Chapter Eight: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Rat Race
Rachel's next moment of awareness was brought on by a piercing, high pitched electronic wail. She bolted up, still nude, in her bed as the smoke detector continued to shriek. Rachel looked around and saw that she was alone, so she dashed out into the front of the apartment, toward the source of the alarm. She arrived just in time to see a medium sized grease fire burning in a frying pan and Sara racing toward it with a vase full of water. "Don't!" Rachel screamed, but it was too late.
Sara threw the contents of the vase into the flaming frying pan and a column of fire rose almost to the ceiling. From where Rachel stood, horrified, it looked like the fire had flashed directly in Sara's face. Rachel felt panic of a kind she had never felt before and she sprinted to the kitchen. She quickly grabbed a lid off the wall rack and smothered the fire before wheeling around to Sara, who has crying hysterically, her hands covering her face. Rachel grabbed her wrists and pulled her closer. She began hurriedly inspecting Sara for burns while the girl continued to sob. "Are you OK, are you hurt?" Rachel asked frantically as she looked Sara's arms over. The girl was sobbing so much, Rachel didn't know if she answered or not, so she said again, "Are you OK? Sara! Are you hurt?!".
"I don't know" Sara finally bawled.
Satisfied that Sara's arms and hands were unburned, she gently lifted the girl's little chin so she could see her face. There was a tiny, red circle, less than a quarter inch across on the very tip of the blonde's rounded button nose; barely a first degree burn. Other than that tiny spot, Sara was otherwise unharmed, but still crying. "Thank God, thank God," Rachel, greatly relieved, repeated over and over again as she put both her arms around the crying girl and squeezed her tightly.
("She's scared; tell her." the little voice said. She ignored it again.)
Rachel regained her composure quickly after she assured herself that Sara was unhurt. She released Sara's shoulders and gently lifted her chin so that they were face to face. "What happened Kitten?" Rachel asked as gently as she could..
Sara burbled nonsensically for a moment. Rachel was pretty sure she could make out the word "sausage" but that was it. "Calm down Kitten, everything is just fine, you're OK, just take it easy" Rachel soothed her for a while before her sobs were reduced to sniffles.
"I wanted to do something nice for you," Sara started to babble, "last night, you said I was your girlfriend, and, and, I wanted to do something nice for you, I just thought, I thought...".
"You thought you'd burn down my apartment?" Rachel asked smiling gently and stroking the girl's cheek. She hope the joke would help her calm down.
"I wanted to make you breakfast," she managed through her tears and sniffles, "I've seen Yesenia cook sausage and eggs at home a thousand times, it looks so easy."
"Well Kitten, you just learned not to throw water on a grease fire. Just smother it with a pan lid like I did, see?" Rachel pointed to the covered frying pan.
"I'm sorry Rachel, I'm so sorry, please don't..." Sara started, speaking so rapidly, her words blurred together.
"Hush," Rachel stopped her, "It's fine, you're OK, I'm OK and we're OK. I'm just so glad you're not hurt. Please don't worry about it Kitten. You're sweet for trying." Rachel had moved close to Sara again, reflexively stroking her wavy curls.
"You're not mad?" Sara asked, hopefully.
"Of course not Sara, as long as you're not hurt, I couldn't be happier." Rachel replied, "But if it would make you feel better, I can still punish you tonight.". Rachel winked at her.
Sara giggled, then sniffled, then hugged Rachel with the same desperation she had the day before. This time Rachel hugged back just as fiercely. "Thanks Rach'" she said, using the nickname for the first time. Rachel liked it immediately.
After a moment, Rachel said, "C'mon Kitten, let's go get some breakfast down at La Bou. I'm not one of those people who needs a girlfriend that can cook.". Sara laughed genuinely this time and they walked back to the bedroom, hand in hand to shower together and get dressed.
The two women had a brief meal of coffee and scones at a corner bakery before walking back to the apartment. As Rachel prepared to go to work she asked Sara, "What are you up to today Kitten?"
"I've got a 10:00 class and Art lab at 4:00" she said, "otherwise, nothing much." The girl replied.
Rachel walked over and rummaged through a drawer in the kitchen for a moment, before returning and handing Sara a single key. "This is my spare," she said, "you can hold on to it.". Rachel then went to the notepad hanging next to a wall mount cordless phone and wrote down a phone number under the words "Rachel:work". "And if you need to call me, I don't usually have my cell on in the office but you can call my secretary and she can usually find me or you can leave a message.".
"Ok," Sarah said. She was seated at the kitchen table with a large textbook. Rachel grabbed her keys and headed toward the front door, "OK, Kitten, I'm headed to work. Try not to use the stove." She teased.
