Chapter 2: Results

Day 5 - Morning

I took Alysson coffee again in the morning. She invited me into her room when I knocked on the door. Her bed looked a mess. Maybe she hadn't slept much better than I had.

"You were going to help me with scrambled eggs," I said.

"Oh, right," she said, fumbling for her glasses. "I'll be through in a couple of minutes."


When Alysson joined me in the kitchen, she'd changed out of her PJs. Which was disappointing, but the pink crop top displayed a wide band of smooth skin around her navel, and her shorts showed almost as much of her long legs as the PJs did. I wasn't disappointed. Very.

The first egg Alysson broke left several pieces of shell in the bowl. Using a fork and fingers she extracted the shell.

"I think you need to tap the egg harder," I said. "If you give it a sharp tap it will crack the shell without crumbling it."

The next egg went all over the counter, the yoke broken in the bowl.

"Maybe too hard?" Alysson suggested, clearly amused at the mess.

"Mmm, maybe," I agreed. "Try it on the side of the bowl, rather than the flat part. And sharp, but not with so much force."

She frowned, but tried it, and the egg split perfectly. She separated the halves of the shell and the egg slid perfectly into the bowl, yolk intact. "Yesss!" she cried, waving the empty shell in the air.

"Nicely done!" I said. "You've taken an important step to becoming a master chef! Or at least to portraying one in a movie!"

She laughed. "Even an assassin might have to cook," she said.

"Now whip it up," I instructed. "Break that perfect yoke."

I talked her through making the scrambled eggs entirely by herself, while I put bread in the toaster and pushed the lever down. Then I poured us both more coffee.


"Perfect scrambled eggs," Alysson crowed. "I can cook!"

"Don't forget my contribution," I objected, waving my half-eaten piece of toast.

"Hah! You just pushed a button," she said.

"Expertly, though," I insisted. "I expertly pushed the button expertly, like an expert!"

She laughed and took a sip of coffee. "You made good coffee, at least," she said.

"I'm relieved that I'm good for something," I said.

"Mmm, I'm sure you're good for plenty of things," Alysson replied.


After we'd finished eating, I took a large gulp of coffee, put my mask back on and looked up. "Alysson," I said. When she looked at me, frowning, I continued, "What I said last night. I'm sorry. That was beyond rude. I know that you could fool me. But to imply that you would is to say that I don't trust you, and I do. I have a hard time accepting that you're not playing games with me, but that's my problem, not yours."

She nodded slowly, then fastened her own mask back in place. "I am playing, in that I'm having fun with the 'flirting protocol'," - she made air quotes - "and I think you are, too, but that doesn't mean I wasn't entirely serious about what I said last night. I'm not trying to deceive you in any way."

"I know," I said. "I mean, I believe you, and I'm glad to see you haven't given up on the game."

"Of course not," Alysson said. "Now, since I cooked this delicious meal, you need to wash the dishes."

"Hmph," I grumped. "Usually I cook and wash the dishes."

"Aren't you sweet?" Alysson said. Her eyes were bright as she left the table.

I moved the dishes to the dishwasher and started it. I'm a button-pushing expert. Then I tried to study, but the upcoming Covid test was troubling me, too. I was mostly concerned that Alysson might have caught Covid from Ellen while I hadn't. We couldn't justify going unmasked or even being close wearing masks if that was the case. We'd need to confine ourselves to our own rooms as much as possible.

If we'd both caught it, then there was an open question how serious it would be. Probably not serious, given our ages and health, but that wasn't guaranteed. We wouldn't really need to avoid each other, since we wouldn't be infecting each other, but both being infectious, we would need to minimize the risks to anyone passing or within the air circulation system. The reason that the quarantine area of the hotel was set apart was to keep the air circulation closed from other zones, but it wasn't a perfect solution.

The best outcome was definitely that we would both test negative. Even that wasn't a guarantee that neither of us had caught the disease. It might take longer to develop and the test could give false negatives, but the chances were overwhelming that we'd be okay.

So studying was out, and I went through to the living room to play more of The Witcher 3.

I came to a series of dialog that I thought was likely to be leading to one of the game's love scenes. So I left the console waiting for input and knocked on Alysson's door.

"I think I'm getting to a sex scene in the game," I told her. "I wondered if you'd like to see it."

"Sure," she said, hooking her mask over her face. She followed me to the living room, then stretched out on the couch in her usual position.

"I might screw up the dialog," I said. "She might slap me in the face."

Alysson laughed. Her feet quivered in my lap. "I'd like to see that, too," she said.

"I don't know that it would happen," I said, thinking carefully about my choices. "More likely I would fail. The cutscene's probably going to be long, and I won't know until I get to the end whether I succeeded at seduction."

"I see," said Alysson, watching the TV.

The dialog led to a makeout session with the NPC. Then another question with an answer that was likely correct, followed by one more that led directly to the sex scene. It was a long cutscene, quite romantic, with a very short explicit sequence at the end. This was one of the more imaginative scenes. Then a brief conversation before what seemed to be a final farewell.

"That was it," I said.

"I see what you mean about it being a little soulless," she said. "It seemed that if there was any change to the character model it would have been a lot sexier. Like, hands seem to float just above the skin, where they should press in slightly. And the kissing is just wrong. But yeah, interesting."

"Is it okay if I continue the game?" I said. "I can save it here if you want to take a turn on the PlayStation."

"Is it okay with you if I just stay where I am to watch?" she said. "I don't feel like doing anything this morning."

"Oh, I know," I said. "That's why I'm not studying."

She nodded, her eyes on the game. I responded to the dialog choice and continued.

A few minutes later I noticed that Alysson's toes were stroking my skin, just above my knee. I didn't think she was aware of what she was doing. Her foot was resting on my lower thigh, and she was unconsciously playing with my leg with the toe that was touching it.

More than anything else she'd done or said, the action convinced me that she really did feel an attraction. That yes, I believed her when she said it, but she was unconsciously demonstrating the truth of her claims. I felt a stirring in my groin as the implication became clear to me. Maybe it was time for me to decide how I felt.

Alysson made a few snide comments about the game, but for the most part she seemed to enjoy watching me play, and helped me decide on dialog options. The time dragged until lunch, though.

There was a knock on the door after I'd finished clearing up the remains of our sandwiches. The health center technician, in full mask, face shield and gloves, handed us the nose swabs. Two sets each. We both completed the embarrassing and disagreeable ritual of shoving the swabs up our nose and twisting them, the worker storing the swabs in labeled plastic tubes.

The second swab for each of us was for the PCR. The tech said we'd have results in three days. That was the definitive test, the one that allowed us to shorten the quarantine interval from fourteen to ten days. But the chance of it not agreeing with the antigen test were low enough that our plan to use today's results was still good.

