Chapter 16 - Rules

After Fi left. the morning after Halloween - that would make it All Saint's Day, right? - I texted my boss to tell him I would need to take a half day personal time. I admitted why, that I was sick but that it was entirely self-inflicted. The company and team were flexible, and didn't care how I used my PTO, but I didn't want him thinking I was evading responsibility. Then I set my phone to silent and went back to sleep.

Mid-morning, the remains of the hangover had dissipated, and I was feeling more human. I took a long, long shower, dressed for work, then checked my messages.

Anita: "Sorry I was stolen yesterday. Was hoping to spend more time with Link."

Yeah, I'd hoped for that, too. Especially with my belief that there wouldn't be many more opportunities.

The message was over an hour old. I hoped Anita wouldn't think that I was avoiding her.

Me: "Me too. I wasn't there for long after the twins took you."

Apparently she didn't think I was in a snit, because she replied immediately.

Anita: "I know. Are you busy Sat? Coffee 1pm?"
Me: "I'd like that."

I texted Fi to be sure she'd made it home okay. Her response was terse but not dismissive. "Did. Thx." The thanks made me feel she didn't entirely hate me.

Mid-afternoon, at work, I received another text.

Alex: "So, dating apps hv benefits."
Me: "Especially for Greek girls named Lyra?"
Alex: "GTR."

I puzzled over that for about thirty seconds before I came up with "got that right." Alex's text abbreviations saved so much time...

Me: "Become a Monday regular and you won't need a dating app."
Alex: "UR trying to turn me gay again."

I laughed.

Me: "Damn straight. Uh..."
Alex: "LOL yah think I need instruction?"
Me: "Did L think so?"
Alex: "Nah. K didn't think so either."
Me: "GTR."

Well, why not?

Me: "Wonder if I get a commission for introducing you."
Alex: "Maybe 2 fr 1 night."
Me: "If that's the reward you can take it."

Seems I have my hands more than full with one on one. No need to share that.

Alex: "Might not be 1st time. Except. You know."
Me: "Yeah yeah. Not gay. Also, I don't want to know. 😊"


November was making its presence known with bluster. When I showed up at work that afternoon, there was a strong, chill wind with rain, but as the week wore on, the wind eased and the temperature moderated.

My heart wasn't easing, though. I was getting anxious about seeing Anita for coffee. She must be wanting to talk, and that probably meant something serious.

Probably to tell me about the redhead she'd started dating.

I tried to convince myself that wasn't it. She'd wanted to see me again at the party, before my problematic hookup with Fi. Surely she wouldn't have if she'd been heading home with the new girlfriend.

But then, I didn't think the girl in question has been present on Halloween. Anita may have wanted to party with a close friend, but that didn't change her situation.

It shouldn't be upsetting me. We'd been clear from the start that neither of us was looking for a relationship, and we didn't have one, other than as friends. We'd gotten together a few times, and it had been amazing, every time, but it had been strictly casual.

We'd never actually hooked up at Gabby's. It had always been on our own schedule. The rules still applied, though. We'd stretched them a little far, but we hadn't lost sight of them. There had to be no strings between us.

Yet, during the weeks between meeting Anita and her introducing me to Gabby's, it hadn't been the prospect of weekly hookups that had me taking so much more care with clothing and makeup. It had been because I'd be seeing Anita, the coworker I'd had a serious crush on. I could admit that, now.

And it hadn't been thoughts of Fi, or Val, or Danielle that had made my heart race when Anita had leaned over me to study her code.

I'd tried to set my attraction to the lovely dark-haired girl aside when I knew what she was looking for - and what she offered - but I'd never managed to suppress it completely.

When she told me that there was someone else in her life, now, and that our encounters were a thing of the past, it was going to hurt, even though I'd never had the right to expect them to continue. And that was what she needed to tell me. I knew it for a certainty.

So yeah, as the week progressed I had become increasingly nervous.

On Saturday morning, it rained, though not heavily. At noon, Anita texted me to wear a coat so we could sit outside. Which made sense; bad news and frank discussions would be more awkward in a crowded indoor environment.


My phone showed twelve fifty-seven when I arrived at the coffee shop. There was a pleasant floral scent at the counter. Heather saw me standing in line.

"Anita has your coffee," she said. "Hold on a moment." She picked up a cleaning rag, let herself out of the serving area, and led the way outside.

Anita gave us both a small wave. She was sitting at the table furthest from the door, wearing her glasses, the powerful lenses making her eyes look small. Heather returned her greeting with a nod, then wiped down the table and bench so that I could sit across from her.

"Why does Heather seem nervous around you?" I asked Anita, when the auburn-haired girl had returned inside.

"She does?" Anita seemed a little surprised. After a moment's thought, she said, "Maybe it's because of something that happened when she started dating Margot. Something that didn't happen, really. She met Margot at Gabby's, but Heather was never a hookup girl. She's been with Margot for as long as I've known her."

"A few weeks ago I asked if you'd been invited to Cyndy's party," I said. "Heather seemed tense, but calmed when Margot said you were bringing a date."

