Unleashed Desires - K. T. Talbot - E-Book

Unleashed Desires E-Book

K. T. Talbot

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Beschreibung

ER nurse Karen Andrews, an avid supporter of the women's local hockey team, finds herself captivated by a new player, Jessie Carmichael. When Jessie's eyes first meet Karen's, for a few short seconds they hold a fiery gaze. Something unfamiliar stirs inside Karen. It is as if this new player is casting a spell on her ... Beginning her teaching career, meeting new friends in a new City is all Jessie Carmichael is really looking for. She wants to keep busy, finally move on with her life, leaving all the pain and heartache behind. It has been over two years since her partner Lynne left her for another woman ... that is until she meets Karen Andrews ... One evening, while Jessie is at Karen's, a severe snow storm develops. Jessie leaves for home, much to Karen's relief. Karen knows if Jessie had stayed, she would have had to unleash her desires. It isn't until she finds Jessie back at her door unable to make it home that Karen has no idea which way to turn ...

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K. T. Talbot

UNLEASHED DESIRES

Lesbian Romance

© 2015édition el!es

www.elles-books.com [email protected]

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form whatsoever.

ISBN 978-3-95609-154-4

Cover photo: © Kesu – Fotolia.com

   ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS   

To Alison, thank you so much for your advice and tireless effort, your assistance was invaluable. We spent many long hours working on this, but the most special part was becoming much closer friends. For all of this I thank you.

To two of my dearest friends, Cheryl (Sugar) and Mary for your honest opinions and advise. Thanks for letting me talk endlessly about my book while I was writing it and not allowing you to read it until it was complete. Thank you for being there.

To Allan, your expertise was greatly appreciated and a blessing. Thank you for your support on this project.

Thanks to all my family and friends who offered their wonderful support and encouraging words.

Also, thanks to Gloria, because without her vision, I do not think I would have had the courage to pursue my dream of being a published author.

SPECIAL THANKS

To my wife Heather, who from the very beginning was always supportive. You encouraged me and gave me confidence to follow my dream during this entire journey. I love you for that. Your support and input was a welcomed asset to my writing and I am forever grateful to have you by my side. I love you Heather, now and always.

   CHAPTER ONE   

After having worked all week and filling in two extra shifts for a sick colleague, Karen was looking forward to the weekend off. Being a nurse at Brockville General Hospital in a very busy emergency room had given Karen great satisfaction and pleasure over the past nine years. She had seen many disturbing severe injuries, but being able to help others was Karen’s passion.

Since it was a rainy day Karen took a long hot bath, grabbed a good book and curled up in her large chaise longue. An opportunity for a relaxing day did not arise often. There were always chores to be done when you owned a house. Either the yard needed mowing or the garden needed tending, and in the winter she needed to shovel snow off the walkways.

Karen’s home in the country was only fifteen minutes outside the city of Brockville. The drive back and forth was beautiful and allowed Karen enough time to get herself energized on the way to work or to unwind on her way home. Her two bedroom bungalow was set back from the road and nestled amongst several pine trees.

Karen loved people and enjoyed getting together with her friends and family, but once she was home she was so comfortable and relaxed that she found it difficult to make herself go out again.

Karen took a sip from her freshly steeped tea and looked outside. The trees had lost their leaves and had covered the ground with a protective blanket for winter. Even the pine trees had left a sandy golden blanket of needles on the ground. It was a rainy November day. The skies were an unsettled mix of grey and blue.

A number of bird feeders hung from the big pine trees full of enticing pieces of corn, nuts, and a variety of seeds. There were also a few suet balls inviting the downy woodpeckers to join in the bountiful buffet.

Numerous types of birds arrived each day to take advantage of this banquet of food. The blue jays were making their voices heard with their distinctive call. Many other birds fluttered about with excitement. It was truly a delight to watch all of them get along for the most part enjoying one common necessity, eating. But throw in a squirrel or two and watch the scurrying that goes on. Seldom did Karen find time to take pleasure in simply sitting and watching the wildlife that had found a safe haven in her yard. Nature was so beautiful, and Karen had her own piece of God’s beauty just outside her window.

While she watched a pair of ‘love doves’ that cuddled in close to each other on a branch and softly released their comforting coo, Karen felt a bit melancholic. They always seem so content nestled in so cosily together. Someday I would love to share moments like that with someone special, she thought.

