By Anne Laughlin
Disclaimers: This is a stand alone story that also serves as the basis for a planned series of stories that follow the relationship of the two featured characters. It contains scenes of a fairly explicit sexual nature between two adult women.
Thanks to Linda for always being there for me, and to all the wonderful writers who have inspired me.
Please send your feedback to email@example.com.
Allison Mitchell looked up from her computer and noticed a tall woman peering at the real estate flyers taped to the front window of the office. She didn't look like one of the locals who shopped in the neighborhood, remarking loudly as they passed by about the ungodly prices being asked for the new listings posted at Mitchell Real Estate. The woman stood on the sidewalk alone, leaning slightly toward the bay window crowded with flyers. She was dressed simply in a crisp button down shirt, jeans, low-heeled boots and a long open coat to ward off the mid-October chill. She was beautiful.
As the woman continued to scrutinize the flyers, Allison saved the search she'd been running for her new clients. She headed out her office door and walked toward the woman on the sidewalk, despite the fact that she never approached potential clients this way. The last thing Allison wanted was to come across as a pushy salesperson, but the woman standing there peering at the flyers looked so alone. And so beautiful. Dashing, really, with her gray flecked hair short all around, but kind of floppy on top, the collar of her coat snapped up, her hands shoved deep into the pockets. Even the reading glasses perched on her nose looked just right.
"How about a nice chair and a cup of coffee while you look through our listings?" Allison asked as she stepped over to the woman.
The woman turned her head and looked at Allison with a hesitant smile. "No obligation, of course?"
"God, no," Allison laughed. "If I can help you with a real estate purchase, that's great. If not, that's great too. I hate thinking of this as sales."
"Until the checks are cashed, I suppose." The woman was still smiling, though her eyes were appraising Allison.
"Well, the money's good, no question, " Allison said, "But as soon as I start thinking about the money I start having less fun. Now, I'm going to go in and put a fresh pot on. Join me if you'd like."
"Thanks, I will. I'm Peg Ryan, by the way." Peg extended her hand. "A cup of coffee sounds great."
"I'm Allison Mitchell, Peg. Come on in."
Mitchell Real Estate was housed in the ground floor storefront of a late 19th century three-story brick building. The whole neighborhood was distinguished by its beautiful vintage buildings, with pricey boutiques, restaurants and coffee shops filling the storefronts along Halsted and Armitage. Allison Mitchell operated a thriving brokerage within one of Chicago's most exclusive neighborhoods, with no one more surprised by the incongruity of that than Allison herself. At heart a tee shirt and jeans kind of gal, Allison loathed the kind of hobnobbing practiced by her rivals in the high-end real estate market. She just couldn't compete in that way. But the word of mouth had spread on what she did do exceptionally well - patiently guide buyers and sellers toward their goal, anticipate their needs, solve their problems, and conduct herself with obvious integrity.
Allison led Peg over to a sitting area in front of the bay window. Late afternoon sun streamed through the window and Peg immediately took the chair bathed in the sunlight.
"Hmm. That looks comfy," Allison said, looking at Peg as she shrugged out of her coat. "I think I'd fall asleep within two minutes if I were sitting there."
"I think I might, too," Pat replied.
"Well then, I'll get that pot of coffee started. It's Starbucks Sumatra, so that should give you a jolt. The binder on the coffee table there has our current inventory, and you're welcome to leaf through it. Keep in mind though that it has only our listings in there. I'll need to run a search on the computer to pick up everything that may be suitable for you. And, of course, I need to find out more from you to know what that might be."
"No, this will be fine for now. I don't want to waste your time." Peg leaned over to pick up the binder and then looked back up at Allison. "Thanks, though."
Allison kept her eyes on Peg's. "Please don't worry about that. This is what I do and I never think it's a waste of my time. I'll go put the coffee on and then you can tell me a little more about your situation."
Peg frowned and said, "No, I don't think so. I'm just comfortable with this much right now. You don't have to make coffee for me or anything."
"Okay," Allison smiled again at Peg. "Got it. But I'm still going to have coffee, and you're still welcome to have some, and otherwise you can just let me know if you need anything else."
"Alright. I appreciate that." Peg settled back in the chair and opened the binder, sliding the reading glasses onto her nose from their perch on top of her head. She watched as Allison headed toward the rear of the large front room of the office and she wondered what she was doing sitting there. She was months away from any decision on whether to buy property in the town she'd just moved to, and she generally hated to have anything to do with anyone who might be trying to sell her something. But something about Allison put those concerns aside. Peg actually felt like Allison had been more interested in having coffee with her than in selling her a house, though she doubted that could be true. Just for this moment, though, Peg was willing to believe that the warmth in the woman's eyes was there for her, because of her.
Allison returned with a tray and put it down on the desk she'd been working at.
"Come fix yourself a cup. I have real half and half for once, and the requisite three kinds of sweetener."
