I woke, tangled in another's arms, a warm body against my back. I was tempted to stay right where I was. Mom was looking after Zoe until the following day, and we had no commitments. But I didn't want to inflict morning-Erin on Faye. My friend - my lover - deserved better after sharing herself with me.

So I carefully freed myself without waking her, started coffee brewing, then took a quick shower. I couldn't avoid washing my hair after a night's dancing, but I dried it quickly and incompletely, just enough to brush it out. I slipped on clean underwear and a light robe, then checked on Faye, who was fortunately still asleep, with a smile on her face.

I finished the coffee, as she liked it, put a couple of her favorite cookies on a plate and took it through. She was still asleep, but had rolled over. Possibly the smell of the coffee or my absence from bed had penetrated through to her sleeping state.

"Good morning, sweetie," I said, softly, rubbing her bare arm.

Faye rolled all the way onto her back, her lovely breasts quivering as she raised her hand to her face and slowly opened her eyes. She gave me an unfocused look, then suddenly her eyes opened wide in surprise, as though she'd just remembered that last night really happened.

"Lift up," I instructed. "I've brought coffee. Let me rearrange your pillows so you can sit."

Still wordlessly, seeming a little dazed, Faye did as I suggested, lifting the sheet over her breasts. Then she leaned back, glanced down at her hand clutching the sheet and chuckled, letting it fall.

I handed her the coffee, and she took a sip before finally speaking, her voice not yet steady. "That's so sweet of you, Erin. Thank you."

I smiled at her. "I figured it would help give you a sense of comfort. You're waking up in a strange bed. A strange situation. I think your world just changed more than mine did." I felt my cheeks warm. "At least, I hope your world changed, too."

She lifted her eyes to mine. "You mean, do I regret last night?"

I nodded.

Faye shook her head. "I've been imagining being with you for a long time. I just didn't know how it would be." She grinned at me. "Now I know, I think I'm going to have a hard time not imagining more."

My heart eased. I stroked her arm again, then went back to the kitchen, returned with my coffee, and sat beside her, rearranging my pillow.

"You're being very unfair, though," Faye said. Her voice had recovered. Her long dark hair looked more like a bird's nest, but she was fully awake, now.

"How's that?" I asked.

"You're all covered up, and as I've seen you notice, I'm not," she said.

My eyes flicked down to her small pale nipples, and my face warmed again. "Well, I do like what I see," I admitted, "and I'm hoping you'll be uncovering me again."

"I like that idea," she said. She took another sip of coffee, then bit into a cookie. "I'm going to go home first and clean up. You showered already."

"All the way home?" I asked in mock panic.

"Mmhmm," she replied. "Maybe I'll come back to your place after I've showered."

"I'll eagerly await the ring of the doorbell," I replied, as she slipped out of bed and left the room with her coffee and remaining cookie.


While Faye was showering, I got out of bed and tidied the house, recovering and re-folding Faye's sequin dress, and picking up my blue dress from the floor. I set Faye's shoes and the dress beside the door to her room, took my dress and shoes to mine, and after realizing I was missing something, I found Faye's bra beside the bed, then added it to the stack beside her room.

After pouring myself another coffee, I fluffed the pillows and re-made the bed, then climbed in to await Faye's return.


Faye took a lot longer showering than I had, but she had completely dried and brushed out her hair. She wore a short, belted robe.

I smiled at her. "You look lovely," I said.

She flushed slightly. "Would you like me to bring you more coffee?" she asked.

I shook my head. "I just want you," I murmured.

She moved to my side of the bed, rather than climbing into the other side. Lowering her face to mine, she found my lips with her own, and our kiss left no doubt about what each of us wanted. Her hand slipped inside my robe and squeezed my breast, pinching my nipple. I groaned as I felt myself start to get wet.

Faye pulled the sheets back. "Move over," she instructed, climbing onto the bed beside me, then rolling onto me, covering my body with hers.

After enjoying the feel of her body against mine for a while, I slid my hands between us and unfastened her robe. Then I opened it and took one breast in each hand. Faye shivered atop me, and she pressed her sex to mine.