Just then the phone rang and interrupted her thoughts.

“Hello.”

“Hi, Karen,” said the voice on the other end.

“Oh, hello, Julie. What a great day to be lazy, isn’t it? Especially after this busy week.”

“Yeah, it is. I thought I would put on a pot roast and let it cook all day. Would you like to join us for dinner and play cards afterwards?”

“I would love to come for dinner. What can I bring?”

“Nothing. All is taken care of. Come around five o’clock.”

“What about dessert?”

“Just bring yourself.”

“Okay, I will see you tonight.”

Julie had been a great friend for about seven years. Karen had met her the day Julie was hired as a nurse. They had instantly become friends.

Karen made herself a fresh hot cup of tea and nestled back into her lounge chair. She read for hours. Before she knew it, it was time to get ready to go to Julie and Rhonda’s for dinner.

Rhonda was Julie’s partner. They had been together just over three years and were very happy and very much in love. Karen had many acquaintances and friends. Some, many in fact, were lesbian. She often found herself curious and intrigued by lesbian relationships, but she could never see herself with a same sex partner. However, she envied Julie and Rhonda’s relationship and admired the respectful way they treated each other.

Karen had dated a few guys over the years, but had never developed any serious relationship or found herself willing to take that special barrier down and let herself be free to make love. To be thirty-four and still a virgin was rare and almost embarrassing. When she finally gave herself completely to the one she loved she wanted it to be special. She had never been attracted to anyone enough to pursue a relationship to that level.

Karen rang the doorbell to Julie’s house, a bottle of red wine in one hand and a bottle of white wine in the other. Holding them out she said, “I didn’t know if white or red is supposed to go with a pot roast, so I thought I would play it safe.”

“You weren’t supposed to bring anything,” Julie reminded.

“I couldn’t come empty handed. You know me,” Karen defended herself. “Where is Rhonda?”

“Upstairs. Putting on a different shirt.”

Just then Rhonda came in and took both bottles from Karen. “I bet we can decide which one goes better with the pot roast. By the time dinner is over we will have our verdict,” Rhonda predicted.

They all had a good laugh, and the bottles were opened before Julie had Karen’s coat hung up.

“Dinner smells wonderful! I haven’t eaten much all day anticipating your scrumptious pot roast,” Karen announced.

“Well, there is plenty, so nobody needs to go hungry.” Julie invited them to sit down at the table.

Dinner was delicious as usual. They all had a glass of both the red and white wine, so they could make an educated decision as to which went best with the roast.

Rhonda pretended to be a wine connoisseur, swishing it around inside her mouth, first the red and then the white.

Julie and Karen laughed at Rhonda’s facial expressions.

“Okay, how about this . . .” Rhonda stood up, took a sip of the white, held it in her mouth, leaned over to Julie and passed it between their mouths only wasting a small dribble. “Did that taste the same as your white?” Rhonda asked.

“No, actually it tastes like more,” Julie countered with a huge grin.

Karen observed her friends’ playfulness. What a wonderful couple, she thought. I wish I would find someone and have the happiness that Rhonda and Julie share. Watching them banter back and forth, flirting and teasing, making goofy faces, acting like teenagers in love seemed so natural. Karen began to long for someone to treat her special and look at her with eyes that sparkled the way Julie’s and Rhonda’s did, when they looked at each other.

Rhonda turned to Karen and changed the topic. “Karen, you have been a faithful fan of our hockey team again this season.”

“I enjoy it. And knowing almost everybody on the team makes it a lot more fun to watch.”

“Yeah, most of the same group is back. We have a new player by the way. This gal teaches Physical Education at Thousand Island Secondary School.”

“Julie told me. But every time I have been there she hasn’t been.”

“Jessie has had some commitments with the school lately. From now on she should be there most of the time.”

The evening passed quickly. They had been playing cards for hours when Karen looked at her watch and discovered it was after ten. “I had better get my butt in gear and head home.”

“Is it that time already?” Julie asked.

“I was pretty lazy today. I have a whole list of things to get done tomorrow morning. Thanks again for a wonderful evening.” Karen gave them both a hug and a kiss good-bye. “Julie, I will see you at work and Rhonda, I will see you Thursday evening at hockey.”