Peg came over and poured cream into the cup Allison handed her. "Thanks. It looks great. I keep trying to switch to black coffee, but I can't last. I like it too much this way."
"Why?" asked Allison.
"Why do I like it so much?"
"No, why would you want to switch to black when you like it so much with cream?" Allison asked. "Don't tell me it's because of fat or calories. You're a twig."
Peg lifted an eyebrow. "Thanks."
"Well, I mean twig in a good way. But I can see that this can only lead to trouble, so I will divert. How's the coffee?"
"The coffee's great," Peg smiled again. "I'll just curl up in my chair and look through your book there. Wake me gently if I doze."
"Oh, you won't have much of a chance to doze, I shouldn't think. I have four other agents working here and they should be drifting in from their afternoon appointments any time now. But, please, let me know if there's anything I can do."
Peg returned to her chair, and for the next half hour she looked intently through the listing book while Allison worked at her computer and spoke on the phone. Agents and clients drifted in and out of the small office, interrupting Allison frequently with questions. When Allison looked over at Peg after the last of the agents left for the day, she saw she was in fact dozing. Allison went to her and gently touched her shoulder.
Peg started and looked up at Allison with alarm in her face. "Where am I?"
"Where are you? Well, the good news is you're not in a jail cell after a night of debauchery."
"What's the bad news?" Peg asked.
"I'm not sure there is any bad news."
Peg rubbed her hands over her face and looked up at Allison with a small smile. "I'm sorry, I really have to go. Obviously I've stayed longer than I intended. Thanks for the coffee." She got up and shrugged back into her coat, with Allison reaching over to hold it for her.
"I wonder if that was the Sumatra decaf?" Allison said. "Normally, that stuff would keep the dead awake."
"Yeah, well, my sleep has been a little off lately. Must be the move, new town, all that."
"So you're new to town?" Allison asked as she held the door for Peg.
Peg looked her in the eye with the same guarded look. "Yes, I am. Well, thanks, again." Peg started through the door before pausing and turning to ask, "Aren't you going to ask me for my number?"
"Oh, no. You know how to get hold of me if you want to." Allison grinned at Peg, "I'm trying hard here not to spook you."
"You don't spook me, believe me. But I appreciate you taking the low-key approach. I really don't know if I'm in the market for any property or not."
"Well, let me know what you decide and maybe I can help you out. My clients will tell you I'm low key in the extreme."
"I'll do that. Thank you, Allison."
Allison watched as Peg headed up Halsted to Armitage, turning toward east toward the park and lake. She wondered if she'd see her again, wondered what had brought her to town, wondered what made her seem so guarded one moment and so trusting the next. So unwilling to tell Allison anything about herself, but so able to fall asleep in her chair as they sat in the quiet room together.
Allison drove home from Thanksgiving dinner at her mother's and reflected on her upcoming schedule. The period between Thanksgiving and New Year's was traditionally the slowest in the real estate year, and Allison always looked forward to having more free time. She'd take a trip somewhere, though she hadn't thought much about where. She'd do some work around her house, throw stuff away, get to the gym more, shop for the holidays when the stores weren't crowded. It was the only time of year she operated at a fairly relaxed pace, and she'd learned to relish it.
As she thought about what she had to do the next day, she realized that if she stopped by the office to pick up a file she wouldn't have to come into the office at all until the following Monday. She pulled off Lake Shore Drive and headed through the park toward the office, smiling as she spied a legal parking space right in front of the door. Holiday parking. Allison executed a perfect parallel parking maneuver into the tight spot, her skills honed from years of selling real estate in a big city. As she was getting out of the car she noticed a familiar figure walking toward her on Halsted. Though it had been a month since she'd seen Peg Ryan, Allison immediately recognized the tall figure with her long coat, open despite the cold air. Peg stopped when she recognized Allison and they greeted each other with a smile.
"Good lord. Do you work on Thanksgiving too? I thought lawyers had it bad," Peg said, looking from Allison to her office and back.
"Lawyers do have it bad. I used to be one. But no, I'm not working. Just stopping by to pick up a file on my way home. What are you doing out on Thanksgiving night?"
"Just walking. I live close by."
"Well, it's cold out here. Come in with me while I pick up my file and then I'll try to talk you into having a drink with me."
Peg followed Allison into the office and stood in the foyer while Allison got some lights and disabled the alarm. Allison found the file she was looking for on top of her desk and turned to Peg. She felt her breath catch just a bit when she saw her there, looking at Allison with intense gray eyes, her hair flopping over her forehead, her hands jammed into the pockets of her coat, her lips in a crooked smile.
"I'm wondering what I'm doing here," Peg said, not taking her eyes from Allison's.
"Perhaps the offer of a drink sounded good?"
"No, that's not it. I don't drink, actually."
"Well, perhaps you're hoping I'll make another pot of that potent coffee you had when I last saw you."
