Note: This is Part 2 of Part 4. It is a two-parter. Make sure that you did not accidentally skip Part 1 of Part 4.

IIII

Cara sits on her couch drinking a bottle of beer, looking over the pictures of Kahlan reflecting back at her from the camera. After having taken a shower and eaten very little, she hadn't been able to stop looking at the pictures. She can try to chalk that up to simply being bored or that she is simply someone who can appreciate beauty, but her heart rate, labored breathing, and blood rushing between her legs every time she looks at the pictures tells her otherwise. It's a difficult fact to swallow — that she wants Kahlan like she has wanted no other woman or man. Difficult to swallow because having her would mean death.

Cara is convinced more than ever that Kahlan isn't the one she's meant to choose. If she were, it wouldn't be this obvious. There wouldn't be such an insanely intense pull between them, one that outweighs the others by a landslide. The fates, or whatever you call them, wouldn't make it this blatantly apparent who to choose. They'd confuse her, as they've done so far, and continue to confuse her, making it so that the least preferred person is the true choice.

Cara frowns, wondering if this means that Leo is the one. She takes a sip of her beer, looking over the third picture of Kahlan; there's a vulnerability in those blue eyes that pulls her in every time. Cara furrows her brows, doing her best to hold the camera with motionless fingers. But her mind disregards this command.

It didn't have to be this way. Cara could be in Kahlan's bed right now if it weren't for stubbornness and a desire to win at all costs. But turning Kahlan away hadn't felt like winning. All her life, winning has mattered a great deal to her; it's been a sign of her superiority. Even saving lives on the job is partly about winning, beating the fire. Escaping death. But winning seems empty now, life on the line or not, because nothing has ever mattered to her as much as having Kahlan. Not since the time when she had parents of her own. And it's because of this that taking chances that had the possibility of resulting in loss had never been things to give her significant pause.

But taking the chance of never having Kahlan? There's no greater pause Cara can think of as the unsteadiness of her hand intensifies while she clicks through the pictures. She sets the camera and beer aside, closing her eyes tightly as she relaxes back against the couch. But trying to block out the images is futile, as she can see every image, as well as dozens of others that she never meant to commit to memory, of Kahlan perfectly behind her eyelids.

Opening her eyes in a sudden panic, she reaches in between the sofa cushions and pulls out her cell phone. Already among her contacts, she calls Kahlan immediately. But there is no answer. Sighing, she listens to Kahlan's voice on the former's voice-mail for as many times as she can without seeming desperate. Three times seems to do it. But three times isn't nearly enough. She thinks fondly back to the second time they'd kissed, when it had been mutual. Cara had gotten a glimpse of the unknown behind those alluring blue eyes. She hadn't known just what she was looking at in that moment in time, even after Kahlan's confession, but now she does. Kahlan loves her. Has probably loved her since the beginning. Cara can mock it all she wants — the notion of love-at-first-sight — but here it is. She had been trying to convince herself that she doesn't care about the woman. Doesn't want her. But, as reconciled in her mind minutes ago, what'd happened earlier, the way she'd held Kahlan, had banished any such foolishness from her mind.

Still...she wonders... Given that she'd rejected Kahlan yet again, would the woman laugh in her face if she were to suddenly admit she wants her? Would there be doubt? And where would they start? Would it be a relationship? A test run? A friends-with-benefits type of thing? Cara knows that Kahlan typically wouldn't go for the latter two, but there's no telling what to expect after earlier tonight. After the way Kahlan's eyes blazed with fury set against tears before she'd practically shoved Cara out the door.

"I just don't know," Cara lets out a labored breath, scooping up her beer bottle and taking another sip. "I rarely do."

IIII

It's a day later when Kahlan sits on a bench of the park she visited before. Once again, Hunter hadn't needed her at work. And once again, she is thinking of Cara. Wind blowing through her hair, prominent scowl on her face, eyes focused on the cement, she lets the thoughts envelop her as she bites on her nails. She becomes so engrossed in the thoughts that she at first doesn't hear the voice calling out to her.

"Kahlan?"

Kahlan abruptly looks up to see the slender brown-haired woman she saw the other day, and she can't believe she didn't recognize her before. It's Kelly Errant — the one-night stand she told Cara about. Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes, with a soccer ball in hand, it's her eyes Kahlan focuses on the most. The woman has the most gorgeous pair of gray eyes Kahlan has ever seen and they peer searchingly into hers as she fails to come up with an immediate response.

