Chapter 12 - Gratitude

Anita texted me on the Wednesday of that week.

Anita: "Thanks for covering for me w/Kennedy"
Me: "It's fine. Was a pleasure. (Literally. 😉)"
Anita: "Lol. Wasn't sure you would go there. I still want to thank you."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Anita: "Free Friday evening? Come over, rumors & I will make you dinner."
Anita: "Roomies*. Autocorrect"
Me: "You don't need to but if you want sure, Friday's good."
Me: "Red or white?"
Anita: "👀 red"

Immediately afterward my phone pinged again. I glanced at the screen, but a drop-down notification informed me that it was a different number.

Alex: "Hey u. TSF here."


Me: "A) you don't need to tell me TSF. My phone knows your name now. Also, B) I do have other straight friends."
Alex: "Not like me tho."
Me: "True enough, thank god."
Alex. "Hey. So, uh..."
Me: "🙄"
Alex: "I need 2 go dress shopping."
Alex: "Dork. No. Halloween."
Me: "You figured out your costume?"
Alex: "Y. I was going 2 go shopping w/best friend Jen, but her boyfriend's coming now, so me=3rd wheel unless u come 2."
Me: "Saturday?"
Alex: "BF can't do Sat. BF's BF I mean. U know what I mean. Sunday 1pm."

Is stream-of-consciousness typing on phone chat a real thing? Alex apparently believed so.

Me: "Can do. Want me to pick you up?"
Alex: "There might be drinking 🍻"
Me: "Sigh. I'll take an Uber."


I started work early on Friday so that I could leave early to change, arriving at Anita's at six o'clock. I was dressed casually, but since I was meeting Anita's roomies for the first time, I had put some thought into my outfit, selecting a white blouse, lightweight peach below-the-knee skirt, and medium-heel boots with short black socks instead of hose. More importantly, I carried two bottles of red wine, which clanked together loudly in the bag.

Anita opened the door for me. I was surprised to see that her eyes seemed tiny behind large round glasses. She had to be a contact lens wearer. I was not a fan of contacts.

Inside was a scene of domestic chaos. Three students, two male and one female, were fighting for counter space and for access to the stove, the negotiations consisting of rapid-fire Chinese.

"What's going on?" I asked Anita, bemused.

"Everyone's assisting in cooking," she said. "I'll rejoin the fray in a moment." She took the bag containing the wine from me.

I took one bottle back from her, produced a corkscrew from my bag and opened it. "Do you have glasses?" I asked. "I have plastic cups if not."

"We can find glasses," Anita said. She took the open bottle and set it on a corner of the counter on the borderland of the conflict, then squeezed through the throng of her roomies and liberated five glass tumblers from a cupboard. These she set on a table away from the melee.

"I'll pour in a few minutes," I said. "Adding alcohol to the mix right now is probably a bad idea. Especially with those kitchen knives."

Anita laughed. "It's not as bad as it looks, but that's valid. Can you entertain yourself for another ten minutes while I finish my part?"

"Sure," I said.

Anita flashed me a grin and dove back into the kitchen, weaving and dodging until she could grab a knife and chop veggies.

Alright. I exaggerate. A little. It was clear they were having fun and hamming it up for my benefit, but it really was impressive how four of them could coexist and cooperate so well in a small kitchen. And it was interesting to hear my friend, from whom I'd never known anything but unaccented English, conversing in Chinese, as quickly and effortlessly as her roomies.

After a few minutes, Anita's roomies ejected her from the kitchen. She laughed as they waved her away. She sat at the table, and I poured us both wine.

"They have everything under control, they say," she told me. "And they don't like to see you sitting alone."

"I don't mind," I said. "I've been enjoying watching. Is that Mandarin you're speaking?"

"Very good," Anita said.

"When I started work, we had an engineer from mainland China," I said. "He spoke Mandarin. He left not long after I started. I'm sure I couldn't tell the difference between Mandarin and Cantonese or any other language.

"You drove him away, did you?" Anita teased.

"I did not," I said. "I liked him." I smirked at her. "I'd have asked him out if he'd stayed around any longer."

Anita gave me a pained look, then the corners of her lips twitched up. She called something in Mandarin. One of the guys raised a fist and they all laughed.

"What did you tell them?" I asked, frowning at Anita.

"That you want to date a Chinese man," she replied.

"I don't!" I yelped.

They were all listening now, and at that, one of the guys buried his head in his hands, while the other shouted, "What's wrong with Chinese men?"