"The decaf," Peg smiled.
"Yes. The coffee that relaxed you so much."
"No. I don't much feel like relaxing. Let me ask you this. Would you finish my walk with me and then stop in at my place for tea or coffee or cocoa or whatever? It's just the next block over."
Somehow, without Allison even noticing herself or Peg moving, she found that they were now standing even closer together. Peg was not within her space bubble. But she could have put her arms around the bubble, and burst it quite easily. She looked up into Peg's eyes and smiled bravely. "Lead on, McDuff. I'll just lock up here and put my file in the car."
For the next twenty minutes the two women walked the residential streets, gazing in the windows of spectacular homes, many ablaze with lights in the front rooms as families entertained for the holiday.
Peg said, "Just before I ran into you this evening I was walking around here, looking in these windows, and feeling a huge melancholy as I saw all these people milling about in their living rooms. That sounds a little maudlin, I know."
"You've just moved here, haven't you? I think I'd feel sad, too, just being in a new city, away from family, not knowing many people. The fact is, though, that I can feel a little sad when I look into the lit up homes along these streets. Not because the homes are beautiful or the people rich. I would have the same feeling in any other neighborhood. What happens is that I start imagining that the families inside are incredibly happy, that their time together is relaxing and carefree, that everyone is loving and kind, but also witty and entertaining, and that their lives are everything mine will never be. Why I would think this, I don't know. I am realistic enough to know that no family is really like that and that I am happy with my very fine life. But there you have it."
"Hmmm?" Allison mimicked.
"Well," Peg said, "that sums up the feeling pretty well. Comparing peoples' outsides with my insides is how I've also heard it expressed. But I was going to say that while you and I have been walking together looking in these houses, I've felt more charmed by the sight than depressed by it."
"Really?" Allison asked, stopping and turning to Peg. "What do you think that means?"
Peg remained quiet and continued to look at Allison. Then she looked down at the ground and back up again, her hands still jammed into her coat pockets. "I don't know if it means anything" she finally said.
Allison smiled at Peg's discomfort. "Well, I know that at the very least it means I'm the perfect real estate agent for you."
"So, that's it then?" Peg tilted her head and gave her lopsided smile again.
"Oh, I wouldn't minimize it. A relationship with a good agent can be quite complicated and involved. Now, come on. You promised me some cocoa."
Allison had made herself comfortable on the couch in the living room of Peg's rented house. She heard sounds from the kitchen of Peg putting cups and plates on a tray and she nervously patted herself down in various places - hair, clothes, face. She hadn't felt nervous around a woman in a long time. It was two years since she and Lorraine broke up, and ten years before that when they first got together, so it had been at least a dozen years since she'd felt the flutter. And there was no mistaking that it was the flutter she was feeling now, wondering what was about to happen with this enigmatic woman she'd just barely met. Peg seemed like she may be interested as well. Was she feeling the flutter? She seemed so cool, so unflappable, except for the adorable moment of shuffling her feet and seeming at a loss.
The thoughts continued to whirl about Allison's brain as Peg walked into the room, and Allison felt almost unable to focus as she looked up at her. Peg gave her a quizzical look as she put the tray down and sat next to her on the couch.
"You okay, there?" Peg asked.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm fine. Just a little tired, I suppose. I love my mom, but spending a few hours with her can be completely enervating."
"Yes, I can relate. I call my visits home going to Trigger City. It takes an enormous amount of energy to just resist the urge to jump in a whiskey bottle whenever I'm with my mom."
Allison looked at Peg. "Ah. So how long have you been sober?"
"Not very subtle, was it. The way I just came out to you as a recovering alcoholic."
"The disease is subtle enough. No need for you to be as well."
Peg leaned over to pour some hot chocolate into a cup and hand it to Allison. "Sounds like you know something about it. Are you in recovery also?"
"No, I'm not. But I have family members who have been in twelve step programs, and I've spent some time in Al-anon and ACOA meetings. I respect all of it. How long have you been sober?"
"It's been awhile. I'll have my fifteenth anniversary in a couple of weeks. But you know what they say. It's a daily reprieve. I've been trying to feel at home at the meetings here, but I miss my group and my friends back in New York."
Allison sipped her chocolate, glancing at Peg over the cup. "Do you miss anything else still in New York?"
"Such as what? Central Park? 5th Avenue?"
"Very funny. How about a boyfriend?"
"A boyfriend? You're kidding, right?"
"Well, no. I mean, I don't know anything about you, other than that you're new in town. Why wouldn't you have a boyfriend?"
Peg laughed and leaned back on the couch, draping her arm along the back. "First of all, do women who are 49 still have boyfriends? Secondly, if there were such a person, she might be equally inappropriately referred to as my girlfriend. But to answer the question you were really asking, no I'm not involved with anyone still in New York."
Allison felt herself blush, embarrassed by her awkwardness and also excited with relief. She felt desperate to let Peg know that she was a lesbian too.