"After we fucked in Rome two years ago, I never expected to find you in New York, " Kelly says, a twinkle in her eyes. "Well, I never expected to find you at all."

Kahlan remembers; they'd both been visiting Rome as sort of a diversion from life's problems and Kahlan had briefly mentioned her love for travel. "I didn't realize I was lost," she finally replies, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as she gets a hold of her bearings.

Kelly chuckles. "What are you doing here? You always seemed more like a foreign-only traveler."

"Well I...," Kahlan pauses, trying to push Cara far from her mind. "There's an astronomy class here I'm taking."

"And you chose New York?" Kelly arches a brow.

Kahlan shrugs. "Luck of the draw."

Kelly nods her understanding.

"And you?" Kahlan asks.

"I live here now."

"Oh...that's...that's good."

Kelly sighs, taking a seat beside Kahlan. For a moment, it is silent, Kelly looking out at the scenery before redirecting her gaze to the brunette beside her. "You okay? When I saw you, you looked a bit troubled and now," she pauses. "Let's just say you're not the upbeat Kahlan that I remember."

"Trouble in love," Kahlan says exasperatedly, eyes focused on the cement, and that single utterance conveying more emotion than an over-reaching monologue.

"Alright, who's the bastard who broke your heart? Am I going to have to kill him?" Kelly smiles, tossing the ball from hand to hand. But when she sees just how sorrowful Kahlan's features become, her smile disappears. "Want to talk about it?"

Kahlan looks to her then, a quizzical expression marking her features.

IIII

A week later, Cara sits by a phone, considering whether or not to call Kahlan. Toying with the woman's emotions certainly had not been intentional. In fact, "toying" isn't the right word. Maybe there's a chance she can meet with Kahlan and clear that up.

She turns back to the phone in her living room, picking the receiver up again. As she waits, the thought of hanging up crosses her mind just as someone answers:

"Hello?" Kahlan's voice filters into the receiver, sounding as if she'd just been laughing.

That inspires Cara, just hearing Kahlan in good spirits. Not that she'd expected the brunette to be sulking over her, but she knows that their previous interaction was...trying. "It's Cara," she says. "Kahlan, I want to see you. To talk. There are things that... I just don't like the way that we last left things. Can we meet up maybe later today? Say around 2:00 PM? I'm off today and Hunter says you are as well, so... I'd really like to meet up, okay?"

There is a long pause before Kahlan replies, "Cara... I'm sorry. I'm visiting a friend today and I won't be home."

Cara can't stop the disappointment that overcomes her. "Not even later tonight?"

"Definitely not."

Something in the way Kahlan said it — "Definitely not." — makes Cara's skin prickle. She swallows hard before answering, "And tomorrow?"

"Also busy."

Cara wants to query what she's busy with, but decides to refrain from doing so. It's none of her business what Kahlan does; it's not like they're friends, after all. But still...

"Can't you free something on your schedule?" Cara asks, the emotion in her voice barely under control.

"I can't. But Tanner contacted me about meeting up with the gang on Friday. We could talk then."

"Tanner...contacted you?"

"Yeah... Listen, Cara... I gotta go."

All Cara hears next is the dial tone. She is tempted to throw the phone to the other side of the room. Kahlan couldn't even make time for an hour-long visit with her? So much for her loving me, Cara muses. And Tanner? One of her good friends contacted Kahlan about meeting up? She'd known that Kahlan and her buddies got along, but she didn't know they got along this well. Is the invitation to meet up a first-time occurrence? Had Adam and Nathan also once invited Kahlan to their homes without her knowledge? Were they ever planning on inviting her, had Kahlan not informed her about it? And this friend...this friend Kahlan spoke of. Is that why Kahlan's so busy? If so, how important can this person be?

Bitter emotions start to overtake Cara, the distinct feeling that she is being ignored, brushed off more than anything else, but then she remembers — she'll get to see Kahlan this Friday. And that's at least something to smile about.

She'll make everything clear to her then — how she feels about her.

IIII

A day later, the FDNY face their third fire in the day. But unlike other times, Cara's mind isn't focused on Kahlan. Maybe it's because she's reconciled that she'll win Kahlan over one way or another. Maybe it's because she's full of herself, or has simply remembered that there are more important things in this world than her love life. Like the fire before her now.