I brewed coffee. Alysson and I sat on the couch drinking it, speaking only occasionally. The test should have taken fifteen minutes, but it was over forty-five minutes later when my phone pinged. Result: negative.

Then a further minute. "I wish they'd run yours first," I said. "You're the one with the greater exposure."

Alysson grunted. Then her phone pinged. I could feel the relief radiating from her when she read the message. She took off her mask and waved it in the air.

"Negative, I take it?" I said, unfastening my own mask.

"Nope," she said. "I'm infecting you right now! Yes, negative."

She grinned as I set my mask down on the coffee table. "Kiss me, Nate," she said.

"Uh... what?" I said, startled.

"We're celebrating. Letting off steam. Sharing a positive experience. You agreed that was okay, yesterday," she argued.

"I don't think I did," I said, "but okay." Alysson clearly wanted it, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't.


Day 5 - Celebration

Alysson turned her face toward mine and leaned close. I closed my eyes as I met her lips, which seemed more tentative on mine than I was expecting. I moved my lips gently on hers, then backed away.

I expected her to complain that it was barely a kiss, but when I opened my eyes her expression was radiant. "I haven't kissed anyone in months," she said. "I haven't really kissed anyone in a couple of years."

"What's the difference between a kiss and a real kiss?" I asked.

"I mean, I haven't kissed anyone with any passion in years," she said.

"I think celebrating and letting off steam deserves at least a little passion," I said.

"Yeah," Alysson agreed. "Kiss me again."

I reached for her left hand with my right, and held it in her lap as my lips approached hers. I saw her eyes close just before they touched, and I closed mine. Her hand tightened on mine as her lips parted, soft against mine. I parted mine, moving them gently against hers. She groaned softly.

Opening my eyes, I drew back slightly, then took her upper lip between both of mine and sucked gently. Her mouth closed on mine and she seemed to shiver. Her breathing had sped up, and when I backed away I could feel her breath on my lips. I pressed them to her again and she melted against me, before drawing back.

"It's easy to kiss Tony," she said, her voice sounding a half octave deeper, "and make it look passionate," she said, "but I felt that kiss in my chest."

I smiled. "It still seems very sedate for letting off steam," I said. "I'm okay if you want to get a little more enthusiastic."

Her eyes looked into mine, alternating to focus on each. Then she drew her hand out of mine, wrapped it around the back of my head and drew my lips back to hers. This time she moved against me, still slowly, but growing more intense each time she repositioned her face on mine. My own breathing was becoming heavier, my heart beating faster as the passion built.

She turned her body toward me, twisting me around so that her chest pressed to mine. I felt her tongue probe. When I met it with mine she groaned. Then a moment later, her body lifted, face rising against mine as she moved her knees onto the couch without breaking the kiss. She shuffled closer, then into my lap, one knee to each side of me.

Alysson's face was a couple of inches higher than mine, her hand behind my neck. I felt the soft press of her breasts against my shoulders as she leaned into me, pushing me back against the sofa. I moved my hands to her side, gripping her bare waist below the crop top, my excitement growing into an arousal that made my pants feel too tight.

She finally broke the kiss, then laughed with delight.

"That might have been just a little too enthusiastic," I said.

"That was awesome!" Alysson exclaimed, sounding like a teenager. "I forgot how good a real kiss could be."

My hands were still on her waist, my thumbs caressing. "What was it you said yesterday?" I asked. "If it's a little bit naughty but you don't go further, it's not cheating?"

"If you don't hide it," she said.

"Right, but that's not an issue yet," I commented. "That felt a little bit naughty and a lot nice."

"Mmm, yeah" Alysson said, her voice a little dreamy. "Kiss me again."

"Okay, but then you have to get down," I insisted. "I think we've used up the celebration excuse."

"Okay," Alysson said, and lowered her face to mine.

This kiss was slow, like the earlier ones, but her lips parted further as they pressed to mine, and pushed mine further apart. Her knees shuffled forward, her belly pressing to mine as she rocked her hips slowly, moving her body against mine, her face rising and falling.

Alysson's tongue sought mine. She moaned when I stroked it with my own. I could feel the fabric of her bra pressing into the front of my shoulders as her body rose and fell against mine.

The feel of her against me as her tongue was against mine was nitro to my arousal, and I felt myself getting hard inside my shorts. As close as her body was to mine, she might even be able to feel it.

I tried to move back a little, using my hold on Alysson's waist to prevent her getting closer, then I broke the kiss. Both of us were panting heavily.

"That," I said, my voice sounding rough to my ears, "was more than a little bit naughty."

Her grin was wicked as she relaxed, her weight on my thighs. "But very nice," she countered.

"Yeah," I agreed. "Now off you get. I think I'm going to take a nap."

"Aww, did I tire you out already?" Alysson scoffed, sliding backward until her feet were on the floor and she could lift herself off me.

"I think it's the easing of tension," I said. Alysson's hands ran down my arms as she stood, and they caught and held mine. "I think I was more stressed about the testing than I admitted to myself."

"And maybe you finally realized that I'm into you, and you don't need to worry about me deceiving you?" Alysson suggested.

I thought about her toe stroking my leg this morning. "I think I'd already figured it out," I said. "But yeah, that may be part of it, too."

She squeezed my hands. "It works both ways, you know. You can't deny you're into me, too, now."

"I don't think that's news to you," I said, sheepishly.

"It isn't," she said, still holding my hands. "But you confirmed that not only do you like me, but you know what to do about it." She grinned at me then dropped my hands. "You are a great kisser. I thought you would be."

She skipped away, again like a teenager.


The relief of the result was part of the reason for needing a nap. Not sleeping well the previous night was another. Before I faded out completely, I texted Alysson to ask her if she was okay with delivery. I didn't want to have to put any effort into cooking tonight.

"Of course," she replied instantly.

I set the phone aside and fell asleep.


When I awoke, Alysson was in the living room. Facilities had added delivery menus to the hotel information system, and she was browsing them. I sat beside her to make my own selection. There wasn't an ordering system, as such, we'd email our requests to the production staff who would call it in and bring the delivery to our room, so it was less trouble for everyone if we chose items from the same restaurant.

Alysson decided on salmon from a neighborhood grill, and I picked a Salisbury steak.

While waiting for them to arrive, I introduced Alysson to Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2. We'd avoided two player games so far because of the logistics of social distancing, but now we could sit together on the couch.

We played co-op. Alysson wanted to try head-to-head, but we wouldn't have long before food would arrive, so we promised ourselves to try that later.

"Hey, Ali," I said, when we'd moved to the table to eat. "There's something I wanted to say about what you said yesterday about being shy."

