Disclaimer: All the characters in this story are of my own creation. Any physical resemblance the people in this story may have to real people is coincidental and no infringement on anyone's rights is intended.

Subtext Disclaimer: This story contains references to physical relationships between consenting adults, who may happen to be of the same sex. If this offends you, or you are under 18 years of age, or you reside in an area where this type of material is illegal, read no more. There is plenty of general fanfic out there for you. Go find it.

Paradise Series Book Two - Chapter Nine.

Storyline: Hustle, bustle and headaches abound on a fictional Caribbean island as a recently, nearly completed resort is brought to life and we follow the lives of the people who are trying to make it happen. In the middle of it all is a closer look at two strangers, two women, who are thrown together by outside forces and struggle to contend with the problems they will have to share if the Paradise Beachside Resort is to open on time, and their own emotions as strange happenings make them question themselves, and each other.

Please send any comments to asdease1@gte.net

Enjoy, I hope.

Book Two - Chapter Nine

Written by FlyBigD

As the big steel shaft spun slowly to a halt, Teddy peeked down the last six feet by twelve inch round hole with a smile. "Now, see. That wasn't so hard." She said.

The blonde barracuda begged to differ. "Really?" Jennifer asked, removing her smelly, sweaty, muddy leather gloves to toss them in Teddy's face. "Well, the next time you need brain surgery done with a drilling rig? Do it yourself, because I'm burning these clothes as soon as I get home."

Dodging the grimy projectiles, Teddy caught the gloves in mid air and held onto them. "Oh, give it up, Jenn. I saw the look in your eyes when you had that thing humming. You were in hog heaven."

Jennifer gave Holly and Bruce a quick glance, then stepped closer to Teddy, so they couldn't hear what she had to say. "That was concentration, not heaven. I don't handle unfeeling machines for pleasure anymore, because you dumped me, remember?"

"Is that supposed to be an invitation or an insult?" Teddy smirked.

"What do you want it to be?" Jennifer smiled coyly.

Oh, boy. Here we go. "Look, Jenn. As much as I'd just love to swap war stories with you over a cold one, I've got plans this weekend."

"Oh, really? And who is the lucky girl who's been putting a smile on your face lately?" She asked with a bit of jealousy and a gossip monger's interest.

"I've got a date with an arbor that has to be built and a plane load of bartenders, remember? Wanna take Holly's place on Sunday?" Teddy asked, adding some wickedness to her grin.

Jennifer's response was a prolonged growl. "That reminds me. I've still got to install burglar bars on my garage." Snatching her gloves back from Teddy, she stalked over to where Bruce was standing with Holly. "Make sure you hose the bit off tonight. Holly," turning her attention to her boss, "when Sunday rolls around. Don't say I didn't warn you." Her mission complete, the blonde barracuda walked off.

Bruce and Holly followed Jennifer with their eyes for a second, then exchanged a confused look, then they turned as one to stare at Teddy.

"What was that all about?" Holly asked, tossing a thumb in Jennifer's retreating direction.

"Later." Teddy waved off the question as she joined them. "Okay, Bruce. What do you need me to do, to help get this thing put away?"

Bruce, who was in a pouty mood because Holly had found out about his plans to have his whole crew come in to see Miss Heaven Forbid I Break A Nail playing drill operator and subsequently squashed them with a good butt chewing, shook his head. "Nothing. I can get it by myself. You two can go on home. I'll see ya in the morning."

Holly rolled her eyes. "Bruce, would you stop, please? Jennifer was doing me a favor. There was no way I was going to let you turn this into a side show act."

"Ya, know, Bruce. If ya hurry? I bet ya can get a picture of her before she gets to her car . . . hard hat and all." Teddy put in with a chuckle.

"Teddy." Holly growled, then she shouted when Bruce took off like a shot. "Bruce! Don't you dare! You come back here! Bruce! I'm warning you! Bruce!" When he didn't come back, she turned her unamused green eyes Teddy's way. "Why did you do that?" She asked, hands on hips.

"Don't worry about it." Teddy told her. "Jenn moved her car to the front entrance before she came out. He'll never make it to the trailer and back around, in time. Besides, his big butt can use the exercise."

"Teddy." She said, shaking her head.

"Oh, don't you go giving me that look." Teddy shook her head right back. "Jenn got what she wanted out of the deal, which was me, by the way. Bruce got his money and you're gonna get your arbor. So, don't go acting all high and mighty, because the only person I've seen getting the short end of the stick around here, is me. Now," folding her arms across her chest, "what ya got to say about them apples?"

Duly chastised, Holly found something else to look at. Her feet. "Ummm."

"Uh huh, that's what I thought." Duly exonerated, Teddy unfolded her arms and pointed to the garden hose, laying by the last hole. "Now, make yourself useful and go turn on the hose. We need to get this rig washed down."

"I thought Bruce was going to do that?" She glanced up again.

"Yea, well. Once Bruce gets done chasing his wild goose, I don't think he's gonna be able to do much of anything, besides fall over." One hand on each shoulder, Teddy turned Holly around toward the back of the resort, where the spigot was, and gave her a pat on the rear to get her moving. "Now scoot. The sooner we get this taken care of, the sooner we can get out of here and we got things to do."

"Oh, yea, I forgot." Throwing her hands in the air, Holly plodded disgruntledly toward the spigot. "We've got to haul a thousand pounds of rock into an inferno of an attic and then suffocate while we spread it around in a glass coffin. Whoopee."

Eying the blonde with a tad bit of irritation, Teddy traipsed after her. "Hey, I'm not the one who said it looked empty and something ought to be done about it."

"No, but you're the one who insisted we do it this weekend." Holly shot back over her shoulder. "Like I don't have anything better to do."

