Disclaimers: This is a work of original fiction, please don’t use any of it without my permission. British setting, British spelling, punctuation and word usage.
Strong language and your actual sex (hooray). Sometimes I forget what a surprisingly liberal and tolerant country I live in – I saw two girls kissing at Cambridge bus station the day after Boxing Day and no-one batted an eyelid – if you’re not so lucky or you’re easily shocked, maybe you shouldn’t read this.
Any resemblance to anyone living, dead or impersonating Elvis is purely coincidental.
Please feel free to email me at Ceri.Lloyd@bodleian.ox.ac.uk
Many thanks again to Sally, who often knows my characters better than I do.
So there I was in Arrivals, holding up as a joke the piece of cardboard box on which I’d written Fisher in big fat marker pen; I barely had time to brace myself against the blonde and whooping Exocet hurtling towards me across the airport concourse, was barely able to stop my head from banging off the wall as Isabel leapt and wrapped herself around me like a five foot six inch koala. Tanned arms were flung around my neck and a soft mouth pressed firmly against mine, the people around us watching with amused smiles or disapproving scowls, assuming this was a joyful lovers’ reunion. Gently pulling back, I let her slide down until her feet were once again on the ground.
“Here, I got you a present”
She tugged the straw cowboy style hat off her head and unceremoniously shoved it onto mine.
“There, you look like a young k.d. lang”
“Wiz, I know this might be a stupid question, but where’s Mark?”
“O that loser? I left him in Reno”
“Iz – ”
“Chill, he’s just getting the rest of the luggage. I wanted to come and find you. After all, it’s been three weeks. I’ve missed you”
She leant in under the brim of my new hat, fingers brushing my cheek as she kissed me.
I’ve known Isabel Fisher for almost half my life and we’ve always been incredibly close, but her kissing me was a new thing. I never started it but at the same time I was only ever half hearted in my attempts to stop her. Despite the fact that she was my straight and recently married best friend, I liked her doing it: her skin was soft, her tongue insistent and she always smelled fantastic. But when I took time to think about it, life was potentially too complicated to be standing in the middle of Gatwick with Isabel acting like my long lost girlfriend.
“How was Vegas?”
“Blackpool on steroids”
“Please tell me you met Elvis”
“Sure did, even got my photo taken with him. It’s funny, I don’t remember him being Chinese. Mark, oi, over here!”
The lift doors had opened and Mark emerged with a trolley loaded down with suitcases. He looked up when he heard his name and gave both of us a lopsided grin before sauntering over. It’s hard to object to Mark Fisher, he’s a likeable enough man, good looking in an unremarkable way. I would be hard pressed to pick him out in a crowd and often wondered what Izzie saw in him, but then I feel that way about most men. I’ve always thought my straight female friends could do better. Still, Mark was now married to my best friend, so I returned his grin and helped him load their baggage into the boot of my car.
Soon enough we were settled in and making for the motorway, Mark in the back, Izzie riding shotgun. It was only a matter of time until the regular rumble of the car lulled a jet-lagged Mark into sleep; Iz, on the other hand, was wide awake. She wasn’t saying anything but watched me as I flicked the indicator and overtook a Nissan Micra, cruising along in the middle lane for a couple of miles. I was avoiding eye contact, shooting the occasional sideways glance, taking in the blonde hair, the holiday tanned skin, the T-shirt pulled tight across her breasts, but then her eyes met mine and I had to look away. They were too green, too like –
“Kit – ”
“Did you miss me?”
She was regarding me with an expression that was hard to read, making her look even more like her sister. Right now, I didn’t need to be reminded. I concentrated on driving, wishing she’d look out of the window, but I wasn’t that lucky.
“Last time I saw you, you were finally going to let me fuck you”
The car swerved as the steering wheel jerked under my hands and I struggled to right it before we drifted into the outside lane. Mark’s head slid down the seat, he muttered and readjusted himself, but didn’t wake. I pulled the car into the inside lane, gripping the wheel, collecting myself before answering.
“Do you mean just before you passed out? With your hand down the front of my trousers, as I recall”
“When I woke up, I was on my own. I couldn’t find you anywhere. Nor Rachel for that matter. Are you screwing?”
I looked into eyes identical to the ones I’d seen above me, half closed, as fingers filled me and drove me to orgasm. I sighed, dropping down a gear.
“The ing at the end of that question implies an ongoing situation”
A salesman in a company car, suit jacket hanging in the back window, tore past us on his way to Birmingham, doing a ton without breaking a sweat.
