Raegan Hall felt as if she was floating as she walked down the upstairs hallway. Her heart was lighter than it had been in nearly a year. She couldn’t keep the smile from her face. She paused outside the first door she came to and peered around the corner into the darkness. A small night light glowed softly enough that she could make out the little boy lying in the bed. She leaned against the doorframe and watched him, unable to believe he was really there.
He stirred just as she started to walk away. “Aun’ Rae?” he mumbled in a sleepy voice.
“Yes, pumpkin?” she responded in a soft whisper. She stepped into his room and walked to the bed, perching on the edge of it. She smoothed her palm over his hair and gazed tenderly at him.
“Are we really really gonna stay here forever?”
“Yes, bud, I think so. Would you like that?”
“Uh huh.” He snuggled into the blankets. “I love you, Aun’ Rae.”
Rae bent to kiss him softly. “I love you,” she answered, tucking the blanket around him. She silently slipped out of the room and continued her journey down the hall. She stopped at the next door and peeked inside. Her heart swelled at the sight. Tara sat in a rocking chair next to the crib. She was humming softly as she rocked Rachel in her arms. The sight of the small woman astounded Rae. She had pulled her blonde hair into a ponytail and scrubbed her face free of make-up. She had on a pair of faded, holey jeans and a t-shirt, but she still looked beautiful to Rae.
Sensing Rae’s presence, Tara looked up and smiled. “Did I hear you talking to Will?” she asked in a soft tone. “Is he all right?”
“Yeah, he just wanted to know if he was going to stay here forever.” She paused for a moment, a half-smile on her face. “He said he liked that idea. I agreed with him.”
Tara looked down and adjusted Rachel, the smile still planted on her face, before answering. “Me, too. I think Rachel agrees. She’ll be through in a few moments.”
“Do you need anything?”
“No,” Tara answered warmly. “I have everything I could possibly need.”
Rae didn’t think it was possible, but her heart seemed to grow even bigger. Tara returned her full attention to the baby, her melodious voice echoing in Rae’s ears as she pulled herself away from the scene and headed down the steps. The walls of the house were still empty, but already the presence of Tara and the children made it feel more like a home to Raegan. She turned on the stereo, filling the downstairs with classical music, and picked up the cordless phone. She dialed the number of her best friend and listened to it ring. “Hey, Beth, it’s Rae. I’m home.”
“Welcome home,” her best friend answered. “Are you alone?”
Rae took a deep, satisfied breath as she settled into her recliner. “No, Tara and the children are with me.”
Beth didn’t respond immediately. She had not been supportive as Rae and Tara had tried to maintain a long distance relationship. She had predicted that Tara would never overcome her fear of living the lesbian lifestyle. “I’m happy for you, Rae,” she finally said. “I was wrong. I really am happy.”
“So am I, Beth. So am I.”
“What are you going to do about Erin?” Beth’s question was blunt. Erin McAllister was a rising country music artist that the best friends had discovered. From the beginning, McAllister had made no secret that she was attracted to Rae and in her frustration and heartache over Tara, Rae had responded. From New Year’s to Valentine’s, Rae had broken the boundaries of professionalism and become lovers with the beautiful young singer. Initially, Beth had pushed Rae toward McAllister, but toward the end, she hadn’t been as enthusiastic. Beth had seen what Rae would not let herself see. She had realized that Rae was still in love with Tara.
Rae sighed and leaned back, closing her eyes. “I’m going to tell her the truth. If she causes a scene and it costs my job, then I’ll find something else. Capital Records would still give me a good reference.”
“What about the grandparents?”
Rae didn’t need more explanation. Tara’s former in-laws had not responded well when they found out Tara intended to move to Nashville with her new female lover. They had threatened to sue for custody of the children. Their threat had frozen Tara for nine months. In frustration, Rae had ended the relationship.
“We talked to Sydney, my friend who is a lawyer, but Tara laid down the law to them. She told them that if they sued, they might win, but they probably wouldn’t. If they didn’t win, they wouldn’t see the children again. If they dropped it, she promised them that we would be home at least once a month and they would see the children then.”
“They took that?”
“They didn’t like it, but I think they have backed off. Sydney says we’d win.”
As she talked, Tara came down the steps. She came straight to Rae and slipped onto the other woman’s lap. Rae opened her arms as Tara settled across her thighs. She wrapped her arm around Tara’s waist, pulling her lover against her. Tara trailed her fingers over Rae’s cheek and nibbled on her girlfriend’s jaw line.
“I think you would, too,” Beth replied. “You are going to make a good parent. Will you be at work tomorrow?”
Tara’s lips were moving on Rae’s neck, her tongue dancing playfully. Rae was having a difficult time concentrating on Beth’s words with her small, beautiful lover in her arms. Tara’s scent filled Rae’s nose. Her touch sent shivers through Rae’s body. “I’ll be late,” Rae answered, trying to keep the quiver from her voice. “We are going to go enroll Will in school.”
“I’ll look forward to seeing you. I don’t know that we’ve ever gone two weeks without seeing each other. We want to have you and Tara over as soon as she feels settled.”
