Chapter 3 - Sacrifice

Anita and I didn't eat lunch with the team on the following day. Instead, we picked up a snack at the coffee shop, in relative privacy.

"How was your evening?" she asked.

She had become a good friend, but I wasn't about to share details about my time with Fiala. I tried to gloss over it. "It was fine." Unfortunately, my burning cheeks said more than my words did.

Anita grinned at me. "And to think I was nervous to see you with Fi," she said. "But I meant the club."

"Oh," I responded. "But wait. You were nervous?"

"I thought you'd be disappointed," she said. Fi has turned down everyone I know," she said. "I was surprised to see her leave with you."

"Huh. Really?" I asked. "Even you?"

I asked in jest, but Anita gave me a rueful grin. "Even me," she said.

"I see," I said. "I don't really know what drew her to me. Trading glances across a crowded room, maybe?" Which was the literal truth on my part, whether or not it was Fi's motivation.

"Possible," she said. "I'm happy it worked out. You think you'll become a regular?"

"I think so," I said. "I had a good time. Not just afterward, I mean. I was concerned that being out of college would mean I can't connect anymore, but I did. I love Emma and Tiff. They're great."

"They are," Anita agreed, and told me a little of their story. They hadn't met at the club, and Tiff had considered herself straight before they started dating, but they seemed committed for the long term - much to the chagrin of Emma's former lovers.

"I might try the grownups dance one day," I said. "Thursday, right?"

"Third Thursday of the month," Anita clarified. "If you feel you need an introduction, I could probably be there, but I'd prefer not."

Curious, I asked, "Any reason? Is it teeming with your graduated exes?"

She grimaced. "Not so many," she said, "but likely one."

"Huh," I said. "From your expression, one you're not happy about. The one you mentioned on our... last week?"

"Julie." Anita sighed. "Yes."

"Want me to break her skull for you if I see her?" I asked. "Accidentally spill wine on her dress? Spike her drink with laxatives?"

Anita laughed, then looked up, brushing back her hair. "I appreciate the offer," she said, "but no. Let sleeping badgers lie."

"Anyway, I don't mind going alone," I said. "I'll avoid anyone named Julie."

"Yeah, you really don't want to go there," Anita agreed. Then she added, "You realize I'll be gone by then?"

"Gone?" I asked. I heard the surprise in my voice, and felt my stomach lurch.

"My internship is up at the end of next week. Time to get ready for fall semester."

"Oh, wow. No, I didn't realize," I said. "I guess I knew it would be, but hadn't thought through the details."

She grinned. "You have my number. And I'm sure to see you at the club. And who knows, maybe I'll be back next year."


For the next outing to Gabby's, I wore a scoop neck, long-sleeved fire engine red tee over a black push up bra, just a little cleavage on display, but conspicuously contoured within the tight shirt. Same jeans, same boots. Again, almost an outfit I could wear to work, at least on casual Friday. As long as there were no team meetings - or as long as I didn't care where my teammates' eyes would be focused for the entire meeting.

Tiff and Emma were present. They'd pushed a couple of tables together, and were sitting with a tall girl with flaxen blonde hair and two other young women whom I thought looked familiar. One was short, with fiery red hair, green eyes and freckles, the other medium height, with white-blonde hair and intense, dark blue eyes. Tiff waved me over. "We saved you a chair," she said.

"Thanks, that's kind of you," I said. "I'm not a newbie anymore, though. I don't want to intrude."

Tiff pursed her lips. "You're still a friend, right?"

Her comment warmed me. I smiled broadly. "I hope so," I said. "I think of you and Emma as friends."

"Well, your circle is about to grow," she replied. "This is Margot." She indicated the tall blonde sitting beside Emma. "And Cyndy and Dylan," gesturing to the redhead and her companion in turn. I shook hands with them all.

"Margot's one of our roommates," Emma said, "and Cyndy and Dylan work at the coffee shop."

"Oh, that's it!" I exclaimed. "I thought I recognized you. That's a great place. I've seen you both there. I didn't realize you were a couple."

Dylan's eyebrows shot up, and Cyndy burst out laughing. She shook her head. "We're not! We're friends of Margot and Heather. Since since Heather's closing tonight, we came to keep Margot company. Heather's Margot's girlfriend," she added at my frown.

"They're here to keep Margot honest," Tiff piped up. "Since she has a..." - she made air quotes - "reputation. Do you know how I first met her?"

I shook my head. Obviously I didn't. "Tiff, please," objected Margot. "Do you really want to go there?"