Teddy stopped in her tracks. "And just what is that supposed to mean?"

"It means," she said, as she spun around, "that I don't like having my life dictated to me."

"I don't dictate your life." Teddy protested hotly.

"Really?" Holly laughed. "Then what do you call this? Holly, go turn on the hose. Holly, you're coming to stay with me this weekend. Holly, you're going to help me with the aquarium. Holly, watch your step around these people. Holly, watch what you say. Holly, this. Holly, that. I don't need you to tell me what to do, Teddy. I was doing just fine, before you got here."

"You better back up a minute." A deep scowl marred the brunette's features as she took two long strides forward to stand right in front of Holly. "I don't know what's gotten into you, all of a sudden, but I never told you anything you didn't ask me me first and I am not trying to run your life."

"I'll tell you what's gotten into me. Maybe, I don't like being treated like slave labor when I'm the one in charge. I'm your boss, Teddy." Poking the brunette in the shoulder. "Not the other way around and if you want somebody to come when you snap your fingers? Call Jennifer. She looks like the lap dog type to me." She smiled smugly.

Holly didn't know how close she was to having the smile slapped clean off her face, because Teddy never moved a muscle. She just stood there seething for a couple of seconds, then she spoke through a clenched jaw and gritted teeth. "Holly, I don't know what wild hare just crawled up your ass, but whatever problem ya got with me? Ya better do yourself a favor and leave Jennifer out of it."

"Is that so?" Her smile gone, Holly's hands went back on her hips.

"Yea, that's so." Teddy nodded slowly. "She has got nothing to do with you and me, and I intend to keep it that way."

"How convenient." She said dryly. "Tell me, is there anybody else I'm not allowed to talk about, or is Jennifer just a special case?"

"You can talk about anybody ya want to, but I am not having ya throw Jennifer up in my face, like I'm supposed to owe ya some sort of apology for what I had with her, because I don't." Shaking her head, Teddy pointed in the general direction of the front entrance. "Now, if you've got a problem with me, because of Jenn or the other way around? Then ya better start talking and ya better stop with giving me a ration of shit about me trying to tell ya what to do. Otherwise, the only person you're gonna be talking to out here, is yourself."

"Don't put yourself out on my account." Rolling her eyes, Holly turned around to turn on the spigot.

"Fine. Have it your way, since that seems so damned important to ya. Have a nice weekend, too." Mad, pissed and all sorts of angry adjectives, Teddy stormed through the plastic strips covering the hole in the wall of the patio bar.

The water got turned on. The water got turned off and Holly threw a little stomping fit, before she burst into the bar a ten count behind Teddy. "Well, how am I supposed to feel?"

"God, help me!" Teddy called out to the heavens, throwing her hands in the air as she whirled around to glare at the love of her life. "How should I know how you're supposed to feel, when I don't even have a clue what the hell you're talking about?"

"What we were just talking about." Holly said in explanation, as she followed the brunette's muddy tracks toward the end of the bar.

Teddy slapped her hands over her eyes. "I don't believe this." Dragging her hands over her face, she let her arms fall limp at her sides. "Holly, can we just skip the head games, please? I already told you I don't know what you're talking about. So, either spit the damned thing out, or get away from me, because you're driving me crazy!"

"I don't want to talk about it in here." Holly said, looking around the empty bar.

"Then what did ya come in here for?" She asked, then held up her hands. "No, no. I take that back, because ya know what? I don't wanna know. I'm going to the house, now. If and when you decide you want to let me in on what this is supposed to be about, ya know where I'll be." Dusting off her hands, Teddy turned around and made for the shortest path to her truck.

"Teddy." A slight whine to her voice, Holly stomped her foot.

"Ya heard me, now." Teddy shook her head, as she headed for the side door.

"Grrrrrr, alright. Alright." Hanging her head, Holly shook it slowly. "You were right."

It wasn't much, but it was a start. Making a u-turn, Teddy walked slowly back down the hallway to the where it opened up into the bar and stood there. "Right about what?"

"God, this is so stupid." Holly said to herself, then she let out a heavy sigh. "I'm not really mad at you. It's me."

"You're mad at yourself, so you're taking it out on me?" She asked with a frown, pointing to her chest.

"Yes . . . no . . . maybe a little, but you started it." Lifting her head, Holly let it fall all the way back. "It's Jennifer."

The crickets were chirping in Teddy's head again. "It's you, me and Jenn?"

"Yes . . . no . . . sort of. Look, do we really have to do this out here?" She asked, holding out her arms wide, like Teddy had been doing for most of the conversation.

Teddy didn't like what she was starting to hear, but someplace else was sounding pretty good, if it turned out to be something she really didn't want to hear. "No, we don't have to do it here. Do you wanna go to my house?" Teddy asked, hesitantly.

Holly shook her head. "No, I might lose my nerve between here and there."

Nerve? Oh, I am definitely not liking this. "Alright, we'll stay here. Your office or mine?" The brunette going nowhere fast, asked.

Holly gave the glass door, leading to the lobby a furtive look. "Better make it yours."

"Umm." Teddy agreed. On the other side of the glass door was the lobby, the front desk and one eagle-eyed James Bond wanna be. "Come on, then." Rolling her wrist one more time, she made another u-turn to go half way back down the hall to her office. At the door, she opened it and waited for Holly to go in first, but there was no Holly to let in. "Ya coming?" Sounding as tired as she was getting.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." She mumbled to herself, then stuck her thumbnail in her mouth. "Yes, I'm coming." Holly said, between chews.

According to every prison movie Teddy had ever seen, she was sure Holly had the same look on her face as somebody walking their last steps toward their execution. Dear Lord, she's been struck by lightning again.

