As promised my mother came home at lunchtime to make sure that Renee and I were all right. Not long after she arrived my dad pulled up in the driveway as well. He'd gotten a call from mom and wanted to assure himself that both of us were fine. He gently undid the bandage Nurse Jenkins had put on me, lifted the gauze pad and decided that the nurse's work had been fine. He then re-bandaged my arm, thankfully adding some antibiotic cream with a mild anesthetic in it, before grabbing a bite to eat and then rushing back to the office for his afternoon appointments.

"I've asked Jean to stay with you the rest of the day and drive you to your appointment later this afternoon," my mom said as she started getting her own things together. "She's not here to babysit, I would just prefer that you have someone here with you in case you need something," she offered as she looked at the two of us.

"I appreciate that Angelina," Renee said with a glance at Mrs. Harris who just smiled back at her. "I…I think it would make me feel better anyway, and I'm pretty sure Mrs. Harris and we will find plenty of things to talk about."

"Just don't go giving them sex tips, Jean," my mom told the older woman with a shaking finger that Mrs. Harris just laughed at.

"Who else is going to teach them? You Angie?" she giggled.

I swear I'd never seen my mom blush so red in my entire life. "H-half the fun is figuring it out on your own," she sputtered before rushing out the door with our laughter following her.

"I have to agree with you mother," Mrs. Harris chuckled, "but if either of you has any questions I don't mind trying to answer them."

Renee and I looked at each other and giggled. "I think we'll try Angelina's way first," Renee laughed shyly.

I couldn't agree more.

We did talk to Mrs. Harris for a couple more hours, mostly about Mrs. Murphy and what it was like growing up lesbian in the latter half of the twentieth century. I would have said it was hard to believe all the hardships and hatred the two of them had to endure, but then I remembered the story about Ashlyn Conner being pushed down the stairs at school a couple of years back while we were still in middle school. Gretchen and Cindy had told us the complete story, at least as much as they knew, although we'd heard little snippets of it before. That incident seemed to be one of the turning points for the acceptance of gays in our school.

Shortly after the time school would normally have let out we had to get going to the hospital and Renee's appointment with Jessie Thompson, her psychiatrist. Mrs. Harris drove us and promised to stay downstairs in the hospital's cafeteria while she waited for us to finish. The two of us sat in the doctor's waiting room, quietly holding hands. Renee was a bit fidgety today, much more so than the last time we'd been here.

"You okay?" I asked in a whisper.

"Yes, just a bit nervous," she replied with a shy smile. She lifted up our two hands a couple of inches. "A lot has happened since the last time I saw Jessie," she grinned sheepishly.

"You're going to tell her about us?" I asked in surprise.

"Why not? You're a large part of my life now…maybe the largest."

I felt the grin growing on my face and was about to respond but the receptionist's intercom buzzed indicating that the psychiatrist's last patient had left through the back door to the office and she was now ready for Renee. My girlfriend stood, seemingly reluctant to let go of my hand. I can't say that I was overly looking forward to the loss of her warmth myself.

The receptionist put down the phone. "She's ready for you now."

"Will you come with me?" Renee asked in a quiet, needy voice. "I…I'd like to have you with me for this session."

"Sure love," I smiled up at her and stood. Together we walked over to the door, knocked politely, and then opened the door when we heard a voice telling us to come in.

"Well hello girls," Jessie grinned at us as she got up from behind her desk. I saw her questioning eyes travel to our joined hands and she smiled and nodded to herself. "I see the two of you have both realized the feelings that you have for each other. Good," she chuckled. "I was hoping it would happen sooner rather than later."

"You knew!" I gasped as Renee's jaw dropped open.

Jessie laughed. "I'd like to say that it takes years and years of special schooling and proper training to be able to tell these types of things…but I'd be lying. I could tell from the moment I met you both in Renee's hospital room. Renee here," she walked over and ran a gentle hand down my girlfriend's cheek, "was a bit more in denial than you were, Marie, but I knew she'd eventually admit it to herself. You two just go so well together."

"You're not going to try to tell us it's some kind of mental disorder are you?" I asked with a hint of skepticism in my voice.

"No, I don't adhere to the theory that homosexuality is some kind of psychological disease nor do I give in to the psycho-social mores of society. I've always been a firm believer that the heart knows who it wants, and gender doesn't factor into that equation."

I could feel Renee relax where she stood beside me. Then she tensed up again and I started to get worried.

"Why don't the two of you sit together on the couch," the older woman told us with a slightly concerned look at Renee.

"I," Renee started to say as we took a seat on the comfortable sofa, "I…" she squeezed my hand tightly and took a deep breath, "I asked Marie to come in with me to kind of act as my strength. I'm getting a bit stronger, and the meds you prescribed are helping, but…" she trailed off.

"Have the nightmares gone away?"

My love shook her head.

"Have there been any other issues?"

"I had a kind of panic attack the first day of school. It's the first one I've had, and I didn't have one yesterday or today…so far."

"I can increase your Zoloft, or I can prescribe you an anti-anxiety medication."

"No!" Renee exclaimed quietly. "I mean, I don't want to take too much if I don't have to. I don't really like taking the anti-depressant, but I realize I need it. At least for now."

"You know how she feels about drugs," I said quietly into the silence that followed.

"I do," Jessie smiled, "but medicines, when properly prescribed and taken as directed, will help you get better when you're ill." She turned back to Renee, "Let's stay where we are for now and see how things go then. Just remember that strength comes in many guises. Don't believe that it all has to come from within."

