"No Place Like It"
"Hello?" Jessie said distractedly into the receiver her attention focused in front of her. She’d been bothering Katie to paint something for weeks, and finally her girlfriend acquiesced, seating herself in front of the easel Jessie had picked up, muttering to herself as she picked up a brush. She’d been seated there for the past two hours completely oblivious to everything around her, and Jessie had just been watching her, never so happy to have been forgotten.
"I’m going to take it in the bedroom," Jessie said hearing her mothers voice on the other end of the phone. Katie simply nodded her eyes never leaving the canvas in front of her.
"Is someone there?" Karen asked, slightly surprised by Jessie’s comment which she was sure wasn’t directed at her.
"No one important," Jessie replied, laughing as Katie lifted up her hand and flipped her the bird before turning her full attention back to the easel.
"Is it that woman?" Karen asked wearily.
"It’s not Dillon," Jessie replied smiling at her mother’s tone as she remembered the first and only time the two of them had met. She and Dillon were suppose to attend a costume party for client they were working for and Dillon had dropped by her apartment one afternoon to try on the costumes. She’d tried to get Jessie to agree to changing together, but Jessie wasn’t about to have any of that and banished her to the washroom to change. A few minutes after that the doorbell had rung and she’d rushed out to answer it, throwing her robe around her. It had been Karen arriving for a surprise visit, and before Jessie could even get out a hello, Dillon had emerged from the washroom in nothing but her underwear asking Jessie where her handcuffs were. Then upon seeing Karen had eyed her in a quite obvious fashion and commented that Jessie hadn’t mentioned anything about this being a ménage. After that Dillon had become ‘that woman’ to her mother, and Jessie was sure she would remain that way for the rest of her days.
"Oh," Karen said. "Tell Grace hi for me," she continued trying to figure out who was over at Jessie’s apartment.
"It’s not Grace," Jessie responded rolling her eyes at her mother’s obvious attempt to find out whom she was with. "How’s Henry?" she asked decided to let Karen sweat for a while.
"Good," Karen said her voice softening as it always did at the mention on her husband. "That’s why I’m calling actually," she continued. "I was wondering if you wanted to come over for dinner on Sunday, we haven’t seen you for a while."
"I’d love to," Jessie replied smiling at the mere thought of her and Henry kicking Karen’s ass at scrabble. "Is it alright if I bring someone along?"
"Of course," Karen said clearly surprised. Jessie smirked; she was having too much fun with this. She should stop. Torturing your mother was not supposed to be a fun pastime. "Who?"
"You can’t wait another twenty hours to find out?" Jessie asked plopping down on her bed.
"No, I really can’t," Karen asked knowing that Jessie as playing with her.
"Katie," Jessie said after pausing to take a deep breath. Her mother who had once been the founder of the Katie Singer fan club had, since their breakup, become the chair of the ‘Katie Singer is Eeeeeeevil guild’, which had been joined by every member of her family, and she wasn’t quite sure how Karen would react to hearing that Katie was back.
"Katie Singer?" Karen asked her voice dropping darkly.
"Yes, Katie Singer," Jessie responded noting her mothers tone and thinking that it wasn’t the best of signs.
"Oh," Karen replied.
"We’ll talk tomorrow." Jessie said knowing her that her mothers ‘ohs’ were just launching pads for interrogations and not really wanting to get into it at the moment.
"Say hi for me," Karen responded though her voice was strained.
"Is that all you want me to say?" Jessie asked.
"You’re funny," Karen replied knowing that Jessie was fully aware that she had quite a few things she’d like to say to Ms. Kathryn Singer.
"You keep saying that, yet you never laugh," Jessie replied with a faux sigh of chagrin.
"Goodnight," Karen replied rolling her eyes at her daughter. Jessie was rarely this playful and she had to admit – even though it pained her to after years of training the ass-pole to work itself into a tizzy at the mention of Katie’s name – that the other woman probably played a big part in her daughters giddy mood. "I love you."
