Best For Me, Chapters 46 – End

Previously: Chapters 41-45 [A]

Chapter 46: The One with the Honey-Blonde Hussy
Chapter 47: The One with the Green-Eyed Monster
Chapter 48: The One when No Words are Needed
Chapter 49: The One with the Confrontation
Chapter 50: The One where the Men Make Sense
Chapter 51: The One with the Happy Ending

Rating for these chapters: X. NSFW. Way hot sex.

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Six

“When’s Alex’s six-week checkup?” Ashley asked through a mouth of cereal. It came out more like, “Whohon Alah sich wich chupp?” but Spencer understood it anyway. It spoke a lot for her innate understanding of her friend that she managed to decipher the message, but she did.

“Wednesday,” she laughed and handed the brunette a napkin to wipe her chin. Ashley grinned sheepishly and wiped the trickle of milk off.

“Sweet!” she exclaimed back. “Coming to music class?”

Spencer shook her head ruefully. “Unfortunately, the only appointment I could get was at the same time. Elly will be there.”

Ashley shrugged acceptingly.

Spencer watched her companion carefully. She’d been doing that a lot lately. Things seemed so carefully balanced in her own head right now she wasn’t sure what to do. It felt like, no matter which way she moved, something horrible could happen. She’d managed to get into a space where her children seemed okay, Ashley seemed okay, Gray seemed okay and Spencer felt okay. Any false move could unbalance that.

If she pulled away from Ashley, that could potentially destroy their current relationship. That was something Spencer wasn’t prepared to deal with. But if she got closer to Ashley – and, damn, but she was tempted – well, that opened up a whole can of worms, didn’t it. She could still lose the girl. What did Spencer know about dating a girl? What did Spencer know about a lasting relationship with anyone? She was divorcing her husband, after all.

Then there was Elly. Spencer had been taken aback at how jealous Elly had been about Alex’s arrival. Five weeks had just about cooled it to an acceptable level. She was more involved and less angry, but still jealous. What if she was asked to share her mommy even more, only with Ashley? Would that make life difficult for Elly? Her life was probably complicated enough. And if she and Ashley did work out, wouldn’t that just add fuel to fire? Being deaf was going to be a fair amount to cope with, then if your mother was a lesbian…

And was she? After all, she had loved Gray. Then there was the matter of Gray himself and the problems that might lie there. How the hell would he react? He was being practically perfect these days. Spencer still loved him – not in passionate way, but love nonetheless – and was overjoyed at the fact they were actually friends. They laughed and got along well. It was great for them and great for the kids. But she wasn’t in love with him any more and she knew it. She had no intention of going back there and the one thing that she wasn’t questioning at that moment was her decision to end her marriage. She would rather things stayed as they were, though.

Changes with Ashley probably would mean changes with Gray. And they would definitely mean changes with Spencer. Could she do that? Was she even gay? What did loving Ashley mean? Some part of Spencer knew what it meant. And that scared the living hell out of her.

“Spencer?”

The blonde came to with Ashley waving a hand in front of her face. “What?” she asked confusedly.

“Uh, space cadet?” Ashley grinned. “You were so on another planet. Was it the naked planet?”

Spencer whipped her lightly with the end of the dish towel. “Skeevy nutjob,” she smirked.

“Skeebvy nutjob?” the brunette mocked back. “I’m sorry, who’s the one doing the whipping here?”

Spencer smirked at her again and hung the dish towel on its rack. “Aren’t you going to be late?” she pointed out.

“Yup. I’m out of here, that’s what I was TRYING to say. While you were off with the fairies.”

Spencer grinned. “Have a nice day!”

“Yeah. You, too.” Ashley leaned across the counter and planted a kiss on Spencer’s cheek. “See ya.”

And then she was gone. Spencer watched her sexy ass as it sashayed out the door and shook her head with a rueful smile. Okay, so losing Ashley was a definite no. She’d just have to try to keep things just as they were for a while longer.

Wednesday came around surprisingly fast. Alex was growing every day. It was almost like Spencer turned her back and the little boy was a whole size larger or something. Spencer was tempted to set up a time-lapse video to see if you could actually watch him grow. He was smiling now and that was adorable. Even Elly was getting to love him. When it was just Elly and Alex, Elly generally got grumpy and jealous but when anyone else got added into the mix, Elly became protective and loving. Spencer just shook her head and decided to let it sort itself out. She knew it would eventually.

They arrived at the hospital and they made their way to the familiar floor on the paediatric wing. As they approached the playroom, Spencer stopped. Ashley was leaning over the half-door which was closed at the bottom. She was braced on her elbows, with her gorgeous smile plastered all over that angelic face, only the smile wasn’t for Spencer and it wasn’t for Elly. The brunette hadn’t spied them yet. It was for the honey-haired girl who was standing in front of her. Standing close. Too close.

The other woman was gorgeous; Spencer had to admit it. The shoulder-length honey hair, the gently angled cupid’s face. If Spencer hadn’t been so violently jealous in the pit of her stomach, she might have appreciated the other woman’s looks. But it was the way she had her hand reached out on the wall, leaning in close, making Ashley laugh, that sent a jolt of nausea rolling through Spencer. The woman was laughing, flirtingly, with Ashley. And Ashley was laughing back.

It felt like the seconds were ticking by so slowly that each one could be heard. Each moment echoed loudly until Ashley turned her head and spotted her three housemates in the corridor. Sharing her smile with them, her nose wrinkling adorably, Ashley waved them over. Hoping her face didn’t betray her inner thoughts, Spencer plastered on a fake smile and led Elly over to the play room.

“I’ll see you later, Ash,” she heard the other woman say. The stranger flashed her a quick but strange smile and left.

“Hey, you,” Ashley grinned, opening the door and swinging Elly up into her arms. Spencer still took the time to appreciate that the brunette had signed her greeting as well. “It’s good to see you.”

“We said we’d be here,” Spencer replied, her head cocked sideways.

“Yeah.” Ashley’s forehead furrowed. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, of course, why wouldn’t it be?” Spencer lied. “Traffic was a bit hectic.”

The last comment must have thrown Ashley off because the brunette went back to chatting amiably. If she noticed that Spencer was quiet, she didn’t say anything. Before too long, it was time for the blonde to go to her appointment anyway and, picking up Alex’s travel cot, she practically fled the room, like a criminal leaving the scene of a crime.

She was distracted for the next hour during Alex’s consult, which turned out to be reassuringly, one-hundred-percent normal, during her discussions with Dr Clark; during her waiting moments. Who the hell was the girl talking to Ashley?

Okay, she knew that she was being damn ridiculous. She was probably just a work collegue. She’d been wearing a stethoscope. She didn’t look like a doctor, but she might have been a nurse or something. Spencer frowned. Ashley was allowed to have work friends, work colleagues. Hell, she was allowed to have girlfriends, really. It was just that the thought really hurt.

Dammit, why did everything have to be so complicated?

Collecting Elly from Ashley, she suddenly felt the need to be far, far away, to flee again. The last time she’d felt like this had been just after they’d made love for the first time when she’d had that glorious feeling of complete fulfillment coupled with mind-numbing guilt and some emotion that was just untouchable. And why that feeling was now replicated, Spencer didn’t know. She had nothing to feel guilty about and certainly nothing to feel fulfilled about and yet the sensations were strangely the same.

Ashley regarded her oddly, and clearly couldn’t help asking, “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Spencer lied again, “just a slight headache. I think I’ll get these two home and we’ll all have a nap.”

“Want me to come with? I can get off early.”

“No, no, we’re fine. You have things to do. It’s just a slight headache, Ash. It’s fine.” She used her friend’s diminutive name like she owned it. Hearing it on the stranger’s lips had given her chills.

Spencer didn’t sleep at home. She mostly walked around the kitchen wringing her hands and mumbling to herself. Luckily, Alex was asleep and Elly was distracted by cartoons because Spencer was sure she looked half-insane. She felt half-insane; that was for sure.

When Ashley came home, Spencer tried her best to be convincing and normal. Whatever quiet and withdrawn nature was showing through she convinced the brunette was due to a headache. It was even a good excuse to go to bed early.

She had to get a grip.

The panic continued all through the next day. She couldn’t get the honey-haired stranger out of her head. By lunchtime, she was frantic and at that point she realised that she needed to calm down. Getting a firm grip on her emotions, she spent the rest of the day chanting a litany in her head: She’s just a friend. She’s just a friend. She’s just a friend. You’re being ridiculous. She’s just a friend.