“I’m not sure it was anything other than a one off”
“When – ? At my wedding? Jesus!”
“There’s no reason to be so disapproving. After all – ”
I tipped my head towards the sleeping Mark Fisher. Izzie simply scowled at me, crossing her arms over her chest.
Rachel McFarland brought a whole new meaning to the word enigmatic. I’d spent the night of Isabel’s wedding in her sister’s hotel room, had slept in her arms, even had breakfast with her the next morning despite the tangible disapproval of her mother; but then Rachel had gone back to London and all I’d heard from her was a non-committal email and a voicemail that didn’t encourage me to ring back. To say that I was nonplussed by the situation is an understatement. Isabel’s intentions may have been inappropriate, but at least they were obvious.
“You don’t have to worry. I think she regrets it. Situation normal: your sister wants nothing to do with me”
“Then she’s a bigger fucking idiot than I gave her credit for”
We were silent for the rest of the journey, Isabel staring out of the window at the scrubby fields that back onto the motorway, blurred black and white cows, cottages that were once in the middle of nowhere and effectively still are.
It was a surprise when my doorbell squawked at eleven o’clock that night. I fumbled with the entry phone.
I buzzed her in and left the door to the flat ajar for her. She appeared ninety seconds later, slightly out of breath from taking the stairs two a time like she always does.
“Are you aware how late it is?”
“My body clock still thinks it’s the day before yesterday. You haven’t got to work tomorrow, have you? Here – ”
She thrust a bottle of vicious looking tequila into my hand, announcing it was the other part of my present. She pretended it came from Nevada, but the price tag from the airport was still stuck to the bottom.
“It’s the thought that counts”
“It certainly is. Where’s Mark?”
“Asleep again. He’s always like this. That time we went to Florida, it took him a week to get back in sync”
“What about you?”
She shrugged again.
“I’m sure I’ll crash spectacularly at some point but right now I’m fine. And I wanted to see you”
I fetched two beers from the fridge and handed her one. The tequila would have to wait for a time when I could cope with the emotional fall out. Right now I needed my wits about me and San Mig would assure that. Isabel seemed a little disappointed but took the beer without comment.
“Do you want to talk about Rach?”
Ice cold golden lager slid easily down the back of my throat. A little too easily.
“C’mon, tell me about Vegas”
We’ve always been comfortable with each other and were physically affectionate even before Izzie started propositioning me, so it felt natural for Iz to cuddle up next to me on the sofa. After I came back from the kitchen with more beer, she resumed her position, snuggled against my neck, my arm around her shoulder. She chattered away, making me laugh and if her fingers were deliberately stroking the soft skin on the inside of my arm, it was nice and I didn’t want her to stop. Before long, the beer was all gone but I wasn’t keen for the night to end.
Against my better judgement, on my next trip back from the kitchen I brought two shot glasses, the salt shaker, a lime and the bottle of duty free tequila; Isabel’s face cracked under the pressure of her smile. She’s always been a sucker for spirits: flavoured vodkas, whisky sours, brandy cocktails; that girl’s never met a hard drink she didn’t like. Her favourite method of consuming tequila is to slam it, but it was too late in the day for that sort of raucousness. The intimacy of shots better suited the atmosphere that had built over the last hour and a half. Green eyes watched me intently as I licked the salt from the well of my hand, threw back the drink and sucked the tart juice from the slice she held between her fingers. I watched her do the same, trying to ignore the wave of unexpected and unwanted longing that was surging out to sea and threatening my coastal defences.
Three quarters of a bottle later, it was clear that Isabel was in no state to go home, and to be honest, I didn’t want to lose the warmth I was feeling. She would stay the night, I declared, though not in the spare room as making up the bed was too complicated. She could sleep on the sofa.
“Can’t I come in with you?”
“I’m not sure that would be a very good idea”
“Why not? It’s not like we haven’t slept together before”
I blushed at that, even though I knew it was meant innocently. Since the age of thirteen, we’d regularly shared a bed, and did so with an equanimity I’d barely matched with anyone else. But things were different now. Isabel was different with me, and my resolve was suffering from so much subsidence it was in danger of collapsing into the cellar. Izzie was soft and warm and I didn’t want her to sleep on the sofa, didn’t want to sleep cold and alone in my own bed. I folded as quickly as a bad poker hand.
“Okay, but no funny business, Mrs. Fisher”
“I mean it, Iz”
“Okay, okay, I promise”
Perversely, I was disappointed that she agreed conditions so readily.