"Oh, wait!" Sara said. She got up from the table and ran on her tip toes over to Rachel in the doorway. She leaned up and kissed her new girlfriend lightly on the corner of her mouth. Rachel blushed again, unsure the reason. "Have a good day." the girl said sweetly.
Sara's smile made Rachel desperately want to call in sick, but she had too much to do, so instead she said, "I'll try, but it would be easier if I got to take you with me.". She quickly exited, before her resolve to go to work failed her completely.
When Rachel's Audi hit the freeway, her mind had finally returned to a mostly normal state after nearly a week of obsessing over a certain well endowed nymph. The pleasant tightening in her chest that had started on Saturday night persisted, but at least she could focus her thoughts on the tasks that lay ahead today. By the time she got to work, she found that she was able to go without thinking about Sara for whole minutes at a time, which was an improvement over the weekend. By the time she got into the TriGar offices, she was twenty minutes past her usual time, but when you worked on Rachel's rung of the corporate ladder, there really wasn't any such thing as late. Despite the departure in routine, Mrs. Hart had her coffee hot and ready the moment Rachel arrived. "How are you this morning Ms. V.?" she asked as Rachel entered.
"Very well, Mrs. H.," Rachel replied cheerfully, "How about you?"
"Can't complain." Marcia Hart answered back. Then she said, "You certainly have a spring in your step this morning."
"Oh God," Rachel thought quickly, "Is it that obvious? Did I come in here dancing like a fucking schoolgirl and not know I was doing it?". She felt the blood rushing to her cheeks again and said to Mrs. Hart, "That's the benefit of coming in late I guess." and stepped into her office quickly. She moved behind her desk and sat down heavily. "Who the fuck ever heard of a blushing, pussy whipped dominatrix" she wondered.
Rachel had two meetings that morning as well as a lunch interview with a local newspaper reporter. After she had finished the second meeting she returned to the office and Mrs. Hart handed her a stack of phone messages. "Oh, "she said, "and someone called for you just a minute ago, I hadn't written it down yet. No message, just to tell you that Sara called.
"The little idiot" she thought fondly, "probably called to tell me she tried to make a bowl of cereal and my apartment exploded."
"Thanks Marcia," Rachel said absently as she walked back into her office. Mrs. Hart could count the number of times that Rachel had called her by her first name over the past four years on the fingers of one hand. She followed her boss into her office to investigate.
"You know," she said lightly, "I don't think, in four years, that you've ever had a personal call at the office."
"Personal call?" Rachel said, trying to match her casual tone.
"Well, no number or message, just a first name. I just figured..." Mrs. Hart said. What she did not mention was that the caller ID placed the call from Rachel's home number.
"You're fishing, Mrs. H." Rachel said amiably. It was an expression Rachel used on rare occasions when Mrs. Hart's well-meaning nature started to make her nosy.
"Sorry Ms. V." Mrs. Hart said. She started to leave and then she turned around. "You smiled." She said simply.
"Sorry?" Rachel said.
"When I gave you that message, you smiled." Mrs. Hart replied. Rachel shook her head in denial as though her assistant had been imagining things, hoping she wasn't blushing again. Mrs. Hart nodded and said "Like a little fat boy in a candy shop."
Rachel's eyes bulged, positive she was blushing now. She furrowed her brow at Mrs. Hart and made a casting motion with one hand and a reeling motion with the other.
"Sorry dear," Mrs. Hart said, still smiling. "Oh, I'm so absentminded today, Saltzman over at the Register called and had to cancel your lunch interview, he had to rush off to some big scandal in Sacramento. Just in case you wanted to make any other plans.". Mrs. Hart scurried out of the room without pressing her luck any further. Rachel got up and closed the office door, knowing that Mrs. H would certainly notice that too. "Damn" she sighed.
Understand that Rachel had no anxiety about publicly dating a woman. Her upbringing and her sexual lifestyle had always required her to be confident and not concern herself with the judgments of strangers, but she had a very strict rule about the separation of work and home. Although she didn't date, the truth is, she wouldn't have discussed that aspect of her life with her co-workers whether it involved a woman or a man. In any event, she was pushing 40 and unmarried so she knew damn well most of the office, hell, most of the board of directors, thought she was gay. In 2012 L.A., it was practically fashionable. She was just painfully aware that when everyone knows your with someone, you have to put up with twice as much small talk, as people now ask you the same inane questions again, but about someone else. And worse, you were then expected to ask the same questions of them and whoever the hell they're shacked up with. It taxed her patience to no end.
