Chapter Eighteen

Saturday night saw me with Sarah, but not with her, if you know what I mean. Physically I was there, but my head and my heart were definitely somewhere else …

Even when she had her head between my legs, fucking me with her mouth, I was elsewhere. All I could do was think of Ash, and wish it was her there sucking and licking and kissing my most intimate place … wish it was her fingers that were playing with my nipple; her hand that was holding my hip down; her head bobbing up and down.

I didn’t even try to stop my thoughts from straying … I just accepted the fact I was head over heels in love with Ash, and wanted her more than I wanted to breathe. No guilt this time … nothing … except a fantastic orgasm that ripped through me and made me scream into the air, whilst thrusting myself onto Sarah’s face over and over again … savouring the jolts spluttering from me … sweat coating my skin … cum coating my thighs, her face and mouth.

So as I said. Having illicit thoughts about Ash didn’t stop me having an orgasm. In fact … it definitely helped.

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Christmas came and went, and the majority of my time was spent with Ash now. Sarah, quite rightly, was becoming more and more jealous. Even though I wasn’t technically cheating on her – I was. Well … in my head … and definitely in my heart … and I knew I had to stop what I was doing to her.

I did like Sarah … really like her. She had been my first … and would always hold that special place in my heart as she had shown me exactly who I was … and still am. I did feel bad … I knew her feelings for me ran deep; I could tell every time she looked at me.

And I knew I was actually doing more harm than good being with her, and I had to find the courage from somewhere to do something about it. Deep down, I just wished she would get fed up with me cancelling on her and go and find someone else.

I know … the true coward’s way out. And I agree with you … I didn’t deserve anyone, especially if that is how I was going to treat them.

New Year’s Eve arrived resplendent and ready for action. I’d made arrangements to spend the evening with Sarah … out of guilt I think. Ash had been disappointed when I told her but had accepted it with little fuss, but her eyes had given her away … and I felt torn.

Bloody hell. Why on earth should I be in this situation? Why couldn’t I just be happy with Sarah? Why did I have to always go after the unobtainable?

Life, I suppose … the little things that are here to drive us slowly mad with longing.

Ah well …

Anyway. I digress. Per usual.

Ash told me where she would be going, and told me and my ‘friends’ to pop in if we were passing. Yeah … I could see that happening … me and Sarah popping in to see Ash, her brothers, the wonderful Tracy (who was back on the scene again after worming her way back in to Stephen’s affections. Twat. Or twatette …), and all our mates from college meeting in The Plough in Heaton Moor.

Manchester was heaving with people, and Sarah and I had tickets to New York New York, a gay bar, which had a live act on, and a disco. At least we could be natural … well as natural as I could be being underage and with the wrong woman.

All evening I sat with Sarah, refusing most of the drinks thrust in front of me by everyone and their mother (not really their mother – an expression if you will). As time dragged by I became increasingly depressed, and was constantly clock watching. And like all clock-watchers, I found time fucking about with my sense of reality. What seemed like an hour had been five minutes … I’m not even going to go into what an hour felt like, but believe me … it was agony.

Eventually, it was Sarah who couldn’t stand it anymore, and broke the silence between us. I heard it smash into smithereens as it hit the wall with force.

‘I know you are not happy, Lou. Have I done something to upset you?’ Her face was pained, the anguish clearly standing out making her features appear gaunt and deathlike. Her eyes seemed haunted as she waited for my response, and I knew she wanted me to say something that would make this better … make us better.

What could I do? I could lie and just accept this relationship, or … I could tell her the truth.

‘Of course you haven’t … Sarah … I …am happy …’ But just not with you … just not like this. ‘You know I think a lot of you, don’t you?’ She nodded, her long hair flaying around her head as she nodded, her expression waiting for me to end this pain I could see written all over her.

Why am I just about to tell her another lie? Why am I treating her like this? This wasn’t fair on her … she deserved so much more than my half-hearted attempts at a relationship. I knew I would never have a relationship with Ash, but that didn’t give me the right to treat Sarah like second best. I had to learn to be on my own for the right reasons … not with someone because it was convenient.

She was still waiting for me to carry on. Still waiting for me to burst her bubble. Still waiting … and I could feel her breaking inside … and I knew exactly what she was going through, because I went through the same thing every time I was with Ash. I also knew that one day she would be me … sitting there, waiting to get my heart broken.

‘I’m in love with someone else.’

I can still remember her face when those words came out … stunned … lost and broken all at the same time. Visibly the colour drained from her face, the whiteness stark in the club’s lighting. Then slowly, the face began to fold, crumble, fracture, splinter … rupture. Her hands flew outwards to mine in a vain attempt to capture my hands; a keening sound emanating from the pit of her stung my ears and my chest ached, as I knew it was my fault.