I gripped Faye's waist, using my hold to lift her, breaking our kiss and sliding a few inches down her body to suckle her breasts. Her small nipples became hard to my tongue. Judging by the sounds she made, they were also very sensitive. Her hips moved against my belly as I switched between breasts, my hands kneading them or caressing the smooth skin of her waist.

She was panting when she lifted herself away from me. Shrugging out of her robe, she murmured, "My turn," then slid down my body to work on my nipples with her lips and fingers.

My breasts have always been small, but my nipples had been very sensitive when Jared and I first started sleeping together. After Zoe was born, I breastfed her, my nipples and breasts growing slightly larger, and when I'd stopped, my breasts had gradually returned to about their original size, but my nipples remained a little wider, and had lost much of their sensitivity. Of course, Jared's interest in them had waned, so it seemed like no great loss.

Last night was the first time since I'd given birth that my breasts had felt like a key part of my sexual responsiveness. Faye had rekindled their sensitivity. Now, as she suckled, I became ever more wet, my clitoris swelling as her lips and tongue stimulated my nipples. I couldn't stop myself writhing under her, or prevent my heart from racing or my breath becoming ragged.

Wriggling, I tugged my arms out of the sleeves of my robe, so that it lay empty beneath my back. Then I ran my fingers through Faye's hair, messing up her careful preparation. I doubt she cared any more than I did.

"You like this?" she asked, looking up from her work, her amused eyes holding mine.

"God, yes," I replied.

"Good, 'cause I'm going to stop now," she said.

I frowned at her.

"Do you realize," she continued, her voice husky, "in all the time we were making love last night, we didn't actually get naked?"

"Right," I agreed. "It didn't seem necessary."

She kissed my chest between my breasts, then began to slide lower. I felt her fingers inside the waistband of my panties. "It's time to fix that."

She tugged my panties down a couple of inches, then moved back far enough to lift my knees from the bed, and take them off completely.

Lowering my legs and parting them, Faye lay back down, her lips against my belly. Her breasts squeezed against my thighs, and nothing pressed against my aching clit. Still, just the thought of her interest in my sex had me squirming as her lips and tongue explored my navel.

Then she slid lower, her breasts moving below my parted thighs, her chin circling against my sex making me moan.

When Faye's tongue found my clit, the excitement alone almost made me come. But she stroked me so gently that I found my arousal rising with no end in sight, just building and building with each light caress.

"God, Faye," I groaned.

She looked up in concern. "Should I stop?"

"No!" I cried out. "God, no, don't stop!"

I saw her grin, then she buried her face between my legs again. She moved faster, and my hips bucked against her with no intent on my part. I had never felt so completely in thrall to passion. I gave myself to the feeling, panting loudly.

"Oh God, Faye," I groaned again. "I think I'm going to come."

Her right hand slid up my body to my breast. She pinched my nipple hard. It didn't just push me over the edge. It catapulted me over, my whole body suddenly nothing but a shell for blinding waves of feeling, so strong it would be hard even to call it pleasure. But it was, and when I started to breathe again, that pleasure slowly relinquished its grip on me, but didn't fade completely, leaving me tingling and sated.


"Come here," I gasped, holding my arms out to her.

As Faye moved back up my body, I briefly wondered how she had known exactly what to do. I was pretty sure she'd never even kissed a girl before me. Ah, but if someone had done that to her... My opinion of Doug rose even further. No way Jared would ever have put so much effort into someone else's pleasure.

She settled atop me, joining her lips to mine, my taste on her tongue. I groaned, then drew back. "Take your panties off too," I whispered. "I want to feel you against me."

She nodded and met my lips again as she wriggled against me, tugging her panties off and tossing them aside.

"Did you like that?" she asked, a little while later, resting her chin on my shoulder.

"Faye, sweetie," I replied, "if I were to tell you how good that was, it would puff you up with pride. So I'm just going to have to try to show you."


