbie could feel sweat starting to prickle the back of her neck, though she was shivering at the same time. She nervously stepped aside t o let the detective look at the computer, standing behind Taylor. She almost didn't want to look, and was already planning, wanting to get herself and Taylor out of the city as soon as possible.
"We've done some checking, and we'd like to be cautious about this. I know your office has gotten several recently that turned out to be no cause for concern. But this seems legitimate." He looked over Taylor's shoulder to the email box. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary that he could see, but Taylor would know better. "I'm going to have someone drive you home and we'll put a car on your building."
"No!" Abbie's voice was louder than she expected. "No. It's not good enough!" She barely noticed as the Detective looked at her with a mixture of confusion and insult. She shook her head, "No, we're not staying here, she's not going where they can find her." Her shaking was getting worse, and she moved closer to Taylor as the blonde reached out for her and pulled her into her arms.
"This isn't the same thing. We'll be fine at home." She looked to Detective Robins. "The ride will be just fine. We were on our way out." She knew that this wasn't an easy situation for Abbie, but there was no point in over reacting.
"Taylor, No! No you don't understand!" Abbie didn't stop to think that Taylor probably did fairly well. She pulled out of the blonde's arms, and crossed her own protectively across her chest. "Taylor, please." She could feel her anger turning into tears, but she fought them back, embarrassed at how she was reacting in front of an audience. She wanted the detective to leave, but she wouldn't ask him to—it wasn't her place.
Robins looked between the two women and took a step back. The tension, he knew, could only rise to hysteria. But there was little he could do to make it better right there, right then. "We're just taking precautions, ma'am. I'm sure we'll get this taken care of tonight; my partner's on it now." He looked to Taylor and nodded as he reached for the door. "There's a car downstairs; you should be fine getting down there." He knew their conversation was one he didn't need to be privy to.
"Thank you." Taylor nodded again as the detective as he left, then turned to Abbie. "Abbie... This isn't the same situation."
Abbie's voice finally cracked as she went to speak again, "How...you don't know that." Alex hadn't taken it seriously enough, and Toni hadn't been given the chance. "I can't do this again Taylor." A small sob escaped, and Abbie covered her mouth to stop any more, "...I won't," she revised more quietly.
"I just do." She reached out for Abbie, pulling her back into her arms. "I'm not going to do anything stupid. You know that." She kissed Abbie's temple. "We're just going to get driven home and then we're going to stay there until this gets resolved. We're not going to do anything risky, I promise." She tried to smile. "And I'll get my nice, big gun out of the safe in my closet."
"I don't know Taylor." Abbie wasn't ready to make light of the situation, though she didn't pull away from Taylor's touch this time. In part because she needed to hide her tears which were slowly seeping into the cloth of Taylor's shirt.
"I promise." Taylor rubbed Abbie's back soothingly. "I'll cook dinner and we can watch a movie and just spend the night curled up on the couch." She wiped Abbie's eyes, not minding the growing wet patch on her shoulder, but wanting to comfort her.
That all sounded so good—just what she had wanted that evening but now nothing felt right. Still, she nodded silently and went to get her coat. This time if something happened at least she wouldn't just be at home waiting to hear about it.
"Good." Taylor sighed. This wasn't how she wanted to send her night, and though she wasn't particularly worried, she hoped that the police quickly tracked down whoever had made the threat for Abbie's sake.
Abbie's stomach twisted again as they stepped into the hallway, and she found herself looking down every hall, noticing shadows where she hadn't ever before. The car was waiting at the curb, and she had to stop herself from running the few steps. Taylor was seemingly relaxed, and made small talk with the officer, but that only made Abbie more nervous, and slightly annoyed at how lightly they were taking the threat. It was like she was the only one who could see what was possible, what the consequences were.
Taylor squeezed Abbie's hand as they got into the car. Despite chatting with the officer, she was quiet for most of the ride, a hand resting on Abbie's thigh. She smiled reassuringly as they pulled up in front of her building, and she waited for the officer to get the car door. "It's going to be okay." But that didn't stop her from being a little extra vigilant as she walked to the building's entrance.
As she glanced at Taylor, Abbie's features were still strained. Once inside, she let out a small breath, though she was far from relaxed, and glanced to make sure the car didn't pull away. "Taylor are you sure we shouldn't leave?"
"If they thought he would try to get into the building, they would have put us up somewhere else." Taylor kissed the back of Abbie's hand as they got into the elevator and headed upstairs. Her keys were already out.
"It's not that easy, God Taylor," Abbie shuddered, and followed Taylor into the apartment, "Alex was…they were watching her building too. Damn it Taylor, she was leaving a cop bar with two armed detectives!" The tears were back, "They watched it happen, and he killed her and got away Taylor!" She was shaking, "So don't tell me it'll be okay."
Taylor didn't bother to respond until she could pull Abbie into her apartment and lock the door behind them. "Abbie," Taylor put her hands on Abbie's shoulders and kept her close. "Abbie, I'm not going to go cower in Brooklyn or something. We're home, and we're not going to go anywhere. I'm not interested in doing anything risky."
Abbie was still shaking her head. "I wasn't thinking Brooklyn, more like, Aruba or Rio or something." She completely overlooked Taylor's choice of words for the moment, and was already looking anxiously around the apartment.
"If you wanted to go to Aruba, we'd have to leave the apartment again." Taylor tried to smile, though she knew Abbie wasn't in the mood. "I'm sorry. I'll make this up to you, I promise."
She shot Taylor a glare. "I don't need you to make it up to me Taylor." 'The world needs to make it up to me' she thought as she walked into the living room, glancing out the window for a few moments before sitting down.
Taylor sighed. There wasn't anything that she could say to make Abbie feel better. "Okay." She came over and squeezed Abbie's shoulders. "Why don't I make dinner then?"
"Okay." Abbie was starting to calm down, though she was still uneasy. Taylor's quiet manner somehow had that effect on her, and in the back of her mind she knew Taylor could handle dangerous situations better than she could, or could understand. After a few moments or fidgeting she got up and followed after Taylor to the kitchen, wanting the closeness. "Have you gotten these before?" Abbie could bet Taylor might have kept things like this from her if she could help it.
"Normally nothing more serious than defendants yelling at me in court. You know, you've been there." Taylor shook her head as she tossed some veggies into a pan and focused on not ruining dinner along with the rest of their plans for the night.
Abbie watched Taylor fix dinner quietly, and though she knew the food smelled good as they sat at the small kitchen table, she wasn't hungry. She moved things around on her plate, "Do you have any idea Taylor? Who it is I mean."
"I don't." Taylor pushed her plate away as she finished. "If I did, I would have told the detective as much." She would give anything for them to catch the guy and put both her and Abbie's mind at ease.
"I know..." And Abbie did. She shrugged, "Are you sure we should stay?" Even as she protested, Abbie was moving to the bedroom. It had gotten late, and she was tired, but fairly sure she wouldn't be able to sleep.
"I'm sure they'll find the guy soon." Taylor stuck the plates in the dishwasher and resolved to deal with the rest in the morning, moving to follow Abbie down the hallway. She didn't know that Abbie would be okay if they didn't find the guy quickly.
"Yeah..." Abbie pulled off her clothes nervously, trying to act normal but it wasn't working out well. She paused and slid up on the bed, "Taylor?"
"Yes?" Taylor sat on the edge of the bed and turned to Abbie.
Abbie just shook her head, pulling her knees to her chest. "I'm sorry." She wanted to say more, realizing how her reaction was only compounding the situation for Taylor, but she just couldn't help it.
Taylor only shook her head and got into bed next to Abbie. "You don't need to apologize." She ran a hand through Abbie's hair and kissed her lightly, her own eyes heavy with sleep even though she was still worried.
The sound of the phone jolted Abbie awake. She'd only been sleeping lightly, and she sat up, pulling the sheets around her. "Taylor.." Abbie shook the blonde next to her none too gently" "Taylor...the phone." All the worse case scenarios were running through her tired mind.
Taylor came awake with Abbie's shaking, and she was still groggy as she picked the phone up. "Yes?" She pulled it away from her ear for a second to check the caller id. "Detective?"
"Ms. Hamilton, I'm sorry to call so late." Robins ran his hand through his hair and leaned back in his chair. "I just wanted you to know that we've brought him in. There's no need to keep worrying."
Taylor sighed in relief. "Thank you Detective. You'll get me the details in the morning?" Taylor was already pulling Abbie into her arms.
"Yes, ma'am...have a good night." Taylor sighed and rolled against Abbie after she hung up, Robins' voice still echoing in her mind.
"They caught him," she murmured against the top of Abbie's head, the tension already seeping from her shoulders and back.
"Thank God..." Abbie kissed Taylor's shoulder, "Taylor, I'm sorry. Sorry I was such an idiot earlier."
"Don't worry about it." Taylor tangled their legs together and held Abbie tightly. "You were right to be worried. I was worried too."
Abbie paused at the rare expression of vulnerability on Taylor's part, and held her as well, running her fingers through the hair at the back of the blonde's neck. "I love you...you know that right?"
"I do." Taylor kissed Abbie lightly. She took a very deep breath, then slowly let it out. "I love you too."
Chapter 7: Becoming Emily
Emily. She had said it a hundred times by then, but it still sounded foreign. It was foreign. Emily. Silently her lips formed the word, even if she did not recognize it as belonging to her. Her clothing was new. Her shoes were new. She looked down at the new driver's license, at her photo—Emily's photo. Emily who had never seen horrors, who had never paced in front of a jury. Emily who knew cold winters and was content with her college diploma and insurance agency job.
Alex wasn't sure if she could ever be content again when true contentment had been so close. She put the license down and glanced around the room. The apartment was neat—some might even say cozy—but it was devoid of anything truly personal. The knickknacks were not hers, and they seemed as if they had been too carefully placed. She would have never chosen the floral comforter on the bed. Her focus needed to be elsewhere.
But what was there to focus on? Was her mother going through her closet, neatly folding her things to donate to charity as she had done when Alex's father died. Was she as composed as she had been then—composed until all of the doors were closed? Worse yet... Alex chocked back a sob that threatened to rise in her throat. Would anyone be there to collect the things that were not hers?
She tried to conjure the scent of Abbie's sweatshirt, the one that so often lay forgotten on her floor only for her to pick up later, for Abbie to remember another night only to leave on the floor again. Alex squeezed the bridge of her nose to try to stop the tears.
Chapter 8: Proposition
It wasn't often that Taylor allowed herself to stay in bed after she had woken up, but as she opened her eyes that morning and felt the weight of Abbie's body on top of hers, she couldn't bear to roll her away so that she could get up. She had been lying there for at least half an hour, watching Abbie slowly wake up, shifting slightly as her breathing changed. Taylor smiled as Abbie's eyes fluttered open and she brushed her dark, thick hair back, off of her forehead and away from her eyes. "Good morning beautiful."
"Mmmmm...Good morning." Abbie slowly mumbled against Taylor's skin. She stretched, and reached an arm to wrap around Taylor's, shoulders. She smiled, a few memories of the night before coming back to her, and glanced up at Taylor, "how long have you been awake?"
"Not too long." Taylor leaned down for a soft, lingering kiss. "I couldn't bear to wake you up."
Abbie laughed quietly. "Thanks for that, babe; I think you wore me out." She kissed Taylor again, "or it could have been my work week."
Taylor chuckled. "Whatever it was, I'm glad you're waking up here." So much so that Taylor dreaded the thought of having to go to bed without Abbie, or of waking up without her.
"Me too." Abbie lay for a moment longer, then let out a long breath. "Can we stay like this all day?" But she couldn't, Sundays led to Mondays and she had things to do at home.
"Absolutely." Taylor nuzzled against the Abbie's hair, wishing that they really could stay in bed for the rest of the day. "Let's forget all about work tomorrow. They can survive without us for the day."
"Somehow...I doubt it. But we can dream." Abbie moved, resting more completely on Taylor, "At some point though, I do need to go get some other clothes." She hadn't been home since Friday, and was running out of the things she'd kept at Taylor's.
Taylor wrapped her arms around Abbie and hugged her tightly. "Why don't you just bring all of it back with you?"
Abbie laughed, Taylor's humor was almost too dry at times but she answered in kind. "It would be too heavy."
But Taylor didn't laugh. "I'm serious." She looked down at Abbie. "Why don't you move in with me?" She hadn't really intended to ask Abbie to move in but now that she had, she was completely committed to the idea.
The words made Abbie pause and she pushed herself up so she could look Taylor in the eye. "What?" It wasn't that the words were unwelcome, just completely unexpected.
"Move in with me. I don't want you to have to think about leaving on mornings like this. I don't want to think about you leaving at all. I want to know that I'm coming home to you, and I want you to know that I'll be here waiting for you." Taylor reached out and brushed some of Abbie's hair back, cupping the back of her head.
Abbie waited a long moment, though her mind was made up the second Taylor had finished speaking. Taylor always knew what to say, which was something Abbie hadn't figured out outside of a courtroom. "I..." She didn't need to ask Taylor if she was sure, that much was clear. Abbie just shook her head in bemusement, "I'd...yes okay."
Taylor smiled and leaned down to kiss the brunette. "Good." Taylor tugged her back down and pulled her close again, then rolled on top of her. "Then we can get back to my plans for the morning. I'm sure you can wait to head home for a few more hours."
Abbie laughed, already feeling herself come more awake with Taylor's obvious intent. She wasn't quite sure why the answer had been so easy, but in that moment there were more important things to think about. She pulled back finally from a long kiss and shook her head, still smiling, "Taylor...."
"What?" Taylor smiled down at Abbie. "What is it?" It was really amazing just how much she loved Abbie.
"Love you." It was the only response that seemed appropriate.
Chapter 9: Lasting
They had both taken that Monday off to make sure that they had time to get Abbie completely moved in, but arrests didn't always cooperate with pre-planned schedules and Abbie had had to go in before they had finished moving the last of the boxes. Still, Taylor couldn't be too upset. It only made her plan that much easier to pull off. She finished the last of the moving and unpacking while Abbie was away, and now there was only one small box left in the back of her car. Abbie had her spare key, and after all of the moving, she wouldn't be suspicious when Taylor asked her to bring it up instead of going down for it herself. She just hoped that Abbie called on her way home.
Abbie snuck out of the office, glancing down the hall before nearly running to the elevator. Everything could wait until the next day—everything she'd been given so far anyway and she'd be damned if she was about to let anyone ambush her with another file when she'd only gotten called in for an hour or so. She breathed a sigh of relief when she finally stepped out onto the street and called Taylor. It only rang twice before she heard the welcome greeting, and she could feel the tension starting to unwind, "Hey babe, should I grab dinner on the way back? You're probably hungry, sorry for running out again." And if she knew Taylor, the blonde would probably have worked the entire time she was gone.
"It's fine. I know that these things happen. Go ahead and grab something." Taylor smiled at the sound of Abbie's voice, and all of the work she had done while Abbie was away was suddenly worth it, even if she was covered in sweat and her muscles were tired. "Actually, I think there's one last box left in my car. Would you mind getting it on your way in?" She held her breath while she waited for the answer.
"Oh...sure." Abbie ducked into the cafe on the corner of the block. "Wow, only one box left down there. You're the best Taylor." She hung up and ordered and was soon heading the short walk to Taylor's car, glad immediately that the remaining box didn't look too heavy. She shifted her briefcase and the takeout, and picked it up. Soon she was upstairs and tapping on the door with the toe of her shoe, out of hands for the moment.
