by Carrie Ryan

Copyright 2000

"…I feel so light... This is all I wanna feel tonight...

I feel so light... Tonight and the rest of my life..."


Chapter Six

Jake was the first to open her eyes. She was completely covered with various body parts, none of them belonging to her. Mandy was lying, halfway, on top of her, her left leg thrown across Jake's left thigh. Her head was resting on Jake's shoulder. Raven was a mirror image of her teacher, on Jake's other side. Gellar lay curled up in a fetal position on top of Jake.

Jake actually had to concentrate on feeling her arms. She wiggled the fingers on either hand and, gingerly, tried to rotate each wrist. Each hand felt like a cannonball had weighted it down.

Raven rolled over, still sleeping, away from her aunt, giving Jake's shoulder the much-needed rest it so desperately deserved. Jake looked down the length of her torso at the child curled up against her then to the side at her mother. She began to rub Mandy's back. Mandy shifted in her sleep, grabbing a hold of Jake tighter but also letting up on the pressure to Jake's shoulder enough for her to feel the prickly sensation down her arm as the blood started to flow freely once again. She continued to rub Mandy's back, eliciting a small sigh of contentment from the woman in her arms.

Mandy lifted her head a bit and opened two sleepy green eyes. She smiled at Jake and curled up tighter, still, against her.

“Good morning, Blue Eyes!” Mandy whispered as she placed a small kiss on Jake's cheek.

“Good morning, Green Eyes.” Jake replied as she hugged Mandy against her. Mandy lifted her head a bit and noticed her daughter sleeping on top and Raven curled up with her back against Jake.

“Looks like you got pig-piled, huh? I'm sorry.”

“Don't worry about it. I love it. I haven't slept this good in quite a while.” Mandy considered this for a moment. She placed her hand on Jake's shoulder, curled into a fist and rested her chin on it.

“Hmmm… must've been the alcohol.” She met Jake's eyes with her own and they both started to giggle.

“You know, you're lucky I have your daughter sound asleep on top of me. Otherwise, you'd be in serious trouble right now.”

“Oh yeah? How's that?”

“Simple… I'd be tickling the shi-hrmmmm…” She was cut off as Mandy placed her hand over Jake's mouth and smiled as Jake's eyes opened wide in surprise.

“Don't say it. Well, then I guess it's a good thing she's sleeping. Because now, I've got you right where I want you.” Mandy ran her foot up the inside of Jake's leg from her calf to her knee. Jake arched her eyebrow as Mandy removed her hand.

“Do you now?” Jake asked, curious to know the answer.

“Well,… not quite but,… I'll take it.” They smiled at each other. Things seemed to be getting much easier between them since they admitted their attraction to each other.

Mandy got up from out of the bed and stretched.

“Where you goin'?” Jake asked.

“Sorry, Honey but, Nature called before you. I'll be right back.” Mandy disappeared into the bathroom. She came out a few minutes later; hair brushed enough to where it wasn't sticking out in all directions. She looked at Jake lying in the bed with her eyes closed. She walked over by the bed and sat down on the edge. She ran her hand through Jake's bangs. Jake opened her eyes.

“Do you have any idea how cute you are right now with two children curled up on top of you?” Mandy asked.

“I am not cute!”

“You know… you're right. You're not.” Jake looked up a bit confused.

“I'm not?”

“Nope. You're gorgeous! Come on, hand me the baby and I'll change her and put her to bed.” Jake got up, carefully.

“That's O.K. I'll do it. Where's her room?” Mandy smiled at her. This woman had to be her dream come true. She walked over to the other side of the bed and covered Raven up, then asked Jake to follow her out of the room. Jake followed Mandy down the hall and into Gellar's room. She walked over and gently placed Gellar on her changing table. Mandy grabbed a new change of clothes for her daughter and brought them over to Jake.

As soon as Jake had the new diaper on the baby, she began to wake up. Two sleepy little green eyes opened and looked up at her. Recognition set in and the child smiled.

“Hi, AJ!” Jake realized that she liked Gellar picking up on Raven's nickname for her.

“Hi, Munchkin! Let's get some clothes on this little girl.” Jake took the clothes Mandy had picked out. Mandy walked up behind Jake and wrapped her arms around Jake's waist before she realized what she had done. She went to pull away until Jake's hands on her arms stopped her.

“It's ok, I don't mind.” Mandy looked up at Jake.

“Really?” Jake looked down into Mandy's eyes. “Yes. I thought we went over this last night. Don't worry about it. I really like it.” Mandy squeezed her tighter. “Good, because I can't quite seem to keep my hands to myself lately.”

They smiled at each other and Mandy placed her cheek against Jake's back. Jake helped Gellar stand up on her changing table. She picked the little girl up and turned around to hand her to her mother.

“Mommy!” Mandy gladly took her daughter into her arms and kissed her cheek.

“Hi, Sweetie! Did you have a good time with Raven and Grandma?” Gellar shook her head, enthusiastically.

“Yes! Where Aven, Mommy?”

“She's still sleeping, Honey. Come on. You want some breakfast?”

“Mmmhmm. Yum!!!” They walked out of the child's room and into the kitchen. Mandy placed her daughter in a chair at the table. She began pulling out everything for breakfast while Gellar busied herself with a coloring book and crayons that Mandy kept on the table for her. Jake walked up behind Mandy, as she prepared a pot of coffee, and placed her chin on the shorter woman's shoulder. She could swear that she actually heard Mandy smile.

It had been a long time since Jake had let anyone inside her heart other than Raven. The child saw a side of her no one else ever had… until now. Things had been pretty strained between her and her father after the death of Ryan. She could still remember every detail of the phone call she made to let him know what had happened to Ryan.

There was no conversation.

She told him.

The phone hit the floor.

She heard him scream.

He arrived in Chicago just hours later and she met him at the airport. He never said a word.

He had been angry when Jake first moved to Chicago and informed him that Ryan had been married. He and his son had always been close… not quite as close as Ryan and Jake but close nonetheless. He had trouble accepting the fact that his son would be uncomfortable talking to him about anything. He thought Ryan knew how much he meant to him. Now, he'd never have the chance to tell him so again.