The week went by quickly. Before too long Thursday had arrived. Julie and Karen met in the bleachers.

“The new girl is supposed to be here tonight,” Julie informed Karen.

“I am excited to see how she plays. Is Rhonda going to listen to our opinion and bench her if we say she is no good?” Karen teased.

“I have only seen her play a few times. She had to miss a number of games in the beginning of the season because of her new teaching job. However, when she played, she was quite impressive,” Julie stated.

“Those must have been the games I missed because of work. I will judge her tonight, and we will make our decision then,” Karen joked.

Just then the ladies came out to warm up. Rhonda took her position as goalie in the net. Rhonda was the captain of the Rideau Rocket’s ladies’ hockey team. She was a strong player and loved the game. They took turns shooting the puck at her. Karen was watching for the new player so she could critique her. Jessie was wearing number nine. Her skating skills are certainly impressive, Karen thought. The Rideau Rockets are lucky that Jessie had chosen them.

Just then the new player looked up, straight into Karen’s eyes. For a few short seconds they held a fiery gaze.

Something unfamiliar stirred inside Karen. It was as if the new player was casting a spell on her.

Jessie, who had only been with the team since the middle of September, delivered her best performance so far on this night. She was out to impress. Not only was the team pleasantly surprised with her exceptional game, but one spectator in particular was more than a little intrigued with this new player on her all so familiar local team.

Karen was unable to take her eyes off of Jessie. When the game was over she bent over to Julie. “You can let Rhonda know that I give my approval of the new player on the team. She looks like a keeper.”

“After tonight’s game Rhonda probably knows that Jessie is an asset.” Julie smiled.

They got up, and after their good-byes Karen left as she usually did.

Julie always waited and walked out with Rhonda.

Later that night Karen had trouble falling asleep. In her mind she kept replaying the moment when her eyes had locked with the eyes of the new player. Neither of them had been able to look away. Karen felt intrigued by this mystery woman on the hockey team. Who was she? She decided to make a point of going to watch more games this season.

Karen attended two more hockey games with Julie in the next couple of weeks, each time keeping her eyes glued on player number nine. Thursdays had become the focus of her week.

This Thursday the Rideau Rockets were playing a strong team from Kingston which held the top position in their league. Karen found herself watching the clock while eating her dinner. Time did not seem to be passing fast enough. What was only ten minutes felt like thirty. She couldn’t wait to see if Jessie was playing today. She was not sure why, but this fascination with the new player was very strong. Ever since this brief moment they had shared during that first game three weeks ago there had been an excitement in Karen that she could not explain and did not understand.

Finally it was time to leave. After checking her hair one last time, she headed out the door. On her drive she listened to the local sports news.

“The T.I.S.S. Pirates Girl’s High School team won their basketball tournament yesterday in Windsor,” the announcer said. “The new coach, Miss Carmichael, has brought the team to new heights. Miss Carmichael has come to us from a small community northwest of here called Mattawa. She has proven to be quite the coach for our young ladies, who seem to look up to her and respect her. Well done, Miss Carmichael.”

Karen’s thoughts drifted off. She didn’t hear any more of the radio broadcast. Instead she started to picture Jessie on the court – taking charge with her bold assertiveness and leading her team into the championship. I am pretty sure Sophie plays for this basketball team, she thought and decided to call her niece tomorrow to find out.

Karen arrived at the arena and parked her car without even remembering her drive into town. She had gotten completely lost in her thoughts and was surprised to find herself in the parking lot already.

Inside the arena she found Julie in their usual spot in the bleachers.

“Hi, Julie.” They exchanged a hug and kiss on the cheek as usual.

Karen wasn’t there more than ten minutes before the ladies were out on the ice warming up. Intently Karen searched for Jessie. Where is she? Where is she? Ah, there she is. Good, she did make it! She had been concerned that after the travelling involved with the basketball tournament Jessie would not be up for a hockey game . . . if in fact this Jessie and Miss Carmichael were one and the same person.

Once Karen spotted Number 9 she took a deep breath and relaxed.

Watching Karen watch Jessie was fun for Julie. It was like watching someone enjoy window shopping for that one item you want but you know you shouldn’t have. And yet, you are looking over every inch of it when you think no one is watching . . .