She uses a hose to blast a window of a blazing house, having earlier rescued a woman and a girl from its hellish confines. Along with her is just one crew. Only one was needed for this relatively small home which hadn't contributed to the spread of any flames.

Battalion Cheif Edward Dawson moves beside Cara, helping to hose down the window; others take care of additional windows, while most focus on the roof and body. "You seem unusually composed today," he says.

"The fire's under control, just like the other two today. Nothing to be wound up about," Cara replies.

Dawson grins as if he knows something Cara doesn't, his eyes only briefly leaving the fire. "Cara...you're always wound up."

"Yeah, well, not today," she says, shrugging as she steadily calms the flames in front of them.

IIII

When Friday arrives, Cara does her best to keep her calm composure as she sits across from Kahlan in an Italian restaurant. Turns out that the boys — Adam, Nathan and Tanner — had dining, clubbing and going back to one of their homes to "chill" in mind when they'd planned the meetup. Tanner had stated that he of course always intended for Cara to come along, seeing as he didn't know that she and Kahlan had been "distant."

As they all sit at a booth, Kahlan has yet to say more than "Hi" to her since arriving at and leaving Tanner's around 5:00 PM, twenty-five or so minutes ago. But the woman does seem in good spirits about something, talking to everyone but her in a chipper manner.

"Adam!" she exclaims. "That's not the best way to get a woman 'in the mood.' It's all about foreplay. Unlike you males being able to dive right in, we women need a considerable amount of psychological stimulation first."

Adam rakes a hand through his sandy brown hair. "Maybe for some of you, but for others...I maintain that just giving them a magazine full of naked men will get the job done. That's a considerable amount of psychological stimulation. Right, Cara?"

Cara abruptly turns her attention to Adam, appearing as though she's just awoken from a trance. "Huh?" she asks.

"Wow, you weren't listening at all? " he remarks rather disappointedly. "About sexual turn-ons and all that?"

"I…." Cara looks off toward the restaurant counter.

"Forget, Cara," Nathan says with a smirk. "Kahlan acts like psychological stimulation is never needed for a man to get excited. That's where I call bullshit. Why do you think they keep dirty magazines at the sperm bank?"

"Yeah," Tanner agrees, twirling his cartoonish mustache.

Kahlan smiles. "I didn't say you didn't need it. But do you need a considerable amount, really?"

At the men's slience, Kahlan feels triumphant, briefly redirecting her gaze to Cara; the blonde is still looking at the restaurant counter, however.

Their drinks arrive, and Cara sips from her glass wishing that the beverage was alcohol instead of soda.

"Cara, you going to stop playing 'hard to get' any time soon and just be with Kahlan already?" Nathan asks.

Adam almost hits him; after everything he's said to Nathan, as well as Tanner, about not pushing the women together, and yet Nathan is still at it.

Cara stares at the table, sipping deeply from her glass.

Kahlan sits up straight. "Nathan, you, as well as the others, know by now that I'm not Cara's type. And while I appreciate the good intentions, I'm currently seeing someone."

Cara almost chokes on her straw, soda getting stuck in her windpipe as coughs escape her throat.

"Whoa there!" Adam, sitting beside her, exclaims, patting her hard on the back. "You okay?"

"Excuse me," Cara says, getting up from the table to head in the direction of the restroom, coughs still racking her body.

"Okay..." Nathan says exaggeratedly.

Kahlan stares in the direction Cara took off in, her face somewhat perturbed.

"I'll go after her." Adam stands.

"It's the women's restroom," Kahlan points out.

"That never stopped Nathan before," Adam counters, grinning in the aforementioned man's direction. "So I'll try it his way for now."

Nathan snickers as Adam heads off; Tanner just shakes his head as though scolding them both.

IIII

It's not in the restroom that Adam finds Cara, but rather outside. Having exited the door at the back of the restaurant, she bends over beside the large garbage can, hands on her knees. If the lid weren't closed, the stench would only lend to her already sickly feeling.

"Cara, you okay?" Adam asks.

She shakes her head as if to clear it. "I'm so stupid." She stands and briefly runs her hands over her face.

"Back there...what Kahlan said, it's affected, you hasn't it?"

"It's not like I expected that she'd remain single," Cara carries on. "But so soon? And when it seemed that she... That we..."

She kicks the garbage can, quickly folding her arms across her chest as she stares at a car passing by on the highway. "Maybe this is out of spite. She's trying to hurt me."

