Born Again Ch. 01

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There was a time where I didn’t think I would ever be held again, never to feel the touch of a woman’s hands on me, never to feel her lips on mine. It has been a year now since Sheryl died and the pain wasn’t any less since that awful day. The memories tore at my soul and I closed my eyes again fighting off the daylight streaming in my window. It was time to get up and live through the day once more. Oh how I hated doing this, day after day living life without her. Why couldn’t I just die? Why was I being forced to live without her? I thought about death often, wishing I had the nerve to take my own life but I knew that she would be there waiting for me with disappointment in her eyes and that would be worse than the pain I felt now. I drug myself out of bed slowly feeling the achy ness in my body as my feet touched the cold wood floors. Slowly making my way into my bathroom, I looked in the mirror and couldn’t recognize what stared back at me. If Sheryl could see me now she would be furious with me.

The last year of mourning had taken a toll on me mentally and physically. The image staring back at me had dark circles under her once dark green eyes, her cheekbones had been prominent at one time, but now they protruded with sunken cheeks from lack of eating properly. She was tall but held her body with her shoulders hunched over all the time that no one who didn’t know her wouldn’t see her statuesque body. Her arms though, they were still strong and still muscled from the long hours of trying to drown her sorrow through physical pain of working out everyday. Who was this woman in the mirror? I knew it was what I had made myself become. I knew this was not good for me, but I didn’t know how to change it and I didn’t know if I really wanted to. After all, who was going to see me in that light again? Clients didn’t care if I ate right or if I was beautiful, all they cared about was whether they got the service for their money. I breathed in slowly then turned to the shower, hoping the sting of the hot water would put me in a better frame of mind. Work was calling for me and it was time to put these thoughts in the recesses of my shadowed mind.

The office wasn’t far from home; in fact, it was only right down the five-mile driveway from my house. The land we had owned together had our house and my office sitting on it. The house we built together, the house she only spent four months in before death took her. The house I now occupied alone, alone with my grief and dark thoughts of death. Growling at myself and shaking my head as I opened the door to my jeep and slid into the driver’s seat. Firing the engine to life, I let it warm up a bit, as I gave myself a mental pep talk. It was time for work. By the time I got down the five mile drive I had my mind in the place I wanted it. Web designs and smoozing all my clients one more day. I unlocked the front door and went right to my office noticing the long white box on my desk, my left brow raised inquisitively as I walked to my desk. Whom could these be from? How did they get in here? Jessica my secretary and our long-standing friend wasn’t even at work yet. I approached the white box slowly cautiously as though it could be something dangerous, my hand sliding out to lift the top to reveal 12 long stem red roses. With a more confused look on my face, I searched for a card to no avail. Taking a moment to think, I picked the flowers up along with a crystal vase Sheryl had bought me when I opened the business, and took them to the bathroom to arrange and fill with water. My mind went over all the possibilities of whom they could be from. By the time, I got back to my desk I had no more answers than when I had started. I looked on the outside of the box, seeing the name of the florist I ran through my mental rolodex and called the number.

“Hello Mark’s Florist, how can I help you?” said a young feminine voice.

“Hello this is Jo Tanner of Corral Designs; I have some flowers here on my desk that comes from your shop. I was wondering if you can tell me who sent them.” I spoke softly into the phone.

“Yes Ms Tanner, if you will just give me your address I can try to look up the information for you.”

I gave the young woman the information she wanted and sat down at my desk as I waited listening to the tunes of being on hold. While I waited, I heard the front office door open and knew it would be Jessica Jones ready to work and put up with me for another day. Sure enough, she poked her head into my office and waved after seeing I was on the phone. I smiled at her and nodded my head just about to tell her I was on hold when the young woman at the shop spoke to me again.

“I am sorry Ms Tanner, but I have no record of a delivery to your address in my books, so I am afraid I cannot tell you who they are from.”

I knew with this town being so small that if I pressed the issue she would surely be able to give me some idea of who bought 12 long stem red roses in the past 24 hours, but I decided to let it go, thanked her for her time şırnak escort and hung up the phone. I think that Jessica was watching for the moment I hung, because not a second later she was at my door again. I was leaning back in my chair still looking confused I guess.

