Cassie only had a couple of days off at Christmas, but she looked forward to going home. Pulling into the driveway, she was surprised to see another car already in the driveway, one with Massachusetts tags. Inside the house she grinned as she saw Sam sitting on the couch sipping some eggnog.
Janet entered the living room carrying a tray of fresh baked Christmas cookies and smiled at her daughter. “I invited Sam to join us for Christmas, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Of course not.” Cassie gave each of them a hug before taking her bag into her bedroom.
To Cassie, that Christmas felt almost like her first couple of Christmases on Earth. She saw, but didn’t comment on, the look she saw in the blonde’s eyes. Sam was still in love with her mother. She just didn’t know if her mother was ready for another relationship; and even if she was, she didn’t know if she’d want to get involved again with Sam.
Janet took Sam up on her invitation and took a few days off during spring break, visiting the blonde in Cambridge. They did all the touristy things and spent some time simply talking.
Janet felt comfortable with Sam, especially this Sam. The blonde was more laid back and relaxed than Janet ever remembered her being. And it was obvious she was much more comfortable in her own skin. It surprised her to realize that Sam was much better off out of the military. She had always thought of the blonde as a ‘soldier until the end.’ She had certainly known and embodied the word ‘duty.’ So it was ironic that she was the one still in uniform and Sam was the more carefree and spontaneous one.
Sam loved every minute she got to spend with Janet. Over the last several months, they’d spent a lot of time on the phone, and she was pleasantly surprised with the doctor agreed to come for a visit during spring break. She knew her feelings for Janet had not changed, even after all these years; but the friendship they were once again building was very special to her. She wasn’t going to do anything to mess it up.
Like come on to her.
Janet’s friendship was a big enough gift. And she knew from the past just how special a friend Janet could be. No one ever fought harder for her friends and loved ones.
“Hey, Cassie, why so glum?” Teresa Gary, a fellow med student, asked as she joined her in the cafeteria.
“I got offered more than one residency.”
“Well, duh! You’re the top of our class, Cassie. What did you expect?”
“I just don’t know what to do?”
“Well, where did you get offers from?”
“Here at GW.”
Teresa rolled her eyes. “I think that was a given considering. Where else?”
“Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, and University of Chicago Medical Center.”
“Wow...” her classmate said softly. “I can see the problem, they’re all great hospitals. Which one are you leaning towards?”
“That’s just it, there’s really only one choice... here at GW.”
“Why only one choice?”
Cassie shook her head. “I won’t take a placing so far from home. I promised Mom I wouldn’t.”
Teresa looked appraisingly across the table at her classmate. “You really are that close with your mother, aren’t you?”
Cassie simply nodded.
“So why are you unsure about what to do? If staying close to home wasn’t an issue, which hospital would you want to go to?”
With a sigh, she softly answered, “Baylor. They’ve got a great gynecology department and Dr. Russell Myers is there – one of the country’s best in ovarian cancer treatment and research.”
“You know what I think?”
“I think you should tell your mother and discuss your options with her.”
“Yeah, you’re right. I promised to call and tell her when I found out anyway.”
“Hey, Mom, it’s me.”
The colonel smiled. “Hey, sweetie. What’s up?”
“I’ve heard about my residency.”
“Oh? So, what’s it going to be?”
“Well, I got an offer here at GW.”
Janet smiled knowingly. “But that’s not the only place you got an offer from, is it?”
“So where else?”
Cassie told her about the others. “So, you see, GW is really the only choice.”
“Oh, honey, no. It’s not your only choice.”
“I told you, Mom, I’m not going that far from home.”
“I know. But let me ask you this: If all the hospitals were in the same city, which one would you choose?” She waited patiently as Cassie measured her thoughts.
“Well, Dr. Myers is at Baylor...”
“Yes, he is. And he’s at the top of the field of ovarian cancer research and treatment. You couldn’t do much better, Cassie.”
“I know,” she sighed. “But it’s so far from home.”
“Would you take it if it was say... only four hours away?”
Cassie sighed. “Probably. I know it’s not a close to home as I am now, but four hours would at least be reasonable.”
Janet smiled. “I think so, too. Which is why I think you should take it.”
“Huh? I don’t understand.”
“What if I took a posting at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio? It’s about four hours from Dallas.”
Cassie was speechless. “You’re serious?” she finally sputtered.
