Reconciliation 1 - 'The Call'

Notes of a Journey Trilogy
Book 3
Reconciliation

Chapter 1 - 'The Call'

A Gaby FanFic by PB


 

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Chapter 1
 
 

“I promise!” Jenny emphatically conveyed. “I’ll get her to call as soon as I see her, Maddy … don’t cry, dear … somehow … I know things’ll work out … she’s been waiting a very long time to hear that … and I know she’d much rather hear it from you … now try to relax … I’ll make sure she calls … okay? … Auf Wiedersehen.”

Jenny was just putting down the phone, when her youngest daughter entered the room.

“Maddy again?”

“Uh huh … she wants you to call and I promised her you would this time. God knows how much you’ve wanted to do that these past few years.”

“It’s been so long…” Gaby’s voice faded as she wondered if she’d even be able to talk to Maddy after all that had passed between them.

“I bet she’s just as scared as you are, if not more…”

“She really wants me to call? She’s not going to hang up on me?”

“All I know is that she has to talk to you and was in tears when we said good-bye just now,” Jenny added in a sombre tone.

“Here … now, call her!” Jenny firmly stated as she passed her daughter the cordless phone. “Carol’s number’s programmed in the phone. If you could’ve heard her just now...”

As she dried her moist eyes, Gaby thought back to the ‘old gang’ and the times they had before that fateful trip to Virginia and later, her fourteenth birthday. Despite it all, deep down, she never did lose her feelings for Maddy and she wondered if her girlfriend still shared those feelings.

“It’s just that ...” Heaving a big sigh, her thoughts began to fade.

Those same thoughts were interrupted as she heard the musical tones of Carol’s number, being dialed up by the phone.

“Has she decided? … What do I say? … Would she even bother to phone if she wanted nothing more to do with me? … Naw … she’d just forget about me … maybe she…”

“Peters residence…”

“Uh … hi… Uncle John? …. Ummmm … it’s Gaby … is … ummm … Maddy there? Mum told me she called.” Gaby felt nervous as she spoke into the handset.

“...Just a minute, Gaby … MAADDDEEE! … It’s Gaby! Hurry up ... it’s lon…”

A rumble reminiscent of a heard of stampeding rogue elephants was clearly heard in the background as Maddy ran up the stairs from the kitchen to take the phone in her room.

(sniff) ” …Got it! Hang up …please?” (click)

(sniff) “…Hi, Gaby?” Despite her best efforts to compose herself before picking up the phone, Maddy failed miserably.

“You okay, Mad?”

(sniff),” Maddy tearfully admitted.

“I know you said you never wanted to see me again after everything I did (sniff) … and ... okay ... I deserved it … but … I just have to see you, Gabs! There’s things we sniff) … I … have to talk about ... and I think it’s better if we talked face-to-face. Will ... will you ... meet me if I came to Germany? Please? (sniff) Mum already said that I could catch a flight an’ be there for the weekend … if … if … that’s okay with you?”

Maddy paused ever so briefly and then calmly and clearly said the words Gaby lived to hear.

“I love you, Gabrielle Bond … and … I want to be a part of your life ... again … if ... you’ll have me.”

As Maddy paused, she thought she heard the faint sounds of someone crying on the other end of the line and then silence. She closed her own tear-filled eyes and softly pleaded, “You still there Gabs?”

After a short pause, she finally heard Gaby’s weak, emotional voice.

“Yeah … I‘m here, Mad. (sniff) You really can come this weekend? (sniff)

“I’ve still got two weeks of school left ... but Mum said she’ll let me take this Friday off ... will you be allowed to meet me, then? She thinks I’d have no trouble getting a morning flight to Bonn,” Maddy explained in a stronger voice.

“I’m finished school ... (sniff) an’ I’m pretty sure I can get this Friday off from training. Just give me a ‘ring’ when you have all the details … an’ I’ll be there … ‘kay? ”

“Yeah … okay … Gaby? I want you to know … that … I ... really do ... love you...” Maddy’s voice faded as her emotions once again threatened to overwhelm her.

“You know I’ve always loved you, Mad ... an’ I’ve never denied that ... to anybody. … Now? I’m sorry … but … I gotta go … Mum wants something. Crikey! This better be important! No ... not you, Mad … Mum. Look ... call me just as soon as you get your flight information … ‘kay? I love you, Mad … laters…”

With her voice trailing off, Gaby blew a kiss into the handset, then slowly returned it to its cradle and quickly dabbed her wet eyes.

“Well? What’d she say?” Jenny was all over her daughter like a gossip-starved schoolgirl!

Gaby, looked up from the phone at her mum and quietly replied, “If I tell you … can I have Friday off and take the Volvo to go meet her?”

“Only if you sit down and tell your ol’ mum all about it.” A wide smile crossed Jenny’s face as they sat down at the dining-room table.

After Gaby told her mother all about the phone call, Jenny leaned back in her chair to ponder what she had heard, then sat up and stared deeply at her youngest child.
“You realize your dad won’t get that guest room looking respectable, by the weekend?”

“Well … we could…“ Gaby began.

“You’re right ... we could always double you and your sister … and let Maddy have your room…” Jenny suggested.

Gaby quickly responded with an enthusiastic, “Or we could let Jules have her room, an’…”

Suddenly Gaby felt her mum’s stare boring into her like a dull dentist drill and while she was positive no one had mastered ’the stare’ like her Gran, Gaby always felt her mum was a close second!

What?” Gaby shouted as she suddenly stood up and moved away from the table, while looking at her mother in total disbelief. “It’s not like I’m gonna get her pregnant or anything!”

Jenny tried to keep a straight face but quickly lost the fight with her daughter’s reaction.

“Okay, kiddo … we’ll put her in with you ... but if you could’ve only seen your face!”