She looked up at me with a frown. She'd just taken a forkful of salmon and I didn't want to force her to speak, so I plowed on.

"You said that it's hard for you to hide your shyness," I continued. "That you're always working hard at it, you said. That has to be stressful. I just wanted to say that if you want to take a break from the stress, you don't have to hide it around me. If you need to hide in your room and not pretend to be a confident, outgoing person, I won't think less of you."

She frowned thoughtfully for a time, then said, "Thanks, Nate. I'm not sure I know any longer what I'm like without my fake outgoing shell. I don't think I can change in private anymore, but I appreciate the offer."

I nodded.

"And I don't want to go hide in my room. Not from you. You and Ryan may be the only two people in my life that don't make me want to run away and hide." She paused. "I shouldn't say that. It makes my situation sound so much worse. I don't need to hide from people or from my work, and the self-confidence isn't entirely a front. But dealing with people is stressful. I don't feel stressed with you or with Ryan, so there's nothing to avoid."

"That's good," I said. "Just - don't feel the need to maintain any kind of front for my benefit."

She smiled. "Thanks," she said, warmly, then returned to her fish.

"How long have you known Ryan?" I asked Alysson.

"I've known her a long time," she replied. "We were in a pre-teen drama class together. But I've been close to her for about a year. She was the person more than anyone who helped recover from my one true love. When I got a shot at the part here, I had Ryan call her agent and see what else might be available."

"You know," I said, "when you say your 'one true love,' I know you're being sarcastic, because of what happened. But maybe it's not a good thing for you to hear yourself say that. You might start to believe that your only love is in the past. He was a jerk and an asshole and even though I know you did love him, in the end he didn't deserve your love, but you deserve to find someone who does."

Alysson eyed me warily through that short speech. The look continued for a few seconds, then she sighed. "You have a point. I like the sarcasm. I think it fits both of us. Me for being taken in. But I'm not who I was then, and even if I earned the sarcasm at nineteen, I've moved beyond it. I have moved beyond it, but I need to be able to believe it as well as know it. Maybe I should just start using his name. Lewis. Lew."

I grinned. "You know," I said, "there was a girl from London I knew at college. She would say "I need the loo" where you or I would say "I need to use the bathroom.""

"Oh, right," Alysson said, brightly. "I've heard that. So Lewis can be 'my one true loo.'"

She raised a hand for a high five and I slapped it.

"But about what you were saying," Alysson said. "I'm not stressing over hiding who I am with you, or with Ryan. I'm nervous, but not stressed."

"Why are you nervous?" I asked.

"Because you're a boy and I'm a girl, I guess," she replied. "And I know you're in a relationship, and I don't want to interfere with your life, but I don't want you to think I don't find you attractive. So I do feel shy, but with you that doesn't feel wrong." She sighed. "It's complicated."

"It is," I agreed. "And you know that I find you attractive, too. And I don't just mean the way you look. I want for you to be comfortable with me."

She had set down her fork several minutes earlier. Now she held my eyes for a long time.

After a few moments I chuckled.

"What is it?" Alysson asked.

"I used to think when you looked so intense that I couldn't read your expression because of the mask. Now I realize I just can't read your expression. Not when you brood like that."

Alysson grinned weakly. "I am brooding," she agreed. "It's not just the boy-girl thing. I felt so much relief at the negative test. Even though you and I weren't at any particular risk, it was weighing on me, and I didn't know how much. Now I feel vulnerable. And you're offering to let me be myself, and not hide behind a self-confident act."

"Right," I agreed.

"So there is something I'd like to ask, and you're offering to make me feel at ease, so I think I should, but it would make you uncomfortable, so I think I shouldn't. Dilemma, thus brooding."

"Ask, already," I said.

"Will you come to bed with me tonight?" Alysson asked. As my world lurched sideways, she continued, "Not to do anything. Not to do anything you don't want to do. Just to be there. I've been... I mean... I've missed having someone close. I don't know if 'I've been lonely' is right. I don't feel lonely now. But after two years, I would really like to feel someone close when I sleep. And now we're not distancing, and no masks..."

"Yes," I said, forestalling her explanations. "Yes, I will.

Alysson's face changed. I realized that it had lost tension that I didn't know was there. She smiled. "I'm going to take a bath," she announced. "Then we can watch a movie, then go to my room. If you change your mind, it's fine," she added.

"I won't," I said. "Go on. I'll deal with the plates."


I don't know why I assumed that Alysson would stretch out on the couch and put her feet in my lap as she had been doing. Of course she wasn't going to, now that we'd abandoned the restrictions. She came through to the living room in the pajamas I liked so much, bringing a sheet as usual. Then she sat beside me, tossed the sheet over our legs, then took my left arm and laid it over her shoulders before raising the sheet to our necks and snuggling close.

I had poured us the last of the bottle of Pinot Grigio, but there was another bottle in the fridge if we needed it.

"What are we watching?" I asked.

"Friends With Benefits," she said. "Have you ever seen it?"

I admitted that I hadn't.

"I have. It's fun."

"And sexy, given your other selections," I said. "Well, and the name, of course."

"It is." She turned her head to smirk up at me.

After the movie started, Alysson lifted my hand off her shoulder, placing it under her arm. The camisole top had narrow straps and a back that left her shoulder blades exposed, leaving a gap in the side. So my fingers rested on bare skin, far enough forward that the soft surface beneath them might have been the very edge of her breast. I didn't want to think about that, and tried to convince myself that I wasn't feeling a softer area.

The movie was enjoyable, with some funny moments. Some of the sex was quite arousing, especially with my arm around Alysson, my fingers most definitely not sensing the softness at the edge of her breast.

"Has that ever happened to you?" she asked when Dylan was explaining how hard it is to pee with a hard-on.

"No comment," I said, which made Alysson laugh.

When the movie was over, Alysson finished her glass of wine, then squirmed out of the curve of my arm. She stood and held out a hand to me. "I need to stop by my room to get changed," I said, as I flicked the TV off with the remote, then let her take my hand. She released me at the door to my room, and continued on into hers.


My sleepwear generally consisted of underwear and tee shirt,but I added a pair of soft shorts. I didn't have anything that would hide my hairy legs that would be comfortable enough to sleep in, so this would have to do. I brushed my teeth, then knocked on Alysson's door. Since she was already in pajamas I figured she'd have finished getting ready before I had.

"Come in," said Alysson from inside.

Opening the door, I saw her lying on the left side of the bed. She had pulled the covers down on the right side, and I climbed in and tugged them back up.

"Are you okay on the right?" she asked. "We can switch if you prefer."

"This is fine," I said.