Tiffany turned to Margot and beamed. "You know I do, dahlin'." Turning back to me, she said, "Margot was the first girl to proposition me. In my own kitchen. In her undies. After spending a loud night with Emma. Loudly."

"Wait..." I looked between Tiff and Margot, with a glance at Emma, who was rolling her eyes. "Margot here hooked up with your girlfriend, and tried to hook up with you, and you're all happily sharing a house? And no one has a problem with it?"

"Well," said Tiff, "One, Emma and I were randomly selected roomies, not partners. We were friends, and I had no issues with her lifestyle other than sleep impairment. And Margot is hooked, now. She may be the least available woman here. Except for me, of course," she added, turning to make puppy eyes at Emma.

"True, that," said Margot. "Please don't repeat anything Tiff says around Heather, though. She knows the whole story, but she still embarrasses easily."

"Do I know Heather?" I asked.

"If you know Cyndy and Dylan, you do," Margot replied. "She's at the shop now. She's how we all know each other."

"Oh. I think I do," I agreed. "She's quiet. Tall. Very pretty. Am I allowed to say that?"

"Of course you are," Margot said. "You're just not allowed to think it."

"Can't help that," I retorted. "Sorry not sorry. I'll say hi to her the next time I get coffee. And maybe ogle a little."

Margot's scowl didn't hide her amusement.

"So who are you planning to take home tonight?" Tiff asked.

"Can't you do anything with her?" I asked Emma, plaintively.

"I do many wonderful things with her," replied Tiff's partner. "But stifle her smart mouth? Not a chance. I like it."

Tiff turned her head and the two exchanged a peck on the lips.

"It's not, like, you have to take someone home every time," I said.

Tiff and Emma exchanged another look, both of them with eyebrows raised.

"Okay, you did get me together with Fi, last week - over my objections," I added, "but I hope you're not going to make a habit of it."

Tiff smirked as if that was exactly what she planned to do.

"I'd like the chance to get to know all of you. Can we just talk?"

Tiff pouted and sipped at her glass. Plastic glass, that is, since he bar didn't supply real glass.

"Tell you what," I suggested, "I'll get everyone's drinks if you promise to give me at least an hour before inviting some random girl to sit on my lap, okay?"

Apparently amused by the offer, Tiff agreed. I collected everyone's orders. Dylan volunteered to help me carry the drinks. As we made our way to the bar, she told me, in a surprisingly rich, musical voice, that Cyndy's boyfriend was at a conference for nursing students. with his "harem," whatever that meant, and her own boyfriend was tending bar. Usually Heather had Monday evenings free but the schedule didn't work that way this time, so they accompanied Margot. It wasn't their first visit.

The bartender was a striking woman wearing oversized rose gold-framed glasses. Her light gold hair was held in a casual bun by a pair of white chopsticks with a green and pink pattern. She must have been a little older than me, upper twenties, but not past thirty. Both of her arms were heavily tattooed, exposed by a sleeveless black Halestorm tee shirt that she filled out nicely. She had pale blue eyes and a smile that made my stomach flutter. I hadn't decided what I wanted, and I didn't want her to hurry away, so I asked for recommendations. She gave me a long list of options. I declined the elaborate drinks in favor of a non-alcoholic wine, since I'd never tried one before.

A movement caught my eye, and I looked up to find a girl smiling at me, before returning to the conversation she was having with the guy I'd met at the bar the previous week. It took me a moment to recognize her, but I finally realized it was Ann, with whom I'd danced briefly.

She wore her hair differently from the previous week. Now it was waved, parted on the left, leaving the left side of her face clear, but obscuring her right temple and cheek. She glanced back at me a couple of times while we awaited our drink order.

"I like your tattoos better," I whispered to Dylan, knowing she'd understand that I was comparing her to the bartender. She had a gorgeous arrangement of leaves and berries that extended up her left arm, vanishing into her short sleeves.

"Thanks," she whispered back. "So do I."

"So how do you and Cyndy handle being hit on?" I asked her. "It has to happen all the time."

"Politely," she said. "Just like being hit on by a guy. If I have to, I tell her I'm straight. We're both allies, and neither of us is offended if a girl finds us attractive."

I chuckled. "This would be a bad place to visit if you were, I guess."

Our drinks arrived. The bartender returned my smile when I paid, causing my stomach to flutter again. I wondered if she ever went home with a patron. I guessed it would lead to awkwardness, so probably not, but whatever. I wrote in a larger than normal tip.

