Well, here it is, the final chapter of How to Achieve Balance. I hope you have all enjoyed the ride and had as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I am working on the sequel at this moment, Maintaining Balance, continuing the story of our girls as they form a family and shape their future together. Thank you all for the wonderful reviews and comments, it makes it all worthwhile.

And away we go...

Disclaimer - I own nothing, seriously, nothing at all... well, I own a couple things, but they're used...

Paris, France

Late October 2005

I needed the shelter of someone's arms,
and there you were
I needed someone to understand my ups and downs,
and there you were
With sweet love and devotion
Deeply touching my emotion
I want to stop and thank you baby
I want to stop and thank you baby
How sweet it is to be loved by you
How sweet it is to be loved by you
James Taylor - How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)

Chapter 18 - Houston, We Have Balance

"Wow…" Maggie gasped as she used both hands to brush her hair back off her forehead. "Okay, you were right. I really do enjoy Orgasmic Chemistry…"

Bianca ginned and pulled Maggie close. "And we've got it, honey," she said, brushing her lips against Maggie's again and again. "In spades…"

Before the kiss could really take hold, there was a knock on the bedroom door. "Hey, guys?" Kendall's voice called out. "You decent?"

Maggie broke the kiss. "Let's see," she called back. "Middle of the afternoon, in our bedroom, door closed. What do you think?"

"Hey," Bianca whispered, giving Maggie a gentle smack on the arm. She got up and reached for a robe. "At least she knocked this time."

"Of course she did, she leaves tomorrow. Now she gets it right…" Before Bianca got too far away, Maggie smacked her back, right on the butt.

Bianca smacked at Maggie's hand after being smacked by Maggie. "Get up and put some clothes on."

"No," Maggie replied defiantly, reaching out to try to grab the sash on Bianca's robe. "She's not staying in here, is she?"

"So, you're going to lay there in bed naked while I have a conversation with my sister?" She smacked at Maggie again after Maggie managed to get hold of the sash and started pulling Bianca back towards the bed.

Maggie grinned devilishly and tried to reel Bianca in with the sash. "Call it incentive to bring a quick end to the conversation."

Bianca tried halfheartedly to pull away, but Maggie kept tugging her closer. "Dear Lord, Maggie, what is with you?"

"Whatever do you mean?" Maggie responded, batting her eyelashes.

"Well, the level of your horniness. I mean, there's horny-," she held her hand palm down about chest high "-and then there's Maggie." And she raised her hand well above her head.

"Well, if you weren't so damned sexy, I wouldn't be so horny." Maggie yanked hard on the robe sash, pulling Bianca back onto the bed. She wrapped her arms around the brunette and pulled her close.

"Wait a minute, are you suggesting it's my fault you're horny all the time?"

"Hey, guys?" Kendall called out. "I may be on the other side of the door, but I'm not deaf!"

Maggie's head fell back against the pillows. "Damn, I was hoping she'd given up and left."

"I heard that, Stone!"

Bianca grinned and gave Maggie a quick, hard kiss on the lips. "Put on a robe, Maggs," she said softly. "I'll make it up to you, I promise."

"Ooh, you and promises... Anything you want, Binks. Anything you want."

While Maggie pulled on a robe, Bianca went to the door. Swinging it open, she found Kendall on the other side, arms crossed on her chest, Manolo Blahnik-shod toe tapping an impatient beat on the carpet.

"What?" Bianca asked.

"You two are like rabbits, you know that?" As Maggie tied her robe shut and moved toward Bianca and the door, Kendall immediately took a wary step backwards. "Look, I want to take you two to dinner tonight. You know, it's my last night here for awhile and I want to spend it with you guys and Jean-Paul…"

"Oh, Kendall," Bianca said softly.

"Look, it's no big deal," Kendall replied, trying to act tough and nonchalant. "I thought it'd be nice to have dinner together. You two can come home and attack each other afterwards."

"It sounds like fun, Kendall. We'd love to."

There was silence as Kendall gave her sister a weird look.

"She means we'd love to go to dinner with you," Maggie said in clarification. "The attacking each other thing was going to happen anyway. What time?"

"I got us a table at Taillevent at 9:30."

Bianca grinned. "Nothing but the best for you, huh, sis?"

That made Kendall grin as well. "Of course."

At nine o'clock, Jean-Paul arrived at their door. He was dressed in an impeccable black Hugo Boss suit with a crisp white shirt and pale lavender silk tie, looking every inch the French gentleman. His eyes sparkled as he took in the sight of Kendall in her strapless bodice hugging hot pink dress, its ruffled skirt barely skimming her knees. With her glowing skin and hair in a halo of curls around her head, she managed to take his breath away.

Maggie, for her part, was having a hard time taking her eyes off Bianca. As the brunette came down the staircase, Maggie was completely captivated and totally speechless. Wearing a basic black silk slip dress with spaghetti straps, the neckline plunged just enough to make Maggie sweat. The skirt fell above the knee with a six-inch slit on one side, giving Maggie, and anyone else looking, an eyeful of well-toned Bianca thigh. Maggie gulped at each flash of Bianca's leg. This was a dress that caused fist-fights...

"You look great, Binks," Kendall whispered to her sister, noticing the look on Maggie's face. "I think you killed her."