"Nothing," I cried back. "I don't want to date anyone! But especially not a guy. Not right now."

He said something to Anita, who laughed. I didn't ask for a translation.

"Am I getting myself in trouble?" I asked her.

"No, you're not," she replied, before taking a sip of her wine. "I'm getting you in trouble."

"You know," I said, "I think you do that well."

There was a commotion from the kitchen, and a moment later one of the guys - the one who'd hidden his face - brought a tray with four soup bowls. There were ceramic spoons and chopsticks for all, and an additional fork for me.

Everyone sat, and Anita introduced us. The guy who'd hidden his face was Jiao, the one who'd asked what was wrong with Chinese men was Ben, and the girl was Mey. I gave each a quick handshake. then poured the wine into the tumblers, topping up Anita's glass and my own.

I was determined to avoid using the fork. The clear broth was easy enough, though the spoon was oddly shaped, designed more for slurping than for putting in the mouth, it seemed. The transparent noodles were a different matter. I studied Anita closely to try to copy her. She caught me watching her, and winked at me, which sent an odd flush of heat through my chest.

Emulating Anita's chopstick technique as best I could, I attempted the noodles. It wasn't a disaster, but it was far from a complete success. I leaned forward to avoid spilling soup.

One of the guys - Ben - made a comment to Anita, who glared at him.

"What did he say?" I asked.

She considered for a moment before translating. "He said that if you're not careful your boobs will be in the soup."

"I'm not that clumsy," I objected.

"He's not talking about clumsiness," Anita explained, patiently, while Ben grinned at us. "He's saying they're big."

"Anita doesn't have that problem," Ben explained, then added a comment in Mandarin, as if daring her to translate.

I didn't ask, but she shook her head and translated anyway. "I don't have a problem because I have no boobs," she said.

"That's not true," I said, coming to her defense. Which I realized was a mistake as soon as I said it.

"How do you know that?" Ben asked.

"A girl notices," I replied, primly.

"You don't even notice that yours are covered in noodles," he said.

I glanced down. Yes, I had dropped a noodle. I picked it off my clean blouse with my napkin. It left a damp line, though I didn't think it would stain. I sighed and switched to my fork.

In another time and place, I'm sure I'd have taken offense to a stranger discussing my boobs, but the joking went no further than that, and was clearly good-natured. I liked Ben. Jiao and Mey hadn't said much, but they seemed friendly.

When the soup was finished, Mey collected the soup bowls while Ben and Jiao brought empty plates and plates of food which they set in the center of the table. There were various vegetables, not all of which I recognized, thick noodles and chicken.

These I could handle with chopsticks without too much trouble. I collided with Mey and Anita a couple of times reaching for food from the center plates.

It was excellent, the greens crisp enough to have a nice crunch - making them fairly easy to pick up - and the chicken was quite spicy. Some of the greens were bitter enough to make me wince, but the flavors went together so well that I found myself enjoying them anyway.

"Do you always eat so well?" I asked Ben.

"Yes, of course," he said, while both Jiao and Mey said "No."

"We don't have this..." Anita waved her hand over the plates, taking in the quantity and selection. "But yes, we eat well. We take it in turns to cook. Today would have been Mey's turn, but this was a joint effort. As you saw."

The wine bottle was almost empty, so I opened the second and let it sit on the table until we were ready, which didn't take long.

All four of the residents were working on BS degrees, though Ben was in arts plus video game design and other tech classes. Anita and Mey were comp. sci, while Jiao was a mathematician. Ben, like Anita, was US-born, while Jiao and Mey were from Shanghai. Their English was good, though more heavily accented than Ben's or Anita's. Still, they mostly used it for my benefit. It was Ben who used Mandarin for wisecracks, to embarrass Anita, who translated everything.

When dinner - and most of the second bottle of wine - was done, Ben and Jiao started clearing away plates. I offered to help, but was rejected by all. Instead, Anita had me follow her to her room.

"I like your roomies," I said. "Even Ben, but don't tell him."

"Your secret's safe with me," she replied, motioning for me to sit on the bed. After I did, Anita followed suit, sitting a couple of feet from me.

"So why the big deal about thanking me for looking after Kennedy?" I asked. "You didn't owe me a thing. The evening was its own reward."

She laughed. "I'm glad about that," she said. "She was nervous about visiting at all. I talked her into it, then the project issues came up - yes, those were real - and I had to find someone I thought she'd trust."

"I think she'll be less nervous, now," I said.