She rolled onto her left side and eased herself back against me. "You don't have to hold me if it's too awkward," she said. "Just feeling that you're there is all I'm looking for."

"I'll try," I said, rolling onto my left side. I rested my right hand on her hip.

Feeling her body so close had a predictable effect inside my underwear. I thought calming thoughts and avoided getting close enough for her to feel what was happening.

"Thank you, Nate," Alysson murmured.

I think she fell asleep quickly. Her breathing became deep and regular. Sleep didn't take me for at least a half hour. A few times I thought maybe I should turn onto my right side, but Alysson wanted me to hold her, and I was going to try.

I had a feeling that this wasn't part of Alysson's flirting campaign. Snuggling up to me on the couch in the silk PJs, sure. But her request for me to sleep beside her seemed less calculated. I'd offered her a space where she didn't have to hide. She'd been single for two years, and she was still young. More than that, she was expected to act well above her age. But she could be young with me. And if she trusted me enough to be her teddy bear for the night, why not? Even if it was part of her 'flirting protocol', it was still trust.

So I tried to fall asleep close to her, which was hard. I hadn't slept beside anyone in several months, and most times had involved sex, and no expectation of modesty. Being so close to Alysson and so attracted to her, and yet determined not to abuse her attraction to me, caused my thoughts to race, and my arousal never quite to subside. I thought I might have to turn away from her to sleep, but I lay there, my hand on her hip, hoping that sleep would overtake me.

Eventually, apparently, it did, because I slowly came awake squeezed tightly to Alysson's back, my hand on her belly, inside the silk shirt. My fingers rested above her navel, my palm below it. In my sleep, it seems, I'd given myself permission to explore her body. As I became slowly aware of that, I carefully withdrew, lessening the pressure of my body against hers, and moving my hand back to her hip.

Alysson seemed to make a disappointed sigh as I did so, and curled further in on herself.

It wasn't long before I slept again.


Day 6 - Awakening

When I awoke just after dawn, I recalled my careful disentanglement, which seemed to have become pointless. I was lying on my back and Alysson absolutely was using me as her oversized teddy bear. Her arms and legs were wrapped around me, her head on my shoulder.

The sheet was down by our hips. I pulled it back up to our shoulders, and succeeded in getting back to sleep.

Awaking at around eight, I found myself back to back with Alysson, which let me slide out of the bed without distracting her, returning five minutes later with coffee.

I took her cup around to her side of the bed, set it on her nightstand, then gently shook her awake, indicating the coffee. Alysson blinked, then smiled at me and sat up. Before she took the cup she pulled the sheet down on the right and patted the bed for me to return to it.

I did so, pulling the sheet back up to my lap as I sat, then took my own coffee. "How did you sleep?" I asked.

"Better than I have in a long time," Alysson said.

"Because you're not stressed about the reason for being quarantined?" I suggested.

She turned a smile on me. "That's part of it, I'm sure," she said. "Thanks."

"For the coffee?" I asked.

"That, and for sharing my bed," she said.

"It wasn't a chore," I said. "And now I will always be a guy who slept with Alysson Eden."

"And you'll never be able to tell anyone," Alysson said, primly.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Girlfriend, remember?" Allison retorted, with a grin. "That's not something you'll want her to know, even though it was perfectly innocent."

Perhaps not so innocent, I thought, recalling my hand under her shirt, though I didn't think it had travelled higher. Alysson's own snuggling seemed almost childlike in its innocence, but if she had had any vague awareness that she was wrapping herself around an adult man, rather than a teddy bear, maybe that wasn't entirely true.

"Shall we make breakfast?" I asked.

"Do we have any cereal?" Alysson asked. "I don't want to make the effort." When I started to object that I could take care of it, she added, "And I don't want you to make the effort. You deserve a break."

"We're okay for milk," I said. "Let me have a PA bring us cereal and fruit juice There's always fruit juice at the hotel. And muffins."

Alysson's eyes brightened. "Blueberry muffins?"

"Sure," I said. "Cereal, blueberry muffins and orange juice."

The cereal, when it arrived, was in individual disposable bowls, so I added milk, then set them on large plates for stability, placing a buttered blueberry muffin on each plate, and took them back to Alysson's room. Then I made another trip for the orange juice before settling to sit beside her.

When we were done with breakfast, Alysson took care of the trash, while I went to my room to catch up on the study time I'd missed the previous day.


After the usual sandwiches from series production for lunch, Alysson wanted to try head-to-head Plants vs. Zombies, so I cleared the trash while she set up the game.

Today's top was a dark blue U-neck blouse with a plethora of narrow straps and a low back. She wore short shorts with a gauzy skirt covering - or possibly a gauzy skirt with attached shorts. Bare feet, as had been usual for both of us.

I sat beside Alysson while she chose a character. Hers was a zombie, so I selected a plant. For a time I ran rings around her, since she was unfamiliar with the controls and abilities, but soon she was holding her own, and in a short time we were well-matched.

When we tired of the game, Alysson asked if she could watch me play more of The Witcher.

"Are you sure you wouldn't prefer to play something?" I asked her.

Alysson shook her head. "I won't be paying close attention, but I'll help you with the choices. If you want me to."

"Sure," I agreed.

Alysson left the living room, returning a moment later with her phone. She sat on the couch beside me, then turned sideways and lay down, her head on my left thigh. Only after she'd hooked her feet over the left arm of the sofa did she look up and ask, "You don't mind me sitting like this, do you?"

I shrugged. "Fine with me."

Alysson worked on her phone most of the time, but she turned her head to watch my game from time to time. It was disturbing to feel the motion while I was focused on combat. I kept almost hitting her in the face, too, automatically lowering the controller to my lap. I managed to catch myself every time, and didn't give her a bloody nose, though I saw her flinch once.

"How are you with spicy food?" I asked, without taking my eyes off the screen.

"Good," she said. "What do you have in mind?"

"Spicy chicken with pasta," I said. "I'll get started on it."


I left Alysson with her phone while I worked on dinner. After a time she set the phone aside and collected plates and silverware.

"You know there's a Witcher series?" I asked. "I've heard it's good. Henry Cavill."

"Oh?" Alysson looked up, with raised eyebrows. "I didn't."

"Maybe we should watch it," I suggested.

"Would you like to plan to watch it when we're out of quarantine?" Alysson asked.

"Do you think we'll be spending much time with each other?" I asked. "You'll be able to socialize with the crew and other actors."

Alysson frowned at me. "I hope I'll be able to socialize with my friends," she said.

"Well, then, yes," I said. "Let's do that."