Holly stopped chewing long enough to give Teddy a smile as she walked through the door. A few steps in, she closed her eyes to calm her nerves, then opened them again, when she heard the door shut behind her. One deep breath, for good luck, and all her dread got derailed. "Teddy, why is there a bed in your office?" She asked with a frown and a point at the metal framed twin bed, wedged lengthwise in between two filing cabinets up against the wall that just happened to catch her eye.

On her way to the other side of the desk, Teddy gave the bed a glance. "It's for the crew. Since they're on their feet all day, I give them some place to take a load off on their breaks and catch a snooze, if they're pulling a double or somethin'."

Holly bobbed her head in approval. "Oh."

While Holly stared at the bed, Teddy sat down in her chair and leaned way back, swinging one foot, then the other, onto the corner of the desk. When she got comfortable for the long haul she expected was coming, she cleared her throat to catch Holly's attention. "Holly?"

Off in la la land somewhere, Holly's head snapped back in Teddy's direction. "What?"

"You can sit down, ya know. Ya don't' have to stand there." She said, indicating the two chairs in front of the desk.

"Oh, uh . . . I think I'd rather stand." She decided, which was a good move, because it's hard to pace in a chair.

Geez o' Peter, Paul and a Mars bar. She's more fidgety than the other night. "Holly, ya know you can tell me anything, right?" Teddy asked, trying not to sound too pushy.

"I know. It isn't that." Giving up on her thumbnail, Holly started rubbing her forehead as she walked back and forth in front of the desk. "It's complicated to explain."

"Yea, I'm kinda getting that." Teddy sighed heavily. "You mentioned Jenn. What about her? Has she said something to upset ya? Something about me?"

"No, she hasn't said anything about you. Well, other than the usual list of complaints." Smiling despite herself, Holly shook her head. "I don't know, Teddy. I know I shouldn't be, but I guess I'm jealous of her . . . of what she had with you . . . that she knew you before me. I mean, I know you said you never really cared for her, but you two have a history together. You went to school together. You know things about her that I'll probably never know and she knows things about you that I don't know . . . that I want to know."

"Yea, Jenn and I have known each other a long time." Teddy gave her hands a thoughtful gaze. "I suppose that's the only reason why we still get along at all," she said, looking up again, "but that's just memories, Holly. Trust me. You're not missing much, by me not being able to replay my life for ya and you already know things about me Jenn never will."

"I know, Teddy." Holly smiled and walked around the office to plop down on the edge of the bed. "What we have is different, but that's not everything I was talking about when I said she knew you. I mean she knew you, in the biblical sense and that she was probably . . . I mean, I'm assuming . . . I don't want to know the sordid details . . . or maybe I do . . . hell, I don't know . . . I mean, I would think Jennifer was . . . God, I can't believe I'm going to say this . . ."

The biblical sense gave it away, so Teddy came to Holly's rescue. "Good in bed?" She asked, the corners of her mouth curling up into a smile.

Holly slumped forward till her head hit her knees. "Something like that."

Teddy couldn't help, but chuckle just a little. "Minus the sordid details, the answer would be yes, although I have no idea what difference that makes. She's not getting anywhere near my house, let alone my bed."

"I know, but it isn't just Jennifer." Holly sighed and lifted her head, though she didn't sit up. "I mean, she isn't the only woman you've slept with. Is she?"

Tell me she isn't gonna want names. Teddy groaned mentally. "No. Jenn isn't the only one and she wasn't the first, either. If that makes ya feel any better."

"A little, I guess." Holly shrugged. Raising up, she rested her elbows on her knees. "And she didn't have any complaints about you either, did she? I mean . . . you know . . . in bed?"

"Not that I'm trying to toot my own horn or anything, but not as I recall, no." Teddy leaned to her left, propping her elbow on the arm of the chair, so she could rest her confused head in her hand.

"I was afraid of that." Holly sighed to herself.

Teddy's head popped up with a frown on it "Come again?"

"No, no. That's not what I meant." Waving her hands around, Holly closed her eyes to collect her thoughts. "I want you to be good in bed. I do and I'm sure I won't have any complaints, either." Opening her eyes, she let out a long sigh as she sat up. "I just don't know if you will . . . about me . . . I mean."

"Ya just lost me." Teddy shook her head.

"Teddy, look." Up came Holly off the bed and back she went to pacing. "I'm not going to be the first woman that you've slept with, when we . . . you know, and I don't have a problem with that. You're not the first person I've slept with, either, but I've never slept with another woman before."

Teddy still didn't get it. "Would it help if I told ya I've slept with a man before?"

"No, that . . . what?" Doing a double take, Holly backed up a few paces to stare at Teddy directly over the desk and standing still. "You've slept with a man? I thought you said you've always been gay?"

"I have." She smiled. "Call it an experimental phase. I got over it."

Holly gave her a suspicious, sideways glance. "This is something I really don't want to know about, isn't it?" She asked hesitantly.

"Kinda sorta." Teddy nodded.

"Does it have anything to do with Jennifer?" She asked, letting her jealousy show a smidgen.

"Nope." She said quickly and with conviction.

"Hmmmm." Sounding slightly doubtful, Holly let the matter drop. "Okay . . . uh. Anyway, no. Your sleeping with a man doesn't help. It would help if you were a man, then I wouldn't have a problem."

"What?" Teddy's eyebrows shot up. "You want me to be a man?"

"No, I do not want you to be a man." Holly cringed. "God, none of this is coming out right." Clasping her hand over her eyes, she took a deep cleansing breath. "Okay, okay, okay. I can do this. I don't know if I can do the other, but I can do this."

She hasn't been struck by lightning. She's just plumb crazy. That's all there is to it. Teddy thought, while Holly tried to straighten out her own.