"Why is that?" Anita queried.

"Reasons," I said, recalling my promise not to share details. "She may tell you herself, but I won't."

"That's fair," my friend said. "She's hinted at it. And turned deep red. Along with your text comment, I have a pretty good idea, and you were doubly the right person to guide her."

"Even though I took advantage of her?" I asked. "I mean, even though I could potentially have taken advantage of her?"

Anita shook her head. "You didn't. I know that, and I also know that you wouldn't. Whatever you did was with her complete consent, and likely something she asked for."

I sighed. "Why do you have so much faith in me, when I potentially took advantage of you, too?"

Anita gave me a half smile, her eyes amused behind the circular lenses. "You know you didn't. Didn't we already talk about that?"

"We did," I admitted.

"So," Anita said, holding my gaze. I felt that she'd lost the amusement she'd had while we'd been bantering. "What's going on?"

"What do you mean?" I asked,

"Don't be an ass," she replied. "I think we know each other enough to know when something's off. You went almost radio silent on me. Then just one or two word comments. I didn't miss you changing the subject when we talked last week. And Kennedy noticed. At the start of the evening, she said, you were distracted. She said you looked sad. I know you wouldn't be trying to win her sympathy to get her into bed. That isn't you."

"You're sure about that?" I asked, raising my eyebrows in an attempt at levity.

"Kay, we're friends," she said. "Maybe it's none of my business, but all the signs are that it's something to do with Gabby's. That makes me feel responsible, and also feel that it might be something I can help you with."

I studied her for maybe half a minute. I saw empathy in her gaze. I knew that she trusted me. If I told her the truth, would I lose that? But if I kept it hidden, would I hurt her and push her away?

There was certainly no one else at the club I could talk to. And I really, really needed to uncork my feelings.

I sighed. "Do you think the others will have finished all the wine?"

"Wait here," Anita instructed, bouncing off the bed and scurrying away. She returned a moment later with a six-pack of beer. Setting it on her desk, she pried two cans free, handed me one, then sat beside me. Close, this time.

I smiled thanks, popped the top, and drank about a third of the can. "After I tell you what happened, you're going to lose respect for me, and I hate that." Anita frowned, and I knew she wanted to contradict me, but I pushed ahead. "But I think I need to tell you anyway. Not because you need to know, but because I need to tell someone. And you're right. Even though we haven't known each other long, you're a good friend. If I tell you, though, I'm going to have to get specific. It will need to stay between us, because it could hurt others, with no upside."

"No naming names?" Anita queried.

"Or any other part of the story, really," I said. "It would be too easy to make whatever connections there are."

"Alright," she said. "I promise." With a slight smile she added "I don't promise to lose respect."

"Thanks," I said, attempting to return the smile. "You recall Ann's bombshell a few weeks back? How I'd led her roomie astray?"

"I hope that isn't the story," Anita said. "There was nothing there to be embarrassed or upset about."

Shaking my head, I said, "No. Before that. When Ann gave me her number. She'd caught me eyeing the bartender, so she gave me a paper with her number on it, and a warning that the bartender was straight."

"Michelle?" Anita asked. "But I thought she was..."

"Mm-hmm," I agreed. "It seems Ann doesn't know her well. If she did, the warning wouldn't have read 'The bartender is straight.' It would have said 'The bartender is married.'"

"Yeah... I think I'd heard that," Anita agreed. "But to another woman. She's not str..." Then her eyes opened wide. "Oh. My God. You didn't..."

"Yes I bloody did," I said, angrily, though I couldn't have said to whom my anger was directed. Raising my voice, I added, "I didn't fucking know!"

Anita took my arm in her hand. Setting her beer down, she covered my fingers with her other hand. "How did it happen?"

"She invited me to a gig," I said. "We ended up at her place. I was pretty drunk. That's no excuse. The outcome would have been the same if I'd been stone-cold sober. I was a willing participant, and so was Michelle. I mean, she definitely made the first move, and probably the second and third, including telling me that gigs made her horny. So I'm not the first to end up in her bed. That isn't a prudish concern, it just means that this wasn't the first time she was unfaithful."

"Oh, love," Anita said. "It wasn't your fault!"

"I know," I said. "I mean, I kinda know, but all I can think about is that there's a woman who probably worships Michelle and thinks she has the perfect marriage, while Michelle is fucking any girl who's lucky enough to be around her at the end of a show. And I was part of it."

"I'm so sorry," Anita said. "I think I understand how much that hurts you."