An appreciative Gaby bent down and gave her mum a huge hug.

“Best get upstairs and get ready so we can leave when your dad and sister get home. Remember we’re going out for dinner with the Pinger’s.”

“It’s so nice to have a full house again ... now that Jules is back and working with Dave for the summer.”

As Gaby was just starting up the stairs to go and change, Maddy phoned back.

“Hallo? Yes … she’s here this time … Gaby! It’s Maddy … here.” Jenny handed the phone to her anxious daughter.

“That didn’t take long! Okay … TUIfly 1501 … Terminal 2 … Lufthansa arrivals … 10:50 … got it! Oh! ... Mum said I have the Friday off, so I’ll be there … don’t worry … I love you, Mad...”

As Gaby hung up, she blew another kiss into the phone and then stared at the notes she’d made with Maddy’s flight information.
“Five whole days! … Well, I suppose if I waited this long....”

At the restaurant, Gaby learned from Maria and Jenny, just how long those five days would be!

With the Junior World Cup tour scheduled to leave for Beckley, W. Virginia in two week’s time, the Junior Team Apollinaris would begin full-day training along side the pro team, including daily training rides ranging from 70 to 120 kilometres and having to, as Maria said, ’tolerate George’!

When she heard Maria’s words, a huge grin immediately crossed her face.

“It may have been a few years since the ‘Winter Classic’, Gabi … but I’m counting on you to help me pass on our combined experience with that race to the rest of your team-mates … the competition they will be facing may be generally older und more experienced … but since they’re not pros … we’ll have to deal mit them … just like Atlanta,” Maria mentioned with a smile.

“There’s something else … your mama has told me that you’ve asked for this Friday as an off-day.”

“Ja.” Gaby nervously waited for the other boot to drop.

“That's okay mit me … but could you spare an hour for the team meeting? I think it ist important that you be there. I could schedule it for late afternoon … say three? Would that be okay?”

“Ja.” Gaby suddenly felt like she won the lottery as Maria continued to speak to her.

“Your mama’s mentioned your ‘friend’ ist scheduled to land around noon ... so that should give you plenty of time to get back from the airport by then. Bring her along if you want.”

“We’ll both be there, Maria … Danke!”

Giving a mental sigh of relief, Gaby went back to her food and since the discussion moved on from cycling, she once more found herself turning her thoughts back to being reunited with Maddy.

“What was that all about?” Kat discreetly asked Jules as she watched Gaby become lost in her thoughts.

“Maddy phoned … she’s coming on Friday,” Jules whispered.

“That ist gut … ja?” Kat asked, in an almost inaudible whisper.

“From what I’ve overheard … that’s very good!” Jules replied in a hushed voice.

Both girls glanced at each other, each knowing exactly what Gaby was thinking about.

The next few days flew past in a flurry for Gaby. Both George and Maria hardly gave the Junior team time to relax, working them right along side of the Pro team and expecting just as much from them.

A typical morning for the girls began with joining the women of the Elite team at 7am for a ride that typically lasted a few hours. They’d be constantly drilled in team tactics and repeatedly put through road drills to enforce what they learned. Sometimes, George would give Maria a free hand as she allowed the kids to put theory into practice with a ‘short’ race in which the Pro team took the role of the competition.

Following the morning ride, they’d head inside the training facility for a relaxing soak in one of the hot tubs, a massage and late lunch.

The afternoon would consist of a daily team meeting for the junior team where the morning’s work was re-hashed, followed by a rigorous session in the gym on the various pieces of equipment. If they were lucky, Maria would let them go before 6pm.

Near the end of the week, the girls were chuffed in not only that they trained with their mentors, but they proved that each one of them had what it takes to be able to ride a race side-by-side with the Pro team.

After what seemed to be the longest week in Gaby’s life, Friday finally arrived. She took the rare opportunity to sleep in, awakening shortly after everyone else had left for work. After stepping out of the shower and drying herself, she blow-dried her hair and did her make-up. Heading back into her room, she thought about what to wear.

Standing around in only her panties, she nervously went through her closet trying to select that perfect outfit. After mix n’ matching several items, she settled on pairing one of her denim mini skirts with her white cotton and lace off-the-shoulder peasant top with long loose sleeves that tied at the wrists. Once that decision was made, it was back to her dresser, looking for that perfect bra.

“That strapless bra’s gotta be here, somewhere ... I know it’s not in the laundry...”

A pair of ‘nude’ pantyhose, her black dress pumps with a three-inch heel, a Sterling silver Figaro chain for her neck and matching two-inch hoop earrings, completed her look. With a final brushing of her hair and a quick check in the full-length mirror on the back of her bedroom door, she headed for the kitchen.

Following a quick breakfast and the mandatory washing up, she nervously gave her make-up a final check using the mirror in the hall. Making sure she had the keys before she picked up her bag, she proceeded out to ‘her car’, or at least that’s how she felt when she sat behind the wheel!

There was still one stop she had to make in town before heading out and tackling the Autobahn. Checking her watch, she saw that she still had roughly two hours before Maddy’s plane was scheduled to land, giving her plenty of time to make that stop and get to the airport.

Even though the traffic on the Autobahn was much lighter than she expected, when she exited for the airport Gaby ran into some major road construction. The unwelcome lane closures on a few of the access roads caused her progress to be drastically slowed.

With thoughts of missing Maddy’s arrival running around in her mind, she finally entered the car park for Terminal 2. After finding a spot reasonably near the building, Gaby wasted no time locking up the car and grabbing her package before making her way to the terminal.

Once inside, she became aware of how nervous she really was about seeing Maddy after four years of separation. Calling upon her pre-race routine, she took a few deep breaths to calm herself while she looked around for a ‘ladies’ so she might give herself yet another ‘final’ check before the reunion.