Hoping that Abbie wouldn't be too quick, Taylor had jumped into the shower and though she was dressed again, she was still toweling her hair dry when she opened the door. "Hey, give me some of that." She quickly grabbed the takeout and Abbie's briefcase, leaving her with the box. It had been the very last one Taylor had packed and she intended for it to be the last one Abbie opened. It didn't contain much, just a few books to give it some weight, a lot of packing paper, and a jewelry box. "The box cutter is over there," she nodded, "if you want to officially finish unpacking." She put Abbie's briefcase down in the hallway, draping her damp towel over it, and took the food to the kitchen. They could both wait.
Abbie almost protested, the food smelled good and it had been a long day, but there was something in Taylor that made her finish things like this that she might let go until later on her own. It wasn't a bad attribute. "Sure." Abbie crossed the room and started to cut the tape off the box, "I don't even remember what's in this, I didn't realize I had this much stuff." She pulled the box open and started to take out the contents but stopped when she saw the velvet black jewelry box nearly buried in the mess of packing paper. "Taylor, are you sure this is mine?" Something in Abbie's mind was making her pulse speed up, though she was still utterly confused.
Smiling, Taylor walked over. "Yeah, I'm sure it's yours. If you want it, that is." She knew that she was smirking, but she couldn't help it. It covered all of the nervousness. There was always the possibility that Abbie wouldn't like it or that she wouldn't like the sentiment. Really, any number of things could go wrong. She tried not to think about them, even though she'd been obsessing all day.
Abbie glanced up at Taylor's smirk, and picked up the box, heart now pounding against her chest. Something in the look was hiding Taylor's anticipation, and Abbie almost laughed when she realized her fingers were shaking slightly. "Can I? I mean, should I open it?"
Taylor covered Abbie's hands with her own and she slipped the box from them. "Why don't you let me?" They were so close together that she could hear Abbie's jagged breathing and feel the heat coming from her skin. She opened the box and held out the ring. "I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
It took Abbie a moment to realize she had forgotten to breathe altogether. The ring was beautiful, traditional, and yet she could tell Taylor had probably searched a long time to find it. Even more beautiful though, was the look on Taylor's face, and Abbie was nodding before she could manage to speak. "Yes, I...I want that too." Not entirely eloquent words she realized, but with the sudden tears that were running down her cheeks it was the best she could manage.
Not letting another moment passed, Taylor kissed Abbie in pure joy before taking the ring from the box and sliding it onto Abbie's ring finger, sighing in relief when it fit. It was the last thing that she could think of that could screw up the moment, and it hadn't happened. She cupped Abbie's face and wiped her tears away with her thumbs. "I love you." She didn't want to stop saying it.
"I love you too." Abbie was starting to recover from the shock, though she was still shaking lightly. She pulled Taylor into a long kiss and smiled as she finally released the other woman's lips, her voice took on the best Texas accent she could conjure. "I don't believe it Taylor Hamilton, I didn't think anyone was ever gonna be able to make an honest woman outta me."
Taylor laughed loudly. "I think honest might be pushing it." She rested her forehead against Abbie's, keeping her in the circle of her arms. "I don't know if I would want you to be too respectable. It might take the fun out it."
"Would it?" Abbie kissed Taylor and grinned. "Well I wouldn't want you to miss out on any fun."
"Something tells me that having you around is always going to be fun." Taylor smirked, knowing just how cheesy the line was.
Abbie laughed. "Well now you're going to find out." She kissed Taylor's neck, murmuring against it, "you think you're ready for that?"
"Mmm." Taylor pushed closer to Abbie. "Am I? Right now?" She raised her eyebrows suggestively and tilted her head to let Abbie have easier access to her neck.
"Yes..." Abbie pulled back just enough to glance at Taylor. "Or would you rather wait?" She could barely hold back her grin. "We could talk about those plans to go visit my family in Texas...or maybe...." Abbie's teasing was cut short as Taylor kissed her again.
"Shut up." Taylor kissed Abbie again and lifted her up to wrap her legs around her waist. "Just shut up." She smiled, laughing as she carried Abbie back toward the bedroom. There was no way that this day could possibly get any better.
"That's quite rude of you..." Abbie was still smiling, thoroughly enjoying the moment. She laughed as Taylor reached the bed and nearly tossed her back onto it. She sprawled across the comforter, grinning up at Taylor. "You gonna' make me?" Her eyes flashed. "Or maybe we should talk about having kids...I mean I've always wanted a big family."
Taylor climbed on top of Abbie and kissed her. "I'm so going to make you." She pinned Abbie's shoulders to the bed and started nibbling in her neck.
"Ohh...you are really? So you don't want to hear my favorite baby names then?" Abbie giggled, twisting under Taylor's hands, though not trying too hard to get away. She arched up under Taylor, tugging at the other woman's clothes.
"Only if you insist." Taylor let go of Abbie's shoulders and started pulling her shirt up and off. She really wanted to get Abbie down to nothing but that ring.
Abbie hadn't expected Taylor to call her on it, and was far to distracted by her clothes being dragged off faster than she could manage on her own. She just started pulling names at random. "Uhm...I...Christopher..." Abbie felt Taylor's lips on her stomach as her skirt was yanked off and thrown on the floor. "And...Danielle...God Taylor..."
"Any others?" Taylor kissed across Abbie's stomach as she pulled her panties off, smiling as she finally got her desired goal. "That's perfect," she pulled away for a second, just to look down at Abbie, to enjoy the sight of Abbie in their bed, wearing her ring, and knowing that she would be there forever.
"None..." Abbie gasped, quickly losing any control she had been clinging too. There was just something about 'that look' in Taylor's eyes that made her completely melt. "None that come to mind." She reached for Taylor, the glint of the ring catching her attention, making her smile even more broadly.
"Mmm..." Taylor ran her hands down Abbie's body, then back up, over her breasts and stomach, feeling every inch of her skin as she straddled her thighs. "I love you." She stole a kiss, then started rolling Abbie's nipples between her fingers."I love you so much."
"Taylor...I love you too..." Abbie's skin prickled with anticipation, Taylor's touch the perfect blend of softness and slight twinges of pain. It kept her just on edge, loving the intent the blonde was showing. She moved her hands to Taylor's thighs, running her fingers over them, encouraging. "God...Taylor that's perfect...you're perfect." And more than that, Taylor was hers, and it would be that way forever.
"Good." Taylor slid down Abbie's body, pushing her legs apart and running her hands up them before she leaned down to start licking her. "I want the rest of the night to be perfect."
"Oh...Taylor..." Abbie couldn't resist tangling her fingers in Taylor's hair, twisting lightly as she was pushed closer to her climax. "...that's a good start." She had meant to keep her inflection teasing, but didn't quite manage it as Taylor's tongue circled her clit intently.
"Wonderful." Taylor kept licking, tasting Abbie in the back of her mouth, savoring it, trying to take her time, though it was hard not to just push Abbie over the edge with the way she was twisting and squirming.
Abbie was moaning loudly, not caring in the slightest about anything but how amazing Taylor could make her feel. Soon she was starting to shake, and knew she couldn't prolong the moment much longer, "Please Taylor...please make me..."
Taylor started licking Abbie even more intently, trying to do just what Abbie asked. She could hardly resist Abbie when she was so very polite in demanding what she wanted.
Abbie's fingers tightened in Taylor's hair, "God that's amazing.." Her voice trailed off as her whole body shook. "Taylor..."
She slid her hands back up Abbie's sides as she crawled up her body and laid down next to her. "You're beautiful." She didn't know that she could think of another moment that rivaled it.
Abbie's smile was slow and very satisfied. "Mmmn...Taylor...I love you so much." She rolled to face Taylor and kissed her, letting the moment linger, build. "And you're so beautiful...and I'm yours." That Taylor was hers went unsaid, but Abbie knew what the other woman liked to hear.
Taylor shivered at just how thick Abbie's voice was. She could practically feel it dripping onto her skin. "I know, babe." She kissed Abbie as slowly as she could, memorizing each curve of each of her lips, brushing her tongue against them. She wondered then if she really could stop time and make the night last forever. If she had to pick one day to live over and over again, the choice would be easy.
Chapter 10: Society
Abbie glanced almost wistfully at her work clothes casually folded in the passenger's seat of her car. She knew she wasn't in the mood for an evening out when she was actively preferring her suit to her cocktail dress. Still, it was important that Taylor be seen at the benefit, and Abbie wasn't about to make her go alone. She pulled up and handed her keys to the valet, covering a smirk as he had to move the seat closer to the pedals. She smoothed her dress as she walked into the building, dodging the well-dressed crowds already spilling out the doorway, keeping conversations as they leaned on the railings and started to walk through the small garden. She could bet not much of what was said was worth hearing. Inside, Abbie breathed a sigh of relief as she spotted both Taylor and the bar in close proximity. She slipped up behind Taylor, and leaned to whisper in the blonde's ear, "Hey beautiful, you gonna get me a drink too?"
"I don't know." Taylor smirked as she leaned back into Abbie's arms. "My partner's supposed to be here any minute now and I wouldn't want her to find out." She flagged down the bartender and ordered Abbie's usual. "But then again, I can probably talk my way out of any trouble I might get in."
Abbie smiled and subtly slid her fingers along Taylor's spine. "You must think you're a pretty smooth talker then. I'd hate to get on the bad side of anyone good enough to take you home." Abbie let out a long breath, knowing Taylor would feel it. Taylor always knew how to soften her mood, make even the longest days somehow bearable. She kept up the charade for a few more moments, "so what're you doin' here hanging out by the bar anyway?"
Turning, Taylor leaned close to Abbie. "Oh, I'm an incredibly smooth talker." She sipped her drink, then handed Abbie hers. The bartender's timing was impeccable. "But right now, I don't feel much like talking." Her smile turned rueful, "hence the bar." She placed a hand on Abbie's hip and ran her thumb over her stomach. "And besides, clearly this is where all of the beautiful women are. So why would I want to be anywhere else?"
Abbie kissed her cheek, more than reluctant much more would be inappropriate for the company they were in. She took a sip of her drink, "well I can't argue with that logic." Abbie paused, then shook her head and laughed lightly, "Taylor...I love you, ya know that? So really, how's it been here so far? Sorry I ran late."
"It was fine until Stephan Ducharme cornered me." Taylor rolled her eyes but was quick to change the subject. "I hope coming down here wasn't too big of a hassle."
From across the room, Selena Duran watched Taylor Hamilton and her partner quietly. They were obviously a charming couple—young despite their experience and quite comfortable with each other. This wasn't the same Taylor Selena had last seen, all bravado and still searching for something. Selena glanced at her companion, and nodded across the room, "They are both making an appearance tonight." It had been expected, but Samantha would read between the lines, "They seem happy." And her undertone was clear- 'but are they ready for what you are going to suggest?' She tilted her head, watching casually as Abbie smiled at Taylor and brushed her lips over the blonde's cheek. 'Yes,' she thought, 'I hope so.'
Samantha nodded, one hand casually holding her champagne flute and the other wrapped securely around Selena's slender waist. She was content to watch for a moment, training her sharp blue eyes on Taylor and taking in Abbie only as she related directly to her. "It's been too long since we've said hello," she said quietly, only then turning her gaze back to Selena as her lips formed into a thoughtful and slight smile as she discerned Selena's thoughts.
Taylor tried not to groan too loudly when she caught sight of Sam and Selena heading in her direction. She unconsciously tightened her hand on Abbie's hip. "Have you met Sam Kincaid and Selena Duran?" She looked vaguely in the direction of the approaching women, though they were still half way across the room.
Abbie felt Taylor tense, and followed her gaze, to see the rather imposing couple winding through the crowd. They looked like they'd been raised at functions like this one- impeccably dressed, and completely at ease. Abbie quietly shook her head, "No I haven't, but I've heard a few things." She could tell Taylor knew more than she did, but Abbie didn't have time to ask as the other couple had reached them. Abbie fixed her expression from slight confusion to a warm smile out of habit.
As they moved closer, Sam assessed what she could see of the unspoken communication between the two women. Taylor's tension was visible, like a hastily built wall, completed out of caution, and her companion moved closer to her as her dark eyes tracked their progress. But they both stood with their heads high, at ease at the function--or projecting as much. Samantha did not doubt her plans, but she was not yet sure if Taylor wouldn't. And as she and Selena finally reached them, she gave a slow nod. "Ms. Hamilton it's been too long."
"It has been a while, hasn't it?" Taylor nodded in acknowledgement. "You'll have to let me introduce you to my partner, Abbie Carmichael. Abbie, Samantha Kincaid and Selena Duran." Being polite wasn't that much of a hardship, even if all of her instincts were telling her to run in the opposite direction.
Extending her hand, Abbie greeted both of the women in turn. Samantha's handshake was firm, exuding a natural control, while Selena's was more understated, lingering. "Pleased to meet you both." She wished she had more to say at the outset, but she knew little more than rumor about them, and Taylor hadn't said a thing.
"And you as well," Selena glanced over Abbie quietly, "You are good to keep Taylor company tonight." She let a small smile show through. "Since I know she is not quite excited to be here at all." Selena had watched Taylor since she had arrived and knew she was correct in the assumption. These events were nearly compulsory, and it was good to see Taylor understood already.
Taylor bristled immediately at the assumption, her back getting straighter as she bit her tongue. "And time I get to spend with Abbie is time I appreciate. I'm sure you both understand the challenges of coordinating two busy schedules."
"Of course," Samantha replied evenly, taking in Taylor's response. She had watched the blonde in press conferences, had read the few interviews she had given. Taylor Hamilton was not a woman who was easily ruffled, but she was also an honest woman, a straightforward woman. And Samantha knew that there was something about herself and her partner that put Taylor ill at ease. She hoped that would change, hoped that would have little bearing upon Taylor's decision. Without a word, she lifted her hand, catching the bartender's eye, and he presented four fresh glasses to them. Samantha took it upon herself to hand them around--Abbie's first, then Taylor's, and once she reached Selena, she smiled lovingly. They were, after all, human as well. "To the women we love," she murmured, "and the time we are allowed with them."
Abbie blushed lightly, and looked from Samantha to Taylor as she took a sip of her refreshed drink. Samantha was obviously one used to knowing the right thing to say or do, and Abbie could almost smell entrenched privilege wafting from her, though her subtly hid much of it. Selena, however, was intriguing. Her lyrical voice showed at first brush that she was not from the City, or even close and Abbie could tell that though she tended to follow Samantha's lead, she did not hide in her shadow. Abbie smiled at her, and resumed the earlier banter. "Well, it's not that bad after all, and I've done my fair share of draggin' Taylor to things." She smiled over at Taylor, "Fair's fair and all."
At the tenure of Abbie's words, Taylor let herself relax slightly, and she smiled back to the brunette.. There was something reassuring about having Abbie next to her and it was enough make her slightly more comfortable around the other couple. "Somehow the things you drag me to always seem less tedious."
The trust between the two women was evident, and Samantha watched appreciatively. She had seen Abbie's picture in the paper often enough, and she had heard her name mentioned in conjunction with Alexandra Cabot's. Still, even if those wounds were fresh for Abbie, it was clear then and there that she was bound to Taylor by more than just the exquisite ring on her finger. "And yet you haven't enticed Taylor away from the DA's office, I see," she said, directing her gaze to Abbie after glancing to Selena. It was unsaid between Samantha and her partner that Abbie would have to be as ready as Taylor, perhaps more.
Abbie laughed quietly, "No I haven't. I think she's a bit attached to that office of hers." And Abbie knew Taylor really did feel like she belonged there, found purpose in it despite the long and sometimes thankless hours.
At that, Samantha exchanged another look with Selena, another silent, subtle exchange that they had perfected so much throughout the years. Abbie's words didn't trouble her; she respected Taylor's dedication. Then, she cocked her head as one corner of her lips quirked up in an almost smirk. "Yes, the same can be said of Selena." And Sam wouldn't have had it any other way. But she wanted to show Taylor that even though she didn't think it, they had common ground.