Bianca grinned shyly and slipped a lock of dark hair behind her ear. "Thanks. I think you did the same to Jean-Paul."

"That was my intent." With that they shared a sisterly giggle then Kendall led Jean-Paul into the living room.

Bianca turned to Maggie. The little blonde was wearing a silk scarf dress in brilliant oranges, pinks, golds and reds, something so totally Maggie that Bianca could only grin at her. The halter-style top left Maggie's back and shoulders bare, showing off the healthy glow of her skin, while her skirt also ended well above the knee. Her hair was pulled back into a messy knot so that blonde strands brushed the side of her face and Bianca fought with herself to keep from brushing that hair back almost immediately. Suddenly, dinner with her sister was the furthest thing from Bianca's mind...

Their eyes were locked on each other for a long moment, the air suddenly a little heated and super-charged.

"Do you have your lipstick with you?" Maggie asked hoarsely.

Bianca's eyebrows knitted curiously. "Yeah, why?"

Instead of answering, Maggie lunged at Bianca and pushed her up against the wall then kissed her passionately. Although stunned at first by Maggie's action, Bianca quickly recovered and returned the kiss, wrapping her arms around the smaller woman's bare shoulders.

Just as quickly as she acted, Maggie breathlessly pulled away. "No reason," she replied. Then she nonchalantly checked her hair, cleared her throat and turned toward the living room.

But Bianca noticed she was just a little unsteady on her heels. That made the brunette grin devilishly, until she herself tried to walk and almost fell off her own Blahniks… Putting a hand to her mouth, she took a deep breath then went to check her lipstick. Good thing, too, because it certainly wasn't on her lips anymore…

When she re-joined everyone in the living room, her eyes immediately found Maggie's. They traded an intense look and Bianca quickly glanced away. Maggie tried to look away but found she couldn't. Bianca was the hottest thing on two legs as far as Maggie was concerned and her mind started taking her places it shouldn't while she was in polite company (yes, Kendall included). One look at Bianca assured her the brunette's mind was taking the trip right along with hers.

"Shall we?" Jean-Paul asked, snapping them out of their trances and leading everyone toward the front door.

Kendall eyed Bianca and Maggie, noticing the incredibly smoldering looks passing between the two. They do that much longer and the apartment was going to catch fire... She rolled her eyes and groaned inwardly. "Can you two not be little sex bunnies for one night?" she muttered as she walked past them toward the entry. "My last night here?"

Maggie gave her a look that had Bite me written all over it as Jean-Paul held the door for them to exit. Kendall responded with a Don't tempt me look back, then tossed her hair in a move eerily reminiscent of Erica Kane and exited the apartment. Despite that, Maggie certainly didn't refrain from holding Bianca's hand in the car or slipping an arm around her waist as they entered the restaurant. Lord only knows how badly she wanted to plant her lips on Bianca's neck, not only to antagonize Kendall but for her own intense satisfaction.

The restaurant, Taillevent, was considered by many to be one of the best restaurants in Paris. In business since 1946 it had served world leaders, actors and artists, Salvador Dali at one time being a frequent guest. Usually, one needed to book reservations well in advance in order to secure a table, but Kendall pulled some strings and called in a few favors. The restaurant was located in a townhouse built in 1852 off the Champs Elysees, featuring a two first floor intimate dining rooms, two second-floor private dining rooms, two lounges also on the first floor and more ambiance than one could possibly imagine.

The meal was incredible, from the pate de foie gras to the signature Roasted Langoustines, followed by a dessert of crispy crepes with wild strawberries and Baba au rhum cake. The wine was plentiful and flavorful, accompanying each course perfectly. Along with the elegant atmosphere, it was easy to see why this restaurant was so highly rated by the food critics worldwide. They lingered over dessert and coffee until almost midnight, talking about the events of the past months, the things Kendall and Jean-Paul had done, Maggie's classes and Bianca's work at Cambias.

After Jean-Paul settled the bill, they exited the restaurant and made the short walk to the car near the Champs Elysees. Bianca and Maggie fell back a few paces, watching the couple ahead of them. Jean-Paul had placed a comforting arm around Kendall's waist, Kendall's head resting lightly on Jean-Paul's broad shoulder. It made Bianca smile to see her sister being treated with reverence and respect. Kendall deserved nothing less.

"What do you think?" Bianca asked softly as they followed the other two, her arm wrapped around Maggie's shoulders.

"I think," Maggie replied, sliding her arm around Bianca's waist, "that I'm glad her room is on the other side of the apartment. I don't want to even think about what we might hear tonight..."


"Hey, you asked! And don't tell me you weren't thinking the exact same thing."


Once they arrived at the car, Jean-Paul took them across the Champs Elysees and down Avenue George V to the Crazy Horse Saloon, another historic Parisian cabaret. They were shown their seats which were actually two red velvet chairs with no armrests between for each couple and a small table rail in front for their glasses. Between the two pairs of seats was a metal ring that held an ice bucket and two splits of champagne. Once seated they enjoyed one of the best burlesque shows in Paris. The French truly enjoy the female form and this show was no exception. Much racier and provocative than the Lido's Las Vegas-style revue, the girls all sat mesmerized at what they were witnessing. Incredibly original painted on costumes that left little to the imagination, much more erotic dancing, strategic lighting, a laser show...