"Do you?" I asked. It wasn't a challenge, I honestly wondered. I looked at her. The powerful lenses shrank her eyes, but didn't hide the sympathy in them. "Yeah, I think you do."

"If you hadn't been there, Michelle would have found someone else, you believe?" Anita asked.

"Yeah, I'm sure of it," I replied.

"Then her wife would have been betrayed anyway," she said. "I mean, that's cold comfort when you were there, but my point is that means Michelle has all of the responsibility. Okay, she chose you, and okay, maybe you're more attractive and more desirable than other girls at the show, but she would have chosen someone else if you hadn't been around."

"Yeah, I see that," I agreed, "but it's still not something I can ever put right. And..." I paused, wondering whether I should tell her the other part.

Anita squeezed my fingers. "What is it, love?"

That was the second time she'd used the endearment. Clearly she only meant to offer sympathy for a friend, but it still warmed me. No, it would be wrong to keep anything back from her.

"I'm not sure how to put this," I said. "I've been enjoying hooking up with girls. But it's better when there's an emotional connection. Like there was between us, that first time." I felt her fingers tighten momentarily on mine. She understood.

"Even if the feelings you have for the other girl are temporary, and you can push them aside when she leaves. It isn't love, because I don't think love is something you can toss away, but it's something akin to it. Those feelings make lust more enjoyable and more satisfying. Michelle and I hadn't had that connection. We were intimate in the technical sense, but not emotionally.

"But I wanted more, so I slowed things down and touched her until we connected. Until she needed me. I felt the change in her when it happened, and I loved it. At the time I loved it. Now, though, I see it as one thing to have a need for sex. That's a serious enough betrayal if it's not with your partner. But to give your heart, your feelings, your soul to someone else, even temporarily, that seems so much worse to me.

"I mean, I could have just met her need. I could have been her living vibrator for the night. But I made her want more. I made her want me. And I don't see how a marriage can come back from that. That's the part that haunts me, and makes me nervous about other hookups. Should I not want a partner that way? Should I not let a girl want me that way?"

Anita gripped my arm more tightly. "Don't look at it like that, Kay. Kayla, I mean. You're not responsible for anyone else's feelings. Being close to someone is always going to affect the way you feel, and if you're in the habit of making love to another person, you have to know that it will affect you, and accept the feelings or defend against them. If you can't do that, you shouldn't be taking girls home with you. Right?"

"But deliberately manipulating another's feelings?" I asked.

"You're giving them the chance for an intimate experience with you," Anita said. Her voice seemed wryly amused as she added, "Speaking from experience, it's an opportunity they shouldn't pass up, but they are free to decline. And if it makes Michelle's betrayal worse, then not protecting herself from the consequences of making love with you is on her, not you."

"I've been feeling so fucking angry," I said. I felt my voice rising again, and forced it to drop. It wasn't Anita I was angry with, and she didn't deserve to be yelled at. "Angry with her, of course, but mostly angry with myself, for getting in that situation. And for not knowing how to handle anything once I knew about it. I just don't know how to let it go."

"By talking to someone, I think," said my friend, in a soft voice. "I hope you know that you can trust me to listen."

"I do," I said. I sighed. To be honest, I'd already started to feel better, having shared with someone I was close to. "You trusted me, too. Kennedy made that clear. Have I... have I hurt that?"

"No, love," she said. And there it was again. I knew better than to read too much into it, but her use of the affectionate term while I was unloading on her made everything easier to bear, and I was beyond grateful to her for making me feel special. "The opposite, really. You weren't afraid to share everything, as embarrassing as it was."

"I... kinda was," I admitted.

"Okay, but you did it anyway," she said. "I do trust you, but that isn't saying I assume you'll always be perfect. If you screw up, you'll do whatever you can to make it right. And I don't think you screwed up, here." She paused for a moment. "Is it possible they have an arrangement? Michelle and her wife, I mean?"

I shrugged, then shook my head. "I think if they did, it would have been the first thing out of her mouth when I found the shoes," I said. Anita's head turned towards me, her expression curious. "I stepped on her wife's shoes, on her side of the bed, I guess. That's how I figured out that she had a partner."

Anita's hand squeezed mine. "Yeah, probably not, then." She sighed. "I wish I could do more to help you."

"You have," I said. "I already feel so much lighter. And... do you really think that spending the night with me is that great an opportunity?"

Anita laughed. She twined her fingers into mine, then said, "I did say 'Speaking from experience,' didn't I? But if you think I'm biased, you should see Kennedy this week. She's positively glowing."