Alysson asked for a bottle of chianti with the meal, while I went back to the craft beer. The chicken was spicy, and we had both finished our first drink when we were done. She pronounced the meal outstanding, and helped me clear up. She'd been checking her phone constantly throughout dinner, which was very unusual for her. We had both been doing well at avoiding internet distractions.

"Is there something going on?" I asked, gesturing to the phone.

"Yeah, there is," she said. "Trying to coordinate stuff. I talked to my agent for a couple of hours this morn..."

Her phone rang. Not a text or email this time. She gave me an apologetic smile and headed for her room. From the occasional single words and grunts I heard before she got to the bedroom it was obvious that whoever had called had a lot to say.

She didn't return for about forty-five minutes. When she did, she dropped onto the couch beside me, with a bemused look on her face.

"What's going on?" I asked.

Alysson turned to face me, her eyes bright, and shot me with a finger gun.

It took ten seconds or more for the action to register. "The assassin? You got the part?"

"Oh, no," she said, quickly. "Not that far along. Not yet. But they want me to read for it here. This is huge. I really didn't think I'd be in the running."

I handed Alysson's wine to her. She drank about half the glass. "Jen made some publicity videos available for my agent to show. Everything's still under wraps, so I didn't think she would, but it would help with publicity for the series if I get a starring role in a movie..."

"Starring?" I interrupted.

"Oh, yeah, didn't I say? The movie's about the assassin," Alysson said. "With Black Widow heading for release I'm sure the producers expect demand for more movies in the genre."

"The sexy female killer genre?" I asked snarkily.

"Exactly," Alysson replied. "So they've been looking at the videos Jen released, and my agent has footage of some wire work I did last year, and... I have a shot!"

"The nude scene?" I asked.

"That was one," Alysson agreed. "There'll be nudity in the movie."

"Of course," I said.

"So they're willing to wait for me to get out of quarantine, but then they want me to read," She laughed. "I can't believe it!" She leaned forward and hugged me.

I returned her hug. "That's awesome," I said.

She released me, then picked up her glass, drained it, then set it down. Giving me a sly smile, she said, "I have so much steam to let off, now."

I sighed theatrically. "I know what that means," I said. Then I drank more of my beer and held out my arms.

Alysson didn't accept my embrace immediately. First she stood, then sat down in my lap. Then she wrapped her arms around me, and I held her to me as our parted lips met.

Alysson's kiss was immediately enthusiastic, though lighthearted. Her passion was in her newly-woken hopes, rather than based in lust. With her arms around my neck she repeatedly kissed me, drawing back, her eyes shining and lips wide in a grin, sometimes laughing in pleasure.

"This is fun," she said as she repositioned herself for another set of kisses.

When we parted we were both panting softly, my feelings pleasantly animated. Alysson ducked her face and kissed my neck, her tongue tickling me. I laughed and did the same to her.

"That feels good," Alysson said, drawing back and kissing my lips again. I felt her breathing as our lips were joined, then she backed away again.

My hands were around her back, fingertips negotiating the bare skin between all of the various thin straps that patterned over it. When Alysson's lips next touched mine I squeezed her against me, conscious of the pressure of her body against my chest. I thought I felt her tongue against my lip, so I extended mine, finding hers lurking just behind her lips. She stroked my tongue briefly, then drew back. I chased her lips with mine for a moment. She allowed them to meet momentarily, then backed away again.

"Steam fully released yet?" I asked.

"Nuh-uh," Alysson said, shaking her head.

She moved her face to mine again. As she did, I caught her top lip with mine and played with it, letting my tongue roam. I felt her sigh against me, then she moved to meet my mouth with hers. Her face turned a little from side to side, her lips brushing against mine. Then she dipped her head so that her forehead rested against mine. Her eyes held mine, the pupils wide in the pale blue.

One of Alysson's hands moved from my neck to the back of my head, fingers winding into my hair. She lifted her face again, meeting my mouth with hers, I returned her kiss, feeling a little breathless.

I felt the moment when the sense of playfulness in our kiss yielded to something deeper. Alysson's fingers tightened in my hair, and her face pressed harder to mine. Her lips were less pliant and more demanding. She shifted in my lap, and I realized my cock had already grown, her movements brushing my shorts against it, making it expand further.

Perhaps Alysson's new need had grown from mine, or perhaps I was responding to hers. Whichever way around, my heart was racing, and she communicated her building desire not only with her lips, but with the movement of her fingers in my hair and with her chest pressed to mine, moving as her face moved against mine.

Our tongues met in the space formed by our lips, and Alysson's groan made my belly tingle. I stroked her back, firmly, holding her against me. Then I moved my hands forward on her body, gripping and caressing her side. All but one pair of the narrow straps were at her shoulders, leaving her sides bare from her arms all the way down to the bottom of her ribs, where a pair of straps supported the thin shirt fabric, which continued to her waist.

I stroked Alysson's side through the short below the strap, then lifted my fingers to the bare sides beneath her arms. Her tongue stroked mine as I caressed the smooth skin there.

The pressure on my chest eased, though Alysson's face remained pressed to mine, her fingers in my hair drawing occasional prickles of pain. It seemed that she was forming a small gap to give me access, and I took advantage of the offer, moving my right hand between us, over her left breast. For the first time since I'd been intrigued by the sight of her rounded breasts with wide nipples I was exploring the mound for myself.

There was a cup sewn into the shirt - probably what many of the straps were supporting - but I could feel the shape and the softness of the breast beneath and the pressure in the center where her nipple was hard. I squeezed the cup between fingers and thumb and Alysson groaned again.

I could sense that we were approaching a point of no return. Alysson would let me take her top off and explore her body. She wanted it, and so did I. All I needed to do was squeeze a little harder, kiss a little longer, slide her shirt up a few inches, or let my left hand drift up her thigh, and the sexual tension that had grown between us for the past week would resolve itself with her naked body against mine in bed. Or possibly right here.

Alysson wanted that. She'd made it clear in words, and was making it ever more clear with her lips and tongue. I wanted that. My cock was painfully hard in the confines of my shorts, pressed down by Alysson's body in my lap.

We both hungered for what was about to happen. Yet there was still something... something that whispered no within me. As Alysson groaned again, I moved my hand back to her side and drew back from the kiss.

Alysson's eyes showed disappointment, but her expression changed into a knowing grin, as if to say I almost had you, and I will next time. I heard it as a cartoon voice in my head, and laughed, which caused Alysson to smile and eased the tension between us.

"What's funny?" she asked.

"I think we've let off all of our steam," I said, "yet we seem steamier than ever."

"Mmm," Alysson agreed. "Very steamy." She slid off my lap, but caught my left hand in her right and held it as she sat. The casual affection the hand-holding implied made me want to take back ending our kiss and make love to her. Instead I squeezed her hand and forced myself to relax.

