Welcome to the final chapter in the saga of Dani and Amara! The first thing I want to say is THANK YOU to my readers. This was my first foray into this genre and I didn’t know what kind of feedback to expect. I was absolutely blown away by your generosity, so a very sincere thanks for the comments, votes and emails!
My goal in the story was to describe a period of change and growth for two characters. I hope I succeeded in a way that was entertaining and fun, and that you consider the time spent reading this story to be worthwhile.
This is a story about fictional consenting adults.
“Bill let the balloon go and it went up in the air. It went higher than the birds and higher than the trees. Bill watched it get smaller and smaller until he couldn’t see it anymore,” Dani said, then paused in the story. Sometimes Anne liked to ask questions or point to different pictures, but this time she was silent. Dani took it as a sign that the little girl was enjoying the story. Or maybe she’d fallen asleep on Dani’s lap.
Reading to Anne was still the most challenging part of the day – Dani had never learned to read – but over the last two months Dani had developed three ways to make it easier.
For starters, Dani had studied all of Anne’s favourite books. Some of the easy words she could recognize on sight, and the more difficult ones she’d memorized with Amara’s help so she could read the stories the way Anne liked.
Second, Dani made frequent trips to the library in search of new children’s books that only had easy words in them. Anne liked some of the new stories almost as much as those in her own collection.
Third, and most difficult of all: Dani was teaching herself to read better. Amara had found some websites and Dani was slowly working her way through the lessons. It was slow going – it was hard to learn online. Dani wished she could learn faster but there were only so many hours in a day.
It was a lot of effort to go through just to read some books to a three-year-old. But Dani had learned growing up that she could mask a lot of flaws with extra effort and attention. And it made her feel good to be able to read a proper story to the kid; it was kind of like being a real parent.
At first it had been pretty embarrassing to ask Amara to help her with some of the online exercises – Dani hated the idea of looking stupid in front of her partner. But Amara never made her FEEL stupid and was always cool about helping whenever Dani asked. She loved that about the other woman – even though Amara was busy she always tried to make time for Dani.
And the last couple of months had been even busier than normal.
Amara’s sister Katie had come with her three boys and stayed for two weeks. Dani and Katie had hit it off, although trying to keep three boys in line was a lot harder than she could have imagined. In the end, Katie had invited Dani to visit her in Edmonton after things with Katie’s soon-to-be ex-husband got sorted out.
Then Amara’s estranged husband Henry had started stirring the pot, getting more vocal about shared custody of Anne and about selling off the marital home. That had been rough for Amara – she was forced to juggle her hectic work schedule along with meeting lawyers and, later, realtors.
It had been a rough time for Dani too – she’d wanted to help Amara, to support her in some real way, but in the end all she could do was make sure Anne was looked after, the place was clean, the meals were cooked and Amara felt emotionally secure. Not glamorous, but better than nothing. Amara had been appreciative of even that much.
To help with the extra expenses, Dani had tried to refuse the seven-hundred a month Amara was paying her. After all, Dani was getting free room and board and free use of Amara’s car – it didn’t seem right to be taking Amara’s money, too. At first Amara wouldn’t consider it, but after Dani insisted they compromised on three hundred a month instead. Still too much, in Dani’s view, but Amara could be pretty stubborn when she made up her mind.
So now they were dealing with the ‘new normal’. They lived in a much smaller fifth-floor condo. Reluctantly, on her lawyer’s advice, Amara had negotiated a shared custody arrangement that saw Henry taking Anne from Wednesday to Sunday every second week – five days in every fourteen. That arrangement was only three weeks old and it was rough on mother and daughter both. But they were making the best of it. They were coping.
Sometimes, that was all you could do.
Dani turned the page and continued reading. “Later, Bill asked his mother where the balloon had gone. ‘there is a special place in the sky where all balloons go’ his mother said.”
“I think there are a lot of balloons up there,” Anne said, obviously not asleep.
“Yeah – probably thousands.”
“I lost my balloon at the teddy bear picnic.”
“I remember,” Dani said, giving Anne a gentle hug. The kid had cried for an entire hour!
Dani was about to continue to the next page when she heard a key in the illegal bahis front door. Anne heard it too, and with a shriek the little girl ran to greet her mom. Dani rose from the couch and checked on the chili in the kitchen, then poured Amara half a glass of her favourite Riesling.
“Soooo good to be home,” Amara said with a sigh as she appeared in the kitchen doorway.
