Authors: Linda Hill
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Romance, #Suspense, #Contemporary, #Lesbians, #Coming Out, #Family, #Gay, #Love
Never Say Never
Copyright© 1996 by Linda Hill
Bella Books, Inc.
P.O. Box 10543
Tallahassee, FL 32302
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechan-ical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper First Edition Bella Books 1996
Editor: Lisa Epson
Cover designer: Bonnie Liss (Phoenix Graphics) Typesetter: Sandi Stancil
About the Author
Originally born and raised in Iowa, Linda now splits her time between her home in Massachusetts and her new gal, Bella, in Florida. While her biggest complaint remains that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything she’d like, she still insists that she’s the luckiest woman alive. Maggie continues to be the sweetest thing that Linda has ever known.
Special thanks to Barbara Grier for giving me this opportunity; and to Lisa Epson for her illuminating edits.
My love and gratitude to Judy, Barb, Annie, Mary, Ellen, Joyce and Cheryl. You have each made me a fortunate woman, indeed.
A big thanks to Mary and Rita, for that last quick read.
Finally, my thanks to Kate and the girls, When counting my blessings, I always start with you.
At that moment, the only thing I knew, the only thing I wanted, was for Nancy to get off of me. She was pressing her full weight onto mine and rubbing herself frantically against my leg.
No kisses. No gentle endearments. Just groaning.
I couldn’t move. I was so angry, so frustrated.
I can’t do this
“Nancy. Stop,” I said quietly. But she continued her feverish grunting.
“Nancy! Stop it!” This time I was yelling as my hands found her shoulders and I pushed her away.
Her body grew rigid before rolling off of me.
“What in the hell is wrong with you?” she exploded. Jumping from the bed, she began prowling the room. “I am so sick of this shit,” she snarled.
I looked away, pushing my head back into the pillow so that I looked up through the darkness toward the ceiling. I was so tired. Exhausted. Fatigued. How many times had we had this conversation? How many times would we have it again?
I took a deep breath to steady myself. My voice, when I spoke, was emotionless.
“I told you that I didn’t want to . . .”
want to,” she spat.
I checked my own rage, knowing that on this point at least, she was right. I no longer wanted her to touch me.
“And I suppose you think that starting a fight in front of my best friend and her lover tonight would somehow make me want to?”
“I don’t give a damn what they think.” She was leaning over me now, her posture threatening.
give a damn,” I said evenly. “And maybe coming home and flicking is your way of solving our problem, but it’s not mine.”
“And how do you suggest we solve it?” she sneered.
I sighed deeply, knowing I would never win this battle. I had to leave. I calmly pushed the blankets back and swung around until my feet touched the floor.
“By getting out.”
She was temporarily dumbfounded as I padded over to the bureau and pulled out a pair of jeans. I stepped into them and tucked in my T-shirt.
“Oh, that’s good, Les. Just run away. That’ll solve everything.” She tried to goad me, but my mind was made up. I slipped into a pair of sneakers, picked up my keys, and headed for the door, my mind blocking out the steady stream of insults that she hurled.
The next-door neighbor’s dog began barking incessantly as I made my escape.
“Shut that fucking dog up!” were the last words I heard as I slid into my car and turned the ignition. At least I was safe now.
I drove the twenty miles to Boston, seeking refuge with my best friend, Susan. She didn’t look at all surprised to see me. It wasn’t until the next morning, behind the firmly closed door to my office, that I began wondering how my life had ever gotten to this point. When had I lost control?
“The day you met Nancy,” I muttered aloud. I’d met her just over two years ago at the annual Gay Pride March in June. She’d been intriguing, exciting, and sophisticated. I wanted her, and she was all that I thought about for six months.
Even though I knew it would never work, I moved in with her and the romance lasted exactly two months. The next year and a half was absolute misery as I slowly lost all perspective of who I was and what I wanted. From the very first day, I knew that I had made a mistake and that I had to find a way out. Yet I stayed, hopelessly believing that eventually I could make her happy, even though I knew it would never happen.
But at least now I had taken that first step. A touch of relief passed over me as I sipped my coffee.
I knew the situation would get worse before it got better, but at least I’d made the break. I wasn’t about to turn back now. With that resolve uppermost in my mind, I finished the coffee quickly and answered my boss’s summons to his office.
An hour later I emerged from Dennis’s office with a barely suppressed grin on my face. The news couldn’t have been better.
He had offered me a project that would require long hours and more travel than not. It was the perfect opportunity to help get me out of my predicament with Nancy, and I accepted immediately.