Alysson's breathing was still rapid as she returned the squeeze, then began to explore my captive hand with her free fingers. "So, that gives me an idea," she said.

"Uh-oh," I replied, with a chuckle. "Should I ask?"

"There's plenty of room in my tub for two," she said.

My breath caught at Alysson's words. I needed a minute to organize my thoughts before I responded.

Alysson filled the silence. "I have bubble bath liquid," she said. "I use it when I soak. The bubbles are thick enough to be a privacy screen."

"Ah," I said. "I see. So, umm."

"So I get into the bath" Alysson said. "When I'm submerged, I look away while you climb in. I promise I won't look," she added, her tone mildly acerbic.

'Well, okay," I said. I was still mostly hard from the latter stages of the kiss. Contemplating sharing a bath with Alysson wasn't doing me any favors in addressing that situation.

Alysson left to start the bath. When she returned, several minutes later, she poured herself another glass of chianti and instructed me to bring my beer. With reservations, I opened another can, taking it and the glass. "Give me five minutes," Alysson said, and went into her room, closing the door, while I went to mine to get ready.

I made a small stack of clean clothes: a black Nine Inch Nails tee, black boxer briefs and the soft grey shorts I'd worn to bed. Then I stripped, fastened a towel around my waist, and knocked on Alysson's room door. Not hearing an answer, I entered cautiously, then knocked on the door of her bathroom.


Day 6 - Bathtime

"It's safe to come in," Alysson said, and I entered. She was submerged in bubbles. The water reached to her shoulders, the bubbles to her neck. "I'm closing my eyes, okay? Let me know when I can open them."

"Okay." I chuckled, dropping the towel by the tub. I set my beer glass beside Alysson's wine, then lowered myself into the water.

Alysson wasn't sitting on the ledge. I could sit there okay, the suds up to my lower chest, but for her to stay submerged had required lowering herself into the deeper center. It didn't look comfortable. Fortunately, the center well was quite wide. "I'm in," I said. "You can open your eyes. Are you okay with me here too?"

"Mmhmm. I'm floating here. It feels good."

"I don't think I could fit, too, but I'm good here."

"Try it," she said.

I slid off the ledge and sank into the water, but it became a tight squeeze, so I sat up again.

"Just a minute," she said. She moved up beside me, pushed herself forward, then repositioned herself between my knees. "Try now," she suggested.

I lowered myself into the water and we could both relax, if a little snugly. I leaned back against the ledge, as Alysson had been doing when I climbed into the tub, and she leaned against me.

"There's a heater," she said. "We can stay here as long as we like."

"That's good," I said. "Would you like for me to scrub your back?"

"Not yet," she said. "I wanna relax."

"How 'bout this, then?" I said.

Bringing my hands forward, I gripped her shoulders, then dug my thumbs into the muscles beside her spine.

"Oh God, yes," she said. "I will take that."

I worked on her shoulders and neck. In the hot water I could feel her muscles losing tension as I prodded and kneaded. Alysson made sounds of contentment.

"Don't moan like that," I said. "You sound like you're having far too much fun."

Alysson chuckled. "I think you want to make me moan," she said. "I think you secretly want to make me moan in earnest."

"Nope," I said, immediately. "Nope, no, not at all." Then after a beat, I added, "There's nothing secret about it."

"Hah!" Alysson exclaimed. "I knew it."

She continued to make pleased sounds as I kept kneading. After a few minutes, she asked if the water was too hot for me.

"Nuh-uh," I replied. "It's perfect for a long soak."

I moved my thumbs down to her shoulder blades. It wasn't as easy to get to the tense muscles under and beside them, without lifting her out of the water, but I could manage it by widening the gap between my thighs and sinking a little lower.

"Oh, God," Alysson groaned. "I had no idea how much I needed this."

"Happy to be of service," I said.

Alysson started slightly. I don't think she'd realized how close my face was to her ear in this position. Then she let her arms float free and relaxed against me, her face turned up with eyes closed.

The bubbles had started to disperse as her body flexed with the massage.

"I think you might want to add more bubble bath," I said. "Or splash around some to make bubbles."

She opened her eyes and gave me a curious look. I glanced down at the water. The upper swell of her breasts emerged from the water and was visible through the thinning layer of bubbles.

When she followed where my eyes had moved, she said, "Ah, they're still mostly hidden. I'll try to avoid any sudden moves."

While she was still lying back, I stretched out the fascia above and below Alison's collar bone, down under her arm. Water rippled around her breasts, clearing more of the bubbles. She groaned again.

"Do you think you could lean forward, so I can get to your lower back?" I asked. "Maybe you can rest on the ledge, or on the side of the tub."

She opened an eye. "You're working too hard," she said. "Maybe later." She pushed herself back, her chest rising out of the water before she wrapped her arms around mine and sank back to the surface, so that we both floated, her shoulders resting on my upper arms. "Is this comfortable?"

"This is fine," I said. My thighs held her hips, her back resting lightly on my chest. Her breasts floated higher in the water than they had been, a hint of darkness at the front, where some bubbles were gradually moving back in.

My hands were so, so close to those floating treasures. All it would take would be a slight bend of the elbows, to squeeze her against me. Her face would turn to mine, as close as it was behind her. Her lips would find mine, and I'd be unable to resist the pull as our mouths joined in passion. We would both give in to the inevitable, as she turned to face me and, right here, we yielded to the need that had grown between us. So clear and urgent was the vision that my erection formed in seconds, even in the heat of the tub.

I drew in the muscles of my belly, trying to guide the intransigent member away from her body, hoping she didn't feel it lightly brush her back. Instead of turning my arms inwards, towards her breasts, I lowered them, taking her waist in my hands and holding on lightly, while I tried to think calm thoughts.

"There's a topic of conversation I want to revisit," I said.

Alysson's face turned slightly so that she could see me out of the corner of her eye, her back still resting on my chest. "What's that?" she asked.

"When I said it wasn't exactly right, when you said she must be worth waiting for."

"Yeah, I recall," Alysson said.

"I want to tell you the rest of the story," I continued, my lips just behind her ear.

"What about her?" Alysson asked. She'd turned away again to relax, floating, putting very little pressure against my chest.

"We'd been together for a few months before the pandemic started," I said. "We'd been talking about moving in together. More for convenience than commitment, I guess, but it was on the cards. When the lockdown orders started, I figured that had just made the decision for us. She'd move in and we'd survive the lockdown together. Instead, she decided that she needed to go look after her parents, and left me to survive lockdown solo."

"The cow," said Alysson, indignantly.