Soon after she entered the large concourse and glanced up at the ‘arrivals board’, she saw that Maddy’s plane was due to land in a matter of minutes. Quickly picking out an unoccupied space opposite the wide hallway leading from Immigration, she proceeded to casually lean up against a column and focus on the closed glass doors.
As she periodically alternated her gaze from the glass doors to the electronic ‘Arrivals’ board, the butterflies in her stomach suddenly became very active as she watched the flight’s status for her love’s plane, change to ‘landed’.

After waiting for what seemed like hours, a large number of people began to stream out of Customs. Gaby intently watched for her girlfriend, but as the group started to thin out and no Maddy, she started to feel anxious. As she looked around and wondered what happened, a single tap on the shoulder made her visibly ‘jump’.

“Hi, Gabs...” Maddy’s voice was quiet, almost apologetic. Gaby turned to look at her and was met with the saddest puppy-dog eyes she ever saw.

“Hi, Mad…” Gaby found herself at a loss for words as she softly greeted her guest.

“Gaby … I’m sor…”

“Mad … shhhhh,” Gaby quietly implored. “Unless you came all this way to give me a ‘dear Gaby’ speech ... you’ve already told me all I need to know … all I really want to know.”

“No … there’s no speech...”

“Then ... this is for you…”

Without letting her finish, Gaby handed her two silk, short-stemmed, red roses, with the stems twisted together.

“Thank you … I…” Maddy’s choked up voice was barely above a whisper.

“They’re beautiful, but…why are they twisted together?” Maddy puzzled.

“I hope they can be us … two roses … two of us … two stems as one … two hearts as one,” Gaby quietly offered.

“After everything I di... (sniff)” Maddy whispered as tears starting to run down her cheeks.

As she lifted her gaze from the flowers, she threw her arms around Gaby and totally ignoring their very public surroundings, pulled her close for a lingering kiss.

“I was beginning to think I’d never be able to hold you again,” Gaby whispered as she continued to embrace Maddy.

“When you walked out of my room that night … (sniff) I was so scared I lost you forever,” Maddy softly admitted. When they released their embrace, Gaby took her finger and gently wiped a few tears from Maddy’s face.

“How ‘bout we get outta here an’ grab something to eat, before we hit the Autobahn? Mum may have let me have the time off to meet you, but Maria still wants me for our daily team meeting. We’ve still got a bit of time to get you settled in and maybe even talk a bit before we have to go … ‘kay?”

“Okay … but what time do you have to be there?”

“Three ... but, don’t worry ... you’re coming with me. Maria said it’s okay.”

“What does she have to do with you?”

“Mum may still be the Training Director for the youth program, but Maria’s taken over the coaching duties.”

“Oh. Umm … Gabs? You never really answered my question on the phone ... will you let me back into your life?” Maddy’s voice had gone quiet.

“You were never gone, Mad …” Gaby’s reply was equally quiet.

“I love you,” Maddy softly whispered as she closed her eyes to prevent another flood of tears as she pulled Gaby into another long hug.

After a while, Gaby gently freed herself from her girlfriend’s embrace and suggested they head for the car. Following a tender kiss, she picked up Maddy’s single piece of luggage and took her hand before leading her out of the terminal.

“Maybe it might be better if we went right to your place an’ had lunch?” Maddy suggested while Gaby was caught behind some slow-moving traffic heading out of the airport and onto the Autobahn.

“At the rate the traffic’s moving … that sounds like a good idea!”

Once on the open road, the drive to the front door was a little more than an hour. A short time later, the girls found themselves in the kitchen making a quick lunch. At every opportunity during the conversation, Maddy tried to apologize and Gaby tried just as hard to dismiss her efforts.

“Don’t you want to know?” Maddy pointedly asked.

“Nope!” Gaby tersely replied.

“Gabeeeee … please? I need to say this,” Maddy whined, her eyes glazing over.

“Why?” Gaby softly asked as she gently took hold of Maddy’s hands.

“I have to ... please?” Maddy weakly replied.

Gently guiding Gaby to one of the kitchen chairs, Maddy pulled up another chair and sat down facing her.

“Okay, but you really d…” Gaby was stopped from completing her thought when Maddy put her finger against her girlfriend’s lips.

“I’ve thought about this many times since I called you an’ now I’m going to go through with it...”

Maddy’s voice faded to a whisper. With a deep breath, she found the inner strength to continue.

“Back in the third levels, even before that Easter disco when we all went as Magna characters … I knew I liked girls.”

Seeing Gaby was about to say something, Maddy again gently silenced her girlfriend but this time, with a gentle kiss on the lips.

“Let me finish, okay? I need to say this ... if not for you … then … for me … please, Gabs?” Gaby squeezed Maddy’s hand and reluctantly nodded her agreement.

“Thank you…” Maddy whispered and following a bit of a silence to gather herself, she resumed her explanation after a huge sigh.

“I had no idea that you were intersexed … and Drew wasn’t really feminine … but … I dunno … a feeling … a voice … something … something made me want to see you as a girl … and … after I got the others to go along with my costume idea … well … you know the rest. The only problem was … I quickly found that I fancied the ‘girl’ I was with … and … as time went on, I needed to be with ‘her’ … more and more…”

“When Britney first told me her ‘rents were expecting two sisters … I was in Heaven because I’d be with 'her' for six whole weeks ... but as time dragged on and I only saw 'Gaby', I realized the focus of my love was changing.

Before we left for the States, you asked me who I loved an' I said ... it didn't matter, I loved you ... 'you' as in Drew an' Gaby. That day we went skiing, I answered that same question ... not with 'I love you' ... but rather ... 'I love you, Gaby'. That was the first time I admitted to anyone that I loved you without mentioning Drew's name.”