I lay on my side, curled up with the covers pulled close to the top of my head and my eyes tightly closed so I wouldn’t be tempted to watch as Izzie took her clothes off; felt her sit down and then draw back the duvet so she could slip in beside me. Part of me prayed that she would respect my wishes and stay hanging to the other side of the bed but my heart was pounding, my mouth suddenly dry as she did no such thing. Soft in her cotton T-shirt pressed against my back, thighs naked where the shirt ran out of material and my imagination filled in the gaps. Her breath warm against the nape of my neck, I took her hand and clasped it between both of mine, held it snug against my chest, effectively drawing her closer. Pushing so that every part of my back touched every part of her front; she barely suppressed a gasp.
“Iz, tell me why”
“Why you feel so differently about me”
I held on tighter to her hand, needing to know why.
“You’ve known me twelve years, knew I was gay from virtually the moment I knew myself. All that time and nothing. Why did it change?”
A huff of warm air tickled my ear as she sighed. I thought she wasn’t going to answer, and was prepared to let it go until another time but then she spoke.
“I don’t know what happened, but on my hen night I walked into that awful bar and there was something about you, something I’d never noticed before. You were still the Kit I’ve always known but it was as if you were radiant, sitting there on that bar stool surrounded by all those men and women who were shadows in comparison to you. You were magnificent”
I turned over to face her, taking her hand again, holding it close.
“You had your voddy goggles on”
“Maybe, but all I know is I wanted to kiss you and when I did, I didn’t want to stop. When I see you, I need to touch you. I hate that Rachel – do you love her?”
“Love? I was only just getting used to the idea that she didn’t hate me”
“You do know I love you, don’t you?”
“Yes. I love you too”
It isn’t hard to guess what happened next; after all, she gave me fair warning. That I opened my mouth in a direct invitation to her surprised me as much as it did her. With a delighted gasp, she deepened the kiss, her tongue brushing mine, stroking the inside of my mouth as if she wanted to make the most of the opportunity, as if she knew this was a once in a life time chance. She murmured against my lips.
“God, I can feel you”
I was going to say that of course she could feel me as she was running her hand up under my T-shirt and making for my breast, but then I saw her face and fell silent. She looked enraptured.
“I can feel you responding. God, Kit, it’s incredible”
Suddenly, I was scared, overwhelmed by the need to pull back. My voice cracked.
“Isabel, we need to stop”
Her hand stilled, palm warm on the underside of my breast. Her eyes were unfocused.
“Stop – ”
Joy faded into disappointment.
“Because of Rachel”
“No, not because of her. She’s not even a consideration”
“Then why? – You don’t want me”
Her face was so sad and confused, I couldn’t help but let the tips of my fingers trace the fullness of her mouth.
“There’s a line, Iz, and if we cross it, there’s no going back. Much as I hate to remind you, you’ve got a husband at home who is probably going to wake up and wonder where his new wife is”
“I left a note”
“That’s not the point. It’s not a case of not wanting you: it’s a question of it not being right”
She fell quiet for a moment, her hand still lying on my increasingly heated skin.
“Do you want me?”
Her voice was small, needing reassurance. I lay my own hand over hers and laughed, sliding both our hands up so she could feel how hard my nipple had become. I told myself it was meant only to make her feel better but I was fooling no-one, least of all myself. My nipple was pressing into her palm as she pushed her body into mine and her tongue found its way back into my unresisting mouth. To my chagrin, a whimper escaped as Izzie’s hand left my breast but the whimper turned into a groan as the hand skimmed my belly to rest on my hip, stroking in circles as her tongue continued to flick in and out of my mouth. It was as if she was waiting for permission for something, and I wasn’t ready to give it just yet but it wouldn’t be long until I totally caved. This wasn’t the first time my body had let me down when I was trying to do the right thing. The ever observant Isabel Fisher read the change in my breathing, in the press and push of my body, the urgent noises that someone who sounded incredibly like me was making. The slow smile that crept over her face informed me that the game was up and I was done for. A growl in my ear.
“I want to know what you feel like”
O God. Her fingers edged under the elastic of my knickers and my breath caught as they tentatively touched a clit that felt ready to explode.
“O God, Kit, you feel – fantastic. So different from me”
I would’ve told her that no two women were the same but I was incapable of conscious thought let alone comprehensible sentence structure. Isabel was applying a gentle but persistent pressure, one that was making the pleasure run thick and slow through my limbs and extremities until I felt it drip from my fingers and toes. Soon it would coalesce and become very specific, but for now it surged through my skeleton and musculature, never settling.