I grinned. "She's imagining seeing Grace again," I countered. "I think Grace is a freshman, too, and there certainly seemed a spark between them. They promised to get together next week." I glanced down at Anita's hand on mine. "And, speaking of Kennedy, did you really tell her you thought I was the hottest girl at the club?"

Her hands left my hand and arm and covered her face. "Oh, God, did she really say that? It's just something that... slipped out, when I was telling her about you. Please forget she said it."

I set my beer down and slipped my arm around her back. I chuckled, then said, "I don't think I can do that, Anita. More to the point, I don't think I want to."

With my free hand, I reached around and pried Anita's nearer hand from her face. Her cheeks really had colored. I kissed her fingers briefly, then placed her hand in her lap, and moved her other hand to join it. "Don't worry," I said, "I won't tell anyone. It will be our little secret."

"That's not much better, you know," Anita said, her tone playful. "You could help me out more, by, say, being less hot."

I laughed.

"And what's with that hair, anyway?" she asked. She lifted a hand and ran it through my hair. "It's so much shorter, but it looks great on you."

"Oh, right, you haven't seen my new hairstyle," I said. "The stylist has some outlandish ideas for colors, too. I might let her color it red, to appease her. I'm thinking red with blonde tips."

"Red," Anita mused. She used the fingers she'd twined in my hair to turn my head to face her, then moved her other hand to the other side of my head, examining my face as she stroked my hair on both sides, shaping it around my face. "I don't really think red would be right..."

That seemed to be when she realized how close she'd moved my face to hers. Her eyes grew wide, and she breathed a soft "oh..." of surprise.

I don't know which of us initiated the kiss. It didn't seem to matter. In that instant, it had become inevitable. Anita's hands tugged on my hair, and my arm around her back drew her to me, and somewhere within that process our lips met.

Already we were both panting into the kiss. She seemed to have as little control of her reactions as I did. She tore off her glasses before they smashed into mine, tossed them onto the bed, then held my face and kissed me even harder. My free hand dipped under her knees, lifting each leg over mine so that I could haul her up onto my lap, while she cupped a breast in her hand and began to squeeze.

God, I wanted her.

I mean, I always did, when I thought of her, but what had happened in those few seconds since she touched my hair to make me so desperate for her? Had it been building during the whole visit?

Yes, it probably had.

I tore at her blue tee, pulling it up. Anita lifted her hands to let me get it over her head, then grabbed at my blouse, groaning with frustration at the uncooperative buttons. Not wanting to wait any more than Anita did, I tossed my glasses aside, then tugged the blouse up and over my head. I'd misjudged how many buttons were already unfastened, and it caught around my ears. I yanked harder. The blouse came free. Anita yelped, then I heard a light ping from the other side of the room.

Tossing the shirt aside, I saw Anita rubbing her forehead, a bemused grin on her face. "What happened?" I asked.

"Your button," she said. "It bounced off my head, and I think it landed on the desk."

"Are you okay?" I asked.

"No, I'm not," Anita said. "You're still wearing your bra."

I laughed, relieved by the comment. "I'm sure you can solve that problem," I said, waiting until she did so before pushing her back onto the bed, freeing her of shoes, shorts and panties. Our needs were too urgent for subtlety, and I tore off the rest of my clothes before taking her in my arms.

I pressed my right leg between Anita's, even as she did exactly the same to me. My sex rode her thigh as our hands explored the other's body, our moans rising into the kiss.

Quicker than I would have believed possible, Anita was gasping for air, though she didn't break the kiss, and I knew she was close to release. I grabbed her ass, forcing her body to mine, thrusting against her, and followed her climax by no more than five seconds, crying out into the kiss as waves of feeling poured into me.

As my orgasm slowly waned, I could still feel Anita's body shudder against me as a fresh contraction hit. Somehow, she'd ended up on top of me, and I was happy to let her rest there until she needed to move.

Then I felt my eyes widen. "Oh, God, what about your roomies?" I gasped. "This bed wasn't quiet!"

"You only just noticed?" Anita asked, amused.

"I noticed. I just didn't care. I was too far gone."

"Me too," Anita agreed. "And don't worry about them. They'll be fine."

"They're used to it?"

"You might say that," Anita said, something like chagrin in her tone.

"I hope that isn't embarrassment I'm sensing," I said. "You know I don't disapprove." Her long hair fell randomly over her sides, and I lifted my hands to run my finger through it, straightening it. "You deserve every moment of pleasure you find," I said, "and I know you've filled the hearts of your partners with joy."

