“Would you just call her and make arrangements for a quickie already?” Mary snapped.
Ashley’s swung her head around, ready to growl something ugly back, but then shook her head and laughed instead, “If I could do that, it would definitely solve the problem.”
She went to Mary and pulled her into a hug, “I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch lately.”
Mary hugged her back, “I’d thought it was your period coming on for a little while, but after the second week, I realized that you just needed to get laid.”
Ashley laughed, “Yeah, that would be nice, but honestly, I just wish she’d call me. The last thing I heard from her was the text she sent asking me to please be patient. Apparently, she doesn’t know me well enough to know that patience is not one of my virtues.”
“You know,” Mary teased, putting down the dust rag she was holding and picking up her glass of tea, “I can’t imagine that you two know much more than which position you like best.”
Ashley choked on the tea she was drinking and then burst out laughing, “Oh my God! I can’t believe you said that!”
“Well, it’s true,” Mary answered. She flopped down on the couch, moving aside the laundry Ashley had been folding, “Sit for a minute and let’s talk about this.”
“Okay,” Ashley sat down.
“Number one,” Mary began, “She is like twenty years older than you.”
“Eighteen,” Ashley corrected.
“Whatever,” Mary continued, “She’s a judge, and you’re a legal aid; what exactly do the two of you have in common besides great sex?”
Ashley thought about that for a moment, “We were both in the closet.”
Mary raised an eyebrow, “And?”
“We both love red wine and country music.”
“I don’t know,” Ashley snapped in exasperation, “We’re both from Kentucky.”
“That’s what I’m saying, Sweetie,” Mary said, leaning forward and taking Ashley’s hand, “You don’t really know each other beyond the physical side of your relationship. You may have a strong bond with her, but will it ever be anything more?”
Ashley squeezed Mary’s hand and then let it go, “I don’t know. I’m so drawn to her, like a moth to a flame. From the very first time she came into that bar and claimed me, I’ve truly been hers.”
“Well,” Mary suggested, “since you two can’t really get together for awhile because of her issues, why don’t you try just talking and getting to know each other. You may find out she’s a total bitch.”
“Well, I already know she’s a total bitch and a control freak,” Ashley replied.
“And, you want to be with her because?” Mary prompted with a grin.
“You don’t want to know,” Ashley laughed, “But you’re right. I ended things with her because I wanted a real relationship like you and Jackie have. If she and I are going to have anything like that, we have to figure out if we even have anything in common. I know the age difference might be a problem, but I’ve heard of a lot of relationships with big age differences lasting a long time.”
“That’s true,” Mary agreed, “But, seriously, if she’s really interested in being in a real relationship with you, she should be willing to work out something so the two of you can talk, even if you can’t see each other.”
Ashley nodded enthusiastically, “You’re right. I’ll text her, and we’ll see what happens.”
* * *
Jean smiled when she saw the text from Ashley on her phone. “How are you?” Ashley asked.
“I’m okay. Missing you,” Jean wrote back.
“I miss you too. Is there any way we can get together to just talk? Maybe even a phone call? I’d love to hear your voice.”
Looking at the pile of files on her desk, Jean knew she couldn’t stop working right now. “What about later tonight? I’m working right now. Can I call you around eight?”
“That would be awesome. I’ll be waiting,” Ashley wrote.
Jean sighed. She really wished that she could just have Ashley come to the house, but as long as she was on probation with Governor Michaels, she was going to have to be careful.
* * *
Ashley sat on her bed staring at the phone. By eight-thirty, she gave on Jean calling and turned on a movie. She started to doze off so when her phone buzzed at nine it startled her awake. She looked at the caller ID, and it was Jean.
“Hey,” she answered sleepily.
“Sorry, I didn’t call earlier,” Jean apologized, “I got so caught up in what I was doing that I didn’t realize how late it had gotten.”
“What are you working on?” Ashley plumped her pillow, put it against her headboard and sat back against it.
“Some divorce cases that have a lot of variables to consider,” Jean explained. She leaned back in her the leather chair of her home office and sipped the bourbon she had just poured.