The show itself, Taboo, featured 20 bare-breasted and otherwise un-dressed women dancing a variety of musical styles. The Crazy Horse prided itself on the mantra "The Art of the Nude", and this show was certainly no exception. Maggie, was utterly fascinated, finding herself comparing one set of boobs to the next. The thoughts racing through her head varied from "Wow" to "Yikes!" to "How the hell did that one get in here?" A couple of times, she would exchange an amused glance with Bianca, the two still unable to believe some of what they were seeing. Once or twice Maggie had to admit she'd like to have seen Bianca in one of those provocative poses, possibly awaiting her in the bedroom someday following a tough day at school. At that point, after a gulp of champagne, she attempted to shut off her mind before it took a permanent detour into Sexual Exploits with Bianca-land.

Instead, she focused on Kendall and Jean-Paul. They were sitting side-by-side, heads close together, holding hands with fingers entwined. They both had incredibly intimate looks on their faces and before Maggie knew it, she had once again boarded the Bianca-land Express; first stop, Sexual Exploits...

"Ready to go?" Bianca asked suddenly.

"Oh, you have no idea..." Slugging back the last of her champagne, Maggie stood and took Bianca's hand in hers, leading her quickly outside with Jean-Paul and Kendall closely behind. "Home, James," she said to Jean-Paul as they slid into his BMW 7-series for the drive home. "Like, now."

Bianca actually had to slap Maggie's hands away a couple of times in the dark back seat of the car, knowing her girlfriend was way past handsy and well on her way to raging ball of hormones. Finally unable to take it any longer, she discretely reached out one hand.

"Bianca!" Maggie shrieked in surprise, before falling against her in a fit of laughter.

The couple up front either didn't notice or didn't seem to care. Four minds, one singular thought...

Once back at the apartment, after bidding Martine a good evening and hustling her ass out the door, goodnights consisted of 'G'night', 'See ya' and a delayed 'Thanks for dinner' before both couples quickly went their separate ways. Jean-Paul so desperately wanted to sweep Kendall up in his arms a la Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, but since Kendall was leading the race up the stairs, he put that fantasy on hold for a while. Bianca, meanwhile, grabbed Maggie by the hand and practically dragged her up the stairs to their bedroom.

"Wow, Binks," Maggie chuckled. "Slow down, will you? What's your hurry?"

There was a sound that drifted back to her and if Maggie didn't know better, it was Bianca growling. Okay, Maggie had to admit to herself, being in a room with 20 bare-breasted women for 90 minutes would mess with any sane person's head, but she couldn't recall Bianca ever being quite so... so... well, aggressive. Bad Bianca was making an appearance. Maggie liked it...

"Hey, Binks," she said with a grin, wanting to drag this out for as long as possible. "I'll go check on the Munchkin and meet you in the bedroom. Okay?"

Instead of answering, Bianca turned to Maggie and pulled her against her own body, capturing her lips in a searing kiss. Maggie, of course, gave in completely, allowing Bianca to bend her back over her arm and make love to her mouth. It was payback, among other things, for the kiss

in the entry hall earlier. Bianca released Maggie as quickly as she'd grabbed her then turned regally for the bedroom. Unsteady yet again on her heels...

Maggie wisely kicked off her shoes before taking another step, then went into the nursery to check on Miranda. The child was curled up on her side, sleeping peacefully, the baby Piglet Maggie had gotten her at 'Euro-Disney' hugged to her side. With a smile to herself at this sleeping angel, Maggie bent down and pressed a kiss to the toddlers head.

Wanting to prolong Bianca's mood for a little longer, Maggie made her way down to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water out of the refrigerator. She was tempted to linger a few moments more, but the sound of female giggling and male laughter directly over her head startled her. When she figured out what was going on, she shuddered and rushed quickly out of the kitchen.

A devilish little grin played across Maggie's face as she neared the bedroom, knowing Bianca was waiting impatiently inside for her to return. Acting as if she had not a care in the world, she swung open the bedroom door. And had to juggle the water bottle before it hit the floor.

Sitting on the bed, still wearing that silky slip dress with her legs crossed elegantly and her hands resting on the down-filled comforter, Bianca was waiting for Maggie with a look on her face that Maggie was sure she had never, ever seen before. Combine desire, lust, hunger and raw sexual need and multiply it by, oh, a hundred. That was what she was seeing at this very moment. Oh, and toss in a little urgency over Maggie's delay...

"Binks?" she asked warily. "Are you okay?"

"You. Dress. Off. Now!"

"Bianca!" Maggie exclaimed, shocked at her brazenness. To avoid any mishaps, she quickly set the water bottle aside.

Slinking off the bed, Bianca slowly advanced on Maggie, giving her time to retreat, but knowing she had her rooted to the spot. She swooped in again and smothered Maggie's mouth with her own, a repeat of the kiss in the hallway. This time, though, she reached for the tie at the back of Maggie's neck, intending on ridding her of the dress just as she had requested. Maggie gripped Bianca's waist for balance as she felt Bianca's fingers attacking the tie of her dress, all the while lips still locked in a deep and passionate kiss.