"Margot said that?" My friend's eyebrows rose. "I guess it makes sense. Heather's story isn't mine to tell, but she's overcome a difficult past. Dating Margot changed both of them, and you should ask them about it. I'm sure they'd be happy to share."

"I'll do that," I said. I took a sip of my coffee. "So. Hi?" I said, tentatively.

Anita smiled, though without the distraction of talking about someone else, she began to look as nervous as I felt. "Hi. How was Halloween?"

I waggled my hand in a "so-so" gesture. "Some of it was great. I drank too much. There was this cute grim reaper, though..."

She smirked. "Yeah. And I did look around for Link, but you'd left. There's no way I could have missed you in that dress."

"Leaving was a lapse in judgment," I said. "I'll tell you later, if you like, but I guess it's a good thing that normal Mondays are alcohol-free."

"I see," said Anita, with a knowing smile.

"I don't think you invited me for a Halloween post-mortem, though," I suggested.

"I see what you did there," Anita said, instantly. To my puzzled expression, she said, "Halloween - mortem - death? Reaper, maybe?" I groaned, having intended no such connection, and she continued, "No, you're right. That isn't the reason."

She paused for a moment, staring at her coffee. "When we first met, I told you I'd gotten out of an abusive relationship."

"Yeah, you did," I agreed. "It was a bad breakup, and it's why you avoid relationships."

"One reason," Anita said, with a ghost of a smile. "Also because college is a time to experiment - to not be tied down." She held up a hand. "No, don't say it, not that kind of tied down."

"I didn't say a word," I objected, with a weak grin. "Dare I ask - how was it abusive? You don't need to answer..."

"That's okay," she said, "it's been two years now. I have enough distance." She took a breath before making herself continue. "I'd never been in a relationship before Julie. There was a girl from school I'd play online games with whom I liked, but I'd never had a girlfriend.

"When I met Julie, I was this... boring, skinny, flat-chested Chinese-American geek girl with no friend group. She was, like, my antithesis. Gorgeous, blonde ringlets, all-American princess. She had boobs. She was two years older than me. It didn't take much for her to coax me into her bed, and I fell hard. I was sure she'd break my heart and drop me quickly, but she didn't."

She paused to take a sip of her coffee. "I didn't understand it. Her friends didn't understand it. They had nothing but contempt for me. I was in her rooms all the time. Her friends treated me like her maid. Julie would whisper to me after they left, and make everything alright. Except it wasn't alright, I just didn't see it. When she started with the put-downs, they were mild, at first, just maybe implying that her friends were right. Over a few months they became full-on gaslighting, and I really had no idea who I was anymore. I didn't exist except as an adjunct of Julie.

"She'd send me back to my room so that she could have sex with someone else, and then she'd blame me for leaving. If I'd been there, she said, she would have been faithful. And I'd believe her. I think that in her mind it became less about having sex, with me or with them, and more about finding ways to blame me for something. It was..." Anita frowned for a moment. "Twisted. Then in sophomore year, I met Emma." Her face brightened. "It took her a while to figure out what was going on with me, and longer still to persuade me that it wasn't normal. Eventually I broke free. Emma and my friend Allison faced down Julie when I couldn't, and finally got her to leave me alone.

"I was in school-supported counseling for a time, but what helped more than anything was Emma and her lesbian friends, who showed me - very, very carefully - that I was my own person, that I was desirable for myself, and not because I belonged to someone else, and that I could take pleasure in my own body and my own feelings without feeling guilty, and without needing for it to be any more than that, because I still didn't want to cede control to anyone else in a relationship."

"So, Gabby's for the win?" I suggested, with a grin.

"Exactly," Anita agreed, "though I relied very heavily on Emma's gatekeeping for a time. Which is why I was so very comfortable entrusting you to Emma and Tiff, though I didn't really feel you needed the support."

"Maybe I didn't," I agreed, "but I feel they kept me grounded. If I'd had problems, I knew they'd be there for me. So it was a good call."

My friend nodded. "And she never manipulated me with sex," she said. "Emma, I mean. We did hook up, but not until much later, when I was far more comfortable with who I was, and didn't need gatekeeping. By then I was probably seen as one of the club's mentors. So yeah, when Tiff gives Emma a hard time about girls sharing her futon, she knows I was one of them, and she loves me anyway. They are both close friends of mine, and it was Emma finding Tiff that finally helped me understand that relationships don't have to be one-sided and manipulative."

"I think they've been dating for a long time now?" It wasn't quite a question, because I knew they'd been living together with Margot and Heather for a time, but I didn't know how long they'd dated before that. "But you said you still only do casual."

"Not finding the idea of a relationship traumatizing isn't quite the same as wanting to be in one," Anita said. "Except..."

"Yeah," I said, knowing what was coming next.

"I've met someone."

And there it was. And even though I was expecting it, and even though I knew I had no right to want anything to be different, my heart sank. My glasses fogged up, and I hoped their cloudiness would keep Anita from noticing my eyes becoming watery.

"A girl?" I asked. God, what a stupid question. I couldn't make myself ask "The cute redhead?" or "Someone I know?", so that's what came out instead.

Anita looked at me as if I'd grown a second head. "Well, yeah, a girl," she said. "I didn't suddenly change my whole nature."