She set aside her musings and took out her cell. She called the apartment and got her machine. "Sara, pick up if you're there." she said.
"The machine clicked off and she heard a cheerful "Hi".
"What's up" she said, quietly adding "Kitten."
"Um, would it sound super co-dependent if I asked you out to lunch?"Sara asked shyly.
"Maybe." Rachel said and paused, "but I'd still like to see you." she finished truthfully.
"Great," Sara said, sounding relieved, "What's the plan?"
Rachel told Sara to meet her in front of the TriGar office plaza at 12:30. After giving her the address, they said their goodbyes and hung up.
Rachel got back to work. Her impending lunch date stayed on the edge of her mind but wasn't too distracting. After all, it was going to be lunch for an hour in a restaurant. Nothing she could get too excited about. Around 12:10, Richard, one of the few people who could rightfully call themselves Rachel's boss called her office line. One of company subdivisions had had a train derailment outside Bakersfield and a tanker car carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel had ruptured, closing I-5 and creating a hell of a mess. Although Rachel may have been distracted the past few days playing house with a girl half her age, in a crisis, she was all business. She discussed strategy with Richard, spit balling ideas for a press release and handling damage control. After over a half an hour on the phone, she hung up with Richard, turned her chair to her PC and started frantically drafting the company's statement. She had completely lost track of time when the intercom buzzed, "Ms. Vancourt, someone to see you" it whined in Marcia Hart's voice. Rachel glanced at the clock; 12:52. "Shit" she said and went out the door into her office lobby.
Sara was seated in one of the padded reception chairs, smiling politely with her stocking legs crossed demurely. She was dressed in a royal blue, pressed, knee length skirt and matching jacket with a brilliant white silk blouse buttoned conservatively up to her neck. She looked for all the world like she was there to interview for an internship or something.
"Sorry," Rachel began immediately, "There was a crisis and I totally lost track of time." As she spoke, she thought to herself, "Nice, Rach', you've had a girlfriend for twelve hours and you're already taking her for granted." She remembered how much the girl had altered her own life just by being with Rachel and chastised herself, "Do better.".
Sara stood up, smiled and said "No problem, I hope it's OK that I came up, I just wanted to see if you could still make it."
"I think I've got the fire put out," Rachel answered as Sara stifled a small giggle, remembering the events in the kitchen that morning. "So I think we're good to go." She finished.
"Your assistant told me it was something about a train accident?" Sara asked glancing at Mrs. Hart who has managed to find something to file in a cabinet only a few feet away from the two women.
"Yes, but no one was killed, thank God, but we've got to release a statement."
"Alright Mrs. Hart," Rachel said, "I'll be back by 2:30, page my cell if any other catastrophes come up."
"It was nice to meet you." Sara said, looking at Mrs. Hart. She looked at Rachel and then back at Mrs. Hart. She waited expectantly for a heartbeat and then turned to walk out the door. Rachel noticed Sara's shoulders slump just a little when she didn't say anything.
"Damn." Rachel sighed inwardly. She didn't want to violate her biggest rule, but she had already violated so many of her rules by bringing Sara into her life, and she knew what had just happened had hurt the girl a little; she didn't want that. She understood what Sara had been hoping for.
"Oh, where are my manners?" She said. Sara turned around sharply. "Sara, this is my very able assistant Marcia Hart, Mrs. Hart, this is my girlfriend, Sara Lancing."
Sara stood up straight and beamed like she had just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Hair and Make-Up. "It's very nice to meet you Marcia."
"It's nice to meet you to too Sara." Mrs. Hart said smiling genuinely, "I hope I get to see you again soon."
"Me too." said Sara.
Rachel and Sara left the office together and headed for the elevator. As they walked, Rachel gave a nod at Sara's outfit, "So, I know we're still getting to know each other; are you part of the young Republicans or what?"
"No," Sara replied noncommittally, "I don't watch baseball.". She had to giggle to let Rachel know she was kidding and then she said, "I just didn't want to embarrass you, that's all.".
They boarded the elevator as Rachel turned to face her. "That's thoughtful," she said, "but you don't embarrass me Sara. I'm glad you came.".
"Thanks." Sara said sincerely.
As they rode the elevator to the parking garage Rachel asked Sara about the Art lab she was supposed to attend that afternoon. "We're supposed to start a piece that reflects the idea of dualism, but I'm not sure what that is.".
They exited to the garage, walking toward Rachel's car. Since she had arrived late, she had to park on the highest level which was now virtually empty during the lunch break. "Well, the word can be applied to lots of concepts, but what your instructor probably means is a piece of art that demonstrates two opposite forces that depend on one another to exist. Think of the Yin and Yang symbol, if that helps." Rachel explained, trying to encapsulate five thousand years of philosophy into something the size of a tweet.