Adam's face softens considerably and he moves closer to the woman. "I don't think Kahlan works like that," he says, offering a comforting hand.

Adam's hand on her shoulder is nice, but Cara still feels numb. "Then how does she work?" a bitter laugh escapes her lips. "If she'd treated me the way I treated her, I might have done..."

Adam uses his free hand to direct Cara's face toward him; her eyes burn into his, tears struggling to stay at bay. There have only been a few times when he's seen Cara this emotionally vulnerable, and he's pretty certain that if he didn't know her so well — better than the other guys — he would have never seen such instances at all. Especially not now. "Cara...," he says hesitantly, "she doesn't even know that you care about about her. Not truly."

"But I -"

"- I know. The guys and I know. But you have to tell her that."

Cara's eyes soften beyond recognition. "That's why I'm here today," she says softy.

"Then make sure that you make that clear. Soon. And if she accepts, actually make a commitment. None of this friends-with-benefits stuff. You brought on this confusion, with your protests about not liking her. And now you have to remedy the situation. Maybe due to your choking spell back there, it's already as obvious to her as it is to the rest of us that you care. Maybe not. But you need to make your feelings known. Make it clear that you choose her and no one else. Kahlan's the kind of woman who wants a lifetime partner, and she isn't going to settle for anything less. Put this witchcraft-Shota ridiculousness behind you and just be happy."

Adam takes a step back, heading for the door a second later.

Cara nods. Adam's right. Even if Kahlan isn't "the one"... Being with her...it's one hell of a way to go.

IIII

The group stare at Adam as though he has all the answers in the world when he returns to the table.

"Is Cara..." Kahlan inquires.

"She's fine," Adam says, taking a seat as a waiter serves them their meals. "She's just a little embarrassed by her coughing session. Should be back any minute now."

"Cara...embarrassed?" Tanner arches a skeptical brow, exchanging a suspicious look with Nathan.

Adam sends them both death glares. "So...Kahlan..." he presses on, deciding to focus on the brunette instead. "How long have you been dating this significant other of yours?" He lifts the fork on his plate, taking a bite out of his pasta.

"About a week. But we've been hanging out for two - meaning including this one - and consider each other girlfriends already," she says, digging into her salad. "The romantic kind. Not the 'We're just friends' kind...if it needs any clarification."

"Hmm. And already…" Nathan says surprisingly.

"Wow!" Tanner exclaims.

"What?" Kahlan shrugs. "Some people just meet and instantly hit it off."

"Yeah, but to jump right into girlfriend-girlfriend status?" Nathan challenges.

"What I'm sure we're all wondering, Kahlan," Adam takes back over "...is if this...sudden development has anything to do with Cara."

"Absolutely not," Kahlan says emphatically, taking another bite out of her food. "A person can't wait around forever. Cara wasn't interested. I found someone who is. Simple as that."

"What's her name?" Tanner asks.

"Kelly."

"Ah...Kahlan & Kelly... That has a nice ring to it," he encourages.

Nathan rolls his eyes; Adam studies the brunette, looking for any hint of deception, but finds none.

Cara takes this time to emerge from the back, making her way to the table.

"Food is still hot," Tanner notes, pushing Cara's plate of farro fettuccine toward her.

"Thanks," Cara says, taking a seat.

As the group enjoy their meals, Adam can't help but notice how Cara and Kahlan's eyes carefully avoid each other.

IIII

As planned, after they'd finished dining at the restaurant an hour ago, the group immediately made their way to a nearby club to "let loose." Cara hadn't let loose, but Kahlan certainly had, dancing all over the place, the noisy music and effervescent lights aiding her way. The brunette hadn't said a word to Cara since leaving the restaurant, and Cara, like before, couldn't help but feel that she was being ignored.

Arms folded across her chest and nearly pouting, she is painfully aware of the tension between them even now as they sit at a booth with the guys; Kahlan sits across from her smiling and eyeing others on the dance floor, and it's as though the woman isn't even with them.

"You were amazing out there," Nathan tells the brunette, patting her on the back. "Always nice to have a woman among us. Cara's a woman, too, of course, but she's always here to pick up other women like we are. Never dances." He grins. "But tonight, it's just about hanging with friends."

Kahlan smiles shyly, eyes seemingly sparkling Nathan's way. "Thank you."

"Here, here," Adam and Tanner agree, raising their beer-filled mugs to lightly cling together.