"I know, I'm sorry," I said. "So... what does it mean?"

"I don't want to screw it up," she said. "Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm not ready. Maybe she'll not be able to accept that I can change. Maybe she can't change - or won't want to. Maybe it's unfair of me to ask. God, there's just so much."

"That's a lot," I admitted. "Would you step me through them? If you're okay with me trying to help, that is. Let's break it down. Why do you think you might not be ready?"

"Because I've never been in a non-abusive relationship," Anita said. "I mean, even before Julie. My mother's an abusive narcissist. I had a terrible relationship with her belittling me, ignoring me, and starving me, which is probably why Julie found such fertile ground. I have two older siblings I never see because of her behavior. So I barely had a relationship even with them."

"But you have good friends now," I said. "You have a positive relationship with Emma and Tiff. With Margot and.... well, okay, maybe things with Heather are a little hands-off, but they're not negative. With me, I hope."

"Yeah," Anita said, softly.

Retreating into analysis helped push back melancholy thoughts. "If this girl has any compassion at all, she'll be able to help you through the bumpy parts," I said. "If you think you're ready, you're ready, because you've already turned your back on the negativity of the past. And she'll know that, if you let her in."

"If she knows how many girls I've been with, will she be able to believe I only want her?" Anita asked.

"If she trusts you, yes," I said.

"Seems like that would take a lot of trust," Anita said.

"I'll concede that could be a problem," I said. "I mean, I know that you're trustworthy, but if she struggles to believe it, then you're going to feel you constantly have to prove yourself to her, and you're going to be back where you were with your ex. So I guess that part is out of your hands. But let me turn it around. Can you trust her not to take advantage of you?"

"I can," she declared, with no hesitation.

"Then even if she has some trust issues, you should be able to work through them with her," I said. "I guess I'm still not sure why you're so worried."

Anita sighed. "She's enjoying her freedom," she said. "I don't know if she's ready to be... to be exclusive. And I don't know if I have the right to ask her to be. She hasn't had the time to build the experiences I have. Maybe she still needs that. Maybe she'd be willing to be in an open relationship? Would I be okay with that?" She shrugged. "If it's the only way I can have her, maybe I could do it, but it isn't what I want."

"You haven't talked to her about any of this?" I asked, surprised. If she was dating the redhead already she'd have to know more about her. Maybe it was still very casual. Even so...

Anita shook her head. "It hasn't come up." She said. "We haven't talked about dating."

"Are you ready to?" I asked.

"To date, or to talk?" Anita asked, then shrugged, before I could respond, continuing, "Yes to both. You've made me feel less conflicted about sharing my feelings with her. Thank you, Kayla."

I reached out and squeezed her hand, even as my heart felt like it was shattering. That was the cost of friendship. "Any time, sweetie. You know that, right?"

She nodded as I withdrew my hand. With a small smile, she said, "I'm going to give her flowers when I approach her."

"Sure," I agreed. "I'm sure she'll appreciate that. Are you..." I thought about my recent experience with Fi. "Are you prepared for her to say no?"

The smile left Anita's face, but she nodded. Her voice rasped slightly as she replied. "I think so."

"Then go for it," I said. "If she has any sense..."

She raised an eyebrow, but I didn't add anything else, and after a moment she nodded, and took a sip of her coffee.

How could anyone not want to date Anita? I wanted to say that, but it was too much. I didn't want for her to know how I felt. I didn't want her to feel that she was hurting me with her choice.

Maybe it wouldn't work out. Anita was so concerned about the girl's reaction that maybe she had a reason to doubt. It might fall through. But I couldn't hope for that, because I didn't want to see Anita hurt. Not for any reason.

Anita studied me for a few seconds, then stood. "'Scuse me for a moment?" she asked. Without waiting for an answer, she headed inside, squeezing me briefly on the shoulder as she passed.

I figured she'd headed to the restroom, and would be back in a moment, so I took the opportunity to dab at my eyes with a napkin, then sipped my coffee as I waited for her return.

My back was to the door. I didn't turn around when it opened. Since I didn't expect Anita to be returning so soon, I didn't look up, and was surprised when a narrow vase appeared on the table before me. I recognized the gardenias as the source of the faint floral scent I'd noticed at the counter earlier, but much stronger now. They were interspersed with roses. It wasn't a professional arrangement, just a collection of flowers put together by someone who cared.

I looked up into Anita's nervous expression as she stood, hands folded, blinking at me. My sight misted again.

Oh, my God.

"Uh, Kayla?" she began.

"Oh, my God," I said. "Me?"

She nodded, her expression unchanged. I eased myself off the bench, then stood, and pulled Anita into a tight hug. After a moment, her arms slipped around me, tentatively.

She had to have had conspirators to hold the flowers at the counter. I relaxed the hug and glanced back over my shoulder into the shop, to see Heather beaming and Dylan nudging her and pointing. When she saw me looking, Dylan changed the gesture to a thumbs up. I grinned at them both, before returning my attention to the girl in my arms.

Then the tears returned, but for a very different reason. They streamed down my cheeks as I tightened my hold on Anita. "Yes," I whispered. "Yes. I want to be with you. And fuck, no, I don't want an open relationship. I want you. I only want you."