“Fun,” Ashley said sarcastically.
“Yeah,” Jean agreed, “Just the way I wanted to spend my Saturday.”
“So how would you normally spend your Saturday?”
Jean sighed. “I used to play golf on Saturday mornings with some other judges and lawyers, but most of them have distanced themselves from me lately.”
“I’m sorry,” Ashley replied. She hadn’t thought the fallout from hotel incident would have such a deep affect on Jean’s personal life.
“Well, it just goes to show who your real friends are. If nothing else, I learned who I can count on and who I can’t.”
“You know, you can always count on me,” Ashley assured her.
“I hope so,” Jean said. “I wish so much that you could come over, but I don’t want to push my luck just yet.”
“It’s okay. Actually…” Ashley hesitated, “Maybe it will be good for us to have to just talk for a while. It will give us a chance to get to know each other better.”
“I thought we knew each other pretty well,” Jean said. She got up, taking her bourbon with her and went out to the living room to sit down on the couch.
“Well, Mary pointed out that we know each other very well physically, but that we don’t really know each other. You know, like I didn’t know that you played golf every Saturday. I mean, I knew you played golf, but I didn’t know it was that important to you.”
Jean sighed, “I see what you mean.”
Ashley chewed at her lip a few seconds before asking, “Do you think we could ever have a real relationship?”
Letting out another, heavier sigh, Jean replied, “I’m not sure. I’ve avoided that for so long. I don’t know if I would know how to have a real relationship.”
“Do you want to have a relationship with me?”
Jean only hesitated for a moment before she responded, “Yes,” surprising Ashley and herself, “Yes, I do. You’re a smart and beautiful woman, Ashley. I enjoy being with you.”
Ashley smiled, “And I, you. Mary suggested we spend time talking and getting to really know each other over the phone, since we can’t get together for a little while. I think maybe she’s right. There’s so much you don’t know about me, and so much I want to know about you.”
“Okay,” Jean agreed with a smile, “So tell me what you would normally do on a Saturday.”
Ashley laughed, “I usually catch up on laundry. Sometimes go to the movies or shop. I used to plan my evenings with you.”
Laughing too, Jean asked, “You did? And here I always thought I was in control of our meetings.”
“Oh, you were,” Ashley assured her, “But I knew how to get you to do things I wanted you to do.”
“You little minx,” Jean laughed again, “So what else do you do with your weekends? Do you go visit your family?”
Ashley grew quiet, “Rarely.”
“Oh. Sorry,” Jean said, “Is that a sore point for you?”
“Yeah, my parents think I should be married with kids by now,” Ashley replied, “What about your family?”
“I come from a family of lawyers, so the fact that I became a judge created mixed emotions, but mostly we all get along.”
“What about your parents?” Ashley asked, “What do they think about you not being married?”
“My parents are both career lawyers who still practice, so they understand my putting my career first. They also know that I’m gay, as do my brother and sister.”
“Really?” Ashley was stunned, “Do they have a problem with that?”
“Not really, well, not until this getting photographed thing happened. My father gave me a huge lecture about not being more careful,” Jean sighed. “I’m fairly sure both of my parents have had affairs over the years. In fact, I really think they got married more for the political alliance than love. My mother’s father owned a prestigious law firm in Louisville where she worked, and my father’s father owned a competing law firm. After they got married, the law firms merged and are still one of the most powerful law firms in Louisville.”
“Not Davenport, Carlisle, and Jenson?” Ashley asked.
“The very same,” Jean answered, “My brother, Paul makes up the Carlisle part now. My cousins, Gerald Davenport and Alysa Jenson are the other major partners.”
“Why didn’t you go to work for them? You’d be making a lot more money than you are as a judge.”
“Well, not everything is about money,” Jean said, “And, one of my family’s specialties is divorce litigation. I’ve seen my father and brother win cases for the vilest people, people who use their kids as pawns against the former spouses. And the kids are always the ones who suffer. So I decided I wanted to be family judge, where I could try to keep assholes like John Garrett from hurting their children.”