Rolling Faye onto her right side, I turned onto my left, fitting my thigh between hers. With my hand on her ass holding her against me, I rocked as our tongues met. She sighed, and I hungered to give her the same passion she'd brought to me.

Moving my lips from hers, I cupped her breast in my left hand as I kissed her neck and shoulder, easing my body down hers until I could suckle her lovely breasts. I was too low now for my thigh to press against her. Faye tried to grind herself against my hip as I took her nipple between my teeth, tugging slightly, which made her moan.

My right palm moved over her sex, pressing against her. Then I fumbled, feeling around her slit until I managed to ease two fingers inside her. I pressed them slowly forward, then started rocking my wrist.

Faye's nipple became hard against my tongue, and her hips moved, pressing her against my hand. When I pinched her other nipple she shuddered and cried out softly.

Then I rolled her onto her back and lifted myself onto my elbow, watching her, my right hand still moving inside her. Her eyes showed need, and her thighs tensed and relaxed as my fingers explored.

I broke the rhythm, instead, moving my fingers inside her, probing her slick passage. "How does this feel?" I asked.

"S-strange," she replied, her voice unsteady. "Don't stop though, Erin. Please?"

I smirked down at her. "Don't be in such a hurry." I curled my fingers upwards, into her, moving just the tips.

"You're not being fair," Faye whined. Then she gasped. "W-what are you doing?"

I felt my eyebrow raise at her reaction. I was still exploring. That was worth making a note of, though. After a moment I moved my fingers back to that position and pressed again, rocking my wrist.

Faye's eyes clouded, as though she didn't know whether she liked what she was feeling, but she was clearly feeling something. After a short time, her belly twitched strongly.

"Uhhhh..." Faye's tone was raw with arousal. Her breasts quivered as the muscles in her belly twitched again.

I lowered my face to her right breast, this time, grasping it with my left hand and shaping it to press to my lips and tongue. Faye's fingers slipped into my hair, gripping it and holding me in place.

Sliding my hips further onto Faye I tried again to fit my leg between hers. I was too low to press my thigh to her sex, sure, but what I could do was push it against the back of my hand. Rocking my hips now moved my wrist, increasing the pressure of my fingers against the wall of her sex.

Faye began to moan. She moved against me, her back lifting. My own sex rested against her upper thigh, and the movement of our bodies began to drive me towards another high.

I didn't want to come before she was ready, so with reluctance I stopped moving, and concentrated on pressing my fingertips against her. I drew back from her nipple, resting the side of my face on my left hand, and watched her. Occasionally I'd extend my tongue and lightly graze it against her nipple.

Faye's breathing was labored, and she shuddered occasionally as she breathed in. When she did her breasts shivered. Her eyes were open, but I'm sure they were too unfocused to notice my grin.

"I need more," Faye croaked. "Please, Erin..." Her face turned to me, pupils dilated.

Leaning forward, I sucked her nipple between my lips, then moved back so that it popped out noisily. Faye shivered. Her belly tensed, pressing her breasts forward, so that they seemed to swell with excitement.

"You are so beautiful," I said to her. "Your skin seems to glow."

"It's... because..." her voice showed the strain of keeping her words calm. "Because I want..."

"What do you want, sweetie?" I asked, moving my fingers slowly against her.

"Nhhh... want you, Erin." She squeezed the words out. "Want you so badly."

My own belly tight with excitement, I eased my body back against hers, my sex against her thigh, and my lips touching the sides of her breast. I lifted my leg, pushing it against my hand. The slow movement of my hips rolled us slightly side to side as I moved against her.

"Oh God..." she groaned. "I'm so close, love. Take me there, please..."

Panting, I closed my lips over her nipple and sucked. Faye's back arched. I felt her sex tighten around my fingers, then begin to pulse strongly as she took a rapid series of sharp breaths. Even when her breathing started to slow, the tremors continued.

The feeling excited me, and I felt myself slip into climax against her, panting softly.

When she finally relaxed against the bed, I didn't withdraw my fingers, instead looking up into her eyes as she smiled down into my face. "That was wonderful, Erin," she breathed.