Dani pressed the wine glass into her hand and got a kiss on the lips in return. “At least tomorrow’s Friday.”
“Thank God. This week has felt like a year.”
“Well, dinner’s ready to go. Chili, tonight.”
“I didn’t know you could make that.”
Dani shrugged. “Trying something new.”
“Let me change into clothes that won’t need to be dry-cleaned when I spill chili on them,” Amara said, then took another hit from the wine glass before heading to the bedroom.
“Anne? Wash up for dinner, sweetie,” Dani shouted.
It was perfect. The whole arrangement was everything Dani dreamed of. She was in a loving relationship with a quality partner. She had respect and trust, and there were no games being played or high drama flaring up every few days. Dani was making a difference.
Amara loved her – she’d actually used that word, all on her own, with no prompting.
Dani had stumbled into the relationship of her dreams with a woman who was WAY too good for her. She knew from painful experience not to let her guard down or to take anything for granted. Constant effort and diligence was the surest way to safeguard the best thing that had ever happened to her.
“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Amara asked as she carefully spooned leftover chili into single-portion, freezer-safe containers.
Dani was at the sink finishing the dishes. There was a dishwasher in the new place, but for just three people it was faster just to do them by hand.
“You know, I was thinking…we’ve never left Anne with a sitter before. And we don’t know a whole lot about Elaine – I mean, she’s still in high school and we only met her a couple of weeks ago. It’s a big risk, when you think about it. I’d feel better if I stayed and-“
“And I’d feel better if you would just relax about the get-together tomorrow,” Amara said. Dani could hear the irritation underneath Amara’s patient tone. “It’s going to be really informal. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“It’s your senior management team,” Dani said. “I’ll be in way over my head. I’d die if I embarrassed you in front of your boss and co-workers.”
“It’s the senior team AND spouses,” Amara countered. “Just drinks and dinner. We’re not going to be discussing work. Well…maybe a little bit…but it’s just an informal team-building type of thing. You won’t embarrass me – I’m keen to have you there. PLEASE just relax.”
Dani sighed but didn’t argue any further. She’d been trying to weasel out of the dinner ever since Amara had invited her and she could tell Amara was getting tired of it.
The whole idea terrified her. It wouldn’t be her crowd, for one thing – a bunch of educated, professional, rich people with their educated, professional spouses. They be talking about…the stock market, or real estate in China, or politics…or something like that, anyway. And what could Dani contribute? Bowling? Colouring? Adult literacy lessons? Come on!
But more than that, Dani’s performance at the dinner would reflect on Amara. If Dani said something stupid or – God forbid – unintentionally offensive, it would make Amara look bad in front of her boss and the important people in the company – maybe even damage her career. Dani had worked her ass off for a few months to be a real asset to Amara and knew how easily it could be ruined by a badly-chosen word at the get-together.
Dani realized again that Vancouver had been a double-edged sword. On one hand it had strengthened and deepened their relationship and assured Dani that Amara was thinking and planning long-term. On the other hand, Amara had largely “gone public” with their relationship since getting back, which meant that Dani was under a ton of pressure to reflect well on Amara at all times. As devoted as she was to being Amara’s partner, sometimes Dani wished she could go back to being ‘only’ a housekeeper, child-minder and lover!
“Hey,” Amara said, sliding her arms around Dani from behind and kissing her ear. “I love you. You’re an important part of my life and I’m proud to be able to introduce you. If I thought you wouldn’t be well-received, I wouldn’t have invited you. It’ll be great. You’ll have a good time.”
I love you. You’re important. I’m proud of you. How long had Dani wanted to hear those words? How many past relationships had suffered and died from their absence?
“Okay, okay, I’m going. I mean, I already bought a dress, right?”
“And you look lovely in it. Royal blue is your colour.”
“You think everything is my colour.”
“That’s because you look great in everything,” Amara said, licking the rim of Dani’s ear and sending a tingle down her neck. Dani turned her head and got a kiss on illegal bahis siteleri the lips and a tighter squeeze from Amara.
“That reminds me – you got a package today. Courier,” Dani said.
“Did you look inside?”
“It was addressed to you. Figured I’d better leave it. I didn’t recognize any of the words on the mailing sticker.”
“Mmm. It must be from LaConda’s Erotic Boutique,” Amara said, and the tone of mischief in her voice was hard to miss.
“I’m afraid to ask.”
“Oh, be afraid. Be VERY afraid.” Amara’s chuckle was cartoonishly evil.