Whatever Bianca was doing, she was only succeeding in turning the simple bow into a knot. There was something akin to a growl and she nearly spun Maggie around in order to use her teeth on the offending thing. "Did you tie this with a double knot or what?"

"I used a simple bow tie," Maggie replied, reaching up to try to help. Bianca slapped her hands away. "Okay, Bad Binks is getting a little agitated, here."

Suddenly, there was the sound of material ripping. And a lot of silence.

"Oops," Bianca murmured. "Um, sorry about that?"

Before Maggie could respond, the top of her dress slipped down to her hips. Bianca wasted no time in removing the rest of the dress and pulling Maggie into her arms, kissing her deeply once again. Maggie slid one hand around Bianca's waist, searching for the entry point to her sexy black dress.

Slowly, her hand slid down Bianca's side to the slit on the thigh. "This damn thing has been driving me crazy all night," she growled, pulling back to look in Bianca's eyes. "Do you know how many men were staring at this leg all night long?"

"Honestly, Maggie," Bianca laughed. "Do you think I care?"

"I was sure I was going to have to kick someone's ass tonight."

"Surely, not on my account."

"No, strictly as a matter of principle."

Bianca laughed and kissed Maggie again, dipping her head to attack the slender throat and shoulder. Maggie, similarly, began attacking the zipper at the back of Bianca's dress, more than eager to get it undone and the scrap of material off Bianca's body. Unfortunately, the zipper wouldn't give. It was like the damn thing was welded shut. Maggie began to tug harder, her frustration level rising.

"Maggie, slow down," Bianca said suddenly. "You're going to rip my dress."

"Me?!" Maggie replied incredulously. "Are you kidding? My dress is now a dust rag and you're worried I might tear yours?" After attacking it for a few more minutes, the zipper finally released. Maggie had a feeling that the damn thing knew better and just gave up the fight. "Hah! I win!"

Despite her well earned, and extremely pleasing, victory, Maggie suddenly became serious, her eyes locking on Bianca's. Slowly sliding her fingers beneath the spaghetti straps of the dress, Maggie gently slipped them off Bianca's shoulders, watching them slide down her arms and the dress fall in a silken black puddle at her feet. Her hand then returned to cup Bianca's cheek and she leaned in, pulling Bianca closer. Their lips met, softness against softness, and the outside world once again disappeared.

They gravitated toward the bed, never breaking the kiss, never losing contact with each other in any fashion. They tumbled onto the mattress amidst a pile of sheets, blankets and downy soft comforter. Bianca held Maggie tightly in her arms, hands caressing the silken skin of Maggie's back. Maggie gently broke the kiss and pulled back to look in Bianca's eyes, her finger tips barely grazing the alabaster skin of her cheek. She buried her face in Bianca's neck, her lips staking claim to the pulse throbbing beneath the smooth warm flesh. Bianca's eyes fluttered shut as her hands wound their way into Maggie's hair, holding those lips to her skin, enjoying the brush of Maggie's tongue against the beating vein.

Bianca turned the tables and scattered kisses along Maggie's jaw and down her throat. Lightly brushing the tip of her nose against Maggie's skin, Bianca breathed in a lungful of Maggie's unique sent.

"I love you, Maggie..." Bianca whispered softly. There was no response. At all. Actually, there was no longer any movement, either. None. Whatsoever. "Maggie?"

Then she heard it. A snore. A snore! Maggie mumbled something under her breath, certainly nothing romantic, then released a startling snore.

"Oh, my God," Bianca muttered, pushing Maggie off her onto her side. The blonde was sound asleep. "Well, that was certainly earth-shattering..." She shook her head. "Un-freakin'-believable..."

Climbing out of bed in frustration, Bianca reached for a robe and slipped it on. Might as well get a bottle of water and try to calm down, because she certainly wouldn't be sleeping for a while. She glanced back at Maggie in bed, watching as the blonde rolled onto her side, muttering a sound that ended in another snore. Unable to keep from smiling, Bianca pulled the covers up to Maggie's shoulders then pressed a gentle kiss to her cheek.

"Good night, Tiger," she whispered, before slipping out of the room.

The apartment was dark as Bianca made her way to the kitchen to grab a bottle of Evian out of the fridge. Quietly heading back to the master bedroom, she noticed a small light burning in the den. Edging closer, she saw Kendall curled up on the sofa, deep in thought.

"Kendall?" she called out softly, not wanting to startle her sister. "What are you still doing up?"

Kendall glanced up at Bianca, a soft smile lighting her face. "Just sitting here thinking," she replied. "Join me?"

Bianca's brow knitted slightly. "Shouldn't you be spending your last night here with Jean-Paul?" she asked, slipping onto the sofa at Kendall's side.

"He's unconscious," Kendall said with a wave of her hand.

"Him, too!?"

"It must be these Kane genes, you know."

Bianca sighed. "Yeah, the one night I have the urge to jump Maggie's bones, she freakin' falls asleep on me!"

Kendall's eyes popped open. "TMI! TMI!"

"Bad Binks was ready to play-!"

"I said STOP!" Kendall exclaimed, holding up a hand.

"Sorry," Bianca murmured sheepishly. She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "So you were saying... you were thinking?"

"Well, it's more than thinking, I guess. I may be feeling a bit sentimental..."