A couple more deep breaths and Holly was ready to give it another shot. Dropping her hand away from her eyes, she opened them. "This time, don't talk. Just listen. Okay?"

Teddy didn't think it was going to help much, but she agreed. "Okay."

"Okay." Holly's cheeks puffed outward as she let go what she hoped would be her last sigh of the day. "Do you remember the other night, when I came out to see you, to ask you if I was gay?"

Looking left, then right, then back at Holly, Teddy sucked in her lips and nodded.

Here goes nothing. "Okay, that night, you told me why you didn't want us to make love until I could give you a whole weekend. I didn't like the idea of having to wait, but after you told me what you had in mind, I agreed. So far, so good, but I really didn't give it much thought." Holly saw Teddy frown and she rolled her eyes, in turn. "That's not what I meant. I thought about it. That's about all I thought about, but it wasn't really real to me. The way you described it was kind of like a dream and that's how it was in my mind. There were only images and emotions, but no details. Then it hit me the other day . . ."

I knew it. She was struck by lightning again. Just, please, don't tell me you've changed your mind.

". . . I've never made love to another woman before." Holly started pacing again, as she continued. "I've never even thought about it before you and then it hit me again. My God. What am I going to do? You've got this whole big romantic thing planned out . . . for me and you . . . and it sounds so perfect . . . and I want it to be special for both of us . . . and you're used to women who know what they're doing . . . and I don't. Then, I guess I've just been in panic mode, because I don't want our first time to be a let down for you, Teddy. Then, I looked at Jennifer and . . . I don't know." Rolling her eyes, she shook her head. "I guess I got a little jealous because she knows how to make love to you and I don't . . . and she already knows what it's like to be with you. . . and . . . I guess I wish you'd met me first." Fairly spent, Holly found her way back to the bed and sat down. "Pretty stupid, huh?"

Teddy didn't say anything, at first. She slid her feet off the corner of the desk, stood up, walked the long way around the desk to the door, locked it, then she walked over to Holly and knelt down in front of her. Eye to eye with a sad looking pair of emeralds, she watched them sparkle for a long moment, before she spoke. "Holly, do you really think all I care about is getting my buttons pushed between the sheets?"

"No." Came yet another sigh from Holly. "But this is different, Teddy. Making love for the first time is something you only get to do once and I know you have to have some kind of expectations. I know I do and I want to make it as special for you, as I know it's going to be for me. You shouldn't have to do everything, while I just lay there like a dead fish."

This time it was Teddy's turn to sigh. "Holly."

"No, I'm serious." Lifting her hand, Holly slid her fingers around the back of Teddy's neck. "I know you'd be happy with doing it all, because that's just the way you are, but that wouldn't be fair to you and I want to push your buttons, Teddy. I want to take you every place you take me, because that's what making love is. It isn't one sided. It's two people sharing their bodies, their love and their souls. That's what I want our first time to be. I want to be right there with you, giving you everything I've got, until there isn't anything left and start all over again." She said, using a poor excuse for a southern accent to go with a knowing smile.

It wasn't very often that Teddy got her own words thrown back at her and she liked it about as much as being one step behind, which became evident when she stuck out her tongue. "Smarty britches."

Holly wrinkled her nose and brought her other hand up to join the one behind Teddy's neck. "So, how do I learn to push your buttons?"

"Ya, know you're making this out to be a bigger deal than it really is, don't ya?" Teddy shook her head.

"You don't think the first time we make love should be a big deal?" Frowning with the question.

"That's not what I said." Teddy corrected. "It's gonna be a real big deal to me, but I'm not talking about our first time making love. I'm talking about making love, period."

Holly frowned a little harder. "What do you mean?"

"Holly, since when does making love have any rules of the road to go by?" She asked as one long sigh.

One blonde eyebrow went up. "Well . . ."

Teddy shook her head again. "You just said it yourself. Making love is two people sharing their bodies, their love and their souls. You tell me how you expect some video, or book, or somebody to teach you how to do that?"

Chalking up another sigh, Holly's shoulders slumped after she shrugged them. "But still, I want . . ."

"I know what you want, Holly and I appreciate the thought. I really do, but you're working yourself up over nothing. Making love is going with the flow, going with what feels good, with what feels right at the time and nothing can teach ya what that's gonna be. Ya make it up as ya go along." Teddy explained gently.

"I know that, but . . ." She tried again.

"Okay, okay, okay." Teddy cut in. "I tell ya what."

"What?" Holly asked dejectedly.

Teddy put her hands on either side of Holly's butt and gave the mattress a springiness test. "This thing hasn't been broken in, yet. Why don't we have a little necking session and if you suck at it? I'll give ya a few pointers."

"Tell me you're kidding me." Holly insisted incredulously.

"Nope." Teddy flicked her eyebrows.

"Teddy, that is not what I had in mind." Holly insisted incredulously.

"I don't see why not? I think we've earned it. All we've racked up so far is a couple of kisses, here and there, and a couple rounds of grab ass when nobody was looking." Doing another spring test, Teddy smiled. "What do ya say?"

"Teddy, we're filthy." Holly pointed out, glancing down at her dirty clothes.

"Two filthies make one clean and I'll throw the sheets in the washing machine, when I get home."

"Teddy . . ." Holly began to protest, but she was interrupted again, this time by a pair of warm lips kissing their way up the side of her neck.

"Awww, come on." She murmured in a tasty looking ear. "Personal instruction beats a ratty video any old day and ya know what they say."

Holly closed her eyes. "Let me guess? Practice makes perfect."

"Seeeee, you're learnin' already. You'll be pushin' buttons in no time."

"Oh, you . . ." Was all Holly managed to get out before her lips became otherwise occupied by Teddy's.


"Theodora, what have you done to yourself?" Rolando sighed.