Jessie looked up into the stands to see if Karen had made it this evening. So far she had not yet been comfortable enough with the other members of the team to go around asking questions about this woman. She did not want to draw any additional interest to herself and her personal life. After all she was a school teacher and didn’t need any negative publicity brought to her over her sexual preference.

She spotted Karen in her usual seat next to Julie. Jessie watched her as often as she was able to, hoping she would be looking back. Finally they spotted each other at the same time. Just as in the past, the intensity and warmth they drew from each other’s eyes was unbelievable.

For a moment Jessie forgot where she was. She got hit in the side of the foot with a puck. That brought her back to the ice and the warm-up.

Karen could not help but give Jessie a big smile without even realizing it.

”Julie, didn’t you say that Jessie is new in town?”

“Yeah, she moved here at the end of the summer. Right before the school year started.”

“That’s right. You said she taught at T.I.S.S. What does she teach?”

“Remember, Karen? I said she teaches PE. I swear, either you don’t listen to what I say, or you just like talking about Number 9 all the time.”

Karen realized that Julie had a valid point. All she wanted to do was talk about Jessie. She remembered everything she had ever been told about her; still she wanted to hear it over and over. Her information on Jessie was limited, therefore she was always hoping Julie would have something new to tell her about Number 9. After all, Rhonda did play on the same team.

“Ha ha, very funny! I do listen to you. You just never mentioned Jessie’s last name.”

“I think Rhonda said her name was Carmichael, Jessie Carmichael.”

“That would be right then,” Karen said with certainty.

“What would be right?”

“On my way here tonight the sports news mentioned her and the T.I.S.S. Girls’ High School basketball team winning the tournament in Windsor yesterday.”

Julie nodded. “It sounds like that is one and the same, Miss Jessie Carmichael.”

Karen beamed. Jessie Carmichael, Karen thought. I like the sound of her name.

The final score was three to two for the Rideau Rockets. With her speed and energy Jessie had made it an exciting game to watch. Jessie herself scored one goal and had one assist.

Usually Karen would leave as soon as the game was over, while Julie would wait around for Rhonda and chat with the others who were waiting for their partners or friends. Tonight however Karen was a bit slower in heading out. “The game was exciting tonight. A great deal of action and very tense.”

“Yes, it was most enjoyable watching all aspects of the game,” Julie teased.

Karen got a puzzled look on her face. “What do you mean, ‘all aspects of the game’?”

“You know . . . the game, the players, the spectators, the interactions . . .”

“What are you talking about? What interactions?” Karen’s face turned red. She was pretty certain that Julie had seen her watching Jessie very closely during the whole game. She knew exactly to what Julie was referring. “I think that the fans’ involvement and cheers help the players during the game.”

“Well, you certainly did your share of cheering tonight, especially when Number 9 scored her goal.”

“With her being the newbie on the team I wanted her to feel that her efforts were noticed and appreciated.”

Julie decided to leave it at that. She had a notion about Karen’s true motivation, but did not want to scare her away from her feelings.

Karen waited with Julie a bit longer and was just about to leave when she saw Jessie coming out of the dressing room. The way her short red hair curled up around the bottom of her black ball cap seemed to add brightness to her soft brown freckles hidden beneath the rosy flush she had from playing hockey. Karen was stunned. She literally froze and could only smile, as Jessie walked closer and said hello.

Julie slowed Jessie up. “So, was it you we heard all about on the sports news tonight?”

“Oh, did we make the local sports broadcast?”

“Yes, apparently you and the T.I.S.S. Girls’ basketball team did well in a tournament . . . where did you say that was Karen?”

Karen could not believe Julie was doing this to her. Her mind went blank. “I believe I heard it was in Windsor.”

Jessie stepped closer. “That’s right. The girls made me very proud.”

Julie smiled to herself. Finally the two had at least spoken to one another. It wasn’t much, but you had to start somewhere. “Congratulations again. You played a great game tonight.”

“Thanks, I had fun. It’s very nice to finally meet you.” Jessie shoved her hockey bag farther back on her shoulder, winked at Karen and headed off.

Karen watched Jessie walk away so self-confident. What a raspy, deep, sultry voice she has, she thought. That voice along with Jessie’s smoldering brown eyes made her knees weak. She had never had anyone affect her this way. Karen was perplexed and uncertain of the unsettling feelings that simmered within her.