The non-alcoholic wine was... okay. It tasted very much like a decent wine, but seemed to be lacking a spark. Like good decaf coffee. It tastes just like good regular coffee, except not. I wasn't really disappointed, because I hadn't expected much, but I'd be going back to mocktails. The lemon-ginger mocktail Tiff had recommended had been much more interesting.

Tiff was good to her word. She didn't call anyone over to introduce, or try to embarrass me, though she had no qualms about embarrassing Emma or Margot. I spent the next hour mostly learning about a comics project Dylan and her boyfriend had underway. As a certified nerd - whatever my teammates might think - I found the concept fascinating. And Cyndy had long-term plans for the coffee shop, and was in discussions with the current owner about buying her out. She had ambition, but also seemed to have a very firm grasp on the legal and financial issues ahead of her.

Emma and Margot left the table to dance. I frowned at Tiff, wondering if she was really okay with that. She must have understood my thinking, because she shook her head. "It's fine," she whispered. Then she cocked her head to the side, watching me, before asking Cyndy and Dylan if they could hold the fort for a few minutes. When Cyndy agreed, Tiff stood, then took my hand, determinedly propelling me to the dance floor, where she showed me that it was quite possible to be sensual and even a little flirtatious, without giving the slightest hint of not being completely dedicated to her partner. It was fun, and a little sexy, but free and lighthearted.

When Tiff led me back to the table, I noticed Suse, with whom I'd also danced the previous week, nearby. Her eyes widened in recognition, and she began to approach. Then something caught her eye. She grimaced and changed direction, heading toward the bar. I looked around to see Emma and Margot following us. I had no idea what that had been about.

At the table, Tiff didn't sit, but decided that Cyndy was next in line for a dance. I exchanged an amused glance with Dylan as they left us.

"You'll have to excuse me for a while," I said to the remaining three. "I have an apology to make."

Picking up my drink, I headed to the bar.


Suse was facing the bar as I approached. Around the corner of the bar, Ann was nursing a drink. When she saw me, she smiled and began to stand, but Suse sensed me behind her and turned around. I mouthed "Sorry, next time!" to Ann, and approached my intended target.

"Hey, Suse," I said, holding my hand out and exchanging a quick squeeze when she did the same. "I think I owe you an apology."

The shorter girl's pale eyebrows rose. "You do?"

"Yeah," I said. "I cut our dancing and our conversation short last week. I misread the situation, and didn't want to step on anyone's toes. I thought you were with, umm, Val? Is that her name?"

"Oh, no, I wasn't," Suse replied. "I think Val was with Anita. She's my BFF, but not like that." She smirked. "Well, not usually."

"BFFs with benefits?" I suggested.

"You could say that," Suse replied with a grin.

"I'm new," I said. "I'm cautious. I didn't want to be getting between partners. You told me I wasn't, and I doubted you. I'm sorry."

Suse frowned at me for several seconds. Then she said, "I guess it's better to do that than to actually come between partners. Let's say... I'm willing to let you earn your forgiveness."

"And how would I do that?" I asked, feeling my lips quirk up in amusement.

"Dancing, for starters," Suse replied. "Buy an impoverished student a drink. Then we'll see how much debt remains."

"That works for me," I agreed, and we headed to the dance floor together.


Suse and I spent a good while flirting with body language on the dance floor. She was very good. When the DJ slowed the tempo, we didn't touch, but we stayed very close. I noticed Anita, whose arms were around a girl I didn't know. I hadn't seen her arrive.

Then the DJ selected a more upbeat track. Suse leaned close, and said, "Time for the drink?"

Nodding, I took her arm, and led her back to the bar. Suse chose a Virgin Mary, while I asked for the ginger-lemon concoction from the previous week.

"I have to ask," I said, "what was with the expression earlier. Emma pissed you off? Or Margot? Since I don't want to step on any toes, I'd like a hint. Is there bad blood?"

Suse shook her head. "Not really, and it's personal. I understand why, now, and I sympathize, but at the time and in that situation it sucked to be tossed aside." Then her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized me. While still studying me, she said, "I know I need to clear the air with Margot, but it's hard to feel motivated. Maybe you'd like to... offer me some encouragement. Along with earning my forgiveness, of course." She gave me a lopsided grin.