I nodded in agreement. "For me, too."

"Feeling you... inside me," she added, "was exciting."

"Okay," I said, easing my way down her body. "I'll keep that in mind."

With my fingers still inside Faye's warm passage, though resting, not pressing against her, I began to lick her thighs, drawing my tongue up the inside of her leg to her sex, then starting over. Occasionally I brushed my teeth against the smooth skin, feeling a small shiver within her.

She tolerated my play indifferently for a while, but then I noticed her breathing becoming deeper, and could see her breasts rising higher with each intake of breath. I began to slide my fingers against her, deeply in, then almost all of the way out. There was a distinct change to the quality of her breathing at that.

Moving my lips from her thigh, I traced them up to just below her navel, stopping to plant kisses with a lot of tongue play every half inch. Then I kissed her navel, and moved back down, grazing my teeth over her lower belly before selecting where to focus my suckling lips and tongue.

Faye twitched. I repeated the kiss, then looked up. "Am I tickling you?"

"Yeah," she replied, throatily. "But in a good way."

I kissed the spot again. "How good?"

"Better than I thought I'd feel, this soon after... you know," she replied.

Chuckling, I resumed my attentions, until she twitched again. Then I moved lower.

My chin pressed the close-cropped hair of her pussy, my lips just above her sex. Faye's breath whooshed out softly. Looking along her body I could see her face between her full breasts, nipples erect and quivering at each intake of breath.

My fingers moved more firmly in and out of her, and her thighs began to tighten against me. I could see her fingers grasping the sheet, tugging at it as her chest moved yet higher. Then I moved down the extra inch I needed to be able to touch her clit with my tongue.

She cried out as I began to lick, flattening my tongue against her, drawing it over the length of her clitoris. She was panting now, her hips rocking, her lower back rising from the bed. I kept the movements of my tongue slow, while moving my hand more powerfully against her, fingers now pressed firmly to the front of her sex.

If I stopped my tongue, holding it in place, it seemed that I could feel the movement of my fingers inside her reflected in the movement of her clit against my tongue, though perhaps it was just the way her body was squirming with her obvious arousal. I pressed my tongue firmly against her, still not moving it, and she began to moan.

Lowering my face, I pressed my lips to the sides of her clit, closing them as much as I could, sucking gently as my tongue brushed the sensitive tip. Faye moaned again, and as I glanced up, I saw her chest writhe, her arms flat on the bed. Then she cried out, "Oh God," and I felt her clitoris move, seeming to harden and shrink away from me, but I pressed my face firmly to her, lips and tongue still finding it, as she tensed and came around my fingers.

I lapped softly, feeling Faye's clit quiver beneath my tongue, as her moans turned to sighs, and she relaxed on the bed. Then she reached down and grabbed my ears with both hands, tugging me upwards.

"Ow!" I yelped. "I'm coming!"

"You are?" She grinned at me in mock surprise.

"Not like that," I grumped, crawling all the way onto her. I fitted my right thigh between hers as I lay against her, feeling the pressure of her breasts against me.

"Make love to me, Erin," she whispered, and kissed me.

Her hands roamed my body, touching my arms, my waist, my ass. She seemed to want to caress every inch she could reach. My sex moved against her thigh, arousal flowing into me from the contact.

Rolling over, I pulled Faye onto me, and squeezed her ass. Her groans told me she wasn't far behind me in her rise to orgasm. Her hips rocked with mine.

I broke the kiss and moved my chin to her shoulder, nibbling her ear. "I love the feel of your body against mine," I said. "You're just so perfect."

Faye's teeth closed lightly on my neck, before she whispered, "I love it, too." Then a moment later, she added, "I want to make love to you, and keep making love to you."

"Faye," I groaned, her words adding to my arousal, pushing me into the zone where my climax was inevitable. I lifted her and fastened my lips to her left nipple, sucking hard, drawing my head back to stretch it, then letting it slip from my mouth. "Come for me, Faye. Come with me." Then I returned to firm suckling.