I shouted out loud when an audacious Isabel slipped two fingers inside. Just to know how you feel, she whispered. Christ, I knew what I wanted and good sense be damned.
“O Jesus, Izzie, please. Please fuck me”
She’s a girl who doesn’t need to be told twice. Two fingers becoming three, she caught my rhythm as I caught fire: a conflagration that ripped through me from the roots of my hair to the soles of feet grinding into the mattress, desperate for some purchase. Sweat coated my superheated skin in a desperate but futile attempt to cool it; there was no way that was going to happen. I wouldn’t cool down until my bones had melted and my sinews turned to broth; not as long as the green eyed Isabel Fisher was driving her fingers into me at the same beat as my heart and hers.
My body contracted tighter than an archer’s bow, the singing string straining with aerodynamic force, ready to draw back and project the cry torn from diaphragm, lungs and throat up towards the ceiling where it would ricochet off the light fittings before being absorbed by the curtains. Everything from the waist down was greedy for Izzie’s fingers, grabbing and reluctant to let go. From a distance I could hear her laughing her delight the way she always does and the sound of it made me fall in on myself, tears pricking then coursing. Fingers still sticky with me brushed my face, followed by soft lips and I was powerless to prevent myself being tugged into arms that held on fiercely and refused to let go.
Some sound was attempting to drag me out of a sleep so deep I might have actually been comatose. It was an irritating chirruping that wouldn’t let up. My mobile. I flinched into proper consciousness. I wasn’t alone, I realised with a start, and then remembered. Isabel. No time to deal with that; my phone continued to ring.
There was a rich chuckle on the other end. Rachel. I sat bolt upright. Fuck.
“You are in, then? I’ve been ringing your door bell for the last ten minutes. Figured you must be in, I can see your car. Can I come up?”
I can only think I buzzed her in because I was dazed and half asleep, still drunk from the night before. If I’d had any sense, I’d have left her on the doorstep. After all, I owed her nothing, and her sister was curled up in my bed, her mark still on me. I rubbed my face with my hands and waited for Rachel.
No way was I prepared for the greeting I got when opened the door to her. Arms came around my neck and pulled me into a thorough kiss, her tongue in my mouth before I could say hello. It was something I’d come to expect from Isabel; from Rachel it wrong footed me and I had to remember that I was cross with her. When I did, I unwrapped her arms and walked into the kitchen, refusing to look at her, pretending she wasn’t there as I put teabags in the pot and watched the kettle start to boil.
It’s possible I had managed to forget her presence; I certainly started when I felt lips pressed to the back of my neck, a hand sliding around and up under my T-shirt to stroke the skin of my stomach. I tried to step forward, away from her embrace, but the hand held me tight, ensuring that my arse made direct contact with her crotch. A muffled groan was half buried in the sweet spot of my neck, the one she knew all about; knowledge she had no hesitation in exploiting. Knees weak, I relied on her to hold me up; now was not the time to analyse outstanding trust issues, I had to hope that she wouldn’t let me drop to the floor tiles. Luckily, she seemed more concerned with thrusting one hand further up my T-shirt whilst the other was edging towards the waistband of my knickers, all the while her lips, tongue and teeth were working at my neck knowing that I was unable and unwilling to stop her. If my voice had been capable of anything other than a whimper, I would’ve cursed her for using my weakness against me. As it was, I crooked my arm around the back of her neck and arched so that my breast pressed into her hand. The whimpering became something closer to panting as fingers slipped under cotton and found me humiliatingly wet.
“Rachel – ?”
Neither of us had heard the bedroom door open and then click shut; neither us could’ve been expected to hear Izzie pad through the living room to stop at the open kitchen door. Rachel’s hand left my knickers at a breathtaking speed; I was propelled forward and span around quicker than I intended, blood pounding in my dizzy head.
“What the hell is she doing here?”
Rachel’s accusatory tone annoyed me more than was probably reasonable.
“Don’t start! Don’t even dare. She’s my best friend and is welcome here any time. I’m not sure the same applies to you”
Two pairs of green eyes stared at me as I leant up against the work top, still flushed and panting in a combination of anger, embarrassment and residual arousal. The barely suppressed fury in Rachel’s I could cope with but tightness constricted my chest at the hurt that flooded Isabel’s eyes. Instinctively, I moved towards her, cupping her cheek in my hand before taking her into my arms and kissing the top of her head.
“Get dressed, sweetheart, and I’ll run you home”
I turned my head to look at Rachel, still holding Izzie.
“You can either stay or leave, it’s up to you”
She shifted her weight from foot to foot saying nothing. I was beyond being arsed.