Jake made all of the funeral preparations. She tried several times to talk to her father but it never worked. He remained quiet through the wake, funeral service and burial. He looked at his granddaughter for the first time and ran his strong hand through her hair. The only words he said the entire time was how much she looked like Ryan when he was a baby.

He never saw her again. Or Jake for that matter. After he returned to Mayport, she would call and get no answer. She would write and get no response. After a few months, she just stopped trying all together. Her father had all ready lost two sons and his wife. If he wanted to lose his only daughter and granddaughter as well, there wasn't much she could do about it. After a few more months he tried to get in touch with her but she had been so angry with him after Ryan's death, she cut off all contact with him. She would come in from work and there would be messages on her answering machine. She wouldn't even listen to the entire message before erasing it. She would let him know how she felt when she needed him the most.

That's when Raven became her entire world. She closed her heart off to anyone other than her child.

Her child.

She was all Raven had. Raven was all she had. She had been both mother and father for the last six years. She knew she'd never have any children of her own but Raven was her child. The only one allowed to see who she really was.

Until now.

She felt a soft hand caress her cheek. She looked down into concerned green eyes.

“You ok?” Jake grabbed Mandy's hand in her own and shook her head lightly. She cleared her throat.

“Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking I guess. I'm sorry… what were you saying?” Mandy decided to let it go and turned back around to the counter.

”I just asked what you would rather have for breakfast: eggs or pancakes?” Jake hugged the smaller woman to her.

“You don't have to make me breakfast but if you're going to and it's not too much trouble, pancakes. I hate eggs.” Mandy turned around in disbelief.

“What? How can you hate eggs? You made them for breakfast last weekend?”

“Yeah… I did. For you, Raven and Gellar. I never ate mine. I can't stand eggs… I feel like I'm eating a liquid chicken.” Mandy laughed out loud as she walked over to her daughter and handed her her juice cup.

“Dank-doo!” Gellar told her mother.

“You're welcome, Sweetie. Jake, tell me you're kidding.” She walked back over and began to mix the pancake batter.

“Nope. I'm serious. I never eat eggs. I think they're disgusting.”

“Honey, you eat eggs in damn near everything.” Jake shook her head.

“Nope. It's not the same.” Mandy stopped long enough to pour them each a cup of coffee.

“Do you eat chicken?”

“Yep!” Jake replied as she leaned back against the counter and began to drink from the mug placed in her hands.

"So... you eat chicken but no eggs because eggs remind you of eating a liquid chicken." 

"Right." 

Mandy lowered her head and shook it.

"You are such a goofball!" Mandy stated as she turned back around to finish preparing breakfast. Jake placed her coffee mug on the counter and walked back up behind Mandy. She wrapped her arms tight around her stomach and placed her chin on Mandy's shoulder.

"Yeah but, you wouldn't have me any other way."

"I wouldn't? Care to re-think that? I can think of a few ways I'd like to have you. Oh my God... Am I really thinking this? Oh... Who in the hell am I kidding... I've got it bad!" Mandy thought to herself as she placed her arms over Jake's.

"O.K. I can't argue with that. You've got me there." They stood together for a few moments, each woman lost in her thoughts of the other before Jake spoke.

"So,... are you doing anything tonight?" Mandy removed her arms from Jake's and began mixing the pancake batter again.

"Not that I know of. Did you have something in mind?" Jake thought for a moment.

"Not much. Would you like to go do something tonight? Maybe a movie or something?" 

"I don't know. I'm not sure if Claudia can watch the kids or not. I think she's going to dinner with her boyfriend, Rob."

"That's ok. We can take them with us if you want." Mandy poured some batter into the pan then turned around in Jake's arms. She wrapped her arms, loosely, around Jake's neck.

"Really? Are you sure?"

"Yes. I just want to spend some more time with you, Mandy. And if we can't go alone and the kids are with us, then... Great! That's fine with me. As long as both of us are comfortable." Mandy removed her arms from around Jake's neck and wrapped them around her waist. She placed her head on Jake's shoulder and hugged her. 

"I am comfortable." Jake hugged her back and placed her cheek against the top of Mandy's head.

"Aven!" Both women turned their heads in the direction of Gellar's voice without relinquishing their hold on one another. Raven was dragging herself into the kitchen. Her eyes were half closed as she made her way over to her aunt. As soon as she was standing next to her, she wrapped her hands around Jake's thighs and placed her head against her hip.

Jake kept one arm around Mandy as she placed the other one around Raven.

"Good Morning, Squirt." Jake said to her niece. She and Mandy looked at each other and smiled. Mandy took her hand and ran it through Raven's hair.

"Are you hungry, Raven?" Mandy asked the young girl.

"Ummhmm..." Jake and Mandy looked at each other again and grinned.

Mandy helped the girl over to the kitchen table. "Here have a seat, Honey. Would you like some juice?"

"Yes, please." Mandy started to get the juice out of the refrigerator when Jake stopped her.

"It's ok. I've got it." Mandy smiled and handed Jake a glass for Raven's juice. Jake took the glass over to Raven.

"So you wanna go do something with us tonight, Squirt?"

"Who?"

"Me and Ms. Peters. We were thinking about maybe going to a movie or something."

"Yeah. That sounds good. The hockey game was fun the other night." Raven drank her juice and watched on with much interest as her aunt walked over to her teacher and wrapped her arms back around her.

"So... are you two dating now?" Mandy turned around to look at Jake and couldn't help the laughter that erupted from her throat at the expression on the taller woman's face. Jake extracted herself from Mandy and backed up against the counter. Jake took a huge sip of her coffee. Mandy walked over to Raven and knelt down in front of her.

"Raven, would that bother you? Does it bother you that your aunt and I are spending time together?" Raven looked at her teacher. It didn't bother her at all. As a matter of fact, she kind of liked the idea. She also liked the idea of teasing her aunt even more.