Taylor suppressed a shudder at the look between Sam and Selena. They were talking about her, even if they weren't saying anything. She hated not knowing just what they were saying, or why they were interested in her at all. She tried to smile. "Yeah, I would probably grow into the woodwork if I didn't have such a compelling reason to come home." She desperately wanted something stronger than champaign, but this wasn't the time or the place. Maybe she and Abbie could beg off soon and get home.
Shaking her head, Selena said, "Well then it's good you do, for each other I am sure." She looked over the room and allowed a small smile, "I believe the host will be pleased with the turnout tonight. He is no doubt hiding on a balcony someplace counting heads." She watched Abbie laugh, her features even more attractive when she relaxed, "Though I believe the Senator has just slipped out." Selena looked to Sam jokingly, "Which of course means either that we can all go home- or that now the party will be much more enjoyable."
Samantha's smile grew, her eyes sparkling as she looked to Selena. For moment it was clear just what she had in mind, and it was neither going home or continuing to stay at the party. But that flash was gone when she turned back to Taylor and Abbie, sipping the last of her drink. "I hope you won't think ill of us for slipping away to say the necessary goodbyes."
"Of course not." If they hadn't suggested it, Taylor would have. Samantha's version was simply more polite than hers would have been. "Truthfully, I think we won't be far behind you. It's been a long week."
Nodding knowingly, Samantha took Selena's glass and stepped forward, close to Taylor to return it with her own. "Then I'll see to it that we talk again soon under different circumstances," she murmured before stepping back. "Enjoy the remainder of your evening," she said, nodding to the women before offering Selena her arm for their retreat.
"Nice to meet you both, enjoy your evening." Abbie nodded at them both. She noted Selena's lingering gaze as the other woman turned to move away, and Abbie wondered what more was behind the polite and somewhat mysterious facade she put up.
As soon as Sam and Selena stepped away, Taylor let out a breath of relief, deflated now that the energy required to talk to them was gone. "God, I'm glad that's over." She shook her head and reached for Abbie's hand, squeezing it.
Abbie rounded on Taylor, her curiosity getting the better of her at once, "Seems that way. Where do you possibly know them from? I've only heard rumors, but they acted like you're all old friends."
Taylor sighed again. "I'd really rather not get into it right now." And she hoped that Abbie would accept that for the moment. "I would much rather we just go home. Do you think anyone will notice us if we slip out the back?"
Abbie quieted at Taylor's mood, still not satisfied with the answer. She knew well enough to leave it alone for now, Taylor would tell her when she was ready. "Sure, I doubt we'll be missed."
Taylor nodded. "I'll tell you later. I promise." She kissed the back of Abbie's hand and headed toward a back exit.
Chapter 11: Thoughtful Choices
Note: We realize that this arc will require perhaps more willingness to suspend disbelief than the rest, especially as it concerns the years 2005-2006. Call it optimism...or call it just good fun...but that's what stories are for, right?
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Selena set the last of the dishes on the table, and smiled as she took her usual seat. Sam glanced over at her, folding, and carefully setting down the morning's Journal she was just then getting around to reading. The brunette smiled and held out her hand for her partner's plate, following their unspoken tradition, "You spoke with him today? Did he agree with your thoughts?" Selena carefully served the plate and handed it back, before starting on her own.
When her plate was full, the scents of the dinner mingled perfectly, and Samantha took a moment to breathe them in before she carefully folded her napkin and put it in her lap. "He needed some coaxing, initially," she replied as she picked up her fork. "But I believe he sees the validity of the choice." She put her fork down before taking a bite and rested her elbows on the table, lacing her fingers together over her plate as she cocked her head thoughtfully. "She's more than a valid choice..."
Selena nodded, sipping her wine, "Valid yes. She has strong conviction. You still think she will handle well the pressure of so many interests?" She trusted Samantha's choice in this, feeling also that it was a good choice. However, they were accustomed to discussing such things, things that needed pondering, with one another.
"I think," Samantha said, eyes bright as if she were looking past the simplicity of their dinner table, "getting Ms. Hamilton to agree is going to be our biggest battle." When she came back to herself, she smiled softly to Selena. "I believe she'll have her doubts."
"She will certainly, and she should. It is not a choice to be made lightly, to live under scrutiny." It went without saying that there were myriad reasons they wouldn't simply seek the position themselves. Selena ate thoughtfully for a moment. "And you are still confident she will find agreeing to be beneficial?" While the request might be motivated by the obvious interest in having more friends in high places, Sam was not so driven as to overlook the woman's interests.
"I am." Samantha was carefully working her way around the plate, enjoying each portion individually before moving on to the next, savoring the places where the edges met. She stopped for a moment and took up her glass of wine. "But I'll have to come with you to speak to her, I think." Her voice was low, thoughtful in its strength. That she would even consider accompanying Selena instead of trying to summon Taylor to her spoke of the importance.
Selena looked over at the blonde, nodding, "It might be best." Samantha didn't need to explain, the conversation was settled. She smiled to herself, and nodded at the view out the windows of the high-rise, "Beautiful sunset tonight."
"It is." One corner of Samantha's lips quirked up as she stood, taking her plate, then Selena's before leaning down to kiss the top of the brunette's head. Though the conversation was closed, her mind was still, at least in part, dwelling on it. She took another moment to look at the sunset before turning towards the kitchen, pausing to say over her shoulder, "I have a surprise for dessert."
For Sam/Selena backstory: Convergence (NC-17)
Chapter 12: Service and Decisions
It was harder to keep track of Abbie's schedule with her in the federal building, harder to just pop into her office and drag her away for lunch without a series of conversations, first with her secretary, and then with Abbie herself, but Taylor was going to try. The verdict had come back on the Sanderson case just an hour after she had gotten to the office. The jury had been in deliberation for almost a week and she was starting to worry. Her career was riding on the outcome and she really didn't want to have to give Arthur Branch the letter of resignation that was sitting in her desk drawer. But she hadn't had reason to worry. It was a solid case, even if it wasn't exactly air tight, and she had pulled it off. All she had to do afterward was smile for the cameras and get back to the office. Now, she was going to take her partner to lunch. She would let Abbie figure out how they were going to celebrate that night. She just had to put some files away before she could go.
Selena nodded at the nameplate on the door, knocking politely, Sam a half step behind her. The timing seemed perfect, Taylor's name was in the paper, and for good reason.
"Come in," Taylor called out over her shoulder as she wrestled open a stuck drawer in her filing cabinet, not looking at who was joining her, though she vaguely hoped that it wasn't Branch. He would have to come offer his congratulations, but she really wanted to be in a more dignified position when he did.
Selena opened the door and stepped inside, followed by her companion, "Counselor." She greeted the blonde in her own way, "Might you have a moment to spare? We're sure you have celebration to attend to."
As they waited, Sam put her hand on the small of Selena's back, feeling the fabric of her jacket acutely. The racket from Taylor's attempts at her filing cabinet still hung in the air but faded quickly. And she took the silent moment to close the door shut behind them.
Taylor jumped what felt like three feet when she hear Selena's distinctive accent and she had to grab the filing cabinet to steady herself as she turned around. Suddenly it seemed like the universe was trying to ruin her good day, and it had certainly picked the right two people to conjure up to do it. "Ms. Duran, Ms. Kincaid, I do, in fact, but what can I do for you in the mean time?" Somehow, lunch with Abbie seemed like less and less of a possibility.
Samantha took a step forward and idly smoothed her tie as she leaned against Taylor's desk. "No doubt this case--regardless of the rather fortuitous outcome--has made you take a moment to think about your career." She trained her bright eyes more fully on Taylor, letting a tense pause hang in the air.
Rather than just wait, Selena perched on the arm of one of the chairs facing Taylor's desk. She kept her gaze on the blonde, lacing her fingers together, resting on her knee.
Taylor didn't like the way Samantha had just commandeered her desk and she crossed her arms defensively, leaning against the cabinet. "Forgive me, but I don't see how my career is any of your concern." Taylor kept her voice polite, not really wanting to offend her visitors, even if she did want them to leave.
"My interests," Samantha replied, emphasizing the word, "are varied." And if Taylor were amenable, the blonde would soon find that her career was very much Samantha's concern. The corner of her lips twitched up for a moment as she looked around Taylor office, seeing small hints, reminders of her years of service there, but she did not smirk completely. "Your work here, as well as elsewhere, as been commendable, and because of that, perhaps it's time to move to something different."
Selena remained impassive. It wasn't often Sam spoke so directly to someone other than herself, and she found herself watching intently but already knowing what the blonde would say next.
Pursing her lips, Taylor said, "If that's your round about way of offering me a job, I'll save you the trouble. I'm not interested. If I had wanted to go into private practice, I would have done it years ago." And Taylor really didn't want to be one of Samantha's interests.
"I want you to run for Congress," Samantha said just as evenly as before. She let the comment hang, knowing it was completely unexpected and suspecting that Taylor would not initially react well.
Taylor felt the air rush from her lungs, but even if she couldn't breath, she still knew what her answer would be. "No. Not a chance in Hell. I'm sorry but you've wasted your time." Taylor was practically glaring. How dare Samantha Kincaid even assume that she would be interested in politics, that she would be interested in becoming her puppet.
Selena took in the tension of the moment, the reaction not unexpected. Still, it was telling how passionately Taylor rejected the suggestion. She shifted and stood, at which Samantha instinctively stepped back. Selena smiled quietly at Taylor, "It is not a demand Ms. Hamilton, it is a request, one that we think may be closer to your heart than you will admit." Her expression was still soft. "You have always been a good servant to this country, and this is only a logical extension of your work. Needless to say you would have our support in this, as well as many others. But it is and always will be your career, and yours alone."
Clenching her jaw, Taylor listened to what, in her mind, sounded a lot like a lecture and she had gotten enough lectures about pubic duty from her father. She pushed off of the cabinet and rounded her desk. "My service to my country was supposed to end with me retiring as an admiral. My country fucked me over because it didn't like who I turned out to be. I don't do politics." She spit out the last word as if it literally tasted bad. "Don't claim to know my heart, Ms. Duran, because you have no fucking clue."
At that, Samantha stepped forward, putting a soft hand on Selena's back for a moment as they passed each other. "I don't think you're so naive as to think that being an admiral, or even becoming one, for that matter, is entirely devoid of politics." Not so naive...but perhaps too blinded by years of anger to acknowledge as much. Samantha leaned forward, hands on Taylor's desk as she cocked her head, voice low, gravely, "Don't dismiss this opportunity because of your pride."
Taylor clenched her jaw, chewing on words that she didn't need to say, but wanted to. She tried to rein in her anger and was only partially successful. Still, Samantha was right, her pride was involved, and Selena wasn't as far off the mark as Taylor wished she was. Scenarios were already playing out in the back of her mind. She could feel the room getting increasingly tense with each moment that she didn't respond. "This isn't a decision that I can make today. There are other people involved." It certainly wasn't a decision she could make without speaking to Abbie about it first. She shifted her gaze to Selena, "I'm sorry if I insulted or offended you."
Selena smiled again and waived the comment off. "It is not necessary, we know the suggestion is unexpected." She could sense the conversation was finished, though far from over, "Of course you should think about it. You know how to reach us." She glanced at Samantha, already turning for the door, "Do take time to enjoy your win, it is deserved. And our best to Ms. Carmichael of course."
Samantha lingered for a moment as she straightened. She kept her eyes on Taylor before simply nodding as she turned on her heel, hand returning to the small of Selena's back as they walked out.
"Of course," Taylor muttered to herself as she stared down at her desktop. Her limbs felt like they had electrical currents running through them and she wasn't going to be able to get anything else done that day. Her concentration was shot. As she packed up her things, she really hoped that Abbie would be able to take the afternoon.
Chapter 13: Discussion
"They want me to run for Congress." Taylor trailed her fingers over Abbie's stomach feeling the fine hairs brush against the whorls of her fingertips. She was staring down at it, at the curve from Abbie's ribs to her hip, the slight hollow there. She had come home and drug Abbie into bed, using sex to disperse nervous energy. Now that the sex was over, she found that she was still nervous. Sam and Selena unsettled her. Politics in general made her uncomfortable. Combining both of them in one afternoon was just too much for her to process.
"US Congress? As in Representative Hamilton from the State of New York?" Abbie's disbelief wasn't hidden. It was right there in the rough parts of her voice, inherent in the lilt at the end of the sentence.
"Yeah. Crazy huh?" Taylor pushed her nose behind Abbie's ear, lightly kissing the skin there. She tried to smile at the absurdity, hoped that Abbie could feel it in her lips. It was one those first days of autumn, when summer tried to convince you that it was going to be around forever and heavy coats were a long way off, but Taylor could see golden leaves through the window, still clinging to branches that were far below. One of them had gotten caught on her coat as she walked home.
"Not necessarily. What'd you tell them?" Abbie ran her fingers through Taylor's hair, drawing her head back, and finally Taylor had to meet her eyes.
She shook her head. "Nothing. I didn't give them an answer." A familiar, rueful smile graced her lips. "We got into a fight, and believe me, fighting with Sam Kincaid isn't fun. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know how to pull her punches." Taylor tried to laugh it off, but it was a weak laugh and her usual good humor was still absent. "And then I told them that I couldn't do anything without talking to you first. It's your life too, after all."
"God, Taylor," Abbie shifted to sit up, rolling Taylor off of her shoulder where she could look down at her, "you're actually thinking about this. You're actually thinking about running." Abbie was taken aback by the realization. It wasn't something that they had ever talked about, even jokingly. Taylor hated politics. It was an axiom, a truth. Now it seemed like it wasn't so true.
"You know, it occurs to me that when it comes to this sort of thing, there really isn't that much we agree on." Taylor wanted it to be a joke, but it wasn't, and she couldn't even muster up fake laughter. Her nerves were back in full force and she was looking down at their entwined fingers, rather than facing whatever thought might be visible on Abbie's features.
"Well, when we get into fights, you can call it opposition research." Abbie tilted Taylor's chin back up and leaned in for a short kiss. "I never thought I would say this, but it seems like I'm going to be voting for a Democrat in the next election." Abbie's shudder was so exaggerated that Taylor had to chuckle and it reminded her of just why she loved Abbie as much as she did.
"I think a small corner of Hell just froze over." Taylor shifted away from Abbie's retaliating fingers, capturing them in her own and pulling Abbie down for another longer kiss. "Thank you." Taylor cupped Abbie's face and pressed their foreheads together, taking reassurance in the closeness. "Now, I just have to stop losing arguments with Samantha Kincaid and I'll be set."
Abbie laughed at her bad joke and settled her head on Taylor's shoulder. "If you can figure that one out, whoever you're running against isn't going to know what hit him."
Chapter 14: Cold Comforts
Note: This piece was written earlier by futureimperfect with this timeline in mind but without initially being part of this fic.
The banter in the bar had become heated, glazed over with innuendo and intent. She hadn't asked the other woman's name, and hers hadn't been requested. Blue eyes met blue eyes, one pair slightly softer but still strong.
There was just something simple, yet desperate and almost too cliché. A hotel bar, a stranger, and the itch to forget one's own name for a night. Her stare, her tone, was cold—not like the Wisconsin air outside the simple concrete and glass building was cold, but like a Dear John note from 3,000 miles away is cold, uncomforting but solemn in its finality. One of them stood, and the other followed.
"I'm on the top floor."
"You would be."
The elevator doors opened to a hall like the rest, distinguishable only by the slightly burnished plaques on the walls and the supposed view of the snow-covered city from the higher vantage point.