It was stupid, but effective. By the time Ashley got home that evening, Spencer was a lot calmer. She flashed her friend a gorgeous grin and set about making dinner like their normal routine. Ashley was sitting at the breakfast bar cutting vegetables, Spencer standing in the kitchen doing various things.

“So, anything interesting happen today?” Spencer ventured.

“Uh, yeah actually,” Ashley said, looking shy.

Spencer’s heartbeat increased tenfold. “So tell me about it!” She hoped she sounded suitably excited.

“Well… uh… actually…” Ashley wasn’t smiling, but she also wasn’t looking at Spencer. And she was mumbling. Spencer’s heartbeat took off even faster. Any faster and she was going to pass out. “I have a date tomorrow night.”

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Seven

“A… a date?” Spencer swallowed. Hard. No, no, no, this could not be happening. Ashley had a date? The nausea rose precipitously and, at any second, Spencer knew she was going to have to run for the sink, except her muscles seemed to have frozen solid. The riot in her body was only adding to her mental panic.

“Yeah. I mean, it’s just coffee but, you know, it’s a date.” Ashley looked down.

What was this? Did she think that Spencer was going to be jumping for joy? Ashley knew that Spencer was in love with her. She’d told her! That whole conversation about how they loved each other and that it didn’t change anything. The echoes of Ashley’s words passed through her memory: “If it happens, it happens. When it should. When it can. I won’t wait for it. I can’t wait for it because, if I do that, then all you are is my redemption. I can’t do that to you.”

Did she expect Ashley to wait? It wasn’t fair to Ashley, what Spencer wanted, and Spencer damn well knew it. So why did she expect Ashley to hang around until Spencer got her head into order?

“That’s great!” she managed to push out, with very fake enthusiasm. Wow, she really was a decent actress. Maybe there was career in that somewhere.

Ashley’s head came up with a cautious and interested look. She’d been testing Spencer: that much was now obvious. “Yeah,” she echoed. “Great.”

“Who with?” Spencer asked. Not that she needed to ask, as the honey-haired hussy’s image shot through her brain. Spencer mentally added horns and a pointed tail and considered a pitch fork.

“Uh, her name is Cass. She works at the hospital.”

“Uh-huh,” Spencer said, forcing herself to move. She began to make coffee, not sure what she could be doing otherwise. On auto-pilot, she reached out for two cups. “Nurse?”

“Physiotherapist, actually.” Ashley watched Spencer’s movements carefully. The blonde put extra effort into seeming carefree and at ease. She practically deserved an Academy Award for this particular performance. The Spencer from the alternate dimension was currently throwing things in boiling anger, destroying her surroundings. Then there was the third Spencer in the next dimension over, the one who’d grown some guts and was currently straddling Ashley and sliding the brunette’s shirt up over her head.

“Nice,” Spencer smiled. It felt stretched on her face. “So, what are you wearing?”

“I don’t know. Want to help me pick something?”

Spencer considered that it might be fun. Well, about as fun as having all your toenails pulled out with pliers and no anaesthetic. “Sure.”

What was she doing? What was she thinking? This was not okay. There were no doubts in her head that this was not okay. Surely now was the time to say something? Now, rather than in three months time when Ashley was moving out to be with her honey-haired wench. Where the hell had Spencer’s backbone gone? She was just going to give in to this? Hell, no!

“So, where are you having this coffee?” she asked casually. Oh yeah, that was some backbone.

“Not sure yet. We’re going to figure that out tomorrow.” Ashley fingered her coffee mug. “You sure you’re okay with this?” At least one of them had backbone.

“Of course.” And it wasn’t Spencer.

How she made it through the rest of the evening, she would never know. She was so completely floored by the whole thing that she was surprised she even managed to form one coherent sentence, let alone whole conversations. Thankfully, Ashley had directed their dialogue in completely different directions but Spencer was still having it in her head. Or at the very least, some of the things she should have said, such as:

‘No, you may not go on a date: you’re mine.’
‘Who the fuck is she and how do I kill her?’
‘Don’t you love me any more?’

Okay, it was probably a good thing that she hadn’t said the last one. For one, it sounded plain pathetic and, second, it was probably way too close to how she was feeling for her to articulate.

Ashley was gone when Spencer ventured out to the kitchen the next morning. Actually, Spencer had barely slept and was grateful when Alex had cried, as it at least had given her something to do. Alex, however, was a champion snoozer and not much good for distraction in the early hours when she was waiting for Ashley to leave. She could hear the shower running, which made her picture the brunette padding around the house, making her morning coffee. She knew the look, the scent, the whole feel of the scene intimately. This was her family – Spencer’s warmth and home – and now some tart was intruding on it. All because Spencer was the most cowardly person in the world.

Great.

Living on coffee and no sleep, Spencer crawled through the day. Every second lasted an eternity and not in a good way, each beat of her heart mirroring each flick of the second hand and bringing her closer to the moment when Ashley was going to walk through that door. And then walk out again.

Half of Spencer was determined to say something, to speak up and end this ridiculous game that they seemed to be playing. For God’s sake, Ashley couldn’t possibly think she was okay with this, could she? Then again, she and Ashley had gone out of their way to define their relationship as friendship. How was that supposed to hold back the brunette?

The other half of Spencer was wondering if she could just take off and hide.

And so it was that Spencer found herself sitting on the couch, cuddling Mr Ruffles like she was hanging on for dear life, and watching the clock tick over to four-thirty. She knew it would be any minute now. What would she do, what would she say? Holding Mr Ruffles tighter and tighter, she rocked a little. It was like pure torture. She wasn’t sure she could hold this in, and she wasn’t sure she could handle seeing Ashley. What if she totally freaked out when…

“Are you okay?”

Spencer jolted out of her inner stream of panic to find Ashley regarding her quizzically. Somehow, in her utter alarm at the idea of the brunette coming home, she’d managed to miss the brunette actually coming home.

“Yeah, of course. Why?” Spencer spluttered out, desperate to get some hold on herself.

“Uh, because Mr Ruffles can’t breathe and you look really worried,” Ashley pointed out.

“Oh.” Spencer put the elephant down next to her. “Sorry, I was just thinking.”

“Deep thoughts,” Ashley nodded. “Wanna share?”

“Not really,” Spencer sighed. “They were kind of stupid anyway.”

The brunette tilted her head and then pulled her friend into a hug. “Never stupid, Spence. Never stupid. I’m here if you want to talk, okay?” With a kiss to the top of the blonde’s head, and a gentle caress down one cheek, Ashley walked away to her bedroom.

‘FUCK!’ Spencer’s head screamed.

She moved around the living room and kitchen for half an hour, picking things up and putting them down. She did absolutely nothing productive until her nerves finally twanged so hard that she realised that she was vibrating. Making her way down the corridor, she knocked on Ashley’s door softly.

“Come in,” she heard the reply.

Spencer opened the door but didn’t enter. She leaned on the door frame and watched the brunette rifle through her clothes.

“Picked anything?” she asked.

“Nope. I’m thinking jeans and a nice shirt.” Ashley wrinkled her nose. “It’s coffee, ergo, casual.”

“Your blue one looks nice,” Spencer said, softly. “The one with the purple stripes.”

“Mmm, too conservative.”

“Your black one with the lace?” Spencer indicated to her collar bones, where she knew the lace was.

“Too ‘hopeful slut’.”

“Green one with the waistcoat thingy?”

“Good choice!” Grabbing the shirt, Ashley looked at Spencer quizzically. “Why do you know all my clothes?”

Spencer snorted a laugh. “I do your washing sometimes.” Unable to watch Ashley get ready any more, she walked out into the hallway, shoving her hands in her pockets and squeezing her eyes shut against the pain that was rocketing through her body. She never knew that you could actually have physical pain from emotional turmoil, but she was learning.

Putting dinner on the table, she waited until Ashley emerged. The brunette had gone for fairly casual but her hair was looped up and her makeup was carefully non-descript. She looked amazing. It took Spencer’s breath away and, worse, it made her stomach spasm sharply with deep pain. She was so tempted to grab it and make herself look worse than she was. She knew that if Ashley thought she was unwell she’d stay, call it off. But, she couldn’t do it that way. If Spencer couldn’t speak up, then something inside her was stopping her from sabotaging Ashley’s date any other way. She must have some kind of conscience. Damn, she’d have to find that part of her and stamp it out one day.