"No, Ms. Peters. It doesn't bother me at all. I always wanted another mother."

The coffee came out of Jake's nose.




Jake woke up bright and early Monday morning. Her first thought was of the young school teacher. They had spent damn near the entire weekend together. First there was the hockey game on Friday, then the wine festival on Saturday.

After they picked up Jake's bike from Eph's on Sunday, they took the kids out that night for pizza and to play at the Discovery Zone. They originally had planned on going to the movies but nothing was playing that they would actually let the kids see.

While watching the kids play at the Discovery Zone, Jake's pager went off. She recognized the number as Jason's cell phone. Mandy offered her phone to Jake and she made her call. Jason informed her that she needed to be at the new job site by 6:00 the next morning. So here she was, dragging her ass out of bed at 4:00 AM.

She had been worried about how Raven would get to school. At least until Mandy called Claudia . Claudia told her to have Jake drop Raven off at her house and she could leave with Mandy when Gellar was dropped off for the day.

Jake put on her running shorts and a sleeveless sweatshirt, checked on Raven, locked up the house and went for her morning run.




Jake pulled the 4Runner into the parking lot of one of their new construction sites. She was more than a little surprised to see Jason sitting in his truck, talking on his phone. She got out of her truck and made her way over to her boss. As soon as he disconnected his call, he turned off the engine and got out.

"Hey, Jake, what's up?" He asked as he stretched his arms over the top of his head.

"Not much, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be in Richmond." She watched as he twisted at the waist to crack his back.

"Yeah, I know... We're having to work nights there. I left the site at 3:30 this morning and practically flew down I-64 to get here. We're meeting up with the sub-contractors. I need to give them their prints and a scope of work. I wanted you here because you'll be the one they see on site."

"Jason, I could've taken care of that. You didn't have to drive all the way back here." He grinned, sheepishly, at her.

"I did when I forgot to leave everything with you and kept it all in my truck."

"O.K., I can't argue with you there."

"Yeah. That's o.k. I needed to come home and get my bass anyway. We're playing at H.C.'s again a week from Friday. I need to practice." Jason looked down at his watch. They still had a few more minutes before everyone was expected to be there.

"So, any trouble getting Raven to school? "

"Nope. None at all. I dropped her off at your mother's this morning. She's going to ride in with Mandy when she drops Gellar off." He just looked at her and smiled. Jake was so lost in thoughts of her favorite blonde that she didn't notice right away. She looked into his eyes, twinkling with mischief.

"What?" She asked, defensively, causing Jason to lose all control and break out in laughter.

"Nothing, Jake. Honestly... I just love watching your face when you mention her name. So how was your weekend? You guys have fun?"

"Yeah... the wine festival was fun and the hockey game was great, you little shit! You didn't tell me she would be there." Jake smacked Jason in his arm as she said this. Jason rubbed his arm and shrugged his shoulders.

"You didn't ask and who are you calling little?" Jake stood back away from him and crossed her arms over her chest. She arched an eyebrow and looked down toward his crotch.

He looked at her then down below his waist in disbelief. He opened his eyes wide as he looked back at her.

"You have got to be kidding me...' Jake grinned at him.

"Gotcha!" She told him. He looked out of the corner of his eye at her.

"Uh-huh... little? Please! I have never had any complaints."

"I'm sure you haven't." She said, trying to soothe the bruise she had placed on his ego.

"Just ask Mandy." Jake threw her head back and shook it. She closed her eyes and distorted her face as if in pain.

"Ugh... Jason! I did not need to hear that."

"Yeah? She makes these little noises, like..."

"JASON!" She cut him off.

"Heheheh... gotcha back." She rolled her eyes at him and he winked.

"So what did you guys do last night?" Ha asked as he took a swallow of his coffee.

"Last night?"

"Yeah... don't think I didn't hear Mandy's voice when you called me last night. Besides... my cell phone has caller-id on it. I noticed Mandy's cell phone number."

"Oh... we took Raven and Gellar to the Discovery Zone." Jason noticed how Jake didn't seem to want to meet his gaze when discussing his ex-wife.

"I really appreciate you looking after them while I'm gone."

"No problem. Believe me... the pleasure has been all mine." Jason thought about this for a moment..

"Jake? You've got a thing for her don't you?" He asked her, already knowing the answer. Jake looked up into his eyes and paused, briefly, before answering. "Who am I kidding? Of course I do!"

"Yes, Jason, I do. I'm absolutely crazy about her. And Gellar." She waited for him to get angry. His reaction was the absolute last thing she would have ever expected. He placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled.

"Good. Because, I think she has a thing for you, too. And Gellar absolutely loves you. Mandy and I may not be married anymore but, she's my best friend and I love her. And I don't even have to tell you how Gellar is my entire world. I just want them to be happy. Now... did you happen to get tickets for the Shania concert next week?"

Jake was extremely grateful to Jason for the change in subject. Regardless of the fact that they were friends, there was something just a little too strange about talking to your boss about having a thing for his ex-wife. Maybe if they weren't at work... "Nah... that would still be too weird."

"No... I went to go buy the tickets after we first moved here and it had all ready sold out. There was nothing I could do about it." Jake said. Jason scratched his chin in thought.

"Well, you know... Mandy's birthday is the same night. I bought two tickets as a surprise for her. She's a pretty big Shania fan. You should've seen her when she heard it sold out. She was pretty pissed to say the least. Anyway, with us working nights in Richmond, I won't be able to take her." Jake cocked her head to the side at her boss.

"What are you saying, Jason?"

"I'm saying, I'm trying to make you understand that I think she'd rather go with you."

"Well, if you'd like to go... I all ready have the tickets. I'd like for Mandy to still be able to go on her birthday."

"But... you're going to be here on Friday night when the band plays. Why can't you take her Saturday, too?" He rolled his eyes at her.

"Because... it's bad enough that I'm having to take off Friday. I can't take off two nights in a row. Hell, they probably won't get a damn thing done while I'm gone anyway. I can't risk that happening all weekend. I hate to miss her birthday but, I guess if you don't want to go with her..." She cut him off immediately.