"Yes. Are you?"
"Don't ask stupid questions."
The other blonde's almost eerie blue eyes flashed as she found the key card from a stack in her pocket. The door swung open and she followed silently into the room.
"Is Wisconsin really that bad?" The woman's voice hid a smirk behind the growing authority, and she moved to turn on only one of the lights by the bed.
"Yes." That was all there was to say.
"If life has been so unfair in landing you here, why are you seeking anything but comfort?" The woman's gaze was soft, the inquiry gentle but persistent, and her companion was being drawn closer. She reached out and quietly started to unbutton the other woman's shirt as she waited for an answer.
"I let my ego lead. I could have avoided this. The pain, the hurt to the ones I had to leave." She was shivering, the stranger's touches soft. She'd missed this. God she'd missed it.
The shirt brushed to the floor, and she looked over the woman's angular form. It was a body that had withstood punishment but now seemed sunken with grief. She reached for the woman's skirt, unzipping it at the back, letting it drop to the floor.
"You look like you were expecting this tonight." Soft eyes looked over her companion, taking in the delicate lace and silk revealed.
"Not this perhaps, I know better than to assume to find what I'm looking for in a place like this." Her expression was thoughtful. "But I'm glad."
"Thank the weather." Wisconsin wasn't a destination, not even in the best of seasons. Finished with the other woman's clothing for then, she looked her over slowly, "I need to hear a request."
"Please, make me forget."
She groaned, and sank to the floor. "Hurt me. I need to feel alive." If only to be sure her death wasn't real.
"Over the bed then." She started to take off her belt.
A nod, and the other woman was stretching out over the neatly made comforter, preparing, both with dread and expectation.
"I should have known."
She ran her hand lightly over the other woman's back stretched out in front of her, feeling her ribs in stark relief.
"Count if you want."
Without waiting for a reply she leaned back half a pace, only to bring the thin leather down over porcelain skin, marking it solidly.
"One." The word was high-pitched.
She continued, laying more stripes as the voice leveled. "You're out of practice?" The question didn't deserve an answer, and she didn't get one. The skin in front of her was even more striking, covered in her marks. She wanted to reach out and touch, comfort and claim, but it wasn't time yet. And this wasn't about her in the end.
"Fifteen." The voice was wavering, but the belt kept falling.
"Twenty..." It faded out into a whimper.
"Twenty-five…" She paused to listen and was rewarded.
"I'm sorry. Twenty-six…God I'm sorry."
"That tells me nothing."
"Thirty…for it all." The words faded into sobs, "For my hubris…thirty-one…for putting my ambition over my life…thirty-two…shit…for the pain I caused."
"Thirty-five…for her pain…hers …I should have told her…"
"Told her what?"
"Fate!" The word faded into sobs, and the belt fell to the floor. Sobs filled the stale air of the hotel room, and comforting arms pulled her up into an embrace, warm lips pressed to her forehead.
'Shh… you're alright..."
A pause lingered, and fingers roamed abused skin.
Chapter 15: Más fuerte que palabras
The hallway was warm from afternoon sun streaming into the windows at either end of it. Samantha paused by one, taking in the view of the city--slightly different than the one from her office. She took in a deep breath, the lingering scents of paper and people memories from her childhood. And as she turned on her heel, she put one hand in one of her pockets as she began to saunter down the hallway. Selena's office was not too far from hers, but it was not too close either. And she preferred it that way. Her father had not worked with her mother in this kind of way, but she knew he would approve of this arrangement were he there to see it. The weight of a large accordion file was underneath her other arm; Samantha knew she could have simply sent the scans, but she preferred it this way when it came to certain clients, certain procedures.
When she reached Selena's door, she rapped on it lightly with her knuckles. The sound would carry, and Selena's sharp ears would catch it. But Sam didn't wait to be asked in; she did not try to distinguish voices behind the thick wood as she opened it and leaned for a moment against the frame. Selena was framed by the skyline, but nothing distracted Sam's gaze. And Selena's met it immediately as she rose. It was unexpected, but Sam saw the pleasure of the surprise on Selena's face. "I have something for you," she said, lifting the file. Again, surprise, but that quickly turned into knowing. If the client was important enough...and so few were.
Selena quietly set aside the contract she was reading and smiled and stood automatically to greet Samantha. If she was making a personal delivery, then it was important. "Yes?"
Samantha sauntered over to the desk, taking her time about moving across the room as the door fell shut behind her. She placed the file on Selena's desk and put her hand on top of it, long finger splayed across the surface. "A very important client--a friend of my father's--came to me this morning. I assured him that we would take the best care of him, as we always have." She nodded to the file, indicating that everything Selena needed to know was there. And as she looked back up, her eyes were bright and clear.
The brunette opened the file and nodded at the name. "Of course." Samantha's gaze wasn't lost on her, and she quietly met it. "I will see to it this afternoon."
"Thank you." It was unspoken that Sam would trust this to no one else. She and Selena worked as seamlessly as they lived, one blending into the other with little change to the quiet way in which they communicated. She held the gaze as she smoothed her tie, her lips twitching with new expectation. But she was quiet and still otherwise, the desk between them a broad barrier that one of them would have to circle. Samantha was in no hurry.
That Samantha didn't leave let Selena know all that she needed, and her stomach tightened in anticipation, though she let no outward signs show. Instead she let her features soften slightly. "You have been working late this week."
"I have," Samantha acknowledged, knowing that Selena had been as well. She felt her own anticipation begin to build, and it was pleasant to feel her stomach clench, her breath almost catch. Finally, breaking the gaze, she turned and crossed to the door, the sound of the lock turning was loud in the quiet room. It wasn't necessary. No one would enter without being asked--no one but Sam--but she enjoyed the build too much to let it go.
And by the time Sam turned around, Selena had stepped quietly around her desk and was leaning back against the edge, waiting quietly. Her dark eyes watched Samantha, and already her pulse was quickening with just the thought of the other woman's intent.
"You look beautiful today, Selena." Samantha's voice was nothing more than a murmur as she put her hands in her pockets, sauntering back to the brunette. She waited there, inches from her, simply staring. It was moments like these that she never tired of taking in.
"Y tu, mi amora," Selena's voice was silky as it slipped back to the familiar phrase. She leaned in and kissed Samantha's cheek as she began to pull her hair down slowly.
Samantha's lips turned up in a soft smile as the hair fell about Selena's shoulders. She stepped forward then and thrust her hands into it--the quickest movement she had yet made--gently pulling Selena closer, into a lingering kiss.
Selena's breath caught pleasantly, and she closed her eyes to savor the firm contact. Her hands went to Sam's waist, and she played her fingers lightly over the rich fabric of the other woman's shirt, letting the heat from the skin beneath add to her growing excitement. When the kiss finally broke, Selena felt herself guided back, and she slipped to sit on the edge of the desk willingly.
The smile widened, but only slightly. Samantha's eyes were locked with Selena's, gazing into the warmth there. She stroked her hair for a moment, bending to kiss her soft, long neck, and then she dropped her hands to Selena's legs, running the flat of her palms up her smooth legs, almost shivering at the touch. Yes. This was what she had wanted the moment she stepped into the door, and Samantha delighted in taking it.
Though she didn't demand, Selena did not fully surrender to Samantha, and the other woman didn't yet ask. She held her partner's intent gaze as she started to work the buttons of her blouse open deliberately, as much for her own pleasure in doing it as for Sam's in watching. Though she was growing wet, and her pulse sped, Selena held herself calmly, letting Samantha guide the next moments.
Samantha paused on the tops of Selena's thighs, circling her thumbs over the soft, warm skin. She watched as each button slowly came apart, followed Selena's nimble fingers until she was done, and then she waited for the brunette to part her blouse. The quiet between them buzzed with desire, with pleasant tension that was familiar and well appreciated. And finally, Sam pushed her hands up, hooking her fingers around the soft lace of Selena's panties to pull them down and off.
With a soft swish, Selena let her shirt fall off her slender shoulders, and it slipped quietly to the floor, joining her panties that had dropped from Samantha's fingers. Then she waited- waited for Samantha to take the next step, and the thought of what it would surely be made her breath catch with the knowing expectation. Still she watched her partner's almost ghostly blue eyes. That was what she did in public and even more so in private moments- she watched Samantha and never tired of it.
And the silence became even more heated as Samantha waited for a moment too. She could lose herself in Selena's intent gaze, but that was part of what made Selena special, what made her the one Samantha chose...Selena had chosen her as well. She leaned forward for a kiss that was soft, intimate, and with her fingers, she teased Samantha gently through her curls. Then, she pulled away, forcing a subtle distance between them as she began to loosen her tie.
Selena bit back a moan. It would be so easy to just let go, even with the lightest touch, she was so ready. But she waited, listening to the sounds of Samantha's silken tie coming loose, and she couldn't help a light shudder of arousal as her partner's expert fingers slipped it around her own neck. Selena wrapped her fingers around the edge of the desk, preparing herself as Samantha quietly but surely knotted the fabric, taking obvious pleasure in each twist and gentle pull.
When the knot was perfect, Samantha paused, her eyes glittering as she looked up to Selena and gave a half smile. The delight, the anticipation on her partner's face was almost as much as she needed to become fully aroused. And the silken fabric was still underneath her fingers. It was a rich but quiet green, and against Selena's skin, it came to life. She tightened the knot, still holding Selena's gaze. "Perfect," Samantha murmured, giving Selena another moment to settle into what would come next.
Selena let of a quiet whimper, and her breath grew short, shallow, with need. Already she could feel her vision darkening at the edges in anticipation, focusing on Samantha's form. "Please..."
Naturally, Samantha would not deny such a request, said in such a way. She stroked Selena's hair lightly as she leaned in for another kiss, taking more of the brunette's breath. "Go ahead," she whispered, staying close enough to stroke the knot she'd so carefully made.
Selena shuddered again, and arched her neck back, increasing the pressure of her own volition. She could imagine Sam watching her, her enjoyment and arousal, and it was enough to make her head swim. Almost subconsciously, Selena parted her legs further, silently asking, though the thought alone was nearly enough. Her fingers were still around the solid wood edge of her desk, but even they wouldn't hold her for long, and Selena knew Sam would be there to catch her when the moment came.
Hovering there, Samantha felt her own pulse race at the sight. She tightened the knot just a fraction more, knowing Selena could take it, would take it. And once she was satisfied with the picture, she pressed her palms to Selena's breasts, feeling her nipples already hard through her bra. Samantha was not content with that, though. Selena made her want and made her want desperately. And Samantha was wet from exerting the control it took to simply remain impassive. She kissed her perfect neck above the fabric, smelled Selena's perfume mingled with her own and the scent of the fabric. And then she ran the flat of her palm up Selena's leg once more and let her fingers hover over the brunette's clit. Sam's eyes were open, clear, but she knew if she spoke her voice would be thick with her desire.
Selena tried to speak, but her voice was drained to a whisper, and her lips quietly formed the words. She was begging for Samantha to take her, but in her native dialect, and her lips moved seamlessly through the litany of pleas. The room was fading, the few sounds growing dim, but still her skin was sensitive to Samantha's closeness, her breath.
Gently, as gently as she told Selena she loved her, as she told her how beautiful she was, Samantha pushed her fingers into her, pressing the heel of her hand against her clit. She kissed her cheek, pressing close enough to hear her shallow breaths, to catch the scent of her arousal mixed with the scent of her hair. "Yes, Selena."
At the touch, Selena began to shake. She no longer had the control or focus to delay herself, and Samantha drew her climax from her, pushing her through in near silent waves as her last breaths were finally gone, until Selena's fingers slipped, unable to hold her any longer.
Samantha held her, pushed her through, and when Selena stilled, she loosened the knot without removing the tie. Selena made too pretty a picture with her hair undone and her cheeks pink. But Samantha did not linger on it as much as she had waited for it. She pulled Selena into a firm kiss, indicating that she was not ready to wait until the evening, until they both returned home. Another small surprise.
Selena leaned against Sam, letting the other woman hold her up as she regained her breath. She could feel the passion behind the embrace, and when she was again steady, slipped to her feet and pulled Sam across the room gently. She pushed her down into one of the chairs facing her desk, and sunk to her knees in front of the other woman. She could hear just the slightest intake of breath from the blond, and it made her shudder again.
Smirking now, Samantha raked her fingers through Selena's hair, enjoying it while it was down. She took her in, simply gazing as she undid her own pants and shifted as she slipped them off, allowing Selena the rest. Outside, she could see the city against the clear sky, but nothing else mattered with Selena in front of her.
Selena's slender fingers worked quietly to pull Samantha's pants down and off. She could feel the silk of the tie still around her neck trail over Sam's skin, and watched her tense just slightly in anticipation. The hands working through her hair were soon pulling her closer, and she paused only slightly to meet Samantha's eyes again before dipping her head between her partner's legs.
Sam allowed herself to tense, her breath to catch at each sensation, no matter how small, but when she felt the touch of Selena's tongue, she shuddered as a soft, low moan escaped her lips. Selena's soft hair brushed the insides of her thigh, and though she could no longer see it, Sam could imagine the tie against the brunette's skin. She was close enough already that the anticipation, the small things were pleasantly erotic.
Closing her eyes, Selena continued, feeling Samantha's subtle shifts and moans. She pushed just a little faster, only drawing the moment out as long as she knew Sam would want her to. She could read the moment so well, and took as much pleasure from it as the other woman did.
Sam's fingers tightened in Selena's hair, twisting it just slightly as her body began to shake. She threw her head back, soft moan escaping her lips in a moment of rare, wanton escape, and even before she was finished, she centered herself, pulling Selena up by the tie and into a deep kiss, tasting herself on the brunette's lips.
Selena let out a quiet breath, her body melting into Samantha's. She returned the kiss, and then slipped down enough to rest her head against Sam's shoulder for just a moment longer as they both settled.
Sam smiled to herself as she calmly stroked Selena's hair. Time had stopped for them in those moments, but she was aware now that it would soon return to normal. Gently, she coaxed Selena up, knowing nothing need be said as they both began to dress themselves in silence.
As she watched Samantha's demeanor re-settle to step out, Selena quietly returned to her desk. She glanced up, smiling lightly, "Until tonight then?" The file now on her desk would soon take her attention, but she didn't reach for it just yet.
Cocking her head, Samantha smirked lightly before sauntering over. She carefully untied the knot of her tie and pulled it from Selena's neck--a moment, an action that was hers alone. Before answering, she opened one of the desk drawers, fingers instinctively reaching for what she knew would be there without taking her eyes off of Selena. "Until tonight," she murmured as she carefully tied the delicate scarf around Selena's neck.
Chapter 16: Assurances
Abbie stepped into the high ceilinged lobby of the bank. It definitely wasn't the same type of bank that held her meager state-invested savings, that was for sure. She knew this plan was probably ill conceived and she'd likely just be back at the office in ten minutes, but something had been nagging at her. She needed to know that this wasn't some kind of joke, or worse, scam. Taylor had been quiet lately, and Abbie knew she was getting both nervous and excited in her own way. She stepped over to a woman seated at a desk, who clearly wasn't there to help people cash checks, "Excuse me, but I'm here to see Samantha Kincaid. I was told her office is here?"
As she regarded the woman, Priscilla kept her face carefully arranged, just stopping herself short of raising her eyebrows. It was highly unlikely, given that Ms. Kincaid's appointment book was rarely open to be filled, and she knew for a fact that the heiress wasn't slated to see anyone that day. Priscilla couldn't even say for certain that she was in. But she smiled and went through the motions, as was her job. "Your name, please?"
"Abbie Carmichael." The brunette didn't quite know how to explain herself, but just tried to look like she didn't need to.