“...Mad...”

“Please? ... I'm sorry ... but I really don't know why I did what I did in Grottoes ... an' I've concluded that I never will. What I do know is ... it happened and I hurt the only girl I'll ever love. When you finally called it quits after the comp ... I felt as if you ripped my beating heart from me, threw it on the floor an' stomped all over it. That night when we got back to her place, Jessica an' I had a long mother-daughter type talk ... well, she mostly talked an' held me ... I pretty well cried the whole time. Later, back at school after your race ... you totally ignored me an' that really hurt. Even now, if I close my eyes, I can still feel it.”

Gaby could see how painful the memories were, but Maddy shook off her girlfriend's attempts to get her to stop.

“When I first saw you at your locker, brushing your hair ... I thought you looked so beautiful ... with it long like that an' all ... only to be reminded that we weren't a couple anymore. Later in Washington, I tried to apologize like Jessica suggested, but ... I couldn't ... I mean, how could I after what I did? If I never kept her present 'til your birthday instead of giving it to you at the hotel like she asked ... it might've given us a reason to talk again, another chance to apologize an' maybe start over.”

“Wot 'appened?”

“Fran's decision not to let Mr. Woods mention our win at the comp. I know how upset she was about us an' all, but all I saw was that you were the reason behind it an' something inside me snapped. I saw your birthday as payback.

It was only when you told everyone about that letter, that the full extent of what I did to you an' our families sunk in. The problems with the school an' the 'gang' as a result of that night, only added to any problems I had with you. Then when you moved, that ended my life ... an' I just retreated further into my own dark world.

Knowing that it was 'Gaby' I really hurt, only made it worse. Having to walk by your picture every day at school, seeing all the photos Mom would leave lying around ... an' havin' Mr. Woods constantly keep us up-to-date with your latest races all added to the fact you weren't around an' there was nothing I could do. I lost count of the number of times that I wished I had someone to talk to.”

“You always had Fran, you know.”

“Yeah, I did, but it was a while before I did ... an' then it only was because she kept reaching out as much as she did, that I finally got the courage to talk to you on the phone.”

Gaby quietly rose from her chair and gently pulled Maddy to her feet, into a warm, loving embrace.

“Feel better? I don’t care what happened … or why it happened ... I only know that I love you … an’ I’m not going to let you go this time.” Gaby sealed her promise with a long, passionate kiss.

“Sorry ... I didn’t mean to talk so much,” Maddy softy voiced as she saw the clock on the wall behind them.

“That’s okay, we’ll eat later. C’mon ... I’ll show you where you’ll sleep,” Gaby quietly replied as she took Maddy and her luggage up to her room.

“I’m not throwing you out of your room, am I?” Maddy asked once she saw ‘her room’.

“Nope … we’re ‘roomies’! ... That okay?”

“It’s more than okay...” Maddy playfully whispered as she embraced Gaby in a warm hug.

“Ummm ... don’t you have a meeting to go to?” Maddy reluctantly asked after a few minutes in her girlfriend’s arms.. “It’s bit after two.”

“Thanks,” Gaby sarcastically replied. “I’d much rather stay here … holding you.”

“There’s always after…” Maddy playfully suggested.

“True.” With a gentle kiss, they finally broke their embrace. Gaby saw they had just enough time to freshen up and comfortably drive to the team’s training facility.

A short time later as they turned into the car park, they caught sight of Maria and George talking in front of the building.

“There’s an empty spot up front ... by that green van,” Maddy suggested as they slowly cruised the aisles of the crowded car park.

“Oh, bum ... sorry Gabs ... that’s reserved ... I think,” Maddy pointed out as she noticed a sign posted at the head of the parking space.

“No problem!” Gaby mischievously dismissed Maddy’s warning as she swung into the empty spot. At the same time, Maddy couldn’t help but notice the man Maria had been talking with, was intently watching as Gaby parked the car.

“Won’t you get into trouble? That man over there was watching you park.”

“Naw! George won’t say anything ... it’s Mum’s spot...” Gaby playfully answered. “...An’ this is her car. She drove in with Dad this morning.”

“Where’s Uncle Dave’s car?”

“Beside us.” Gaby smirked while looking over the car’s roof at Maddy as they both got out of the car.

When Maria opened the glass doors to head into the training facility, she caught sight of both girls walking along the walkway toward her and decided to wait for them to catch up.

“Willkommen Maddy! It’s been a few years since I last saw you. How long are you here for?”

“Only the weekend, I’m afraid. I fly back late Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately I’ve still a week of school left.”

“Well … I hope you enjoy your stay. I’ll try not to keep Gaby too long. Komm … the sooner we start...”

Maria ushered both girls inside and steered them past reception and into the smallest of the three conference rooms on the main level where they were quickly joined by the rest of the Junior team.

Moments later, Jenny and Dave walked into the room and as soon as they had taken their seats, Maria started the team’s Friday meeting. After introducing Maddy to the rest of the team, it was right down to business. Later, when there was a short break in the proceedings, Maria approached the two girls.

“Boring, ja?” Maria playfully asked Maddy.

“No ... not really. I’ve ridden a few time trials with Gabs back ‘ome when we were kids and I guess some of that spirit is still there ... so seeing how a team works, is rather interesting.”

Gaby observed a subtle, nod of Maria’s head before she excused herself to have a few words with Jenny. After her coach left them, Gaby turned her attention back to Maddy and continued giving her some background about the purpose of the meetings.

“The UCI have sanctioned a Junior World Cup tour later this summer, so Mum an’ Maria thought daily meetings would sort out any problems in our training an’ help get us ready for our international debut as well as get us use to being a team.”

“So, you going to be on this World Cup tour ... all summer?”