"Yes. I want to go with her. Don't even go there. Thanks."

"No problem. The tickets are in my file cabinet. You know where the key is. besides... didn't you know? When I gave you that raise, it meant that you are now required to take out my ex-wife, make her happy and spoil my daughter." She placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Now that I can definitely do. Thanks, Jase." He patted her hand against his shoulder.

"No problem." She thought for a moment and got an idea.

"Jase, can I borrow your phone for a moment?" He shrugged his shoulders and handed her his cell phone off his hip.

"Sure." Jake walked away from the truck long enough to make her call. Once she was done, she walked back over just as some other cars pulled onto the site.

"Here you go. Thanks."

"No problem. Well, lets do this so I can go take a nap." They shared a laugh as they met up with everyone and began their day.




Mandy unlocked her classroom door with Raven right next to her. She dropped her keys and Raven picked them up for her.

"Thanks, Sweetie."

"You're welcome." They walked into the classroom. The blinds were still pulled down so it was still fairly dark inside.

"Raven, Honey, can you raise those blinds for me?" Mandy asked of her student as she turned on the lights to her room. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw what was on her desk.

There, in the middle, lay a dozen roses. Eleven were peach in color while the remaining one in the center was white. Raven turned around to see what had caught her teacher's attention. Mandy placed her briefcase on the floor and carefully picked up the bouquet to take a deep breath. She noticed a card in between the roses and baby's breath.

Mandy,

I just wanted to say "Thanks" for such a great weekend. I can't remember the last time I felt so at ease. If I'm not being too forward, I hope we can have many more just like it. I'm not quite sure what it is about you, Ms. Amanda Peters but, I can't seem to get you out of my head. To be quite honest with you, I don't really want to. I'll see you this afternoon when I pick up Raven.

              -J


Mandy couldn't believe it. She sat in her chair and re-read the card. She couldn't believe how happy such a small gesture made her feel. 

"I hope so too, Jake." She whispered to herself. She hadn't noticed when Raven walk up next to her. Raven stood behind her teacher.

“She really likes you, Ms. Peters.” Raven told her, all though she was sure this little fact was already known. It made the young teacher smile just the same.

“Thank you, Raven. I really like her, too. Are you sure you're o.k. with this?” Raven walked over till she was standing in front of the desk. She waited for her teacher to look into her eyes.

“Yes, Ma'am. I think it's cool. I've had a lot of fun since we've moved here.” Mandy smiled at the young girl.

“Well, I'm glad because I've had a lot of fun since you moved here as well. And not just because of your aunt. I've enjoyed you being around as well.” They smiled at each other as an understanding passed between them. Mandy broke the silence after a few more moments. She got up and walked over to a cabinet to retrieve a vase she had inside. She handed it to Raven.

“Tell you what, Kiddo… How about you go get me some water for these, o.k.?”

“O.K.”

Mandy's day was getting off to an amazing start.




The rest of the week, and the next, flew by quickly. Jake and Mandy had spent another weekend together, driving the kids to the Baltimore National Aquarium. The two women were becoming more comfortable with each other as each day passed. Hardly a day went by when they weren't doing something together. Jake was having to work a bit later in the day so Mandy had started taking Raven home with her of an afternoon.

It was now Friday, the day before Mandy's birthday. Mandy had just gotten out of the shower and was making dinner while waiting on Jake to get there. Once Jake arrived, they would have dinner with the kids then take them to Claudia's since Corduroy was playing that night.

Jake left the new jobsite and went home long enough to take a shower, change and pack a bag for Raven. She still had not told Mandy about the concert on Saturday. As far as Mandy knew, Jake had no idea about her birthday. They were just going to spend another Saturday together as they had every weekend since they first met.

Jake checked her appearance in the mirror before walking out the door. She had decided to wear her leather pants and take the bike to the bar. The black leather fit like a second skin and went very well with the tank top she wore with them. She grabbed her leather jacket out of the hallway closet before grabbing Raven's bag and heading to Mandy's.

Mandy could hear the Harley pull up out front. She got a huge grin on her face as she replaced the lid on the spaghetti sauce she was preparing. She looked out the kitchen window to check on Raven who was playing with a friend, outside. She wiped off her hands and went to meet her friend at the door.

She looked out the peephole and placed her hand against her chest, as if in shock, at the sight awaiting her on the doorstep.

“Oh my God! How am I ever going to keep my hands to myself tonight with her looking like that?” She whispered to herself. Jake rang the doorbell, even though she knew Mandy was right on the other side. Mandy waited just a heartbeat before opening the door for her friend.

“Hey there…” Jake was cut off as Mandy grabbed the front of her jacket and yanked her into the house. Before Jake knew what was happening, Mandy had her backed against the door, her arms wrapped around her and her hands sliding up Jake's back underneath the leather jacket. Jake found that she liked this a little bit too much. She wrapped her arms around Mandy and pulled her tight against her.

“Hi, Blue eyes.” Mandy said as she reached up and kissed Jake on her chin. She placed her head against Jake's shoulder.

“Mmmm… Hi, Gorgeous.” She answered back.

“Me? Gorgeous? Honey,… You are the gorgeous one.” Mandy said as she pulled back long enough to look into crystal blue.

“Well, then we must make one hell of a pair.”

“I think we do. You hungry?” Mandy asked as she rubbed Jake's stomach through the tank top.

“I'm starving!”

“A.J., A.J.” Jake's attention was drawn to the entrance to the living room. Mandy got out of the way just in time as her daughter launched herself at Jake. Jake picked up the smiling child and spun her around over her head.

“There's my girl. Hey Munchkin!” Gellar threw her arms around Jake's neck and hugged her. Jake laughed and hugged the child back before placing her back on her little feet. She looked up and met Mandy's eyes.

“Where's Raven?”

“She's outside playing with her friend, Amy. Her family lives just down the street.”

“A.J., come pway wif me!” Gellar began pulling on Jake's hand. Jake looked to Mandy, who nodded her head.