Priscilla picked up the phone to her side and dialed up, and much to her surprise, when she gave the brunette's name, she was told to send her up directly. That had never happened in her tenure at the desk, and she hoped her face didn't show it. She stood, smoothing her skirt. "If you'll follow me, Ms. Carmichael," she said as she turned towards the bank of elevators. Priscilla led the woman past them, as she tried not to feel dwarfed by the woman following her. She opened a nondescript door with her keys and led Abbie through it to a smaller elevator--one less opulent but of a different era. As she slid grate open, she waited for Abbie to step in, then pressed the button herself before closing it again. "It's the final door on the left," she said as she stepped back.
Abbie wanted to give the woman a look, a look that said, 'who is this woman anyway,' but that much was becoming clear. The brunette just walked down the hall, trying not to notice just how perfectly the floor was aged, or how she was starting to feel like she was about to meet the ruthless but soft-spoken villain from a movie based on a comic. The door indicated was, she was sure, purposefully nondescript, and she knocked politely.
Samantha waited a moment, letting a pause hang before she answered, "Yes?" She had heard the elevator as it began its climb, heard each of Abbie Carmichael's footsteps growing louder as she neared the doorway. And now she waited--curious, but unsurprised--for the brunette to open her office door. Situated as she was behind her desk, the city stretched out below Samantha. It wasn't the highest view, and it wasn't the most expansive, but it belonged to her, and as she spread her fingers in front of her before bringing them together, clasping her hands, she trained her bright eyes on the door, watching it open.
Abbie stepped in and closed the door behind her. "Thank you for seeing me." She'd started this conversation in her head many times over the last few days, but in the end she just went to the phrase every attorney does. "Do you have a minute?"
As she indicated one of the seats in front of her desk with a wave of her hand, one corner of Samantha's lips twitched, almost quirking up into a smirk. Her minutes were very precious, and she knew well that they were coveted. But if this meeting had any bearing on Taylor's decision, she would see to it that several of those minutes fell into Abbie's lap. "What can I do for you, Ms. Carmichael?"
Abbie took the seat and composed herself. As much as she liked to tell herself that she wasn't intimidated by this woman, it was really a big lie and she knew it. Instead of question herself, though, the brunette just launched into what she had on her mind. "I...I'm sure you've assumed Taylor has discussed with me what you asked her." When the blonde remained impassive, Abbie just went on ahead, "And to be honest with you Ms. Kincaid, she's considering it more seriously than I thought possible." She let herself smile a little. "As for myself, I'll admit when I was ten and thought I wanted to be a senator's wife, this wasn't exactly how I saw it comin' about. But really, I'd never say a word to convince her otherwise."
She shifted, getting to her real reason for coming, "What I need to know though from you, is why you asked. Is there something you hope to gain from her, or this? Because for Taylor's sake it's only fair to her if you say it." Abbie took half a breath, "And for your own sake Ms. Kincaid, I'll be direct. If you hope to make Taylor into some kind of puppet, you're not going to get very far." Abbie concluded the statement with a look that made it abundantly clear she knew what she was talking about.
As she listened, almost charmed by Abbie's rasping drawl, Sam remained impassive. And when Abbie finished, she paused for a long moment before moving to simply smooth her tie, running her fingers over it thoughtfully. Then, she stood, clasping her hands behind her back as she sauntered to the window, turning her back to Abbie, watching the slightly, ghostly reflection of the brunette there. "When I was a little girl--very little--one of my brothers was given a very costly puppet show--a little booth with several puppet characters. The craftsmanship was impeccable; I believe my parents found them in Switzerland." She flexed her fingers behind her back as her sharp eyes followed the path of a pigeon. "I always found them vulgar...distasteful, and when they were passed to me, i wouldn't have them." Samantha turned then, abruptly. "You see, Ms. Carmichael, I had no use for puppets then, and I've no use for a more adult game of them now."
It was an eloquent answer if Abbie had ever heard one, but it only answered the lesser of her concerns. The blonde emanated quiet and entrenched privilege, though Abbie would never begin to question the woman's ability to handle affairs. "I'm glad to hear that." She crossed her legs. "But then why Taylor?" Abbie was sure this woman would have connections to many other choices, people who would jump at the chance, and not take convincing.
"Because she is simply the best choice, Ms. Carmichael," Samantha replied, tone low, soft. There was no idealism in her voice, nor in her eyes. She saw past that, into a future more concrete. "And she is electable."
That was an answer Abbie could understand, and accept. She nodded. "I assume you wouldn't ask if she wasn't" But it was good to hear the words spoken so matter-of-factly. The last thing she thought she could stand was Taylor pouring herself into something without at least a fighting chance. There was still one matter that worried her, but she didn't know well how to address it, and she paused before trying, "And I hope it's clear to you that I don't plan on going into hiding for the next 6 months." Though it wouldn't likely help at this point. "I love Taylor, but I don't think I can be her 'friend' again. This isn't college, and I'm not in Dallas at the family reunion anymore." Abbie closed her mouth, though she knew she was blushing slightly. Later she would realize it was probably the first time she'd let herself be so blatant about her commitment to Taylor with someone she hardly knew.
"We hardly expect that of you, Ms. Carmichael." Samantha chuckled lightly, the sound muted, soft, and she went back to her chair, settling in behind her desk easily. "I think we would all be very disappointed if you were not by Ms. Hamilton's side." And it would be much better for Taylor if Abbie were able to give her that support publicly as well as privately, Sam knew. She could no longer imagine a day where Selena might have to pretend, and she would not have picked Taylor if she thought any aspect--that one or any other--of her personal life would significantly hurt her chances.
Abbie nodded, taking in how calmly and assuredly the other woman responded. Something in her stirred at the affirmation. "I...Thank you." She paused, trying to decide what else she needed to ask, feeling like she might not get this chance in such privacy again. Somehow things just seemed real for the first time, and she just glanced at Samantha, the combative edge worn away, or at lease assuaged, "So then...what happens now?" It seemed silly to ask, but Abbie realized that, as surrounded as she was by politics, she really had no idea.
"Now..." Samantha answered, drawing out the word as she leaned forward, steepling her fingers. A smirk, a half smile lit her face, but her eyes were brighter than that. "Now, Taylor needs to decide if she truly will accept." And she would. If Abbie was there, Sam knew Taylor would accept, whether Abbie told her of the meeting or not. "Then, we form an exploratory committee before Taylor announces her run and files that paperwork." The words rolled off of her tongue as if she had said them before, and Samantha had. But she had never been quite as ready to make herself as public a supporter as she might with Taylor Hamilton.
Abbie just nodded again. She still had her reservations about Samantha Kincaid, but that her questions had been answered directly and without hesitation went a long way. "Of course." The brunette could sense it was time to get back to her own office, "I'm sure she'll contact you soon. Thank you for your time Ms. Kincaid, I'll let you get back to your work." Abbie stood and started for the door, then turned back slightly, "And I'd appreciate it if you didn't let on I stopped by." It wasn't really a secret, but Abbie didn't want Taylor thinking she was concerned.
It was uncharacteristic of her, but Samantha stood and rounded her desk, reaching for the doorknob before Abbie could. She understood and deeply appreciated such devotion to one's partner. Abbie's visit only reinforced her choice, and she was already looking forward to relating it to Selena over dinner that evening. But then and there, a nod was her concession to Abbie's request. "Good afternoon, Ms. Carmichael. Should you need anything else, don't hesitate to contact my partner."
Chapter 17: Acceptances
Taylor pulled up to the valet stand and just shook her head. It figured that Samantha Kincaid would have a boat at a dock that had a valet. She probably had someone to sail the boat for her. Taylor smiled at the valet as she asked directions to the right slip. Once she was there, she didn't see anyone, so she walked up the gangplank and paused, calling out. "Permission to come aboard?" There were some things that were just too ingrained to ignore.
Samantha's chuckle was light, and the breeze carried it away. She shifted in her chair, comfortable in the afternoon sun, even in her shirt and tie. "Granted," she called.
Taylor stepped onto the ship and headed toward the sound of Samantha's voice. "Is there some reason that we're having this meeting on your sailboat?" It seemed ridiculous to her.
"Is there some reason you're opposed to it?" Sam carefully rolled up her sleeves and stood, making preparations to cast off. She seemed to ignore Taylor as she worked, even though her concentration was evenly split. "Have you sailed before?" she asked.
Taylor raised her eyebrows. "Midshipmen have to go through basic sail training the summer before enrollment." Taylor automatically went to one of the lines and started to help. "And I spent a summer on the offshore sailing training squadron. It isn't something that I do often, but I remember how to tie a knot or two. You should remember that." Taylor certainly did. And as she watched Sam make preparations, she wondered just how naïve she had once been.
"Naturally." Samantha smiled as if she knew the answer before she had asked the question. And she had, but that was beside the point. She wanted Taylor to feel comfortable. Selena's afternoon was taken up with work, and as Taylor had not called, Sam decided that it was time to prod a little about her decision. She had the sneaking suspicion that the presence of her partner as well as herself unsettled the would-be congresswoman. But she waited, wanting to see if Taylor would bring it up.
"Still, I feel like I should be insulted," Taylor said, but her tone was mild. "But something tells me that you didn't invite me out here to test my sailing skills, did you?" There was something about being alone with Samantha that made her vaguely less intimidating, but only vaguely.
Samantha looked to the horizon, shielding her eyes with her hand. She didn't turn to Taylor, but she could imagine what her face might look like at that moment. But that didn't matter. "Have you made your decision?" she asked, knowing Taylor would appreciate the question out right.
Taylor sighed. "I suppose I have to get used to saying it out loud eventually." Taylor tightened a line, stalling just a little bit longer. "I would be happy to accept your support in my bid for Congress." It still sounded weird to her ears, but she had a feeling that wouldn't last very long.
"Good." Samantha looked to her then and went back to her seat, inviting Taylor to join her. She knew from Abbie Carmichael's visit that Taylor would, but she needed to hear it from the woman herself. And she knew that Taylor would eventually--would have to eventually--become more comfortable with saying it. "I take it that your partner is amenable to the decision."
"She is," Taylor chuckled as she watched their heading. "Though I don't know how amenable she is to voting for a democrat."
Samantha chuckled lightly. "She cares for you very much. I think she understands the importance of her support."
"She does." Taylor was certain of that, just as certain as she was that Abbie loved her. "It was... a joke, I guess." There was no way she was going to be able to get through the campaign if she didn't keep her sense of humor. "So, why are we out on this boat and not having this conversation at your bank or over lunch or something?"
"Because, Ms. Hamilton, there are some conversations that need to be had in the open air." She half smiled and looked out over the water. Sam always felt a sense of freedom when out on the boat, and she thought Taylor might appreciate that to the walls of her office. "My father always said it keeps a person honest."
Taylor shook her head. "I think I like the way your father thought." She took a seat next to Sam. "And I have a feeling this is going to be the last day that I get to spend relaxing for a while, so I'll just say thank you and try to enjoy myself."
Samantha smiled, content with that. She didn't get to do this often enough, and she wasn't going to cut it short because she had learned what she needed to learn from Taylor. "Good. I'll have you back before dinner." She knew Selena would be waiting, and Sam wasn't one to be late.
Chapter 18: Announcements
Note: Again, we'll have to ask for more willing suspension of disbelief, as the Rachel Maddow Show did not begin until later than this timeline. Call it a parallel universe if you will...but hey, can you blame us?
"Taylor, seriously, if you don't stop pacing and sit down I'm going to nail your ass to a chair." Abbie pushed Taylor down onto the arm of a couch and shoved an open bottle of water into her hand. "Jesus Christ, you're like a kid with ADD." She rested her hand on Taylor's shoulders, as much to keep her in place as to comfort her.
"It's just nerves. I'll be fine once the cameras are on." Technically, the real announcement wasn't until the next day anyway. She could call this off and go back home and everything would still be salvageable. This was just good press. Good press that Sam and Selena had strongly advised she accept. It made her glad that neither of then had the time or the interest in being her campaign manager because she had a feeling that spending that much time with either of them would be insufferable. She sucked down half of the bottle of water, then put it down, trying not to let her hands shake.
She leaned forward, carefully resting her forehead on Abbie's stomach, trying not to mess up her makeup. Abbie cupped the back of her neck, squeezing it lightly. "You're gonna be fine. The whole thing can't possibly take more than ten minutes."
"I know." Taylor pulled back and looked up at Abbie, a new determination in her eyes. "I just..." She took a breath. She didn't have to explain it to Abbie. She knew that Abbie already understood. "Thanks." She picked up the water bottle and finished it, tossing it across the room and into a trashcan.
"Nice shot." Taylor caught Abbie's hips as she flinched, barely suppressing her laughter as she stood. The voice had come from over Abbie's shoulder and she was glad that the speaker couldn't see the glare Abbie was giving her right before she turned around.
"Rachel, it's good to see you again." Taylor shook Rachel's hand and tried not to smirk at Abbie's slightly dumbfounded expression. "This is my partner, Abbie Carmichael."
"Ms. Carmichael, it's nice to meet you." Rachel shook Abbie's hand and tried not to gape. There was a reason that they said Washington was Hollywood for ugly people, and while Taylor was certainly more attractive than average, Abbie existed in a completely different zip code.
"Abbie, please, and it's a pleasure." Abbie noted the firmness of Rachel's handshake, and found herself surprised to be meeting her eye-to-eye, despite standing in modest heels. That didn't happen often to Abbie when meeting women. She let a sincere smile cross her face. "It's good of you to invite Taylor on." Views aside, Abbie appreciated intelligence and dedication to the field, the combination being quite lacking the more she saw.
As Taylor stood and slid her arm around Abbie's waist she smiled, glad to see that the women seemed to develop a quick and warm rapport. "Incredibly good of you," she added.
"It's not a problem. I'm happy to do it." Rachel smiled. "It seems like it's going to be an exciting race."
"As long as the excitement stays to a controlled level..." Taylor said thoughtfully. "I'm okay with that. But I almost think that's too much to hope for." Because it probably was. Now that this was more real, she was beginning to wish that she could just quietly get elected with minimal disruption to her and Abbie's lives.
"You've been through worse." Abbie squeezed Taylor's hand and smiled reassuringly. Though she didn't in truth know what to expect. She laughed, trying to lighten the moment. "When I was a kid I think the candidates just got big trucks and drove around telling us all to vote for them." She shrugged and smiled at Taylor. "seems like it might still work, but parking in Manhattan might be all kinds of hell."
"That would certainly be worth covering, though I'd probably have to run a piece of all of the parking tickets that you would end up collecting." Rachel chuckled as she opened her own bottle of water. "Well, I've got to get into makeup. It was nice meeting you, Abbie. I'm sure we can find you a spot in the control room if you're planning on sticking around..."
"She is," Taylor said quickly. She felt herself flush, and she offered a slightly sheepish smile. She didn't want to give the impression that Abbie was holding her hand, and she was sure that she would be fine once the cameras were rolling and it was almost over. But it was nice to have Abbie there for the start of it all. She was sure there would be many more nights like this, as well as nights where they were on together. "Thank you...we appreciate it."
Abbie just nodded in agreement, "We do, but I don't want to keep you. Nice to meet you, have a good show."
"Like I said, it isn't a problem. And thanks." Rachel shook both of their hands before she disappeared down a side hallway.
Abbie watched her leave for a moment before turning back to Taylor. She leaned in and kissed her quickly. "You'll be great, no worries hon." Then she shook her head, laughing as a hint of mischief lit her features, "I thought television was supposed to make people look taller.."
Taylor couldn't stop herself from laughing at the comment. "Maybe there's a point where it tops out and then you start looking shorter?" She grabbed Abbie's hands and kissed the backs of her fingers. "I guess I should be getting ready too."
