"Into the fire... I am the spark"
Jake had dropped Raven off at Claudia Peters' house on her way into work Friday
morning. She had left earlier so she would have a chance to talk to Jason's
mother. Mrs. Peters invited them in and Raven wasted no time starting to play
with the toys she brought along. Jake and Claudia got to know each other over a
cup of coffee before Jake had to leave to go to work. Since her appointment
with Raven's teacher wasn't until 2:30 that afternoon, she went into work for
at least a half day. She left a little after noon and returned home to take a
shower and relax a bit before going to the school.
She checked her appearance in the mirror. She had decided on a pair of black
jeans and a royal blue silk shirt. The shirt seemed to make her eyes a brighter
shade of blue, if that were at all possible. Since her and Jason had agreed to
meet after she left the school, she decided to go ahead and dress for the
evening. She had offered to help him and Steve set their equipment up after
Jason got off from work.
She ran a brush through her hair once more before putting on her jacket and
heading out the door.
As Jake sat outside room 142, she suddenly felt bad for the students if these
were the chairs they had to sit in all day. She had been at the school for
about twenty minutes and noticed that it seemed she was the last
parent due to see this particular teacher. She was so lost in her
thoughts that she almost missed her name being called from inside the room. She
got up out of her seat and headed for the door.
As she walked in, she noticed the cheerful atmosphere of the classroom before
looking towards the teacher's desk and setting her eyes on what she decided to
be the most gorgeous sight she'd ever seen.
Jake stood about six feet away from the teacher's desk and could not seem to
take her eyes off the green-eyed beauty before her. She realized that this
beautiful woman had spoken to her.
Ms. Stevens? I'm Raven's teacher, Amanda Peters. Mandy held her
hand out to the woman in front of her, which Jake accepted immediately.
Uhhh,... Hi, I'm Raven's aunt. It's very nice to meet you. Neither
woman was really willing to let go but both did so after a respectable amount
Well, Jason... I have the distinct feeling that I just met Tall, Dark and
Mandy thought to herself. It seemed as if this woman now sitting across from
her, had magically stepped out of her dreams.
Yes, well it's very nice to meet you. Raven is a very bright and
delightful child. She speaks very highly of you, Ms. Stevens. Mandy could
not seem to break the gaze of the blue eyes looking back at her. If truth be
known, she really had no desire to either.
Well, then it would seem, that makes two of us. Jake noticed the
almost instant look of confusion on the teacher's face.
I mean... she speaks highly of you, as well. She actually seems eager to
come to school now and I don't seem to have to argue with her in the mornings
about getting out of bed. As Mandy laughed at her last comment, Jake
decided it was one of the most melodic sounds she had ever heard.
Well, I know where she's coming from. I'd probably be late every morning
due to sleeping in but my daughter makes
idea next to impossible.
Hmmm... she has a daughter. She's probably married or has a boyfriend too.
Hell, look at her! Why shouldn't she? She's gorgeous! Lucky Bastard...
Jake thought to herself as she listened to Mandy talk.
So, you have a daughter? Jake really wasn't good at trying to make
small talk but, she was willing to try as long as the charming
woman in front of her continued to speak.
Yes I do. Gellar Nicole. She's two.
Gellar? That's an original name. I don't believe I've ever heard it
Sure you have. Do you ever watch TV? My ex-husband is a
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fan. He absolutely adores Sarah Michelle Gellar...I
to give in and agree to name her Gellar. My ex actually begging is
a pretty sight, believe me. Now, let's discuss what we'll be covering in class
this year Mandy had absolutely no idea why Jake now had the most
wonderful smile on her face but, she wasn't complaining.
Jake now sat down at a table near the stage after helping Steve and Jason set
up their equipment for the night. She had gone back to the job site once she
left the school. She then proceeded to follow Jason to his mother's house so he
could shower and change. It also gave her a chance to spend some time with
Raven and let her know how everything went with her teacher.
Jake still had not made the connection yet between Jason and Mandy. She was too
busy thinking about the honey-haired woman with the emerald-green eyes.
Jason walked over with a beer for each of them as he sat down across from her
and placed his booted foot on the table.
Thanks, Jason. How much do I owe you?
Not a thing. The bar pays our tab. So how did things go at the school? I
didn't get a chance to ask you earlier.
Oh my God, Jason. Raven's teacher has got to be the most beautiful
creature I've ever had the pleasure of setting my eyes upon. Jason smiled
at the easy banter between them. He was actually pleased that Jake was
comfortable enough around him to discuss her sexuality.
Oh really? That good, huh? Jake took a sip of her Corona.
God, yes! Makes me want to go back to school and get in trouble.
Get in trouble? Why's that?
Simple. In the hopes that she'd make me stay after class for detention.
Believe me, Jason. She was without a doubt the most gorgeous woman I've ever
seen. Jason couldn't help but laugh at Jake's honest explanation.
Just then, Jake happened to be glancing around the bar and as she looked
towards the door, she saw the teacher walk in. Mandy was dressed in
tight black jeans and a very nice form-fitting black tank top. Her hair was
pulled back in a ponytail, small wisps hanging freely around her cheeks. Black
boots and dark Ray ban sunglasses completed her ensemble. She looked like she
had stepped out of a fashion magazine. Jake couldn't help the small gasp that
escaped her lips.
Oh my God! She's here! That's her! Jason followed Jake's gaze
towards the door.
What? Whe... He almost spit his beer out as he saw whom she was
referring to. Then all he could do was laugh. Jake immediately became defensive
when she thought he was laughing at her.
Why are you laughing at me, Jason? She's gorgeous! This only caused
him to laugh harder.
Ohh... Jake,... I'm not laughing at you. She
gorgeous. She's also my lead singer and ex-wife. Since he was signaling
to Mandy, he completely missed the look of total shock that crossed Jake's
usually stoic features.
Mandy saw him and headed over towards the table, removing her sunglasses as she
walked. She still had not noticed Jake sitting next to him. As she approached
the table, Jason stood to greet his ex-wife, quickly followed by Jake.
Mandy leaned up and kissed him on his cheek.