Teddy squinted, winced and gingerly fingered the bandage over her right eye. "Somebody put a door in when I wasn't looking." Which was a lie. What really happened was that the necking session had been cut short when she'd tried to give Holly a hickey and hit her head on a corner of the metal bed frame, en route to getting thrown off the bed. She wasn't going to tell him that, though, because that would only get her a lengthy lecture on something or another and, with a headache to go on top of the gash in her forehead, she wasn't in the mood for a lecture, among other things.

Rolando didn't believe the line, of course. He was too well skilled in the art of deception to be so easily fooled, but, by the dour expression on Teddy's face, which matched the sad looking one on Holly's, he thought better of pressing the subject at present. "I see," he nodded instead, "and are you in need of further medical assistance?"

"No, I'm alright." Tossing a thumb in Holly's direction, Teddy shook her head. "Nurse Ratchet, here, took care of it."

"And it isn't as bad as it looks." Holly added with a smile. "The door, on the other hand . . ."

"Watch it." Warned the brunette with the bump on her noggin.

"So, can I presume that this concludes your activities for the day?" Rolando broke in, giving both women a disapproving stare.

Sticking out her tongue at Teddy, Holly turned to give her night manager another smile. "Yes, we're done. We just stopped by to let you know we're leaving."

"Very well, then, and what time should I have the refreshments ready in the morning?" He asked, picking up a pen off the counter.

"I don't know about Miss Thang, but I'm not gonna be in here at the crack of dawn, busting my butt to put that arbor up. You can just kiss that idea goodbye, right now." Teddy grumbled.

Hands on hips, Holly faced the walking wounded. "Nobody asked you to come in at the crack of dawn, thank you, very much."

"That's what it sounded like to me, or was is my head just ringin' from the last time you cracked that whip?" She asked, wiggling one finger in her ear.

"If your head is ringing? It's from all the marbles you knocked loose, when you hit your head." Holly thumped the pate in question.

"OW!" Frowning for all she was worth, Teddy bent down to snarl at her boss eye to eye.

"Ladies, please?" Back to sighing, Rolando shook his head as he came around the counter. "We've already had one incident, this evening, and I would like to avoid any further altercations, if you don't mind?"

"Incident?" Holly glanced at Rolando.

Doing the same, Teddy stood up straight. "What altercation?"

"The one between Ms. Montgomery and Mr. Payne." He explained.

"Jenn and Bruce?" Scratching her head, for a second. Then a low chuckle started to work its way up, as Teddy put two and two together, and came up with Bruce being a lot faster than he looked. "I don't believe it. He caught her."

All Holly could do was hang her head. "Oh, dear God."

"Yes, those were my sentiments, as well." He nodded in sad agreement. "It was quite an ugly scene, I'm afraid."

"I can imagine." Holly groaned.

"Forget that." Teddy laughed. "We can get the blow by blow tomorrow. I just wanna know if he got the picture?"

Rolando held out his hands. "I cannot be sure. I saw several flashes go off, but the last time I saw the camera, Jennifer was running over it with her car."

"Oh, man!" The brunette threw her hands in the air in disgust.

Letting out a silent thank you, Holly raised her head and moved on to the next pertinent question. "She didn't run over Bruce, did she?"

"No, though it certainly wasn't for a lack of trying." This time, even Rolando smiled.

"Although, the only reason Jennifer tried to run over him with her car was because she couldn't catch him on foot. He's amazingly spry, for a man his size. I was quite surprised."

"Wow. He out ran Jenn on the war path. Now that's somethin' I wish I had on film." Teddy smiled in appreciation.

"Yes, well, he wouldn't have been running for his life, if you hadn't sent him on that wild goose chase, in the first place." Coming back to her managerial self, Holly poked a finger at the instigator of the scene.

"Awwwwe, come on, Holly. Nobody got hurt . . . well, except for the camera, and I bet Bruce was loving every minute of it." Teddy defended herself.

"Be that as it may. No more stirring up trouble for you. I've got enough headaches around here, as it is, without you throwing your two cents in." She said, giving Teddy another poke.

"I'm afraid I must agree with Holly, Theodora." Rolando chimed in. "As managers, we must try to set a better example."

Teddy's response to the reproach was a big fat raspberry. "Phttt."

"Teddy." Holly sighed.

"Oh, don't Teddy me." She shook a finger at the blonde. "If you'd been here? You woulda been cheering Bruce on, like I don't know what. So, y'all two can just save that high and mighty stuff, cause if I wasn't here? You'd be bored outta your minds and ya know it." Straightening to her full height, Teddy folded her arms across her chest with a snort. "Now, what ya got to say about that?"

Sighing heavily, Holly lolled her head to the left to give Rolando an imploring 'what am I going to do with her' stare. "Now what?"

"Hmmm." Rolando smiled and looked from Holly to Teddy, then back again. "As I see it, there are three choices. One, you can fire her."

"Yea, right." Teddy rolled her eyes.

"Two, you can give her a written reprimand, which will no doubt do little good to remedy the situation." He suggested.

"That's right. Keep going." Rolling her hand, instead of her eyes.

"Three, you could tattle on her bad behavior to her father." Rolando smiled a hair wickedly as he waited for the third suggestion to register.

Ready to be unmoved again, Teddy opened her mouth to rebuff the idea, then she got a little wide around the eyes. "Daddy?"

Holly wasn't sure if she was more surprised by the suggestion or Teddy's reaction to it, but, either way, it did make for an interesting turn of events. "Call her father, huh? Now, why didn't I think of that?" She asked, tapping her chin thoughtfully.

"Because it's cheating." Teddy demanded.

"All is fair in love and war." She smiled sadly, then turned to wrap her arms around Rolando's one. "So, tell me. You wouldn't happen to have his number handy, would you?"