"Maybe..." Abbie smiled, relieved that Taylor was relaxing even a little. "I'll see you after." She smirked. "I've got plans for you tonight."
"I always look forward to your plans." Taylor kissed Abbie lightly, then pulled away. It was time for her to focus on the interview, and that's what she was going to do. Focus. It was going to be great. And then the real work was going to start.
Chapter 19: Reassignment
Samantha turned away from the view behind her desk, hands in her trouser pockets, as she heard the door open. She knew just who the unannounced visitor was--there could only be one--and her face softened when she saw Selena close the door behind her. Sam merely looked for a moment. She never failed to be taken with Selena's easy grace, the warmth she exuded. And as she looked, she kept her hands in her pockets and leaned against the window, happy to let Selena come to her. The day was not yet half over, and it was unusual for Sam to call Selena up for anything--she could see the question in her partner's eyes. "I didn't pull you away from anything too important did I?" Sam's voice was soft in the quiet room.
"No, nothing that cannot wait." Selena regarded Sam standing across the room, her figure framed with the light behind her. She smiled, and took a moment to move close and kiss Samantha lingeringly. It wasn't often they saw each other during the day without prior planning, and it was a welcome surprise.
The kiss brought a smile to Sam's face, and she pulled her hands out of her pockets, placing them on Selena's hips. Her duties for the day could wait a moment longer, and she didn't need to speak to tell Selena how beautiful she thought she looked in that moment, even more beautiful than that morning. She simply let the silence carry her thoughts. "There's something I'd like you to do for me," Sam said finally as she rubbed circles on Selena's hips with her thumbs.
Selena leaned closer, relaxing into the touch, and kissed Sam's neck before answering, "Of course, anything."
Samantha tilted her head, giving access, relishing the touch just as she relished any stolen time with Selena. "There's a young woman in public relations...Drew Crawford." Samantha smiled to herself as she thought about just how she and Drew had met. "I believe you remember her...she found us leaving the theatre one evening and insisted that someone in HR had made a mistake by not hiring her."
Selena chuckled, lips still close to Samantha's skin, enjoying but not demanding more. "Yes, you know I could not forget someone like that. Is there a problem?"
"Not in the least," Sam replied. She pressed the flat of her palm to Selena's back and drew in a deep breath, inhaling the subtle scent of her perfume before pulling away slightly. Sam cupped Selena's cheek, feeling her soft skin before kissing her lightly again. "I believe Ms. Hamilton needs an assistant campaign manager."
Tilting her head thoughtfully, Selena said, "I believe you are right." She thought of her memory of the determined young woman they were speaking of and smiled, "I'll speak with her this afternoon."
"But now," Sam said, glancing up as there was a knock on the door. Perfect timing. "I hope you'll have lunch with me down in your office."
Selena smiled and automatically went to answer the door, allowing Sam's assistant in to take their order. "Of course I'd love to." It was seamless; it always was with Samantha- the simple things at least.
The pen clattered to her desk and rolled off onto the floor, but she ignored it. "…no, I don't really give a damn what he said. We entered into an agreement, and we signed…"
She was past the point of being polite. She had been polite for a week, and it was her job to know when to cut the bullshit and just get it done. And the voice from her door was just an annoyance. "No, that is absolutely not… Listen, I have the contract right here, and…"
At the insistent tone, she merely swiveled her chair, looking up at Oliver—the secretary she shared—as if to say 'can't the lunch order wait? I'm in the middle of something.'
"Ms. Duran has called down. You're to go up immediately."
Drew nearly dropped the receiver. She hadn't seen Ms. Kincaid or Ms. Duran since her little stunt. That had been enough to get her hired, but she really never expected to be called into one of her offices. "We are not done with this conversation. I will be calling you back," she said into the phone before hanging up. She stood quickly and slipped on her shoes before walking briskly by Oliver. If she asked him what was going on, it would give her time to get nervous. Drew didn't do nervous. And he probably didn't know anyway.
Once she got past the layers of reception desks, she stopped in the hallway to take a deep breath and straighten her blazer. She probably could have looked less like a twelve year old that day, but she hadn't had any appointments, save over the phone scheduled, and Drew knew she still looked professional. Finally, she took the final steps, pushing any thoughts away, and knocked on Selena Duran's door.
"Come in." Selena glanced at Sam and turned to the door to greet Drew. Samantha had insisted they get out for lunch today, but it could wait until after this brief meeting.
After one more deep breath, Drew stepped inside. She halted in her tracks, blinking in surprise to see Samantha perched on the edge of Selena's desk, hands in her pockets as if she hadn't anything else to worry about. Finally, she closed the door and stepped forward, her eyes darting between the women and the neat remnants of what must have been the lunch they shared together. "I was told you wanted to see me."
Selena nodded, "Yes Drew, have a seat." She waited for Drew to hesitatingly do so before continuing, "Drew, how long have you been working with us here?"
"Four years," Drew replied before she swallowed. She looked to Samantha, but the blonde's gaze was on Selena--and Drew had no idea how to read it. "Nearly five." Her mouth went dry as she ran through the possibilities in her head, and then her cheeks began to pink with anger.
"That's quite a few." Selena slid a few papers into a file. "We've been discussing and think your talents might be better suited elsewhere."
"Excuse me?" Drew blurted. She looked to Samantha to see if this was actually true, but she quickly turned away from that cold, blunt gaze. Selena was much warmer--that's what everyone said. Drew wasn't exactly feeling it in that moment. "You're firing me? I..." She shook her head as she frantically ran through the last few months in her head. "That's bullshit," she finally muttered, instantly knowing she shouldn't have said it.
Selena laughed quietly, shaking her head, "No you do not understand me correctly, and I suggest you refrain from further comments until you allow me to explain."
But Drew was already automatically opening her mouth. The laughter just infuriated her more, but once glance--perhaps it was just imaginary--from Sam and she closed it again and sat back.
"Good choice." Selena smiled quietly. She already knew the look that would be on Samantha's features, and it made her stomach tighten just slightly. Selena re-focused on Drew, "You've done good work here, and we would like to offer you a new challenge. One that may...appeal to you we think."
A promotion? But that wasn't what this had sounded like before. Drew shifted uncomfortably but finally squared her jaw. "I'm listening," she said, trying to keep her voice even.
Selena did her best not to smirk at the still unconvinced look on Drew's face, "We know a promising woman who is about to announce her candidacy for congress. We think she has quite a bit to do for this country, and she's in need of an assistant campaign manager. We'd hate to lose your help here, but it might be a good match, and an interesting career step for you." Selena gave Drew a moment to think, sitting back slightly in her chair.
"You..." Drew straightened immediately and looked between the two women, disbelieving in a completely different way now. "I'm sorry, are you serious? You want me to leave this job to help manage someone's campaign?" She certainly had the credentials for it, but life was full of twists and turns and hers had just twisted a little father away from where she'd wanted to be five years before. She wanted the next words out of her mouth to be 'yes, absolutely," but Drew forced herself to take a calming breath. "Who is she?"
"I think it's better if you just meet her in person." Selena held out a card with an address and phone number, "There's no point in our trying to speak for her." She answered the next question before it was asked, "She's expecting you around two this afternoon, don't worry about it, you can take the afternoon paid. It's a favor to us, no strings attached if you don't get along with Ms. Hamilton."
Once more, Drew glanced at Sam as she took the card. It was not that she didn't trust Selena. Samantha Kincaid's presence simply demanded attention, even if she didn't deign to speak, it seemed. Finally, she looked down at the card and ran her fingertips over the embossed letters. She didn't recognize the address, but she sure as hell would find it. "Thank you...I..." Drew shook her head and offered her hand to Selena. "I appreciate this."
Selena took Drew's hand from across the desk and shook it warmly, smiling at the other woman. "No. Thank you for taking the time, we know it is not a usual request. Let us know what you decide of course."
"Of course." Drew looked back to Samantha, but she did not offer her hand, sensing it was no appropriate just yet. She almost felt like this was some sort of test. And she knew she needed to go home and change before meeting the mysterious Ms. Hamilton. But when she left the office, she was grinning.
Selena watched Drew until the door closed behind her, then stepped around the desk and leaned against it next to Sam, taking a moment before quietly placing her hand over the other woman's, and glancing at her, silently asking if she was satisfied with the meeting.
As her fingers curled around Selena's, Samantha's lips curled into a slow, genuine smile. Then she laughed lightly, pulling her partner in for a quick kiss. "Yes, I think she'll do well with our candidate."
Chapter 20: Interlude
"Well Ms. Hamilton, you're really doing it aren't you." Abbie walked into what was now Taylor's campaign office, looking at the boxes cluttering the desk and floor. Already stacks of posters and signs were starting to accumulate. She stepped around the desk and pulled Taylor up out of her chair, smiling. "You sure do like to see things with your name on them." Abbie grinned and reached to cross her wrists behind the other woman's neck playfully.
Taylor smiled as Abbie pulled her up. "Did you know that that is exactly why I'm running?" She chuckled as her arms automatically went around Abbie's waist. She looked around the office, trying to see it from Abbie's point of view and only laughing more. "God, everything in this office has my name on it, doesn't it?"
"Almost everything." Abbie smirked. "That or your ring." She leaned in and kissed Taylor lightly.
Drew had been walking briskly through the obstacle course that the campaign offices seemed to have become over the week. She clutched a stack of papers in her hand, and she kept her gaze forward. These had to be signed by the end of the day, and she wasn't going to let one more thing distract her...until she saw Taylor being kissed by an incredibly tall, dark, and attractive woman. And Drew stopped for a moment, blinking as she watched them through the open door. This...had to be Abbie, and she definitely lived up to the hype.
"Mmm..." Taylor leaned in and extended the kiss just a little longer. When she pulled away, she caught sight of Drew over Abbie's shoulder. "Drew, what can I do for you?"
Naturally, Taylor hadn't been single. It wasn't as if Drew had thought, upon meeting her, that she had a chance, but she certainly wouldn't have minded a fling--in another life. And she'd heard a thing or two about Abbie Carmichael in the mere couple of weeks since she'd signed on. But glimpsing them together like that made her think that they just seemed right. She blinked at the sound of Taylor's voice and pulled back to the present, away from her thoughts. "Taylor, hi...sorry. I didn't want to interrupt." But since she had, she strode confidently into the office. "You need to sign this. Don't bother reading it...that's what you pay me for."
Taylor glanced at the papers anyway. "Oh, Abbie, this is Drew. She's the... assistant campaign manager…?" Taylor was still trying to learn everyone's names and just what they did.
"Drew Crawford..." Drew smiled as she offered her hand. She tried to ignore the ridiculous height difference as she looked up at Abbie. It was almost laughable, especially as Drew was wearing heels. But she didn't mind.
"Pleased to meet you Drew." Abbie shook the offered hand, "I'll let Taylor get back to," she looked around and laughed, "whatever it was y'all are doing here. I just had a moment on my way to court and hadn't stopped by since she moved in." The last few weeks had turned out to be the perfect storm of chaos- Taylor's campaign starting in earnest just at the culmination of an investigation she'd been working on for the better part of the year.
Taylor finished looking at the paper and quickly signed them, holding them out to Drew. "And I'll give these back to you. They look good." Eventually she was going to have to start trusting Drew when she told her that she didn't need to read something, but she hadn't gotten there yet.
"Thanks." Drew smiled and took the paper, sacrificing her pen to Taylor's desk, where she was sure several of her other ones had gone. She turned to Abbie. "You sure you want to run off before lunch is delivered. I hear it involves," she paused leaning forward to wink, "sandwiches."
Abbie laughed at Drew and shook her head, "No, sadly I'm due in front of a Federal Judge, and even such a good excuse won't cut it today." She leaned in and kissed Taylor's cheek, squeezing her hand as she stepped away. "Glad Taylor's in good hands around here," she smirked at Drew, "and kick her out of here at a decent hour?"
"You can count on it," Drew replied, smiling brighter. She wanted to linger for a moment. It was nice to see such a grounded couple, to see people who were really happy with each other. And she hoped it stayed that way. "Let me know if you need anything at all," she said to Abbie before heading to the door. "Seriously."
Chapter 21: One Vote
The champagne was the first thing that came into Jack's line of vision. He took a glass from the tray and nodded in thanks to the waiter who was carrying it. Then, he took his time in taking in the room. He knew two-thirds of the people. He liked less than that, but he understood all too well how these things worked. There were people he would have to talk to, but he was looking for Abbie. When he'd seen her on television next to Taylor, she looked like herself again--vibrant, full of energy and passion. The last time he'd seen her, she seemed lost, and he had to admit that he wasn't sure she would find her way again. If it was Taylor who aided in that, he was glad. Everyone deserved a little slice of happiness--Abbie, maybe more so. But he wouldn't go telling her that. And Jack realized as he spotted her that he was smiling, moving across the room to interrupt whatever conversation was entangling her and her partner.
"Jack!" Abbie might have been a little too enthusiastic, but she was more glad to see him than she was ready for. It had been too long, and though she was sure life was changing, it finally seemed to be for the better. She pulled him into a quick hug, kissing his cheek before stepping back. "So glad you made it."
"Well, I was very happy to get the invite." And his donation had been more than generous. Jack smiled and shook his head lightly as he stepped back and looked at Abbie. They were all older, but one would never know it with her. "You look beautiful," he said before smiling to Taylor and offering his hand.
Taylor shook it, her grip firm. "It's good to see you again." They had been sitting in staff meetings together for years, but he was clearly much closer to Abbie, and Taylor had a feeling that that was really why he was offering her his support. "And Abbie is always the most beautiful woman in any room. She doesn't need you to add to her ego."
"Taylor..." Abbie shook her head, not about to do more in public. It was incredibly good to see him, as there were all too few people she really wanted to talk to present so far. Still, she kept smiling, her excitement for Taylor keeping her from getting bored just yet.
"It's better than we were hoping. My campaign manager is ecstatic." Taylor sipped her own champagne, happy to keep talking to Jack for as long as she could. She needed to talk to almost everyone in the room eventually, but it was nice to get a short break from the constant conversational merry-go-round.
Abbie shifted, not able to help herself from reminiscing a bit, "So how is the office Jack?" Not that murders was light conversation, but much of what was normal to them might stop the average listener in their tracks at this point in their careers.
"The usual..." He chuckled lightly and put his now empty glass down on a nearby table. "Though it's more me picking fights with the DA these days." It was ironic that Abbie hadn't worked under Branch--they would have gotten on much better than she and Nora had, professionally at least, in Abbie's last few years. But he supposed one couldn't ignore the irony of just whose arm Abbie was draped on. Though, she sure as hell wasn't a trophy wife, even if Taylor was enjoying showing her off. And Jack thought Taylor had to be.
"Yeah, Branch wasn't too happy when I told him why I was resigning." Taylor squeezed Abbie's forearm.
"No, he wasn't." And Jack had heard all about it, but he was smiling, chuckling as Abbie chuckled. He could guess any number of memories she might be having at the moment. He was glad, though, that he could assume that they were good. "But I doubt he expected to get any invitations to these events..."
"Oh, but that didn't stop us from sending an invitation, even if he did politely decline." That had been Drew's idea, and Taylor had loved the audacity of it.
"I can only imagine who came up with that..." Abbie possibly. He wasn't sure if they'd met before, but he was sure she'd heard enough between the news and Taylor. But Jack knew he was taking up too much of their time. Still, he decided he was going to let himself be selfish for a few more moments. He smiled as he squeezed Abbie's arm. "You look good. It's good to see you smile."