"Thank you," came her soft voice.

"But I think I owe you an apology for jumping you," I said. "We already broke the one night rule with your accessory show and tell. Now we're doing it again."

"Kayla," she said, lifting her head upright, then rested her chin on my collar bone. "I invited you into my bedroom. You don't think I might have seen the possibility?"

"I thought your ulterior motives were to find out what was going on with me," I said.

"They were," she agreed, "but that doesn't mean I couldn't get lucky." She grinned. "And maybe I'm jealous of Kennedy's glow, and wanted to know just how far you've come in the last few weeks."

"Did I pass your test, sensei?" I asked, grinning up at her.

"The examination may continue for several hours yet," she said, "but you have made a promising start. And it's," she spoke that word that she'd said before, at my desk. It sounded a little like sienshung. "Remember?"

I tried to repeat the word several times, but Anita laughed and shook her head.

I gave up, chuckled, and rolled us over. "I plan to ace every section of the test," I said, then running a series of kisses from her neck, over her shoulder, then back to her collarbone. Her hands tangled in my hair as I followed a slow spiral to the center of her left breast.

Tonguing her rough, swollen areola, I closed my lips over the side. Anita began to moan softly even before I reached her nipple. I could feel her pulse against my lips - not strong, but distinct. Her heart was beating rapidly with her excitement. When I captured her nipple between my lips it seemed to skip, before pulsing more strongly.

Our lovemaking had begun in a frenzy, yet still seemed to me to hold the emotional connection that I had always sensed between us. But now I wanted to focus on Anita's feelings. She deserved the best experience I could bring to her. and I knew that she was more than able to defend herself from leaning too far into her feelings.

I wanted to slow the pace and pleasure her.

Anita's nipple seemed firm when I began to kiss it, but it hardened further under my lips and tongue. Her chest rose further against me, and I realized that her back was arching slightly. Her fingers caressed my scalp as she moaned.

My fingers began to caress her waist, and I could feel the muscles in her belly tensing as I touched her.

"This ... feels amazing," Anita murmured, huskily.

Her words excited me, because Anita was clearly the expert on making a girl feel good. But I could do more. So after a few minutes of stroking her waist, feeling her stomach muscles tense at random, I lowered my fingers to her sex, finding it very wet as I began stroking it gently.

Pressing my middle finger between her slick folds I caressed her, but didn't penetrate deep inside her. I wanted to make her feel as good as possible for as long as possible. Her rolling hips and writhing stomach were already letting me know that there was a limit to how long I could prolong her pleasure.

When my finger roamed higher, slowly circling around her clitoral hood until it brushed against the core of her sensations, Anita cried out loudly, then reached behind her for a pillow, pressing it down over her face as she moaned.

I stroked her clit lightly, reducing the pressure even further whenever Anita's response seemed to be becoming too strong.

In spite of my control, she began to writhe beneath me. I left my finger lightly resting against her clit, and she lifted her hips, trying to press herself to my hand, but I raised my finger to keep my touch barely there.

Anita's hips began to rock slowly, though the sporadic tensing of her stomach indicated that she was trying to hide just how turned on she was. Her thighs squeezed my hand as she lifted her sex, trying to increase her contact with my finger. I wasn't sure that this was intentional. Perhaps she was having trouble maintaining the pose of being in control.

When I took my hand away from Anita's sex and rested it on her waist, she groaned, but didn't abort her slow movements, continuing to squirm beneath me.

Holding Anita's waist in both hands, I focused on her breast, interleaving suckling her nipple with licking the silky surface, or kissing the sides. Her nipple was hard and her areola swollen, the pebbly ring rougher than I recalled. I tugged on her nipple with lips and teeth. She moved the pillow to cover more of her face and began to moan. Though the sounds she made were soft, she clearly expected them to become louder.

With my hands on her waist I moved her body against my face, rocking my head to keep her nipple between my lips. She was losing control of her arousal. Her belly twitched and her hips lifted. My belly was against her left thigh, but beyond that I avoided touching her anywhere below the waist.

Anita squirmed, her thighs squeezed tightly together as her hips moved up and down, rising higher with each stroke. The sounds she made were muffled by the pillow over her face. Her head tilted forward, freeing her mouth from the pillow as she began to pant, almost hyperventilating, as her body rose further off the bed. Then she froze for several seconds, before turning her face back, barely clamping the pillow to her mouth before crying out.