“What’s up boss lady?” she said with a sly smile on her face, knowing I hated it when she called me that, yet knowing it was a favorite joke of hers.

“Well, someone left me a dozen long stemmed red roses, unless of course they mistook my desk for yours and I have no idea who it was.” I took the time to fully look at her now, noticing that the 5’2″ woman was dressed as professionally as ever, her red hair pulled up in a professional manner and her make up light on her face, enhancing what was already a beautiful face. I liked that she didn’t try to cover up her natural beauty and only did things that brought out her bright green eyes. I tilted my head for a moment as her face took on another look all together, going from happy and carefree to worry. “What’s wrong Jess?”

“It was me Jo,” She said slowly as she began to wring her hands together. “I came in earlier before I knew you would be here and left them on your desk.”

She said no more, just turned around and walked out into the lobby to her desk. I jumped up and followed her out, looking at her sitting behind her oak desk trying to act as though she was busy with some important business matter. I decided to take this casually and sat on the leather couch that sat along the wall for clients to wait to see me. She tried to ignore me and I waited for her to speak, the silence was about to get the best of me when the front door opened suddenly jolting us out of our daze. I turned to see the local delivery boy with our usual coffees and danishes. He was loyal to me and was always prompt in bringing our standing order every morning I was open. Thankful for the distraction Jessica got up and welcomed him with a big smile on her face and money in her hand. After setting the order down on the coffee table in front of the couch and paying him, she walked him to the door. She tried to pick up her coffee and go back to her desk but one look from me changed her mind and she took her usual spot on the couch next to me. I waited a moment longer before speaking.

“Why did you give me flowers Jess?” I asked softly as I sipped on my hot coffee.

“Because I thought you would like them, you really should keep more fresh flowers around the office, it relaxes your clients.” She rambled. I looked at her and she smiled softly finally speaking the truth. “Because I wanted to do something nice for you and show you how I feel about you.”

“How you feel about me?” I asked incredulously. “What do you mean how you feel about me?”

“You have to make this difficult for me don’t you Jo?” Her green eyes turned to mine and looked right into them. “Are you so blind that you honestly can sit here and tell me you don’t know how I feel about you?”

“I think you are avoiding my question Jess” I tried not to look into her eyes, fact is I was blind. Blind to her and everything else in the world that had nothing to do with my work, my misery, or my memories of Sheryl.

“Jo Tanner, I could just slap you sometimes. I know you miss Sheryl and I know you are hurting still, but I also know that if she knew you were living your life like this and she was able to get her hands on you she would wring your neck.” The fire in her eyes shone through and it seemed as though her hair become redder. “I love you damn it and Sheryl knew that I did; she told me along time ago that if anything ever happened to her she would want me to take care of you.”

“Take care of me?” I laughed at that. “I don’t need anyone to take care of me Jess, I am fine, and you can’t possibly love me. Feel sorry for me, maybe, but not love.”

“Argh” She growled and stood up from the couch. “How can you say such hurtful things Jo Tanner?” She went to turn away from me, but changed her mind, throwing her pastry down on the table, sat back down and stared into my eyes once more before suddenly leaning forward and brushing her lips against mine. I was too shocked to do anything but sit there and take the soft kiss, after coming out of my shock though I realized that my heart was pounding hard in my chest. What in the hell was she doing? She could not love me, it wasn’t right; it would hurt her in the end. I knew this and I had to convince her of the same thing. I could never take the chance of ruining our friendship this way. I tried to back away from her.

“Jess, no you can’t. I am serious, this isn’t good for you, and it would never work.” I fumbled over my words, never having a loss for words before now.

“It would if you would open your eyes and your heart. It has been a year Jo, I am not saying I want you to forget about her,” She paused a moment before going on. “I am just saying open up, look at you, look at me. Hell, Jo, look inside your heart and şırnak escort bayan see what you need and can have right here in front of you before it is too late.”

I have to remember to thank the Gods above for their timing as the front door opened again and in walked Tabby Henderson, the wife of one of my most important clients. Of course, I would have to take care of her and find my rescue from the situation at hand. I smiled to Jess once before getting up from the couch to approach the other woman.