"You mean that..."

It wasn't quite a question. As if she was making a statement that she knew that I did mean it, but needed reassurance. So I lay my fingers against her chin, turned her face to mine, and kissed her, her familiar taste blending with the salt of my own tears. The kiss wasn't as long or as thorough as I'd have liked - the weather being what it was, no one else was nearby, at least outside the coffee shop, but we were still in public - but deep enough that after a moment, her hands tightened against my back, drawing us closer together.

I touched Anita's hair as we parted, drawing a wayward strand behind her ear. I grabbed the napkin from the table and wiped my eyes more thoroughly than before. "Yes, I mean that," I said. Then, "Is your car here?"

She shook her head, which was nestled against my shoulder. "Ben gave me a ride, so I could carry the vase."

I chuckled. "The conspiracy grows. Will you carry it to my place?"

"Of course," she said.

Before I let her pick it up, I snapped a couple of photos. One just of the vase, and one with our coffee cups in view. I wanted to preserve my memories.

Then I took a third, of Anita holding the vase. Her smile was soft. The glasses made it hard to be sure, but I thought her eyes were glistening, too.

When we passed through the coffee shop on the way to my car, I detoured to the counter to give both Heather and Dylan a kiss on the cheek. Heather blushed, as always, while Dylan stood with her arms folded, a grin on her face, the glorious tattoo on her left arm on full display.


"Why the charade?" I asked Anita as I drove to my place. She carried the flowers, the air in the car heavy with gardenia perfume. "You knew I'd think you were talking about someone else."

"I wasn't sure," she replied, "though when you said Margot told you I had a date, I thought it was likely. I didn't want to pressure you. If you thought it was about another girl, you wouldn't try to change to make me feel better. I wanted to tell you everything - about Julie, and Emma, and how I'd come to feel, without it having to affect you, if you were comfortable with your lifestyle."

"It affected me," I said. "Fair broke my heart."

"I'm sorry," Anita said, in a small voice. "Guess you were further down the path than I realized."

"I always have been, I think," I said. "I mean, don't get me wrong, the last few months have been great. I don't regret being intimate with other girls. Some times were very special, some were educational, and all were sexy and exciting. But none have made me feel like you have, each time we've been together. Every time we part, I'm certain that this was the last time, and I'm wishing there could be more."

I was pulling into a parking space before my apartment. Anita's finger ran down my arm, and I turned to look at her after I stopped the engine. "If I'm your girlfriend," she said, "there can be as many more times as you want."

Taking her hand in mine, I squeezed it, and murmured, "Girlfriend. I've never had a girlfriend before. I think I'm going to like this."

I traded the flowers for my keys, so that Anita could open my apartment while I carried the vase. Inside, I set the vase down on the table, then kicked off my boots. I took Anita's scarf and coat, hanging them up before peeling off my own extra layers. "You know what I'm thinking?"

"I think we have to be together for much longer before we can read each other's minds," Anita said, her tone tart, though she smiled at me.

"The first evening you were here, it was too warm for the fire," I said.

Anita's eyes widened. "It's not too warm today!" she said, with an eager smile.

I flicked the gas fire alight, set it to low - the apartment was cool, not cold - then took a bottle of the sparkling white from the fridge. Anita was close, watching me, and saw the second bottle beside it.

"That's new," she said. "Part of your seduction toolset?"

"Busted," I agreed. "Though, to be fair, when I bring a girl here on Monday evening, she doesn't need a lot of seduction."

"Point," Anita agreed.

"Danielle had a bottle of sparkling white ready to set me at ease," I said, "and it seemed like a good idea, so I found one I liked. I'm guessing Danielle's was eighty bucks a bottle. This isn't. Would you like it as it is, or would you prefer a mimosa?"

"Let me have a taste," Anita said, so I poured a little into a wine glass and handed it to her. "As it is, I think," she said. "I like it."

I topped up her glass, then poured myself one and took it back to the fire, which was glowing pleasantly. Setting my wine down, I pried the cushions off the love seat, setting them down before the fire, then made a couple of trips into the bedroom, returning with all of my pillows and the top sheet of the bed, plus a couple of accessories in a bag that I left out of sight behind the love seat.

"Are we making a fort?" Anita asked. "Or is this another seduction technique?"

"Only for you, love," I replied, the endearment she'd used during our last encounter seeming natural. I hadn't planned to use it before it slipped out.

Anita smiled at me. "Good," she said.


We sat on the cushions, propped up against the pillows, the blanket over our legs, feeling the warmth from the gas fire, each with a glass of wine. I had turned the light off. It was still light outside, but the gray of the late afternoon merged with the firelight without overcoming it.

Since admitting that we both wanted to be in a relationship, we'd only shared the brief confirmatory kiss at the coffee shop. It felt to me as though we were delaying taking that step further; we were already intimate, without the need for physicality.

Under the blanket, I unfastened my jeans and slipped them off for comfort, then shrugged out of my sweater. Under it I wore a lightweight button-front shirt. When Anita followed suit, she was left in a black cami. She smiled as I took her glasses off. I folded them and set them with mine on the cushionless loveseat behind us. Then I tucked the blanket up over our chests, and moved close, my arm touching Anita's.