Jessie could not believe how beautiful Karen was up close. Her complexion was so smooth, her skin so soft. Her eyes, which she had looked into from a distance on a few occasions, were even more breathtaking up close. They were the soft blue of the sky on a clear summer day. She really had to get to know this woman! Finally she had a name, Karen, to go along with the face she kept seeing in her dreams, the face that often kept her awake at night.

   CHAPTER TWO   

Julie and Rhonda had been tossing around the idea of hosting a party for the hockey team in celebration of the approaching holiday season. Although Karen was not on the team, she attended most of the games and was friends with most of the girls on the team.

“Let’s include her,” Julie suggested. “Judging by the questions she has been asking about Jessie lately, I bet there is an underlying interest that needs to be explored. I want to give it a little push in the right direction.”

Rhonda was concerned. “Julie, you wouldn’t be trying to play matchmaker here, would you?”

“Hell, yeah! I think Karen is on her way to discover a whole new world.”

“Do you really think Karen may have a sexual interest in Jessie?” Rhonda asked.

“I believe she is much more interested in her than she realizes.” Julie paused a moment. “Karen is treading unfamiliar territory here. I think she wants to meet Jessie and at the very least get to know more about her. All she does is talk about Number 9 and what a great player she is and how the team is lucky to have her. So all it takes for me is to get the ball rolling . . .”

The next morning at work Julie and Karen spent their break at the hospital cafeteria as they often did to get off their feet. It had been a busy morning. Karen decided on a fresh fruit cup and hot tea, Julie had her usual bowl of cereal and an order of toast.

Sitting down at a table, Julie started the conversation. “Great game last night. Exciting to watch.”

Karen nodded in agreement without hesitation, her mouth full of fruit.

“Rhonda and I are hosting a party in a few weeks to celebrate the holidays.”

“I don’t remember the last time you and Rhonda threw a party. It has been quite some time.”

“You’re right. I think it was back in early February. We have decided on December 18th, two weeks from Saturday. You can come, can’t you?”

“I will have to check the schedule to see if I have to work.”

“I already checked for you when I was checking my own. We are both off that weekend. We can even sleep in the next morning in case we get a little wild and foolish,” Julie said with a mischievous grin on her face.

Karen hesitated. “It is such a busy time of year with shopping and decorating.”

Julie pushed a little harder. “Yeah, Rhonda and I discussed that. But it is still a couple of weeks away. People will have time to schedule other seasonal duties around it.”

“I would love to come. I will simply have to make an extra effort to get my shopping done early. Actually that way I won’t have to fight the crowds later.” Karen smiled, pleased to avoid the Christmas rush. “Who else are you inviting?”

“Rhonda’s entire hockey team and their partners, spouses, and a few other friends.”

Karen picked up her tea casually and nodded in approval. “It should be a good time. Those women like to party. Besides it will be a good opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, especially Jessie. She only knows the girls on the team and not really anybody’s significant other.”

Break time was over. They headed back to work. Julie was immediately called to care for a patient who had just arrived in the emergency room, while Karen had to finish up some paperwork.

Karen was all smiles and cheerful the remainder of the day. As soon as she arrived home she marked the date on her calendar – December 18th, party – meet Jessie. Each time she thought of the date, an unfamiliar jittery sensation twitched in the pit of her stomach. Karen didn’t understand what this woman was doing to her. She could not put her finger on it. All she knew was that she was attracted to Jessie in some strange way. It was an attraction she had never experienced before.

The days passed quickly. It was Thursday night, ladies’ hockey night. Karen decided not to go home from work for dinner before the game. Instead she wanted to grab a bite at a burger joint and get some serious shopping done. Having planned ahead, she brought herself a change of clothes which she put on before leaving work. It was shortly after 5:00 p.m. when Karen walked to her car. She took in deep breaths of the cool evening air. What a beautiful night, she thought and looked up into the clear dark sky.

The Thousand Islands Shopping Mall was her first stop after taking time for a burger and fries. Karen was on a mission. She had a list of places to go to and pick out the ideal Christmas gifts for her parents. She also needed to get something for Julie’s party on the 18th. There was enough time left before Christmas to shop for the rest of her family and friends.