“Dinner will be a few minutes.” Jake nodded in understanding. Gellar began tugging on her hand again.

“A.J.?” She practically whined. Jake looked down at the little girl.

“O.K., Punkin… I'm coming.” She allowed Gellar to pull her into the living room. Mandy walked back into the kitchen to check on dinner after Jake had disappeared from her view. She shook her head to herself.

“Damn,… what an ass that woman has!”

Mandy walked back over to the stove. She lifted the lid off the pasta sauce simmering on the stove. She picked up the spoon to stir it and glanced out the window to make sure Raven was still in the yard. She watched the child playing with her friend on the swing set.

Once everything was ready, she set the table and went to the back door to call Raven. She opened the door and walked into the back yard.

“Raven, dinner will be ready in a few minutes.” She said as she approached the two girls.

“O.K., Thank you.” The two girls watched as Mandy walked back into the house.

“Wow! You get to eat dinner here, too?” Amy asked Raven as they continued to play on the swing.

“Yeah. Ms. Peters is really nice.” Amy thought about this for a moment.

“So, how come you get to come home with her everyday?” Raven answered this question, carefully. She thought her aunt's relationship with her teacher was a good thing but she knew some other people might not think so. She didn't want anything bad to happen. She wondered what A.J. would think if she told her she wanted them to be with Gellar and Ms. Peters all the time.

“She's a friend of my aunt's. Since my aunt has to work late, Ms. Peters said she'd watched me till I could go home.”

“Cool! So does that mean you'll be here everyday?” Raven shrugged her shoulders.

“I guess so. At least until A.J. doesn't work late.”

“Hey, maybe you can come over to my house next week then!”

“Maybe. I'm sorry, Amy. I better go eat. I'll see you at school next week.” Raven said good-bye to her friend and walked her out into the front yard. She noticed the Harley parked in the driveway.

“A.J.'s here!” She said, excitedly.

“Wow! You're aunt drives that thing?” Amy asked.

“Yep. She's the coolest person in the world. I'll see you later, Amy.” Raven ran into the backyard and saw Gellar running towards her.

“Aven, dinner's weady!”

“O.K. let's go, short-stuff!” The two girls ran into the house.

“A.J.!!!”




Mandy walked back into the house after telling Raven about dinner. She walked into the living room and found Gellar running after Jake, who was on her knees trying to give the toddler a fair chance at catching her. Jake was laughing at the little girl's earnest attempts and decided to let her win. She pretended to lose her balance and fall on her back. As soon as she did, Gellar was all over her. Jake laughed as the child began to “tickle” her.

Mandy couldn't stand it anymore and decided to join in on the fun. She snuck up behind Gellar, who by now was straddling Jake's stomach. Jake saw her coming and whispered to Gellar to turn around and tickle Mommy. Just as Mandy was ready to attack, she found herself on her back with Gellar tickling her. This may not have worked on Jake but Mandy was extremely ticklish. So even the bumbling attempts made by her daughter made her laugh, as she closed her eyes. The fact that the child was being helped by six feet of Jake didn't help either. Jake leaned over and whispered to Gellar to go get Raven for dinner.

Mandy felt Gellar jump off of her. She opened her eyes to see Jake mere inches from her face. She reached up and pulled the taller woman down till Jake had to prop herself up on her hands. Mandy looked at either of Jake's arms. She brought her own arms up and spread them so Jake's full body weight was on top of hers. She reached up and ran her hand down Jake's cheek and smiled when she leaned into her touch. Jake turned her head and kissed Mandy's palm. Mandy ran her fingers down Jake's cheek to her neck. She could feel her heart beat faster along with Jake's.

She wrapped her arms around Jake and ran her hands down Jake's back. She decided to be brave and went further, grabbing Jake's rear in each hand and pulling the taller woman into her. Jake's eyes widened in surprise as she involuntarily let a small moan escape her lips.

“I'm sorry. I've wanted to do that for weeks now. I have to tell you… you have the sexiest ass I've ever seen on a body before.” Jake smiled at the woman beneath her.

“Thank you. And don't apologize. It's o.k. You may grab a handful whenever you'd like.” Mandy squeezed harder.

“Mmmm… I'll hold you to that. I couldn't resist any longer after you walked through my door in these pants.” She tugged on the pants in question.

“Anything else you've wanted to do for weeks?” Mandy considered this for a brief moment.

“As a matter of fact, yes.” Jake brought her face down closer to Mandy's. Mandy could feel her breath tickling her cheek.

“And what would that be?” Jake asked as she rubbed her cheek against Mandy's and placed a soft kiss there. She could feel Mandy's breath quicken. She opened her eyes to look down into the most beautiful shade of green she'd ever seen. She lowered her head again as Mandy raised up to meet her half-way.

“A.J.!!!” Mandy threw her head back in frustration.

“Oh, God…” She groaned. Jake let her head drop onto Mandy's shoulder. She lifted her body off of Mandy's and stood up. She held a hand out to help Mandy off the floor. She pulled her up, easily, and brushed her lips across Mandy's cheek.

“Soon.” She whispered into Mandy's ear.

“I'll hold you to that, too.” Mandy said seriously. Jake cupped Mandy's cheek in her palm.

“Darlin' you can hold me to anything you'd like.”

“A.J.!” Raven ran into the room and threw her arms around Jake's waist and hugged her. Jake got down on one knee and hugged the girl back.

“Hey, Baby. Did you have a good day, today?”

“Yes, Ma'am. I got a “B” on my science test.”

“Good. What happened to an “A”?”

“I got the cloud types mixed up. Ms. Peters said she'd help me.” Jake brushed a stray lock of hair out of Raven's eye.

“You need a haircut, Squirt. That was very nice of Ms. Peters. Did you thank her for taking such good care of you?” Raven rolled her eyes at her aunt.

“I'm not rude, you know… of course I did. Did you?” She smiled, trying, unsuccessfully, to look innocent. Mandy broke out in laughter and Jake looked up in her direction. She placed her hand over mouth, trying her best to stifle her laughter. Jake got up and leaned over to kiss her niece on her head.