“You staying for dinner before you go?” she asked her friend.

Ashley shook her head while adjusting her collar. “I’ll grab something out. Besides, I just brushed my teeth.”

Spencer’s inner tiger roared. What? Brushed her teeth? Was she planning on doing something other than drinking coffee? Why would you brush your teeth? Dammit, you can’t kiss her. It’s a first date. You don’t kiss on first dates… If you’re twelve.

“Okay.” Spencer had no idea how she was staying so calm on the outside or, for that matter, how she was making some kind of rational conversation. Hurrah for auto-pilot Spencer!

“I won’t be late.” Ashley took a deep breath. “Wish me luck.”

She moved to the door and Spencer smiled: plastic or wooden, take your pick. “Good luck,” she said. She watched the door close. “At bombing out.”

Now what the hell was she supposed to do?

Her kids must have sensed her mood because Alex was fractious all evening and even Elly was moderately difficult. She was harsher than she intended and sent Elly to bed early. She did sneak back in and give her eldest a cuddle before she fell asleep, but still.

She was tired, exhausted from a night of little sleep and a day of being completely on edge. By the time that ten came around, Spencer was having so many emotional crises on the couch that she could no longer separate them out, or make sense of any of it. All she knew was that she wanted Ashley home. Now.

The door opened. For a split-second, Spencer forgot why she was out in the first place and the happiness shot through her like a lightening bolt. Then reality descended.

“Hey,” she said, rising from the couch.

“Hey,” Ashley said with a lopsided grin.

“How’d it go?” Why has she asked that? Was she into masochism? She must be.

“Good.”

Okay, that was non-committal.

“I’m glad.” Wow, Spencer was learning not to suck at lying.

“Yeah. I’m beat, though. Long day. I’m gonna go to bed. Talk tomorrow?”

“Sure,” Spencer spoke in a low whisper. If Ashley thought it was a strange exchange, she did not show it and walked to her room.

“Fuck!” Spencer said softly. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Said to an empty room.

What the hell was she going to do now?

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Eight

Spencer was starting to think she might make a good carpenter. She was, after all, getting so familiar with wood grain, having spent so much time standing in front of various doors of Ashley’s for way too long. Of course, this was technically her own door in her own house, but Ashley was still behind it.

She hadn’t intended to stand outside Ashley’s room. Her stiff body had needed forcing, but she had intended to go to bed, to lie on her back and stare at the ceiling and wonder what the hell she was going to do with herself. She’d been so damn close to running after Ashley and grabbing her, making them face whatever it was that was now going on between them. But then her phone had vibrated off the coffee table and she’d instinctively picked it up. The name ‘Gray’ had flashed out at her from the dynamic screen on the back and her whole body had gone wired.

Could she do anything to make this better? When did her life get so fucking complicated? How could she even think of starting a relationship when she had so many distractions in her life? It was crazy!

And, yet, Spencer couldn’t pass Ashley’s door. She was rooted to the spot outside, her breathing uneven and her hand half-raised, ready to push the handle down and go in. Her insides were tormented. Her outsides were tormented. She was in turmoil. So what now?

It was like lightning to her brain, a quick zap that burned its way through and left her stunned and aching. On auto-pilot, finally in the control of her deep inner Spencer, the one that secretly wanted to go skinny dipping, she opened the door to Ashley’s room and stepped inside. Closing it with a soft click behind her, she let her eyes adjust to the subtle moonlight filtering through the curtains.

“Spencer,” she heard Ashley’s soft whisper from the bed, although it came to her like it was making its way through water. “Is everything okay?”

She could see the outline of Ashley propping itself up on her elbows. Taking a short breath, Spencer moved over to the edge of the bed and knelt on it.

“Spencer? What’s wrong?” Ashley’s voice had an edge to it now, one that was urgent. But the low vibrations of her voice travelled all the way down Spencer’s body and any panic in it was lost in the sheer melody of the sound.

Spencer groaned softly and leaned in, planting her lips firmly on Ashley’s and feeling their softness against her own. The world came into sharp focus: everything was now pinpointed on the beautiful girl beneath her. The kiss was gentle but unyielding. Their lips moved again and again, barely parting but touching enough to ignite fires everywhere. Spencer brought her hands up to tangle in brown curls and pulled back slightly.

Ashley was panting short shallow breaths in front of her. Her eyes had a hint of question in them, but Spencer could see that they were dark with arousal, hot, fervent arousal that was purely for Spencer. It was enough to spur the blonde on and any thoughts of perhaps stopping went out the window. She moved so that she was straddling Ashley’s knees and then pulled those luscious goddess’s lips back to her own.

This time the kiss was urgent and impassioned. It was calculated to inflame and arouse, and it did. Spencer ran her tongue lightly over first a top and then a bottom lip, begging entry. Groaning audibly when she was granted it, she slid inside, finding her twin and tangling gently. Putting every possible erotic nuance she had into the kiss, Spencer slid one hand down to the small of Ashley’s back, pulling the brunette up so that they were chest to chest. Ashley’s hands grasped at Spencer’s back, holding herself up and deepening the kiss imperceptibly.

They kissed over and over, the room heating by degrees. Spencer’s body was on fire, and if the moans and whimpers coming from Ashley were anything to go by, so was the brunette’s. Sliding her lips from those she had been enjoying, Spencer moved her tongue across the edge of Ashley’s jaw, enjoying the sharp intake of breath her actions caused.

She moved her mouth to Ashley’s ear, whimpering and whispering urgently, “Oh God, I want to touch you.” As though her body was listening to her own words, Spencer’s hands moved to the top button of Ashley’s shirt, unbuttoning furiously and causing one small blue disc to go flying across the room.

“Spencer -”

The breathless cry was cut off by Spencer’s mouth crashing down on Ashley’s once again. It was primal and it was good. She needed to be touching and she needed to be touched. There was nothing left in Spencer but the sheer desperation to love Ashley with every inch of her body and be loved back, to feel that love coming back at her and know it was there.

Sliding Ashley’s shirt off, Spencer ran her hands down beautifully curved shoulders and down lightly tanned arms. She brought her hands back up to cup Ashley’s gorgeous face and to stare deeply into her brown, brown eyes.

“Oh God!” she whispered and then kissed her again.

The small part of Spencer that was desperately afraid Ashley would bring a halt to the proceedings was satisfied when, with a groan, Ashley kissed her back, hungry and hot. They rolled, Spencer losing her position of dominance. She didn’t care. Ashley’s hands were everywhere, tugging at her tank top and shorts, mouth moving across ears, cheeks, lips, neck and back again.

They’d never had quiet sex. They’d never had anything but incredibly vocal sex. Something about talking during sex with Ashley was unbelievably erotic and almost automatic. This time, they were more incoherent, like both of them were too caught up to be able to articulate phrases. Nonetheless, every time Ashley whimpered Spencer’s name, or slipped a ‘fuck’ out, it drove straight into the depths of Spencer. When the brunette groaned, “God, Spencer, please, please!” it nearly sent her over the edge.

It spurred her on. She rolled them back so that Ashley was neatly pinioned beneath her slightly larger frame, Spencer kneeling over her. She moved her mouth down, finding tanned skin, licking and biting across the bronzed torso. She felt like devouring her, marking her, making Ashley wholly Spencer’s. Dammit, she was Spencer’s. She could feel the way that Ashley was arching beneath her, rolling her hips to meet Spencer’s, and in the back of her mind Spencer was cheering. No-one else could make Ashley feel like this. And no-one else made Spencer feel like this.

Running her tongue lightly over a taut nipple, she let her hand drift to the other one. Revelling in the gasps she got in return, Spencer moved down, licking across the incredibly sexy abdomen beneath her and feeling her own centre begin to flood with wetness. Ashley was wearing just underwear and, despite the thin cotton covering, Spencer could tell she was aroused.

There was no teasing, no time to take it slow. Spencer was too intent on branding herself across Ashley’s skin, to hear the cries and feel the way that her own body responded. She was so alive doing this. She was so in love.

Sliding Ashley’s underwear off in one sweep, she brought her hand back up, moaning when she felt wetness brush across her fingertips.

“Fuck, Spencer!” Hips bucked beneath fingers that began to gently explore.