“Wow…this is bigger than I’d expected,” Amara said, brandishing the neon green phallus they’d received in nondescript packaging from the courier.
“I hope that’s for you, because I don’t have any openings big enough,” Dani said, eyeing the sex toy dubiously. The two of them sat across from one another on the bed, Dani in her cotton nightshirt and Amara topless in a pair of boyshort panties.
“It looked smaller on the website. Whoever was holding it in the photo must have enormous hands.” Amara handed it to Dani. Her fantastic breasts shook enticingly when she moved her arms. Her nipples practically cried out for Dani’s fingers…or mouth.
“Geez, it weighs a ton.”
“Well, it’s got heating coils and it vibrates, too. Three-speed.” Amara was reading from the tiny booklet that came in the package. “Introducing Jade Wang: the ‘Rolls-Royce of pleasure devices’. Better than the ‘real thing’, apparently.”
“Jade Wang? Seriously?”
“Yeah, they could have worked a bit harder on the name,” Amara conceded.
“This power cord is only three feet long. We’ll have to move the bed closer to the wall outlet.”
Amara continued to page through the booklet. “It has a battery. A full charge provides two hours of continuous action.”
Dani turned the sex toy over in her hands, locating the power switch and speed setting.
“Does this mean you’re itching for the ‘real thing’?” Dani said.
“Well…not ‘itching’ exactly,” Amara’s cheeks flushed a pulse-quickening shade of red. The woman was damn-near irresistible when she had her blush working. “It’s just…I like the feeling of being…full. I do kind of miss that part.”
“Oh, you’ll be full, alright. And then some.”
“Yes, this is a little more than I had in mind. We have to charge it first anyway, so we won’t be able to use it tonight.”
Dani gathered up the sex toy and the packaging from the bed and put it on the dresser. “Looks like you dodged a bullet for now.”
“More like a torpedo.”
Dani crawled back onto the bed, pushed Amara down onto the mattress and remained on her hands and knees above her. Dani loved looking down into Amara’s eyes and seeing the eagerness and trust reflected there.
“So for tonight you’re stuck with me and my boring girl-parts,” Dani said.
“Hard to see those girl-parts under your night shirt.”
Dani knelt up and pulled her shirt up and over her head, then tossed it aside. Amara’s warm palms found Dani’s bare breasts almost immediately, cupping them and stroking her nipples with the pads of her thumbs. Her touch felt heavenly. Dani remained upright, straddling Amara’s waist, and caressed the other woman’s breasts with her fingertips – first the soft skin on the sides and undersides, then the stiff nipples. Amara’s breasts were made to be touched.
“What are you in the mood for tonight?” Dani asked.
“Can I pick anything?”
“I guess so.”
“Mmm. Well, I was on my feet doing a presentation most of the day, and the heels made my feet tired and awfully sore.”
“I know! And by two o’clock this afternoon I was fantasizing about one of your incredible foot rubs.”
“Yeah? What’s it worth to you?”
“I’m willing to beg,” Amara said.
“You’d throw away your pride just for a foot rub? How high were those heels?”
“Please? Pleasepleaseplease? Pretty please, ma’am?”
Dani laughed. “You’re such a ham. Fine. Roll onto your stomach.” Dani raised up to allow Amara to shift. Amara moaned in anticipation and flipped over.
Dani spun around so she faced the foot of the bed, grabbed Amara’s left foot and started rubbing the sole and instep. “I hope you realize I don’t do this for just anyone.”
“I’m glad I have a special place in your heart.”
“More than you can imagine,” Dani said.
“Aww. That’s sweet. I love you too.”
“That’s the foot rub talking.”
“Mmm. You can go a bit harder.
Dani obliged, digging her thumbs in and pulling an appreciative groan out of Amara.
“So…how man people are going to be at this thing tomorrow?” Dani asked, returning to the topic that had weighed on her mind for most of the week. She tried to keep her tone light and conversational.
“Could be as many as twenty. Ten members of the executive team, plus spouses.”
“Anyone I should steer clear of?”
“They’re all nice people, I promise.”
Dani left it at that, rather than ruin a relaxing evening with too canlı bahis siteleri many questions. One way or the other, it would all be over by tomorrow night, and then she could relax.
Dani lapsed into silence and focused on the massage. By the time she’d finished the left foot and moved on to the right one she could hear the deep, regular breathing of Amara sleeping.