“That’ll be nice, Beth. We can do those couple things we used to do while I was with Jamie.”
Tara had shifted her attention to Rae’s ear. She playfully licked the shell of her partner’s ear, and then blew across it. Goosebumps formed along Rae’s skin. Beth was still talking and Rae was trying to listen, but Tara was making it difficult. Beth was talking about things that had occurred at the office during Rae’s time off and Rae managed to answer at the right moments in the conversation, but her heart was beginning to race and her breath was starting to become shallow.
Tara shifted on her partner’s lap, turning to face Rae as she talked with her friend. Her knees straddled Rae’s hips and their lower bodies rested comfortably against each other. Tara tilted her head and kissed her way down Raegan’s neck. Her fingers began working on the buttons of Rae’s blouse. She freed them one at a time, revealing more of Rae’s skin as she did. She peeled back the panels of the shirt once all of the buttons were released and nuzzled the curve of Rae’s pale breast above her bra. Her lips kissed along the gentle swell, her breath warm on Rae’s suddenly cool flesh. She used her mouth to nudge the material of the bra away, her tongue dipping beneath the satin.
“Sounds like ya’ll survived just fine without me,” Rae commented to Beth, pleased that she managed to keep the breathlessness from her voice. Tara smirked a little, her fingertips moving along her partner’s ribcage. Rae had to suppress a giggle.
“Nonsense,” Beth answered. “We missed you a lot. You are the best at what you do. Even better than me.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Rae replied with a laugh, trying to capture both of Tara’s wrists with her free hand.
“Okay,” Beth said. “Sleep well.”
“Hey, Beth, thanks for everything. You’re a good friend.”
“Don’t be getting all sentimental on me. We’ll do lunch tomorrow and you can tell me all the gory details. Good night.”
“Night,” Rae returned, hanging up the phone as Tara moved her hands to her lover’s shoulders. “You are a vixen,” she said, cupping Tara’s face in her hands. She pulled her partner’s face to her mouth, their lips meeting in a sweet, long, tender kiss. Their lips moved against each other, firm and affectionate. The tip of Rae’s tongue danced along Tara’s mouth, teasing her lips open. Tara’s tongue met Rae’s, welcoming her lover into her mouth. Rae’s hands left Tara’s face without easing the deep kiss. Her fingertips danced over Tara’s back and began bunching the material of her t-shirt. When he fingers felt flesh, she moved to Tara’s front, tilting her head to deepen the kiss.
Beneath the t-shirt, Rae cupped Tara’s small breasts, her thumbs making gentle circles around Tara’s hardened nipples. Tara moaned softly into Rae’s mouth, her hips rocking forward as she attempted to get closer to the woman. She wrapped her arms around Rae’s shoulders, crushing her breasts and Rae’s hands between them. Her tongue darted into Rae’s mouth, tickling along the roof before twining with Rae’s tongue.
“Mommy!” a tiny voice floated down the stairs. “Mommy!”
Rae broke the kiss and leaned her head back against the chair with a soft groan. Tara laid her forehead against Rae’s shoulder, attempting to catch her breath. “I’ll go,” Rae said after a moment.
Tara sat up, touching her lips quickly to Rae’s, and then laid her finger against Rae’s soft lips. “I will. He’s in a strange place. Don’t move.” She rose from Rae’s lap in one motion. Rae leaned forward to watch Tara’s ascent up the stairs, shamelessly appreciating the view of firm butt in worn denim. Once Tara rounded the corner, Rae slowly exhaled the breath she had been holding.
Despite Tara’s order not to move, Rae stood and turned off the stereo. She hurried up the stairs, pausing at the top of the landing to listen to Tara’s gentle voice soothe Will. She crossed to their room and stopped abruptly with a smile on her face. It was their room. Tara hadn’t finished unpacking, but she’d already been rearranging the closets and dresser drawers. At once, the room was unfamiliar and comfortable.
Rae cleaned off the bed and pulled the blankets down, fluffing the pillows. She lit a couple of candles and turned off the lights, and then stepped back to observe the room. She had not made love to Tara in a long time. They had been apart for six months. Only a brutal attack had finally broken Tara’s will. Rae had run home as soon as Tara had called, but she did not want to push Tara into sex until she knew her lover was ready. She didn’t want her intimate touch to revive any memories of her attack. She also had wanted to make sure Tara knew she was wanted in Nashville because Rae loved her, not because Rae was controlled by her hormones. Tonight was the first time Tara had approached her, and Rae did not want to let the opportunity pass.
Arms slipped around her waist from behind and lips touched the back of her neck. She leaned her head forward, covering Tara’s hands with her own. “Is he all right?”
“Mhm,” Tara muttered. “I gave him some water and he calmed down. Rachel’s asleep, too. I told you to stay put.” Tara tugged on the sleeves of Rae’s open shirt, pulling it off her lover’s body. Her lips moved down Rae’s spine, her deft fingers releasing the hooks on the bra. Rae shrugged out of it as Tara stepped closer. Tara’s hands roamed over Rae’s belly and breasts, squeezing and massaging as her mouth and teeth nipped and tugged Rae’s shoulder and neck. Rae sighed in pleasure, leaning back, feeling Tara’s breasts crush against her back. Tara’s hands moved down Rae’s belly, her fingertips slipping into the waistband of tight jeans, just teasing her partner for a moment. Rae’s body trembled in anticipation.