‘Please … no … Lou … don’t leave me … don’t … leave me. I … I … love you … love you …’ the first time she had used those words, and the last. Tears rained down her face and she lunged across the table trying to grab me, but I pulled away, tears rolling from my eyes too. I can’t tell you how I felt … can’t tell you what emotions were running through me by now. All I knew is that I had killed something in that girl … she was devastated … and it was all my fault, for wanting something, or should I say someone, else.

People were looking over at us, but I didn’t care. I knew I should comfort her in some way, but how?

She had leaned back into her chair by now, her hands over her face, trying to stop herself crying, trying to regain some composure.

‘Sarah I … I … never meant to hurt you, you must know that?’ No answer - just muffled sobs. ‘ I didn’t even know myself until after we had started seeing each other … didn’t even know I could have feelings for another woman.’

Her face peeked over the tips of her hands, her mascara smeared all over her cheeks … and it was all my fault … all my fault. I watched her swallow rapidly, before she looked me straight in the eyes and said. ‘I understand …’ such a soft sweet voice. ‘Truly … Lou …’ She stopped again, swallowed again, looked at me squarely in the eyes … again. ‘Just remember … I …love you … always will.’

And she was gone.

And I was left searching the whole place from top to bottom for thirty minutes, but it was as if she had vanished off the face of the earth.

Finally, I resolved myself to the fact she had left the place, collected my coat and headed towards the exit. Eleven fifteen on New Year’s Eve and I was going home. Good place for me, as I felt awful. I’d broken that girl … not just her heart … but her. And I doubt even to this day I have ever forgiven myself for it.

If I was heading home, can you please tell me why, at eleven forty, I was pushing open the door to The Plough?

Beats me. But that’s where my homing device had taken me. It had taken me home … home to Ash.

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I could see her standing with her back to me, and she was deep in conversation with some guys from college. I just stood there and watched her. She was so beautiful … so natural … such a catch for any guy in here.

And that was the problem … it was the guys she was interested in … not girls. Like me.

As I was watching her, I saw her stop in mid sentence and rub the back of her head, the side of her face quizzical, like something had just hit her. I looked around but couldn’t see anyone laughing, and more to the point, I hadn’t seen anything hit her either.

In slow motion she turned … and looked straight at me, her face stunned for a split second, before she released the smile that was always ready and waiting. Then … she screamed out ‘LOU! YOU MADE IT!’ and hurtled towards me, throwing her arms around and crushing me into her.

I was lost and found in her … the feel of her … the scent of her … just … her … all of her. My lips were so close to her neck … the special place on your neck where the throat meets the shoulder … the little dip. It was so tempting to just kiss her … suck in her skin … taste her. And to tell you the truth, I did have a little brush against it. It was bliss.

She thrust me back, and I thought she had caught me, but her expression said otherwise. ‘I am so happy you could make it … with just over fifteen minutes to spare too.’

Then, dear reader, you know what she did? Do you? Have a guess.

Oh I can’t wait around for you, I’ll just tell you.

She kissed me. On the mouth. Her mouth on mine. Bam. There … flesh on flesh … lips on lips … her arms around me, kissing me.

About bloody time, I hear you all say. But hold your horses, it wasn’t a kissing kind of kiss … it was a ‘Hey … I’m so excited to see my friend’ kind of kiss. But who cares? She kissed me … on the mouth! And I nearly died … not of embarrassment … no way … of lust. The kiss was perfect, and I even got to sample a little bit of her spit, which I savoured after she pulled away and turned to shout the rest of them over. I pushed my lips into my mouth and sucked, just in case there was a little bit left over lurking outside that I could have missed.

I know … I’m a sad fucker … but I bet nearly all of you have done the same thing at one time or another. Go on … have a think …

See … I told you so.

I was bustled forward into the group, where I was met by everyone. I could see Tracy hanging back, trying to calm herself. And I wanted to laugh. I must have really pissed her off. Ash left me for a few minutes but I didn’t really get the chance to miss her as everyone was asking me questions about what I had done and why I had finally come to my senses and come.

I tried to answer them all, but Ash was back carrying a glass of something bubbly, a cheeky grin splitting her face.

As I looked at her, I felt a jolt of guilt for what I had done to Sarah pass over me … albeit fleetingly, but there nevertheless. Ash saw it. Would you believe it? She saw the expression flit across my face and her own reacted to it, roughly mirroring my own. So I smiled at her and she smiled back, slightly at first, and then a full out beaming smile.