"Of course. I'd be happy to . . . "

"Oh, no you don't." Leaping into action, Teddy unwrapped Holly's arms from behind and spun her around to put herself between the two conspirators. "You get away from him and you," she glared at Rolando over her shoulder, "you just keep your bright ideas to yourself, from now on."

"But, I like his ideas." Holly chuckled as she was unceremoniously hustled toward the nearest exit.

"Not if ya know what's good for ya. Now, git out that door."

"What was your father's first name, again?"

"Don't make me have to hurt you."


Once given the key to keeping Teddy in line, it only took a couple of minutes of being chased around the parking lot by the long-legged brunette to convince Holly that using Teddy's father as leverage was not the way to go, unless she planned on joining the witness protection program. Then, when she was captured, it only took another couple of minutes of being tickled senseless for Holly to swear that all parents were strictly off limits, at which time she was released to catch her breath, before following her tormentor home for some rest and relaxation, with a little manual labor thrown in on the side. Unfortunately, it appeared the latter was to come before the former, when Holly walked around the aquarium, ready to start the relaxation process with a nice hot shower, and found a huge pile of rocks blocking the entrance to the bathroom. Well, needless to say, that, after already putting in a full day's work at her normally hectic job and helping with the drilling operation, the thought of spending the rest of her Friday night busting her butt hauling the rocks into the attic did not make Holly a happy camper and she stated this fact, in no uncertain terms. "I know you don't expect to get those into the attic tonight."

This caused Teddy a moment of concern, because she didn't plan on getting the rocks into the attic. What she really wanted was to get them into the aquarium. However, since the rocks were already there, there was no way of getting around them, literally, and she couldn't very well say she hadn't planned on doing something with them. "Well, now, ya see. I had this thought . . ."

Dropping her gym bag, Holly folded her arms across her chest. "Think again."

Teddy never missed a beat. ". . . that, if we went ahead and got those rocks into the tank . . ."

"Into the tank!" Green eyes went wide and Holly slowly unfolded her arms, to put her hands on her hips, as she headed menacingly for the brunette.

". . . when we got back from putting up the arbor, tomorrow," she said, retreating around the couch, "we'd be free and clear to kick back, until Sunday afternoon. Now, doesn't that sound like a good idea?"

Holly's reply was an arched eyebrow and her continued pursuit.

"Come on, Holly. Just think about it." Holding up her hands, Teddy slowed to a stop at the far end of the couch, by the bar. "What's a couple of hours work, if it'll get us some extra cozy time?"

"A couple of hours work? You've got to be kidding me." Holly scoffed, as she pulled up to stand toe to toe with Teddy. Raising one arm, she pointed accusingly at the helpless aquarium. "It's going to take us all night to get those rocks in there."

"No, it won't." Teddy waved off the notion.

"Teddy, I designed the winch system. I know how long it will take." She said, lowering her arm to put her hand back on her hip.

"No, ya don't, because I changed the design." Teddy said with a smile.

Holly's eyebrows knitted together. "You did what?"

"I changed it." She said, flicking her dark eyebrows.

"What do you mean, you changed it?" Holly asked, her eyes narrowing to slits.

"Whoa, now. Don't go getting pissy on me." Teddy held up her hands. "I didn't do anything major, I swear, and I think you're gonna like it."

Growling under her breath, Holly's upper lip started to twitch. "What did you do?"

Keeping her hands up, Teddy couldn't help but smile, just a little. "I mounted the winch on a boom."

"A boom?" Holly's upper lip stopped twitching. "There's no boom in the attic."

"There is now. I rigged it up yesterday." Smiling a little more, Teddy turned her head sideways and nodded in the direction of the closet. "Wanna see?"

As Teddy began to back up, Holly's curiosity lured her forward. "Where did you get a boom?"

"I made it a long time ago. It's the one I use to haul stuff up the stairs, outside." Teddy explained. "It was kinda tough gettin' it up there, though. I had to take it apart and haul it up in pieces with the winch, then put it back together again."

"Hmm." Holly nodded absently, her architectural mind a whirl. "How did you support the pivot point?"

At the closet, Teddy opened the door and continued the explanation as she went up the ladder. "I thought about using a cross beam set-up, between the rafters . . ."

"No, no, no." Staring up at Teddy's feet, she shook her head. "A single a-frame can't take that kind of isolated torque."

Teddy rolled her eyes as she stepped off onto the attic floor. "Well, I guess it's a good thing I didn't have enough lumber to do it that way, now, isn't it?"

"Very." She agreed heartily and up the ladder she went. "The first time you tried to lift anything heavy, you would have ripped two holes in the side of the roof, if you didn't collapse it completely."

Kneeling down, Teddy put her hand on Holly's head, to keep it below the level of the floor. "Alright, Miss Know-It-All, and what kinda support would you use?"

Holly sent her own emeralds for a spin with an exasperated sigh. "That depends. How long is the boom and does it have a single or double hinge?"

"Eight feet and two." She said, freeing the blonde to ponder.

"Okay." Taking a deep breath, she thought for a moment. "For an eight foot boom, with a double hinge? You'd have to use a single vertical support, probably a couple of 4x4's back to back would do . . . or maybe four bolted together, depending on how wide the mounting plates are . . . and depending on the distance between the plates . . . with one end bracketed securely to the floor, the other end would have to be attached to the apex of the roof, to adequately distribute the torque pressure . . . and taking into consideration the height and pitch of the roof . . . you'd have to mount the boom no higher than two-thirds of the way up, to get the clearance to swing it from here to the tank." Done with the assessment, she looked up expectantly. "Well?"

Teddy just smiled, albeit ever so smugly.