Before Gaby could say anything more, everyone returned to their seats around the table and gave their full attention to Maria as she resumed the meeting.

As the meeting was wrapping up, Jenny was given the ‘floor’ to make an announcement.

“As you all know, you’ve been closely watched, not only by Maria, Dave and myself ... but more importantly by George and Corporate ... and I have to tell you that the Youth Program has exceeded their expectations ... especially you four. Everyone thought your performance when training alongside the Pro team, both individually and as a team ... was nothing short of magnificent. As a result … it was strongly suggested to Dave and myself, to let you continue to train with that ‘other team’ whenever they’re here. It was felt that the interaction between you and the other girls, plus the progress that we’ve witnessed … even in the short span of a week … more than justifies that decision. Congratulations!”

“On that note ... have a good weekend und we’ll see you all bright and early on Monday,” Maria called out as meeting broke up.

Jenny caught up with her daughter just as she and Maddy were about to leave the room with the others.

“We’ll be home soon, dear. Your dad and Jules are just catching up on a few things. Meanwhile … why don’t you two go on ahead and think of what you’d like to do about food?”

“…‘Kay.”

Without thinking, Gaby took Maddy’s hand and headed for the car. Smiling to herself, Jenny mumbled something and went back to her office.

Sometime later, the rest of the Bond family arrived home. As Jules and her mother passed by the lounge to go upstairs to change, they saw both girls cuddled up with each other on the couch, totally oblivious to the rest of the world. Jules continued upstairs to change, while leaving Jenny to address to two lovebirds.

(Ahem) Gaby and Maddy immediately un-tangled each other and sat upright.

“Now that I got your attention ... any ideas?” Jenny wondered.

Gaby looked at her mum with a puzzled expression.

“… for food? Remember?” Jenny prompted.

“Out?”

“I can live with that ... saves me from cooking! I’ll tell your dad he’s taking us out for dinner,” Jenny replied with a huge smile. With that, she left the two girls alone and went off to inform the other two of dinner plans.

Returning to the lounge after a few minutes, she sat down in the chair nearest the couch.

“While the others are getting ready, can I talk to you two?”

“Sure … I guess ...” Gaby answered after exchanging questioning glances with Maddy.

“Can I assume things are now okay between both of you?”

The two girls linked hands again, looked at each other and again nodded their agreement.

“Good … because I wanted to talk mainly to you Maddy … but it affects both of you,” Jenny explained.

“What about?” Maddy asked.

“Well … like … any plans now you’re finished with Warsop College?” Jenny coyly asked.

“I’ve been accepted at UMIST,” Maddy casually replied.

“Any idea what you want to major in?” Gaby asked with interest.

“Not really ... but I’m thinking ‘Molecular Biology’.”

“Wow … heavy stuff,” Gaby quietly responded.

“I’ve always fancied the sciences and the idea of getting into something like medical research sounds interesting,” Maddy admitted. Both Bond women were impressed. At the same time, Jenny hoped Gaby wouldn’t feel inadequate with her own plans to follow in her mother’s teaching footsteps, after hearing Maddy’s goals.

“What about summer plans?” Jenny inquired.

“Dad thinks I could get a part-time clerk position in his office. I know it’s not glamorous, but it pays ... and I can at least help them by taking some of the sting out of my university costs. Why?”

“Maria and I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Your call last week only made me think that I should ask you ... and today, Maria had the same thought.”

“Ask me what?”

“How’d you like to work with the Junior team during their upcoming ‘World Tour’? It’d be five weeks of international travel … work … and … Gaby … not to mention getting paid a tidy sum over the summer!”

Jenny thought she saw Maddy’s attention level rise.

“I think when it comes to financial remuneration, you’ll find George treats his people very well. Interested?” Maddy enthusiastically nodded.

“What do I have to do?”

“I know you’re already familiar with the bikes and what goes on behind the scenes ... considering all the time you spent at races and on the bike with my youngest,” Jenny chuckled.

“What you’d be doing while on ‘tour’, would be to work with Hans ... he’s the mechanic assigned to us for the summer. That means you’ll be doing everything from helping out in the car during a race, to preparing the bikes for the day’s events as well as assisting in the packing and unpacking of the team’s equipment.” Jenny briefly paused while that registered with Maddy.

“We may have some help assigned to us by the organizer’s for any given race … but you, Hans and myself would be the only ‘official’ support going with the team,’ Jenny revealed.

“As for the travel, we’ll be making stops in the United States, Canada, Holland and Germany ... in that order.”

“Still interested?” Jenny asked.

“After the last four years ... I’d be daft to pass up a chance to spend time with Gabs. I owe us both that much,” Maddy replied while at the same time, giving an enthusiastic squeeze to Gaby’s hand.

“Fair ‘nuff … I’ll call George to let him know I’ve found someone to help out,” Jenny replied as she reached for the phone.

“You two go freshen up … and please put something nice on … no jeans!”

She made a mental note to phone Carol and John to inform them about their daughter’s job offer, after they returned from supper.

Hoping that Maddy would agree, Maria and Jenny had tentatively worked out that she could return to Bad Neuenahr the Sunday following the end of school and then go back to Warsop the last week in August, in time to get set for university.

When the girls joined the rest of the family at the door, Dave was holding out his hand.

“Gaby … the keys?”

As they were driving away from the house, Jenny informed Maddy that George would be dropping by around nine am the next day, to meet her. She also mentioned that he said to tell Maddy that Apollinaris would take care of her return transportation between Manchester and Bonn, once she signed on with the team for the summer.

All three girls were very impressed with Jenny’s choice of restaurant when they saw it was in the five-star Steigenberger Bad Neuenahr Hotel.

“Now aren’t you girl’s glad I asked you to change?” Jenny smugly whispered as they were shown to their table.