“God, you’re so wet,” Spencer groaned. She parted silken folds, finding Ashley more ready than she could have imagined. The brunette was shuddering beneath her, shaking with need and want. Spencer could hear it in her voice, in the way she moved, and all she wanted to do was give in.

Tensing herself over Ashley on one outstretched hand, Spencer watched as she slowly pushed two fingers inside her lover. She watched, panting, as Ashley’s hips arched into the contact and she could feel soft walls contracting down on her fingers. It was the most intense sensation of her life. Thrusting with some desperation, she fought for control. Hovering over Ashley, she tried to maintain a rhythm, the incessant beat that would push the brunette up and over, drive her crazy. She let her mouth bruise over the skin of her lovers abdomen, marking and nipping.

She slid down Ashley’s body, ready to taste, to touch. She could hear the pants, the moaning and felt her own body respond with a flood. Spencer’s veins were pumping and she could feel her love for Ashley coursing through. Groaning, she dipped her head down, letting her tongue snake out to take that first taste. Ashley’s hips bucked in response, arching up to meet Spencer and echoing their movements with a hoarse cry. Spencer smiled once and then began to pleasure.

She knew Ashley was close. She could feel it. There was a tension in her body, like she was a spring, coiled and poised to fly. Spencer doubled her efforts, wanting to make it happen, wanting to watch it happen. She felt the soft walls begin to clamp down on her fingers and the writhing movements became less purposeful, more crazed.

“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. SPENCER!” Ashley came with a cry, making Spencer’s chest contract, her throat burning with ache and need. And, still, in the back of her head as she pulled away panting, was the thought: ‘It’s my name she calls out. Mine.’

Spencer crawled her way up Ashley and collapsed on top of her, pushing her body full-length into the sweaty form beneath her. She buried her head in the brunette’s neck, kissing softy and listening to the cadence of her lover’s breathing slowly calm. When they were both still, she chanced a lift of her head and gazed down into amazing chocolate eyes.

To her surprise, Ashley slowly pushed them up so that she was sitting. Spencer’s knees fell to either side and she was again straddling Ashley’s lap, only this time they were both completely naked and covered in a slight sheen of sweat. Swallowing, she brought a hand up to brush a stray tendril of curl off Ashley’s forehead. Staring down at the beautiful face she loved so, she found her breathing quickening again. She could feel her own wetness and squirmed slightly.

Ashley didn’t move. She stared at Spencer intently. Spencer held the gaze despite her increasing discomfort. She couldn’t read the message in Ashley’s eyes and it was beginning to scare her. That and she was so aroused that she thought she might explode. And yet she could live with that so long as Ashley didn’t pull away. She couldn’t break the stare herself, mesmerised by the woman she loved, so hypnotised she didn’t feel Ashley’s arm move or know that it had until she felt two long fingers slide along her wetness and then slip inside her.

Eyes widening at the sudden invasion, the incredible sensation, her head tilted back and she groaned. She closed her eyes and moved, instinctively, first lifting her hips and then driving them slowly into the bed. She was straddling Ashley and, as the brunette began to push, Spencer began to ride. She vaguely felt Ashley’s other arm come around to support her and then was lost as one deft thumb came up to brush against her hard clitoris.

She lost herself completely, giving everything she had to Ashley with incoherent cries and increasingly frantic movements. Grasping at Ashley’s shoulders, she left half-moon indentations in the lean shoulders she held on to, but she didn’t care. Everything she was and everything she would be was given now. Driving closer and closer to the edge, she chanted Ashley’s name and finally, with one last hoarse cry, she fell over the edge, collapsing against Ashley and shuddering as they both fell back onto the dishevelled sheets.

Tangled together, Spencer waited for the inevitable questions and the talking, for them finally sorting out what it was that they needed to. But nothing came. Their breathing settled again and Spencer let her fingers drift idly across Ashley’s skin. She smiled against a shoulder when Ashley’s own fingers tangled with hers. She tickled gently and then took in a short sharp breath when she felt goosebumps rise under her finger tips.

Again? Oh God, was it possible? She wanted her again, but…

Ashley made the decision for her, rolling up and over and pulling Spencer into a bruising kiss that immediately sent Spencer’s body into a riot.

Every time Spencer thought it might be over, it began again, the two of them finding something in each other and clinging with need and want. She moved her body and found new ways to drive Ashley crazy. She tried new things and exulted when they worked. She let her lips, her tongue, her fingers learn new nuances and make their mark on her territory, her Ashley.

And when they finally collapsed, completely exhausted in the early hours of the morning, Spencer didn’t let go. She wrapped herself around her lover and held on for dear life as sleep overtook them.

* * * * *

Chapter Forty-Nine

Spencer blinked twice in the morning sunlight and then attuned to what her ears were trying to tell her. Alex was crying. She frowned. She wasn’t in her room; she was in Ashley’s room, in Ashley’s bed, naked.

Alex’s crying got more high pitched, which was fairly unusual in itself because either Spencer or Ashley normally reached him by the time he really got into his squealing. He must be hungry.

Rolling her head, Spencer got out of bed and padded into his room. Alex was bawling with hunger in his bed and Elly was standing next to his cot looking decidedly worried. She was stroking one of his little hands urgently and rocking his cradle gently. Given that all he wanted was his morning feed, Alex wasn’t in the mood to be calmed by this but, damn, it was adorable to watch.

Ruffling Elly’s hair as she stooped down to pick up her son, Spencer flashed her daughter a smile at her care and propped Alex up to try and calm him a bit. Settling into the chair in the corner, she let him have his breakfast.

Elly had wandered off to find some cereal, Mr Ruffles looking forlorn as he was dragged by his back foot to help with the acquisition of such a fine food product. Spencer leaned her head back wearily and closed her eyes. She was tired. It was not surprising, given that she’d had next-to-no sleep. She must have been exhausted because she didn’t remember Ashley getting up, or leaving her body feeling bereft, as it did now. It was like the absence of the brunette just highlighted how much Spencer had to sort out what was going on, and soon.

Did she regret the previous night? Not for a second. She could never regret being with Ashley. Did she regret doing it without talking first? Not regret, as such. What they shared had words of its own. Sometimes she thought she had no other way to give herself to Ashley. All the rest of her life seemed to be carved up into little bits and sequestered away for other people.

She was Spencer, the tree full of acorns, and there were only so many acorns for Ashley, the squirrel. Okay, that was just about the worst analogy ever. Where the hell had that come from? Spencer’s eyes fell to the bookcase and the story of Mr Squirrel and realised that she was just a little too tired for her brain to work properly.

She let Alex finish feeding and then burped him. Carrying him out to the living room, she checked for Ashley. Nothing. The bathroom door was open, so she clearly wasn’t there. The kitchen and dining room were empty and the only person in the living room was Elly, watching cartoons with cereal and an elephant.

Alex swung lazily in his bouncy thing on the floor. Spencer had no idea what else to call it. It was a strange contraption that allowed him to lie flat in his carrier while slowly swaying backwards and forwards with whatever breeze was available. He seemed very content there, nearly asleep and blowing bubbles. For a second, Spencer envied him more than anything.

She looked for a distraction. The house was clean, the washing done: everything was in order. She tidied Elly’s cereal bowl the second the girl was finished and cleaned it with more vigour than was strictly necessary. Every second the clock ticked was another drop of panic added to the tide that was now threatening to flood Spencer.

Where the hell was Ashley? Spencer was worried about her. And she was also worried about what she was going to say when she saw her. It was ridiculous: to be gripped by panic that Ashley might not come back soon, yet inundated with fear that she should do the opposite and walk through the door. Spencer just couldn’t win!

She nearly fell over when the door opened. It wasn’t locked. It could have been anyone, but Spencer knew who it was. Ashley appeared in a set of sweats, completely out of breath. She was red and sweaty and, even then, Spencer’s heart flipped over at just the sight of her, not to mention the things that the sight of Ashley did further down. The brunette glanced at Spencer, who was standing between the kitchen and the living room, looking worried. She was feeling worried, too. She knew they had to talk but Ashley was leaning on her knees and had clearly just run several miles, so now probably wasn’t the best time to initiate a deep, intimate conversation.

Ashley must have silently agreed because, without saying anything, she disappeared up the hallway. Spencer watched her go. Moments later, the noise of the shower running sparked the blonde back to life and she realised that she was shaking. Because this was it. They had to talk. They just had to. After the previous night, they couldn’t leave things as they stood. Oh God, the previous night… just the thought of it made her go weak at the knees.