"Aww, Kendall, I'm going to miss you." Bianca smiled. "Maggie will, too."

Kendall snorted delicately. "Yeah, sure, like she's going to miss me. Once I'm gone, it's open season on the kitchen again."

Now it was Bianca's turn to hold up a hand. "You need to learn to knock first, is all I gotta say."

"It's a KITCHEN!"

At that they both shared a sisterly laugh. "I'm being honest, though," Bianca continued. "Maggie's going to miss you."

"I'll miss her, too. I like the way she treats you."

Bianca's face suddenly took on a dreamy expression... "I like the way she treats me, too," she whispered, twirling a lock of hair around her fingers. "Especially..."

"What did I just say!" Kendall smacked Bianca's arm. "STOP IT!"

"Ouch!" Bianca exclaimed, rubbing the spot Kendall had hit her. "Sorry," she murmured again. "I like the way you two have become friends. That means so much to me."

"Well, I finally got the chance to know her. Without all that Pine Valley craziness, you know?" Kendall reached out a hand and rubbed the spot on Bianca's arm she'd teasingly smacked a moment before. "She's a good kid, Bianca, and it's easy to see how much she loves you and Miranda. How can I fault her for loving my baby sis?"

Bianca smiled happily. "She's the best thing that's ever happened to me."

"Yeah, well, you're the best thing that's ever happened to her, you know." She reached for Bianca's left hand and admired the ring Maggie had given her. "And she knows it, too."

There was a moment of silence then Bianca took hold of Kendall's hands in hers. "Jean-Paul seems to have made you happy."

Kendall sighed a little dreamily herself. "He's been wonderful to me. He treats me the way I've always wanted to be treated. Like I'm special."

"You are special, Kendall. You need to remember that."

"I know."

Bianca squeezed Kendall's hands, grabbing her attention. "You deserve a love, Kendall. And it's out there, just waiting for you. Maybe it's Jean-Paul, maybe it's someone back home, I don't know. But it is out there. And when you find it, it will be wonderful..."

Kendall met Bianca's eyes, her eyes swimming in unshed tears. "Thank you," she whispered, pulling her sister into a hug.

"You know, I heard you talking to Miranda the other morning," Bianca said softly as they pulled apart.

Kendall blushed. "What do you mean?"

Bianca smiled knowingly. "I heard you tell my daughter how much you love her and how you always will. I love how you love Miranda, Kendall. She needs that in her life."

"Well, I need her in my life, too, Binks. She's my angel, my salvation."

"So don't go home. I know Miranda would love it if Auntie Kendall stayed around." Bianca gave Kendall a knowing smile. "You could open a Fusion office here in Paris. Give the French a run for their money."

Bianca could see her words had created conflict by the look on Kendall's face. The desire to stay and start anew... Then Kendall shook her curly head. "As tempting as that sounds... No, before I can do that, I have to go back and face what I've left behind." She squeezed Bianca's hands again. "I'll be back, little sis, I promise you that."

"Kendall, I- I love you big, you know that?" Bianca managed to choke out around the lump in her throat.

Kendall smiled at Bianca's words, words she'd heard at Jack and Erica's wedding in May. "All the way to Pine Valley and back," she whispered, pulling her baby sister into her arms.

They held each other close for a long time, not knowing when they'd have the chance to do so again. Bianca smiled through her tears. Her family...

"So, what the hell happened to you last night?" Bianca asked Maggie as they made the bed before getting ready for the airport.

Maggie looked up in confusion. "What?"

"You fell asleep on me!"

"What do you mean I fell asleep on you? I was right next to you!"

Bianca gave her a look. "Uh, no, you fell asleep on TOP of me."

Maggie pushed some hair behind her ear. "Oh."

"Oh? That's all you can say? Oh?" Bianca crossed her arms over her chest and glared at Maggie. "And trust me, this time I didn't mistake you for God."

"Well... I mean...," Maggie started stammering. "After a show like that... uh...um..."

"Well, it shouldn't put you to sleep!" Bianca went back to making the bed. "Yeah, sure, excuses. I mean really. The one night Bad Bianca wanted to come out and play and you fall asleep on me. Literally."

Oh, God, Maggie thought, I completely missed out on Bad Bianca! When the hell is that opportunity ever going to return! She turned away from Bianca. Stupid, stupid, stupid, she thought, smacking herself on the forehead with each word.

"Yeah, well, it seems I wasn't the only one who got lucky then became unlucky last night," Bianca continued. "It happened to Kendall, too."

Maggie face went blank. "Oh, God! Your sister... getting busy... images... get them out! Get them out!!!" She screwed her eyes shut tight, fighting the images invading her head.

"Serves you right for falling asleep on me," Bianca snapped, heading for the bathroom.

"Oh, my God, I am a guy," Maggie muttered to herself. She chased after the brunette. "I'll make it up to you, B, I swear."

"Oh, you bet your sweet ass you will." And the bathroom door shut in Maggie's face.