"That's what I tried to tell her," I grinned and Renee at least had the good grace to nod her head in agreement. She squeezed my hand again.

"It's her strength that is going to allow me to do what I need to do today," she spoke softly. "I'd like to tell you…about that night."

"All right," Jessie looked a bit surprised for just a second, then glanced over at me. I nodded, indicating that yes, she had already told me about the attack. I transferred Renee's right hand to my own right and then put my left arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She laid her head on my shoulder and then closed her eyes.

-oo-

Later that night, after a quiet dinner with the folks and an hour or so of television that we didn't really pay any attention to, Renee and I made our way to bed. My mom had been as good as her word and hadn't forbade us sleeping together after we'd become girlfriends. Just because our relationship had changed didn't mean that Renee's nightmares had suddenly disappeared, and after our session with Jessie this afternoon I wasn't going to let her out of my sight. I had a feeling it was going to be a bad night.

The whimpering started up around two in the morning. I was attuned to just about every sound that she could make and I knew that this was the start of the nightmare. Instead of waking her this time, however, I decided to try something a little different.

"Shh, it's all right Renee. You're safe," I whispered. "It's not Bobby. It's only me. You know I'd never hurt you. I love you too much." Her murmurs turned from frightened whimpers to a kind of questioning sound so I decided to continue. "The only one in your room right now is me, and you know how much I love you. You're not frightened to see me. You're happy." A small smile slipped onto her lips. "I walk over to where you're lying in bed. I lean over and place a soft, tender kiss on your lips, just a brief one, nothing long." She whimpered again, this time in loss. I grinned and continued. "I sit down on the bed and then lay down next to you. I take you in my arms, just like I'm holding you now, and I kiss you again." This time I didn't just say it. I leaned over slightly and brushed my lips against hers and heard her sigh.

"You put your arms around me," I said and, surprisingly, her arm moved slowly to wrap around my waist and pull me slightly closer to her, our faces now only inches apart, "and I kiss you again." I put actions to my words. "I kiss your lips. I kiss your nose. I kiss your brow." I did each of those things and then saw how she pouted slightly and puckered her lips again. It was so damned cute I almost giggled, but instead met her desire and kissed her again, this time a bit harder. I ran my tongue along the crease of her lips and her mouth opened to me. Our tongues danced together. I'd never gone along with the notion of tongues 'fighting for dominance.' I never wanted to dominate Renee. I wanted us always to be equals in everything we did, including kissing, so instead we danced and explored. It wasn't for long, I wasn't going to take advantage of the situation, but it was enough to assure myself that the nightmare had truly fled.

Renee leaned in to try to capture my lips again but I held back despite the heat flaring within my nether regions.

"You don't know how much I want to really show you how much I love you Renee," I whispered to her closed eyes and pouting lips. I ran a finger up and down her side, from her hip, along her waist, and up to just the bottom of her breasts and then back down again. I felt her shiver. "But I don't think you're ready for it yet. Heck, I'm not sure I'm ready for it yet, but soon…hopefully soon…I'll show you just how much I love you and want to make love to you. Is that okay?" she continued to pout but nodded her head slowly.

"Don't wait too long," she sighed, her eyes opening to reveal a sparkling mirth mixed with the heat of desire. "I'm not sure I can hold myself back much longer," she said in a soft, sultry voice that took my breath away and made that fire in my belly flare all the hotter.

"How long have you been awake?" I chuckled low in my throat and was rewarded by feeling a shudder that seemed to sweep her entire body.

"I'm not sure. The nightmare started as usual, but then you were suddenly there and Bobby just kind of faded away. You came over to me and kissed me, then lay down and kissed me again. You put your arms around me and held me close, promising that I was safe and that you'd never let anything or anyone hurt me ever again. And I knew that it was true. That you'd always keep me safe." She looked up at me with such hopeful eyes that I knew I'd do anything in my power to make those words our reality. "Next thing I knew we were kissing and I couldn't tell if I was still dreaming or not. All I knew was that I wanted you, not just kissing, but more. I wanted you to touch me," she gently took my hand in her own and placed it on her breast. I could feel her hardened nipple beneath the fabric of her pajamas and had to forcefully keep myself from doing more than just let it rest there feeling the rapid beat of her heart. "I still do," she continued, "but it's also a bit scary, so I know you're right. I'm not ready yet." She looked up into my eyes again and smiled. "But soon I'm going to make you show me just exactly how much you want me, and then I'm going to show you just how much I want you too." It was my turn to shudder as I saw the lust in those deep brown eyes.

"Then we'll just have to show each other," I leered dramatically causing her to giggle. I leaned forward and kissed her again. "We'll get there love. There's no rush. When we're ready we won't even have to ask."

"Just as long as you stay by my side," she whispered. "I know that, with you, I can overcome anything."

"I'll always be here love," I smiled and kissed her again. "Always." She snuggled down so that her face was pressed against my breast.

"I love you," she murmured sleepily as I cradled her within my arms.

"Love you too," I smiled and kissed her hair.

And I suddenly knew that we would be all right. I knew that Renee would get better, slowly, over time, but that we'd one day look back on these six weeks as not just a horrible nightmare, but the start of our own wonderful dream.

I closed my eyes and fell asleep, smiling as I listened to the sound of my lover's gentle breathing as I cradled her safely within my arms.


A/N: Many, many thanks for reading this story. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments/reviews would be greatly appreciated.

Take care of yourselves,

CX