The things they’d said, the things they’d done. Ashley couldn’t possibly want someone else, could she? Spencer knew that Ashley had been on a date but, hell, you couldn’t go on a date and then spend a night like that without realising that it had all been wrong. They just needed some time and space to figure this out, right? Right? Time and space: that was the key. Spencer took a deep breath. She was still standing in the living room watching the hallway when Ashley emerged from the bathroom. She was wearing a towel, her hair deliciously wet and sexy. Spencer’s mouth went dry.

But Ashley didn’t appear to feel the same way. She sent a pointed look at Spencer that spoke volumes and then disappeared into her room. The only problem was that the volumes seemed to be in a language that Spencer didn’t understand. So there she was, rooted to her living room carpet, dry-mouthed and completely confused as to what as going on. A little alarm in her brain was firing rapidly. Something was not okay. Ashley was not okay. Ashley was… mad. Mad? Angry? Shit!

Spencer made her dull legs move and skidded to a halt in front of Ashley’s door. Her breath coming in angry pants, she knocked once and then opened it anyway.

Ashley was pulling on her socks; she’d dressed quickly. She was getting ready to walk out the front door without saying a word. Spencer just knew it.

“Ash…”

“Not now, Spencer.” The answer was curt, to the point. It was so much to the point that it stabbed and hurt.

“Ash, come on, we have to talk.” Spencer’s heart thudded in her chest.

“I think you did all the talking you needed to last night.”

Spencer’s brow furrowed in confusion. They hadn’t talked last night, wasn’t that half the point?

“Please!” It was all she could think to say. She looked at Ashley who was now looking back. The sheer pain in those brown eyes shocked her to the core. What had she done?

And then Ashley exploded in front of her. “What do you want from me? You want to fuck with my heart? My head? Fine, Spencer. You’ve done that. Are you satisfied yet?”

“No, Ash, no!” How did this get out of hand already? What happened to time and space?

“Well, you did. You think I don’t know what last night was about? I told you -” Ashley was crying. It was heartbreaking and Spencer took a step forward, reaching out. Only, this time, Ashley didn’t want her sympathy, her comfort. The brunette twisted away and glared. “I told you I wouldn’t wait. I couldn’t wait. I needed to be alive, Spencer, and… and things were just starting to be good. I had a date. A date!” She sat on the bed, looking suddenly defeated. Spencer stared. She’d caused this. She’d done this and her brain was raging. She had no idea how to make it better, how to fix it.

“I know…”

“I kind of liked her. I mean, not like you, not like it was the greatest thing, but it was good and… I could be happy. But you had to go and fuck with that. Remind me that I can’t ever have what I want, what will make me happy!”

“Ash, no!”

“Yes, for fuck’s sake, yes! What? You’re going to suddenly confess that it’s all been a lie? That you’ve turned around and now we can be together, and that all your problems have just melted away? Don’t be an idiot, Spencer. You can’t be with me. You don’t want to be with me. If you did, you could and would have been long ago. I didn’t wait around for you to be. I didn’t wait around at all. I was just here because I love you and we can be there for each other. But I knew how things stood. Only, until last night, I thought you actually respected me.”

“I do,” Spencer whispered, her eyes blurring with tears.

“Right. That’s why, when I finally have a shot at making my life work, you go and confuse the hell out of everything. Go on, tell me it’s all different now. Tell me you’re not just going to try and take time. ‘Work out where we are’.” Ashley punctuated her sentence with air quotes, but the gesture was lost on Spencer, who could barely see in front of her.

Her breath was caught in her chest. This was not how things were supposed to have gone. Her mouth opened and then closed. She tried to say something but she couldn’t. Why couldn’t she? Why wouldn’t she? It was crazy…

“Yeah, I thought as much.” Ashley said bitterly.

Spencer was still stuck to the floor in the bedroom when the front door banged shut with a noise that sounded eerily final.

* * * * *

Chapter Fifty

Oh God, what had she done? Spencer sank to the floor of the hallway and put her hands to her face. It was the first she’d felt of the tears that were now streaming down with alarming frequency. She’d been so numb from what Ashley had said, so blindsided and so stunned, that she literally didn’t know she was crying. And now she couldn’t stand up.

Shaking, she hugged her knees to her chest and sobbed. She forgot everything – her children in the living room, the rest of her life waiting for her – and let the misery overtake. It wasn’t until she heard Alex wailing, ready for another feed, that she let her head come up. The trails of tears that had criss-crossed her face left a dry, red swathe. The tremor in her hands and legs was strong, strong enough to make her need to steady herself on the wall as she got up.

Numb and cold, she padded to the dining room and fed Alex. Elly caught her eye. The look of shock on her little face was instant and flashed up so fast that it caught them both by surprise. Spencer tried a wan smile but it wouldn’t come. She couldn’t even make it okay for her daughter, who was far too young to understand.

The little girl waddled over. She leaned into Spencer and watched Alex feed, one hand delicately curled around her mother’s knee, the other making small circles on her mother’s back.

Spencer bit her lip and held back new tears: tears for the fact that her daughter was now comforting her, which felt so wrong; and tears for the fact that it was now the three of them, and their family was broken, which was also so wrong. She held back everything and pulled herself together. It lasted long enough for Alex to go down for his nap and for Elly to be settled at the dining table colouring in. She looked happy enough but Spencer knew that she was still worried. She moved silently to her own bedroom and sat on her bed, leaving the door slightly ajar behind her. Curling up on her bed and hugging Mr Ruffles, who had somehow found his way into her arms, she turned her face into the pillow and cried.

It was a slow realisation, the fact that emotional pain could transition so easily to physical pain. Spencer had never felt like this before: so empty, so torn apart, so apathetically unable to do anything but fall apart. It was hurting so hard, so badly, that she thought she was going to drown in the pressure on her chest.

There was nothing there to save her until the doorbell rang. She couldn’t be bothered getting up to answer it. Alex was still down for his nap and she didn’t want to see anyone, couldn’t face the prospect of opening the door. She heard it open and didn’t move. Only three sets of people had a key: Ashley, Gray and her parents. Right now, she could only pray it was one of the first two, but preferably the first. Spencer’s heart sped up until it was thumping in her chest like an oncoming freight train.

She heard a deep voice in the living room. It was Gray. Spencer’s heart slowed a little, but the flatness that invaded her body at the knowledge that it wasn’t her Ashley helped the tears flow again. There was utter defeat in Spencer, no energy left for anything. She wasn’t even crying, really. The tears were just moving out of their own accord, her sadness sapping the energy to sob from her core. There was the noise of Gray moving down the corridor. Spencer didn’t lift her head, but she was lying on her side and facing the door, so she saw the instant he entered the room anyway.

She heard his almost whispered sigh, “Oh, Spence.”

And then the tears fell a little bit harder. The side of the bed sank in and Gray’s strong arms pulled her upright, settling Spencer into a strong but soft embrace. She clung onto the blue shirtfront and began to soak it through.

“She’s gone,” Spencer sobbed. It was all she could get out as the ache spread throughout her again. “She’s gone.”

Gray rocked her back and forth until the new storm of tears had abated. Pulling back, she sniffled and smiled at him wanly.

“She’ll be back, Spence,” he comforted. “I’m sure it was just some silly argument and it’ll be fine.” Given that she hadn’t told him anything about what was going on, it was kind of cute of him to try so hard to make her feel better.

She shook her head. “No, she’s really not coming back.” The cold flushed through her again. “Gray, I’m so stupid.”

He brought her chin up with a knuckle and looked at her. “We all screw up, Spencer. Doesn’t mean we can’t make it better. You guys love each other. You’ll work it out.”

Spencer looked at him in utter shock. Did he just say what she thought he’d said? Did he just…? He knew??

“You know?” she shouted.

“Huh?” He looked confused.

“Me and Ashley?”

“Well, yeah, of course.”

“But…” Spencer shook her head, trying to get some of the fog of surprise to lift. “How? We never told anyone. I never -”

Gray chuckled. “Spencer, I know what you look like when you’re in love.”

She blushed. “Gray, I…”

“It’s okay. Really. I’m honestly happy for you. You found someone you really love and that’s incredible.” He pulled her back in to a fierce hug. “All I want is for you to be happy.”

And with that, she burst back into tears. “I lost it, Gray. I was stupid and I lost it.”