Dropping Izzie off outside her house broke my heart. She was uncharacteristically subdued and withdrawn, spending the short journey across town gazing out of the window and not speaking. Shame manifested itself in my burning cheeks and when I opened my mouth I despised myself before I’d even spoken.
“I didn’t know she was coming over, I swear”
Her eyes were bright with unshed tears, her voice broken with resignation.
My knuckles were white on the steering wheel.
“And I’m so sorry you had to – had to see – she ambushed me”
Izzie’s gaze dropped to the hands clasped in her lap, her cheeks as hot as mine. She wouldn’t meet my eyes.
“It’s okay, she is your girlfriend”
“No, no, she’s not”
“But you want her to be”
A long breath escaped my lungs.
“I’m not sure I do”
Izzie rubbed her eyes with the heel of her hands.
“What does it matter anyway? After all, I’m the one with the husband”
It had started to rain, drops forming and then dribbling down the windscreen. I heard a sigh from the seat next to me.
“I should’ve listened. You said there was a line we shouldn’t cross – ”
She gave a short, humourless laugh.
“– but, o no, I had to go ahead and do it. And to make matters worse, I made you cry”
Her skin was smooth under the back of my hand. For the first time, it was me who leant in to kiss her. It was only a quick kiss: Isabel left without saying goodbye. I could barely see to drive home, and sat in the car, rain bouncing off the roof, my head resting on the steering wheel, drops of water splashing on the black moulded plastic.
Rachel had chosen to stay. She was sitting on the sofa staring into space. She might’ve been deep in thought but I found it hard to care. Ignoring her, I made for the kettle but stopped before I reached it. Tea wouldn’t shift the cement that was steadily hardening in my thoracic cavity like a Rachel Whiteread installation. Coughing against the constriction around my heart and lungs, I reached instead for the tequila, pouring myself a generous measure which I threw back neat. It was disgusting. I poured myself another; not that it did any good.
“Isn’t it a bit early for that?”
I poured myself a third, refusing to look her as I let the fiery liquid slide down my throat, burning a path into my stomach where it started to warm and loosen my limbs and scramble my brain. The cement ache was still there but I found I didn’t mind so much.
“So, Kit, how long have you been fucking my sister?”
The fourth slipped down much easier than the previous three. Perhaps I could get a taste for neat tequila after all. I still wouldn’t meet Rachel’s eyes.
“Funny, she pretty much asked me the same question. Fuck but you girls are possessive”
“Well, I didn’t expect my girlfriend to sleep with my sister – ”
That got my attention and my eye contact. I glared at her with rocket fuelled fury.
“Your girlfriend? Just you hold your horses there, mate. Since when have I been your girlfriend?”
“I thought – ”
“You thought? Did you? First I’ve heard about it. I haven’t heard anything from you for the best part of a month. The cool and aloof schtick might work on the other girls but, call me old fashioned, I do like any girlfriend of mine to at least phone me”
“I did phone you. You never called back”
“Did you hear the tone of your voice on that message? No? Tell you what, why don’t I play it for you”
I filled my glass for the fifth time, noticing with some regret that I’d emptied the bottle.
“Izzie bought me this in duty free. She said it was the thought that counts”
A fat, hot and wet tear slid down my cheek and plopped onto the work top with an almost audible splosh. It was followed by another and another until I couldn’t stop the sobs wrenched from my chest, where I could feel the concrete cracking up, sending sharp shards dangerously close to my internal organs. Warm arms came around me and drew me too an equally warm body that didn’t want to do anything other than comfort.
“O God, I’ve fucked everything up”
“Sh, no. Everything’s going to okay, you’ll see”
“No it won’t. Iz is never going to speak to me again. I’ve ruined everything”
“Knowing Isabel, I doubt she’s completely blameless. C’mon”
She led me to the sofa where she held me and stroked my hair as the tequila and confusion soaked tears gradually subsided. Gulping for air, I tried to withdraw but was held close.
“You know I’m angry with you”
“So you got your own back by fucking my sister?”
“It was more a case of her fucking me – ”
“Thank you, that’s really more information than I need”
“– and it was kind of inevitable. She’s been at me for weeks. I can’t explain it and neither can she. O God, Rach, I’ve really hurt her – ”
The tears started again. I buried my face in her shoulder and let them flow, not caring that I was ruining the silk of her shirt. If she cared, she didn’t say; she simply stroked my hair and gentled me until I was calm again.