Hi Jase... Eph just dropped me off and said she and Pony would be by
later and... Her words seemed to trail off when she realized who was
standing next to him. Jason watched the exchange between the two of them with a
great deal of interest and a mischievous sparkle in his brown eyes.
Well,... ummm,... hello Ms. Stevens! It's a pleasure to see you
Mandy, I believe you've already met Jake here today. He waited for
the recognition of the name to set in.
Why yes... of course! We met at the school toda... wait... She
briefly tore her eyes away from cerulean blue long enough to address her ex.
Jason, are you telling me
is Jake? The Jake you were referring to last week? Jason laughed, as she
seemed to get a clue.
The one and only! Jason replied as Jake pulled a chair out so Mandy
could sit down.
I assure you, Ms. Peters... whatever this clown has said about me is
false. I'm really not such a terrible person.
Please... call me Mandy. And, actually, it seems so far that he was
absolutely correct! Six feet tall, dark hair, blue eyes...
She admired the way Jake looked now, hours after their first meeting. All
though she was still wearing the same clothes as earlier at the school, Jake
different somehow. Two more buttons were casually undone on her
silk shirt, which by now, was a bit more wrinkled. Mandy thought she looked
Well, you two lovely ladies have a nice chat. I'm gonna go talk to Annie
and Steve and figure out the set list for the night. Have fun! They waved
at him as he walked towards the backstage area. Mandy proceeded to take in the
features of this dark woman beside her while she could observe, unnoticed.
Jake watched Jason leave to go and speak to his brother. She felt she was being
watched as she turned to look into the eyes of the woman sitting next to her.
It took a moment for Mandy to realize that she had been caught staring and she
turned away, slightly, hoping to hide her blush. Jake couldn't help but notice
how adorable the flush, slowly creeping up Mandy's neck, made the younger woman
Ahh,... can I get you a drink? Jake decided to break the silence
that now lingered between them.
If you wouldn't mind. A Corona would be nice.
Sure! I'll be right back. Jake smiled and then walked over to the
bar. She returned shortly with two beers. She suddenly felt
thirsty now that she was this close to this woman who had been invading her
thoughts since their first meeting earlier in the day. She placed the beer in
front of Mandy.
Here you go. I wasn't sure if you preferred anything in it or not but,
the bartender mentioned you liked limejuice. She wouldn't let me pay for it
though Mandy couldn't help but laugh as she glanced toward the bar and
spotted her friend, immediately.
Thanks. Yeah. That's KF. She owns half of the bar. She makes the best
drinks in town. She owns the corral half of Hershe's Corral.
Yeah... Kung Fu Luey. She takes a martial arts class three nights a week.
But, for the life of me, I can't remember exactly
she takes. We just call her KF. She'd probably chop-suey our butts if we
actually called her `Heather' Jake nodded as she took in the bar. There
was an old, battered couch against the wall, down from the bar and across from
the stage. She noticed several photos hanging near the bar.
What's with all the pictures? Mandy turned around and followed
Jake's gaze to the framed photos on a column behind the bar that made it seem
like a deranged totem pole.
Oh, those are photos of the regulars that come in here. Mandy
noticed the mischievous look now pointed at her. She couldn't help but smile
back. What? Why are you looking at me like that?
up there? Jake asked as she took another long pull from her beer. She
to look as innocent as possible as she waited on the teacher's answer.
Oh my God! Is she flirting with me? I think I'm starting to like this...
no, I KNOW I'm starting to like this! Hmmm... TWO ca
play at this game,
Mandy thought to herself as she answered the smile with one of her own.
I am. There's a band photo up there of all of us together
Jake just looked into her eyes and smiled what Mandy considered the warmest
smile imaginable. Jake knew that she had been out-smarted by the young woman.
Well then... maybe I should go out more often.
You might want to wait until after you've heard the band before you make
up your mind on that. Mandy smiled as she got up from the table with her
beer and headed towards the backstage area to get ready. She glanced back
towards the table one last time and smiled at the woman sitting there.
Oh my God... did she just wink at me?
Jake thought to herself as she nearly choked on her beer.
Good Evening. H.C.'s... How the hell are ya? The nearly packed bar
responded enthusiastically to Mandy as the band got ready to start their set.
We're Corduroy and right now I only want one thing from you... I want you
to want me... The bar began screaming as the familiar guitar line of the
Cheap Trick song began.
Jake sat at her table near the stage as she watched and listened to the band go
easily from one song to the next. She was kind of surprised that everyone in
the band sang. Steve mostly sang songs by Blink 182, Van Halen and Lit. Jason
did better along the lines of Eve 6, Godsmack, Smashmouth and Limp Bizcut. The
band definitely had a large catalog of songs to play from just about every
genre. They were sure to play something for everybody. Annie sang songs by Joan
Jett, Buck Cherry and an
version of Respect by Aretha Franklin. Mandy supplied the vocals
for Veruca Salt, Letters To Cleo, Savage Garden... there was even some Shania
Twain thrown in there as well as Melissa Etheridge, Meredith Brooks and Sarah
Mandy had seen Pony and Eph walk in near the beginning of the first set. They
had sat down at the table next to Jake's. As soon as the first set was done,
Mandy walked off stage and started towards the two tables. Pony and Eph were
more than a little shocked when Mandy didn't quite make it to their table. They
looked at each other and then to the woman at the next table who had obviously
captured their friend's eye.
You were incredible!! You guys really did a great job Jake said as
she handed Mandy a cold Corona once she reached the table.
Thanks. WHEW!!!... Boy is it hot up there. Hey come here... I'd like for
you to meet some friends of mine. She grabbed Jake's hand and started to
pull her up.
Boy... I'm getting bold here... better lay off the Corona...
Mandy thought to herself as she watched Jake finish her beer as she got up from
Wow!... We haven't even been on our first date and I'm meeting your
friends?... Are your parents next? Jake asked with a twinkle in her eyes
as she stood up.
Oh boy... I have GOT to lay off the Corona...