"Me too," she blurted.
Peg laughed again, gently, and touched Allison on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, Allison. I don't mean to sound like I'm laughing at you. You're just so cute right now, kind of gawky and embarrassed and not like what is probably your usual self-assured self."
"Oh, god. Maybe I should just go now." Allison forced herself to look again into Peg's eyes. "But I hope we can see each other again."
Peg put her hand back on Allison's shoulder and smiled. "Listen, I'm flying out early tomorrow morning and won't be back until late next week. Can we see each other then? I think I might be ready to look at a few houses in the neighborhood. I'll call you during the week and we can go over the details."
Allison pulled out her brave smile again and put her cup down. "That would be great," she said, somehow feeling dismissed. "I'll be glad to set things up."
They walked to the door together and Peg helped Allison on with her coat. "Thanks for joining me for my walk. I was glad to get to know you a little better. I'll call you by Tuesday or Wednesday."
Allison looked up at her, a jumble of confusing thoughts upon her. Had she completely misread the situation? Did Peg not feel any attraction? Was she really only going to be her real estate agent?
"Goodnight, Peg. I'll talk to you soon. Thanks for the cocoa."
Peg watched as Allison walked briskly down the street, closing the door only when she was completely out of sight. The light in the front room went dark.
On the Monday following Thanksgiving, Allison sat at her desk and studied the results of a search she'd done for Peg. She hadn't talked to Peg since they'd shared a little cocoa and cryptic conversation at Peg's house, and she still had no idea what Peg was looking for in a house. Allison hadn't had the opportunity to cover any of the ground she normally would with a new client, and the fact of the matter was that she really didn't want to think of Peg as a client. But if the real estate connection was the link she could use to get to know more about Peg, Allison was happy to exploit it. In the four days since seeing her, the idea of Peg had grown exponentially. She was gorgeous, mysterious, lesbian, age appropriate, funny. She was a recovering alcoholic, which probably wasn't something you'd put at the top of a resume, but Allison knew enough to know that a person fifteen years sober who was still working a recovery program was in all likelihood going to stay sober. And she admired her for that. By Sunday Allison realized she had a full-blown crush on Peg. When she returned to the office Monday morning she did what she always did when she wanted something. She rolled up her sleeves and got to work.
She had little to work with, however. All she knew about Peg was that she rented a house in an expensive part of town, that she hadn't lived there long, that she said she's interested in buying property and the listings she seemed to be looking at were high-end single family homes. A lot of people look at those listings without really being able to afford them. Allison didn't want to present her with a package of houses to look at that were over Peg's price range. That's just awkward for everyone. She realized she really had to wait for Peg to call to find out more. Peg said she'd call on Tuesday or Wednesday, which was starting to feel like a year away to Allison. How was this happening so quickly? She had a vague memory of crushes in her past life and remembered not only their excitement, but also the unbelievable way they had of ruining any sense of contentment she had felt immediately prior to the crush. Agitation ruled the day, and the luxury of a full day spent on her own, enjoying hobbies, food, friends, life, was demolished by the growing conviction that the object of your desire was critical to your future happiness. Allison was starting to feel like she was 14 years old, and she was appalled and delighted at the same time.
By noon Allison had reviewed and put together packages of listings for different types of property in different price ranges located in the neighborhood around her office. When Peg called she'd be prepared to discuss whichever set was appropriate based on the information Peg gave her. Allison thought it might be time to cut out of the office and leave the slow post-holiday activity in the capable hands of her staff. As she moved to turn off her computer her eye was caught by the search engine icon at the top of her screen. Before she could dwell too long on how childish it made her feel, she typed Peg's name into the text box and hit enter. Peg Ryan was a fairly common name, so the number of search results was daunting. Allison tried to narrow the field a bit by entering the word "attorney" and changing the first name to Margaret. She scrolled through the first few entries until she came across "Margaret R. Ryan, Attorney-at-Law, Ungrath Harrington & Pierce, New York." Allison clicked on the law firm's web site and was taken directly to Peg's biography.
Margaret R. Ryan, Columbia University, B.A., 1977, Yale Law School, J.D., 1980. Clerkship, U.S. Supreme Court, 1980-1982; U.S. Attorney's Office, New York City Division, 1982-86; Ungrath, Harrington & Pierce, 1990-present, partner since 1995. Specialization in trial and appeals practice, criminal defense.
Huh, thought Allison. She wondered what Peg had been doing during the four years between the U.S. Attorney's office and going to work for one of the largest, most prestigious firms in New York. Allison herself had been a litigator at a large Chicago firm, but had changed careers ten years earlier when she realized she absolutely hated her life. Or lack of life. All she did was work, and the work involved lawsuits that never seemed to end. It was grueling, stressful, and completely unsatisfying to her. But it did leave her with a pretty good understanding of how the law world operated. Peg would have to be doing something pretty interesting to allow her to have such a large hole in her resume and still be hired by Ungrath. Allison shut down her computer as she realized she'd have to be fairly clever to find out from Peg what she had been doing then without giving up the fact that she'd Googled her. Allison knew she wouldn't be able to admit that. It was too embarrassing.