Cara bristles in her seat, slouching down further. Kahlan, wearing a white spaghetti-strap top, form-fitting jeans and heels that are only made for walking, and yet still having danced like she owned the place, had looked amazing out there tonight.

She looks amazing every night.

IIII

As the car comes to a stop in front of Tanner's apartment, Cara, who had been sleeping in the back, with Adam to her left and Kahlan to her right, slightly opens an eye to peep at the brunette; she is surprised to see that the woman is turned toward her, clearly studying her features.

Caught, Kahlan immediately looks away, and — sitting up straight — declares, "We're here."

"Clearly," Cara grumbles, moving to sit up as well and briefly checking Adam's watch to see that it's 10:25 PM.

As everyone gets out of the car, Cara follows Kahlan up the stairs to Tanner's front door. She watches Kahlan for a moment; the brunette appears to be attempting to will the door open. She can't detect anything definitively changed about her. Indeed, there is nothing to indicate that Kahlan has acquired a girlfriend...or boyfriend even. And the fact that the woman is in good spirits is just the way of life; people move on. Clearly, Cara hadn't broken Kahlan's heart as badly as she'd thought. It's not the same without you, she thinks fervently as she stares at the back of the brunette's head, wishing that she can somehow close the distance between them — between this person who is standing so close to her.

Adam, Nathan and Tanner make their way to the door, having ruffled each other up a bit and laughed by the car before deciding to finally retreat inside. As Adam and Nathan continue to play-fight, Tanner unlocks the door and pushes it open, waving Cara and Kahlan in. "Ladies first," he says. After they enter, he moves to the fridge, grabbing a bear. Nathan hadn't been able to drink at the club, being their designated driver and all, and he just knows that the blond-haired man will be dying for one now. Rolling his eyes at the laughter drifting in from outside, he calls, "Hurry up, you two! We don't have all night and I prefer to have my neighbors not call the police because my company is being too loud."

As Cara sits in a chair beside the kitchen and Kahlan sits on the sofa in the living room, Nathan comes in after Adam, feigning a punch to the back of one of the man's shoulders before closing the door behind them.

"You wouldn't have to cheat so much, if you'd just quit smoking," Adam teases him. "Only in your 20s and you look and move like an old man."

"Are you asking for an ass-whooping?" Nathan retorts.

Adam shrugs, moving toward the couch, the action quite clearly indicating "No ass-whopping required."

"Anyone up for a game?" Kahlan suggests, smiling wide. Her eyes scan the room, briefly latching onto Cara's before her smile fades. Cara's eyes are already on her, and deadly serious.

"Whatever," the blonde replies.

"Nah... I feel like watching a movie," Adam says.

"Same here," Tanner chimes in, moving from the kitchen to hand Nathan a beer.

Nathan pops off the cap, chugging the beverage down aggressively as he nods his head in agreement with the other men.

"There's a gameroom in the back," Tanner says to the women as they move to stand. "Nothing too fancy, but it works well enough. Cara'll show you."

"Yeah, we'll be out here...should you ladies need anything," Adam adds, looking over a few movies at the movie rack beside the television placed center-room. "'Princess Diaries?'" Adam scrunches up his nose. "What are you...a twelve-year-old girl trapped in the body of a -"

"- Hey-hey, that film came as a two-for-one deal. Lay off," Tanner challenges, plopping down on the sofa beside Nathan.

"What was the other part of the two-for-one deal?" Nathan asks. "'Mean Girls'?"

Adam and Nathan chuckle.

"Laugh it up. Laugh it up," Tanner replies, throwing a pillow at them both.

Cara inclines her head toward the direction of the gameroom; Kahlan gets the hint and follows her down the hall; and once inside, she shuts the door behind them.

Cara nonchalantly moves to a pinball machine in the corner. The gameroom is indeed nothing special, but it offers an array of board games, dart boards and their associated contents, and gaming electronics.

Kahlan watches Cara carefully. "Back at the restaurant, why'd you act like that?" she asks bluntly.

Cara looks to the woman briefly, then gestures to the pinball machines a little ahead of them before going to one. "Like what? I simply had a coughing spell."

"Really?" Kahlan arches a brow, walking to the machine beside the blonde. "Or was there something more?" She starts her game, knocking the silver ball a few times before waiting for a reply.

"Okay, there was more to it," Cara admits, pausing to stare at the brunette. "A girlfriend already, Kahlan? Within just two weeks? After what you stated you feel for me? What happened to only having sex with 'special people'?"