Crap, not even a little shower fun time... Maggie stood there pondering her predicament for several moments, listening as the shower was turned on. And she was, too... Okay, she thought quickly, I think this calls for another appearance by 'the jersey'. Yeah, that's it. Get her with the jersey... and for added effect, I think I'll throw in the Levi's... Note to self, be sure to check eBay for new Rangers jersey. Knowing Bianca, this may be the one time she literally rips it to shreds in the process of removing it... Maggie went to the dresser and pulled out the incredibly, unbelievably, sexy garment and threw it on the bed. And then, tomorrow, shopping. Lay in new supply of Levi's 501's...

Bianca emerged from the steamy bathroom as Maggie was pulling the jeans out of the closet. She watched as Maggie inspected the pants. The inventory consisted of one ripped back pocket, one missing button on the fly and two torn belt loops... and, oh, my God, a horizontal tear just below the other back pocket! Maggie thigh will be visible!!!

"Don't think you're throwing those away," Bianca warned her.

"Never even crossed my mind," Maggie replied. In fact, she was simply going to wear them.

Bianca watched in awe as Maggie dressed in the jersey and jeans. "Maaggiiee..." she groaned. "Oh, God..."

"I told you I'd make it up to you," Maggie winked as she walked past her. "Now come on, we have to take Kendall to the airport. I'll go see if she's got Miranda ready."

Bianca's hand went immediately to her forehead, a sure sign she was beyond flustered. "Who's Kendall?" she whispered in confusion...

Two porters awaited them at the private flights terminal at Charles de Gaulle Airport, ready to haul Kendall's luggage from the back of the Cambias BMW SUV and transport it all to the Enchantment jet. Jean-Paul and Kendall led the way into the private terminal, holding hands and talking quietly, being all lovey-dovey. Bianca's eyes narrowed a bit, it appeared Kendall's night turned out better than her own...

She gave Maggie a sideways glance and noticed that Maggie was well aware of the situation. She got a sheepish smile in return then a sudden rush of blood to her face as Maggie bent over Miranda's stroller, showing off that burgeoning tear just below her rear. Bianca made a noise deep in her throat that threatened all kinds of things once they returned to the house, and she quickly started cataloging them in her mind.

An airport Steward approached them in the concourse. "Mademoiselle Hart," he said with a smile. "This way, please."

They followed him to the Enchantment lounge, stopping just outside while he unlocked the doors. They entered the lounge to await final preparations, each person lost in their thoughts.

Suddenly, a cell phone rang. It was Bianca's and had a curious ring tone, Foxy Lady by the sound of it. Bianca blushed bright red. She never even answered the phone, just handed it over to Kendall.

"Kendall!" Greenlee's voice could be heard throughout the lounge.

"Jeezus! I'm at the airport! I'm coming home for crying out loud!!"

"Oh, okay... Bye."

The Steward reappeared as Kendall handed Bianca back her phone. "Mademoiselle Hart, it won't be much longer."

"Merci," Kendall replied, her throat suddenly thick with emotion. She turned to the others, tears already sparkling in her eyes. "Not much longer," she repeated unnecessarily.

Maggie and Bianca backed off as Jean-Paul moved to Kendall's side. He took her hands in his and bent his head close, his words for her ears only. "Je t'adore, Kendall," he whispered. "Lanuit passée était incroyable. Plus que moi jamais pourrais avoir espéré pour. Vous êtes une femme fantastique et vous tenez un endroit spécial à mon coeur. Je compte les jours jusqu'à ce que vous reveniez à moi, ainsi nous pouvons le faire tout encore." And he kissed her tenderly on the lips.

Kendall blushed such an incredible shade of red, the only logical thought was that she had, indeed, had a very successful end to her night. Maggie caught a glimpse of Bianca's face and thought she'd better break this up quick, because sexually envious Binks was not attractive...

Quickly, she strode over to the two lovebirds. "All right, all right. Enough with the sweet nothings. What's a short girl gotta do to get a goodbye around here?" She interrupted the romantic exchange between Jean-Paul and Kendall. She turned to Kendall and smiled. "I'm... uh, well..."

Kendall eyed her. "You're what?"

Maggie rolled her eyes. "I'm going to miss you, okay? There. I said it."

"And no lightening strikes, imagine that." They traded a look, a deeper look than any they'd shared before. "Aww, come here short stack, I'm going to miss you, too." She pulled Maggie into a hug. A tight one, at that, tight enough to cut off oxygen and make Maggie fear for her blood supply. "Have fun with the kitchen," Kendall said in her ear.

"Gee, thanks," Maggie managed to croak, trying to wiggle out of Kendall's arms. She loved how Bianca's sister was being so affectionate, but still... "Okay, you can let go now."

"One more thing," Kendall said, her tone changing into something a little more menacing. "Just remember, you hurt my sister, my mother and I hurt you."

"I would say you and what army, but Erica is an army."

Finally, Kendall released Maggie. There were actually tears in Kendall's eyes as she looked at Maggie, knowing that the love she shared with Bianca was real and would last. Maggie's own eyes filled with tears as it dawned on her what Kendall was thinking and suddenly, they both burst out laughing.

"Now, there's a Hallmark moment," Maggie muttered. With a smile, she stepped back. "Come back soon, K."

"I will."

Maggie went back to Miranda so Bianca could say her good-byes. It was hard to miss the tears threatening in those big brown eyes as she stepped up to her sister, quickly pulling her into a tight embrace.

"I think I've already told you how I feel," Bianca whispered, holding Kendall close. "I love you so much."