“Yes, honey, I am.”
“You can do that?”
Janet let out a chuckle. “Yes, I can.”
“Mom! That’s great!”
After her call with Cassie ended, Janet hung up and dialed the number she’d written down on a sticky note not 48 hours earlier.
“Brody,” barked the deep baritone voice.
“General, it’s Colonel Fraiser.”
The major general smiled as he leaned back in his high-back chair. “Colonel! How are you?”
“I’m good, sir. How are you?”
“Buried under a pile of paperwork that’s threatening to do me in.”
“Sorry to hear that, sir. I can always write you a doctor’s note so you can take the day off,” she joked.
He let out a bark of laughter. “Thank you, Colonel, but it would still be here when I got back.” He paused for half a beat. “So, what can I do for you, Colonel?”
“I’ve given some thought about what we discussed the other day.”
“I’ll take it. That is, if you still want me.”
“Want you? Hell, Colonel, you just made my day,” he said with a grin. “Start getting things squared away there at AFMIC. If necessary you’ll turn over temporary command to your XO, so go ahead and brief him, but don’t tell anyone else yet about your transfer.”
“Yes, sir. Any idea on how soon I’ll need to report?”
“Not sure, but it won’t be long.”
“Very well. I’ll get the ball rolling on this end, sir.”
“Excellent. And congratulations, Colonel.” General Brody’s smile was quite evident in his voice.
Janet knocked on the apartment door.
“Mom! I didn’t think you were going to be here until the day after tomorrow.” Cassie hugged her mother and ushered into the tiny apartment.
“I have a meeting at the Pentagon tomorrow. I thought I come down early and take you out to dinner... that is, if you didn’t already have plans.”
The young woman’s face fell a little. “Actually, I do. I’m getting together with some of the others from our class. But I can cancel,” she finished hastily.
“Nonsense. Go out with your friends and have a nice time. I’ll go back to my hotel room and enjoy some room service.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I am. However, I would like a little of your time tomorrow.”
“Of course. What time?”
Cassie was surprised when her mother drove them to the Pentagon. “What’s going on, Mom?”
Janet gave her a small smile. “Just wait and see.”
She followed her mother through the check-in process and through the confusing hallways of the Pentagon. She didn’t know how Janet knew where to go, but apparently they’d arrived at their destination.
A master sergeant welcomed them when they entered the outer office. He picked up the phone and made a quick call before hanging up.
“Go on in, Colonel, the general is expecting you.”
“Thank you, Master Sergeant.” Janet turned to her daughter. “Come on, Cassie.”
They entered the inner office.
The general stood and came out from behind his office. “Colonel, it’s good to see you,” he said with a smile and shook her hand.
“General Brody, this is my daughter Cassandra.”
He gave the young woman a bright smile and shook her hand. “It’s nice to meet you, Cassandra. I hear you’re following in your mother’s footsteps.”
“It’s nice to meet you, too, sir. Yes, sir. I graduate from med school tomorrow.”
“I know. Your mother insisted we do this today so that she could be at your graduation.”
“Do what?” Cassie asked.
“Williams!” Brody bellowed.
The master sergeant entered. “Here you go, sir.” He handed a folder and small box to the general, then stood to the side.
“Ms Fraiser, if you would be so kind as to hold this please.” Brody handed the small box to Cassie. He then opened the folder and read the enclosed orders... which promoted Dr. Janet Fraiser to Brigadier General and gave her command of the 59th Medical Wing.
Cassie’s eyes widened as she realized what was going on. When the general indicated it was time, she opened the box and saw the shiny, new stars. Cassie had tears in her eyes as she removed the eagles from her mother’s epaulettes and replaced them with the stars.
“Congratulations, General Fraiser,” Brody said with a wide smile.
“Thank you, sir.”
Cassie threw her arms around her mother. “I’m so proud of you, Mom!”
The next day, Janet put on her dress uniform (per her daughter’s request) when she dressed to attend Cassie’s graduation. She took her seat in the auditorium and waited for the ceremony to begin. Just like many of the other parents present, she took a number of pictures as her daughter crossed the stage and received her diploma.
Afterwards, as graduates and their families mingled, Janet was surprised to see Sam. The blonde hugged and congratulated Cassie. She then noticed the stars on Janet’s uniform.
“Janet! You’ve been promoted to general!”