He soothed her, rubbing her back and murmuring softly until the next wave of tears had settled. Spencer figured she must be pretty well dehydrated.

“You can work this out, Spencer. I know you can.” Gray smiled and wiped a tear off his ex-wife’s face. “You just have to calm down and then work it out. If it’s worth it, you’ll work it out.”

“What if I can’t?” Spencer whimpered.

“Well, then, at least I can commiserate. I’ve been there.” He grinned. Spencer placed a hand on his arm and squeezed, looking pained. “Hey, it’s okay. Believe me when I say it gets better. Besides, I have it on good authority that you’re pretty lovable, so I think you’ll figure it out before it gets to that.”

“Oh, and whose authority might that be?” Spencer asked, with her first grin of the day.

“My own, of course.”

She couldn’t help but laugh at that. Leaning her head on Gray’s shoulder, Spencer sighed. Somehow he’d gone from husband to loser to best friend without her really paying that much attention to the transition. He might not have done such a great job with the first two, but he was proving to be mighty fine at the third.

“Come on, we’re going out for coffee and milkshakes,” Gray said.

“Oh, we can’t. I look appalling.”

“Well, wash your face and get changed and you won’t.” He grinned again. “You’ve got ten minutes and I’m not taking no for an answer.” Spencer opened her mouth to speak but closed it again when he spoke. “I’m not taking no!” And then she watched him disappear out the door.

Coffee was surprisingly bearable, given that Spencer felt like she was being eaten alive from the inside. Gray was quiet but distracting, understanding but comforting. It was nice. It didn’t fill the empty void that was echoing hollowly inside her, but it was nice.

But then they got home. Spencer put her keys down and knew – just knew – that Ashley had been there. It was a scent, a feeling that Ashley had been in the house. There was that sudden warmth that just permeated her skin. Leaving Gray with the kids, she was in Ashley’s room in a flash, flinging the door open and praying she was still there, just praying. But instead it was the worse of all possible options. She had been, but she was gone. And all her belongings had gone, too.

Gray, it turned out, made a passable cup of tea but that didn’t help much. Nothing could help. Ashley was gone and there was nothing Spencer could do now. She’d up and left, with no words said. What words could solve this now? It was too late and now it was over. Spencer sat on the couch, numb again.

“I have to get out of here,” she whispered. The house was full of Ashley, full of thoughts of her and images of the brunette curled up on the couch, or laughing in the kitchen, or playing on the floor with Elly kept flashing into Spence’s mind. Then there were the images of Ashley in bed, arching off the sheets to the rocking of Spencer’s hips and fingers. God, she had to get out of there.

“Spencer, I’m not sure you should be going anywhere,” Gray began cautiously. “I don’t think you should drive like this.”

“Will you drive me to my parents?” she asked. She couldn’t stay. She needed to hide. “I can’t be here.”

Gray sighed. He knew her well enough to know she was going to leave, no matter what. He nodded, and she swallowed. She couldn’t leave fast enough.

The drive to her parents’ was silent. Elly was smart enough to have sensed that something was very wrong and just watched her mother warily from the back seat. Alex, completely oblivious to anything, blew soft raspberries in his sleep. Gray drove with slow determination, unsure of his ability to say anything that could make a difference. And Spencer? Spencer was a ball of quiet misery that she felt would never quell, never leave. She had lost Ashley and now she was lost, too. The only break to the dead silence was the small movement of Elly leaning forward and carefully pressing Mr Ruffles into her mother’s arms in an act of selfless comfort. Spencer smiled at her with watery eyes and hugged the elephant to her chest. She placed a grateful kiss on his trunk and then handed him back. Even Mr Ruffles couldn’t help now: nothing could.

They pulled into the driveway and Spencer moved robotically, getting Alex out of the car and putting him in his carrier gently. She barely noticed Gray getting Elly out and walking with them to the front door. Nothing was registering in her periphery, nothing was getting through the fog. She’d never felt like this. Ever. Welcome to heartbreak.

Spencer was grateful that it was Arthur that opened the door. She’d have to explain herself to her mother sooner rather than later, but even a two-minute reprieve was appreciated. Her father’s face changed from a look of curiosity to surprise to concern in one smooth motion. He ushered them into the house and had a quick word with Gray. Spencer didn’t stay to listen. She ushered Elly into the house and put Alex down in the living room. She could hear her mother moving around upstairs. Gray’s hand on her shoulder brought her head up.

“I’m gonna go,” he murmured. “I’ll call you, okay?” She nodded mutely. He pulled her into a hug and kissed her temple. “It’ll be okay, Spencer. You’ll see. You’ll figure it out. It takes more than this to make something over. And I’m always here, if you need me.” Pressing another kiss to her forehead, he let her go and then vanished.

Paula appeared in the corner of Spencer’s vision.

“Spencer? Oh my God, what’s wrong?” Her mother’s sharp voice found her, laced with worry.

She couldn’t talk about it. She couldn’t explain it to her mother, certainly not now, not in her current state. She felt her father’s hands find her shoulder and knew he must have mouthed something or made a gesture because her mother made a noise of protest and then threw her hands up. “I’ll get some iced tea.” And then Paula too disappeared.

“Dad,” she whispered.

“Come on, Spence, come outside.” And he walked her out to sit on the bench on the porch. He sat with her, one arm around her shoulder, and waited, swinging his legs and letting the mood settle in the waning dusk.

“I’m such an idiot,” she finally said, burying her face in her hands. “I am such a freaking idiot.”

“Hey, hey.” Arthur rubbed a hand over her back. “You’re one of the smartest people I know.”

“Then how did I let my life get so complicated?”

“I don’t think you let it get that way, Spencer. I think life is always that way.” He chuckled at his own wisdom.

“Not helping, Dad,” she said ruefully.

“Do you want to tell me what happened?” He waited, knowing he was pushing it.

“I… I just really screwed things up. I got the timing all wrong and… Why can’t I just have something go right for once?” she sighed. “I left things too long and I lost…” she cut off, not sure how to continue.

“Nothing is lost unless we let it go,” Arthur replied after a few moments.

“It’s too late. Or too early. Or… I don’t know.”

They sat in silence for a long time. Iced tea appeared and, for once, Spencer’s mother seemed to understand that her presence might not help because she just smiled, kissed Spencer on the top of the head and went off to look after her grandchildren.

“Can I ask you a question?” Arthur ventured after a while. Spencer nodded. “Why did you leave Gray?”

The question surprised her a little. It hadn’t quite been what she’d expected. She took some time to consider her answer. “I wasn’t happy,” she finally admitted. “It wasn’t right for me.”

“I thought as much,” her father nodded. “I want you to be happy.”

“I want to be,” she whispered. It felt like she was never going to be warm again, let alone happy.

“So why haven’t you gone after it?” he asked. “Why aren’t you out there fighting for her, if she’s what makes you happy?”

Spencer took some time to bring her head around in a slow arc. “Does everyone already know what’s happening in my life?” she exclaimed with a cry. “Jesus!” Arthur grinned. “Does mom know?”

“I don’t think so. She doesn’t really think along those lines.”

Spencer breathed out, a long noise of relief. “Thank God.” Then she stopped. “Wait, how do you know?”

“Just a guess.” He smiled again. “And you just confirmed it.”

Spencer groaned and let her head fall down to her hands again. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. We’re not together. We never will be.”

“Do you love her?”

“With my whole heart,” Spencer whispered back.

“So, go fight! What are you doing here?”

“Dad, it’s not that simple!” She shook her head, tears forming again.

“Why not?”

Yeah. Why not?

It was like a bolt from the blue. Gray knew, her father knew. And who cared anyway, who really cared? She loved Ashley and she’d felt like screaming it to the world, just standing out on a clifftop and yelling it to the world.

“Maybe you just need to tell her,” he said, “and make sure she believes it.”

Spencer stood up, her previously limp body jerking to attention by itself. “Dad…”

“We’ll watch the kids and you can take my car,” he grinned. Pulling her into her arms, he hugged her tight. “Go get your woman.”

Hugging him back, she grinned. What a damn good idea.

* * * * *

Chapter Fifty-One

She’d never shaken so much in her life, not when she had first appeared at Ashley’s door and not even that night they’d made love for the first time ever. She’d been made of jelly both times but this was new to Spencer, the human earthquake. There was no hesitating: she hit the ground running and drove at a barely legal speed. She cursed the traffic lights and anyone who got in the way. She was closer to road rage than ever. Nothing was going to keep her from Ashley, not this time.