"Warm enough?" I asked her. She nodded, then ran her hand down my arm under the blanket, to take my hand. I squeezed hers in return.

"You know," I said, "we don't even know if we have compatible tastes in television shows."

"Who has time for TV?" she asked.

"True," I agreed, "and we know we have somewhat compatible tastes in games. Do you have a PS5?"

"PS4," she said. "X Box series S."

"Nice, I don't have an X Box. I do have a Switch."

"Of course," said Anita, with a chuckle.

"And I'm on the waiting list for a Steam Deck."

"That's a little out of my price range," she said. "I'll just borrow yours." She smirked at her own cheeky expectation.

"Of course," I agreed. "When it arrives."

Releasing Anita's hand, I slipped my arm around her back. She snuggled against it. "I like this," she said. "The fire. You. Our pillow fort. I'm nervous, though. It's been two years."

I made a show of waving my free hand as if counting days. "I'd say it's been about three weeks," I said. "At your place. Trying to be quiet for your roomies."

"Not that," she said, with a laugh. Then she continued, in a more serious tone, "Two years since Julie. I don't want this to go wrong."

"Anita, love," I said, "I can't promise that nothing will go wrong, but I can absolutely promise you that I won't treat you like Julie did. I'll never disrespect you."

"I believe you," Anita whispered. Then she turned toward me, brushing her hair back, and touched her lips to mine.

I wanted to take things slowly, and for a time we did. Our lips barely brushed together. Ignoring the way my heart raced, I tugged the blanket up to her shoulder, then stroked her cheek. She wriggled closer, her arm sliding around my back. Our legs intertwined as I caressed her side.

But I hadn't reckoned with all of the emotional factors. My heart had been heavy this morning because I wanted Anita. I'd done my best to push my feelings aside because she didn't want me in the way that I knew I wanted her, much as I tried to deny it to myself. But she did, and I no longer had to suppress my feelings. The emotions that had built up during the day were trying to burst forth.

And, more than anything, no one can kiss like Anita. No one. She might claim it was just the amount she'd practiced, but the way her lips and tongue made my heart flutter felt supernatural, as if her mouth on mine breathed directly into my soul. My wish to keep the connection between us light and let it build crumbled the moment her lips closed over my lower lip and began to tease it. My heart tried to leap from my chest, and a rush of moisture to my sex made me shiver.

And yet, as overwhelmed as I was by Anita's kiss, she was the one to moan. Her desire for me was every bit the equal of mine for her. This amazing girl who could have had anyone she wished, and who had the experience to know exactly what she needed in a lover, had chosen me to be her partner - and she clearly wanted me. She moaned again, pushing me back into the pillows, her legs intertwining with mine, showing me how much she wanted me.

There was no reason to be disappointed that our emotions had spiraled so fast and hard. We were more than lovers, now. We were girlfriends. Partners. We had all the time in the world to be as gentle or as intense with each other as we desired.

I ran my hands over her side as her body seemed to lock into place against mine, her arms around my neck, her chest pressed to mine, her legs and mine a tangle that pressed her against my sex. I dipped my right hand into the back of her panties and squeezed her ass as her legs tightened, hips rolling.

Instantly we were both in thrall to our need, our bodies grinding against each other. I felt that I had no control, and no goal other than to have this girl, and to let her have me. I broke the kiss and pressed my lips to her ear. "I want you," I groaned. "God, I want you so much."

"I want you too, Kay," she whispered. Then her lips were on my neck, teeth scratching my skin as she kissed along my shoulder, her breathing harsh as our bodies drove against each other.

Pushing her back, I rolled onto her. The pillows were getting scattered, but I lifted her onto the cushions and bore down on her. One of her thighs was between my legs, the other wrapped around me as I bounced my hips against her.

Taking the strap of her cami with my left hand, I tugged it down, exposing her right breast. Then I moved my hand over the low mound and gripped it, squeezing and twisting.

Anita cried out, then I felt her whole body spasm. She writhed against me, gasping as her orgasm took her hard.

I wanted to come with her. Still squeezing her ass, I ground against her thigh until I felt myself near release, then collapsed onto her as my climax hit. She was still quivering as her own release finally wound down.

"Whoa," Anita breathed.

"Yeah," I agreed. I relaxed on top of her, running my fingers over her sides. I lifted the strap of her cami back into place. "Somehow I thought our first time would be slow and romantic. String orchestras. Soft lighting. But there's too much between us, I think. It just... exploded."

"I like those explosions." Anita giggled. "But this isn't our first time...?"

"First time that we can admit our feelings," I said.

"True," Anita agreed, moving her lips back to my neck. "I hope you weren't disappointed."

"God, no," I said, as her teeth grazed against my shoulder again. "Hey, did you leave a hickey?"

I felt her head shake. "No... not one... maybe three or four."

Relaxing my hold on her body, I moved my face to hers and captured her lips. Then I untangled our legs and drew her panties down.

"Are you undressing me, Kay?" Anita asked, backing away from the kiss.