"Oh, yes!" she called out.

I felt myself slip over the edge into delight, and Faye's cries told me she was right behind me. She kissed my shoulder frantically, then, as I released her breast, she caught my face and pressed her mouth to mine, kissing me hungrily as she panted.


Gradually we relaxed, Faye's body resting atop mine. She brushed hair back from her damp face. She looked up at me and smiled. "I feel like I fit here so well," she said. "We fi... well, our bodies seem to fit together perfectly."

I returned her smile. "They do. Although..."

Faye gave me a worried look. "Although?"

"We don't fit it one way you want," I said. "If you, uh, want me inside you."

Faye flushed. "Yeah, but what you did felt good."

"But if I could be inside you like this, say," I said, "how would that feel?" I stroked the sides of her breasts. "We could touch... and kiss... and I could still be inside you when we make love."

"You have the wrong body parts for that, lover," Faye retorted, "and I think I like the parts you have just fine."

"That doesn't mean we can't have temporary options," I said. "After breakfast, you and I should pay a visit to Steph."

Faye clearly had no idea what I was taking about, and throwing out the name hadn't helped, until she suddenly recalled meeting Steph. Then the rest of the conversation came clear

"Oh, God. No," she said. "You mean..."

"Mmhmm," I agreed. "I never felt the need to get a strap-on before."

Faye rolled off me, grabbing a pillow as she landed on her back. She held the pillow over her face. "You can't make me go through that again."

"First of all," I said, rolling to face her, "I will be the one buying, and second of all, you told Steph you'd come back."

"When I wanted a vibrator upgrade," she said. "Not to get a d... a dildo! And not to talk to a stranger about... about you and me doing stuff!"

I slid my hand down Faye's body. Since the pillow had blocked her view, she jumped at my touch. My fingers circled her sex, then began to caress. I pushed the pillow away with my head and moved my lips to her ear. "Think about it," I whispered. "I could be deep inside you, filling you, on top of you, my body pressed to yours as I kiss you, passionately..."

"Nngh!" Faye shivered as my breath tickled her ear. Her face was flushed, but the look on her eyes was excitement, not embarrassment. I stroked her clit and she made a soft moan. "Unfair," she breathed as her legs parted to my fingers.


We finally did make it out of bed for breakfast. I made us bacon and eggs, and a fresh pot of coffee. We sat at the table in our robes, and nothing else. Faye still wasn't sold on the idea of visiting Steph.

"Why can't we buy online?"

"Would you know what you're getting?" I asked. "Even if you research, until you can see and touch what you're getting, you won't know if you'll like it."

"It isn't like we can try one!" Faye replied.

"No, but you can get a good idea of how it will feel, and if you'll want it inside of you," I said. "And most importantly, we can get something too-day." I drew out the last word. "We have the rest of the day and tonight before we have to pick up Zoe. And I doubt Amazon has same-day delivery of erotic accessories."


Steph's smile was as warm as ever. She led us to her secluded area, and asked Faye what she was looking for, since she'd been the one buying last time. Faye just tilted her head towards me.

We'd arrived an hour before noon. The day was chilly, and would be getting colder, not warmer, according to the forecast.. inside the store, it was warm, and with all of the privacy screens and hanging items, surprisingly cozy - if you didn't look too closely at what the screens and hangers were displaying.

Faye had dressed in jeans and a high necked zip-fronted jacket. She unzipped it as she sat, and I felt a quick flash of lust. It surprised me, since I knew she was wearing a sweater beneath the jacket, but her fingers opening the zip made me think about undressing her. When had that become such a compelling desire?

Smoothing my long woolen skirt beneath me, I settled into the other client chair. As much as this was my idea, and I wanted to be entirely comfortable with my request, I couldn't help but lower my voice. "I want a strap-on, but I've never used one, and have no idea what I'm looking for."

"Of course I can help," she said. "There are options, harnesses, attachments... Is this... speculative? If you have a particular partner in mind, they might want to help select the attachment, and that might influence the choice of harness."