I woke up on the sofa alone knowing neither the time nor the day. My brain had expanded to such an extent it was rubbing against the inside of my skull which, for some reason, had developed the texture of the coarsest grained sandpaper; the same with the inside of my mouth. I felt sure that although I was alone now, I wasn’t before. Rachel. Rachel was no where to be seen. I wasn’t surprised. To be honest, I was more surprised that she’d still been here when I got back from Isabel’s. Isabel. The tightness in my chest was back; combined with my over expanded brain, I was nauseous. Not surprising as I’d eaten nothing and all I’d had to drink was a quarter of a bottle of ropey tequila on top of my share of the other three quarters the night before. Tea and toast wouldn’t sort my life out in the long term, I realised, as I popped two slices of bread in the toaster and flicked the kettle on, but they would make the near future a little more bearable.
As hours went, that day had not been my finest. Some of it I might never be able to rectify but there was one absolute: I needed to see Izzie. Even if she turned me away, I needed to at least hear it from her face to face. I sloshed the tail end of the tea into the sink and grabbed my car keys.
Mark was leaving the house just as I was parking. He gave me a half hearted smile and my heart rate increased, making my brain pound uncomfortably and the sickness surge up. Please don’t puke in the car, I begged myself, keep it together. He was standing with his hands in his pockets looking sheepish.
“God, I’m pleased to see you, Kit. Izzie’s being really weird. When she got back from yours she went to bed and hasn’t come out since. She won’t talk to me, maybe she will to you. Tell her I’ve gone to mum’s will you? If it gets late I’ll probably stop over”
The last time Izzie had taken to her bed like this was when her first proper boyfriend dumped her for some tart who went to another school. I thought he was the biggest slug to ever crawl the Earth on his belly but Iz was devastated and refused to leave her room for the entire weekend. She would’ve stayed there if it hadn’t have been for the dragon she has the misfortune to call mum deciding enough was enough and school could only be missed if the angels were calling you home. Knowing that I was the cause of her pain sent wave after wave of hot, nauseating guilt through my stomach. Taking a deep breath, I tapped on her bedroom door. Her voice was a muffled monotone.
“Go away, Mark”
Taking another breath, I opened the door a fraction and stuck my head round it.
“It’s not Mark, it’s me”
Startled, Izzie sat up. Her hair was messy and her face so pale I was tugged towards the bed, a compass to her magnetic north. Not waiting for her to say anything, I kicked off my shoes, lay down on the bed and took her in my arms. With a sigh that seemed to come from the bottom of her heart, she buried her face in my shoulder as I stroked the warm skin at the back of her neck.
“What’s up, Wiz? I haven’t seen you this upset since Jamie Warren. He wasn’t worth it and neither am I”
Her voice was shaky.
“I thought last night was incredible”
“Last night was incredible”
She pulled back to look at me.
“How can you say that? I made you cry”
“Not that unusual, believe me”
She moved her head so that her face was in my neck and she didn’t have to look at me.
“I woke up alone and – and came to find you – and I saw – I saw – ”
I started to stroke her shoulder, hoping to soothe her. It seemed to be working: her breathing was less choppy and when she spoke, she sounded determined.
“You should be with Rachel – no, Kit, you should. I shouldn’t have pestered you like I did. I – I’ve ruined the best friendship I’ve ever had – ”
The face in my neck was hot and wet, the shoulder under my hand trembling. I increased the range of my hand to her back; long, smooth, settling strokes.
“You haven’t ruined anything, you daft woman. I told you last night I love you. I’ve loved you since I was thirteen years old, that’s not going to change”
We lay for awhile in silence, Iz resting against my neck, me stroking her back. It wasn’t until I heard a change in her breathing, felt her pushing herself closer against me that I realised my touch hand gone from comforting to caressive. Horrified, I jerked my hands away.
“No, don’t stop, it’s nice”
And it wasn’t until I ran my hands under her shirt that I realised it was all she was wearing. Both of us gasped as I came into contact with Isabel’s bare skin for the first time. The night before and all the times she’d kissed me and touched me, I’d been passive; something I had never been before. It was as if I wouldn’t have to take responsibility for what was happening: it was Isabel’s fault and she’d have to face the consequences if it went tits up. I could glide across the top of it with the grace of the Queen Mary, elegant and unsinkable. Come to think of it, it was how I was with Rachel too.
Lying next to Izzie, my hands discovering the planes of her back, skimming down to cup the gym toned firmness of her buttocks, listing to the hitch in her breathing, I felt more like me. I knew what I wanted: I wanted Isabel. I wanted to feel, to taste every inch of that perfect skin; to run the tips of my fingers and the tip of my tongue over every curve and into every fold. I wanted to know her blind and be able to find her in the dark by feel and taste and scent. She was breathing hard on my neck, her lips finding the sensitive spot both she and Rachel knew. The lips parted, the skin nipped by sharp teeth and a hot, direct message sent between my legs.