Mandy turned around to look Jake in the eyes as she brought her other hand up
and placed it on the taller woman's arm to respond with more than just a hint
of a twinkle in her own eyes as well. That depends... are you asking me
out for a first date? Because... you know... I
subject you to my parents just to spite you... Neither woman seemed to
notice that they were still holding hands.
we'll just have to see about that.
I'd just like that. The two women stared at each other in an unspoken
challenge until the clearing of a throat brought them back to reality.
You know, Mandy... I really hate to break up your little chat but, don't
you think you could at least be polite and introduce Pony and I to your...
friend? The two women pretended not to notice the blush that came over
their friend's features.
Oh, I'm sorry, guys. Ummm... Jake? These are my friends, Stephanie Carter
and Pat Andrews. Or, Eph and Pony as we call them. This is my friend Jake
Stevens. She's Raven's aunt. Pony was the first to offer her hand.
Hi. Nice to meet you. I'm Raven's phys. ed. teacher. Jake let go
of Mandy's hand to shake the one offered to her.
Very nice to meet both of you. I was just gonna head to the bar for
another beer. Would either of you like anything?
No thanks, Jake. We're fine. Eph answered. Jake turned towards
Mandy and asked the same as she pulled out a chair for her at the table.
"Jake you just gave me a beer. You're not trying to get me drunk now are
you?" Jake gave her her best "who me?" expression as she waited
for Mandy to sit. "Of course not"
"Yeah Jake... you know, I'm sure `Ms. Thang' there would HATE to think
that you might be trying to take advantage of her and her low tolerance for
alcohol" Jake didn't notice the arm attached to Eph that firmly planted
itself against Pony's stomach.
"Pony! I do NOT have a low tolerance for alcohol!"
"Oh yeah? I have two words for you then... Ride Me." Eph lost all
control of her laughter as Mandy tried to hide the blush on her face. Jake
stood by and took all of this in with great interest. She arched an eyebrow at
Pony who merely gave a smirk back at her. She kneeled down next to Mandy.
"So... does that mean you don't want another drink?"
Eph took one look at the expression on Mandy's face and laughed even harder as
she slapped her hand against the table hard enough for Pony's beer to fall
over. Pony rolled her eyes and Eph decided it would probably be better to
remain quiet for a few. Mandy looked back over at Jake.
"Well, actually... could you bring me a Midori-Sour? And another beer for
Pony... just tell KF it's for me. And while you're at it, tell her yours is for
me too." She smiled innocently.
"Do you honestly believe that she's gonna buy that?"
"Of course she will... she'll just think I'm real thirsty and plan on
getting hammered for the next set." Mandy grinned brightly at the taller
woman and was pleased when she smiled back.
"Hmmm,... Nice ass!"
She watched appreciatively as Jake strolled towards the bar and did not notice
her friends watching her.
"So tell me about Tall, Dark and Sexy, Ms. Straight Arrow?" Eph said
as she moved over closer to her friend. As Mandy began to blush, her friend had
the good graces not to mention it.
"There's nothing to tell. I met her today when she came in to discuss
Raven. I... I had no idea she would be here tonight. And Jason, that little
shit, apparently has it set in his mind that he's going to set me up with
"Smart man!" Pony chimed in as she finished what was left in her
bottle after Eph knocked it over.
"Oh come on, Pony. There's nothing there."
"Excuse me? Nothing but one
attractive woman whom you are
attracted to. You know, it's ok if you decide that you're attracted to another
woman. Honestly, Eph and I won't mind a bit. I swear we won't run off
"Pony, I didn't mean it like that. I'm sorry. I just meant that... well,
I've only known her for a few hours and I mean,...well it's not like I'm
experienced in... well, and..."
"...and you keep blushing profusely" Pony smiled at her.
"...I keep blushing profu... Hey!!!" Her two friends looked at her
with a knowing smile on their faces. Pony moved over to the other side of her
and placed her hand over her friend's.
"Mandy, it's o.k. Really, just calm down and go with it. It's ok for you
to be attracted to her. Hell, it seems at least half the bar is attracted to
her." Mandy hid her face in her hands and peeked out at Eph and Pony
between her fingers.
"Oh my God!... Is it that obvious? I mean, it feels so different to be
attracted to a woman. She's just so... tall and... those eyes! I mean...is this
"Is it normal for you to be attracted to someone THAT gorgeous? Hell yeah!
If you're human and have an ounce of blood running through your body!" Eph
answered her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Look, just calm down.
It's not like you're going to end up in bed with her tonight or anything"
Pony looked at the exchange between her friend and her lover. "Pity"
Eph and Mandy both balled up napkins from the table and tossed them her way.
"Hey! Watch it you two. Come on Mandy! And as far as being
"different", different how? Can you honestly give me the name of
MAN you have been attracted to?"
"Of course I can... Jason" Pony laughed at her.
"Jason? He doesn't count!"
"What do you mean he doesn't count? I was married to him for three
"Yeah and you've been best friends for how long? Since you were four? Come
on... this is Eph and me. Now I know that you two have known each other longer
than I have but all of us around this table know that you two only got married
to please your families. I mean, I guess that's ok. The two of you did what you
felt was right at the time. But, he doesn't count."
Mandy sunk down into her chair and played with the condensation on the side of
her beer bottle. She started picking at the painted "La Cerveza" on
the side of her bottle. "I guess you're right." She laughed to
herself. "I don't know why I'm acting a wreck anyway. She's probably not
even interested. But, GOD is she fun to flirt with" The three friends
around the table laughed together as they noticed Jake walking back over.
Eph immediately gave up her seat next to Mandy so Jake could sit down and moved
across the table to sit next to her lover. Jake placed a beer a piece in front
of Eph and Pony. She then handed Mandy her drink before sitting next to her.
Eph was the first to break the silence.
"Thanks for the beer, Jake."
"No problem." She glanced over at Mandy. "Your friend
wouldn't let me pay for anything. So I shoved the money in her tip jar when she
"At least you HOPE she wasn't looking. Believe me, if she saw you, she'll
throw a fit because she didn't get her way." Eph said as she took the
first swallow of her beer. "I mean, don't get me wrong, she doesn't have
to have her way all the time, she just told us a long time ago that she felt
guilty taking money from her friends."