"That's... one way to look at it," I said. "I'm not trying to be cutesy when I say that. I have tried very hard not to think that. I've tried to see it that she's prioritizing the needs of her more vulnerable parents over her own. I've tried not to resent her for it. I could think, hey, you didn't even think about me. Fuck you, we're done. But I know what reasons she'd give, and I feel guilty for thinking badly of her."

"Yeah, I can see that," Alysson said, thoughtfully.

"And if she had moved in, what would I have done about the pod? It might not even have happened, but if it had, I'd have had to choose between not participating or leaving her alone in the apartment."

"She could have gone to her parents then," Alysson suggested.

"True, and that's another part of it," I said. "Even if she'd moved in, she could still have been available for her parents for emergencies. They only live an hour's drive away. So there's so much going on. Blame, sacrifice, inconvenience. If I treat her the way I sometimes feel she treated me, am I wrong? Did I give her a chance? I feel like we won't resolve it until the pandemic is over. When you said I'll be waiting for another four months, no. I probably won't see her in four months, unless the situation has changed."

"Do you love her?" Alison asked.

The question gave me pause. I might have said yes, at the start of the pandemic. Now...

At least half a minute passed, and I still didn't know what to say.

"I think you just answered my question," she said, eventually.

"I think I did," I agreed. Then, after another long pause, I said, "No, I don't think I do. I think..."

I paused again, then said, "I thought I did. We said the words often enough, but now I wonder if I ever meant them. Or if she did. When you said..." I spoke carefully, because it was an uncomfortable topic. "When you said that the guy that you loved, Lew, how kissing made you feel... I could relate to what you said, but the kiss that came to mind, was with my ex, Fiona. It's telling that when I think of having feelings for someone, it's Fi, not Mary."

"So you don't love Mary," Alysson said, "but somehow she's guilt-tripped you into feeling that you should."

"You know something?" I said.

"What's that?"

"I like the fact that you can be as brutally honest about my feelings as you can about your own," I said. "You didn't gloss over your feelings about Lew, and you're not going to gloss over what's going on with Mary."

"I took a lot of time and some counselling to recover from my time with Lew," Alysson said. "Maybe you didn't take the time you needed after Fi."

I shrugged. She wasn't watching, but she could probably feel it, because it made the water ripple around her body. "Maybe I didn't," I said. "It was pre-pandemic, so I can't hold that to blame, but maybe without the pandemic I'd have seen what was going on more readily."

Alysson leaned forward to pick up her wine. This lifted her much further out of the water. From behind, I could see the swell of her left breast, glistening with water, a few bubbles clinging. She turned slightly to hand me my beer, revealing a little more. Again, I wanted to reach forward and find the touch that the sewn-in bra cup had masked from my questing fingers on the couch, but I transferred the beer to my right hand and sipped as she settled against me.

The beer was cooling in the warmth of the tub and I sipped more as I relaxed.

"Will you sleep with me again, tonight, Nate?" Alysson asked.

"God, that phrasing," I said. My cock was already stretching out, occasionally brushing against her, and I hoped again she didn't notice. "Yes," I said.

"When you're done with your drink, would you help me wash my hair?" she asked. "The bubble bath is a handmade organic mix that's gentle on hair. I usually dunk my head then rinse off as I let the water out, but if you can rinse it for me I think that would work better."

"Sure, I'll try," I said. I drank more of my beer. I didn't have much of a buzz, but the hot water might be masking the effect, and I could be drinking more than I realized, so I set it aside before I was done. "Ready when you are."

Alysson did finish her glass before setting it down. She lifted out of the water, holding her left arm before her chest, and grabbed a small stack of washcloths and a plastic cup she'd set down close.

Submerging herself, she passed me the cup and held a washcloth over her eyes. "Pour the bathwater over my head," she said, then lifted her chin, the top of her head against my chest, so that I could pour over her hair without getting the water in her face.

Taking the cup, I poured it out several times, soaking her hair. Then I pushed her forwards and worked my fingers against her scalp. The suds did feel like gentle shampoo.

"Sink lower in the water," I muttered, "or I'll get too distracted from my work."

Alysson chuckled, but did lower herself further into the central well.

I sloshed another couple of plastic cups of water over her head. Then she turned the faucet on and adjusted the temperature. "Give me the cup," she instructed, then filled it with clean water and passed it back to me.

I ran clean water through her hair, rubbing her scalp to get out the suds. "Do you always keep your hair short?" I asked.

She shook her head. "It was easier for this job. I'm already growing it out."

"I'd like to see what it looks like longer," I said, pouring another cup of clean water through it. "One more, I think, you're clear of bubbles."

"Okay," she said, taking the cup from me. "I could show you photos."

"Why didn't I think of that?" I asked. "I might even be able to find a few of me with a Thor beard, if you're interested."

"Hell, yes," she said.

I rinsed her hair out again, swishing it around in the water to be sure it was clear. Then Alysson ran the washcloth back over her hair to keep the water from her eyes.

"Can I do you now?" she asked.

"Phrasing again." I sighed. "Sure. What should I do."

"Just keep your eyes closed and hold this washcloth," Alysson said.

I held the folded washcloth over my forehead to keep water from my eyes. I heard and felt Alysson turn in the water, then lifting higher to pour bubbles over my head. I opened my eyes for a second, finding her breasts completely exposed as she rose out of the water. Then a trickle of bathwater ran into my right eye.

"Agh!" I said, moving the washcloth down to blot my eye. "Soap!"

"I told you to keep your eyes closed," Alysson said. "Were you peeking?"

"No!" I said. "Well, not deliberately. But yes, I got an eyeful in both senses."

"Serves you right," Alysson said, her tone humorous. She ran more water over my head, rubbing it in well, then switched to rinsing.

Though my eyes were closed, the shadows in the room as well as the splashing sounds told me that her naked body was inches from my face. I breathed hard and tried to keep my erection as far below the surface as possible.

After rinsing my hair out a couple more times, Alysson lifted herself out of the water. She pressed another dry washcloth into my hand. "Keep your eyes closed for a minute longer," she said.

The level of the bath had fallen when she climbed out, and I hoped that it hadn't dropped far enough to thwart my efforts at staying concealed. When Alysson said, "You can open your eyes now," the first thing I did was to glance down into the bath, to find that bubbles were still protecting my privacy.

She was wrapped in a towel, carrying a second one. "I'll dry off in the bedroom," she said, "so you can get out when I'm gone. You can dress in here. Be sure to knock when you come through."

"I will," I agreed, stepping out of the bath when the door closed.


Day 6 - Touching

I towelled off well, drying my hair and combing my beard, then dressed and knocked on the door.

When I entered Alysson's bedroom I found her in her baby blue PJs, combing out her hair while pointing a dryer at it.