“And you have,” Ashley assured her, “You’ve kept a lot of kids from suffering at the hands of people like him.”
“I know, and that’s part of what is making things so hard right now. I’m terrified that Governor Michaels is going to keep digging, trying to find something to use to get rid of me,” Jean confessed.
“I don’t think that is going to happen,” Ashley said firmly, “So you messed up with a little indiscretion. What should be the focus of that situation is that John Garrett set you up? How did he know about you going to the bar? Had he been stalking you?” She paused and then asked, “And what are they doing about him anyway?”
“I’m not sure. I’m trying to get the case in front of Mark Thompson. He’s one of the toughest judges in the county, and he’s one of the few people who haven’t turned their back on me.”
“Oh yeah,” Ashley agreed with undisguised glee, “Judge Thompson would crucify John Garrett.”
“I’ll find out on Monday who’s getting the case, so keep your fingers crossed,” Jean told her. She sipped her bourbon, kicked her shoes off, and stretched out on the couch, “Let’s talk about something besides work. Tell me about your childhood.”
For the next three hours they shared their stories about growing up and their different backgrounds. Ashley’s parents were the traditional family type where Dad worked and Mom stayed home with the kids. Ashley’s older brother had been the perfect child who followed in Dad’s footsteps and worked at one of the factories in Lexington as a supervisor, was married with two little boys, and whose wife was a teacher at the school that their sons attended. Ashley had always wanted to do something more exciting, so she went to college, originally to become a lawyer, but settled for a legal aid because she hated school.
Her childhood had been “so typical it was boring”, she had told Jean. Her parents lived in a midsized home in a very nice neighborhood. All the kids went to school together and played together. The parents were mostly all friends and had parties at each other’s houses. And everyone went to church.
Jean, of course, had followed in family tradition by becoming a lawyer. She had turned down a position at her parents’ law firm because she couldn’t bring herself to help people who were so selfish that they would use anything and everything to get their way, including their kids, and so she wouldn’t be under her father’s thumb. She had chosen to be a child advocate lawyer and moved to Frankfort to distance herself from them. When she got sick of not being able to help the kids as much as she wanted, she decided to become a judge so she’d have more control over situations.
“So you’ve always been a control freak?” Ashley asked with a laugh.
“Yep, I inherited it from my father. So what about high school? Did you date guys in high school?”
Ashley sighed. “Yes, even though I knew when I was fifteen that I preferred girls. There was no way I could let anyone know that I was gay. Everyone I knew was so conservative. I was terrified of what would happen if anyone knew.”
“So there wasn’t a particular girl in high school that you had a crush on?” Jean asked. She reached for the bottle of bourbon she had retrieved from her office earlier and poured a little more in her glass.
“Not really,” Ashley recalled, “There were a few that I thought were really pretty, but I didn’t even have a really close friend until college. In high school, we all kind of hung out in groups instead of pairing off with specific friends. By fifteen, almost all the girls I had grown up with had already started dating and spent most of their time with their boyfriends.”
“So you had a boyfriend?” Jean squelched the surge of jealousy she felt bubbling up.
“Yeah, I dated Brad Marshall through all of my junior and senior year. He was really sweet and a cute nerd. I intentionally picked him because all the girls who’d dated him complained about him being a gentleman to a fault. We had study hall together so I started flirting with him,” Ashley smiled at the memory, “He was very smart and interesting to talk to, something that the jocks weren’t. Plus, he wasn’t interested in sex. His parents were very religious, and he believed that you weren’t supposed to have sex until you got married. I figured it would be perfect. I liked hanging out with him, and I didn’t have to worry about having sex with him.”
“You’re kidding me. A teenage guy who didn’t want to have sex?” Jean asked, astonished, “I knew a lot a very religious guys, but none that didn’t want to have sex”
Ashley laughed, “Yeah, he was special that way. I’ve always wondered if he weren’t gay too. He definitely would never be able to come out. His dad would probably really crucify him.”