‘Come on, Lou. Let’s get ready for the countdown.’ Then she grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the crowd and closer to the DJ, her fingers cool and long in my own sweaty stumpy ones. I allowed myself to be dragged by her, couldn’t resist really.

‘You’re not allowed a sip yet … you have to wait until midnight, okay?’ I nodded and then placed my glass on top of the speaker before leaning back and looking at my friend. She followed suit. Her long frame stretching out as she leaned back, her hips pushing out, her arms flat against the speaker.

When she turned to face me she was nearly on my level, and I felt the air catch in my throat. How on earth am I going to get through tonight without telling her, without touching her, without losing complete control and kissing those faultless lips?

Restraint. And lots of it.

‘What are you thinking about?’ She was so close, I could just …

‘Not much.’ What else could I have said? The truth? I think I’d had enough of being truthful for one evening, don’t you? ‘Why?’

‘You looked so serious.’ I play slapped her in the belly and she pretended I had winded her, and we both laughed, before leaning back onto the speakers, totally comfortable with each other.

When the DJ announced there was only a minute before midnight, I fully expected her to drag me off again to find the others, but she just leaned forward and pulled me into standing position in front of her.

I stood there, like a piece of clay waiting to be moulded into any shape she wanted, totally at her mercy. She placed both her hands on my shoulders and stared at me … so deeply … so fully, I actually began to have difficulty swallowing. Then she lifted one hand and grabbed one of mine and placed it on her hip, before she did the same with the other one.

And there we stood. Her hands on my shoulders, mine on her hips … waiting for the countdown, although my heart was definitely waiting for something else.

‘Ten …’ She just gazed into my eyes … no expression readable. I stared back … transfixed. I actually missed the next few seconds, as I couldn’t concentrate.

‘Four …’ People were chanting the numbers now, but I couldn’t speak … I was lost in her eyes … in her touch.

‘Three …’ I licked my lips, nerves or expectation, I don’t know.

‘Two …’ She licked hers, just a mirroring reaction.

‘One …’ I couldn’t breathe now … the thought of what I wanted to happen was eating me alive.

‘Happy New Year!’ I didn’t hear the cheers around me, the people going wild and beginning to sing Auld Lang Syne. I didn’t know anything but the most tender kiss I had ever experienced in my life brush against my lips, once … twice … three times.

Then she pulled me into her again, leaving me stunned and my blood racing. Her breath was in my hair, her voice muffled, but my nerves made it seem as if she had shouted it. ‘Thank you, Lou. For coming back to me … for coming back to me.’

Did she mean tonight? Or generally?

To tell the truth, I didn’t care. I folded into her and just accepted what she was willing to give, losing the last vestiges of control along the way, her presence consuming me, ingesting me … mind, body and soul.

And there we stood, wrapped in each other’s arms for what seemed like a glorious lifetime, and all the while I knew this would probably be the last time I would experience this bliss, this heaven on earth. The first and last time … as I knew this was only a reaction to seeing me again after all those years apart.

Stephen interrupted us … again, shouting his New Year’s greeting and expecting hugs and kisses from the both of us. I pulled away first, and I watched her eyes slowly open and focus on mine. They looked dreamy, for some reason. ‘Come on you two … you haven’t even toasted the New Year yet.’ With that, he thrust my glass into my hand, grabbing me around the waist and planting a sloppy kiss on my mouth, before grabbing his sister and picking her up to jiggle her around.

She threw her head back and laughed that really deep and sexy laugh of hers, and I felt a smile creep along my face. I lifted the glass in toast, and silently mouthed, ‘Happy New Year, Ash. And thank you for coming back to me.’

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Chapter Nineteen

It was nearly a week before I saw Sarah again. And she looked like crap. I had tried to call her the day after, but she wasn’t taking my calls. Although it wasn’t actually said, I could sense it in her father’s tone of voice when he said she was out.

It was not very welcoming to say the least.

The time I saw her was at work, but not really at work if you know what I mean. She popped by to hand in her apron first thing on the Saturday morning, and it took her all her time to look at me, even after I kept on calling her name.

What did I expect? Hugs and kisses?

I tried to get her on her own, but she wouldn’t have any of it, and kept on edging away. Although she looked generally ravaged, it was her eyes that disturbed me the most.

They were sunken and haunted. The sparkle she used to have had completely gone, and I knew it was all my fault. I had broken this girl; shattered her belief in me … her belief in life. Well that was what it seemed to me.

She only said two words to me … two words that stopped me in my tracks … two words that made me step back and away from her.