"Seems I am," I agreed, running my hands over her bare thighs.

"Then so shall I," she announced, primly, unfastening the buttons of my blouse. I watched her, with a smile, until she was done, and had slipped it down my arms, before lifting the hem of her cami and drawing it off.

Anita's fingers traced the lines of my plain white bra as mine roamed her back, her naked body curled against me. "I know why I was so thirsty, but what's your excuse?"

"I could tell you were, and I've been denying my feelings for so long that they all came together at once, I think," I said. "Don't worry, I've plenty more to work with."

"I'm sure," Anita smiled. Her fingers drifted over the front of my bra, finding my nipple and circling it absently.

"So what was going on with you?" I asked.

My nipple had stiffened within my bra, and Anita was feeling its outline and pressing it to the side through the fabric. "I haven't had anyone else in weeks," she said. "Just you. Not since... umm... the night I brought my toys over. I'm not used to that."

"Really?" I asked. "Why?"

"I had to take the time to reflect," she said. "I was feeling something. More than I usually do. Was it just because I was breaking the rules? Would it pass? Did I have to find a way to make it stop? What I couldn't do was ignore it. So I've been doing some soul-searching, and seeing another girl would have been confusing."

"You skipped a few Mondays," I commented.

"Yeah," she agreed. "It was easier. And I sent Kennedy to you."

"I'd wondered why you didn't mentor her yourself," I said. "God, I could totally have fallen for Kennedy. She's so innocent."

Anita grinned as she tugged on my nipple. "I know, right?"

"She has four years of college ahead of her, and she deserves to be with someone her own age," I said, "or I might have wanted more than to introduce her to the club. Though I was still disappointed with myself over Michelle, and innocence like Kennedy's might have been more of a turn-on than it would have been otherwise. Also, I guess I had someone else on my mind, too."

"Oh, really?" Anita had stopped playing with my nipple, and was tracing the edge of my bra. "Who? Danielle? Suse? Alex?"

"How do you even know about Alex?" I asked, with a laugh.

"The first dating app user?" she teased. "I heard you swiped right. Or is it left? I've never used an app."

"Alex is fun," I said. "But no, none of the above. I knew I had no chance with you, but I wasn't interested in anyone else, even sweet young Kennedy."

Anita had located my erect nipple again. Now she wriggled lower and lightly bit it through my bra.

"Ow," I said, at the sharp, delicate pain. "There was really no one? What about the cute redhead? The one I thought you were talking about wanting to date?"

"Allison?" Anita looked up at me. Her fingers drifted up my arm, then drew my bra strap down, peeling away the cup to expose my swollen nipple. "Allison's been my friend since Emma rescued me. She knows all about the abuse. She's been here for me as I've been working through my feelings." She touched her lips to my nipple, and I shuddered. "But I think I'd seriously piss off her boyfriend if I slept with her."

Anita closed her mouth around my nipple and my thighs clenched as a shock of arousal surged in my clit. "Oh... boy, did I read her wrong. But I don't think she likes me."

"She has a hard time seeing you with other girls when she knows I have feelings for you," Anita said. "Harder than I did, since I know how our hookups work. I know the rules." Her fingers replaced her lips on my nipple as she spoke, rolling it gently between finger and thumb. "I have never been jealous of your happiness, even if I was starting to feel that I wanted something more with you. If we're exclusive, Allison will be relieved."

"If?" I asked. "Are you still not sure?"

"Just slow to accept that I have you, I think," Anita said.

"You have me, love," I breathed, as her mouth closed around my nipple again. "Your friend doesn't need to worry."

Anita's body uncurled some, stretching against mine, her face against my chest. I ran my fingers through her hair as her fingers curled around my breast, kneading it as her lips and tongue worked on my nipple. Letting her hair slide through my fingers, I traced all the way down the length of it, over her bare back, to its end at her butt.

Her free hand moved to my other breast, still encased in white lacy fabric, and began to squeeze. I kept running my hand through her hair as she suckled, building my arousal. I loved the feel of her body, both beneath my fingers, and pressed to mine, her skin smooth and sensuous.

The hand squeezing my bra moved up, and a moment later my other bra strap slid over my shoulder. She drew it down too, then moved her face to my newly-uncovered breast, nipping and suckling my nipple. My breath was ragged with my growing arousal, my heart beating rapidly.

"You make me feel so good," I breathed.

She made a sound against my breast, but didn't pause her work.

Reaching behind my back, I unsnapped my bra, then slipped the straps down my arms and drew it out from beneath Anita's chin without disturbing her. She made another sound against me. Then I lowered my hands to my panties and slipped them off, easing Anita's knees from between mine. As soon as my legs were bare, Anita wriggled against me, her legs entwining with mine again.

Taking her hips, I rolled onto my back, positioning her above me. Now I could run both hands down the length of her hair, letting it glide through my fingers. She made a longer sound against me, sounding like a muffled sigh. Then her lips left my breast, and she looked up into my face, her eyes soft. "You make me feel good," she whispered.

Holding her waist, I eased her higher, until I could meet her lips with mine. Our kiss was intense. It didn't have the desperation of before, but our shared passion seemed even greater. We both groaned. I ran my hands through her hair again, but this time, when my fingers reached her ass, I squeezed her to me and began to roll my hips.