Once everyone was comfortably seated, Maddy decided to ask Gaby’s parents a question that had been on her mind.

“Ummm ... can I ask you two a question?...”

“Ask away,” Jenny playfully replied.

“Warsop College’s year-end disco is next Friday … and ... it’ll be my last chance to go. I was kind of wondering if it would be possible … for Gaby to take me?”

“Shouldn’t you be asking her?” Dave quietly asked.

“I guess I wanted to see how you two felt about it, first.”

Seeing Gaby’s dubious expression, she quickly added, “It won’t be like the other times … I promise! If you go … it'll be as my date, not as a girl friend.”

“Gaby? It’s totally up to you, dear.”

Dave and Jules were listening intently, looking back and forth, from the girls to Jenny. They were quickly beginning to feel like they were watching a tennis match.

Putting her hand over Maddy’s, Gaby simply replied, “I’d really like that … but what about Mr. Woods and the others … will they allow it?”

“I’m pretty sure they would. Mr. Woods still stresses ‘tolerance’ of others … but I’ll talk to him when I get back, anyway ... okay, darling?”

It was the first time Maddy used that word since before the cheer competition and its impact on Gaby didn’t go unnoticed. Jenny quickly produced a tissue with practised precision and offered it to her youngest, while Maddy continued to explain about the dance.

“I should warn you that it’ll be formal. All the Upper-Sixth decided we’d make our last one, special...”

“Oh,” Gaby quietly uttered. “I ... umm ... don’t have one ... Mum?”

“Don’t worry ... we’ll find you something,” Jenny said reassuringly.

“I’ve got mine put away … but I wanted to hear what you thought before I bought it.”

“Mum … I could leave on Friday an’ spend the weekend? … Mad and I could fly back on Sunday.”

“Why not return on Saturday?” Jenny inquired.

“I’d kinda like to see everyone, if they’re around … an’ maybe talk to Em,” Gaby quietly replied.

Jenny looked at Dave before turning back and facing Gaby.

“Okay … but you have to check on the flights for Friday morning and let us know. Maybe you could squeeze in a morning ride and still get to the airport at a reasonable time.”

“Thanks!” Gaby smiled at Maddy and gave her hand a squeeze.

After an enjoyable meal, they walked the grounds of the hotel for a while before heading back for a quiet evening and to let Maddy settle in.

“You girls have plans for tomorrow?” Jenny later asked as they were getting ready to call it a night and go upstairs.

Kat and I were going to take Mad into Bad Neuenahr an’ show her around the place,” Gaby cheerfully replied as they both stood at the bottom of the stairs.

Both girls felt like they just fell asleep when Jenny peaked in the door the next morning.

“Guten Morgen! Kat just phoned saying she was running a bit behind and that she’d be here in about an hour … so if you get up now … she’ll never know that you also slept in.”

Gaby thought her mum sounded way too cheerful for that time in the morning! As she rolled onto her side and opened her eyes, her gaze fell upon Maddy looking back at her.

“Guten Morgen, Liebling.”

Gaby leaned over and gently pulled her into a long loving kiss. When they finally surfaced for air, the two continued to lie in bed, holding each other.

Running her fingers through her girlfriend’s hair, Maddy softly asked, “What’s Gooten-morgen Leeb-ling or whatever you said, mean?”

“Guten Morgen … Liebling … it’s German for ‘good morning, darling’,” Gaby quietly replied.

“I love you, Gabs ... and I don’t want to ever lose you … not now… not ever…” Maddy whispered just before she pulled Gaby into a passionate lip-lock of her own.

“If you want a shower, you can use Mum an’ Dad's.”

“You go first … I’ll have mine after you. I just wanna stay in your bed for as long as I can.”

Maddy gave her a soft kiss on the lips before sending her on her way.

Later, when Gaby wandered back into the room, she reluctantly got out of bed and headed off for her shower. When she returned, Maddy saw that Gaby was already in jeans and a bra.

“You planning on wearing a top ... or going out like that?” Maddy sweetly joked.

“Naw ... I’ve thought about it ... but I think I’ll wear this,” Gaby playfully replied while reaching for the plum coloured tank top beside her.

“Well, don’t dry your hair. If you wait a few minutes ... we can do each other,” Maddy suggested as Gaby was finishing brushing out her damp hair.

“Okay,” Gaby replied while plugging in her blow-dryer.

Later, while pulling up her own jeans, Maddy noticed a framed photo of Gaby on the dresser.

“I’d guess this was taken not long after your fourteenth birthday, right?” she asked while nodding to the photo.

“Dad took that in the terminal at Manchester … when we left for Germany.”

“Is that Jessica’s feather, I keep hearing about?” pointing to the photo. “Ally’s told me about it ... several times.”

“She gave me some of her other Indian stuff besides what I’m wearing in that photo … I also got some earrings an’ a pair of moccasin boots.”

Pointing to her wall over her bed, Gaby added, “Jules and I still have our dream-catchers, too!"

“I noticed that last night. It looks like the one I had over my bed when I stayed at her place.”

“Actually … it’s the one that was above Jess’ bed. Jules has the one that was over your bed.”

“It must work … I had a lovely sleep last night...” Maddy mischievously cooed as she pulled Gaby into a lingering kiss.

“You still have Jessica’s stuff?” she quietly asked when they parted.

“I keep everything in this box. The feathers are too fragile to keep with the rest of my jewellery … an’ the moccasin’s are in my dresser … under my nightdresses,” Gaby revealed as she pulled out a box from her top drawer and took it over to her bed. She carefully removed the contents and laid them on the bed for Maddy to examine.

“Wear them for me, today? ... Please?”

“The moccasin’s too?” Gaby asked.

“Uh huh.”