"So, like, good and evil, black and white, rich and poor." Sara asked.
"Exactly." Rachel said smiling, pleased her explanation had made some sense.
"Like...Kitten and Horny Bitch?" Sara asked in a sexy whisper as they reached Rachel's Audi.
Rachel chuckled softly, "Yes, something like that."
They got into the car and Sara looked at Rachel seriously and said, "I just wanted to say thank you for what you said, um with Marcia, back in your office; I know it wasn't, I don't know... comfortable, for you"
"I told you Kitten, you don't embarrass me" Rachel responded earnestly, "I've just never been in a position to bring a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, for that matter, around the office. I just sort of forgot what it was like, it's no big deal. If we have a date, then it's perfectly OK for you to come to my office to meet me.". Another rule out the window.
"Why is this lot so empty?" Rachel asked, changing the subject.
"It's usually kind of thin of this floor, plus it's lunch time. Speaking of, where do you want to eat Kitten?".
"You said you had to be back by 2:30?"
"There abouts" Rachel answered.
Sara looked at her watch, "1:04" she said, "we'll be lucky if we have time for drive thru." The girl reached over and grabbed the lapels of Rachel's jacket, pulling her into a long, hard, kiss.". Rachel started to object and then said "oh to hell with it" and put the sun shade in the front window to afford the lovers at least a little privacy.
They lowered the seats and made out like high school kids, which, for one of them at least, wasn't all that far off the mark. While they managed to stay more or less clothed, and the stick shift and emergency brake proved to be persistent obstacles, the pair managed to make the most of Rachel's lunch break. They fumbled around to find a comfortable position that still allowed access for one another's roaming hands. Finally, Sara straddled the center console, getting her leg over Rachel's, with a rare height advantage that allowed her to rain kisses upon the older woman's face and neck. Rachel unbuttoned the top few buttons on Sara's blouse and was pleased to see that she still wore the her white Kitten collar underneath. She got busy burying her face in Sara's soft cleavage when Sara's knee found her crotch and began to grind against it. Soon, Sara's crisp, professional skirt was hiked up around her thighs and Rachel's left hand was caressing the girl's butt as the fingers of her right hand played rapidly beneath the crotch of Sara's panties. Sara's knee continued it's grinding and very soon, almost simultaneously, they enjoyed brief, intense climaxes.
They continued to snuggle for a few minutes when Rachel's cell phone beeped; it was Mrs. Hart paging her. She glanced at the time, 2:17. "Shit" She swore, "We forgot to get lunch."
"I know, and it was too cramped to eat in the car" Sara said. They both started laughing, and kissed one more time between giggles. At her age, Rachel wanted to feel ridiculous, but Sara's personality was so infectious, she just couldn't manage it. Rachel straightened her hair and reassembled her wardrobe quickly. "Alright, Kitten, that may have been the best lunch I've ever had, but I really have to get back. Will you be there when I get home around 6:00?"
"Art lab goes until 7:00, I'll see you by 7:30.". Another brief kiss and they separated, Sara going down to the her car on the lower level, Rachel heading back up to the office, her empty stomach rumbling.
When Rachel returned, Mrs. Hart greeted her. "Sorry for interrupting your lunch Ms. V. but Mr. Pierce (Richard) needed to give you a status update and it was important that you got it before finishing the press release."
"No problem," Rachel replied, "I'll call him right now." She called Richard, got the update and resumed work on the release. A little after 3:00, Mrs. Hart came in carrying a clear, plastic, take-out container containing what appeared to be turkey on wheat.
"Sara ran back by and dropped this off for you. Did you miss lunch?" Mrs. Hart asked innocently.
"Sweet little idiot, what does it look like we did at lunchtime now?" Rachel thought even as she said, "Car trouble."
Mrs. Hart made as if to leave but lingered a moment after Rachel thanked her for the sandwich. Rachel knew the matronly woman wanted to say something and since it was apparently Personal Show and Tell at Work Day, she once again ignored the big rule, sighed, and said, "Go Ahead Mrs. H."
"Oh, it's nothing." Marcia Hart said, "It's just... nice, to see you so happy."
For a behavior that Rachel thought she had abandoned a quarter century ago, blushing sure was making a roaring comeback. Her cheeks reddened again. "Thanks Marcia," she said sincerely.
"And she's absolutely adorable!" Marcia Hart added smiling broadly.
She was sure she must be fire engine red by now. "I know, isn't she." Rachel couldn't help but agree.
End Chapter Eight___________________________________________________________________