“So what happened? How did you end things with him?”
“We both went to college at different schools and decided we couldn’t maintain a long distance relationship. We still email each other. He’s a computer engineer who travels a lot. I think he’s actually based out of Nashville now.”
Jean twirled the amber liquid in her glass, “And what about girls, when did you start dating girls?”
“College,” Ashley replied, “I went to UK, of course. It’s almost a sin to live in Lexington and not go to the University of Kentucky. And I found that there was a large lesbian community on campus. What about you?”
“High school,” Jean said, not able to keep the sadness from her voice.
“And?” Ashley prompted.
“I fell in love with my speech teacher,” Jean explained, “She had just got hired so she wasn’t much older than me. I was like a lost puppy around her.”
When Jean’s voice trailed off, Ashley asked, “And she played you?”
“Oh, yeah, like a fiddle,” Jean’s bitterness returned, “I did everything she wanted me too. We were so careful. I’d sneak over to her house. She’d make dinner, we’d make love, but at school it was back to the teacher/student roles.”
“When did it start?” Ashley got up and stretched. She padded to the kitchen to refill her water glass while she waited for Jean to continue.”
“My junior year,” Jean said and sipped her bourbon, “I practically lived at her house the summer between my junior and senior year. Apparently, someone on the school board saw us together.”
“She ended things?” Ashley asked, making her way back to her bedroom.
“She said we needed to cool things off because she couldn’t afford to lose her job. So I stopped going to her house, and we would meet in Elizabethtown and go to a hotel to be together. After school started, she would barely speak to me in the halls. Then, I heard that she was dating one of the guy teachers, and I lost it. The next time she wanted to get together I threw a huge fit.”
Jean got quiet for a moment. “She slapped me, and then threw me down on the bed, and we had the roughest, wildest sex we’d ever had. Afterwards, she told me it was over, and she wouldn’t even look at me after that.”
Ashley had stopped in her tracks just outside her bedroom door. “Oh my God, Jean, I’m so sorry.”
“It was a long time ago, but she was my first love,” Jean smiled and then added, “And then after that, I became a player. I already had friends who knew I was gay who hooked me up. Of course, college was like going to a smorgasbord. I went to U of L, like everyone else in my family for pre-law and law school.”
“Really, for some reason I thought you had done your pre-law here and then went back to Louisville to go to the University of Louisville for law school,” Ashley remarked.
“I did a research project with another student, who was attending UK, for the Center for Research on Violence Against Women for her thesis,” Jean said, not without a hint of pride, “Our joint work and my thesis were published in a journal at UK.”
“Wow,” Ashley marveled, impressed.
Jean blushed but smiled, “It actually helped me get elected as a family judge here.”
“Well, I’m glad it did,” Ashley said, “Otherwise, I might never have met you.”
“I’m glad, too,” Jean replied. She yawned and stretched, “It’s getting late and I’ve been up since five. Do you think we can talk some more tomorrow?”
“Absolutely,” Ashley agreed. “Mary, Jackie and I have gotten into the habit of going to out for brunch on Sunday mornings. There’s a bistro downtown that has the best omelets you’ll ever have. Why don’t you accidentally go to the same place and join us?”
Jean sighed. She would love to do that, but she wasn’t sure that would be a good idea. “Maybe.”
“They have large tables where you could bring in some work. You could sit at a table next to us like you’re working. Most of the people who come in there don’t pay any attention to anyone else,” Ashley assured her.
“I’ll think about it,” Jean promised.
“Okay, well, if you decide not to do breakfast, I’ll be home after four tomorrow afternoon. We’re going to the movies after brunch,” Ashley added and fluffed her pillows.
“Well then,” Jean got up off the couch, “I’ll either see you in the morning or I’ll talk to you tomorrow afternoon.”
“Good enough, sleep well,” Ashley said.
“Sweet dreams, Ashley,” Jean replied and clicked off her phone. She closed her eyes and looked heavenward. What time did most people have brunch? She should have asked her. It didn’t matter. She probably wouldn’t go out tomorrow anyway.