Jake crossed her left leg across her right knee as she leaned back in her chair
and JUST stopped herself from placing an arm across Mandy's shoulders in the
"Damn! What is WRONG with me tonight?"
"Well, then I guess I don't need to worry. I'm not a friend of hers."
"No, maybe not. But, you're sitting with us so, you're guilty by
association." Pony replied as Eph toasted her.
"I'll drink to that!"
"Baby, you'll drink to ANYTHING!" Everyone around the table started
laughing as they heard a guitar being tuned from the stage. Mandy started to
get up from her seat.
"Well guys, that's my cue. I better get back to the stage before they send
out a search party. I'll see you two trouble makers after this set." She
smiled at her two friends as Pony saluted her with her beer. She glanced back
over to Jake, with just a hint of nervousness in her voice.
"Are you staying for the second set? It's our last one."
Jake smiled warmly at Mandy.
"I wouldn't miss it!" Jake was pleased to see the grin on Mandy's
face get brighter. She watched as Mandy walked back up to the stage and started
talking with her drummer and didn't notice her two tablemate's knowing glances
in her direction.
Claudia Peters thought of the bright young girl sitting quietly at her dinner
table. Raven had just finished her dinner and brought her dinner dishes to the
"Thank you Mrs. Peters. That was very good. What's that called?"
"THAT, my dear, is called Chicken Cacciatore. I'm glad you liked it.
That's my son's favorite."
"You mean my aunt's boss, Mr. Peters? I met him once. He's funny."
Claudia laughed at the girl as she washed another plate and placed it in the
dish drainer. She was pleasantly surprised when Raven pulled a small step stool
up to the sink. She picked a towel up off the counter and began to help the
older woman dry the dishes.
"I'm sorry, Mrs. Peters. You don't mind if I help do you? I guess I'm used
to helping my aunt."
Claudia placed an arm around the girl's shoulders and squeezed, gently.
"Of course not, Honey. Thank you for helping. And, Yes. I was referring to
Jason. I kind of think it's funny. I don't think I've ever heard anyone refer
to him as 'Mr. Peters' before. And you are right. He is quite a character.
Especially when he gets around his brother." They finished the dishes and
put them away together as Claudia told the young girl of the trouble her oldest
and youngest sons used to get into.
After they were done, Claudia decided they would reward themselves with a bowl
of ice cream. Just as they sat at the table, a pouting two-year-old, her hair
tousled, toddled into the kitchen, obviously just waking up.
"Gam-ma?" The child ran into Claudia's leg and hugged her as best as
her little arms would allow. Claudia leaned over and picked up her
granddaughter, placing her on her lap. She watched as the child furiously tried
to rub the sleep from her little green eyes.
"How's Granma's little angel? Hmmm? How's Granma's little Gellar?"
Gellar yawned until she noticed her grandmother's bowl.
"I-keem?" Claudia laughed out loud as she placed a small amount of
the frozen treat on a spoon for her first grand child.
"OK, Baby. But, just a little" She fed the small amount of vanilla to
the child on her lap.
"She's cute." Raven said as she watched Gellar begin to reach for
"Yes she is. Except for her hair, she looks like her mother. Same bright
"They're pretty. My teacher has green eyes. Ms. Peters is really
nice." All of a sudden, a light bulb went off in Raven's head. Claudia
watched with a knowing smirk and waited for realization to dawn on the
dark-haired child sitting next to her.
"Ms. Peters is her mom, right?" Claudia laughed at the, as Jason
would call it, "Duh" expression on Raven's face.
"Yes, honey. She is. Mandy and Jason used to be married. They grew up
together." Claudia explained as she tried to straighten the hair on her
"Cool! I like Ms. Peters. She's my favorite teacher I ever had! She taught
me how to do fractions!" Just then, deciding she didn't like being
ignored, Gellar made her greatest desire known.
"Gam-ma? I-keem! More i-keem!"
"Ok, Gellar. Just a little more. Raven, do you like Disney movies? We have
a bunch in the other room for Gellar. You're more than welcome to watch them if
you'd like." Raven got excited just hearing the word "Disney"
"Really? Do you have "The Little Mermaid"? That's my
Claudia stood up from her chair and placed her bowl in the sink.
"We sure do. Gellar likes that one too. You can watch it when you finish
your ice cream." Before she knew what happened, Raven had finished her
bowl of ice cream, took it to the sink and rinsed the bowl out for good
measure. After all, this woman had "The Little Mermaid"!
"OK. All done!"
"Mrs. Peters? Who are all these people in this picture?" Raven asked
as she picked up a framed photo on the end table next to the couch in the den.
Claudia began to rewind the movie and went over to the couch where Raven and
Gellar were sitting.
She sat down next to the older girl and looked at the photo.
"Well, that photo is a few years old." She began to point to each
person in the photograph.
"There's me and my husband, Frank." Claudia paused for a moment
before continuing. She took a deep breath and smiled sadly at the bright-eyed
child watching her. "He passed away a couple of years ago. Not long after
Sweet Pea there was born." Raven looked down at her hands, resting in her
lap. She almost seemed... ashamed. She hoped she hadn't upset the older woman.
She really liked Mrs. Peters.
"I,...I'm sorry. I... didn't mean to be nosey." Claudia put an arm
around the dark-haired child and hugged her.
"Oh, Honey... It's all right. You weren't being nosey." Raven looked
up with hopeful blue eyes as Claudia continued.
"Really, sweetie, it's OK. Here, let me show you everyone else. There's my
oldest son, Steve and his wife, Kristen. There's my middle son, Mitch. And...
there's Jason and Mandy."
"So, this was taken before Gellar was born?" At the mention of her
name, Gellar pounced on Raven's lap causing the older girl to giggle. Claudia
smiled at the sight of her granddaughter and her new friend.
"Oh, yes. We'll have to have a new picture taken soon. My son, Steve and
his wife are expecting their first baby." She announced proudly as she
replaced the photo back on the table.
"I met him once, too. I like him. He's the policeman, right?"