Spencer was out of the car so fast that she nearly forgot to lock the door. Racing across the bitumen, she threw out a prayer of thanks to anyone listening that there were no cars and pounded up the stairs of Ashley’s front porch. Steadying herself for a few seconds on the door frame, she took a deep breath and knocked on the door. The time for indecision was over.

Unfortunately, the time for Ashley to open the door didn’t appear to be that moment. She knocked again. Still no response. She eventually gave up on knocking when her knuckles felt raw. If Ashley was home, then she wasn’t answering the door. Tentatively, Spencer tried the doorknob. It was locked. Finally, waking up a little from her buzzing head and appreciating her surroundings, Spencer checked out the house. It was locked up tight and dark. Ashley wasn’t home.

Oh hell! So, now what?

She’d been so fired up, so ready to go in there and fight until she got her girl. And now the deflation was setting in, because there was nothing around to fight for. Wait, that wasn’t true. There was everything to fight for: she just didn’t know where it was! Spencer slowly slid down to sit on the porch steps. She leaned wearily against the rail post and sighed. Closing her eyes, she let the soft air of the night wash over her.

How long she sat there, she did not know. It was only when the crunch of gravel startled her that she opened her tear-stained eyelids and took a shuddering breath. The crunching stopped.

Ashley.

She was looking radiant in the moonlight, her hair cascading down around her shoulders in luscious curls and her body taut in jeans and a denim jacket. Spencer knew that she would find Ashley attractive in sack cloth and ashes but, damn, if the sight of her love didn’t take her breath away every single time.

“What are you doing here, Spencer?” Ashley’s voice was harsh.

Spencer couldn’t see her face, the fall of the moonlight from behind casting her in shadow, but she knew that it wasn’t good. Scrambling to her feet, Spencer leaned on the support post, swallowing. Ashley jingled her keys.

“Go home,” she added tiredly. She walked up the stairs past Spencer and opened the door.

To Spencer’s amazed surprise, the door closed behind the brunette. Had she really just done that? Walked straight past and inside? Spencer was stunned for a few seconds, doing a mighty fine impression of a fish. Then she woke up. No, that wasn’t how this was going to go. She’d come here to fight, dammit, and she was going to fight.

She pounded on the door. There was no reply.

She pounded again. And kept doing so. When she thought her fist would break from the effort, the door was wrenched open from beneath her hand.

“Spencer, what the fuck?” Ashley growled, “You’ll wake the fucking neighb-”

Her were words cut off as Spencer pushed through the door and caught her curls in two hands. She pressed her lips to Ashley’s, warm and desperate. For a second, she felt the woman she loved give, returning the kiss hungrily and they moved, fluid and hot.

And then it broke as Ashley pulled away roughly, eyes blazing and jaw trembling. She drew the back of her wrist across her lips, like she was trying to erase the very presence of Spencer from them.

“Ashley,” Spencer whispered, her arm reaching out toward the girl. But Ashley stepped back.

“No, no, no!” Ashley cried out. “You cannot just keep doing this. Please, Spencer, just leave.”

There was such a note of begging in her voice that Spencer nearly folded just to make her happy. It was so difficult not to accede to such an obvious plea, when it came from someone for whom you’d do anything. But she stood her ground, her heart beating so hard she thought it would break her chest wall and fall to the floor, throbbing uncontrollably.

“Ashley, please, just -”

“No.” Ashley’s hands came up, cupping the sides of her head, like the sudden onset of a headache.

She was crying and it was breaking Spencer. Normally, she would just haul the brunette into her arms and force comfort on her, but that wasn’t the answer.

“Ashley!” Spencer raised her voice, somehow trying to get through. She had to do this with words. She had to find the right thing to say. It was the only way this was going to work. To her surprise, Ashley looked up. But the flashing anger in her eyes wasn’t comforting. Spencer blinked in utter shock when Ashley took her by the arm and dragged her out the front door. She was still blinking when she realised that Ashley had closed the door in her face.

This was not how it was supposed to go. This was a disaster. Spencer took a step back. Should she leave? How could she confront this? There was no way Ashley was going to… Wait a second! She was here to fight so, god damn the whole thing, she was going to fight.

She pounded on the door again, not stopping until it flew open a second time. Ashley was still crying, but it was warring on her face with the evident fury.

“Spencer, can’t you get a fucking hint?’

“No, I can’t,” Spencer replied bluntly, pushing inside and closing the door. “Will you just listen to me for a goddamn second?”

“I can’t,” Ashley whispered, tears cascading down her cheeks. “This hurts too much. Spence, please, we just… Can’t we….”

Spencer grasped her by the shoulders gently and took a deep breath. “Three questions, Ash. Answer my three questions and I’ll go, okay? If you want me to. Please?”

“Spencer…”

“Please. I promise they’re short and easy and, please, Ashley, I need you to.” There was pleading in her voice, low and warm. She prayed to the heavens that the brunette would listen, would feel it and be unable to deny her. This had to work. It was all she had left.

“Fine,” Ashley choked off. “Ask. Ask and go.”

Spencer dropped her hands and tipped Ashley’s chin up, so they were looking at each other. Ashley squeezed her eyes together and turned her head away. Spencer brought it back. She wasn’t giving up. Ashley whispered, “Just ask,” but she didn’t break the gaze this time.

Spencer took a shuddering breath and swallowed. “Do you love her?”

There was a silence, and it took Spencer a moment to realise that Ashley was trying to figure out who the blonde was referring to. Then it dawned on her and her beautiful tear-stained face flickered.

“No,” she said shortly.

Spencer swallowed again. Okay. Now for the important one. “Do you love me?”

“Spencer!” It was a wail, plaintive and painful.

“Ashley Davies, do you love me?” Spencer reiterated firmly. She knew she was causing pain. She knew what she was doing, but she had to. She had to know and she had to hear Ashley say it. She had to make Ashley hear it, too. It made all the difference in the world.

“Yes,” the tearful whisper came back. “I love you.”

Spencer smiled. Her body relaxed, and she felt everything melt away. The thrill that ran through her veins, her nerves, her muscles at those three words would be a sensation she would never forget. It had to work now. It had to be okay, because that was all that really mattered. When all the stars had flickered out, one-by-one, she knew that her love for Ashley would still be burning so brightly that it could light up the universe. And that, that one thread of knowledge, was what would keep her going for the rest of her life.

“Ashley,” she began the third question carefully, “will you be mine?”

She could see the confusion and desperation threading across Ashley’s countenance. She gave in. This deserved more explanation.

“I love you so much. This is ridiculous. You’re hurting. I’m broken without you. Nothing else in my life matters unless you’re in it, too. Whatever it was that was out there stopping us, it’s gone, Ashley. It should never have been there. You are what’s important to me now. You are my family and I can’t do this without you. So, will you be mine? Be with me, in every way we can? Please. I love you.”

The frozen moment in time was enough to cause a spark from the sheer energy crackling between them as the unanswered question hung there. Spencer couldn’t breathe as she waited. Ashley wasn’t breathing as she let it all sink in.

“Really?” The brunette’s whispered query shuddered across them and broke the flashing silence.

Spencer nodded. “Really.”

“God, yes!” Ashley replied and threw herself into Spencer’s arms. “God, yes,” she sobbed.

Spencer had to take a step back to accommodate the force but, once Ashley was in her arms, she tightened her embrace and thought she might never let go again. They stood together, tightly wound in each other. Hands found tendrils of hair, clung to backs and they pressed together, hungry and finally complete. Spencer knew that tears were falling from her own face, but only from the sheer sense of relief and happiness that was coursing through her. It was finally right. Everything was finally right.

She shifted her cheek so that it was rubbing on Ashley’s moist one. They moved and then they met, lips fusing in passion unbridled. Their tongues tangled, hands pulling each other closer than possibly imaginable. Spencer tasted Ashley over and over, knowing that she was hers. It was exhilarating, the most amazing feeling ever. She would never get sick of this, never get tired of being with this woman she loved. And she was finally with her. Everything that was Spencer was now Ashley’s. And vice versa. What could possibly beat that?

Then her back hit the wall of the hallway and heat coursed up from her toes to her scalp. She was on fire. Everything that was inside her was bursting out and she needed Ashley to quench it. From the sudden slide of Ashley’s hands down her body – up, under her shirt, running across her rib cage – and the incandescent moan that was bursting from the brunette’s mouth, Spencer knew she wasn’t alone in her need.