"I wuv you too," Jessie responded smiling. "Sleep tight and give Henry a kiss for me."
Karen took a deep cleansing breath as she came to a stop in front of the door then reached out and slowly tugged the door open, smiling widely though she only really felt like smiling semi-widely. The first thing she saw was Jessie’s equally smiling face and then a blur of movement as her daughter stepped towards her drawing her into a hug and kissing her on the cheek before entering the house. Then once Jessie had moved out of the way, Karen too stepped back opening the door a bit wider so that Katie could step in.
On the porch the other girl had been covered in darkness and Karen hadn’t been able to recognize her, but once she had stepped inside and looked up awkwardly offering Karen a bottle of wine a swell of memories returned to her.
"Thank you," Karen said taking the proffered bottle into her hands. "The years have been generous," she continued looking at Katie and barely able to separate the woman standing in front of her from the child that used to practically live at her house.
"I," Katie said smiling, "was just thinking exactly the same thing," she continued stepping towards Karen hesitantly. "It’s nice to see you again Mrs. Higgins," she went on the words coming out slightly strange as she tried to settle herself to Karen’s new moniker.
Karen too then took a step forward allowing Katie to hug her lightly. The truth was that she had always liked Katie a great deal, not simply because of the happiness she had brought Jessie, but because she was a genuinely likeable young woman, smart, funny, caring and obliviously charming. And once, the initial trepidation in regards to Jessie and Katie’s relationship had worn off, Karen had formed a new and more vivid portrait of Jessie’s future in her mind, one that had involved Katie, and even though she knew it had been too romantic, to idealistic she hadn’t been able to deny the poignancy of their relationship, even though it was perhaps the realistic thing to do. They had helped her to believe in love again, and when they had broken up she had taken it almost as hard as Jessie. So, she wasn’t quite yet able to say that it was nice to see Katie again, but she could acknowledge that she had missed the girl.
"Karen," Karen said a moment later when she and Katie pulled apart. "We are both adults now after all," she continued placing her hand on Katie’s shoulder before turning to look down the hallway. "Don’t you have a giant magic eight-ball to read?" Karen asked looking over at Jessie who had simply been watching them since entering the house.
"He gets agitated and makes the frown-y face when I do that," Jessie responded pouting a little as she looked longing down towards the end of the hallway where she could just make out Henry’s figure puttering towards them. "He says it’s not cute anymore," she went on thinking about how much fun it’d been to harass him when he and Karen were still dating. Whenever he sat down she’d walk up behind him and Eli would ask a question then she’d blow on top of his head and read an imaginary message like ‘Looks Doubtful’, and Karen would shake her head and tell them to sit down, while Henry would mutter ‘cute’ even though he obviously didn’t think it was.
"You didn’t?" Katie said looking over at Jessie as Karen took their coats. "You did," she said smiling when Jessie merely shrugged.
"At the time I had recently come under a corrupting influence," Jessie said by way of defense looking pointedly at Katie before feeling Henry hug her from behind and kiss the top of her head. "Tell her it’s all her fault Shmoopy," Jessie continued smiling back at Henry.
"It’s all your fault," Henry said looking over at Katie. He recognized her, having been over at Karen’s at the same time as Katie over the summers and vacation breaks, but he hadn’t been able to spend as much time with her back then as everyone else had. However, what he had seen he’d liked, at least until he saw how the breakup had affected his two favorite women. "What’s your fault?" he continued stepping away from Jessie and offering his hand to Katie.
"Her delinquent tendencies," Katie responded shaking his hand. "Although I maintain I was simply the catalyst not the creator," she continued earning fond glare from Jessie.
"I think," Karen said, taking a deep breath and preparing herself to let bygones be bygones. "This is when I should say, ‘dinner is served’."
"Saved by my mother," Jessie responded smiling at Karen having seen her defensive posture loosen slightly.