On Tuesday Allison was just pulling into the Whole Foods parking lot when her secretary caught her on her cell phone.
"Hey, how ya doing? You going to bother to come in today?" Sophie asked.
"Is that why you're calling?" Allison replied, enjoying the back and forth she and Sophie always engaged in.
"It's not the only reason, but it's the only one I care about. I want to know if I'm going to be able to slip out of here early."
"Well, like two or so. I've got some things I need to do."
"I've got some things I need to do too, like run a business."
"Does that mean no?"
"Yes, that means no. You can leave a four, not two. What else were you calling about?"
"God, you're such a bear. Have you eaten yet?"
"Yes, Sophie, I've eaten. What else is going on, other than the fact that you just completely got what you wanted by getting off work an hour early."
"Pretty good, huh? You're not getting any better at this."
"I know. I suck. Alright, so give. What else you got?"
'"Okay. Some chick called and wants to talk to you and wanted me to ask you if I could give her your cell number. Dude, you haven't had a babe call you for, well, like ever. Let me give her your number."
"Jesus. Who is it? I mean isn't it a client?"
"She didn't say she was a client. Just said her name is Peg and she wanted to be sure to talk with you in the next couple hours. I didn't know when you'd be back or when you'd be checking your voicemail, since you're just lollygagging around these days."
"Shut up, Sophie. Just give me her number and I'll call her. The last thing I need is you talking to her anymore."
"Hmm. She must be pretty special if you don't want me talking to her."
"She's just a new client. I don't want you spooking her is all. Give me her number."
"Simmer down, boss. It's right here."
Allison took the number down and got off the phone with Sophie. She was still parked in the grocery lot with her car running, and she adjusted her seat and the heater before dialing Peg's number.
"Peg Ryan," came the firm voice.
"Peg, it's Allison Mitchell. I just got a call saying you were trying to get hold of me."
"Yeah. Thanks for getting back to me," Peg said. There was a slight pause. "How are you?"
"Fine. I'm good. It's good to hear from you. You doing okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Been pretty busy here getting ready for something, but we've just learned of a postponement. That's why I'm calling. With this break in our schedule I can get on a plane this evening and spend a couple days in Chicago before heading back," Peg said, pausing again.
"Okay," Allison said.
"So, I wanted to see what your schedule was like. If you are available, and it isn't too much trouble, I was hoping we could go out to see some property tomorrow."
Allison concentrated on sounding more controlled than she was feeling. "No, it's no trouble at all. I should be able to set up appointments by then. You know, however, that this means you're going to have to tell me a little about what you're looking for. I can't just pick houses out of thin air to show you."
"Yeah, I had a feeling you'd get it out of me sooner or later. I just can't give it up too easily."
"Oh, I don't think anyone would ever accuse you of being easy," Allison said, surprised that they had moved so easily into teasing each other. Teasing, flirting. It had been so long since Allison had flirted with anyone she couldn't remember what it sounded like, felt like. She wasn't familiar with what she was feeling now.
Peg laughed, "Easy, perhaps not. But not too hard either, I hope. I should be able to break free by the end of the day tomorrow, so I was hoping we could have coffee together, maybe an early bite to eat, and then see a few properties. Does that sound okay with you?"
Allison agreed and they spent a few minutes talking about what sort of house and what price range Peg wanted to look in. They agreed to meet the next day at 5:00 at a café down the street from Allison's office.
After hanging up her cell phone, Peg leaned back in the conference room chair and gazed out the window at the view of suburban Virginia. She glanced at her watch and saw that she had five minutes before the last meeting of the day would start. After that she'd head to the airport and fly to Chicago. She was anxious to get back, though she didn't know which reason for that was most compelling - her desire to be far away from the work she was doing or her desire to learn more about Allison Mitchell. She smiled as she thought of Allison's easy laugh and the way her face and voice had of giving away just what she was really thinking. Peg had no doubt that Allison found her attractive, but for once this didn't drive Peg away. She was extremely wary of needy women, of pushy women, of greedy women. Peg sometimes felt she must be a magnet for them. But Allison did not project any of that. She seemed an honest woman, someone who was not in the habit of playing games, someone who took love seriously. What truly amazed Peg, and what made her smile to herself now, was that this realization didn't make Peg run all the faster. She was in no position to even date someone now, let alone fall in love. She wasn't even in a position to buy property now. She sucked in a breath as she realized that by going to Allison tomorrow under the guise of a cup of coffee and a tour of some property, she was the game player.