“Mrs. Henderson, how wonderful to see you so early.” I crooned as I held out my hand to take hers gently turning it so that I could kiss the back of her hand. “What can I do for you this wonderful morning?”

“Oh Jo Tanner, if I wasn’t a married woman, and straight to boot, I would just have to fall in love with you.” She oozed with sweetness. “I have come with some instructions from my husband about the website, if I can have a moment or two of your time.”

“Oh, well of course. Please come to my office and we will see what he has in store for me today.” I escorted her to my office and smiled to Jessica once more, Jess knew that smile meant that if the meeting went on too terribly long she was to buzz me with a matter that was so important that I couldn’t simply put it off. I escorted Mrs. Henderson to a comfortable chair on one side of my desk before going to my own chair, of course waiting for her to sit before I slid into my own. “So, what can I do for the hubby today?”

“Well, you know me Jo. I have no idea what he is talking about. He just went on and on about this and that like I knew what he was saying. Luckily, his secretary wrote it all down for me to give to you. She is a gem, I am glad she is too old for him or I might have to worry about them late night sessions he has.” She winked at me and I laughed. We all knew that the real wanderer in the Henderson household was Tabby and not Teddy.

“Ok, let’s see what there is to do then” I reached over my desk and took the paper she held out, taking a moment to look at it as I nodded my head. “Well this is easy enough, won’t take me but an hour to get it all done, and I am sure he will be happy to know that everything here is covered in the original price, so there will be no extra charge.”

“Yes, yes. He will be happy with that I am sure.” She smiled as her eyes took in the sight of my roses sitting on desk. “So do I see a new love interest in your life Jo?”

“Well, perhaps there is. I am not sure Mrs. Henderson.” I tried to keep it light. Even though I was well known in town as the resident dyke, I didn’t exactly like having my life on display; though that is the way, it seemed to be all my life. I grew up here, went away to college and for some unknown reason came back only to meet and fall in love with Sheryl. At first, the town was in an uproar about a lesbian living amongst them. However, somehow I won them over, never really knew how I did that, but now I was just another member of the community and that meant my life was open just like everyone else. I have to say though that I was touched by the outpouring of condolences when Sheryl died. They had to limit how many could come to the services when it became apparent the building could not hold everyone at once. My mind came back to the present as Mrs. Henderson began explaining that she sensed that Jess and I were in an intimate conversation when she walked in on us. “Aye well, yes. We were discussing the very roses you are now admiring”

“Jo, you know you can’t get by my senses. If you can’t see it, at least take my word for it. That woman is in love with you. She always has been. Hell half the town knows it; don’t see why you can’t see it, except you are too buried in grief to see.” She stood with that and held out her hand again. I simply smiled and took her hand to kiss the back again before walking around my desk and escorting her all the way out to her car, where she had to add one more thing. “Sheryl would want you to be happy again Jo Tanner.” With that, she drove away and left me standing there in the cold looking after her dumbly.

Back in my office and sitting behind my desk, I stared at the computer screen, forcing myself to get the changes done on the site Mr. Henderson had requested. I saved the last of the changes and leaned back in my chair. Jess hadn’t bothered to stop me when I had come back in, she knew that I had work to do and I would want to get to it right away. My eyes went from the screen to my open door where I could see Jess sitting at her desk, hearing her voice only when the phone rang, the rest of the air was filled with the light tapping of the keys from her computer as she did her work. My mind slowly slipped into the past; much to my dismay, I seemed to have no control over it.

