It's Hollywood. Petty sniping, bickering and back-biting are the nature of the business. But it takes two to fight.
When Cassidy Hyland extends an olive branch to her costars, including Brenna Lanigan, to attend her son's birthday party with their families, a thaw begins that will take the women on a journey of self-discovery neither expected... to love another woman.
“Mom? Ms. Hyland?”
Cassidy stirred as the call came again from outside the tent. She flexed her
wrist and arm and found an unfamiliar texture pressing against her palm. Focusing,
she realized she was holding Brenna’s injured hand in her own. Gently she released
her grip and tracked up to the other woman’s profile, finding the distinctively featured
face turned toward her. A sharp pang of desire made her breath catch.
Is it possible to fall in love in a day? She shook her head. This has been building
for a lot longer than a day. What she had always felt as admiration was finally blossoming,
having been buried under work and their intense and adversarial relationship
for weeks, probably months.
Cassidy grasped Brenna’s other arm and shook gently until Brenna stirred. Blue
eyes blinked open, capturing her, and she gasped.
The husky voice flowed over her senses with a shocking tenderness. “It’s dinner
call,” she guessed, drawing away quickly as Brenna sat up.
“Boy, I really sacked out.” Brenna sighed, rubbing her cheeks with her palms
and wincing as she aggravated her burn.
Brenna glanced to the tent opening. With a sigh she shifted to it, unzipping it.
“Dinner, I guess. Hmm?” she invited over her shoulder to Cassidy, who had not
Looking away as Brenna exited the tent, Cassidy tried to pin her emotions
down and contain them. She knew what lust was about. She had even experienced it
in the context of a woman once. This was different. The urge to touch, yes, but
more...the desire to hold and cherish was also present. At last she released a long
breath and followed Brenna into the evening air.
Brenna’s son, James, stood a few feet away, looking at the women as they
emerged, straightening their sleep-wrinkled clothes. He held Ryan by the hand.
Stepping forward, Brenna brushed her son’s hair from a cheek and kissed his
temple. “Thanks,” she said.
“You were sleeping?”
“Yes. That’s not so strange.” Brenna ruffled her son’s hair. “I’ve had a long day.”
She looked at Cassidy with a wry expression. “And I’m not as young as I used to be.”
Mike hailed them from the grill. “Corn on the cob? Fish?”
Giving James a parting pat on the back, Brenna led the way to Mike, took two
plates, and passed one to Cassidy. “Thanks. Did we miss anything?” Carefully,
Brenna picked up the cob in her left hand and bit into the kernels, enjoying the sweet
savor on her tongue.
“Not really. Thomas and I double-checked the equipment for tomorrow. Most
people relaxed in their tents for a little while.” He turned a pair of fillets. Spearing
one, he held it up. “Fresh fish? Can’t beat it.”
Biting into the one delivered to her plate, Cassidy agreed. “Delicious.”
Seated on a log by a now-lit campfire, Brenna and Cassidy listened to the hum
of conversation around them, content for the moment to be quiet. An orange glow lit
the western sky as the sun set.
Caroline slid over. “How’s the hand?”
Brenna flexed her bandaged hand, able to stifle the wince. “Not so bad anymore.”
When she dropped her hand and looked up, Cassidy’s deeply concerned gaze
intersected hers. “Really,” she insisted.
Unnerved by the fire that began flickering behind the concern in pale blue
eyes, Brenna felt the need to escape. “I think I’ll take a walk.”
She handed her plate to Caroline and set out of camp. Aimlessly, she turned onto a path
that would take her higher up the mountain. Determined to sort out her feelings, she
followed the narrowing path, trying all the while to dispel the image of kissing away
that doubting look from Cassidy’s face.
She’s a woman, her inner voice pointed out. Brenna was surprised to find that
the inferno inside her did not dim for a second.
You’re married. All right, that caused a brief flicker. However, her heart softened
again at another visit from her memory: Cassidy’s face as they hugged in the
Pinnacle lot the week after Ryan’s mishap in Sports Warehouse. The fires roared back
Brenna was forced to acknowledge that it was desire she felt — not protectiveness,
not simple friendship. Her belly was thick with it; her chest ached with it. Her
breaths shortened. I can’t be feeling this.
She felt like turning tail and running. Her heart pounded, her head throbbed,
and her knees shook. She couldn’t move. Sinking to the ground against a tree,
Brenna closed her eyes against the images that would not stop now that they had
come forward to be recognized.
The crack of dry wood breaking brought her head up sharply. Twilight shadows
concealed the face, but it wasn’t necessary to see; she knew who had followed her.
She dug her hands into the tree behind her and rose slowly, steadying herself in
the maelstrom of emotions assaulting her, challenging her conscience. Should I flee
again? Or is it time to stop running? She studied Cassidy’s silhouette. The other
woman’s head was tilted, her shoulders rounded. She hesitated, but then stepped forward.
All contrary arguments were crushed under the weighty evidence of a reality
far more powerful as Brenna realized, I do feel. “How did this happen?”
“So you do...I wondered if it was just me.” Cassidy stepped hesitantly forward
into a beam of moonlight that pierced the canopy of trees.
Brenna held her breath. What will she ask of me?
Neither knew who reached out first, but they fell into a hug which became an
embrace, their heads turned into one another’s shoulder. They inhaled in surprise
and sensation, and their lips touched lightly. The tiny flames in their souls licked up
through their chests and joined where their lips melded in a nascent, delicate kiss,
the faintest brushing of their lips one against the other. The sensations — warm,
cool, and dewy soft, like rose petals brushing against their sensitized skin — rocked
Brenna gasped for breath, and Cassidy reluctantly let her go.
“We can’t do this,” Brenna said huskily, though this was exactly what she had
wanted since that morning in the car.
“You want this,” Cassidy countered softly, knowingly. Her palm warmed
Brenna’s cheek as the other woman fought against the desire to lean into the caress.
“All day...I saw you. I watched you.”
“I know. But this isn’t some fantasy, some role.” Brenna’s words sounded uncon
vincing, even to her own ears.
Cassidy shook her head. “No, you’re right. It’s real.”
Brenna’s eyes widened, her expression worried, hopeful, and alarmed in quick
succession. Palms tenderly held her cheeks, and Brenna’s stomach flip-flopped as
warm, full lips brushed hers again.
“It’s very real,” Cassidy assured her quietly again. Leaving behind a layer of
cool air filled with a scent of passion that made Brenna shiver, Cassidy disappeared
into the darkness.
What the hell do I do now? Brenna leaned weakly against the tree that still held
her somewhat upright. Traitorously, her body shook with the desire to run after
A woman of forty plus years shouldn’t be reduced to a puddle of mush from a
Ah, hell, who am I kidding? This wasn't about what should be. As she had told
Cassidy, there certainly seemed to be something here.
So what do I do now?
Go after her.
Brenna stumbled away from the tree and through the darkness, trying to find a
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