Karen was tired and needed a few minutes to recoup from shopping before going to the game. She bought a cold drink and headed over to the hockey arena.

Rhonda and Julie had come to the rink a little earlier, because Rhonda wanted to extend party invitations to her teammates. Rhonda was putting her gear on, when the girls started to come in. Jessie was not there, yet.

“Can I have everyone’s attention,” Rhonda shouted loudly, after she had her entire gear on. “Hey, girls, listen up. Julie and I are having a party at our place for you gals and your partners, spouses, and significant others.”

Rumblings and laughter erupted in the locker room.

At that moment Jessie entered. “Hey, everybody, what’s going on?”

Carla spoke up. “Rhonda was just telling us that she and Julie are having a party for the team.”

“Let me clarify,” Rhonda interrupted. “I said the team and your partners, spouses, and significant others. We want everyone to come.”

“Sounds great. I would love to get to know what makes some of you clowns, oops, I mean gals, tick.” Jessie had all the players in the dressing room laughing and tossing things at her.

“I like your sense of humor,” Rhonda commented. “You fit right in with the rest of these comedians.”

“When did you say this big bash is taking place?” Jessie asked.

“December 18th, two weeks from Saturday.”

“Oh, damn! I have a basketball tournament that day; one we are hosting here in town.”

Rhonda took a deep breath. “Will you be able to make it to the party?”

“You don’t want to miss a party hosted by Rhonda and Julie,” Carla added. “They are always great fun.”

“Tournaments do run late sometimes. But it’s scheduled to be over by five. Even if it runs a bit late I should be able to make it by around eight o’clock or so.”

“Perfect.” Rhonda exhaled with relief. It looked like things were going to work out nicely. “Okay everybody, let’s get out there and play like you are ready to party. Let’s go!” Rhonda had just stirred the team up enough to get them pumped to play a fantastic game.

When Rhonda came out on the ice for her warm-up, she looked up at Julie and signaled her that Jessie was able to attend the party.

Julie began to laugh. Her matchmaking idea was in motion! She reached over and punched Karen in the arm with excitement.

Baffled Karen looked at her. “Ouch, what was that about?”

Julie giggled. “Nothing, I just love Rhonda so much!”

“You and Rhonda are very lucky to have each other. I am envious of your relationship.” Karen sighed. Someday I hope to experience the same happiness with someone, she thought.

Karen had planned on wrapping some of her presents on Saturday and putting up her Christmas tree. When the phone rang at five-thirty in the morning it startled her. It was the hospital. Someone had called in sick. They needed her to come in for an extra shift. After dragging herself out of bed and turning on the kettle for her morning tea, she hopped in the shower. Soon she was refreshed and ready to head off to work.

Actually it wasn’t a bad day at work, and the time went by fairly quickly. When Karen got home she was tired. However, she still wanted to get her tree up and decorated, so she called her sister Joan for help.

Joan was only three years older than Karen. Growing up they had not been close, but that had changed since they had both moved away from home and got their own lives.

“Hi, Joan. I was planning on putting my Christmas tree up tonight, and wondered if you would give me a hand with the decorations.”

“Sorry, Karen, but Sophie is home tonight. We were looking forward to spending time together.” Sophie was Joan’s daughter. Being a teenager, she was not often up for a night in with her parents.

“Bring Sophie along. It would be great fun having the two of you here decorating and singing carols.” Karen was hopeful. “What do you say? Ask Sophie if she would like to join us.” Karen could hear Joan yell up the stairs to Sophie.

“Actually, Karen, Sophie thinks it would be a blast. What time do you want us?”

“Well, it is almost six o’clock now. How about seven?”

“Seven works for us. See you then.”

Karen hung up the phone, prepared soup for a quick dinner and got some treats ready to serve her guests.

It wasn’t long before the doorbell rang. “I am so glad you both were able to make it on such short notice. I don’t enjoy decorating my Christmas tree alone.”

Sophie jumped in right away. “Aunt Karen, you really need to find someone. You deserve to be happy and not alone all the time.”

“Is that so?” Karen tugged on Sophie’s shirt collar. She pulled her close to give her a kiss on the cheek. “What makes you think I am lonely and unhappy?”

“Aunt Karen, I didn’t mean you were unhappy! You are one of the happiest people I know. What I meant is that you should have a companion, someone to share special occasions with.”