"Wasn’t Tori Spelling in that?" Katie asked looking over at Jessie as the blonde took her hand. "A tale of a skanky co-ed and a date that went horribly, horribly wrong that becomes a moving story of triumph over evil and love when the mother breaks down the door with an axe."
"Do you have any idea what she’s talking about?" Henry whispered in Jessie’s ear as they headed to the living.
"Not usually, no," Jessie responded winking at him.
Katie brushed her lips against the soft skin of Jessie bare shoulder, wrapping her arms around her girlfriends waist more firmly, pressing up against her back, needing to be as close to her as humanly possible. "How’s the case going?" she asked her eyes flickering to the television screen that they were watching before she got distracted.
Feeling Jessie shift in her arms until they were face to face Katie looked down to see Jessie looking at her incredulously, shaking her head in dismay.
"What?" Katie asked.
"We wrapped that last week," Jessie responded.
"You didn’t tell me that," Katie responded as she desperately searched her memory, though she was fairly confident that Jessie hadn’t told her – though that kind of made no sense whatsoever because this was precisely the type of thing that Jessie would have told her. But she couldn’t remember so she obviously hadn’t. Jessie was fallible too after all.
"Yes, I did," Jessie replied, perfectly aware of exactly when she had told Katie.
"When?" Katie asked skeptically painfully aware of the fact that Jessie sounded much more confident that she had told her than she did that she hadn’t told her.
"On Friday. Why do you think we used the whirlpool jets in the tub and were drinking champagne?" Jessie asked watching as Katie’s eyes clouded over.
At the mention of Friday Katie’s mind became overcome with memories of Jessie slowly stripping in front of her, lowering herself into the tub like a goddess. And memories of Jessie’s hands roaming over of bare wet skin working scented oils into her muscles. And memories of Jessie tipping glasses of bubbly champagne for her to consume, before bringing their lips together for long, deep kisses. At no point whatsoever, did Katie flash back to Jessie telling her about the case.
"You told me about it with your naked body pressed up against mine, as you feed me champagne by the bottle and rubbed me with scented oils and you expected me to remember?" Katie asked incredulously, looking at Jessie like she was insane. "All I remember about Friday is … mmm," she continued biting her bottom lips as more memories flooded into her mind.
"You know," Jessie said playfully, placing her hand and Katie’s hip, stroking the skin lightly with her thumb. "I think you’re hornier now than in high school."
"That’s not true," Katie grumbled in response, Jessie’s voice bringing her back to the present. Jessie merely looked at her unconvinced. "I was just better hiding it back then," Katie continued when Jessie didn’t respond.
"How is that at all possible?" Jessie asked thinking that teenagers weren’t exactly renowned for their self-control.
"It’s quite simple really," Katie began a scholarly tone. "You see, back then I was in a state of perpetual horniness, a lusty haze as it were, like most teenagers are. And because this condition was so prevalent after the initial outbreak it retreated to the recesses of my mind becoming like a shadow, and thus manageable," she continued trying not to laugh at Jessie expression. "Now, after years and years, you’ve reintroduced the perpetual state of horniness into the equation catching me completely unaware," she concluded with a long-suffering sigh.
"You amaze me," Jessie said smiling. "It’s completely insane how you can say the most inappropriate, borderline offense things, but no matter comes out of your mouth, I always find it cute and charming, and…" Jessie continued before being interrupted.
"And it makes you want to ravage me," Katie interjected winking at Jessie.
"See," Jessie said pointing at her. "Why is that endearing?"
Katie made a great effort to look like she was considering this question, and then with the utmost seriousness returned her gaze to Jessie, and said, "It’d probably help if you ravaged me."
Jessie smirked at this response, and pushed against Katie’s shoulders gently until the other woman was lying on her back then shifted so that she was straddling Katie’s waist. Placing her hands on both sides of Katie’s body, Jessie then began to slowly run them up and down, looking down at her girlfriend with a wicked grin on her face.