Allison was glancing at the selection of soups and salads the café had to offer when Peg entered a little after 5:00 on Wednesday. Among the many things Allison agonized over during the long day leading up to their café date was the question of when to arrive. Too early meant too eager, while too late meant too self-absorbed. She settled for right on time, figuring that she should just be considering Peg a client at this point and she would always be on time for a client. For Allison, though, being on time meant arriving at the destination ten to fifteen minutes early and then trying to kill time in a way least likely to make her feel like the loser she always felt like. That usually meant staying huddled in her car, reading a book. She always carried a book with her. Now, as she glanced up from her menu and saw Peg enter, she envied the way the woman carried herself with such confidence. She probably never gave a thought to making anyone mad at her for being a few minutes late; she would just assume they would be happy to wait a little for her.
Peg smiled as she saw Allison and sat down across from her at the corner table. "God, I hope I'm not too late. I tried to time my arrival perfectly, but Chicago traffic is every bit as bad as New York's and I got held up. I hope you just got here yourself."
Allison burst out laughing.
"What's so funny?" Peg asked, looking truly perplexed.
"I'm just experiencing another one of those comparing my insides with other people's outsides moments. I was just thinking as you walked in that you are way too cool to be worried about being a few minutes late, while I feel almost physically sick if I think I'm going to be late somewhere. I'm sure you're not as neurotic as I am, but I'm reassured that you feel some uncertainties as well."
"You mean you don't want me to be cool?" Peg asked.
"I mean I don't want you to be too cool."
"Well, I wouldn't worry about that. I have plenty of uncertainties," Peg said, leaning forward and resting her elbows on the table.
"Okay, hold that thought," Allison smiled as a server came up to their table to take their order. After he poured their coffee and left, Allison said, "We have about fifteen minutes before we should leave to make our first appointment. Is that enough time to tell me about these uncertainties?"
"Nah. Wouldn't even make a dent. Why don't we do this? We'll spend the time with me asking questions and you telling me all about yourself, and then you get to grill me when we go out to dinner after our appointments."
"I didn't know we were going out to dinner after our appointments," Allison said, feeling her heart start to rev up a little. She could barely remember a time when she had a real physical reaction to a woman, the kind a stethoscope could detect. She struggled to maintain her ability to banter, but feared she was starting to look flushed.
"Do you have something else planned for later this evening? A date perhaps?" Peg asked, enjoying watching Allison start to respond to the flirtation.
"No, dinner is fine. And no, I don't have a date."
"Are you seeing anyone now?" Peg leaned in again, searching out Allison's eyes and praying the answer would be no.
"Is this where the grilling begins, with questions about my personal life?"
"Did you think I was going to ask questions about your real estate life?"
"Well, that's what this is all about, isn't it?" Allison asked.
"What's 'this', Allison?"
"You know, the meeting for coffee, going to see property, possibly buying property. That."
"You know, I just don't know. That's one of my uncertainties."
"Okay, so I can grill you about that later tonight. In the meantime, you can ask me about my personal life. But go gently, counselor. Remember, I'm a trained trial lawyer too," Allison said, looking a little smug.
"Did I ever say anything about being a trial lawyer to you?" Peg looked genuinely curious. "I don't remember us talking about what I do at Ungrath."
Oh, Christ, thought Allison. Caught in my Googling and exposed as a cyber-stalker before we ever get this thing going. "Well, Ungrath is mainly a litigation firm, isn't it? I remember that that's their reputation. I guess I just assumed it's what you did too. Can't see you as a tax attorney or M&A or any of those specialties."
"Uhmm," Peg looked at her with slightly hooded eyes. She guessed that Allison had probably been doing some research on her, but that was okay. She'd looked into Allison as well, and her sources went much deeper than those found on Google or anywhere else on public access databases. "Okay, I'll start with easy questions first. After you left law school in 1983, where did you go for the year before you clerked with the 7th Circuit?"
Allison's jaw dropped as she stared at the grinning Peg. "How'd you know any of that?"
"I Googled you, of course."
"You Googled me? Huh."
"Is that upsetting to you?"
"Not upsetting. Flattering, I guess. I mean, you probably wouldn't Google just anyone."
"No, not just anyone. What did you find out when you Googled me?" Peg asked, smiling.
Allison squirmed a little bit, but relaxed as Peg's smile continued. "I know the penalties for perjury. I think I'll just take the 5th on that one. Anyway, this is all very interesting, but we have an appointment to get to. Let's get the check and head out, if that's okay."
Allison drove through the dark Lincoln Park streets. They had already seen four single family homes in the neighborhood and had been met at each house by listing agents who took them through and pointed out every conceivable feature in the well appointed properties. As they approached their last appointment, a vintage brick on a double lot that Allison warned Peg was sure to need a lot of work, Allison explained that they would not be meeting an agent this time.
"They're using a lock box on this property. From what I understand, the owners are in the process of moving out, so half of their stuff is still in the house, and the rest is in their new place in Florida. They are in Florida for the winter. I just use my magic electronic lock box thingy and in we go."