Abbie tilted her head, returning his smile. Though they hadn't agreed on a lot while they'd worked together there had definitely been a trust and respect that neither had lost over time. "Thanks, Jack, so do you." The years were starting to show, but his eyes were still as youthful as ever and his energy hadn't faded. She could feel Taylor shifting next to her as a new group of people walked into the room. She nodded and kissed Taylor's cheek, "Go. I get you all the time." And she wouldn't mind a few more moments with Jack.
Before Taylor could disappear, Jack held out his hand again, clasping hers but simply holding it as he folded his other over it. "Best of luck, Taylor. You have my vote," he said before letting her go, turning back to her dark haired companion and smiling. "And here I thought the two of you never really got along," he said, shaking his head, eyes following Taylor as she made her way over to a judge.
Abbie laughed and rolled her eyes. "Jack...I find it hard to believe you didn't notice more than you were told." She nodded at Taylor's receding form, "but you're right, we didn't always. She was stubborn as hell, and so was I. I mean, we still are I suppose." Abbie shrugged and smiled, "But she was always there for me somehow.." She shook her head again, for once not quite able to find the right words but she hoped Jack could fill in the rest.
If Abbie only knew just how much Jack had noticed in her years at the DA's office. But even he had been fooled into believing that what she had with Taylor was nothing more than casual. But she had been so broken after Alex's death. Nothing casual could have put that back together. "You look good together on tv," he teased. But Jack stepped closer, his smile sincere. "If there's anything you ever need, Abbie..." He hoped she understood that it hadn't just been that night...either of those nights, that she could call on him if she needed to, despite any disagreements they'd ever shared.
Abbie smiled, "And likewise. I owe you more than I could repay I think." She hugged him again, "Really Jack, thanks for coming tonight, it means a lot."
"And now you won't mind that I'm going to slip out," he said, his smile turning to a grin as he squeezed Abbie's shoulder one last time. "Don't forget about us when you're a Congresswoman's wife. And..." Jack was shaking his head, already half turning for the door, "keep out of trouble." Abbie was no kid. She wasn't half as young as she was when they had worked together, no matter how many years had passed. But she was good with all kinds of trouble, and he was sure she'd bring quite a bit a flair to the part she was already playing.
Chapter 22: Multitasking
Taylor closed the blinds to the room, but the door was still cracked as people walked in and out. It didn't stop her from ripping her shirt from her shoulders and grabbing for a dry cleaning bag that held a clean version. "Are you sure about the beginning of the third paragraph?" She was trying to read and get dressed at the same time and ended up tangled up in plastic.
"Yes," Drew replied quickly as she handed Taylor a stick of deodorant and took the shirt from Taylor's hands and easily extracted it from the plastic wrapping. She took it off of the hanger and held it up for Taylor to slip her arms into. "Stop worrying about the third paragraph and look at the change in the fifth. It's small, but it makes a difference."
Taylor started buttoning the shirt as she looked for the changes. "When did we decide on this?" She reread the line again. "It seems repetitive."
"No, we took out that line in paragraph two that you're thinking about," Drew sat as she pulled a makeup bag and a bottle of water off of Taylor's desk. She opened the water and handed it to her before opening the bag for herself. "Take a deep breath before drinking that, please."
At the last comment, Taylor looked up at Drew, pinning her with a questioning look, but doing as she was told. She took a breath and sipped the water. "So I should read paragraph 2 as well? Did you guys rewrite the entire thing when I wasn't looking?"
"You approved the changes to paragraph two three days ago." Drew tried to keep the smirk off of her face as she backed Taylor into a chair. "Sit and look up please."
She took another sip of water as Drew put eyeliner, then mascara on her. "I did?" Taylor looked it over. "You're right, I did." She sighed. Some days she felt like she just couldn't keep up.
"The speech is perfect. I went over it about twelve times today, as did half the rest of your staff," Drew saw as she pulled lipstick out and handed it to Taylor, taking away the water and replacing it with a mirror. "You've been reading through it too fast."
"It's on the teleprompter?" Taylor put the lipstick on and handed it back to Drew. She stood and reached for her jacket. She could hear the crowd getting louder. She needed to be on stage soon.
"Of course." Drew put a straw in the bottle of water and held it out for Taylor, instinctively knowing that she would want an extra sip, and then she closed the top over it. She lead Taylor out of her office, taking her physically by the arm so she couldn't get distracted by anything else, and once they'd made her way backstage, she gave a knowing nod when she saw Abbie there. But before she would let Taylor even think about talking to her--which she hoped that by the time she was done Abbie would have to take her seat and she could just apologize to her later--Drew turned to the blonde. She unscrewed the cap of the water and pulled the straw out, holding it up for Taylor. "Carefully with the lipstick," she said, smiling. Then, she put the water aside and reached into Taylor's jacket pocket, pulling out the compact mirror that the blonde had absently put there. It was making the jacket hang just a little off centered. "The teleprompter is set. Remember to smile, and," she paused, handing Taylor a fresh paper copy of the speech and her reading glasses. It never hurt to be careful. "Break a leg...pause in the right places, too."
Abbie crossed her arms as she watched from the side of the room, a slow smile growing as she watched Drew so effectively manage Taylor's nerves. The attention to detail was impressive, and Abbie was almost surprised at how quickly Drew had learned to curtail the little things Taylor did that not many noticed, but which made all the difference. Seeing it wasn't the time to distract, Abbie slipped out and found her seat a few rows back. Taylor wasn't really expecting her to make it from court in time anyway, so she wouldn't be looking. The crowd was expectant- Taylor had some enthusiastic supporters- as well as foes, but she handled them both.
Taylor took the paper copy of the speech, only noticing then that someone, probably an intern, had forgotten to put one on the podium. She tried not to think about it as she walked onto the stage, smiling and waving after she was introduced. She stepped up to the podium and looked to the teleprompter as she said the customary helloes, thanking her hosts for having her and the audience for attending. Only then did she notice that the teleprompter was blank. In fact, it looked like it wasn't even on. She took a quick breath as she pulled on her glasses and looked down at the speech in front of her. She was going to have to thank Drew later.
Abbie smiled to herself as Taylor started. Her partner was always so strong, but something about seeing her speak gave Abbie a quiet thrill, and she did her best not to miss the chance to watch. Though Taylor covered it well, Abbie could see her pause, her subtle confusion, which was explained as she put on her glasses and glanced down at the paper Drew had just handed her. Abbie felt a hand on her shoulder as Drew sat down, and she just smiled gratefully at the girl, whispering, "Good save I think" under her breath as Taylor began to speak.
Drew's only answer was a smile as she settled back to listen to the speech, but she was grateful for the soft praise. As she listened, she was saying every word mentally with Taylor, remembering where the changes were and happy when Taylor didn't miss a beat with any of them. She could only imagine how the speech writers felt backstage. And by the time Taylor was done, she was grinning as much as if she'd done it herself. She turned to Abbie. "She's got a knack for it... And I'm sorry, I didn't let her see you back there because I didn't want her to get distracted."
Abbie just shook her head as the applause died down, smiling at Drew, "No worries hon, none at all." She put a hand on Drew's shoulder, "you're doing an amazing job of managing her. I know it's not an easy task." She could see Drew already looking to the stage entrance, "I know, go on, I'll meet up with you both in a few, I'm sure she has hands to shake."
"I'll make sure she's out of here by dinnertime," Drew said, already standing. She threaded her way through the crowd, meeting up with Taylor's campaign manager just before stopping to look back at Abbie and smile.
Chapter 23: Monogram
"Did the order come in?" Abbie stuck her head into the small, mostly cluttered office. She was hoping it had because it was a Friday and Taylor needed some distraction, and really, so did she. Taylor had been getting so caught up in the campaign that Abbie had started to get creative about little surprises that gave them both the excuse to relax for a while.
Drew looked up as if startled and smiled brightly, her dimples showing, when she saw Abbie. "Yes, as a matter of fact it did." She stood and took the two steps that it took to cross the office, where she opened a box. "This," she said, as she lifted one of the shirts out and held it up to her petite frame, "is the new design." She smirked and pulled out another, much smaller tee. "And this is your special request."
Abbie took the almost child-sized t-shirt from Drew and smirked as she looked it over. "I like the logo, it suits her." And so would the fact that hers had the addition of the word, 'Taylor's' written on the back. Abbie leaned over and quickly pecked the Drew on the cheek, returning her knowing smile, "You're the best. Make sure you get some rest this weekend. I promise not to let Taylor out of the house until at least tomorrow afternoon, so stay home." The brunette smiled again, and turned to head to their condo to get changed before Taylor came home for the night.
"Call me if you need anything else," Drew called. She was already shaking her head, chuckling at the brunette's plan. She definitely didn't mind the few extra duties when it came to working with Abbie's requests. And a couple of hours later, she was shooing Taylor out of the office and putting her in a cab for home.
Abbie looked herself over in the mirror and almost laughed. The shirt stopped just shy of the bottom of her ribs, and the underwear was almost a joke. The fact that they had ties on the side almost made her blush in advance...almost. She stepped into her heels and buckled them, trying to decide about her hair. In the end she left it down, Taylor could find the extra monogram on her own time. Drew had given her a call, saying she'd sent Taylor home, and Abbie sauntered down the hall to wait by the door, drink in hand.
Taylor sighed as she unlocked the door. The weeks just kept getting progressively longer and there wasn't any end in sight. It was almost enough to make her question her decision. She was still looking at the floor as she put her bag down and called out for Abbie as she looked up, stopping in her tracks when she caught sight of the brunette. "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." She wasn't Catholic, but if Abbie kept showing up at the door like that, she was going to convert just where she could keep saying it.
Abbie couldn't help but laugh. She never did get bored of seeing that look in Taylor's eyes. She glanced down quickly at her own chest, then back up at Taylor more than suggestively, "I like the new logo."
"There's a logo on that shirt?" Of course Taylor saw the logo, but it wasn't what had her attention. She closed the door harder than she intended and absently-mindedly locked it before she closed the distance between them and kissed Abbie fiercely.
She was going to answer, but Abbie was abruptly cut off by the blonde's quick movements. She just moaned quietly, and leaned back against the wall, opening her mouth under Taylor's, and dangling her glass in her fingers. She closed her eyes and let Taylor do what she wanted, body responding immediately.
"Mmm" Taylor slowly pulled away from Abbie and looked at the shirt again. "You look good in blue," she said wickedly, taking the drink from Abbie's hands and taking a sip. "That drink was for me too, right?" Taylor pinched the front of Abbie's shirt between two fingers and used it to pull her into the living room.
Abbie didn't protest, letting Taylor move her. When she reached the living room, however, she gently pulled the blonde's hands back, giving her a warning look. "Ok darlin' yes I'm in blue, but here's the deal," She took back the drink and took a step away, "You have to stay out of the office tomorrow morning, and take me to brunch or you won't be getting into this shirt at all tonight." The brunette smirked, and quietly ran her fingers over the thin fabric as she watched Taylor for a response. It only occurred a moment later that the blonde might be a little past logical arguments at the moment.
"Brunch?" Taylor stalked toward Abbie, backing her into a counter that divided the living room from the kitchen. "I think I can do brunch." And she could always work form home after that. You could make a phone call from anywhere, even bed if it came to that.
As her bare skin met granite, Abbie shivered, but she put a hand on Taylor's chest to stop her, even as she pushed the blonde's pant leg up with a heeled foot, "Yes brunch. And no calling the office until at least 3 in the afternoon." She felt she was being quite valiant holding out for this long, and knew her body would give up soon just how aroused the moment was making her.
"No office until three." Taylor nodded and lifted Abbie onto the counter. "I promise." It was a promise that she would do her best to keep, but at that moment, she wasn't interested in talking about the campaign for another minute. She worked her fingers under the side of Abbie's panties, only then noticing the ties that were keeping them on. She chuckled briefly and untied one side, then the other, pulling them from between Abbie's legs. "Did you plan that part too?"
Abbie set down the glass so it wouldn't spill and was thankful as she immediately gripped the edge of the counter to keep from just breaking the moment and throwing herself at Taylor. She'd be lying if she said the blonde's (usually) quiet strength didn't make her stomach drop immediately. "God Taylor...I mean...of course I did." Her nipples were painfully hard under the cotton shirt, and she spread her legs slightly, nudging Taylor closer with her shoe.
"So you've just been sitting here like this, waiting for me." It wasn't hard to see Abbie's nipples through the tee shirt and she didn't try to resist the urge to touch them, covering Abbie's breasts with her palms and squeezing them.
"Well....yes. I'm glad you came home." Abbie smiled, and pressed willingly into the touch, taking in a sharp breath.
"How long have you been waiting here?" She ducked her head and took one of Abbie's nipples between her teeth, the shirt becoming transparent as it got wet.
"Mmmm... God... too long." Her knuckles were growing white in her effort to not move them, and Abbie closed her eyes for a moment, "but you're worth the wait."
"That's good to know." Taylor finally pushed her fingers between Abbie's legs, feeling just how wet she was. "And I think you enjoyed it." She rubbed Abbie's clit between her fingers.
"Shit...yes...Taylor..." Abbie had been waiting too long, and she opened her legs willingly, letting the blonde do what she would. If Taylor wanted it that way, it wouldn't take long for her to come.
Taylor pushed her fingers into Abbie and kept rubbing her clit with her thumb. Clearly Abbie had already waited long enough, even if Taylor hadn't been there for most of it. "Did you touch yourself while you waited, or were you good?" She pushed her free hand under Abbie's shirt and pinched one of her nipples. She knew Abbie was on the edge and she was determined to push her over.
Abbie could barely respond. By the time she realized what was being asked, she was already starting to shake under the touch, "No Taylor...I was good.." Her words were breathless, and just having to say them made her come hard, and she moaned, finally letting go of the counter to hold onto Taylor.
"God Abbie." Taylor pulled Abbie into her arms and held her. "You are amazing." Somehow making Abbie come had taken away most of her tension, and she was sure Abbie would happily do what ever she wanted to get rid of the rest. "You know that you can't ever wear that shirt anywhere outside of this apartment, right?" It would be far too distracting.
Abbie relaxed in the blonde's arms for a moment, then chuckled lightly, "Why? I was hoping to wear it to your next rally." She kissed Taylor and smirked, then started to press her lips to the blonde's neck, reaching the spot that she knew made her shiver.
"You'll make me forget my speech." Taylor shivered under Abbie's lips. "And it has 'Taylor's' written across the back." She had caught just enough of the letters to infer what it said. "So, while I appreciate the sentiment, I don't want to answer those questions. Do you?" She didn't even want to know what Drew thought when Abbie asked for the shirt to be made.
"Mmmhmm..." Abbie didn't stop kissing the blonde, moving around to the other side, talking between kisses, "Well...I wouldn't want you to forget...but the sentiment is correct....yes?"
"You bet your ass the sentiment is correct." Taylor grabbed Abbie's thighs and lifted her off of the counter, carrying her back toward the bedroom.
Chapter 24: Interlude
It was a sad commentary on how her life had changed, but Taylor felt absolutely decadent walking into her campaign office at 3:00 in the afternoon on a Saturday. There wasn't a full staff there, so it wasn't quite as loud as it normally was, but the pervasive buzz of energy fueled by too much caffeine was still there. Her campaign manager was out at meetings, but Drew was there, and Taylor tapped on the glass of her office door.
Drew grinned when she saw Taylor and quickly opened her door. She crossed her arms as she looked the woman over, swearing to herself that Taylor was nearly glowing. "There was almost a general panic over Taylor Hamilton taking most of Saturday off."
"Well, it seems like you averted it, for which I'm grateful. Though I think that panic might be some of these people's default states." Taylor leaned against the door frame. "Did I get any messages? And can I assume that nothing burned down while I slept in?"