"That's right. He is." Raven thought about this and looked at the
small child sitting in her lap.
"My Dad was a policeman, too. So was my Aunt Jake. It was when we lived in
Chicago. I was only a baby. After he died, Aunt Jake quit. I have a picture of
her and my Dad in their uniforms. They looked alike. Only he was a bit taller,
had short hair and a,... a,... goatee? Is that what they're called?" She
looked up at the older woman who was smiling warmly at her.
"Yes Honey, that's what they're called. Ready? Here we go." She
started the movie for the two girls. Gellar was so excited once she saw what
was on, she was practically jumping up and down in Raven's lap.
"Basjun, Aven, Basjun!" Raven laughed at her as she quickly realized
Sebastian was the small child's favorite character. This little kid was all
right. She liked Sebastian and The Little Mermaid.
Claudia grabbed a book and sat down to read at a chair in the corner. The next
time she looked up from her book, both girls were fast asleep to the music of
"Under The Sea".
Jake carefully maneuvered her way around all the bodies that were on the dance
floor now. Bumping and grinding to the music being supplied from the dj booth.
She tried not to notice the obnoxious strobe and disco lights as she worked her
way from the stage to the door, carrying the Peavey EVH 5150 combo amp Steve
The band had been done playing for about 20 minutes and everyone was busy
trying to remove their equipment from the stage before someone could break
anything in a drunken stupor. The hardest part of packing up everything, was
trying to do so when people were now on the stage dancing as well. Beer and
liquor was everywhere. On all of the cables and cases. Everything reeked of
alcohol. How can somebody drink and dance at the same time? Obviously, they
Jason was coming back through the door, having pulled his Blazer around to the
door. He held the door open for Jake as she stepped outside, happy to be
getting some much-needed fresh air. Steve was all ready outside, arranging his
equipment into his truck, a teal-colored 1992 Ford Explorer. She walked over
and placed his amp on the ground, then, turned around to head back into the bar.
"Hey Jake?" She turned around to see Steve hanging his head out of
the back of his truck.
"Yeah?" Steve hopped out and walked over to her. He reached into his
jacket and pulled out a couple of twenties. He handed them to her. Or at least
"Here you go. Thanks for helping out tonight. We really appreciate
She held up her hands in protest and refused to accept the money.
"No way. I can't take your money. I enjoyed everything tonight and you
guys are really good."
Dark brown eyes stared defiantly into bright, azure blue in an unspoken,
friendly challenge. Jason walked out, as did Annie, to the sight of his best
employee all but towering over his cop brother, neither willing to break first.
It made for quite a humorous sight.
Steve was the first to crack as he smiled at the woman. Jake grinned back. More
like a smirk, actually.
"Come on, Jake. At least take some gas money since you offered to help
carry this shit back to my house." She shook her head at him.
"Nope. From the directions Jason gave me, it's on my way actually.
Besides, your mother mentioned to me this morning that you and your wife are
expecting a baby. Keep it for the kid." Steve looked a bit confused at the
"My mother? How were you talking to my mother?"
"She's babysitting my niece. Nice woman. And besides, I don't need any
money. I didn't have to pay for a beer all night!"
"Yeah. Speaking of which, are you ok to drive?"
"Yeah. I stopped drinking before your last set. I had four in the last six
and a half hours so, I'm fine, Thanks."
They started walking back inside the bar. Steve held the door open as they
entered to the sound of Christina Aguilera singing about "rubbing her the
"Well, in case I forget to tell you again tonight, Thanks."
"You're welcome, Steve. But, you know, there
something you could do for me." He looked wide-eyed at her.
"Do you think you could ask the DJ to play some better music?" They
shared a laugh at this.
Mandy stood over at the bar with her friends as she waited for KF to come back
with the band's pay for the night.
"Are you sure you don't need us to give you a ride home?" Pony asked
as she stood with one arm wrapped protectively around her lover. Mandy waved
her friends offer away.
"Yeah, I'm sure. I can catch a ride with Jason. Besides we need to unload
all of our equipment at Steve's and I need to go pick up Gellar. She spent the
night with Grandma last night."
"Well, OK... if you're sure."
"Yeah, give us a call tomorrow and let us know how things go with Ms.
Sexy." Eph added. She watched on, with much amusement, as her friend
turned an impossible shade of crimson.
"Honey, am I gonna have to get concerned? I don't know who's fallen
harder: Mandy or you!" Pony questioned. Eph couldn't help but grin at the
worried expression that crossed her lover's features.
"Of course you don't have to worry, Pony. I wouldn't trade you for anyone
or anything. You know that." Pony let out a breath she didn't realize she
had been holding as she leaned over to brush her lips across those of the woman
who captured her heart four years earlier.
Mandy looked on at the tender display in front of her.
"Come on, guys. Enough with the mushy shit!" Eph hesitantly broke
away from Pony as she turned to address her friend. Pony reached and grabbed
her beer bottle to finish what was left.
"Mandy, Dear,... at least I
I'm gonna get some tonight!" This tiny little bit of information caused
Pony to snort the remainder of her beer out her nose and turn red, herself, as
Eph and Mandy exploded into laughter.
"Yeah, sure, Eph. Rub it in!" Mandy grinned.
"Speaking of getting some, here comes Mandy's new playmate!" Pony
just couldn't resist getting in one last jab at her friend as Jake walked up to
the bar. Mandy turned around and her eyes fell on the tall woman as she drew
nearer to where they were standing.
God! She's magnificent!
"Hi! Everything's all loaded up."
"Oh, OK. I was just saying goodbye to Eph and Pony."
"Yeah, Jake. We're gonna go home and scr.....Hrumphhhhhhh" Pony
covered her lover's mouth before she could say another word.
Man, I gotta start watching how much she drinks... at least when someone's
Pony looked at Jake and smiled, a bit embarrassed by her girlfriend's
admission. Jake took one look at Mandy and grinned.
Just then, Eph licked the palm covering her mouth, catching Pony completely off
guard. When she removed her hand to wipe it on her lover's shirt, Eph picked up
right where she left off.