Kendall held her sister tightly. "I love you, too, Binks," she replied, trying desperately to hold back her own tears. "You're my inspiration, you know that?"

"That's funny, you're mine."

"Well, Miranda, too."

Bianca laughed, a watery chuckle. "Of course."

They pressed heartfelt kisses to each others cheeks then Kendall pulled herself away. She turned to the toddler's stroller and picked Miranda up into her arms. Unable to speak, she moved to the bank of windows in the lounge, watching planes on the runways, pointing to them as Miranda watched them in awe. Finally, Miranda looked at her Auntie Kendall and, in a purely innocent yet completely honest gesture, put her hand to Kendall's cheek, wiping away the tear tracing its way downward.

Holding the child close, Kendall took a deep breath of fresh, clean baby scent. "You remember what I told you, Munchkin," she said softly. "Auntie Kendall will always be here for you. You can always count on me." She hugged Miranda to her again. "Auntie Kendall loves Mimo with all her heart. And she always will."

"Kenah..." Miranda answers with a smile, pressing a kiss to Kendall's nose.

The Airport Steward opened the door to the jetway. "It is time, Mademoiselle," he said softly, almost embarrassed to interrupt this private moment.

"Tell Greenlee 'hi' for us," Maggie cracked. Bianca elbowed her in the ribs.

With another kiss to Miranda's cheek, Kendall returned the child to her mother. Maggie moved closer to Bianca, an arm around her waist for support as Jean-Paul took Kendall's hand and walked her to the door to the jetway. With one final, gentle, loving kiss, he backed away, holding onto her hand until the last possible moment. Kendall turned and looked at Bianca, Maggie and Miranda and smiled through her tears. Then she blew them a kiss and regally tossed her curly head, striding briskly down the jetway.

The Steward shut the jetway door and in short order, the Learjet was backing away from the terminal. They watched until the plane taxied onto the runway and finally lifted into the air.

"Shall we go home and make out in the kitchen now?" Maggie asked.

Bianca smacked her.






Bianca pulled back from where her face was literally planted in Maggie's neck. "What!"

"Have you ever heard of the word 'foreplay'?"

"Have you ever heard the phrase, 'don't fall asleep while you're making love to me'?" Maggie just gave her a look. "Okay, so I just made that up, but keep it in mind, okay?"

"Keep it in mind! My God, Bianca, you literally shredded my jersey!"

Bianca, really in no mood whatsoever for small talk, pinned Maggie to the mattress, her hands gripping Maggie's wrists. She leaned close, her lips barely brushing against the sweetness of Maggie's mouth. "Just shut up and kiss me."

Maggie could only grin. "Ooh, Bad Bianca has come out again to play."

"She's here and she is soooo ready to play…" Bianca assured Maggie.

"Well then, shall we-?" Maggie tried to say.

But before Maggie could even finish her thought, Bianca lowered her head the rest of the way and ravaging her lips in a hungry kiss. It was all Maggie could do to keep up. And she thought she was the aggressive one! Bianca let Maggie's wrists go and wrapped her arms tightly around Maggie's waist, pulling her body close. Maggie's hands slid into Bianca's silken tresses, tangling gently and holding her close. Maybe there was some sort of hypnosis she could check into to keep Bad Bianca around a lot more. A pill maybe? Something? Anything? Oh, dear Lord, ANYTHING?

Lungs aching for oxygen, Bianca finally pulled back, only to once again dive into Maggie's throat. She was completely and totally addicted to the soft, hot feel of Maggie's skin beneath her lips. Maggie, for her part, was anxious to get her own lips on Bianca, but was completely at the mercy of the brunette. Not that that was a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all…

"Hey, Binks," she said with a grin. "No mistaking me for God this time, okay?"

Bianca grinned against Maggie's neck. "Hey, I make no guarantees."

With a gentle tug, Maggie pulled Bianca's head up to look in her eyes. She cradled that beloved face in her hands. Their eyes met, locked. Love flowed deeply between them. Maggie grinned once more.

"At least it's open season on the kitchen again," she said.

In spite of herself, Bianca chuckled. Then she became very serious, her eyes filled with pure unadulterated desire. "Maggie? You think you could quit with the small talk and just make love to me?"

"Wow," Maggie practically giggled. "Bossy Bad Bianca. I like it!"

"Hmmm, me, too…" Bianca said, her lips against Maggie's. "Me, too…"

And then Maggie quit with the small talk and made love to Bianca. Again and again and again.

"Again," Bianca whispered later.

And again…

Evening had fallen and Maggie held Bianca in her arms, listening to the steady regular breathing of her partner, her lover, her soul mate. It was during times like these that Maggie cherished what she had, when she could feel Bianca against her, their hearts beating together, the fall of silken hair on her skin. Against her throat, Maggie felt Bianca snort. Okay, so much for the mushy romance stuff, she thought with a chuckle.

"'Aggie!" Miranda's sweet voice called through the baby monitor. "Momma!"

Another snort from Bianca and Maggie knew there would be no rousing her anytime soon. Gently rearranging Bianca into a more comfortable position, Maggie slipped from the warm sheets, covered Bianca lovingly with the covers and grabbed a pair of sleep pants and a tank top from the dresser. She pulled out an extra set of PJ's and laid them on the bed for when, if, Bianca ever woke up.