I worked for a company that dealt primarily with computer software. It was a young, upstart organization that was turning a hefty profit and always looking for ways to make more. The project that I was suddenly responsible for was to search for an existing financial software package that was solid and well written, but whose sales were floundering due to poor marketing.
My company wanted to purchase the software, repackage it, and then market and sell it under our name.
The project was to begin immediately, and I had to work fast to select a team of technical people who would accompany me in my travels. A representative from the marketing group had already been selected to join us. She would be looking at the marketability of the software we would be reviewing. I must admit that I was rather pleased when I heard who would be joining me. I had always been thoroughly impressed by Sara Stevens’s professional abilities, and I looked forward to the opportunity to work with her more closely.
Something very different about Sara made her stand out from the rest of the straight women that I worked with. It had a lot to do with the corporate environment that I worked in. Since my field was data processing, I dealt mostly with men. The women whom I had occasion to work with were usually all very similar.
They wore perfect clothes, perfect makeup, and perfect smiles and were perfectly superficial. I was always aware of just how different I was from these women. As a result, I tended to avoid them.
But Sara seemed different. She was incredibly attractive. She had dark brown, wavy hair that fell just below her shoulders.
Her eyes were bright green; her skin dark and smooth. Her most appealing physical feature, though, was her mouth. Full lips, blinding white teeth, and a stunning smile. As I got to know her better, I discovered a nervous habit she had of tucking in her bottom lip, letting it go, and then quickly sliding her tongue across first the top then bottom lip before slipping it back inside her mouth. I grew awfully fond of that nervous habit and often caught myself watching for it.
Physical attributes aside, it was her manner, her personality, that I was drawn to. She was sincere and honest. She was also incredibly bright and self-confident, and I had tremendous respect for her opinion and her abilities.
* * *
I left work two hours early that day, guiltily sneaking into the apartment that I shared with Nancy and praying that I’d avoid her completely. I tossed most of my clothes into several suitcases and was back in my car within twenty minutes. With a sigh of relief, I headed for the expressway and Susan’s rambling Victorian condo just outside of Boston.
Susan Richards had given me her shoulder more often than not during the past few months. She was the first woman who had befriended me since I moved to Boston some five years before.
My relationship with her had been as tumultuous, as sweet, and as constant as any I had ever known. She was slightly shorter than I, with dark, nearly black straight hair that she kept rather short. I loved the crispness of it, the way it fell just perfectly over her brow.
When we first met, Susan made it her business to make me feel welcome and introduce me to the city. Initially, I resisted the way she took me under her wing, not trusting her motives. So while part of me was thankful and flattered that she had taken such an interest in me, the wary part of me fought her attempts to get close to me at every turn.
But Susan was persistent in a patient and gentle sort of way.
She understood me long before I understood or appreciated her enough. We used to spend tremendous energy having lengthy, heated debates on any topic. It was as though we agreed to disagree on nearly everything. It was expected. Throughout our friendship, she had lovers, I had lovers, she moved, I moved. But the friendship stayed. And grew. I’m not sure when we stopped arguing. I only know that the debates turned to discussions.
Discussions gave way to confessions and feelings. We were there for each other. She knew me better than anyone else had ever even tried.
Susan was the only one who allowed me to show her each side of me without being astonished or put off that I could be sweet as an angel one moment and talk trash with the best of them the next. We loved to talk trash with each other. We had great fun at it. And the fact that we knew we were misbehaving somehow made it that much more fun.
Now I was turning to Susan yet again, and of course she was there. When I had shown up on her doorstep the night before, she suggested that I move into her condo.
“You can stay as long as you like.”
“What about rent?” I asked.
She grinned wickedly, “I’m sure we can come up with a payment plan.” Wink, wink.
“What about Pam?” Pam was Susan’s lover. They didn’t live together, but they had been lovers for over two years.
Susan shrugged. “She’ll get used to it. Besides, the place is big enough for all of us.” So for what wasn’t the first time, I let her take care of me. I only hoped that some day I could make it up to her.
One week later, the project was in full swing. For that first month, I was on a whirlwind tour of the United States. We traveled as a team of four, shuffling from city to city, airport to airport, one company to another. Sales pitch after sales pitch, we felt like captives forced to smile, be polite, shake hands, and absorb as much information as possible each day.
I had agonized over the selection of the other two team members, eventually settling on two very different men. After that first month, I wasn’t altogether happy with my choices.
Frank Bennett was a shy, older gentleman and a real sweetheart.