Katie smiled back up at Jessie, her breathing already increasing as Jessie continued her slow caress, the thought of an immediate future of loving causing her to shiver.
"Maybe later," Jessie responded feeling a tremble run through Katie’s body. Then she rolled off of the other woman so that they were both lying on their backs.
"Th…a…" was all Katie managed to choke out as she lay there staring at the ceiling.
"Aw," Jessie cooed flipping onto her side so that she could see Katie. "You’re so cute when you’re sexually frustrated."
"I am not," Katie mumbled pouting slightly as she shot a harassed look Jessie’s way. "Besides," she continued huffily. "I don’t’ need you."
"Really?" Jessie asked in an intrigued tone.
"That’s not what I meant," Katie said shooting Jessie a look as the blonde grinned at her.
"I can’t believe it," Jessie said laughing as Katie stewed beside her. "All that time I was worrying about Sarah, when I really should’ve been jealous of your right hand."
"Pipe down," Katie replied blushing, shooting Jessie another look.
"It’s alright," Jessie said adopting a scholarly tone like Katie had used minutes before. "Studies say that everyone does it. It’s a perfectly normal, and healthy biological function."
"Really?" Katie asked finally turning to meet Jessie’s gaze. "Is that what took you so long in the shower the morning after Lily made me sleepover? A normal, and healthy biological function?" she asked grinning as Jessie’s smile slowly faded from her face.
"Watch the movie," Jessie mumbled dropping her head onto Katie’s shoulder.
"Oh my god," Katie breathed out looking down at the top of Jessie’s head. She’d just been kidding, she hadn’t actually thought that that was what had really kept Jessie so long that morning, but now it looked like she was right, and really the thought delighted her.
"Shut up," Jessie responded blushing. It wasn’t her fault, Katie had kept her word and tossed and turned onto her in the middle of the night. And once she had wrapped herself around her she’d proceeded to shift and rub up against her for the entire night. It was torture of the best variety. "Hey," Jessie continued when Katie continued to chuckle. "If you don’t stop you’re going have plenty of time to get to know yourself."
Katie promptly stopped laughing, and Jessie smiled. This was much better.
Jessie smiled softly to herself as she leaned up against one of the walls that made up a small, dark corner of the gallery. She raised her glass slowly to her lips as her eyes were focused towards the center of the room. Katie was standing in the middle of a circle of people, smiling and gesturing emphatically basically charming the pants (and skirts) off of everyone around her if their laughter and smiles were any indication. Jessie smiled again at seeing her girlfriend so happy, it made her happy to see Katie happy, however unlike Katie she could only take so much happiness with people milling about her asking her if she was happy before she had to sound the claxons and call for a retreat.
It had been a whirlwind of a year for them. At first Katie was slow to get to work, dawdling about muttering about finding her motivation and having more pressing matters on her mind than finger-painting, such as finding them a house and getting funding for the gallery and all sorts of other rot that would have been perfectly reasonable if they weren’t coming from Katie. However, once she had gotten back to work Jessie had come home every evening to smell of paint, oil and the sounds of the Rolling Stones.
It was one of the most beautiful experiences in the entire world, and she got to have it everyday. Lucky girl, that’s what she was. She was one lucky girl.
A hand on her shoulder drew Jessie out of her thoughts. Surprised, not having thought anyone saw her slip away, but not alarmed Jessie tipped her head to the side smiling when she saw her mother standing beside her.
"A raging success," Karen said softly her eyes roaming around the room.
"A raging success," Jessie agreed turning to smile at her mother as Karen squeezed her shoulder.
"You’re going to have to make her take out the trash so her head doesn’t swell," Karen offered conversationally as she watched Katie bow and smile rakishly to the people gathered around her. It had taken awhile, but she and Katie were friends again now, which meant that she got to start making fun of her once more.
"I make her take out the garbage anyways," Jessie replied, her eyes once again focused on Katie though her attention was devoted to her conversation with her mother.