Her body shook, the cry turning into a series of groans. I could feel the waves of her orgasm against my hands on her waist, her belly twitching under my thumb, and I could sense the pulsing within her through her breast.

Even when Anita had settled back to the bed, her belly kept twitching, making her groan softly. It felt like a couple of minutes before the aftershocks faded.

"That was intense, Kayla," she said. "I think I understand Kennedy's glow."

I rested my head beside Anita's breast, then moved my left hand down her body to caress her folds. Gently, not trying to overload her after her recent climax. "Tell me something. Earlier, you called me Kay, then corrected yourself. Why?"

"Why did I call you Kay? Or why did I change my mind?"

"Both, I guess," I said.

"I don't really understand where Kay came from," she said. "It feels like an... affectionate nickname version of Kayla. I realize I sometimes think of you as Kay. But I never asked you if you minded, so I switched."

"You can call me Kay," I said, "especially if you think of it as affectionate. I like it." I chuckled. "Tiff called me Kaykay the other day. She and I are going to have words."

"Kaykay?" Anita asked. "On the other hand, it is Tiff."

"True," I agreed, drawing my finger a little higher, avoiding touching her clit directly, but drawing wide circles around it.

"It's not just Kennedy, though," Anita said. "I hear gossip."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, Val had a class with Fiala," she said. I continued lightly circling my finger around her clit. "The day after you met her. Apparently Fi was less focused than usual. She seemed distracted. Val quizzed her until she admitted she was daydreaming about the previous evening. And she talked to Susie - you know those two are as close as a married couple? Closer than most, honestly."

"I do know," I said. "I wasn't sure if I should... spend time with Suse, 'cause I thought Val was her girlfriend."

"That's not an issue for either of them," Anita said. "But Val's eager to get to know you better. And she's not the only one."

"I'm sure it's novelty," I said. "I haven't been around them long."

"May be part of it," said Anita. I slid a little higher on her body and began to kiss her neck, my finger still lightly stroking her clit. She seemed to be getting wetter. "It may be also that you have your own place, and privacy, and a stable job and a decent car..." Her thighs twitched. "Maybe that you are in a more stable situation than us students, and you might give up nomadic encounters and settle down, so they want the chance to spend time with you before you find a steady girlfriend. Or boyfriend, I guess," she added. "But whatever the reasons, you've made an impression."

"I'm enjoying the nomadic lifestyle," I said. "There will be opportunities for me to nomad some of them, yet."

Anita laughed again. This time the laugh ended with a gasp as she moved against my finger. Her hips rose slightly, and she made a conscious effort to relax.

"Why, Anita," I drawled, "I do think you're getting excited."

The girl grasped my shoulders and tried to pull me close to kiss me, but I shrugged out of her grip. "Not yet," I whispered, and slid down her body. Her glasses were close by on the bed. I picked them up, folded them, and handed them to Anita to set on the nightstand beside mine, now that we'd gotten beyond tearing clothes off.

Parting Anita's legs, I raised her knees, her feet on the bed beside my shoulders as I centered my face above her pussy, Before I lowered myself down to taste her, I slipped two fingers into her warm, moist passage.

Sometimes I resented that my need for accurate keyboarding meant that I had to keep my nails clipped. This was not one of those times. My short nails allowed me to sink my long fingers deep enough inside her that I could hunt for the rough texture of her G-spot. Finding it, I pressed my fingertips to it. Then I lowered my face, and licked her clit in one long, smooth motion.

Anita's body jerked, and she moaned loudly before realizing she hadn't been keeping the pillow close, then grabbing it and smothering her face with it. Only when the sound ended did she free her face enough to breathe.

Chuckling softly, I raised my face, though my fingers tapped the inner wall of her sex." I thought you said your roomies didn't care about noise," I murmured.

"I'm not usually this loud!" Anita whispered, so sharply she sounded petulant.

I circled her clit with my tongue, then said, "When you were at my place, the first time, I distinctly remember you crying out."

"Did I?" she replied. "I guess I did." She sounded amused. The petulant tone had been for effect. "That was in a real apartment, though. With walls! I try to be quieter here."

"I see how well that's working for you," I said, and brushed my tongue over her clit again. Down came the pillow, muffling the sounds she made.

As close as Anita was to being overwhelmed by passion, I held her back for several minutes. She wriggled and squirmed against my fingers and tongue, perilously close to the edge, and was whimpering with need when I licked rapidly, my fingers pressed up against the wall of her sex.