I was still debating whether or not to confirm that Faye was the partner I had in mind, when she sighed and saved me the trouble.

"Yes, it's for me," she said, her cheeks flushed, "and I have even less idea of what she wants than Erin does. I just want to put on a mask and hide in a corner."

Steph gave her an amused grin. "If you want a mask, I can help with that, too..."

"Oh, God, no," Faye said, her face coloring further. "I can't believe I said that. Just ignore me, okay?"

I reached out and squeezed her hand. "It's okay, sweetie," I said. "I'm sure Steph understands. I'm a little embarrassed myself, you know?" She gave me a quick smile as I released her hand.

The saleswoman nodded, and gave us both a reassuring smile.

In spite of Faye's reservations, after Steph had worked with her for a while, making calming smalltalk while showing her a range of dildos, she seemed to become comfortable, and between them they decided what she would like before Steph consulted with me.

After we'd talked for a while, Steph studied me with narrowed eyes. "You seem more nervous than your partner. Is there something you're not comfortable with?"

I barely suppressed my automatic reply of "I'm fine." I thought for a moment. "I didn't think it showed," I said.

Steph looked at me expectantly, Faye curiously. I guess it didn't show too clearly. Steph was observant. Or else Faye was distracted by her own embarrassment.

"Is this," I gestured at the collection of toys Steph had been showing Faye, "too soon?"

"You've not been together long?" Steph' s expression registered mild surprise. "You both seemed very close when I saw you last."

I shook my head. "We have and we haven't. Really, this is very new to us, and I think we still have so much to learn without artificial help. I don't want to think we're giving up what we have, and what we haven't even discovered yet, as if we can't be enough for each other."

"Well, uh," Faye began, then stopped talking as Steph and I both turned to look at her. She cleared her throat. I figured she was about to say that it was my dumb idea that we were here - though not so rudely, being Faye. "Then isn't it better to start sooner, rather than later? I mean, if I were to say in a few months that I want to try something like this..." she borrowed my gesture, taking in the selection of dildos, "then you'd think I was bored. Wouldn't it be better to, umm, integrate all possibilities now, while everything's fresh and wonderful, and we know we don't really need it, to give us more options?"

Faye's cheeks were a brighter pink than I'd ever seen them when she was through. I felt an odd sense of pride in her speech, as though overcoming her shyness in this awkward situation had anything to do with me.

I spoke softly. "Nicely said. You've set my mind at rest." I sighed and turned back to Steph. "It's just that it's new to me," I said. "To both of us. I know what I want to do," I continued, glancing at the toys, "but I don't really know how." I felt my face warming. "I want to make Faye feel good."

"You do, Erin," my friend interrupted, "and you will."

"I've only been with guys before," I said, with a quick shrug. "Our roles were kinda fixed, and we didn't use accessories."

Faye nodded in agreement.

Steph looked at me. "Then let me give you some advice."

"Okay," I said, expecting sage wisdom from this insightful woman.

She placed a large dispenser bottle with the other items. "Use plenty of lube."

Faye laughed, and I blinked in surprise.

"I'm serious," Steph said, though her lips were turned up in amusement. "Well, partly serious. You already know some of what you like. Talk to each other about what you want, and do what feels good to you. You'll learn far more from each other than you will from a book or a website. You want your partner to enjoy penetration. So do it. Just use plenty of lube. This is water-based, organic and edible. You can use it on your accessories, or anywhere else." She paused for a second before continuing. "Maybe you'd like your partner to penetrate you, too?"

I noticed Faye's eyes flick to me, her expression becoming momentarily wide. Her chest rose as though she was breathing deeply. Looking back at Steph, I said, "I don't want to push Faye to buy anything. This visit is for me."

"She can use the harness too, if it's what you both want," Steph said. "I can't assume my customers are monogamous," she continued, with a grin, "but if you are, you can share the dildo, after cleaning. Or you can get another that's more to your liking. Or get a couple for variety. Just remember..."