"That’s my girl," Karen said proudly her eyes scanning the crowd for Henry.
"It’s the ass-pole gene," Jessie mumbled taking a sip of her champagne. Sammler women were the ones with the whips that was just the way it worked and if they had their way – which they always did – it was the way it would always work.
"The what?" Karen asked turning to look at Jessie sharply.
"Nothing," Jessie hastily responded. The ass-pole was a family joke that had NOT been shared with Karen.
"It sounded like you said something about an ass-pole gene," Karen said quirking a questioning eyebrow at her daughter.
"What’s an ass-pole?" Jessie inquired, her face and tone as innocent as could be. ‘That’s it Jess,’ she thought to herself, ‘play dumb’.
"You tell me," Karen responded, the very ass-pole in question working itself into a tizzy.
"How can I tell you about something when I don’t even know what it is?" Jessie asked, her ass-pole senses tingling.
It was going to be a long night.
Katie stood in the doorway of the cabin quietly watching the serene scene displayed in front of her. Jessie was sitting on the porch swing, wrapped in a huge afghan blanket watching the way the light of the setting sun danced over the rippling water of the lakes surface.
Three mornings ago they had escaped city and settled into a quiet little cabin tucked away in the woods for a much talked about vacation. Katie had procured the little property only weeks before, having haggled and bartered for it, wanting a pit stop of sorts for Jessie on the way procuring that quaint little ranch she had talked about so many years ago.
Walking over to Jessie, Katie looked down at her thoughtfully for a moment as Jessie peered up at her blithely, then she reached down and unceremoniously ripped the blanket off of her girlfriend before folding herself around Jessie’s body and smoothing settling the blanket back around them both.
"You," Jessie said smiling as she felt Katie’s arm snake around her waist, "are extremely odd."
""Everybody says that like it’s a revelation, like people haven’t tried to stamp it onto my ass before," Katie replied placing a soft kiss on Jessie’s shoulder feeling the blonde’s body shake as she laughed. "Now before you can ruin this precious moment," she continued ignoring the look Jessie shot back at her, "I was thinking."
"Oh god," Jessie mumbled mock shivering.
"None of that," Katie said craning her head around to give Jessie a playfully warning look. "You’ll like this," she assured the blonde who was looking at her with a confused yet intrigued expression, despite her earlier exclamation. "I was thinking, an intimate beach service in Hawaii," she continued her eyes drifting off as she spoke.
"What?" Jessie asked charmed by Katie’s cute faraway expression, but having absolutely no idea whatsoever what she was talking about.
"For the wedding," Katie replied simply. "My immediate family, your immediate family … which should bring the total to around 30 …" she added smirking. "And a good photographer."
"Wedding?" Jessie asked softly, shifting in the sway seat so that she could look at Katie’s face without craning her neck.
"Uh huh," Katie responded her eyes locked with Jessie’s. "This is me proposing to you."
Jessie felt her heart quicken and her mind slow as the last of Katie’s words drifted to her ears. Her body was torn between wanting to jump up and run down the shoreline screaming and pumping her fists and wanting to faint and maybe twitch a little. Katie was proposing to her, they were going to get married and spend the rest of the their lives together. She was looking at forever with the only person she had ever loved. So, she did the only thing she could. She sat there staring at Katie with a stupefied expression on her face.
"Look," Katie said digging around underneath the blanket for a moment before pulling out a small black box. "Shiny," she continued flipping it open to show Jessie the ring. She really hoped that the ring would encourage the blonde to make an expression. She was beginning to think she really should have done the whole knee thing, but no, she had to prove herself right and actually propose in the most asinine fashion ever.
"This is me," Katie began again taking the ring out of the box and picking up Jessie’s hand. "Asking you to marry me," she went on holding the ring just over Jessie’s index finger.
It may have been unusual proposal, but such was her way.