“How are you doing?” Amara asked, glancing over at Dani in the passenger seat.
“Huh? Oh…fine. Why do you ask?”
The two of them were on the way to Fiddleheads to meet the rest of Amara’s senior team. Amara was in a black-and-floral print cocktail dress that showed just enough skin to be interesting.
Dani, on the other hand, worried she was going to cold-sweat all the way through her royal blue halter dress. She’d put the antiperspirant on extra-thick but even so her skin felt moist, clammy and gross from head to toe. She fussed with her dress, picking at tiny flecks of lint.
“You sound like you’re hyper-ventilating,” Amara said, then rested a hand on Dani’s reassuringly. “You’re ice-cold!”
Dani realized it was true and tried to slow her breathing down. It was hard to get enough air.
“I’m fine,” Dani repeated. “Just, you know, excited. How about you? Ready for the big night?”
Amara squeezed Dani’s hand. “I’m looking forward to spending the evening with you.”
“Yeah. Dinner and drinks. A first for us. Kind of like a real date,” Dani said with a halfhearted smile.
She didn’t want to ruin the evening for Amara by complaining or making a big fuss. This was an important get-together. Amara’s boss and co-workers would be there. Amara would be judged on everything Dani said and did. Dani wiped the sweat off her top lip. At this rate she’d be leaving salt stains on the car seat!
“I hadn’t thought of that. I guess we’ve never been out without Anne. This is our first childless outing together.”
Dani nodded, then continued to obsessively rid her dress of barely-visible lint.
“We can cancel. If you’re really not into it, I can call ahead and tell them-“
“No! No, no. I’m fine. I’m good. We’re going. Just keep driving.”
Canceling on such short notice would make Amara look unreliable. And it was an important team-building exercise – Amara needed to be there, to show she was part of the team. It was too late to back out – they were locked in. Dani took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Just a few hours. She could hold it together for a few hours!
“I’ve never seen you like this.”
“I’m fine, really. Totally fine.” Dani tried a bigger smile, and squeezed Amara’s hand in response. “I mean, just dinner and drinks, right? What could possibly go wrong?”
“Just don’t have a stroke before we get to the restaurant,” Amara said, and the tease in her voice was strangely welcome.
Dani’s smile became stronger. “I’ll wait till after we’re seated.”
“It’s bad manners to die before the appetizers arrive.”
“I’m not making any promises,” Dani said.
“Larry, this is Dani, my partner. Dani, meet Larry Welland, CEO.”
Amara’s boss extended his hand. Dani rubbed her sweaty palm against her thigh to dry it off, then accepted the handshake. “It’s a real honour to meet you, Mr. Welland,” she said, then immediately regretted her choice of words. He was Amara’s boss, not the Pope!
Larry raised an eyebrow. “An honour?” He looked at Amara. “We need to hire this woman right away.”
Amara grinned at Larry. “Better not. She’d be running the place inside of a month.”
Larry chuckled. “Well, a real pleasure to meet you, Dani. And please call me Larry.” He gave her a disarming smile, then moved off to the bar to shake some more hands.
Dani breathed an audible sigh of relief. She hadn’t embarrassed herself – or Amara – too much. And Larry seemed like a pretty easy-going guy, although Dani figured he didn’t get to his high-and-mighty position by being TOO nice. She would stay on her toes, just in case.
“Let me get you a drink,” Amara said, resting her hand on Dani’s shoulder from behind. “They have a lovely house white here. Interested?”
“Maybe just soda water for me,” Dani said. This would be the worst possible time to get sloppy!
Amara joined her boss at the bar and Dani scanned the area for a quiet corner where she could keep a low profile until dinner. Fiddleheads was half-restaurant, half-cocktail club. There was a bar with a lounge area for mingling, and the tables and chairs for eating ringed the lounge. There was no background music but the lounge area buzzed with the chatter of dozens of people. The whole place oozed money and class.
And then she heard it: an obnoxious laugh that rose above the din, and it caused Dani’s blood to run cold in her veins. It didn’t take long to locate the source of the noise – a big, middle-aged woman in a bright pink, sequinned dress and a plunging neckline drinking a margarita and laughing with three other women.
It was Reena. Reena Marks. No-filter, drinks-too-much, says-anything Reena Marks. Ex-lover Reena Marks. Dani felt a trickle of sweat creep down the side of her face and she swiped at it with her wrist. Her hands were shaking. How could she be sweating when her skin felt so cold?