“Brat… Come on, I'm hungry.”




They drove Mandy's car to Claudia's to drop off the kids, then went back to the house to get the bike. The bar was all ready pretty full when they got there. Mandy walked through the door and actually had to wait in line before she could make her way through the bar to the stage area.

After a few moments she saw the doorman/bouncer, Vinnie. Mandy walked over and hugged him, catching him off guard. He pulled back to see who had the nerve to touch him. He got a large smile on his face.

“Hey, Amanda! Good to see you, girl. How the hell have you been?” He stood up and picked her up in a bear hug.

“Great, Vinnie. Ahh… could you put me down, please?”

“Sure… let me think… How's the weather down there, Shorty?” Mandy looked at him, confusion clearly written on her face.

“Huh?” He laughed at her.

“Well, you said to put you down.” She smacked him on his arm, and then pulled back her hand as it stung.

“You've been working out. New jersey?” She asked as she tugged on his New York Rangers jersey.

“No. New York.” He laughed as she rolled her eyes at him. “Actually, it's one I've had for a while. Never wear it too much. Mark Messier.” Mandy grabbed Jake's arm and pulled her up to meet her friend.

“Vinnie, this is my friend, Jake. Jake, this shit-head is Vinnie.” Vinnie offered his hand and Jake shook it, firmly.

“Wow, good grip. Nice to meet you, Jake. I am the watchdog of this fine establishment.”

“Yeah, you got the dog part right.” Mandy teased him.

“Yeah, yeah… you just watch yourself there, girlie!” Jake placed an arm around Mandy's shoulder.

“Everybody else here?” Mandy asked him as she snuggled in closer to Jake, wrapping her arms around her stomach. Vinnie took all this in with much interest.

“Yeah. Annie's setting up her drums. Stevo and Jase just finished with the P.A.” He answered as he carded a couple of new customers who looked a bit too young to be in there. Mandy and Jake stepped out of the way so Vinnie could do his job.

“Who else is working, tonight?”

“Well, KF is here. Ang and Bert are behind the bar and Dana's up in the DJ booth.”

“Great. I'll have to go say hi. I'll see you later, Vinnie.” Mandy started to walk off when he called after her.

“Hey… you're not so secret admirer is here. And Bama should be here later on.”

“O.K., thanks, Vinnie.”

They made their way to the bar and waited in line to get a drink.

“Bama?” Jake asked.

“Yeah. Remember me telling you that KF owned the Corral half? Well,… Bama owns the Hershe's half of the bar.”

“Oh. Well, what about this not so secret admirer?” Mandy started laughing as they moved up to the bar.

“She's ok. She's just a fan of the band.”

“Fan of you is more like it.” Mandy looked up to see her friend, Angie. Angie was an attractive blond at about five foot seven with short hair and brown eyes.

“Yeah… well you went out with her!”

“Yes, I did… and she's still here!” Mandy laughed at her friend.

“Can I get two Coronas please with extra lime?” Angie smiled.

“My kind of woman. Sure thing.” Angie got their order together. “Here you go.”

“Thanks. Can you run a tab for me, please?”

“Yeah, right.” Angie replied sarcastically. Mandy rolled her eyes at how stubborn everyone in this bar could be.

“Ang,… this is my friend, Jake.” Angie nodded her head in the taller woman's direction. “Nice to meet ya.”

“Jake, if you ever need to find Angie, just look for the Pittsburgh Penguins cap.” Angie looked up as if offended.

“Are you insinuating something, Mandy? Jagr is the MAN!.” Mandy laughed at her friend, as she talked about her favorite player, Jaromir Jagr.

“No, Angie… just stating the facts.” She grinned as she grabbed Jake's hand and made her way up to the stage. On the way, she met two more of Mandy's friends, the DJ, Dana, and another bartender, Bert.

“I swear, every time I see Bert, she has a different shirt with lights on the front. I wonder if they run off batteries?” Jake laughed at Mandy.

“Honey, are you having a blonde moment?” Mandy backhanded Jake in her stomach.

“Hey!” Mandy noticed her “admirer” walking up to them. She reached up and wrapped her arms around Jake's neck, making sure her little “fan” noticed.

“Hi, Mandy.” Mandy looked at Jake and winked before removing her arms from around Jake's neck.

“Hi, Carrie. Nice to see you. Glad you could make it.” Carrie was about Mandy's height with short brown hair and gray eyes.

“I wouldn't miss it. Good luck!”

“Thanks.” Mandy called after the girl. Jason walked up and mimicked in Mandy's ear, “I wouldn't miss it!” sounding more like Cartman from Southpark than anything else. Mandy laughed at her ex husband.

“Jason, be nice. She's harmless.” Jason turned to Jake, trying to look serious.

“Jake, that girl is here every time we play. She gets here about two hours before anybody else so she can sit in the same spot in front of Mandy. And , she's the last one to leave.” Mandy rolled her eyes at her ex's exaggeration.

“Jason,… behave. She's harmless. I think it's cute. Leave her alone.”

“Yeah… cute. Little stalker.” He said as he took a pull on his beer.

“She's not a stalker, Jason. Be nice.” Jake wrapped her arms around the smaller woman at her side.

“She better not be. She'd have to go through me first.” Mandy looked, surprised at Jake.

You , are sweet.” She said as she placed a kiss on the taller woman's cheek, causing her ex to chuckle.

“Just don't say that too loud. People might begin to think that I'm nice or something.” This caused Jason to laugh harder until Mandy pointed a finger at him.

“Don't you start, Jason!” He held up his hands in mock surrender.

“O.K., o.k., you ready? We're about ready to start.”

“Yeah. I'm on my way.” He nodded then made his way to the stage. Mandy turned back to Jake.

“You won't go anywhere, right?” Jake kissed her on the top of her head.

“Not unless you do. See you in a bit.” Mandy smiled one last time at Jake before she made her way up onto the stage.