I met her mouth halfway and kissed her hard, biting on her bottom lip, thrusting my tongue in her mouth. I wanted to be gentle, to go slow, but it was physically impossible.
“God, Kit, I knew you’d be like this. So fucking passionate”
Her breasts were in my hands. Breasts that I’d seen since my teenage: in the showers after games, in the communal changing room at the swimming pool, trying on clothes in Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins and Next; there in front of me, so out of bounds I didn’t even think about them. Izzie lifted herself up, tugging her shirt over her head, her eyes shyly meeting mine, arms folded across her chest. I knelt in front of her, cupping her cheek before taking an arm and gently moving it down. With a half smile she let the other arm drop and I rocked back on my heels. At last I didn’t have to avert my gaze. We weren’t in the changing rooms now; I could look at Izzie’s fantastically beautiful breasts to my heart’s content. Watching a blush flood her chest and throat and creep over her cheeks, I was overwhelmed by affection and reached out to tuck a strand of blonde hair behind her ear, letting my fingers trail down her face, the side of her neck, coming to rest on her chest where it joined my other hand.
I’ve never known a mouth like hers, the way it presses mine: soft, warm and pliant; how her tongue is keen and adventurous. Her hand in my hair, her expression one of intense concentration as her lips move over mine and part so that her explorer tongue can charm its way past my teeth and claim me. I remembered when she walked up to me in that pretentious bar and kissed me for the first time; I didn’t respond, I just let her do it, but this time, this time I pushed back, let my tongue be as bold as hers. A hand on each shoulder, guiding her so that she was flat on her back in the middle of the bed and I was propped above her, looking down into bottomless green eyes that looked back with a combination of desire and vulnerability. She’s there, naked and open, and I realise I’m still fully clothed; why should she be the only one exposed? It was hardly fair. I pulled my shirt off so rapidly and roughly, it got caught around my head and I had to be rescued by a laughing Isabel; but that did the trick: when my eyes met hers again, the vulnerability had lessened. She put her hand against my cheek and kissed me softly, her breath warm on my mouth.
As she complied, I slide out of my jeans and knickers, pausing only to pull off my socks. When I looked round, Izzie was watching me, vulnerability replaced by hungry curiosity as her eyes roamed my body at will. I stood by the side of the bed, posing so that she could get a good look. This was uncharacteristically vain of me; I’m not ashamed of my body but at the same time, I’m not accustomed to showing it off, but Isabel’s regard made me feel strong and beautiful.
“Come here, Kit, I want to touch you”
“Uh uh, it’s my turn”
Izzie let her knees fall open and something that could’ve been a groan or a growl rumbled in her throat or my chest as I eased myself onto her body, thrilled to feel skin on skin. Izzie’s legs came up to wrap themselves across my back, pulling me closer.
“No you don’t, Fisher”
I struggled to break free a little to give myself some space. As soon as I had it, I dropped my mouth to her breast, revelling in the gasp that came from Iz and the nipple that instantly hardened under my lips. Not wanting the other breast to feel left out, I let it fill my hand. Iz’s eyelids fluttered, unsure if they wanted to stay open or closed; her body wriggling under mine, her nails strafing my back. Undaunted, I sucked the nipple into my mouth, gently biting it.
“O Kit, that’s – o God – ”
I’ve could’ve stayed on her breasts for hours, enjoying the feel of them, the weight and smoothness in my hand and under my mouth, but there was something I wanted to feel and taste even more. Just the thought of putting my tongue on her clit made my back arch like a cat in the sun, reflexively pressing myself into her which elicited a similar response in her. Fingers dug into my back, hard enough to leave marks, not that I cared. I was single minded now, letting my head drop down and kiss a line from her navel to the triangle of pale hair. I was glad Isabel wasn’t prone to fashion, that she didn’t wax or shave, didn’t have an ugly strip of hair, wasn’t as bald and smooth as a porn actress or Hollywood starlet. Soft curls perfect as I let my fingers brush through, opening her to gently blow on overheated, over stimulated flesh; I listened to her sudden intake of air, felt her hold absolutely still before expelling that breath the second the tip of my tongue touched her clit.