Raegan turned in the circle of Tara’s arms, facing her gentle, beautiful lover. Her fingertips brushed wisps of hair from Tara’s cheek, gazing into her partner’s deep blue eyes. “I love you,” she whispered. “I love you more than I can ever show you in this lifetime, Tara Roding Myers.”
“Kiss me, Raegan,” Tara answered, her voice intense. “I want to feel your mouth on mine, on my body. Show me your love.”
Raegan had no choice but to oblige. She lowered her head and kissed Tara’s lips tenderly. Their lips moved gently against each other, the embrace intimate but not passionate until Tara snagged Rae’s lower lip between her teeth. She sucked softly, rubbing her tongue over Rae’s lip. Her fingers glided down Rae’s back and over her buttocks. Rae chuckled softly. “Feeling frisky?”
“I had forgotten how much I craved having your hands on me, how wonderful it makes me feel to have you taking care of me,” Tara answered, stretching up for another kiss, this one deeper and more intimate. Her tongue explored inside Rae’s mouth. Rae pulled up Tara’s t-shirt and they broke the kiss long enough for her to remove it. Rae’s hands covered Tara’s breasts, feeling the hard pebbles pushing against the center of her palms. Their hips met, the friction of their jeans rubbing together intensifying their desire. “Raegan.”
Rae pulled away to play with Tara’s blond curls. “I love the way you say my name. When you say it, I know no one else knows me the way you do and no one ever will.” They kissed again and Rae stooped, lifting her smaller lover into the cradle of her arms.
Tara laughed, looping her arms around Rae’s neck. She nuzzled her lover’s ear as Rae carried her the short distance to the bed. “I love you,” she whispered fiercely.
Their mouths locked again and Rae place Tara on the cool sheets without breaking the kiss. She lay over Tara, her arms on either side of her partner as their mouths explored. The kiss was hungry and intimate. Their arms and limbs were entwined and it was impossible to tell where one began and the other ended.
When Rae finally pulled away from Tara’s mouth and kissed her way down Tara’s chin and throat, Tara was struggling for breath. Tara threaded her fingers through Rae’s short brown hair, holding her lover’s head in both hands as Rae licked a puckered nipple. She blew a stream of air over the button and Tara moaned softly. She treated the other nipple to the same attention, alternating the teasing motion until Tara was pulling her hair. She took Tara’s full breast in her mouth, massaging the nipple with her tongue. Tara groaned, her body moving restlessly. She rocked a little, searching for relief. She finally worked herself free enough to straddle Rae’s leg. She lifted her hips and began rocking in a steady motion.
Rae rolled back on her knees, looking down at Tara splayed beneath her. Tara whined softly, her arms reaching to pull Rae back down. Rae easily resisted, her hands freeing the button and lowering the zipper of Tara’s fly. She peeled it back and bent to kiss the V of pale pink underwear the opening revealed. Tara lifted her hips in encouragement and invitation. Rae tugged at the jeans, moving them down Tara’s shapely legs until they were gone. She bent again, her warm breath seeping though the material of the cotton panties, heating Tara’s mound to a fiery pitch. Tara’s fingernails scraped along Rae’s shoulders as she pleaded for release.
Rae sat up again and her hands tremble as she tried to open her fly. Tara attempted to help and between the two of them, they managed to open the five buttons. Rae stood up long enough to remove them, pushing her underwear down at the same time. She settled her body between Tara’s legs, resting in the cradle of Tara’s pelvis. Tara wrapped her legs around Rae’s hips, pinning her lover in place. Rae placed her hands on either side of Tara’s head and began rocking her hips softly. Tara reached up to hold Rae’s breasts as their bodies began to find a rhythm.
The sensations built slowly. Each forward thrust pulsed inside their bodies, radiating through bellies and legs and breasts. Every nerve ending tingled with the friction their movements created. Tara gasped and groaned, her head bent back as Rae rode harder and faster. The friction grew slick and fast and Rae panted with the effort. Rae increased the pace and pressure, her body taut. She tilted her head back, veins rising in her neck and on her forehead. Tara had lost control of her body. She was thrusting up harder now. Twisting and convulsing beneath Raegan. Rae knew her lover’s song well, and bent to cover Tara’s mouth with her own just as the small woman crashed and cascaded over the precipice into sweet oblivion.
Tara sobbed softly, her body heaving with the effort. Rae bent and tenderly kissed her brow, brushing sweaty strands of hair from Tara’s cheeks and forehead. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” Tara managed to say. “Everything’s right. For the first time in a very long time for me, everything is right. I love you, and I know, that I, that me and Will and Rachel, are home.”
Overcome, Rae wrapped Tara in her arms. Tears spilled from her own eyes as they embraced. “Home at last.”