The doctor nodded with a small smile.
“I didn’t think you were going to be able to make it to Cassie’s graduation.”
“I couldn’t miss this,” Sam said with a smile.
Janet felt uneasy. She hadn’t told Sam yet that she was transferring to Texas. She had mentioned it might be a possibility, but hadn’t said anything when it became definite. What’s wrong with you? It’s not like you’re dating. You’re just two old friends who talk on the phone. You can do that no matter where you’re stationed, she told her herself.
Sam silently watched as Cassie introduced her mother to her classmates and their parents. The pride the young woman felt was palpable. Janet was as graceful and charming as ever... and that uniform really did look fantastic on her. The last eleven years had certainly been kind to Janet. She was as beautiful as ever! She couldn’t take her eyes off of the petite doctor as she spoke with several other parents and their newly graduated children.
“I see the way you look at her.”
Sam’s heart stopped and she whirled around. “What?!”
Cassie smiled. “I see the way you look at her, Sam. You’re still in love with her, aren’t you?”
Sam found herself blushing and at a loss for words.
“It’s okay, Sam. But if you want things to change between you, you’re going to have to be the one to change them. I think Mom’s ready to have someone in her life again.” Cassie’s expression suddenly turned hard and fierce. “But if you hurt her again...”
Sam was surprised to note that the new doctor’s words and tone actually... well, they didn’t scare her, but... she certainly took them seriously. She swallowed. “I-I don’t know if she’d even be interested, Cassie.”
“And you’re not going to find out mooning over her from across the room. But don’t say anything if you’re not absolutely willing to give whatever is necessary to make it work. She’s just been promoted and is about to take command of a Medical Wing and the largest Air Force medical facility in the world. She’s going to have a lot on her plate and will need someone completely supportive, not someone who’ll make things harder for her.”
After celebrating with Cassie, the two older women left so the young woman could go out and party with some her friends and to say goodbye to them. No one from Cassie’s class was going to Baylor with her.
Janet and Sam decided to go out to dinner, but to make it casual. They each returned to their hotels and changed clothes. As agreed, Sam came to Janet’s hotel and knocked on her door. Inexplicably, Janet felt her heart skip a beat when she opened her door and saw Sam standing there in a pair of jeans and a white oxford shirt. She grabbed her wallet, slipping it into the pocket of her own jeans, and they headed out.
The evening was a relaxing one and both women had a nice time. It was after they returned to Janet’s hotel room – with a bottle of wine – that Sam finally broached the upcoming changes. They were sitting on the small sofa in Janet’s suite.
“So, Cassie tells me that you’re about to transfer.”
Janet nodded. “I’m taking command of the 59th Medical Wing, based out of Lackland.”
“That is great, Janet. I’m so proud of you.”
“It’s certainly going to be a challenge.”
“I have no doubt you’ll to rise to the occasion. You always have.” Well, it’s now or never... “Janet?”
“How would you feel about me coming out to Texas to see you?”
“Of course you’re welcome to. But I don’t know when I’ll have much free time; there’s a lot for me to get done.”
“Janet?” Sam waited until the doctor looked at her. She then leaned in slowly, allowing Janet time to pull away if she wanted to, and gently pressed her lips against Janet’s.
The kiss surprised Janet, but it wasn’t unwelcome. Sam’s heart skipped a beat when Janet responded to her kiss. She deepened the kiss, parting her lips to lightly run her tongue along Janet’s lips. Janet granted Sam’s tongue entrance; their tongues met and danced. After a few minutes of soft and gentle exploration they finally parted, both feeling a little lightheaded. Each drew in a couple of deep breaths as they rested their foreheads together.
“Shhh... it’s okay.”
“Sam... I’m moving to San Antonio.”
“I’ll come visit.”
“It’s a long way from Cambridge.”
“I’ll visit a lot.”
“Janet, if you’re willing to give me a chance, to give us a chance, I promise you won’t regret it.”
Janet gently cupped the blonde’s cheek and gazed into her beautiful blue eyes. “Long distance...”
“It doesn’t have to be.”
“We can give it a try and if it goes well... I’ll move.”
“I can’t ask you to do that.”
“You’re not asking me. I’m saying I’ll do it if things go well. Are you willing to give us another chance?” Sam waited patiently for Janet to decide.