Anita moaned, then drew her lips from mine and kissed my neck. Her breasts were pressed to mine, and I raised my fingers and stroked the sides of them. Her hands moved down my side, took my hips, and she used the hold to grind her sex against mine.

It was my turn to moan as I felt her moving against me.

We rocked together for several minutes. My arousal climbed with each movement.

"You get me so turned on," I whispered.

"I know!" Anita said, her own voice rough with arousal. "I love that about you."

She pressed her mouth to mine and gave me a blistering kiss, before sliding down my body. I moaned as she kissed my thighs, each movement of her lips and tongue sending spikes of excitement through me.

And then her tongue met my sex, drawing slowly upward, and a spike of desire lanced through me. My hips rose and my thighs tensed. Anita's brows rose at my reaction.

Panting, I attempted to relax, managing to control myself sufficiently to do no more than groan loudly when she stroked my folds again.

"God," I croaked. "You don't know what you're doing to me."

"I think I do, love," she replied. Her breath tickled my sex and I shuddered. Then I felt her fingers slide into me, and moaned as they curled forward. Her tongue drifted higher, to circle my clit, and my moans rose in volume

The fingers inside pressed against the wall of my sex. Even when her tongue drew back from my clit, the fingers tapping inside my sex made me squirm with need, my hips lifting against Anita's face.

She played me like an instrument, keeping me hovering so close to the edge. Every time I thought she'd let me finish, she held me back again. My frustration mounted, but I knew that it would all be worthwhile...

When the end came, Anita had taken me right up to the point of no return, then left me there. My belly twitched with tremors that I couldn't contain. I lay there, balanced perfectly, thinking that she was going to hold me back one more time, when she closed her lips on my clit, her tongue plundering my senses as it forced pleasure into me. My back arched, and my fingers grasped the sides of the cushion. "Oh God," I groaned. "Oh God, Oh God...."

My sex pulsed wildly as I whimpered. My breasts quivered, and as my senses slowly returned, I glanced down to see an amused expression in Anita's eyes.

"Oh my God," I groaned again, this time with some awareness. "How do you even do this to me?"

"I told you the first time we made love," Anita said, as she withdrew her fingers. "I practice. Now I'm just going to have to practice exclusively on you."

I laughed. "Your practice might kill me," I said, "but I'll die happy." I held out my arms as my girlfriend moved back up to lower her body to mine. "Also, you failed again."

Anita raised an eyebrow. "How's that?"

"I remember my name!" I said. "I'm Kayla! And you're Astrid. Uh, Amaranth? Angie?"

"Shut up," Anita said, enforcing her instruction by covering my mouth with hers.


Rolling over as we kissed, I deposited Anita on the floor, her back on one of the few pillows that was still nearby. Leaving her there, I gathered the scattered pillows, and rebuilt our nest/fort around her, moving my bag within easy reach, and drawing the blanket up to her belly, leaving her chest uncovered.

Her body gleamed in the light of the gas fire, which was now the main source of room illumination. I lay on the cushions beside her, my eyes roaming her body. Hers followed mine, seeming pleased that I found such enjoyment in studying her.

My fingers caressed her left breast. "You said you were flat-chested at eighteen," I said. "Was that hyperbole, or were you still developing?"

"I'm still flat-chested," she said.

"No you're not," I argued. "Your breasts are beautiful."

"Well, they're more than they were, yes. I was painfully skinny in my first year," she said. "After my mother's food abuse, I was pretty much pancake-like, and fortunate not to develop an eating disorder. I filled out a little over the year, though Julie never acknowledged it. After her, I put on a little more weight, so you can imagine how I was before, and that helped my boobs get a little less tiny. That's when I started wearing contacts, too. Emma's suggestion."

She reached out to stroke the finger on her breast once, then looked up at my chest. "But I'm surprised you like them, when yours are so much more... prominent. I thought you'd find them boring."

"I don't think anything about you is boring, Anita," I said, "and you're certainly not flat chested." I circled her nipple, pressing my finger into the flesh, reshaping it, making a clear impression in the small mound. "I love the way they feel, and I especially love the way they feel against mine."

She grinned. "So do I," she admitted. "I've never found another girl's body as exciting as yours," she said.

"Lucky me," I said, my tone wry, but meaning the words. The sexiest girl I've ever known finds me exciting. Her casual statement thrilled me to my core.

Leaning forward, I kissed her nipple. Anita made a contented sound and leaned back into the pillow as my lips explored the whole of her breast.

While my mouth roamed her chest, I lowered my right hand under the blanket, my fingers drawing down her belly and over her sex. Moistening them by stroking her labia, I lifted them to touch her clit, then drew tiny circles on the growing nub.

Anita's breath caught, and she closed her eyes, her lips parted as she basked in the sensations.

When she began to make soft sounds of pleasure, I drew back. Lowering the blanket, I uncovered her sex. Again, my eyes took in the lovely sight in the firelight. Anita opened an eye, raising her eyebrow as she watched me, then let them drift closed again.