"I like that a lot better. I don't want to have to listen to another listing agent."
"Well, don't hold out much hope for the house. Unless you have the time or energy for a real project, this probably won't suit you."
"Why are you showing it to me then?"
"Listen, Toots. You've given me a thimble-full of information to go on, so don't complain about what properties I'm showing you," Allison said.
"Yeah, Toots. Oh my god, there's legal parking." Allison wrenched the car into a spot in front of the quaint looking house on the quiet residential street and led the way up the stairs to the entrance. After pointing her electronic device at a lock box attached to the front door, the door to the box opened and out fell the house keys.
"My, it is magic," purred Peg.
"Honey, you have not begun to see the magic this real estate broker can perform. Now, shall we?" Allison swept into the foyer and started to turn on lights as Peg followed behind her. They spread out and began searching through the house, Allison moving quickly through the rooms and taking them in with her practiced eye. Peg moved more slowly, looking closely at the vintage details throughout the main floor.
Allison progressed up to the second level and was standing in the master bedroom, facing an expanse of flocked wallpaper and assessing the difficulty of removing it. Her thoughts quickly formed into a vivid fantasy of her and Peg dressed in t-shirts and shorts, stripping off wallpaper in long, satisfying swaths. They would frequently interrupt their work with frenzied bouts of lovemaking, after which they would lay in exhausted heaps on the paint tarp, their tangled legs dotted with bits of wallpaper and backing. This entire scenario had formed in her mind in a matter of seconds, and while it caught her off guard it also caught her up completely in the excitement of the fantasy. Allison did not hear Peg enter the room behind her, did not know of her presence in the room at all until she felt an arm wrap around her waist from behind. Peg leaned into her and murmured into her ear, "You didn't respond when I called to you just now. I was worried."
Allison stood stock still, staring wide eyed at the wall inches in front of her. She felt her heart begin to hammer and her mind cloud in confusion. More than that, she felt her body react to Peg's touch and she leaned back against Peg's tall body, her hands coming up to grasp the arms wrapped around her. "I'm responding to you now," she said.
"Hmmm," Peg hummed, as her lips found the back of Allison's neck and she began to kiss her there. Allison felt her own arms come up and brace herself against the wall in front of her as Peg's hands moved up and around and over and down and drew sensations from Allison that were almost frightening. She moaned as a hand found a breast, fingers coming together to pinch a nipple that suddenly felt huge, like a giant switch connected directly to her clitoris. Peg turned it on, and then on again, and on again. There seemed to be only on, and then more on. There was no off.
Allison turned suddenly in Peg's arms, facing her and bringing her hands up to hold the strong jaw, to look into the bright gray eyes. She leaned towards her and they met in a kiss, slow and sweet quickly turning to deep and ravishing. Allison now found herself backed up against the flocked wall, her arms held back as Peg continued to kiss her as deeply as she could. They finally broke for breath. "Oh, my god," Allison gasped, throwing her head back against the wall and squeezing her eyes shut. Peg's lips went immediately for the exposed throat, her teeth nipping at the sensitive skin there, her hands finding Allison's breasts again and then the nipples. Allison felt like she would explode. "Peg, please."
"Please, what? What do you want baby?" Peg continued to work on Allison's right nipple as she began to unbutton her blouse.
"The bed. Please. I need you on top of me."
Peg looked behind her and saw the king bed. Taking Allison's hand she led her over and pulled her up onto the bed. As she started to push Allison onto her back Allison stopped her with a hand on her chest. She could feel Peg's heart hammering beneath her hand.
"I wasn't sure you wanted this," Allison said, looking directly into Peg's eyes. "But I've wanted you almost from the moment I saw you."
"Yes, I've wanted this. So much." Peg gently pushed her down on the bed, laying beside her, moving her hand up and down Allison's body. She began to undo the buttons of Allison's shirt, heard the intake of Allison's breath. She saw the desire in Allison's eyes and something else as well. "What is it? Am I moving too fast?"
Allison squirmed a little and then reached up and pulled Peg down on top of her. "No, it's not that. Not really. It's just that I haven't been with a woman for awhile. And I haven't been with someone new for over 12 years."
Peg lifted her head and looked into Allison's eyes. She saw uncertainty there. "Hey, I'm flattered I'm the one you've chosen to take into your bed. I'm a lucky woman."
"Well, you don't know that exactly yet."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that 12 years ago I had the confidence of a 35 year old. Now I have the uncertainty of a 47 year old." Allison saw that Peg looked confused. "In my body, I mean. I'm nervous about you seeing me."