Janet wasn’t sure what to say. She had already admitted to herself that she had feelings for Sam. In truth, they’d never really gone away. She felt conflicted. She hadn’t been with anyone since her wife had died, and she remembered how much she’d been hurt by Sam eleven years earlier. But people change, Janet – you have. And you’ve seen the changes in Sam. Bottom line, do you want to take a chance?
“I’d like to... but I need to take things slow, Sam.”
The blonde nodded. “I can do slow,” she said sincerely.
Over the next few months Sam made the trip to San Antonio at least once a month, sometime twice. Sam stayed with Janet, but in the guest bedroom. Janet didn’t get much time off at Christmas and New Year’s, but Sam still came to visit during her break from school.
Janet entered the house closing the door behind her, and literally sagged against the wall as she put down her briefcase and slipped her shoes off. When she drew in a deep breath she noticed a wonderful aroma wafting through her house. She pushed off the wall and walked out of the foyer and into the living room. “Sam?”
The blonde entered from the kitchen with a bright smile on her face. “Hey! You’re home.”
“Yeah. What’s that smell?”
“Dinner. Now, you go and take a hot bath and relax. Everything will be ready when you are.” Sam turned to go back into the kitchen. Janet started to follow but the blonde turned and stopped her. “Nope. You go take your bath, General,” she quipped with a gleam in her eye. She put her hands on Janet’s shoulders and physically turned her toward the hallway. “Go.”
After a hot, relaxing bath Janet stepped back into her bedroom. She was surprised to see a single red rose on her bed with a note next to it. She picked them up and sniffed the rose as she read the note. With a smile she put on her most comfortable, worn jeans and a t-shirt. With rose in hand she made her way to the dining room.
Sam was just lighting the candles when Janet entered. She smiled. “You right on time. Have a seat.”
“Do you need help with anything?”
“Nope. Just have a seat and relax.” Sam went into the kitchen and returned with a roast with vegetables. She opened a bottle of wine and poured both of them a glass before taking her seat.
Janet was almost speechless after she took her first bite of roast. “Mmmm, this is perfect, Sam!”
“When did you learn to cook so well?”
Sam let out a chuckle. “It’s amazing what one can learn when not tinkering with alien artifacts.”
Janet almost snorted the wine she was in the process of sipping.
After dinner the two women settled on the screened porch, sitting next to each other on the swing suspended from the porch ceiling. Sam poured them each another glass of wine from the second bottle opened that evening.
“Are you trying to get me drunk?” Janet asked.
“Not at all. I’m just glad you enjoyed the meal and like the wine.”
“It’s my favorite wine. How did you know?”
Sam grinned. “I asked your assistant, Master Sergeant Travis.”
“Hmm, I’ll have to have a word with her about sharing personal information about her CO,” Janet replied with mirth.
“Don’t be too hard on her. I told her I was planning something special for you.”
“And just what are your plans, Professor Carter?”
“Beyond wining and dining you? Nothing more than sitting here and talking with you, General Fraiser.”
“That’s a shame,” Janet murmured into her wineglass as she took a sip.
Sam reached and gently took Janet’s wineglass from her, setting it on the small table in front of them. She then caressed her cheek as she gazed into soft brown eyes. Their lips met in an exquisite kiss, a kiss that stole their breath and made their hearts skip. A soft moan escaped Janet’s throat as their kiss deepened.
“Sam...” Janet gasped as the blonde nuzzled a very sensitive spot on her neck.
“Sam...” She pulled the woman up from her throat and gazed at her with hooded eyes. “Take me to bed, Sam,” she breathed.
“Are you sure?” She didn’t want Janet to feel pressured. She really hadn’t planned on anything beyond their dinner and some conversation.
“Yes, Sam, I’m ready.”
In Janet’s bedroom they came together, wrapping their arms around each other, and kissed. Sam sat on the side of the bed, pulling Janet onto her lap so that she was straddling her legs. When she slid her hands up her back under her t-shirt she was surprised to find Janet wasn’t wearing a bra. Wanting more contact, Janet broke their kiss only long enough to pull her t-shirt up and off over her head. She sucked in a hiss when the moist warmth of Sam’s mouth closed over her nipple and began to suckle.