"So,... As I was saying, Jake... what was I saying?... Oh yeah, wanna
come?" Jake's reply was a
sexy, well placed, arched eyebrow, while Mandy looked like a deer caught in
headlights. Pony suddenly felt it necessary to supply an answer for Jake to her
extremely inebriated girlfriend.
"Maybe later." Eph looked at Pony. Then to Mandy. To Jake. Back to
"WooHoo! You go girl!" Mandy wondered at that exact moment if murder
were still illegal. Jake merely grinned at the entire situation. After all,
she'd been drunk before.
"I'm sorry, Jake. I guess she's had a bit too much to drink tonight. I
better get her home" Jake smiled at Pony to let her know everything was
"That's quite OK. It was very nice meeting the two of you." She
reached out a hand to shake first Pony's then Eph's. Pony actually
"Thanks. It was nice meeting you, too. Take Care and maybe we'll see you
Pony leaned over and kissed her friend on the cheek. She gave Mandy a hug and
whispered into her ear, "Sorry. Call us tomorrow. I'm sure she'll be
groveling for forgiveness." Mandy smiled and hugged her friend back.
"It's OK. I'll just come over and talk
loud while she's hungover!" She said with a mischievous glint in her green
eyes. The evil smirk in Pony's eyes gave her her answer.
"You're on. See ya!"
"Bye" Pony walked herself and Eph out the door as they each turned
around and waved at the two women who were now, standing by themselves at the
Jake stood in front of Mandy, admiring her, as she waved to her friends. Mandy
could feel herself being watched. She just barely managed to suppress the blush
she could feel beginning, under the gaze of the taller woman. She slowly turned
around until emerald green met sapphire blue. Neither woman could be sure how
long they stood there, openly admiring each other.
KF had returned in the meantime and watched on with great interest. Was Mandy
going to admit her attraction to women? Because if the little staring match
taking place was any clue, then this ebony-haired woman standing with her
going to get it.
"Ahem..." KF, reluctantly, broke in. "Here's your pay for the
night. Good job, girl."
"Thanks." Mandy blushed a bit at the praise she received from her
friend. "Can I have one more Midori-sour, please?" KF leaned over as
if to whisper a secret to her friend.
"Darlin', after seeing you on stage tonight, you can have any damn thing
Really?...Anything?... Hmmm, how about one tall, gorgeous, blue-eyed...
"A Midori-Sour would be great, KF. Thank-You. Jake, would you like
Oh yeah, if you only knew...
"No thanks. I'm done drinking for the night. I told Steve I'd help you
guys unload everything. Then, I have to pick Raven up from Mrs. Peters'
house." Mandy's eyes widened and she, unconsciously, reached her hand out
and touched Jake on her arm.
"Mom is watching Raven? Cool! Then she's met my daughter. She stayed at
Claudia's last night. I have to go pick her up, too." Jake couldn't
believe her good luck. Maybe she could give Mandy a ride...
Uhh,...better not go there... Been a while...Oh yeah, what year is this? Oh
Hell, just ASK her!
KF returned with Mandy's drink.
"Really? Well, I overheard you say earlier that your friends had dropped
you off here. I could give you a ride if you'd like."
Oh yeah, I'd like but,...
"That's very sweet of you, Jake. But, I'd still need to get home once I
left Claudia's." Jake smiled warmly at her.
"That's OK. I don't mind." Mandy waited only a beat before answering.
"Great. I appreciate it."
"OK, how about, we go to Steve's and unload everything and then we can go
get our kids... I mean not
kids but..." Mandy couldn't help but chuckle at the, apparently,
flustered woman standing in front of her.
Oh my God,... is she actually nervous? How CUTE!!!
"That's OK, I know what you meant and it sounds great! Let's go!"
Jake and Mandy had driven to Steve's to unload everything. They talked the
entire way there. They had gotten so lost in conversation, they didn't even
notice that they were parked in Steve's driveway until
Jason knocked on the window of Jake's truck to get their
attention. They got out of the truck and unloaded everything
into Steve's garage, trying not to wake up Steve's sleeping wife. Everybody
said goodbye to one another and Jake and Mandy were
on their way.
They stopped out in front of Claudia's. Before Mandy could open her door, Jake
had come around to the side and opened it for her.
Thank-you, Jake. Mandy smiled at the taller woman.
You are very welcome. Jake offered a smile of her own.
They walked up to the front door and Mandy knocked on it quietly. A moment
later, they heard someone approaching the door. A curtain was pulled back from
the window at the top and they could see Claudia's brown eyes peeking out at
them. She opened the door quietly and let them in.
Hi! Come on in but let's go in the kitchen. The kids are sleeping.
Claudia whispered as she shut the door behind Mandy and Jake.
They followed the older woman into the kitchen.
Hi, Mom. I hope we didn't wake you. Mandy said as she sat down at
the kitchen table, motioning for Jake to do the
Not at all, Sweet-Pea. I was just up reading a book and the girls passed
out hours ago. Jake, I want you to know that Raven is the most delightful
child. She is such a doll!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Peters. I'm very proud of Raven and thanks for watching
her. It was very kind of you."
"No trouble at all and you can call me 'Claudia', Dear. Would you two like
some coffee? I just made a pot." Jake looked at Mandy and noticed Mandy's
nod of approval.
"Yes, please. That would be great."
"Mom, why don't you sit down? I'll take care of the coffee. Knowing you,
you've been on your feet all day." Mandy got up from her chair and urged
her former mother-in-law to sit down. She walked over near the
coffee pot and grabbed three coffee mugs out of the cabinet
over the top. She poured the steaming liquid into the cups
and prepared Claudia's as she liked it.
"Here you go, Mom" she said as she placed the steaming mug on the
"Thanks, Sweet Pea." Mandy looked over to Jake. "How do you take
your coffee, Jake?"
"Uhm,... Cream, no sugar."
" You've got it!" A couple of moments later, Mandy brought over a cup
for herself and Jake. She was pleased that Claudia chose to
sit down and join them.
, she was pleased that Claudia chose to sit in her chair. The only chairs left
were those to either side of her new friend.