On her way to the nursery door, Maggie saw the remains of what used to be her very own version of a "Power Suit" lying in a heap on the bedroom carpet. Her Levi's were wasted. The back pocket was completely gone, a huge hole in its stead where Bianca had yanked hard the minute they had entered the bedroom. Another button from the fly was missing. Who knew she was that damn strong? Maggie thought, remembering Bianca's haste to rid her of those jeans. Fortunately, her jersey fared a little better. The shoestring tie at the neck was gone, two holes ripped open where Bianca had hauled it over Maggie's head. Of course, the fact that the "3" on the back was half hanging off the jersey attested to the fact that no matter how much Bianca claimed to love seeing Maggie in the thing, she liked it better in a pile on the floor.

Gently picking up the beloved Rangers jersey, Maggie laid it across the chair, lovingly pressing the "3" back into its proper place. That thing will be fixed, she swore to herself. I'll buy a dozen more if I have to, but that one will survive.

Smiling to herself, Maggie slipped into the nursery. Miranda, standing at the railing of her crib, bounced up and down upon seeing Maggie's smiling face, chortling in joy herself.

"Hi, there, sweetie!" Maggie called, sweeping her hair behind her ears as she neared the precious child. "Are you all awake now? I know Mommy had you in your PJ's before we got out of the airport parking lot…" She lifted Miranda out of the crib and settled her on her hip. "You were such a good girl today. I know it was hard saying good-bye to Auntie Kendall, but I'm sure she'll be sending you the latest in Baby fashions before long…"

"Momma?" Miranda asked, pointing toward the bedroom door.

"Yes, let's go see Momma. Of course, she's a little sleepy herself right now…" She started toward the bedroom, Miranda in her arms. "Come on, cat," she said, feeling the kitten winnowing around her ankles. "You, too."

Back in the bedroom, Maggie settled Miranda onto the bed, watching the baby and kitten both play with the plush little Elmo toy. Maggie smiled as she watched the cat pounce on the doll, causing Miranda to giggle with glee. The baby looked up at Maggie and grinned a gap-toothed grin, her innocence causing tears to spring to Maggie's eyes. This is my life, Maggie thought to herself. Right here in this room. Right here on this bed. This woman, this child, these two hearts… Gently, she reached out and brushed a lock of raven hair off Bianca's cheek, remembering how she had met Bianca pretty much the same way three-plus years ago, with Bianca out cold… She had lost her heart at that precise moment. And she never wanted it back.

Her touch caused Bianca to stir. "Oh, man…" the brunette muttered, rubbing a hand across her eyes. "Sorry about that, did I fall asleep on you?"

Maggie could only grin. "After about the umpteenth round, yes."

"Yeah, well, you owed me."

Bianca sat on the sofa in the den, gently twisting the white and yellow gold band on her finger, watching the two loves of her life playing with the kitten on the blanket. With a smile, she was taken back to a day in August when their daughter found her independence as she learned to walk.

She and Maggie had not yet become intimate at that time, but they knew they were deeply committed to each other and that aspect of their relationship would happen eventually. Slowly, they were becoming a family. And while maybe they weren't a family in the traditional sense, they were a family in every way that counted. The day of Miranda's first taste of adventure was proof enough of that.

They were sitting on a blanket in a grassy spot in Bois de Bologne, enjoying a warm summer day with a picnic. Miranda had been all over the place, crawling hither and yon, attempting to pull herself up using Maggie's shoulder or Bianca's hair for leverage. Eventually, with a gentle hand from Maggie, the grinning little girl gained her feet. Maggie kept her hands on Miranda's little body, helping her stay upright. The baby reached out a hand to Bianca, which she quickly took.

"Wait, wait," Maggie said softly, maintaining her hold on Miranda. "Have you got her?"

Bianca grinned at the grasp the toddler had on her fingers. "Actually, I think she's got me."

Maggie grinned. "Okay, I'm going to let go now. Ready?"


Gently, Maggie released her hold on the little girl. After a couple wobbly moments, Miranda gurgled and made a tentative step. One step became two, then three. Suddenly, she chortled in delight and stomped her feet a couple of times before attempting a jailbreak.

"Whoa, little girl," Bianca said with a laugh, trying to keep up. She watched the teetering baby regain control again.

Maggie laughed with her. "No, it's okay, Binks," she replied, watching the happy toddler on her trek. "She's got it. Don't you, Munchkin?" Maggie said to Miranda as the little girl looked back and gave them a grin. "You've got your balance."

Those words resonated deeply in Bianca's soul. Feeling her heart fill with so much emotion, Bianca sat back with a genuine smile. She met Maggie's eyes with her own, the love she felt warming her soul shimmering in their deep brown depths. "I think," she said softly, failing completely to keep the tears of happiness at bay, "that we all do."

Maggie favored her with that charming, lopsided Stone grin. "We all do what, B?" she asked, even though her loving smile said she knew.

Bianca felt the love shining in her own answering smile. "Finally have our balance."

-This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning.

"Last night was incredible, more than I ever could have hoped for. You're a fantastic woman and you hold a special place in my heart. I count the days until you return to me, so we can do it all again."