They wanted this. They had to have this. It was hot and fast, desperate and close. She felt her shirt slide off and sensed, rather than knew, that she’d sent Ashley’s in the same direction. Their skin melted together and she whimpered, her voice echoing with Ashley’s in the cool evening air.

They never made it out of the hallway, falling in a tangle of limbs onto the carpet. Spencer’s hands were thrusting in Ashley’s curls, pulling those lips back to her own, panting into the brunette’s open mouth. She could feel her centre flood with wetness at the mere fleeting touch of Ashley’s tongue across her bottom lip.

She heard the brunette’s whispered moan, “God, I love you, Spencer!” and rolled them over so that she was leaning over her lover, blond hair trailing down and curtaining them.

“I love you, too,” she murmured and then nothing more coherent could be said.

They moved together, ready long before hands made it to those secret places they both longed for. Spencer’s jeans were shucked so fast that they got caught around her ankles and Ashley’s landed somewhere, several feet away. They laughed briefly and then were caught up in each other again, too focused on skin sliding on skin, hands running everywhere. the cupping of a taut breast, a tongue sliding across an erect nipple. Everything was intensified a million times over, hard and wet, hot and sweet.

Spencer slid her hands down, finding Ashley wet and ready, groaning at the feel as she thrust two fingers straight into the centre of her girl. The resulting cry was hoarse, primal, and it speared through Spencer as she rocked against them, letting her own burning centre slide against Ashley’s thigh.

There was no time for a slow build. They were already on fire. Spencer let herself briefly sink in the feeling of having Ashley closing so tight and hot around her before she moved down, tasting the sweat and skin of Ashley’s abdomen. She slid lower, letting her tongue speak for her need, tasting and licking. She somehow supported herself on her knees and let her free hand slide up to lace her fingers with Ashley’s. Then she doubled her efforts until she finally felt the tremors take a hold. Hearing her own name echoing across the empty house and feeling her fingers painfully squeezed, Spencer nearly climaxed from the sheer wonder of it.

Instead, she slowly kissed her way back up Ashley’s gently quaking body to collapse. Kisses were pressed into her forehead, her cheeks, her lips. Ashley’s hands tangling in her hair. The soft, post-orgasmic touches became more urgent. Spencer felt her desire spring up immediately. She wrapped herself up in Ashley and let it flow over her, the light fingers dancing across her skin, the rough rasp of a tongue everywhere.

She arched off the carpet, feeling strong fingers enter her and fill her. And her soul filled at the same time. The intense sexual feelings were only bonded all the more strongly to the amazing feelings of love in her. And then the bliss washed over her. She was more vocal than she’d ever been in her life, crying out anything and everything as she was built to the most passionate, powerful place she’d ever known, only to come harder and faster than ever before. She broke into thousands of pieces, her eyes flooding with tears at the intensity, and her body shaking as though it would never stop.

But it did, slowly and warmly, and Ashley was there, wrapping herself around Spencer until the tremors finally stilled. They lay together as they finally relaxed. And Ashley chuckled.

Spencer grinned at the sound. “I guess we should try and make it to the bedroom.”

She felt Ashley’s arms tighten around her, pulling her closer and a small kiss was pressed to her forehead, against the hairline. It sent pleasant shivers down Spencer’s spine.

“Yeah…”

Spencer couldn’t help smile at how content Ashley sounded all of a sudden. She sounded complete, replete and happy. It was perfect. She wanted to make her always sound like that. Oh, she knew that they would have their moments and arguments – Spencer was nothing if not a pragmatist – but, at that moment, she just wanted to bask in the glow of their love, to live with the perfection for just a little longer.

“Ashley?”

“Mmm.”

“I think I’m getting carpet burns,” Spencer giggled.

Ashley grinned and pulled them to their feet. She hauled Spencer back into her arms, not willing to let go of the closeness, and Spencer couldn’t have agreed more. She let her arms settle around the other girl’s waist and was amazed at how open and safe she felt. Despite the fact that she was buck naked in Ashley’s hall, it felt right.

“Spence?”

“Mmm?” Spencer replied, nuzzling her face into the crook of Ashley’s shoulder and inhaling the scent she loved.

“You know how you said we should go to the bedroom?”

“Mmm.” Spencer’s mind flashed up some of the possibilities of what might happen there and she grinned and got goosebumps at the same time.

“Can…” Ashley’s unfinished question lingered enough for Spencer to pull back and look at her.

“What, baby?”

“Can we go home?” The question was full of unshed tears, but good ones. It made Spencer’s heart flip over and the love she felt flooded her again. “Can we…. Uh… are the kids there?” Ashley finished the question.

Spencer shook her head. “They’re with my parents.”

Ashley blushed and rested her forehead on Spencer’s. “Could we pick them up and then go home?”

Spencer’s own vision blurred with tears. Oh my God, could this woman get any sweeter?

“You want to go home?”

“Yeah,” Ashley whispered. “With my family.”

Spencer smiled, the tears sliding down her cheeks and landing on their naked bodies. She stooped down briefly to pick up some of their clothes, handing Ashley hers.

“Yeah. Let’s go home.”

And they did.

* * * * *

[The End]

15 Comments

  1. Mel
    Posted 2 December 2010 at 6.11pm | Permalink

    *gasp*

    This was the first sez fic I ever read!

    *claps hands*

  2. Meech
    Posted 2 December 2010 at 11.25pm | Permalink

    I’m so excited that this is finally finished. I remember reading it for the first time about a year ago. It’s always bittersweet when stories you love come to an end, but I really loved the way this ended with them just wanting to go home and be together as a family.

  3. Buzz
    Posted 4 December 2010 at 10.51am | Permalink

    AWESOME ending. When I read it first time I was confused by “ending”. It wasn´t clear to me so now I can finally understand whole story. I was a little bit bothered by whole Gray thing but I guess I am not any more and simply I am really satisfied with this sweet and cute ending. BTW I love the character of Elly and I liked jealous Spencer:).CUTE!

  4. Fort
    Posted 4 December 2010 at 10.51am | Permalink

    This means when I re-read this fic it will all be here now! I find I start it here and end up over at spashley forum to finish it haha.

  5. Mel
    Posted 6 December 2010 at 6.20am | Permalink

    *high 5’s Fort* I did the same!

  6. Amanda
    Posted 7 December 2010 at 3.05am | Permalink

    Wow. I love these stories so much. Wow. Haha, I’m pretty sure I was just an inarticulate in the other review I did but really who can blame? Fantastic.

  7. dev0347
    Posted 15 December 2010 at 10.14am | Permalink

    I still adore the simplicity of ‘And they did’. It’s an awesome ending.

  8. Sam
    Posted 6 January 2011 at 9.27pm | Permalink

    It’s awesome really, you are extremely talented

  9. Posted 26 January 2011 at 5.30pm | Permalink

    I originally started reading this story over at SON Online..Let me just start by saying that you are seriously talented. This was by far my favorite story and I read quite alot..Absolutely loved the ending..are you going to post and finish the sequel?? :)

  10. laxrocker09
    Posted 30 January 2011 at 10.13am | Permalink

    Ok, quite literally, bawled my eyes out. You are such an amazingly talented writer! And now that it’s three in the morning I’m off to bed to hopefully have dreams less lonely than my real life.

  11. dev0347
    Posted 31 January 2011 at 1.14pm | Permalink

    @jsparky, someone (Mel) has thoughtfully sent me a full version of Le Marais (the sequel) which I’ll begin beta-ing and posting once I’m done going through Finally on the Ground and Ground Beneath Her Feet.

  12. jsparky
    Posted 2 February 2011 at 4.38am | Permalink

    Thanks so much !

  13. Gilmar
    Posted 6 April 2011 at 4.20am | Permalink

    This doesn’t get any less awesome everytime I read it :)

  14. Toni
    Posted 30 November 2011 at 9.14pm | Permalink

    This is so beautiful I teared up throughout, just an awesome story line. I love Elly, jealous Spencer and patient Ashley. This is something I will need to read over and over again.

  15. SmurfyMc
    Posted 22 March 2013 at 3.33pm | Permalink

    Gah! So good!! And the ending that isn’t really an ending because Le marais exists makes me all teary-eyed and so so happy. Oh Sez. You the bestest.

Post a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s