Taking the bottle of lube from my bag, I smeared some on my finger, then drew circles on her lower belly, leaving trails of lube. She made a curious sound in her throat, and when I repeated the process, drawing my finger around her upper thighs, she parted her legs.

Taking my clit suction vibe from its storage case, I added more lube to the tip, then moved it to Anita's chest. I turned it on, drawing the head down between my girlfriend's breasts.

The vibe was quite loud, even on the lowest intensity setting. Anita's eyes flew open, and she raised her head to see what I was doing. "Oh, naughty," she breathed. "I didn't know you had one of those."

"You don't know everything about me," I countered. "Though I'm sure you soon will."

She grinned and closed her eyes again. I lifted the toy to her neck. Massaging her lower neck with the vibe made her shiver.

"I haven't used this on another girl," I said. "So if it gets uncomfortable, let me know."

"You're doing fine," Anita said.

I ran the vibe over the edge of her breast, watching her face for reactions. When I drew it over her nipple, her breath caught, and she lifted her chest slightly. I moved the toy from side to side at the base of her nipple.

When Anita's lips parted, I lowered my face to hers. Her eyes opened as I brushed my lips against hers, and she immediately extended her tongue to touch my mouth. Parting my lips, I licked her tongue. Her mouth widened into a smile without interfering with the motion of her tongue against mine.

When I drew back from our tongue duel, Anita was panting softly. Her left nipple was hard, the pebbly areola swollen in arousal. I turned off the toy for a moment to take the nipple into my mouth, hearing Anita gasp as I suckled.

I turned the vibe back on, still on its lowest setting, and drew it over Anita's belly, mapping the places that caused her lips to make a circle. Even if I didn't focus on every one of her erogenous zones today, I was going to have plenty of opportunity to explore her body, and the more I could learn about making her feel good, the more exciting that would be. I moved my left hand to her right breast, gently cupping it as I drew the noisy little suction head around.

Anita's eyes were no longer closed. In fact she stuffed a second pillow behind her head, so that she could watch my progress as I drew circles over her thighs with the device. "Don't worry," I whispered, making her look up at me, "it's fully charged."

Her lips were parted, and so tempting that I had to kiss them. I set the toy aside for a moment, lowering my face to hers, and touched my mouth to hers. When our tongues joined, I lightly brushed my fingertip over her clit. Anita's hands went to the back of my neck, holding my face to hers as she moaned, her jaws parted wide as her tongue danced with mine.

I had to free my head from Anita's fingers, and she pouted as I drew back, but then I restarted the vibe and began to approach its designated destination. Her hips rose and swayed as I circled the toy higher. The air from its suction head was probably tickling her clit, but the toy wasn't touching it.

I suckled Anita's breast again, making a circle of my lips to take in her swollen areola, tonguing and sucking as the toy buzzed beside her clit. Then I touched it to that sensitive place and clicked up the intensity setting. Anita's back arched, her hips rising from the pillows, her breast pressed hard into my mouth.

Immediately I drew the toy back. She groaned, lowering her body.

Releasing Anita's breast, I lay down beside her. She turned her head to meet my lips. The passion in our kiss had me breathless and set my girlfriend to moaning, which I encouraged by drawing the toy around her sex, on low intensity. Her hip rested against my sex, and I caressed her calves with my foot. Then I touched the vibe to her clit again. She cried out into the kiss before I drew the device away again.

Anita's hand found my right breast, and she squeezed as our tongues caressed each other'

Leaving the vibe on the lowest setting, I brought it to Anita's clit and drew it slowly against her. Immediately she moaned into the kiss, her back beginning to arch. As the stimulation built, she broke the kiss and began to gasp. "Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah!"

I held the suction head against her until she cried out. A sheen of perspiration glowed on her breasts, reflecting the firelight, as she came. Her hips jerked, and her face broke into a broad, soft smile.

Even before her climax was over, Anita rolled me onto my back, covering my body with hers, pressing her tongue into my mouth. The vibe fell from my hand, still buzzing, as I wrapped my arms around her. We ground together, lips locked, Anita's breasts squeezed to mine, until she'd driven me into my own climax. And then, as aroused as she was, followed me into a sweet, satisfying mutual orgasm, my feelings of pleasure so vast that I barely knew where Kayla ended and Anita began.


Minutes later, or maybe hours, Anita lay beside me, on the pillows. We held hands, our fingers intertwined.

Anita made a small amused sound.

"What is it, love?" I asked.

"A few weeks back I said that anyone with an opportunity to experience being intimate with you would be a fool to pass it up," she said. "Even knowing that, I don't think I was ready."

"I've never wanted to give myself so completely before," I said. "No one makes me feel like you do."

"I feel the same," Anita replied. "I could feel guilty for the girls who'll never have a chance with you."

"Me?" I objected. "What about all of the Anita fans around? I feel a great disturbance in the force! As if hundreds of girls at Gabby's wanted to cry out in pleasure, but were suddenly silenced!"

"Idiot," Anita said, affectionately, her fingers tightening on mine. "There aren't hundreds of girls at Gabby's. But I'll do my best to make your cries fill the silence."

"You say the sweetest things, love," I said, rolling back onto her.