So, tell me a little about yourself, Jake, since we didn't really have a
chance to chat this morning. Claudia said as she took a sip of her
coffee. Jake did the same and sat back in her chair. She thought for a moment
There's really not too much to tell. We just moved here from Chicago a
little over a month ago and I work for your son. That's about it really.
She didn't think the older woman would let her explanation fly and Claudia did
not disappoint her.
Oh, come now,
Attractive young woman like you? There must be
you could tell us about yourself.
I'm in trouble here.
Not really. There really
too much to tell. I've been doing construction and carpentry work for about
five or six years now. I go home and take care of my niece. She's
all I have and she means the world to me. Jake laughed a little at
herself. She's my best friend. Mandy was absolutely speechless. She
looked at the woman sitting next to her and couldn't believe the heartfelt
remarks pouring from the lips of her new friend. Her admiration for Jake jumped
about ten notches as she listened to her talk about her beloved niece. Mandy
was so lost in her thoughts, she didn't hear Claudia speaking to her. She also
didn't notice Jake looking at her.
I'm sorry, what was that? Claudia shook her head and smiled at the
embarrassed woman. After all, she might be old but, she wasn't naïve
I'm going to have to have a nice little chat with Amanda one of these
I just asked if you would like another cup of coffee, Dear? Mandy
looked over sheepishly at Jake and then at her hands resting in her lap.
No thanks, Mom. I'm fine. It's getting kind of late so I better get
Gellar home while she's still sleeping. She started to get up when she
realized Jake had pulled out her chair and offered a hand to help her stand.
She took the offered hand, reveling in the feel of it wrapped around hers, even
if just for a brief moment. None of this went unnoticed by Claudia, who turned
to place their coffee cups in the sink.
OK, Sweet Pea
We went shopping yesterday so, she has a couple of
things to go home with.
Mom? Knowing you, and your shopping trips with my daughter, Jake and I
will be lucky if we can still find room to fit in her truck after we load
Claudia looked offended but Mandy knew it was just an act.
Well, Mandy? What good does it do anyone to have a grandchild if you
can't spoil them rotten? I'm a Grandmother. That's my job and I'm good at it!
You wait till you're a grandmother and get YOUR Grandma Guide. You'll
in about thirty-eight years, when Gellar is forty and I'll
consider allowing her to date and get married, I'll think back to this moment
and remember about the Grandma Guide. Mandy wisecracked to her former
mother-in law. Claudia merely rolled her eyes at the giggling, younger woman.
The three women made their way from the kitchen to the den, where the two
younger girls were sleeping. The sight that awaited them was, to say the least,
heartwarming. The older of the two was sound asleep with the younger girl held
tight against her to keep her from falling off the couch. Gellar was asleep,
half on the couch, half on Raven with her head resting on the older girl's
shoulder. Her tiny hand curled into a small fist with her thumb held firmly
between her lips. Mandy stood in the doorway, her hand over her mouth, as Jake
walked up behind her. Jake couldn't help but smile at the picture the two girls
made. Dark and Light. A smaller version of herself and the woman in front of
She felt herself being watched and looked down to notice that, sometime during
her musings, she had placed her right hand upon Mandy's right shoulder. She
also noticed that Mandy was now holding her hand. Blue eyes traveled up to be
embraced by emerald green. What should have been a
slightly embarrassing moment actually felt comfortable and
right, as the
two women smiled warmly at each other.
None of this went unnoticed by Claudia as she cleared her throat to get their
I'll tell you what, Ladies
How about the two of you grab your girls
and I'll grab Gellar's things.
Mandy walked over and gently picked up her sleeping daughter while Jake helped
Mrs. Peters pack all of Gellar's things into the truck. Jake walked back into
the house for another load and when she returned to her truck, Claudia had
Gellar's car seat secured safely in the back seat.
I have a couple of these, so you can take this one for the baby.
Claudia said, referring to the car seat. There's no rush to get it back
so you can keep it for as long as you like.
thank you but, I think Raven has surpassed the car
seat stage. Jake replied with a grin on her face as
Claudia smiled a knowing smile.
you never know when it'll come in handy. Jake decided
that it would be pointless to argue with the charming, older woman. The two
walked back into the house. Jake stopped Claudia before
she could enter the kitchen and placed some bills into the woman's hands.
Thank you SO much for watching Raven today. I really appreciate it.
Claudia realized what was in her hands and placed it back into Jake's shirt
Nonsense! You keep that. I enjoyed every moment of it. I'm getting to be
an old woman; I'm supposed to love watching after children. Jake closed
her eyes, smiled and shook her head as she realized
which parent Steve inherited his stubborn streak from.
Come on, it's 1:30 in the morning and you've been watching Raven since
6:00 yesterday morning. I can't let you do that for free. Claudia grabbed
Jake's hands in her own and looked up into blue eyes.
I'll tell you what, you keep that and we'll discuss it next time.
Claudia let go and turned around to walk into the kitchen.
Both of Jake's eyebrows rose into her hairline as she asked, Next
time? Turning at the doorway, Claudia replied with a smirk, Next
time. then continued through the kitchen door without another word.
Jake walked into the den and found Mandy sitting in the corner chair, cradling
her daughter in her arms. She walked over closer to the chair and knelt down,
sitting on her heels, in front of Mandy.
She's a beautiful child. Mandy took a Kleenex and wiped a slightly
runny nose then brushed the hair out of her daughter's eyes.
Thank you. She's my baby. Sleepy little green eyes opened and
attempted to focus on the matching pair directly above.
Hi, Sweetie! Gellar smiled and then glanced over at Jake. She
looked back up at Mandy as she pointed at Jake.
Who 'dat? Mandy smiled at her daughter as she pulled her hand back
down and held it in her own.
That's Jake, Honey. Can you say `Hi' to Jake? Gellar looked over to
Jake once again and smiled a toothy grin.
Hi Dake!! Her J sounding like a cross between a
J, a D and a Z.
Hey Munchkin! Jake smiled at the child. Gellar yawned, brought her
thumb back to her mouth and said Nite-Nite. Jake grinned and ran
her hand gently through the little girl's hair. She glanced up into Mandy's
guess we should be going.