"See, that's the difference between you and me right there, Cara," Kahlan huffs, "- everything's always about sex with you!" She folds her arms across her chest and turns so that her backside rests against the pinball machine. Her eyes stay centered on Cara's, however. "Kelly and I haven't had sex in two years."

Cara makes a puzzled face.

"She's one of the special ones I was telling you about, one of the only two people I've slept with," Kahlan clarifies, "- the one-night stand. And meeting her again a week ago...I was reminded of just why I find her so special."

Cara's eyes narrow and she turns to face Kahlan fully. "Oh yeah? How so?"

"She's carefree and doesn't dwell on what-ifs. She's not afraid to take chances. She's thoughtful and caring, daring, makes me laugh. And she wants me."

Wants you. Cara suddenly feels light-headed, her chest too tight to breathe. All she wants to say is how much she wants Kahlan, not just sexually, but emotionally...romantically. But all that manages to come out of her mouth is a barely audible whisper: "I'm not afraid to take chances."

Kahlan is at first touched by the intensity in Cara's eyes, but the feeling soon fades, replaced by bitterness — the culmination of rejection after rejection. "We're not talking about firefighting here," she scoffs.

Cara swallows. "So you've experienced a lot with her these past two weeks, I take it?"

"It's none of your business." Kahlan looks to the floor.

"I want to know," Cara says softly, frowning, fists balling and flexing at her sides.

Kahlan looks up at the blonde, and what she sees — a myriad of complex features she didn't even know Cara was capable of — compels her, inspires her to go on. "We've kissed, Cara, of course. We've relaxed at each other's homes and talked about countless things. We've gone out running together, gone out dining together, gone to fun and/or interesting places like the movies, a kid's center to help children in need, historic museums. I find her attractive, Cara, in more ways than one."

Cara looks away, the already rapid beating of her heart increasing by miles. This Kelly person...Why would Kahlan leave such a partner for her? "All that in a week or two," she whispers. "You found the time for her to do all that. That's why you were so busy. She's the friend you were talking about."

"Yes." Kahlan nods.

Cara looks up at her slowly. "And will I ever get a chance to spend time with you again - just the two of us?"

Kahlan leans off the pinball machine, standing straight. "You confuse me, Cara," she says, eyebrows knitted into confusion. "Suddenly you want to spend time with me? Why?"

Cara thinks for a moment. With the way that the brunette is asking, if she tells her she wants her, the woman will probably laugh her out of the room. Either that, or she'll brush it off as "wanting what you can't have." So instead Cara offers, "I never stated that I wanted to stop being your friend, Kahlan. If I gave off that impression, I'm sorry. "

Kahlan only watches her.

"And I apologize for how I've treated you," Cara continues on. "I realize that I was giving mixed signals. But you're an attractive woman. And even though I wasn't devoted to you, I could see that."

"Why are you saying this now?"

"Because I was too stubborn to say it before...too confused about things," Cara admits, taking a step closer.

"What things?" Kahlan takes a step back.

"It doesn't matter. Unless you want it to matter." Cara continues ahead. "But since you have a girlfriend now, and I respect that, and I take it you realized that you aren't too keen on me as you thought, all should be fine. We can just be friends."

"Tomorrow," Kahlan says quickly, her mind a jumble. "We can spend time tomorrow. Kelly will be completely busy that day, and..."

Cara halts. Is Kahlan only making time because her girlfriend won't be available? Sh*t.

That one pause is all it takes for Kahlan to go scurrying out of the room.

"Hey, Kahlan!" Cara hurries after her. She makes it ahead of the woman, much to Kahlan's chagrin, moving to Tanner instantly. "Keys." She holds out a hand toward him.

"Huh?" asks Tanner, sitting on the sofa between Adam and Nathan watching one of the many latest action movies.

"Kahlan is ready to go; I'll drop her off at home and return back here right afterward."

Tanner sighs, reaching into his pocket to grab the keys as Adam and Nathan watch the two women with much curiosity. "Good thing you didn't drink back at the club," he says, slamming the keys into her hand.

"C'omn." Cara looks to Kahlan, nodding toward the door.

Kahlan stands across from her, arms folded stubbornly before moving ahead to the open the door.

Cara closes the door behind them and they move hurriedly down the stairs. "What time should we meet up tomorrow?" she asks.