“Jo, hurry up. We are going to be late for dinner. I am sure that Jessica is just waiting there for us now, thinking we are not coming. I swear you are worst than a fem in that bathroom” Sheryl called escort şırnak through the bathroom door. I could only chuckle at her as I opened the door and saw that she was on the phone and probably on hold with the way she was talking to me. She went to say something to me when she turned her attention back to the phone. “What do you mean you don’t have any tiger lilies? What kind of a shop doesn’t have lilies? Well let me speak to Mark. Yes, right now. No, I don’t care if he is busy right now. You tell him Sheryl Jackson is on the phone and I want to speak to him. Yes I will hold, yet again.” She turned to me again and gave me one of those looks. It was a look of lust and a look that told me that if it wasn’t for being Jessica’s birthday I would have just wasted a half hour getting ready only to have her tearing my clothes off with unabandoned passion. It made me shiver deep to my bones. “Yes, hello Mark. I have been told you have no lilies at all, not even Tiger Lilies. What the hell is up with that?” Her voice took on another tone. A tone I knew too well and loved so deeply. It was a tone of seduction, one that I heard often when she wanted to get her way.

“Mark dear, I am sorry this is all my fault. I should have called way before this to order the lilies, but you see it is Jessica’s birthday. You know Jessica don’t you, yes, that is her, well she loves tiger lilies and I so wanted to get her some for her birthday and have them delivered to her at the restaurant. I just would have loved to see her face when she got them. Yes, oh Mark that would be lovely. Could you really do that? Oh sure I wouldn’t have a problem paying the extra amount. Can you have them delivered to the restaurant say in about 45 minutes? I think that would be enough time to eat and have her all ready for them. Mark you are a gem. I swear I am going to convince Jo to give you a discount on your web site next month. Thank you so much Mark. Yes, give our love to your wife and kids. Thank you.” She hung up the phone and bowed to me like an opera singer that just gave the best performance of her life.

I blinked as I came back to the present. I hadn’t heard Jess come to my office door, but when I looked up there she was looking at me with concern in her eyes. I felt the wetness on my face and realized I had begun to cry silently. I knew that it was useless to try to hide it now, but before I could reach up and wipe it away Jess was at my side, reaching her hand out slowly, her fingers caressing my cheek softly and capturing the tear on its journey down my face. I was frozen in time; the simple touch of her hand had me captured. My eyes had gone to the floor, staring at her small feet in high heel shoes, slowly raising them up along her legs, over the soft curves of her calves, not being allowed to see much more as her sensible yet sensual skirt hid the rest of her legs, though I could see how the material hugged the shape of her hips and hugged her slim waist. Had her style of dress always been this sensual? On the other hand, was I so blind that I had not seen it before now? I looked up further seeing how the jacket she wore hung open, showing her white blouse slide over her small breasts. She was a gorgeous woman. I always knew this, yet the past year I never looked at her other than an old friend and an employee. Damn, Sheryl would kill me for treating our long time friend as I had been for the past year. I would have to change that. Finally, my eyes made it to hers and it shocked me back to the fact that her hand still rested on my face, more than that, but also that she was leaning down, her lips were nearing mine. They were brushing mine now and I wasn’t breathing. Time seemed to stop as I felt her lips demand mine into action as I kissed her back. My body betraying me, as it responded to her touch, her breath, her passion. Her arms sliding over my shoulders, mine sliding around her waist and pulling her closer to me. No, this couldn’t happen. It was wrong. I couldn’t let her in like this. My mind fighting with my body, my heart fighting with both. Being torn up inside from one end to the other. I tried to push her away in my mind, but my body didn’t respond to the order. I held her closer and kissed her deeper. Oh hell, I can’t, I have to fight this, finally finding the strength to push her back, yet slowly.

“Jess,” I said slowly. “I can’t let you love me like this. I … I just …” I didn’t know what else to say. I was at a loss for words. The small time of silence gave her the chance to step close to me once more, sliding her arms around my neck and pulling my head to her bosom, cradling it gently as her fingers played at the base of my neck. I couldn’t do anything but respond by nuzzling into her suddenly feeling safe and loved. My arms slipped around her waist again and I pressed into her softly. “Jess, I am scared.”

“I know so am I.” She said to me in a low whisper. “But, I am not leaving, I am not giving up.”

“Just give me some time, to deal with this please.” I looked up into her face and saw the hurt in her eyes. I knew she was hoping I could accept it right away since I knew her so well, but I also knew she understood, still it didn’t stop her from being a little hurt. She nodded her head, kissed the top of my head, and slowly turned away from me, going to her own desk and leaving me alone.

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