Sam twisted and laid Janet on her back on the bed. After spending long minutes fondling, kissing, and suckling her breasts, Sam kissed her way up and captured Janet’s lips once again. Janet pulled on the hem of Sam’s shirt, pulling it up and off, then unhooked the blonde’s bra for her. After shedding her bra Sam began to kiss her way down Janet’s torso. As she dipped her tongue into her navel she unbuttoned and unzipped Janet’s jeans.
Janet lifted her hips to help Sam with the removal of her jeans and panties. Sam settled on her knees beside the bed and slipped her arms around Janet’s thighs as she pulled her closer. Janet gasped and moaned as Sam placed fleeting, teasing kisses along her inner thighs.
The blonde smiled at Janet’s pleading as she ran her tongue along wet, engorged folds. Janet’s back arched as she let out a low moan, urging Sam to continue. She pushed her tongue between Janet’s folds and tasted the wetness seeping from her, then ran her tongue up to circle Janet’s clit.
Janet moaned again. Sam’s tongue felt so good. She let out a gasp when she felt two fingers push inside of her, filling her, stroking her. Then Sam circled her lips and sucked on her clit. Janet came with a loud moan, her body bowing and her hands sinking in blonde locks, and pulling Sam tight against her center. She collapsed bonelessly against the mattress with a sigh when her muscles unlocked.
Sam licked and kissed her way back up Janet’s torso until she claimed her lips in a deep kiss, sharing her taste with her. They both moaned into the kiss.
“You taste good,” Sam murmured with a soft smile before kissing her again.
Janet wrapped her arms around the woman on top of her. “You’re wearing too many clothes.”
Four hands worked at removing Sam’s jeans and panties as they moved to the center of the bed. They spent several hours rediscovering each other.
When Sam returned to Cambridge, she gave Harvard notice that she would not be returning to teach in the fall. For spring break Janet was able to take a week off and they went on vacation together to New Orleans.
“I wish we had more time.”
Sam stood behind Janet on the balcony of their hotel suite and slipped her arms around her waist. “It won’t be that long before summer break.”
“It’ll be nice to have you around all the time. But then you’ll have to go back in the fall.”
Sam took a deep breath and gave her a gentle squeeze. “What if I didn’t?”
“What if I didn’t go back? Would you like it if I stayed in San Antonio?”
Janet turned in the blonde’s arms, slid her arms around her neck, and gazed up into her eyes. “Yes, I would. I’d love for you to stay.” She slipped her hand to the back of Sam’s head and pulled her down into a deep kiss. Both were a little breathless when they finally parted. “Sam... I love you.”
Her blue eyes watered and her heart felt like it was about to explode. “I-I never stopped loving you, Janet. Pushing you away the way I did... it was the worst mistake of my life, and the only thing I truly regret. I love you.”
“Does that mean you’ll come to San Antonio to stay?” Janet asked as she gently caressed her cheek.
As they kissed Sam slipped her arm under Janet’s legs and scooped her up. She carried her into their room and laid her on the bed.
At the end of May Sam packed up her things and moved to San Antonio... and into Janet’s house. She took a job at the Southwest Research Institute in their Applied Physics Division. Four months after that, Sam proposed and Janet accepted. They waited until Cassie could take some time off from her residency to have the wedding.
Once again, Cassie stood up for her mother as she took the vows of marriage. And as her maid of honor, she proposed the toast.
“Before beginning, I’d like to offer my sincerest gratitude to Mom and Sam for allowing me to be part of this special occasion.
“In our lifetimes, we are gifted a small number of truly landmark moments. They start small enough, say, riding a bicycle or throwing your graduation cap high into the air. They grow in power and significance; some of you have seen the moment when a doctor tells you, ‘it's a girl,’ or, ‘it's a boy,’ and then hands you that perfect little life that you created. And it must be a perfect moment when you look into the eyes of a rediscovered love that was once lost.
“Khalil Gibran said, ‘And think not, you can direct the course of love; for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.’
“Love has indeed directed the path of both my mother and Sam and has allowed them to rediscover each other and their love for each other.
“A moment like this, and the commitment which follows, should be celebrated to its fullest. And so, I contend to all present that it is our duty to ensure that this moment in the lives of my mom and Sam does not pass unrecognized. And in celebrating their happiness we might just make this one of the landmark moments of our own lives.
“It is with great pleasure that I say congratulations to you both. May you share many warm days and many warm nights. Everybody raise your glass... here’s to love and rediscovery... here’s to Janet and Sam.”