"I only met her today," I said. "I'm not sure that I should be making myself responsible for any issues between you." Then I let my eyes roam Suse's trim body, her sleeveless top showing athletic olive-skinned arms and a tempting figure, and her short skirt revealing long legs in strappy medium heels. "Though if you're saying there's something I could do to ease the tension between you... I might be willing to make an appropriate sacrifice."

Suse beamed at me. "I knew we could come to an understanding."

We sipped our drinks. Whenever our eyes met, it was clear that we both knew the next step we'd be taking, and each glance fed a growing tingling in my belly.

I was about to say that it was time to set the drinks aside, when there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to find Ann standing beside me.

"Seems that my timing is fucked," she said, "so if you feel like it, you know, do the thing."

As I frowned at her, she lifted a small, folded piece of paper. With a quick movement, she lifted her hand to my chest and slipped the paper into my cleavage. I couldn't say with certainty whether the brief brush of a finger against my skin was deliberate, but... yeah, probably.

Ann turned to leave. I retrieved the paper, unfolded it, then chuckled. It was torn from a tiny purse-sized notebook. At the top was a phone number. Below that, it said, "BTW, the bartender is straight."

Well, crap. I thought about the tip I'd left - but she'd still earned it, and I made a mental note to tip her at least as much next time, because the tip had never been about wooing her, and would have been insulting if it was.

Having left my purse at the table, I had nowhere to store the paper, and no phone to transcribe the number, so I shrugged and stuffed it back where I'd taken it from.

Suse watched me curiously as I picked up my drink. Then she raised her own glass and drank the remainder of her Virgin Mary. Clearly she was as ready to leave as I was.

We had to make a detour by my friends' table for my purse and jacket. Suse followed behind me, and nodded to everyone, if a little stiffly. I scowled at Tiff, who was giving me a knowing smirk, and told Margot, Cyndy and Dylan how happy I was to have met them, while opening my phone to transcribe Ann's number.

The paper had slipped down, no longer in easy reach. I had to work my fingers between my boobs to the bottom of my bra. Tiff laughed. Everyone else watched me curiously until I retrieved the small sheet of paper. Feeling heat in my face I keyed Ann's number into my phone, dropped the paper into my purse, and turned to leave.

"So," Suse said, "wanna give me a ride home?"

"You're not driving?" I asked. "I was going to invite you over, but I guess then you'd have no way to get back. How did you get here?"

"It's only a five minute walk," she said, "and I don't have a car. Student, remember?"

"I had a car before I graduated," I said, "but it was a total junker, so yeah, I understand."


There was no parking within half a block of Suse's apartment. "One reason I don't have a car," she commented as I parallel parked in barely enough space.

Suse stepped rapidly but carefully over the uneven sidewalk, and I hurried to keep up with her. She led me to the lower floor of a converted house, opening the front door with a key, then an inner door with a different one, into a small, untidy room. Suse shrugged in apology at its state. "Roomie was supposed to clean before going to her boyfriend's. She never does, but she makes up for being a slob by not being here," she said.

Suse was hungry. That's the best way to describe it. She entered her room first, held the door until I was through, then kicked it closed and took a handful of my tee shirt, using it to yank me to her, between her and the door. She didn't push me back against the door, but pulling me close and kissing me hard left no doubt about what she wanted from me.

Which was the least surprising news of the day. It was also convenient, since I wanted exactly the same from her.

As voracious as she was, and as eager as I was, the kiss was relatively civilized, for a time. Then our shared excitement began to leach into the motions of our lips and tongues. Suse took my head in her hands and ground her face against mine, her teeth grazing my tongue as I explored. We both groaned.

Then her hands were back at my waist, dragging my shirt up. I lifted my arms so that she could tear it over my head. Tossing it aside, she gripped my waist, and now she did push me backward. Half stepping, half tumbling, I fell back until Suse did slam me against the door, her body pressed to mine.

Drawing her tee up, I waited for her to lift her arms, but they stayed low. When she finally raised them, I realized my jeans were unbuttoned and unzipped. I finished hauling Suse's tee over her head, then slipped off my jeans and stepped out of them, kicking them aside, realizing as I did that Suse had cast her skirt away. Her ivory satin panties matched the bra which lifted small breasts to delicious effect.

She crushed me against the door again, wedging her left leg between my thighs and pressing it against me as she devoured my tongue. She lifted my right leg, parting my thighs so that her hip could press against my sex, then grabbed my ass and bounced me against her.

I groaned into the kiss, returning it aggressively, which seemed to feed Suse's craving. She turned her face against mine, her teeth grazing the edge of my mouth as she sought ever more contact. She pressed herself more firmly against me, and I wrapped my right leg around behind her thighs, making her stagger to keep her balance.