Jessie slowly moved her hand so that it covered Katie’s and with her eyes trained on their joined hands she moved Katie’s and pushed the ring fully onto the index finger of her other hand. Then, after pausing for a moment to look at the ring on her finger as Katie’s hand gently held her own, she raised her eyes and leaned forward bringing their lips together, in a soft, tender kiss.
"I’m," Katie said, her voice quivering slightly as they separated, "going to take that as a yes and use this opportunity to call no take backs," she continued realizing that her voice wasn’t the only thing that was shaky. "So Hawaii, what do you…" But before she could continue Jessie had captured her lips once more, her hands coming to the sides of Katie’s face holding her in place as she kissed her over and over and over again, tears of happiness streaking down her cheeks.
"In the evening, just before sunset," Jessie whispered placing her head on Katie’s shoulder and turning her still watering eyes back towards the lake.
"That’s exactly what I was thinking," Katie replied smiling.
2019 - Epilogue
"Gracias," Katie said, a soft smile touching her lips as she looked up at the man standing next to her as she passed the small postcard back to him.
However, though her eyes were on him, her attention was focused on a slight tugging sensation on her other arm. The hand of which was attached firmly to the back of a small, struggling boys stylish jumper.
"Caleb," she finally said in a harassed tone as the man walked away autograph in hand. "Caleb stop," she continued, as he looked back at her for a moment then started right back up again pointing through the window of the restaurant.
"Oh alright," Katie said looking out the window and spotting the object of his agitation.
"I scream," the boy said excitedly just incase she hadn’t caught his drift. "I scream, I scream," he continued surging forward only to be restrained by Katie’s hold. "I scream," he added for good measure once he had caught his breath from his previous exertions.
"Ice cream," Katie agreed smiling down at the top of his shaggy head before glancing across the table.
"The perfect after breakfast snack," Jessie replied, a lazy smile spreading across her face as she watched Katie’s body jerk to the side as Caleb’s eighth wind came to him and took her with him as he surged forward.
"I’m gonna remember you said that," Katie replied grinning at her wife as she stood up finally letting go of the boys jumper and watching as he flew forward a few steps then stood facing the door bouncing up and down on his feet breathlessly. "Is he too young to put on medication?" Katie continued turning her head to face Jessie as they headed for the exit. "Hey, ouch," was what followed the question as she rubbed her shoulder.
"So you finally got to see a show in Madrid," Katie commented as they crossed the square, watching as Jessie gazed around them with that same glazed expression she’d been wearing since they had gotten off of the plane. "Was it worth the wait?"
"Every year," Jessie replied smiling. "Now how long till I get to see one in Palermo?"
"Oh at least another ten years," Katie replied breezily. "Somebody keeps stealing my paints," she added pointedly looking down with a mock glare. "I wonder who it could be?" she continued as the small figure walking between them peered up at her ingenuously. Caleb then turned his head to look at Jessie and pointed.
"Mum," he said nodding at Katie seriously before focusing on the ice cream truck once more.
"Has somebody got some ‘splaining to do?" Katie asked looking over at Jessie who merely shook her head while thinking to herself ‘oh god there’s two of them now’.
But as they reached the vender a broad smile spread across her face before she bent down to pick up Caleb so that he could pick what he wanted. And as his stream of consciousness selection debate drifted to her ears, her gaze flickered over to look at her wife who had her bottom lip firmly ensnared by her teeth as she looked intently at the menu, tilting her head to the side with interest occasionally before shaking her head and going back to study the menu some more.
"Uh," Caleb said pointing to a selection, drawing Jessie out of her pleasant haze.
"What was that?" Jessie asked raising an eyebrow at him. If she’d told him once, she’d told him a thousand times, civilized people don’t grunt.
"Uh, por favor?" Caleb responded hopefully, looking over at Jessie with an expression that said ‘did I get it?’
"That’s better," Jessie said smiling before leaning slightly to the side to place a brief kiss to his forehead turning to order.
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