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That Kiss Chapter 1

Carlin Whittaker stood watching her partner of almost twelve years hunched over a computer as fingers furiously hit the keyboard. Susan Macmillan was everything she had ever hoped for in a partner. Although their relationship had been tempestuous at times, Carlin took her commitment seriously. She had never looked at or even thought about another woman. She remembered the first time she had ever seen Sue…

She had returned to her office and found a stranger sitting at her desk concentrating on her desktop computer. 

“What do you think you are doing?” Carlin, incensed that this person was in her office and sitting in front of her computer, ate up the distance between them. 

Startled, the dark haired woman looked up. “Oh, hi,” she said smiling. “I’m upgrading your computer.” 

The woman’s smile was infectious and Carlin couldn’t help but respond in kind. “I didn’t know. No one told me you’d be here.” She held out her hand. “Carlin Whittaker.” The hand that met hers was strong yet soft. 

“Sue Macmillan.” She held Carlin’s hand a bit longer before letting go. “I will need about two more hours to finish up. They told me you would be out of the office…guess they didn’t check with you.” 

Carlin discreetly checked the woman’s hand. Good sign, no ring. “Actually I will be in and out.” She raised her eyebrows and shrugged. 

That night the two woman shared dinner. That was the beginning of their relationship.

But that was before. Before Sue began working longer hours and coming home with beer on her breath. It hadn’t stopped there. Carlin would find numerous empty beer bottles on the counter when she’d get up in the morning.

I need to wind down and relax she’d say when Carlin looked at the empty beer bottles in the morning. 

Lately, nothing Carlin did seemed to make Sue happy but undaunted she continued to make an effort to keep their relationship going. “Hey, good lookin’, you ready to go?” 

Glazed eyes looked up. “Shit is it that time already?” Sue sighed heavily when the phone rang and held up one finger. “Macmillan.” Her hand went quickly to the mouse, her fingers made several keystrokes as her eyes scanned the screen. 

“Damn it, Freddie, please don’t tell me that. Do you have a handle on where the glitch starts?” Sue’s eyes drifted to Carlin who was now standing next to her. She rolled her eyes and gave a brief smile before continuing the conversation. 

Carlin was well aware of who Sue was talking to. The amazing head programmer, Frieda Martinez. When Sue was at home, all she did was go on and on about how lucky she was to have someone like Freddie in her department. She’d heard rumors about Sue and Freddie but she was secure enough to ignore them—most of them. She listened to Sue speak wondering if she’d hear any tell-tale sign that said there was something going on between the two women but heard none.

“Now we will have to go back over the entire program with a fine tooth comb and see how that will affect all the parameters of the program.”

Carlin heard exasperation filled Sue’s voice and she took comfort in knowing if something were going on Sue would never use that tone.

“Who the hell wrote this anyway?” 

Sue listened then shook her head. “You know what this means don’t you?” She grimaced. “Yep, until we get it right. The people upstairs want this by Monday so it will be non-stop until then.”

Carlin felt her heart drop to her stomach in the knowledge of what was to come.

“Listen, I have a few things to take care of first. Why don’t you get the others together and meet me in a half an hour or so in the lab.” Sue slammed the receiver down and looked at Carlin. “Sorry, babe, it can’t be helped.

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” Carlin’s words were clipped and cold. 

“Look, I didn’t plan on this happening. It just did.” 

Carlin’s eyes bored into Sue. “All of a sudden, just like that?” She snapped her fingers. “You’re the one in charge…the one who is on top of everything yet you had no idea that you couldn’t go say an hour ago or maybe even yesterday?”

“I was looking forward to it as much as you, Carlin. How the hell did I know some fuck of a programmer would screw things up?”

“You tell me. Lately whenever we have plans for a few days alone some fuck of a programmer has a problem that only you can solve and I end up going alone or…what the hell does it matter. I should have known the minute I began to talk about this trip that we’d never go.

Sue looked sheepishly at her partner and Carlin saw genuine regret in her eyes. “I was hoping I could get it finished in time. Hell, I’ve been at it since six this morning. Damn it, Carlin, I’ve had everyone working overtime so this could be done before I left. I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out. I’m disappointed too.” 

They had been planning on the trip to San Francisco for the last two weeks. Carlin needed to be there for a meeting and they were going to incorporate some together time by the bay. 

She told herself that Sue seemed to be making an all-out effort to get the project done in time so they could go together. Seeing the apparent anguish on her lover’s face, she sighed. “Hey, I’ll just come back on Friday.” She put her hand on Sue’s shoulder and squeezed gently. “Once this is over we can plan a special weekend.” 

Sue’s face lit up. “Thank you.” She got up, went to the door, and closed it before taking Carlin in her arms. “I miss you already.” She growled seductively. “Promise I will more than make this up to you when you get back.” 

“Mmm-hmm, I’ll hold you to that.” Carlin held Sue close. “Why don’t I call a cab and you walk me down to the parking garage so I can get my bags.” 

Sue bent her head so her lips could capture Carlin’s in a soft kiss. “Sounds like a plan.” She let go of Carlin and rushed to her desk as the phone rang again. “Yes.” 

Carlin forced the negative thoughts out of her mind as she listened to Sue speaking.

“No, don’t do anything…I will take care of it now.” She looked at Carlin standing at the door and held her hand over the receiver. “Sorry, looks like I can’t even go with you to the garage.” She shrugged.

Carlin shook her head slowly. “From the sound of your conversation I guessed as much.” She quickly walked over to Sue and gave her a chaste kiss. “See you when I get back.” She walked away while her stomach knotted. Once she left Sue’s office she looked back and saw Sue had turned her back and Carlin heard her giggle.

She recalled her mother telling her that she always talking with someone special because she always giggled. “I guess I have my answer as to why she isn’t going with me—she’d rather be with someone else.”

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