“Okay ... guess it’s dry enough outside.” Gaby then went back to her dresser and retrieved a pair of ankle socks with her moccasin boots.

“...And these earrings, too?” Maddy sweetly asked as she held out a pair of earrings, each with a single feather.

Once the girls finished dressing and drying each other’s hair, Gaby sat on the side of the bed and selected a bit of hair on the left side of her head and proceeded to braid in the leather string for her Hawk feather. She then put on her wide beaded choker and the earrings Maddy picked out, while her girlfriend watched every move. Before she stood up, she took the Moccasin boots Maddy held and pulled them on.

As she stood in front of her, Maddy took her in her arms and softly whispered, “Ally was right ... you do look very sexy in those.”

They only broke their kiss when they both heard a muffled sound from the door. Maddy was a bit taken aback when she opened her eyes. Looking over Gaby’s shoulder, she saw Kat standing in the bedroom doorway.

“Uh … hi … Kat. How long have you been there?”

“Just arrived,” Kat quietly replied as she entered the room and offered Maddy a hug. “Willkommen.”

Examining Gaby as she walked past her, Kat commented, “Mad twist your arm to wear them?”

“She asked me!” Gaby playfully corrected her friend.

Turning to Maddy, Kat smugly offered, “Gut for you! I tried to tell her long ago that she should wear them more often … but she does not listen. That look suits her … do you not think?”

“Definitely,” Maddy suggestively agreed.

“George is supposed to be coming over to see Mad before we go out … so we’ll have to hang around until they’re done,” Gaby explained to Kat as the girl’s left her room.

Shortly before nine, Dave answered the door and took George into his den where Maddy was already waiting. After he introduced the two, he left the room to let them talk.

About a half hour later, they emerged with George declaring that Maddy was now officially the newest member of the Team Apollinaris organization, even if it was only for the summer.

Considering it was already much later than they had planned to start exploring the shops, the girls decided to leave and get something to eat once they got to town.

While the girls explored what Bad Neuenahr had to offer, Gaby noted her girlfriend hadn’t lost any of her fondness of shopping and as far as Maddy was concerned, this was all new territory for her to conquer! They hit all the clothing, craft and jewellery stores they came across.

It was after looking in a couple of the display cases in one jewellery store, Gaby suddenly mentioned that Jenny suggested that Jules and her get ‘registered’. After suggesting Maddy also ‘register’ with the store, Kat started to say something until Gaby turned and glared at her.

“What was that all about? I know your mama said nothing of the kind … certainly not in that store!” Kat later whispered after they got outside and Maddy was distracted with a window display.

“Trust me ... I have my reasons,” Gaby mysteriously replied in a hushed voice.

The rest of the day was spent showing Maddy the town and all it had to offer and later that afternoon, the three left Bad Neuenahr to drive Kat back to her place.

Sunday was set aside for the two girls to quietly spend together, talking. Time seemed to pass all too quickly before Jenny informed the kids they had to take Maddy into Bonn.

At the airport, it was an emotional good-bye which was only made easier knowing that they’d see each other in a week’s time. As she walked through the boarding gate, Maddy was seen carrying her ‘roses’.

It was a couple of days later that Jenny began to notice how quiet Gaby was, particularly when she wasn’t training or hanging around with her friends. She’d also noticed that Jules and her sister seemed to be in deep conversation, much more than usual.

Finally curiosity got the better of Jenny and she couldn’t take it anymore and she decided that it was time for a mother-daughter chat. Later after dinner, she found Gaby alone on the couch in the lounge, reading a pocketbook.

“Gaby … is there anything you want to talk to me about?” Jenny asked as she sat down beside her daughter.

“How does she do that? “ Gaby thought to herself.

“Yeah … but I was gonna wait a bit before I talked to you.”

“Oh? … And how much longer would that be?”

“… dunno ...” Jenny noted Gaby’s uneasiness.

“Now’s as good of time as any...” Jenny softly offered. Gaby took a deep breath and braced herself for a conversation she knew had to happen.

“Maddy’s going off for a few more years at UMIST.”

“You’ll still be able to see her every so often.”

Looking at her mother, Gaby took another deep breath and laid it out.

“Mum? You know ‘ow I feel about Mad. I can’t bear the possibility of losing her again … not now! This weekend just proved to us ‘ow we still feel about each other.”

“And…” Jenny softly added.

“When she’s at UMIST … I want her to know I’m here!”

“And…” Jenny prompted.

“I’ve decided ... that ... I’m going to ask her to marry me!” Gaby stated with firm conviction. Catching her mother off guard, she continued. “We’ll wait until one of us graduates and gets a proper job … but I want her to have her diamond while she’s at school.”

While Jenny sat back in shock staring at her daughter, Jules walked into the room and upon seeing her mother's face, abruptly turned around to head back out.

Get back in here, Jules! I take it … this is what you’ve been discussing with your sister these last couple of days?” Jules meekly nodded.

“Well?” Jenny prompted, glaring at her oldest daughter.

“Well … everybody had always thought these two would stay together … even get married!”

“Yes … DREW and Maddy!” Jenny snapped back. As soon as the words left her mouth, she wished she never said them.

MUM!” Jules shrieked. Gaby broke down and started to run out of the room, making Jules lunge to grab her sister as she ran past.

“How can you even think that? When Drew and Maddy fell in love ... it wasn’t with my brother ... it was with a girl named Gaby ... my sister and your youngest daughter ... and you know as well as I do that the only thing that kept Gabs together over the last four-and-a-half years was her belief that deep down, they still loved each other and that they’d get back together. Anyway ... you can’t tell me that you weren’t just as excited as they were, to see those two in each others arms!”

“I know, Jules ... and I’m sorry for saying what I did.”

“Tell ‘er ... not me!” Jules spat out. Turning her attention to Gaby, Jenny restated her apology.