I don’t know which of us was more ecstatic; I glanced up along her body and saw her face, radiant before she threw her head back. Me, I was completely infatuated with her taste: the imprint of sunshine and sea water on skin after a day on the beach, the motion of the waves still echoing my body. A childhood memory that never left me. The taste of her hard wired straight into my brain; I would never forget it, I knew that for sure. Long, slow, indolent stroking, I didn’t want to hurry anything, didn’t want it to end.
Isabel, for her part, was moving under me at such a rate, I had to pin her down with a hand on her belly, which only served as an ineffectual gesture as she is considerably stronger than me ordinarily. In extremis, she was like Wonder Woman. If she’d put her mind to it, her abs alone would’ve been sufficient to fling me off the bed, but even she knew that would be counterproductive. I couldn’t keep the stupid grin off my face as I listened to her: her breathing quickly reaching hyperventilation pitch, her voice sometimes a sob, sometimes a growl when she wasn’t fighting for breath. She was blasphemous, she was profane; calling on the Almighty when she wasn’t cursing me out, and all the time her muscles becoming tighter and tighter, her grip on my hair becoming almost too painful. I could feel her peaking, and just before she did, I slid two fingers deep inside her. Three clear thrusts were all that was needed to send her over. Both hands clenched my head as she lifted her hips clear off the bed, sobbing loudly, calling out my name, which is nice and short and easy to say at moments like this.
I kept my fingers inside her, loving the feel of her throbbing around them; her fingers were gently and absently stroking through my hair, her sighs telling me she was coming back into her body. With one final kiss, I withdrew my fingers and crawled up beside her to take her into my arms and kiss her mouth. Her face was flushed, her eyes hot, her hair wild: she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I was about to tell her this when she beat me to it, her voice husky and quiet.
“You’re so beautiful. Why have I never told you that?”
“More importantly, why haven’t I told you?”
She blushed a deep red.
“Don’t be daft”
I pulled her close, resting her head on my chest, kissing her hair.
“No, it’s true. I’ve always thought you were beautiful, I just never told you before”
“Because you were straight and it was inappropriate”
“It’s never inappropriate to tell a woman she’s beautiful, Kit. You should know that”
“No wonder I can’t sustain a long term relationship”
There was a snort against my chest and then she fell quiet. When she spoke again, I was startled, thinking she’d fallen asleep.
“Has Mark gone to his mother’s?”
“He won’t be home tonight”
It struck me that for the two nights they’d been back from their honeymoon they’d spent apart. I asked the question that had been bothering me for a month.
“Iz, why did you get married?”
She curled up, her face pressed into my body, not wanting to directly address me or the truth, but she’s not a coward.
“He asked me and it seemed like a good idea at the time. Mum had been dropping heavy hints. It got her off my back”
Not the best of reasons, I thought, but then Mrs. McFarland isn’t my mother. If she had been, perhaps I would’ve done the same. So I made no comment, just wrapped my arms around her and held her tightly, not thinking she’d elaborate further but she surprised me.
“I know I shouldn’t have done it. If we’d stayed just living together, we’d have probably bumbled along for another year or so before going our separate ways. I guess marrying him brought it all into focus much quicker. I realised things would be different – with me and you – ”
She fell silent, stroking my back.
“– and the thought of that made me desperate. I – I couldn’t bear to lose you”
“You wouldn’t have”
She shook her head.
“I would’ve. Things would be completely different. Eventually we would’ve drifted apart and I couldn’t stand the idea of that”
She sounded so sad, I needed to reassure her, gentle her. For a second time I thought she was asleep and again she startled me.
“Stay. Tonight, please”
Her voice was so plaintive, I swallowed the discomfort I had at spending the night in the marital bed. But how could it be any worse than spending the evening fucking Mark Fisher’s wife in his own bedroom? Having cuckolded him without a second thought, why should I turn a hair at literally sleeping with Isabel? I said nothing but nodded my assent. We’d worry about the niceties later; for now all I wanted was to fall asleep with her in my arms. When she spoke, Izzie sounded as if she was fighting off sleep.
“I love you”
“I love you too”
“No, I mean I really love you. I think I’m falling in love with you”
I didn’t know what to say. She sounded resigned.
“It’s okay. There’s no reason why you have to feel the same way”
I lifted her head up so I could kiss her on the mouth.
“Thing is, I know I love you and I’ve loved you as long as I’ve known you. I know I want you; God, look at tonight, that must tell you something. Being in love, I don’t know, but I can’t stop thinking about you and I’m here with you, not with Rachel. Is that being in love, do you think?”
She put her fingertips to my mouth before replacing them with her lips: a soft kiss.
“I don’t know, but it’ll do for now”
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