It took a second, then Holly's shoulders sagged as a 'I can't believe it' smirk crossed her face. "Did I leave anything out?"

Chuckling, Teddy stood up. "Not really. The 4x4's weren't long enough to reach the top of the roof; so I had to put in a couple of cross beams to brace it on."

"Front or back?" She asked as she started up.

"Take a look for yourself." Teddy offered, along with a helping hand.

Holly accepted both and, as she stepped off the ladder, she was promptly and somewhat unceremoniously turned in the direction of the support structure in question. "Thanks. I don't think I could have found it on my own." She drolled over her shoulder.

"Anytime. Now, go on. I know you're just dyin' to give it your seal of approval." She said and sent Holly off to do her inspection with little two-handed push to the posterior.

The glance over the shoulder drifted downward. "Watch where you're putting those. I'm delicate."

"Sure, ya are." Teddy nodded obligingly, then shook her head as Holly walked off and she noticed a little extra swish in her sway. My, my, my. She thought with a sigh. This sure is gonna be one loooong weekend.


Holly gave her approval of the support structure and design modification after fifteen minutes of thorough inspection and a demonstration as to how the system now worked, which, she had to admit, was quite ingenious. With a few simple changes, Teddy had virtually taken all the labor out of moving the rocks by adding the boom and substituting Holly's heavy duty wire basket for a large, loose hanging chain net that could be unhooked on one side, once the rocks were down in the tank and the tension was off the cables. Then, all the person at the top had to do was bring the net back up, via the electric winch, and the rocks would simply roll off the net as it went up. The cables would then be reattached, when it was back in the attic. The boom would be swung around to the closet opening, where the net would be lowered for reloading. Viola! Or, damn, depending on who got the easy job of running the winch and who got the back breaking job of carrying the rocks from the bathroom entrance into the closet.

Not surprisingly, this is where things got complicated, but not for the reasons one might think. For, no sooner than the question of who would do what job was raised, the two women found they were in total agreement on the matter. Holly wanted the loading job and Teddy wanted the winch job. What threw a wrench in the gears was the reason behind each woman's respective choice. Holly's was apparent from the get go. She wanted the loading job so she could be duly compensated for the extra effort she was going to have put forth. Again, Teddy didn't have a problem with that, until it became obvious that everything Holly wanted had them getting naked, for one reason or another. Even that wouldn't have bothered Teddy, if she'd had any faith in Holly's ability to keep her hands to herself, which she didn't. Luckily for Holly, her lusty demands weren't destined to get her banished to the attic for the duration, because, as it turned out and what Holly didn't know was, she wasn't the only one with ulterior motives. Teddy was up to something, too. It just so happened that that something included giving Holly what she wanted. Well, the loading job, anyway. This isn't to say Teddy was being selfish. Snagging the easier job for herself was only part of what Teddy had in mind, the rest of which was no less sneaky, but was sure to more than make up for all of Holly's hard work. The thing was, though, for Teddy's plan to work out like she wanted it to, Holly couldn't find out about it and that's where it got interesting. Because, on the one hand, Holly was playing right into Teddy's hands, by wanting the loading job, but, on the other, Teddy had to play it like she wasn't going to let Holly have the loading job, to keep her from getting suspicious. Good thing for Teddy, the years she'd spent tending bar made her an expert at handling just this kind of situation. Holly wasn't the first person to try and finagle her into taking her clothes off and she probably wasn't going to be the last. The difference was, Teddy couldn't just ignore her and she couldn't very well throw Holly out of the house. That would be defeating the purpose, but that didn't mean Teddy was necessarily out of options. Nope. The key to being a good bartender was being able to read your customers and knowing how to improvise. Translated, all she had to do was use Holly's stubbornness against her by making a big show of saying no long enough, so when Teddy finally gave in, Holly would think she was getting a mile when she was really only getting an inch.

So, after holding out for as long as possible, Teddy realized Holly was on the verge of making her rock bottom offer, no pun intended, and she held up her hands to bring the deliberation to a halt. "Look, I'm tired of arguing with ya. If a massage ain't good enough? I'll just do the whole damned thing myself."

"Wait, wait, wait." Holly said, rushing to put herself between the pile and Teddy. "How about a shower? One time, you and me. That's it . . . and the massage. I'm going to need that."

Teddy sighed, rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. "A shower, huh?"

Holly nodded hopefully.

"Hmmm, no hanky panky? You gonna keep your hands to yourself?" She asked doubtfully.

Holly put her hands behind her back and crossed her fingers. "Promise."

"You wanna uncross your fingers and say that?" Teddy smiled.

"Oh, alright." Holly griped. "No hanky panky in the shower. I swear." She said, holding out her hands.

"How about your toes? Ya got them crossed? Take your shoes off and lemme look." Giving Holly's shoes a suspicious glance.

"I am not taking off my shoes. You're just going to have to take my word for it."

"Ummm, I don't know?"


Okay, so it was an inch and a half.


Holly didn't know how long she'd been laying on the floor, when Teddy came into view, or that it even was the floor she was laying on. Her body was so numb, she could have been laying on a bed of nails and she wouldn't have known the difference, but she thought it must have been the floor, because she didn't remember moving and it couldn't have been that long, because she was still sweating . . . profusely. "Last one." She panted.

"Yea, I kinda figured that out." Teddy smiled as she went down on one knee. "Looks like that last one about got ya, too, didn't it?"

"No. No, problem. I'm fine." She lied on both accounts.

Teddy chuckled and folded her forearms across her knee. "Sure?"

"Um hmm." Holly managed a fairly confidant nod.

"Okay." Shrugging, Teddy uncrossed her arms, she stood up and started to pull off her t-shirt as she stepped over Holly.

"Where are you going?" She asked, rolling her head back to follow Teddy with her eyes.