“Well, if I had a companion, then I wouldn’t have this special time with my favorite niece and sister, right?” Karen teased Sophie a bit longer, although she knew Sophie had a point. She did want a companion to share special times with. She always figured it would happen when the time was right.

Over the course of the evening the singing got a little crazy and loud. “It’s a good thing I live out in the country so my neighbors can’t hear us.” Karen put the final ornament on the tree and brought in eggnog and snacks.

“Hey, Aunt Karen, would you be interested in coming to our basketball tournament in a couple of weeks?”

Karen immediately felt a tug in her stomach. “A basketball tournament?”

“Yeah, on December 18th,” Sophie confirmed.

“Roger and I are looking forward to it,” Joan intersected. “We have been unable to attend any games so far. But we have heard a lot about Miss Carmichael.”

“Miss Carmichael is an awesome coach,” Sophie added with enthusiasm. “And she has a great sense of humor.”

Karen knew the party was on that same night. “I would love to come and watch. Joan, call me and let me know when the games are, and I will watch with you and Roger.”

“Great. I’ll take any chance I can get to spend time with my baby sister.” Joan stood up. “Come on, Sophie. We better get going, or your father will think we got lost.” They all chuckled and headed toward the door.

“I can’t thank you two enough for your terrific company and your help. I really enjoyed it. The singing was pretty special for sure!” Karen could not resist one last jab at the vocals. They all hugged and kissed good-bye.

“We had fun, too, Aunt Karen. Thanks for including me.” Sophie gave Karen one more squeeze and told her that she loved her.

As they were leaving they were surprised to see that it had started to snow.

“What a perfect ending to a tree decorating evening with family.” Karen wrapped her arms around herself, rubbing them to keep the chill off as she watched her company head out the driveway. After they were on the road, Karen gave Roger a quick call to let him know Joan and Sophie had just left her place so he wouldn’t worry.

Karen came back inside and made herself another cup of tea. She slipped into her pajamas and wrapped herself in a housecoat. Putting her feet up, she relaxed on the couch, admiring her Christmas tree. How nice it looked! Her thoughts turned to Miss Jessie Carmichael. Karen took a sip of tea and sighed. Why do I like her so much when I don’t even know her?

She set her tea aside and fell into a peaceful sleep.

Snow fell steadily for two days and made everything shimmer and appear clean and pure. It certainly helped put the feel of Christmas in the air. Everywhere decorations and pretty lights were hung up, and holiday tunes were playing. Karen loved this time of year. She enjoyed all facets of the season except for the crowded shopping. But thanks to Julie’s and Rhonda’s party she had her Christmas shopping done and almost all gifts wrapped.

Due to another extra shift at work Karen had missed the hockey game the previous week. No wonder she was looking forward to this weekend. She hadn’t been this excited about an outing in a long time. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.

Jessie’s schedule had been crazy. She had basketball practices after school every day and road trips for games a couple of times a week. Basketball and volleyball practices kept her busy, but they also kept her fit and feeling vibrant. Jessie loved her job, although it consumed a lot of her time.

Jessie lived in an apartment in town. It worked convenient with her extracurricular activities. She intended to go home for the holidays to see her family in Mattawa for Christmas break. But before she needed a couple of extra days to finish her Christmas shopping. Due to her obligations she was far behind. When she got home to her apartment after teaching all day, she simply wanted to go over the game plans and mark papers.

Jessie was very excited to be going home to see her family. Along with her parents, her brother Tom still lived in Mattawa with his wife Sharon. Jessie talked to them regularly.

Her brother Tom was her best friend and her biggest fan. His support of her lifestyle was amazing to Jessie. He had been by her side through all of it. When she had told her parents, Tom had held her hand, giving her strength. And when her former partner Lynne had left her for another woman two and a half years ago, Tom had come to be with her. He had held her while she had cried. He had always been there for her, and Jessie would be there for him if he ever needed her. Tom and Sharon had been married for four years. They wanted children, but had not been able to conceive, yet. As Tom always said, “It sure was fun trying.”

Feeling exhausted and a bit lonely, Jessie dialed Tom’s number. “Hey Tom, how are you keeping up?”

“Pretty good, Jess. Good to hear from you.”

“Are you ready for Christmas? Which really means: Do you have my presents bought, yet?” Jessie teased.