Peg's face lit up in a smile. "Is that what this is? Oh, you have nothing to worry about on that score. I think you are beautiful. I can't wait to see what's under here. I can't wait to tell you how beautiful you are. Please let me," Peg said, as she resumed unbuttoning Allison's shirt. She bent her head and captured Allison's lower lip with her teeth and then moved in for a kiss deeper than anything Allison could remember. She felt herself tumble into a place where nothing could halt her desire to be totally possessed by the woman holding her, not her worry about the few extra pounds she carried, not worry about the possibility that someone else might arrive to view the house, not worry that this might mean nothing more than a fun time in bed to Peg. She felt power and desire and something that felt like need flow from Peg into her.
"Get these clothes off of me. I think I'll die if you don't touch me soon."
Peg laughed and bent to the task at hand, slowly removing Allison's clothes despite her new lover's urgency, telling her how beautiful she was as each article was removed. With her shirt and bra finally off, Peg lowered her mouth to Allison's breasts, kissing, licking, nipping the nipples, alternating between them, lavishing them with attention. By the time she knelt between Allison's legs, slowly, slowly pulling her underpants over her hips and down, Allison started to nearly thrash. "Jesus God please get in me I'm going to explode please do something now," Allison cried, her head moving side to side, her arm flung across her eyes. Peg laughed again and gently spread Allison's legs apart, moving up to lay beside her as her hand made its way up Allison's thigh, stopping when her finger lay just on top of the clit. Allison's hips immediately thrust into the hand, seeking more contact, desperate for it.
"It's okay, now. I'm going to touch you," Peg whispered, as her finger made its way between the lips, up and down, exploring the entire area. Allison's hips kept thrusting, trying to chase Peg's finger, playing tag. When her clit touched Peg's fingers, she'd be IT. What Allison needed now was a furious game of tag, back and forth between finger and clit until it was a blur, until she could mercifully come. Just as Allison was starting to feel real anger at the way Peg was withholding, Peg moved swiftly back down, placing herself between Allison's legs, bending immediately to her task, using her tongue in anything but a teasing fashion. With a few sure strokes she brought Allison right to the brink, and with a few more she sent her over, flying into the abyss where all sense and inhibition and sanity were suspended. The intense pleasure rocketed through Allison and left her up there for what seemed like a long, long time. As the waves started to subside, as she lay senseless on the bed, she felt as if she'd been dropped from a great height, from some unknown alien plane back to the known world. She opened her eyes and saw Peg right above her, smiling down. "Good lord," Allison smiled limply, "what did you do to me?"
Peg laughed and fell back on the bed beside her, gathering Allison into her arms. "I just gave a very beautiful woman some very good loving. I'm glad it agreed with you."
"Oh, it agreed with me. Who wouldn't be thrilled with a two and a half hour orgasm? I felt like I'd been put into stasis in Woody Allen's Orgasmatron."
"Okay, now you're ageing yourself. No one under 40 knows about the Orgasmatron."
They lay quietly for a few minutes, holding each other, moving their hands gently around each other. Allison lifted herself up on one elbow and peered down at Peg. "I want so much to make love to you. But we really should get out of here. I think the key is even in the lock downstairs, and I have no idea if any other brokers will show up tonight. In fact, I can't even comprehend how insane it is that we just made love here. I could probably lose my license."
"Well, I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that disciplinary hearing."
"Very funny. Come on."
The bed was straightened, clothes were put back on, and they stood in the middle of the room with the flocked wall paper. Allison placed her arms around the Peg's neck and kissed her deeply. "I don't want there to be any lies between us, whatever this is or isn't between us. I just don't want that to be a part of it. So I have to confess that I did Google you."
"Really?" Peg smiled in mock surprise.
"Oh, don't be so full of yourself mystery woman. I didn't know anything about you. You've got that butch thing going of not talking much about yourself, so what's a girl to do? I didn't want to fall into bed with an ax murderer."
"What did people do before the internet?"
"Can you be serious for a moment? I'm not too concerned that you think I'm a stalker or anything, sense you Googled me too. I just wanted you to know that while I didn't know anything really about you, I knew right away that I wanted you." She leaned in and kissed Peg with a gentleness and a passion, and Peg's arms tightened around her waist and held her as close as she could.
"I wanted you from the first as well. And I want you so much right now. Thank you for being honest with me, and thank you for wanting me."
Peg took Allison's hand and began to lead the way down the stairs of the stranger's home. The pair paused at the door of the house, turning off the last of the lights. Allison reached up and snapped up the collar of Peg's coat, kissing her on the lips and giving her a radiant smile. "Come home with me, Peg. I have some good loving to give a very beautiful woman, and I can't wait to do it."
Peg followed her out and waited as the door was locked and the key replaced in the lock box. "You know, I just may have to buy this house. It has exceptional karma, don't you think?"
"Well, clearly. I mean, it's the first thing they mention in the listing sheet." Allison linked her hand through Peg's arm as they walked toward her car.
"But the flocked wallpaper has to go," said Peg. "Would you help me with that?"
"Oh, I think that can be arranged." Allison smiled, squeezing Peg's arm. "Sounds like a fun project."
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