She stood up and raised her hands above her head to stretch. There was an
audible pop as she did so. She then walked over to the couch and
very gently picked up Raven, cradling her in her arms so as not to awaken her.
She looked over to Mandy and whispered, Ready to go? Mandy nodded
as she rose up from her chair and followed Jake out the door.
Claudia followed them out, as well, and opened up the backseat truck doors for
each of them. Jake gently sat Raven in the truck with her head resting against
a jacket on the back seat. She fastened the child's seatbelt and quietly shut
Mandy had put Gellar in her car seat and made sure she was safely situated. As
Mandy walked around the truck, Jake opened the door for her.
Will you excuse me for a moment? I left Raven's bag. I'll be right
back. Mandy sat in her seat and watched Jake as she ran back into the
house. She turned to look at Gellar, sleeping peacefully behind the driver's
seat. She was startled when Claudia spoke to her through the window.
Sorry for scaring you, Honey. Got everything?
Yes Ma'am, But, Jake had to run back in for Raven's things.
, she seems like a nice woman. Mandy smiled.
Yeah. She seems to be. I've only known her for a few hours so, who knows?
But Raven absolutely praises her. And from what I've
seen, she's done a marvelous job raising her. Claudia decided it might be
time to add her two-cents worth. And she's very attractive. Seems to me,
she'd be a,
what do you call it? A keeper? Mandy's eyes
grew huge as she slowly turned her head, shock evident on her face, towards her
Mom? she asked calmly, Are you fishing for something
here? Just as Claudia was about to reply, Jake opened the driver's side
door and climbed in the truck. She placed Raven's bag in the
floorboard behind the seat.
O.K. All set, Jake said as she fastened her seatbelt. They said
Goodbye to Claudia and were on their way.
Claudia watched them leave and went back into the house. She locked the door
and turned off the front porch light. Now that the kids were gone, she
could go to bed herself. She went through the house, shutting off all the
lights and making sure all of the windows were locked. She walked
into the den and stopped in her tracks. There, on the end table, in front of
the photograph of her family, sat a nice little stack, consisting of five brand
new twenty-dollar bills. There was a small note next to the money with a simple
Thank-you, written in nice, neat handwriting.
As Claudia shook her head, she realized she had finally met someone just as
stubborn as her oldest son. She also realized that if she had her way, Mandy
would definitely have her hands full with one, tall,
attractive brunette. Only one word came to mind as she continued down the hall
to her bedroom
They drove out of Claudia's neighborhood and Jake headed back towards the
boulevard. Once they had reached the first light, Jake looked over towards
Mandy to ask for directions to her house only to find the young teacher sound
asleep. She gently placed her hand on Mandy's shoulder to try and awaken her,
but to no avail. Mandy just seemed to curl into the seat more. A quick glance
to the light found it still red so Jake grabbed Mandy's jacket and covered her.
Jake was at a loss. Two passed out children in the back seat and her niece's
teacher, a beautiful woman she was
attracted to, sound asleep in the front seat right next to
her. She had no idea where the woman lived. She figured she could call Jason
and ask him for directions but his number was at the house.
She got on the interstate towards the house. She really had no other choice.
Fifteen minutes later, she pulled the 4Runner into her driveway. She quietly
got out and walked around to the back of the truck. She opened the door and
found Gellar's diaper bag, amongst all the packages. She shouldered the bag and
shut the door. She quickly walked to the front door and unlocked it to make her
next task easier.
After leaving the diaper bag on the inside of the door, she walked back to the
truck and carefully removed the baby from her car seat. As Gellar snuggled into
her shoulder, she walked around the truck and opened Raven's door. Without
disturbing the child sleeping peacefully against her, she managed to undo
Raven's seatbelt and maneuver the child onto her other side.
She shut the door with her hip and carried the two children into the house and
up to her room. She placed Raven on the bed and then Gellar right next to her.
She walked over to the other side of the bed and turned the
covers down. She moved Gellar so she was underneath the sheet with a pillow
against her side so she wouldn't fall.
She ran back down the stairs and out the door. She quietly opened the teacher's
door and lifted the young woman into her arms, surprised a bit at just how well
she fit there. How well
seemed to fit together. Out of instinct, Mandy circled her arms around the
taller woman's neck.
She carried the young woman into the house and up to her room as well, just
barely making it inside before the rain started to fall. Once inside, she
walked over to the bed and moved the pillow from next to the child. She placed
one knee on the bed and gently laid Mandy next to her sleeping daughter,
instantly missing the feel of the woman in her arms but very much
enjoying the feel of her hands sliding down from around her
Afterwards, she took Raven and put her in her own bed after undressing the
child and putting her pajamas on. She grabbed Raven's favorite teddy bear,
Pookie, from off the child's nightstand and placed it,
lovingly, in the child's arms. She kissed the dark head, grabbed
a t-shirt from out of the girl's
dresser and walked out of the room.
Jake went downstairs and made sure the house and truck were secure. She grabbed
the diaper bag and headed back up the stairs. She noticed, upon re-entering the
bedroom, that Gellar was still sound asleep, sucking her thumb. She took off
the child's clothes and changed her diaper then dressed her Raven's old shirt.
She pulled back the covers on the other side of the bed. After replacing the
child in the bed comfortably, she grabbed some extra pillows out of the closet
to place along the side of the bed. Even though Gellar was safely tucked away
in the center of the bed, Jake didn't want to take any chances with the
adorable, little girl.
Respecting the young mother's privacy, the only things Jake removed from Mandy
were her black boots and socks. She made sure mother and
child were warmly tucked in before leaving a note, along with a t-shirt to
sleep in, should Mandy awaken.
With one last glance back, Jake felt a new ache in her heart. She retrieved a
sheet and pillow from the closet so she could head downstairs for a peaceful
night's sleep... on the couch. She was positive the golden
haired woman, sleeping peacefully in her bed, would invade her dreams. She
settled onto the couch and cast her eyes toward the ceiling.
Good Night, Mandy.
And all was quiet.
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September 1, 2000