It felt like combat, as we each sought to master the other's passion. Suse's gasps of excitement grew with my own. Our struggle lasted an eternity. In this position, even with so much bodily contact, my arousal continued to rise, but didn't threaten to overwhelm me.

Until Suse delivered the knockout punch in our erotic fight, when she jerked my left bra strap over my shoulder and grasped my breast, squeezing hard.

The sharp, exquisite pain flowed straight through my body to my clit, which tensed like a slingshot.

I broke the kiss. "Shit," I groaned, as my face turned upward, the back of my head thumping on the door. My breath caught as my hips pivoted, pressing forward against Suse. Then my body spasmed, and I was clinging onto her to stay upright.

She gave me no quarter, her left hand still supporting my ass, and her right still squeezing my breast, if somewhat more gently as I whimpered.

When I was able to breathe again, I found Suse's lips with mine and moaned softly into her mouth. Then I straightened, standing on both feet, and pushed her away, still panting softly, as Suse grinned at me.

"So, it's like that, is it?" I asked. Suse raised an eyebrow as I grasped her hips and propelled her backward.

Her room was tiny, even smaller than the one I lived in when I was a student, but she did at least have a full-sized bed, which I was steering her toward. I noticed in passing that the room was neat, in contrast to the shared room, with a closed notebook on an otherwise-empty table. Clearly it was the roomie who was a slob, not Suse.

I didn't let her find her balance when she reached the edge of her bed, guiding her only a little as she fell backward. She made an "Oof!" sound as she landed on her back, but she wasn't unhappy at being manhandled.

As soon as Suse was on her back, before she could find her equilibrium, I'd grappled her panties down to her knees. She smirked as I drew them all the way off. Then I lay down against her left side, my left thigh on hers, sliding my hand down her belly to her close-cropped pussy.

Curling my hand, I slipped two fingers into her, none too gently, then rotated my wrist, sliding them in and out, until I drew a moan of passion from Suse.. Rolling further onto her, I moved my thigh between hers, sandwiching my hand against her body, then pressed my lips to hers.

Rolling my hips, I began to move against her. My fingers stretched in the same rhythm, pressing against the wall of her sex. Suse moaned into the kiss and responded, her belly tensing as her hips mirrored my movement. The bed made creaking noises as we moved together.

Her breathing grew progressively heavier as we moved. When I released her lips to suck on her neck, her head tilted backward and her chest rose. She moaned again, and her hands slid around my back.

I moved my lips along her shoulders and back to her neck. She was probably going to have a hickey to remember me by, but if she'd realized that it didn't seem to concern her. She was making soft sounds with each ragged breath, my lips on her neck intensifying her response.

Then I unhooked her left bra strap and pulled it down her arm. My mouth followed as the satin peeled back. I had to slide my body down her thigh, but my fingers remained inside her, my palm against her sex as I continued to rock against her, strengthening the motion. The bed squeaked loudly. Suse' s roomie was out, but I wondered idly if the house had a basement, and if anyone was living in it. But I wouldn't have stopped even if the bed was waking the neighborhood.

Suse cried out as I sucked her erect nipple. Her back arched and she groaned. Then she lay back, panting, before arching upward against me again.

This time the sensual pressure of her body rising into mine didn't ease off. Her belly twitched sharply, then her sex tightened around my fingers. A moment later she gasped as her climax ripped through her.

The remainder of our clothes came off as an afterthought as we tussled for position on the bed. Suse ended up on top of me, her hips between my spread thighs, as the squeaks of the bed rose, drowning out the cries we both made. I managed to hold my orgasm off until the girl above me was ready to join my passion, and we shared the brief bliss as our bodies yielded to mutual pleasure.

We spent a full five minutes locating our discarded garments. My bra was easy enough to find, but my panties were too close to the color of the sheets, and Suse's ivory bra hid well. Finding them took time. If the room had been as untidy as the rest of the apartment, it might have taken the rest of the night.

Fortunately, my bright red tee was a beacon in the untidy outer room, and my jeans and boots were where I'd stepped out of them, so dressing didn't take long.

"Was my sacrifice acceptable?" I asked.

Suse frowned. "Huh? Oh, right. Forgiveness and all that. Mmm, yeah. I'm always down for additional offerings if you feel the need."

"And Margot?" I asked.

"I'll make peace," she said. "I promise."