The first two sets went great. The band was on a break before they finished up for the night. Eph and Pony had showed up right before the first set started. Terry and Jay were not far behind with their friend Karen. The five were standing by the bar talking to KF and Angie. They were making fun of the girl in front of the stage waiting, patiently, to catch a glimpse of Mandy.

“Can you believe it? You'd think Mandy was someone famous.” Pony stated as she ordered another beer. “I mean, come on… it's not like she'd ever have a chance anyway.”

“Especially with Mandy's new girl here.” KF added.

New girl? How about the only girl. What's the deal with those two anyway?” Angie asked as she handed the group a new round of drinks. Eph decided to answer this one.

“Jake works for Jason and her niece is in Mandy's class. They've got a thing for each other and are both starting to relax and just go with it. You should've seen them a couple of weeks ago. It's almost like they were scared of each other the way they just kind of danced around the whole thing.”

KF clapped her friend on the shoulder while Angie went to the other side of the bar to wait on the customers there.

“You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd think our little friend is close to storming out of the proverbial closet. Because believe me, when she does, it won't be a simple little “coming out”. I don't think I want to be within ten miles when that happens.” Everyone shared a laugh and noticed Bert walk out of the DJ booth with Dana. They stopped and spoke with Mandy for a moment then all three headed for the bar. Mandy grabbed Jake's hand and pulled her along with them. Angie walked back up to everybody and looked to see what held their attention.

“Uh-oh… Here comes trouble.” Angie commented as Mandy stopped in front of her friends. Dana and Bert continued on behind the bar with a twinkle in their eyes. Bert was about five foot ten with long curly dark brown hair and light brown eyes. If there was a “Bad Ass” in the bar, she was it. Especially when she dressed as she was tonight- in a pair of black vinyl pants and a black tank top with the word “Bitch” in red lights across her chest. Dana was a bit shorter with long blond hair and light brown eyes. She had a petite figure that made her seem taller. Most women came into the bar when she was working just to see her. She was wearing a pair of faded jeans with a hole in one knee and one in the back at her rear. She was wearing a black sports bra with a white, transparent blouse over the top.

The two walked behind the bar and Bama put a hand up to stop them. Bama had shown up at the bar during the second set. Bama was the other owner. She had shoulder length blond hair and blue eyes.

“Hey… Dana, aren't you supposed to be in the DJ booth?” Bama asked as Bert continued on behind the bar and began to clear all the glasses and bottles off the surface. Everybody knew what was coming and moved their drinks.

“Don't worry about it, Bama. Everything is all set. Bobbi's filling in for a few minutes.” Bama's eyes grew large. She knew what was coming as well.

“Oh no… You're not…”

“Don't worry your blonde little head off. Everything's under control.” Dana patted her on her shoulder and continued behind the bar. Bama shook her head and grinned. She backed out of the way as Dana and Bert waited.

Before too much longer, “Unbelievable” by EMF came through the P.A. system. Bert looked at Dana and said “Showtime!” Both women jumped up onto the bar, followed soon after by KF. All three women looked down at Mandy and began to motion her up onto the bar with their fingers. Mandy blushed and put her head in her hands. After a moment she jumped up onto the bar with them. All four women began dancing in sync with each other ala “Coyote Ugly”. Bert got an almost evil grin on her face as each woman started dancing on her own side of the bar. Bert reached down and grabbed a bottle of whiskey.

She noticed Bama's look of alarm and smiled back. Bert began to strut down her side of the bar, pouring alcohol down it's length. She jumped up and grabbed a hold of one of the ceiling rafters and dropped a match onto the bar. Bert's side of the bar went up in flames as everyone began cheering. She jumped down and her boots landed in the middle where Angie had begun putting out the flames with the spray nozzle from behind the bar.

“I hope that was the cheap stuff!” Bama screamed up to Bert. Bert winked as the other three made their way back around to her side.

“Jake leaned in towards Eph and practically had to scream to be heard.

“What in the hell is this?” Eph laughed as she answered.

“All of us went to go see “Coyote Ugly” when it opened in the theatres. Each of the four you see up there decided that they would imitate someone from the movie. Every time all four are in the bar at the same time, they do this. Let me see… how did it go? Oh yeah… KF is “Lil” since she owns the bar. Mandy is the aspiring songwriter from New Jersey, Violet. Or “Jersey” as they called her in the movie. Especially after the “school teacher” comment “Lil” made when she hired her. Dana is “Cammy” since she's the tease of the four. And obviously Bert is “Rachel” since she looks like her and she is the “Bad Ass”.” Jake nodded her head in understanding.

Raven had wanted to see the movie so they had gone when they still lived in Chicago.

The song ended but the women remained on the bar as “You Must Be Crazy For Me” by Melissa Etheridge played. Jake smiled up at Mandy when she made her way over in front of her. Mandy winked as she made her way around the bar top. She noticed Steve and Jason trying to get her attention from the stage. She knew what the next song would be to be played by the DJ. She had requested it. It was a song the band played only, Annie normally sang it. When she saw Bobbi walk out of the DJ booth and Steve motion to her to stay where she was she knew what the plan was.

The band would play the Joan Jett tune and Mandy would sing it from the bar. She couldn't believe she was actually going to have the nerve to sing this. Angie handed the cordless microphone from behind the bar. Her vocals for this song would be coming out of the house P.A.

The drums started and everyone's attention was torn between the display on the bar and the stage where the band began to play. Everyone, that is, except Jake. Jason and Steve began playing. Mandy danced her way back over in front of Jake. Her voice filled the entire bar as she began to sing.

To Jake.

“We've been here too long trying to get along, pretending that you're, oh, so shy. I'm a natural Ma'am, doing all I can, my temperature is running high.” Jake's heartbeat sped up. She knew this song. It had been one of Ryan's favorites.

“High at night, no one in sight and we've got so much to share” Mandy leaned down and ran her fingers down Jake's cheek as KF, Bert and Dana kept the other patrons occupied. “Talking's fine if we've got the time. But I ain't got the time to spare, yeah.”