"Use plenty of lube," I finished for her, catching Faye's grin. "I think it's fair to say we're monogamous." Faye nodded quickly, then looked down at her knees.

"Having said that," Steph said, "I will give you some web links, and we have books - one especially that I think will help you choose how to be especially good for each other. But your own conversations and feelings are the most important guide."

"Okay," I said, feeling very relieved.

"Now, we should find a harness you both like, right? And you should definitely choose one with a bullet vibrator for flexibility."

Faye's eyes went wide, but she said nothing.


We left with far more than I'd intended to get. A testament to Steph's empathy - and her marketing skills - and maybe to Faye's growing enthusiasm. One harness, three dildos, a much more upmarket rechargeable bullet vibrator than was necessary ("You really don't want to have to drive to CVS for batteries in your hour of need") but still with the battery vibrator ("Unless you want to wait while it's charging - be sure to keep a couple of batteries on hand"), batteries, and the book Steph recommended, which added another twenty-five bucks.

From the light growing in Faye's eyes, I thought it was money well spent.

Faye wanted to treat me to lunch, since I'd spent so much for the two of us. I tried to argue, since she'd funded our date - was it only the previous evening? - but she'd prevailed, so we took a table at an Italian restaurant, our bag of loot from Steph in plain sight on a chair. The contents were well wrapped.

"You seemed nervous back there," Faye said, after the waitress had left.

The restaurant was quiet. A couple of tables were occupied, but they were against another window. A glorious scent of garlic cooked in butter wafted from the kitchn. Outside our window, the day was grey and cold, but the restaurant had a cheerful fire, with realistic logs. "I am a little. I'm still a little overwhelmed by last night. Things changed between us so suddenly that I can't help but feel that you may not want this as much as I do. I think that's why I started wondering if maybe introducing toys was premature."

Faye's expression was surprised. "You can't think that!" she began, then looked up to see the waitress approach.

After we had our salads, and the waitress was out of earshot again, Faye spoke again. "I don't think you realize what you've given me," she said. Her expression was so earnest that I studied her eyes, and didn't even realize she'd reached out to grasp my free hand until I felt her fingers wrap around mine. "Maybe I miss Doug more than I miss sex, but that doesn't mean I don't miss sex. I've been celibate since well before I lost him. Since before he got sick. We almost made love when he was recovering from mono, but we thought we should wait a few more days until the last of the weakness passed." She sighed. "Big mistake."

As painful a memory as this must have been, Faye seemed more wistful than melancholic. She continued conversationally. "It's been almost two years for me. And since I can't think of another guy that way, I thought it was permanent." She smiled. "That's why I so appreciated it when you convinced me to get my own 'little friend.'"

I returned her Faye's, and she continued, glancing around and lowering her voice. "Making love to you freed me, Erin. I needed that. I just didn't think it would ever be possible to find it without guilt." She gave me a lopsided smile, then released my hand and picked up her fork. "I should be the one worrying that you may not need it as much as I do."

"I don't think you need to be concerned about that, sweetie," I replied.


"I had a thought," I said, over a cup of good coffee in place of dessert. "You're coming close to getting out of debt, right?"

"Maybe a year to clear it completely. Six months before I'd consider it manageable." Faye gave me an amused smile. "You want me to start paying rent?"

"No, no, not at all," I hurried to reply. "About your idea. That you wanted to have Doug's child. You could do it now. Or soon, anyway. If you stay with us, I could help through the pregnancy and infancy. Then, if you ever did want to find a guy, then you'd just be a single woman with a kid, nothing unusual, and no need for your desire to have one with Doug to come between you."

At first, Faye seemed crestfallen, as if the suggestion disappointed her. Then she frowned in thought. After a time, she said, "That's actually an interesting idea. You keep taking on responsibilities for me, though. If I were to do that, I would have to start paying rent. And supporting me might be really stressful for you."

I shook my head. "I don't think so, and I'm sure Zoe would love to help. Or at least to feel like she's helping. It would be really good for her."

"I'll think about it, Erin," she said. "I really will."