“Always the comedian.” Tom snickered. “So, tell me, any new love interests I should know about?” Tom always probed into Jessie’s love life, hoping she would find someone that he felt was good enough for her sometime soon.

“I have my eye on a woman that comes to watch our hockey games. She has a beautiful smile and is very attractive. I can’t stop thinking about her.” Jessie admitted. Her name is Karen.”

“Have you asked her out?”

“No. I am not even sure she is gay.”

“Since when has that ever held you back? Have you lost your touch? What is taking you so long?”

“There are lots of things I don’t know about her. I don’t even know her last name. Maybe she is married or has a partner already? What does she do for a living?” Jessie blurted out.

“Okay, slow down,” Tom stopped her. “Sounds to me like you are thinking too much. Why not act first, think later? That is what you always did.” He laughed.

“Yeah, and look where that got me. I have a lot of questions. I will ask Julie and Rhonda at their party on Saturday night.”

“Will this woman be there? Or can you invite her?”

“No, it is for the hockey team only. But I plan on finding out a lot more about Karen, and I will make this party no matter how tired I may be after the tournament. I have to make the time to socialize and meet new friends,” Jessie explained with new determination.

“Well, Sharon is calling me. I’d better get going. Keep me informed. Ask her to the party anyway. I love you, Jess.”

“Love you too. Bye, Tom.”

Jessie needed this Saturday night for her own sanity. It would be good to be with other lesbians and to see her teammates with their partners. She wanted to meet everybody. Jessie considered Tom’s suggestion of asking Karen to the party.

On Tuesday Jessie was going over some drills with the girls in her class. About twenty-five minutes into the period Jessie was watching Hope getting ready for the pass. She was in a good position, just outside the key. Sophie passed the ball to Hope.

“Nicely done, girls. Excellent set-up,” Jessie praised.

Hope caught the ball. With a firm hold she went for a lay-up. When Hope came down, her foot landed on the side. Hope went down to the floor so fast Jessie knew she had been hurt.

Jessie rushed over. “Hope, don’t move. Stay put for a moment.”

“It hurts like hell! Ohhhhh, shit! It hurts!” Hope was yelling and holding her leg.

“I know it does,” Jessie sympathized. “Just take a few deep breaths for me.”

“Ah, hell. It hurts!”

“Hope, look at me. Take a deep breath,” Jessie repeated. “Okay, now let me have a look.” Jessie looked up. “Sophie, can you please get the cold packs from the first aid kit in my office? Hurry!”

Within seconds Sophie was back.

Hope’s ankle was swollen. Once she pulled down the sock, the entire ankle was already turning black and blue. “Hope, I have to take you to the ER.”

“I can’t walk, Miss Carmichael.” Tears streamed down Hope’s face.

“Just try to be calm and keep the cold pack on it.” Jessie stood up, blew the whistle and motioned for the class to gather around. “I need someone to gather up the equipment and put it away.”

Instantly hands went up. Everyone volunteered to help. Jessie picked two of the girls for the job. “Obviously class is over, but I expect you girls to be responsible enough to spend the rest of this period in the library or put your next half hour to good use.” Jessie’s tone told the girls that she was serious. “No goofing off. I don’t want to hear about anybody misbehaving or getting into trouble.” Jessie dismissed them. “Sophie, can you please help me get Hope over to the bench?”

“No problem.” Sophie was immediately ready to help out.

“Hope, tell Sophie which coat is yours, and she will get it for you. I need to advise the secretary to call your parents. I will be right back.” Jessie turned to Sophie. “I am going to need help getting her to the car. Do you mind?”

Sophie replied without hesitation. “No, I don’t mind at all.”

Jessie pulled up just outside the hospital’s emergency entrance.

“Stay here, Hope. I will get you a wheelchair.” All Jessie could think about was taking care of her student. She headed in through the automatic doors. Just inside there were three wheelchairs. Jessie grabbed one and headed back out to get Hope. Once they had manoeuvred Hope into the wheelchair, Jessie took her inside and then ran back to park the car.

Jessie returned so quickly, Hope was surprised. “Wow, that was fast!”

“I didn’t want you waiting here in pain, so I ran. Besides, the extra exercise won’t hurt,” she joked, trying to take Hope’s mind off her pain.