She looked me over, then asked if I had a comb. I brought it from the bathroom. Alysson sat me at the dressed and combed out my hair while she blew hot air onto it until it was almost completely dry. Then she told me to get into bed while she finished off her own.

I climbed in the right side of the bed again, and when Alysson set the dryer aside, she took the left side. She kissed me chastely on the mouth, then turned over and snuggled her back against me.

"Was the peek worth the pain?" she asked me.

"It wasn't deliberate," I said. "Just, uh, automatic, I guess. But yes."

She chuckled. "I like the way you look at me, Nate," she said.

"How do I look at you?" I asked.

"Like..." She paused, then continued, "Like someone who likes looking at me."

I ran my finger over her hip. "I guess that's because I do."

"Not just like a man who likes looking at women," she said. "I get that all the time. Hungry or interested or creepy. You like looking at me."

"Yeah," I said. "Though it isn't just that it's you. I'm guilty of amorous thoughts triggered by finding you very attractive in a man-who-likes-looking-at-women way."

She chuckled, making the mattress quicker. "Good," she said. "I'm glad my efforts aren't wasted."

"Especially in these pajamas," I said.

"Why do you like them so much?" Alysson's voice was relaxed, but her tone was curious.

"They bring out the color of your eyes," I said, promptly.

"Really?" she asked, her tone ironic. "That's your answer?"

"Partly," I said. "Your eyes are aquamarine. The PJs don't match, but against them your eyes look brighter." I cleared my throat. "Of course your eyes aren't what immediately catches my attention when you're wearing them. It's more that I look at your face to avoid looking anywhere else, and that's why I notice your eyes."

"Then what about them brings out your amorous thoughts?" she asked.

"Your long legs," I said, running my finger down from her hip. "The shorts are so short," I continued, as I crossed the boundary from the silk to her smooth, bare thigh, "that your legs are on full display, especially if you're not wearing shoes and socks. You have very sexy legs. Lean and powerful, like a runner, or someone who works out." She shivered as I traced a fingernail over the back of her thigh. Then I drew my finger back up to her hips, over her ass. "They show your shape. A tight butt to go with the tight sinews."

I ran my fingers up her side, then over her belly. "The top isn't quite as tight as the shorts, but I can still see how well-defined your body is when you move." I circled my finger around her navel. "Your skin is as smooth as the material, and the way the PJs shine seems like the way your face glows with expression, so the glow continues, from your eyes to the shorts."

"That's... not a thought I've ever had," Alysson said. "So what is it you're trying to avoid looking at when you feel the need to look only at my face?"

"The way the top hugs your chest, of course," I said, awkwardly.

"Show me." Her voice was soft, but there was a hint of command. I didn't understand immediately, so she added, "You showed me what you liked about the shorts and the silk. Show me the rest, with your words and fingers."

"Uh, okay," I said. "So, uh, from the side, or from where I am," I continued, sliding my hand up her side, "there's a gap right here." I ran my finger gently over the edge of her right breast. "It isn't very big, but when you breathe, or when you move, it trembles. And from the front..." I rested my fingers on the outside of the fabric, then drew them towards the center, feeling her nipple beneath them. "The silk shapes itself to your breast. It moves as you move, and I see the shadows here..." I circled her nipple, "that shows the shape or what's within, too. Is this okay?" I asked, still circling her nipple with my finger.

"Yes," Alysson breathed.

I felt for the sides of her nipple with my finger and thumb. Lying against her back I squeezed gently. Alysson's breathing quickened, and I felt her nipple become more defined under my touch. I squeezed more firmly, then cupped her breast in my palm and squeezed.

Alysson made a soft sound in her throat.

"Is this..." I began.

"I told you, Nate," she interrupted, her tone tight, but carrying no rebuke. "I haven't been touched in years. Please don't stop."

I touched my lips to her neck. "Okay," I said, squeezing more tightly.

Twice that day I'd come close to yielding to the need between us. Now I was touching her breast. She wanted me to touch her. She wanted to do more. I knew it. This, though, I could give her without having to resolve any conflicted feelings within me. So I fondled her gently, feeling the delicate quivers of her body that told me that she was responding to my touch.

I pinched her nipple again. Harder, this time. It was firm beneath my fingers, and when I pinched it she gasped, then made a soft groan.

Curling my arm further around her, I cupped her left breast. As I squeezed, I kissed the bace of her neck. Alysson shivered at the touch of my lips. Her breathing rasped slightly.

Her left nipple was already becoming erect when I touched it, and the skin of her supple breast felt taut. Her breast yielded to my touch, resilient and firm, but beautifully soft on the surface. She made another soft sigh as I pinched her nipple, and her back shifted, her hips pressing her into the curve of my body.

Touching my lips to her earlobe, I released her breasts, drawing my hand down her body, over her belly, then over the front of her shorts. Her thighs tensed at my touch. I felt the pressure of her back against my belly lessen slightly, then increase as she pushed herself yet closer.

With the first two fingers of my right hand I searched for the mound above her sex. The area felt smoothly shaven inside her shorts, just a gently raised area. I pressed my fingers to it and began to circle. For several minutes my touch seemed to have no effect, though Alysson's breathing was still heavy. Then suddenly I heard a sound that seemed to originate deep in her throat; a strangled cry, rather than the soft sounds earlier. As she made it, her thighs tensed, her buttocks a sudden pressure in my groin.

The sudden twist of her body ended immediately, but her lips parted, and she panted softly. After a time, I felt a rhythmic motion of her hips pressing against me, my own arousal swelling my cock in my pants, sensitive to the gentle grinding of her body against mine.

I didn't vary the motion of my fingers as Alysson began to moan. Her hips were bucking gently now.

Alysson's moans became taut cries. Her thighs would tense with each cry, and she seemed to hold her breath for a moment, then she'd exhale sharply and pant, until the next time her thighs would tense and she'd cry out again. Each cry seemed to take her closer to her goal.

Without warning, she grasped my hand and lifted it from her pants. Her breath shuddered, and she seemed to spend an effort regaining control. Then she raised my hand to her lips, kissed my fingers, then placed my palm on her breast, cupping her own fingers over my hand before releasing it.

"Goodnight, Nate," she said, then pulled the sheet back into place.

I didn't think she had come, and I didn't know why she had stopped me. I wasn't even sure that she was enjoying the feeling, toward the end. It was hard to tell if the cries were of passion, or pain, or even of tearful frustration.

Placing my hand on her breast implied that she wasn't disappointed with me, or with the way I had been touching her, but I couldn't even be certain of that.

Alysson seemed to be relaxing into sleep. I snuggled close to her, still cupping her breast, and did the same.