"To take a shower." Teddy called from the bathroom. "You comin'?"

Suddenly panic stricken, Holly lifted her head and looked wide-eyed down at her immobile body. "Don't just lay there. Dosomething."

Safely out of sight, Teddy put her t-shirt back on as she silently chuckled her way to the shower. Turning on the cold water, she walked back to the doorway for a listen.

"Come on. You were working five minutes ago. Errrr. Umph. Owowowow. Errrr. Umph. Owowowow. Errr. Umph. Owowowow. I don't believe this."

With that, Teddy couldn't take it anymore. She just had to see what was going on and she stuck her head out for a peek. Hanging her head the instant she did, she shook it as she came out of the bathroom to stand at Holly's head, which was now face down on the floor. "How's it comin'?"

"Fine, fine." Holly mumbled into the floor. "Be there in a minute."

Teddy let out a 'what am I going to do with you' sigh. "Ya, know? That stubbornness is gonna get ya into trouble, one of these days."

"I'm not stubborn." Flopping her head to the side, Holly glared at the wall. "I'm defiantly determined."

Smiling, Teddy nudged Holly's shoulder with her foot. "Yea, well, ya look about dead, to me."

"I'm conserving my energy." She said haughtily and tried to bite Teddy's shoe.

"Oh, is that what ya call it?" Teddy chuckled, moving her foot out of range.

"Yes," Holly wiggled her fingers, "now go away."

Rolling her eyes, Teddy turned around and went back into the bathroom to shut the water off. Grumbling something about hard-headed women, she picked up some clean towels on the way out of the bath room. Then, it was over Holly, into the living room to spread the towels out on the couch. When Teddy had it covered from end to end, she went back for Holly.

"What are you doing." Holly protested as she was rolled onto her back.

"Helpin' with the conservation effort." Teddy informed her. Sliding one arm under Holly's shoulders and the other under her knees, she stood up, bringing the irritated blonde with her.

"I told you, I'm fine." She insisted, though her attempt to squirm free was as effective as a wet noodle.

"Just hush." Doing some insisting of her own, Teddy rounded the coffee table and bent down, laying Holly on top of the towels. "There."

Flat on her back and thoroughly disgusted, Holly glared for all she was worth. "Happy now?"

Teddy tilted her head to one side. "Ummmm, not quite. Hang on." Waving her hand, she took off for the bedroom.

"Good grief, what's next? A motorized wheelchair?" Holly asked the ceiling in general. Just a couple of moments later, her question was answered, when Teddy reappeared with a pillow. "Good, I was looking for something to smother you with."

Unimpressed, but cautious, Teddy narrowly avoided getting her hands bitten as she maneuvered Holly to the end of the couch and propped her up in a sitting position with the pillow as a back rest. "That's better." She said, admiring her handiwork.

"Great. Now, what?" Holly droned. "I'm just supposed to sit here watching my toe nails grow?"

"Let me put it to ya this way." Teddy smiled. "After I get dinner ready and eat, I'm goin' to take a shower and goin' to bed, with or without ya. So, if ya don't wanna sleep out here all filthy? I'd get to work on getting that body movin' before rigamortis sets in." And with that, she headed for the kitchen.

"Wait a minute." Holly tried to hold up her hand. "That's what the massage was supposed to be for."

"Huh! I'm not puttin' my hands on that filthy body of your's." Teddy called over her shoulder.

"Why not? You're just as dirty as I am." She pointed out, lifting one dirty digit.

Teddy stopped and spun around. "Because the only place I've got to give ya a massage is on the bed, and you're not gettin' anywhere near it, without takin' a shower, first. Unless ya wanna go back on the floor?"

Holly glanced around her. "Why can't you just put towels on the bed, like you did with the couch?"

Taking a few steps in Holly's direction, Teddy put her hands on her hips. "Look, I am not havin' your nasty, sweaty, stinky ass on my bed and that's all there is to it. Now, I'll be more than happy to take ya outside and hose ya down."

"I'd rather smell, thank you." Adding indignant to disgusted, Holly found the aquarium interesting to look at.

"Yea, well. You better hope ya don't get too ripe, or else I'm puttin' ya outside, anyway." She warned as she turned for the kitchen, smiling all the way. Yep, I got her right where I want her, now.

"Oh, sure." Holly grumbled. "It's two filthies make one clean, when it suits what she wants, but I ask for a little help and all of a sudden I'm too nasty to touch. Well, be that way, then. If I'm too nasty to touch? Then I'm too nasty to help spread those rocks around. They can stay messed up, for all I care."

"Ranch, Italian or blue cheese?" Teddy asked, holding up three bottles she'd just pulled out of the fridge.

"Vinaigrette." The grumbling paused, but it wasn't meant to last. "It's not like the fish are going to care, either."

"Vinaigrette." Teddy sighed and looked at the bottles. "I wonder if that tastes anything like Italian with a splash of vinegar in it?"

"They don't know the difference between a natural rock formation and a pile of rubble. Fish are stupid. Add a couple of broken pillars and they'd probably think they'd been plunked down in some sunken city, or something." As a thought began to form, Holly turned her head around 180 degrees, toward the dining room, where two halves of a stone column were stuck to either side of the doorway for decoration. "Hmmmm. She has more of those, somewhere." She thought aloud, then caught herself. "Just stop right there. You alrealy had one bright idea, tonight, and look where it got you. Those fish will just have to live with whatever arrangement Teddy comes up with, because she's not getting anymore help from me. End of story." Nodding in self agreement, Holly turned her head one more time, shunning the columns and refused to let herself think about anything remotely associated with helping Teddy with the aquarium. "I can't believe that mess. All she had to do was move the boom around a little . . ."

To be continued.

Thanks for reading.



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