"Since I have to work, it'll have to be after 7:00 PM," Kahlan says, getting into the passenger side of the car as soon as Cara uses the key chain to automatically unlock its doors. "The stars are especially beautiful tonight," she adds as an afterthought after glimpsing at the night sky.

Not any more beautiful than you, Cara considers, getting into the car to start the engine. "Yes, they are," she agrees.

IIII

Kahlan stands in front of the car outside her apartment as she looks up at the stars. Though her eyes are focused there, her mind is focused on Cara, how oddly the woman has been acting tonight.

Cara gets out of the car, closing the door softly before walking to stand beside Kahlan.

"Cara..." Kahlan starts, looking at the cement. "What is going on with you...truly?"

"Why do you ask?" Cara smiles devilishly. "You can't be too worried about me, with your new girl and all."

Kahlan sighs. As if I've ever had a girl, truly had one, to begin with. She looks up at the woman before her. "Oh, c'omn, Cara, you know that isn't true. I'm constantly worrying about you. I'm constantly thinking about you," she admits, heading toward her front door.

Cara follows after her, the distance between them seeming larger than it is.

"I thought about you so much, and it showed so much, that it's no wonder you didn't want anything to do with me," Kahlan says, leaning her head against the door. "Well, aside from your odd freckle fixation." She smiles.

"'Thought'? " Cara whispers, pressing up behind her.

Kahlan stiffens. Slowly turning around to study the blonde's features, she uses one hand to stick a key into the doorknob. "My thoughts are mostly elsewhere now."

"With Kelly?" Cara questions.

"Yes ."

"I object... I think I'm much more interesting to think about."

Kahlan surprises herself when she doesn't immediately enter the apartment, but the emotion spilling from Cara is as captivating as it was earlier in the night. Cara, what are you trying to say? Are you toying with me again?

It is too late when Kahlan realizes that she, and not Cara, has closed what little distance there was between them.

Cara reaches a hand to drag a finger along the brunette's collarbone.

Gasping, Kahlan reactively halts that finger, seizing the hand it's attached to in her grasp.

"I was only removing a piece of lint," Cara replies innocently, the piece of lint there in between her pinched fingers for them to see.

Kahlan closes her eyes, shuddering, doing her best to try to bury the intense desire blooming within her. But the emotions are overwhelming, sealing her within their walls.

It isn't long before Cara's hands are on her, pushing her back against the door as the woman leans in to hungrily mold their lips together.

Shock is not a big enough word for what Kahlan feels. Cara had been giving her looks all night, but none of which made her think that the woman truly wanted her. Wanted this. If she'd seen any desire in those green-blue eyes, she'd rationalized it as Cara's ego being unable to handle that she's not lost in her need for her, that she may be interested in someone else. But now, in hindsight, with Cara pinning her against the door, kissing her like she's never been kissed before, there can be no more doubt. Cara does indeed find her attractive. Cara does indeed want her.

"Cara," she breathes in between kisses, throwing restraint and caution to the wind as she explores the woman's tongue — the one tongue she's always wanted to explore. The kiss is raw and sensual, and completely consuming.

Cara presses against her more fully, as if trying to feel every inch of her, what it must be like to mold their breasts, their abdomens, their groins. She gasps into Kahlan's mouth, opening her eyes a second later and seeing that the brunette's eyes are still closed, face full of passion and desperation. Cara grins, lids shutting closed once more as she recaptures Kahlan's lips with her own. "I knew you weren't over me," she says.

That line is enough to break the heady cloud of lust that was obviously obstructing Kahlan's better judgment. No matter if Cara wants sex from her, that's all it would ever be. Everything's a game to Cara. Everything's about sex with Cara. She ends the kiss, uttering, "I have to go."

Cara opens her eyes, surprised, just as Kahlan enters the apartment and shuts the door behind her. The locking of the door is all Cara hears next.

Cara stares, miffed. Where had she gone wrong? Was it the statement about Kahlan wanting her?

But Kahlan does want me! Cara almost rams against the door. But then thinks better of it. She remembers that Kahlan has a girlfriend.

Damn it. That must be it.

She'd crossed the line even after saying she'd respected it, and Kahlan doesn't strike her as the cheating type. The woman must have concluded that she's sending mixed messages again.

Cara stares at the door and sighs. Either way, at least now she knows that there is still a chance with the brunette. There has to be.

And if there isn't, she'll do everything in her power in the days following to ensure that there is.