"Late night?" Drew was smirking as she went to her desk and picked up the messages she had taken. She knew Taylor didn't sleep in--ever--so she just assumed that the fun had lasted for a while and continued when they got up.
Taylor raised her eyebrows as she read through the messages. "Something like that." She handed half of the messages back to Drew. "You can handle those. Yes, yes, no, not ever, and fuck off, though you might want to use your own words on the last one."
"Sure thing." Drew leaned against the door frame and nodded towards the boxes in the corner of her office. Her lips were twitching. "Have you seen the new logo?"
Taylor pursed her lips in an effort not to smile, or worse, start laughing. And she had to remind herself that flirting with the campaign staff might come across the wrong way if someone was watching. "I have, indeed, seen the new logo. Abbie couldn't wait to show it off." Even if the smirk wasn't on her face, it was absolutely in her voice.
"Oh, did she take a shirt home?" Drew raised her eyebrows, putting for a superhuman effort to keep her face completely straight. "Good. You like it then?"
"I do, but I'm pretty sure that Abbie would look good in anything, and that isn't just based on personal bias." Taylor knew exactly how hot her wife was. It was a subject that she had devoted endless hours to studying. She motioned for Drew to hand her one of the new tee shirts. "So I should probably reserve judgment until I see one of the shirts by itself."
"Suit yourself." Drew put the messages she'd been given back on the desk and took out one of the regular sized shirts. She held it up against her and smirked, knowing the effect wasn't the same at all.
"Cute, Drew. Really cute." Taylor shook her head. Drew clearly knew how she had spent her night, but Taylor wasn't going to be ashamed of having an active sex life, particularly not with Abbie. "I like them." She sighed, "And I have phone calls to return." She held up her own stack of messages and pushed off of the door frame.
"Abbie called before you got in," Drew said as Taylor walked away. She was grinning and shaking her head. "She says she'll be waiting...and that you'd know what that meant."
Taylor could only shake her head in response. Abbie was absolutely incorrigible, but she had work to do before she could think about just what Abbie would be waiting for.
Samantha smiled to herself as she turned the muted television off. The office in which they were standing was not her own, but she commandeered the space, even when she and Selena were alone. She turned to her partner, taking her shoulders and pulling her close into a warm embrace. The warm silence between them said everything. Samantha was satisfied and pleased; however, as she pulled away, bright eyes focused on Selena, it was clear that she was not entirely settled with the night. "There's something I need to do," she murmured. "Would you ask Taylor to speak with me?" There were no secrets between them; she knew Selena would understand.
Selena waited, enjoying the moment before stepping away. "Of course. I will see you at home?" She was already moving to the door to go and pull Taylor away from the slowly winding-down celebration taking place downstairs.
"Soon," Samantha replied, her smile even softer as she watched Selena go. She knew the brunette understood why the moment needed to be one that was private, even when they shared so much. And she knew she would recount it to her when they were finally in bed together. But what she had to do was long overdue. And she hoped Selena would encourage Abbie to let Taylor have the time.
Selena wound through the hall, shoes stepping over a few fallen streamers, and taking in the excited groups of supporters. It had been a large victory, and they were still flying on their own sense of progress. And it was so, but now the real work was going to begin, but Taylor was ready-or she would be quickly. "Taylor, Ms. Carmichael," Selena stepped expertly alongside them, immediately pulling their attention. She smiled at them both, but her gaze settled on Taylor, "Samantha would like a word with you. She is in your office." Selena was aware of Taylor's subtle shift, but it was only fleeting and she smiled again, "And I'll say my congratulations again now," She turned her attention to Abbie, "to you both." She could see the question on Abbie's face, and leaned a little closer to her, placing a warm hand on her forearm, "and if it was me, I would take the chance to get home. It's best not to be last at the party," She smirked knowingly, "you shouldn't be the one to have to clean up." Abbie would be doing more than her share of that in the next years Selena was sure.
Taylor looked at Abbie to make sure that she was okay with being left behind. "I'll see you at home?" She hoped that whatever Samantha wanted didn't take too long, but as one of the chief financial contributors to her campaign, Taylor knew that she owed her the time.
With a last quiet look of congratulations to Taylor, and what Abbie maybe only imagined was a nod of understanding to her, Selena seemed to melt back into the crowd and Abbie turned to Taylor. "Yes, yes that sounds perfect." Now that it was mentioned, she could feel her feet aching in her heels, and going home to a quiet apartment sounded perfect. Abbie kissed Taylor's cheek. "Don't be too long. Love you."
"I'll try not to be. I love you too." With that, Taylor headed toward her office and whatever Samantha wanted with her. She didn't knock when she got there. It was still her office after all and she was determined to prove that as she walked in. "Samantha, what can I do for you?"
Samantha had been perched on the desk, calmly looking down at her hands and studying the line of her ring. But she looked up and stood as Taylor entered. She made no move to circle the desk to sit behind or to sit in front of it. The space was Taylor's and in that moment she relinquished it by simply stepping back. But she still made and imposing figure in her well cut suit and understated tie. "Congratulations, Taylor," she said quietly as she offered her hand.
Taylor smiled slightly as she took it, shaking it firmly. "Thank you. Obviously, I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you." There was no way that she would have thought about running for Congress without Samantha's intervention, and she didn't want to think of anything beyond that. She had put the past behind her. There wasn't anything that could change it.
While she was not modest, Samantha waved the comment off, though not the sincerity of the thanks. It would not have surprised her if someone else had approached Taylor, later perhaps. She put her hands in her pockets. And stared Taylor directly in the eyes. "I owe you an apology, as well."
Taylor raised her eyebrows. "You do?" She couldn't imagine just what Samantha might be apologizing for.
The response was so nearly puzzled that Samantha almost questioned herself on her decision to make the overture. She took one hand out of her pocket and smoothed her tie in a movement that was clearly a meticulous habit. "It was quite a long time ago, I realize, but I do not like to leave things undone." And while she might have apologized sooner, Samantha felt no need to bring up wrongs that she was trying to right just then.
"Ah," Taylor nodded in understanding, thinking now of the first time that they had met. She found that it didn't hurt anymore, not with the sort of acute immediacy that it had held long past what was natural. "You know, I probably wouldn't have cared as much if you hadn't just... disappeared. Anyway, I accept your apology. It was a very long time ago."
Samantha merely nodded, a soft smile appearing on her face. A certain private tension between them seemed diffused somewhat, and Sam was glad for that. She straightened herself, preparing to go. It was Taylor's night, and she didn't want to keep Selena waiting. "Selena and I wish you well."
"Thank you." Taylor nodded again, leaving unspoken just what she was thanking Samantha for. She did feel better for the apology though.
Nodding, Samantha opened the door, letting the noise of the celebration filter inside. "I think you'll find that Abbie made her way home," she said, trusting that Selena had orchestrated it. "Enjoy your night." And without further comment, Samantha turned down the hallways, satisfied.
Backstory: Entitled (Taylor/Sam NC 17)
Chapter 26: Introspection
Abbie turned the key and opened the door. Just the hall light, it was all she could bring herself to turn on. She stepped out of her heels in the entry, and walked through the still-darkened apartment to the bedroom. The brunette mindlessly slipped out of her dress, and tossed it over a chair. Even the simple task of finding a hanger was too much, too late.
After the day, the months really, of suspense and worry, just about anything in that moment was too much. No question, the night had been amazing and she was proud, almost to tears. But still, Abbie was exhausted. And not in the way a grueling trial made her exhausted, this was something else. She couldn't remember how many hours it seemed like she'd spent smiling, for people, for cameras, and their lights. How many handshakes, small conversations over half bites of food stolen from passing trays, and cocktails she never seemed to be able to drink before they turned lukewarm.
She pulled her hair down and a shirt from the bedroom floor over her head, before walking back through their home in the comforting darkness. The silence was deafening. Taylor would be home from a last meeting soon, and Abbie glanced at the clock hoping it wouldn't take much longer, she still wanted to be awake. Though they'd been in the same room all night, Abbie felt like they hadn't spoken in days. Not really anyway.
The brunette sighed, folding a leg under herself as she sat on the couch. She turned on the television and leaned back into the cushions. The volume was low, and Abbie didn't bother to turn it up. A news anchor was reporting the results still being counted from the western states, and expounding on a close race in Nevada. She tried to follow as best she could, having been engrossed in every nuance of the election: the states, the people, their speeches, what any possible outcome could mean. However, in the aftermath she couldn't bring herself to dissect the argument, and her mind started to drift.
She could still see Taylor in front of the crowd just a few hours ago, thanking them for their work, and making promises Abbie knew the woman would keep if humanly possible. She smiled, remembering that look- just a slight nod in her direction, as the blonde stepped down from the podium. It had nearly made her cry. Taylor had promised her things as well, and the brunette never once questioned her sincerity. Tomorrow would be filled with "what about?"s and "how can we?"s, but Abbie didn't care to think that far. She slid a hand through her hair as she heard the front door open, and the other woman set her keys on the table.
Taylor's footfalls were quiet as she came into the room, and Abbie let out a satisfied breath when the blonde's fingers wrapped around her shoulders from behind, rubbing them gently. The moment hung in companionable silence, neither wanting to tempt fate, to find some last thing to be attended to.
Abbie glanced up, giving her partner a warm smile, "Congratulations."
Taylor met her gaze, "Thank you."
Abbie pulled the blonde's hands down, and she sighed as the woman laced her fingers together over her skin. "Should we go to bed?" The brunette kissed Taylor's hands quietly, then let a smile spread across her lips, "Because I kinda want to go to bed with a congresswoman, even if it's not official yet."
Taylor chuckled. "I suppose this is one of the perks of holding elected office?" She smirked at Abbie and leaned down for a kiss.
Abbie laughed quietly and stood, suddenly not as tired as she had been, just entirely happy. She waited for Taylor to follow, then took her hand and started for the bedroom, "Seems that way babe, you enjoying it so far?"
"I'm enjoying the fact that I don't have to shake any hands tomorrow. I'm thinking that I'll even take tomorrow off." Taylor wrapped her arms around Abbie's waist and pulled her close.
"My God." Abbie turned in Taylor's arms and looked at her in disbelief, "Who are you, and what have you done with Taylor Hamilton?" She stepped back and lay on the bed, pulling the blonde down with her, "because I'd hate to think I was about to cheat on her."
Taylor laughed as she practically fell on top of Abbie, smiling what felt like her first genuine smile in at least the last month. "I don't know where she is, but if you won't tell, I won't either." She lightly brushed her lips against Abbie's as she wrestled her own pants off and then pressed herself closer.
Abbie wrapped her bare legs around Taylor's waist, kissing her back. "You've got yourself a deal." She reached down and grabbed at the blonde's shirt, starting to pull it off.
"You've got a deal, congresswoman," Taylor smirked at Abbie. She sat up long enough to let Abbie get her shirt off, then reached for Abbie's shirt, only then realizing that it was one of her campaign tee shirts.
Abbie shifted to lay further up on the bed, enjoying watching Taylor follow her. She slipped her panties off, leaving the shirt on for the blonde to enjoy for now.
"Say it." Taylor ran her hands over Abbie's hips, and refused to move them, waiting for Abbie to do as she was told.
She locked her eyes on Taylor's, feeling her color rise, and her stomach drop in expectation, "You have a deal...Congresswoman."
"Better. Much, much better." Taylor pushed her lips against Abbie's, kissing her with as much focus and deliberation as she had used to win the election.
Abbie moaned, she was speechless, totally, wonderfully, and completely speechless. She reached and started to run her fingers over Taylor's back, stopping to unfasten the blonde's bra when she came to it.
Taylor tossed her bra away, or once not caring about the mess. "I love you." She cupped Abbie's face between her hands and kissed her again. "I love you so very much. God, how did I get so lucky?"
Laughing, Abbie kissed Taylor back and blushed. "I...I ask myself that every day darlin'." Her hands were in Taylor's hair, pulling her close like she'd wanted to do all day. Taylor felt so good, looked so happy, and Abbie smiled, "I love you too."
Taylor slid her leg between Abbie's, pressing it against her. "You are beautiful. I don't think I tell you that enough." She kissed Abbie and rubbed her leg against her, not wanting to let go of her, not wanting to put even a millimeter of space between them.
"So are you...oh...Taylor..." Abbie wrapped her legs around the blonde, letting her push her closer with just the firm touch. She moved under Taylor. "Yes...make me..."
"I want you to." Taylor ran her hands down Abbie's body, pulling her hips closer as she moved her thigh. She kissed down Abbie's throat and around her neck, nipping at it, sucking at the edge of Abbie's hairline, just where she knew it would make her moan the loudest.
And Abbie did, more than willingly, moaning like she knew made Taylor wet. She was already close, and she pressed Taylor closer, digging her nails into the blonde's back. "Yes Taylor..." Her voice faded out as she moaned again, head starting to swim.
"Come Abbie." Taylor whispered against the skin of Abbie's neck. "Come now and let me see you." The feeling of Abbie's nails in her back was making her breath hitch and she wasn't going to be able to ignore her own desire for much longer.
"Yes..." Abbie was already coming even as Taylor said it. She pushed harder against the blonde and wrapped her arms around the other woman, moaning against her skin. "God Taylor...you're amazing."
"Mmm, you're amazing." Taylor lay on the bed next to Abbie, holding her tightly still. She was desperate for Abbie to touch her, but in that moment, it was enough just to have Abbie in her arms.
Chapter 27: Longing
The wind rattled the windowpane, and Emily drew one of her legs underneath her, flexing her toes in her too-thick socks. She'd sent him home hours before, the then coming storm as her reason. Anyone else would have seen it as a reason to have him stay the night—the next two if the snow got bad enough. But she wanted to be alone.
She longed for the warmth of one of the dogs against her side, on her feet and legs, but finding puppies would be a commitment. It would be admitting that things might be permanent, and she wouldn't admit that, even after just over a year. The house was sparse. They said she needed to make more of an effort. She said she preferred clean design aesthetics and fewer things to dust around, as a housekeeper was unacceptable and she probably couldn't afford one anyway.
The television was dark—she rarely turned it on now—and she balanced her laptop on the arm of the sofa, holding it steady with one hand on the track pad. In the other, she held a cup of tea that had long gone cold. She sipped from it anyway, not tasting. Any time she got online, she fastidiously cleared her browsing history; she never looked at work—if they could call that work.
But now, she stared, her eyes dry and itching, red. Each tear made her angry, and that was all she was left with when they were dry—hollow, empty anger. All of the names were familiar, but they were alien in that none were her own. She didn't know why she let herself follow it, follow any of the news, really. But she wouldn't let it go; she couldn't let herself slip away.
And when she'd seen Abbie's name next to Taylor's, she became like a woman possessed. She searched everything she could read, half searching for herself. She'd read her obituary less breathlessly than two or three lines of copy here or there, covering a race that no longer concerned her, a race in which she had no say.
She gripped her mug tighter as she watched them, the video quality poor and the sound completely muted. It wasn't the first time she'd watched that night. They were holding hands; they were wearing rings. Emily knew he had a ring wearing a hole in his pocket, but he hadn't yet had the nerve. Where she was cold and distant, he called her fascinating, stately and calm. She felt like the barren trees, brittle, lifeless and waiting.
Abbie's smile became suddenly more brilliant and alive as Taylor leaned to whisper something in her ear. It was a moment not meant to be captured. It filled Alex with desperate, immediate warmth and longing. And it left her singed and cold. She closed the screen quickly and let her mug fall, stepping over the pooling liquid as she got up. She didn't care about the storm wind or the snow. She needed something that night, to lose something to find something, to hurt in some way that she didn't die all over again.