“I’m very sorry, darling. We all knew this day would come if you two were still together and I want to see both of you happy as much as anyone else ... but...”

Gaby didn’t respond to her mother as she clung to her sister like a scared little girl. After Jenny tried to further apologize, Jules’ vicious defence of her sister became more of a calm discussion.

“Mum ... think back. At anytime during the weekend, did they ever try to pretend they were anything but a couple? You and I both know you know the answer to that ... don’t you? You saw them in the house and around town the same as I did ... and so did everyone else. I’ll even bet that when Mad left, they kissed right in the middle of the terminal where everyone could see them ... and it was a lot more than a peck on the cheek … wasn’t it?”

“A whole lot more...” Jenny quietly agreed.

“Lemee guess ... nobody cared and you didn’t say anything … right?” Jenny remained predictably silent.

“This marriage thing isn’t some spur-of-the-moment idea that Gabs came up with when she was bored. She’s given it a lot of thought and she knows exactly what she’s doing! When we talked, she was very worried that they’d be pulled into the same mess that she had to deal with back in Grottoes.”

“Won’t they?”

“I doubt it! I told her that all she had to do is look around. You realize that ever since we moved here, Gaby’s always been open about her preferences when anyone asked. She made that decision because of what ‘hiding’ did for the two of them in Virginia ... and she’s never regretted it,” Jules calmly pointed.

“True ... I admit people here have accepted her,” Jenny weakly agreed.

“Not just here, Mum. People all over are more tolerant than they were a few years ago. Look at all the countries that now either have or are moving to, same-sex legislation. How can they do that if the majority of people in that country didn’t agree? Even if sis stays with cycling an’ turned pro … fans wouldn’t even blink twice with her ‘coming out’. You know it and so do I! All one has to do is read about all the other celebrities and sports figures that have come ‘out’ and ‘it’ certainly hasn’t hurt their popularity… “

As Jenny was getting drawn into the validity of her daughter’s words, Jules kept going.

“Current German and English law says they can legally get married with all the same benefits as heterosexual married couples … so why not let them? All these two want is a chance to have the kind of life together that you and Dad have had. Is that so terrible?” Still holding her sister close to her, Jules made her final point. “You and everyone else were right. These two are destined for a life together … but as Maddy and Gaby! For years, we’ve all accepted that and we’ve seen them together too often, not to. All she wanted from you, Mum … was your blessing. She’s already got mine … and Dad’s. You know Maddy's parents will agree with them tying the knot ... and by looking at you right now, I’d say you agree, too … don’t you?“

“Yes,” Jenny tearfully whispered. Gaby was still sobbing into her sister’s shoulder and didn’t hear her mother.

When Jenny rose from her seat to give Jules an apologetic hug, she knew everything her oldest daughter had said, was right. Moving as much on maternal instinct as guilt, she then knelt in front of Gaby.

“I’m sorry, darling … can you forgive me? Your sister was right. We all knew this day would come when Maddy came back in your life and I certainly can’t blame you for wanting to claim her as quickly as possible. I only hope she knows the value of the ‘jewel’ being offered to her.”

“Thanks, Mum ... I think she does ... now.”

“The only thing I can say in my defence is that I guess hearing you actually say you wanted to marry her … just … threw me. I know I handled that rather badly … I’m sorry, darling...”

While Jenny quietly apologized, she drew Gaby into a long and emotional maternal hug while Jules watched.

“When do you plan to ask her, dear?” Jenny softly wondered as Gaby looked up at her mum.

(sniff) “Friday night … before the dance. (sniff) The jeweller promised to have all the rings sized and ready for me to pickup Thursday evening. (sniff) I should be able to get there before they close if Maria doesn’t find some reason to keep us ... an’ Jules drives me into town.”

“I’ll make sure Maria doesn’t keep you,” Jenny playfully whispered. A weak smile managed to cross her daughter’s face.

“How’d you get her ring size?” Jenny softly wondered.

“When Kat and I took Mad into town last (sniff) Saturday. We went into a jewellery store an’ I gave her some (sniff) story of how you thought it’d be a good idea if Jules and I were ‘registered’ ... I then suggested that she might like to get ‘registered’ as well.” (sniff)

Jenny sat back on the couch and cuddled with her daughter as they spoke.

“You really had this all planned, didn’t you?” Jenny softly observed.

“Ever since she called...”

“Where’d you get the money ... the sponsorship money you set aside for your university?”

“I had to, Mum...” Gaby quietly admitted.

“While I don’t agree with what you did ... I understand why you did it. I think I would’ve done the same thing if I thought it was the only way to hold onto someone I love. I hope Maddy knows how much of a lucky girl she is ... to have someone who loves her as much as you do.”

(sniff)

“When did you actually buy them?” Jenny softly asked.

“Yesterday … Jules drove me into town during lunch.” (sniff)

“What exactly did you mean when you said ‘all the rings’?” Jenny wondered.

“I got two identical wedding band sets,” Gaby softly admitted.

“Planning a double ring ceremony, are we?”

Blotting her eyes, Gaby regained her composure.

“Uh huh ... like you and Dad. I know Maddy talked about having a ‘double ring’ wedding back when we were kids.”

“Does that mean ... two diamonds?” Jenny wondered.

“We’re both girls...” Gaby sniffed.

“Who make a very beautiful couple...” Jenny closed her eyes as she whispered into her daughter’s ear while wrapping her arms around her in a simple hug.

“We’ll make sure you get into town before the jeweller’s closes tomorrow ... okay, darling?” Jenny quietly offered in a soothing voice while gently pushing some tear-soaked hair off Gaby’s face.

“Love you, Mum...” Gaby then gave her mum a big squeeze.

 
 
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To Be Continued...
 



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