“Do you wanna touch?” Mandy held the microphone out over the crowd as they responded with the appropriate, “Yeah!” “Do you wanna touch?” “Yeah!” Do you wanna touch me there? Where? Do you wanna touch?” “Yeah!” “Do you wanna touch?” “Yeah!” Mandy ran her hand through her own hair and straight down to her stomach as she looked in Jake's eyes and sang the last line of the chorus.

“Do you wanna touch me there? Where? There? Yeah!” The entire bar was on their feet as Mandy continued the song.

“Every girl and boy needs a little joy, all you do is sit and stare.” Mandy got down on her knees in front of Jake. Jake was ready to swear that she was having a heart attack. When Mandy reached over and ran her finger down her cheek again, Jake ran her hands up Mandy's legs, a little surprised at the muscle she could feel, up her thighs and around her hips.

“Begging on my knees, Baby, won't you please run your fingers through my hair?” Mandy stood back up and began dancing in sync with Bert and Dana. KF had gotten down off the bar to help Vinnie keep everyone from grabbing the girls.

“My, my, my whiskey and rye. Don't it make you feel so fine? Pride all gone, don't it turn you on? Can't you see we're wasting time? Yeah!” The band went through the chorus again with Mandy asking and the crowd answering the lyrics to the song. Once the song was over, Mandy handed the mic back to Angie. If anyone, other than Jake and her friends, got within three feet of Mandy while she was getting down, they got a splash of water in the face from Angie, armed with the spray nozzle once again. She had gone with the others to see that movie.

Mandy looked down at Jake, who opened her arms up to Mandy. She jumped off the bar to be caught by Jake, who gave her a big hug. Mandy winked and made her way up to the stage to finish the last set.




After all the equipment was loaded, everyone sat in a booth in a far corner of the bar. Eph had her head leaning on Pony's shoulder. Jay was already asleep in a booth behind them. Karen was sitting on Eph's other side, poking her friend and disturbing her rest. Steve and Jason sat at a table next to the booth. Jake was sitting on the edge of the booth. Mandy was sitting on her left leg. Jake had her left arm wrapped around Mandy's waist. Mandy had her right arm wrapped around Jake's neck.

Karen kept poking at Eph. Eph got tired of smacking her hand away.

“Will you, please, stop? I have to get my rest. You're a doctor, for the love of God. You should know these things!” Karen chuckled at her agitated friend.

“Not that kind of doctor.”

“Yeah well, other than that…” Karen was fairly tall with short black hair and brown eyes. She had a figure about as small as Dana's but that could be deceiving. Her arms and legs were long enough to give her quite an advantage over most people in a fight. A few years earlier, she spent most of her free time keeping Angie, KF, Terry and Eph out of fights even when they deserved to get their asses kicked. You definitely didn't want to piss off this particular Italian.

“So what's happening tomorrow that's so important?” Karen asked. Eph smiled.

“We are going to see Shania Twain, tomorrow night. Pony won tickets for the show before they ever went on sale.”

“Bitch!.” Mandy said as she balled up a napkin and threw it at her friend. Eph sat up to defend herself.

“Mandy, I'm sorry. How were we supposed to know that Jason couldn't get the tickets?” Eph wanted to laugh at the disappointed expression on Mandy's face. Mandy lowered her head and Jake winked at Eph. They had discussed the concert earlier while the band played.

“I know. I've just never seen her and I've always wanted to.” Mandy said as she ordered another drink.

Bert's voice came over the P.A. as the lights came on and they began to rush people out of the bar.

“People, if you are not in the band or sleeping with someone in the band, please leave.” Angie grabbed the microphone from Bert and added, “Carrie, this means you.” Everyone around the table laughed.

“You guys are so mean to that girl. I wish you'd behave.” Mandy said, even though she found herself giggling as well.

Angie looked over to the table in the corner and motioned that everyone could stay. Once the doors locked, Angie brought Mandy's drink over to her.

“Angie, why don't you sit down and have a drink with us?” Jason asked.

“No thanks. None for me tonight. I'd rather experience life in all its agonizing glory. Don't want to dull the sensation.”

“Since when?” Karen asked. Angie glared at her and called her a “Smart Ass.”

“Why, thank you!.” Angie walked away as Karen got up to leave.

“Well guys, I'm out of here. I'm on call all weekend so, I better get my sleep while I can.” She offered a hand to Jake.

“It was nice meeting you. Are you coming to the party Sunday night?” Jake wasn't going to bother until she saw the hopeful look in Mandy's eyes.

“That sounds great, thanks. I'll just have to get a costume, I guess.” Mandy turned Jake's face towards her.

“I have an idea for one. I'll tell you about it later.”

“Great, then I'll see you guys on Sunday.” Everyone said goodnight to Karen and got up to leave. As they were walking out, Jason walked up and spoke to Jake while Mandy said goodbye to everyone else.

“She's going to be so surprised, tomorrow. You two have fun.”

“Thanks, Jason. I really owe you one for this.” He waved her off.

“Nah… you don't owe me shit. You're making her happy. That's good enough. Now, I'm going to head back to Richmond. I'll call you next week to see how everything went.”

“O.K. I'll talk to you then.” Jake started to walk over to Mandy with Jason.

“By the way, nice pants!” Jake rolled her eyes at her boss. She walked up behind Mandy. Mandy could sense Jake behind her. She reached back to grab Jake's hands and pulled them around her waist. Jason walked over in front of her and kissed her on her cheek.

“Happy Birthday, Beautiful. Your present is at Mom's. I love you.” Mandy reached up to hug him back and kiss him on his cheek.

“Thank you. I love you, too. See you soon?”

“You bet. I'm going to stop by Mom's and see the princess before I head back to Richmond, so I'll see you soon.”

Everyone left the bar and Jake started the bike. As Mandy got on behind her, she turned around and asked, “Did you have a good night?” Mandy hugged her tight as she settled in against Jake's back.

“I had a great night!”




Part 6


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  Revised: September 1, 2000