Pillow prepared, Anita held it to her face as she cried out, her whole body quivering. Then I switched to stroking her clit with firm, full strokes of my tongue, and I could sense her pleasure soaring until I could no longer keep her aloft. She sighed, her breath shuddering as she leaned her head backward, letting the pillow roll away.


This time, when she took my shoulders, I helped, sliding my body over hers, fully on top of her. Her fingers combed through my hair as we kissed. There was a stirring deep in my belly that was part arousal, and part a different kind of excitement that I associated only with Anita. Our kisses were both tender and full of need. No one had ever kissed me the way Anita could, though I felt it was the passion I'd stoked within her that made her so amorous.

My legs were between hers as her hands found my ass, gripping it and pulling me against her as her hips started to rock. My breasts rolled against hers as we moved. I felt her hardened nipples press into me, and found myself breathing heavily into the kiss as I matched my hip movements to hers.

After everything I'd done to Anita already, my arousal was intense. My moist clit slid against hers. She wrapped her legs around mine, increasing the pressure of her sex on mine, and I found myself unable to hold back. "I'm gonna come," I told her in a harsh whisper, breaking the kiss.

"Let it happen, Kay," she replied. "You deserve it."

I panted hard, the delicious pressure building for another couple of minutes until it broke free, leaving me gasping and tingling all over. I groaned and kissed Anita again, waves of pleasure still flowing through me.


When I finally rolled off Anita, she took my hand, and we lay side-by-side, occasionally moving our faces close enough to kiss, but mostly - at least for me - wondering whether I should leave, or wait until we were both ready to explore each other's bodies again. When she turned to face me and began lightly caressing my breast, I thought it might be that time, but her phone pinged.

Without releasing my hand, she rolled back toward her nightstand and glanced at her phone, then unlocked it and read the message.

"Mey wants to know if we'd like to watch a movie with them," she said. She must have seen the disappointment on my face, because she immediately added, "We don't have to. But if you'd like to, we can come back to my room afterward."

"Sure, then," I said, smiling at her. I released her hand and moved off the bed to hunt for my clothes.

I tossed my bra onto a chair, putting on only panties, skirt and blouse. The missing button was at an awkward height, since the fabric was taut against my breasts at that point. I ended up unfastening all buttons above it, so that the blouse appeared to be opened too far rather than damaged.

Anita didn't bother with her tee and shorts, wearing only a lightweight robe and replacement underwear. I peered through her glasses before slipping mine on. "You're even more short-sighted than me," I said, handing her glasses to her.

"Yeah," she agreed, with a sigh. "That's why I wear contacts."

"I hate contacts," I said. "I just can't take how everything shifts when I blink. And they're so irritating."

She shrugged. "Guess I'm used to it. But I like to get out of them if I don't know when I'll be able to remove them."

I smirked at her. "So you're expecting me to stay late?"

For once, I thought the glasses hid her expression too well, so I wasn't sure what her eyes held. "I wouldn't mind," she said.


We rejoined the roomies as they were flicking through a streaming service and arguing in Mandarin.

"You haven't even chosen a movie?" Anita chided, raising her voice over the cacophony.

"Almost, almost!" said Jiao.

"Help me make coffee," Anita instructed me, and I followed her into the pristine kitchen.

"Hard to believe there was a war here when I arrived," I said.

She laughed as she prepared the coffee machine. "We like to keep the kitchen clear for whoever's cooking next," she said. "We all suffer being the one to deal with the place, and it's more pleasant to start with clean surfaces."

She directed me to the cupboard containing mugs, and I took five. Anita glanced at them and nodded approval. We leaned against the counter until the coffee was ready.

We distributed the coffee to the other three and ourselves. They had selected "Blackhat," a hacker thriller none of us had seen, and started it as I sat beside Anita on the couch.

Our hands were close as we watched the movie, and several times I found myself tempted to take her hand. But that was okay when we were being intimate, but outside of the bedroom we were friends, not lovers, and it was odd that I would even feel drawn to put my hand in hers. Anita wouldn't want it, and her friends would wonder why.

When the movie ended, Anita did take my hand, for the express purpose of leading back to her room, of course. We looked around for the button. Anita found it under the desk, and I dropped it into my purse.

Then my stunningly lovely friend with the beautiful long, black hair and rich chocolate eyes turned me around and undressed me in silence, and we spent most of the night trying to avoid waking her roommates.

The sun had just appeared over the horizon when I arrived home.