‘Lou … don’t.’ It wasn’t what she said, it was her face … her tone, that made leave her alone. It was all too fresh – too open a wound for my inexperienced mumblings to slightly compensate anything she was going through. And although I had caused all this pain, I did actually know when to back off.

That was the day she quit the stall, and left my life. I never saw her again, not even in passing, although I did hear she had met someone else.

The reason for me never seeing her again will become obvious soon enough.

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Ash and I were constantly with each other, and I was in heaven. She was everything one person looked for in a friend – truthful, trusting, honest, witty … I could go on and talk about her intelligence, beauty and her wicked sense of humour, but I think you will guess I can wax lyrical about this girl.

In a nutshell … she became my world.

Ben was completely out of the picture (I bet you had wondered about the blonde haired wanker hadn’t you … he had moved on to another victim), so she was all mine …

… all mine …

… all mine …

… in a platonic way of course.

Unfortunately.

We spent nearly every night either at her house or at mine. We still kept up with the bowling, and I was getting better – although not by much. Why would I bother improving if that would mean I wouldn’t get the guidance from her? And that amounted to lots of touching and full body contact. My favourite was when she came up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist to turn me into position. She laughed every time and called me a fruit fly, because I couldn’t remember which of the little ‘arrowy things’ to stand near, and then which position to place my body.

Which of course I remembered. Perfectly, actually. But there was no way on this earth I was going to let her know that, was there? Not a chance.

The weeks flew by, and I was totally smitten with her – everything about her. But I should have known this piece of heaven couldn’t last, and it came totally out of the blue. And not what you are expecting either. I didn’t balls things up … profess my undying love for her … make a pass … let anything slip. I was completely innocent to the falling and breaking apart of my world.

It was my parents actually.

They told me we were moving.

Away.

Far away.

Far away from Manchester … from Stockport … from Ash.

I could tell you how I reacted, but that wouldn’t change a thing. I could tell you how I screamed at them, ranted … threw things … ignored them … refused to eat … But that would be superfluous wouldn’t it? You should know me by now to realise my whole life had been tipped over and stamped upon. Everything I knew was crushed. Everything I had would be snatched away from me.

And that ‘everything’ came from only one thing … one person actually. But you know that don’t you.

I didn’t tell her about the move for nearly a week. And then it wasn’t me who actually told her.

Once again it was my parents … my mum in fact.

I still remember her reaction, Ash’s reaction that is. Such a simple sentence spewed forth from my mum’s mouth … such simple words … all ordered together perfectly, but simple nevertheless.

‘Didn’t Lou tell you we were moving to Norfolk?’

The smile Ash had been sporting froze … and I witnessed her physically struggle to keep it there, lips twitching, the surrounding area spasming … until finally it gave up, and slipped … slowly from her face, leaving her face blank – wiped clean – vacant.

Slowly, she turned to me, the question in her eyes but as yet silent. I watched her lips struggle to collect themselves into some kind of action, fight with the incredulity of the situation, until finally … ‘Lou?’ A cry of sorts. The word hovered around in the air expectant, waiting for me to disprove what had been said. But how could I?

I remember leaning forward, my hand outstretched as it had forgotten that it couldn’t just reach out and touch her, in case it became carried away and couldn’t stop … couldn’t stop … touching her. I stopped. Drew back the rogue hand and clasped it into a ball, holding the traitor back with its twin.

‘I … I … was … erm …’

‘Lou?’

Her voice held so much hurt, almost like I had betrayed it by not telling her.

‘I was … erm … going to tell you …’

‘When? As you were driving off?’ Her tone sounded bitter … or should I say hurt. I know I would have been hurt if she hadn’t told me about something as life changing as this.

‘No … I … well … erm …’ My mum watched the interchange with interest; watched me struggle to get the words out; watched Ash, pale and wan; watched me grip my rogue hand tighter.

Watched as my world came tumbling down, like Jack and Jill. But this time it was Lou and Ash.

‘Why don’t you go up to your room and talk?’

I nodded at mum’s suggestion, as words had left me there to fend for myself. I indicated to Ash that she should follow me, and she did.

I walked up the stairs like Orpheus who was valiantly hoping Eurydice was following, but was terrified if he looked back she would be gone. I fully expected the sound of the front door closing to greet my ears, but all I heard was the creaking of the stairs.

Eventually, I was stood in the room with my back to the door, and I heard the sound of it closing behind me. Then …

Nothing.

Complete silence.

Well except for the booming of my heart, which had decided this moment was as good as any to start performing a drum solo. I knew I had to get this over … knew I had to act as natural as possible … knew it would half kill me when I told her.

I turned around and forced my eyes to look at her face, adding a weak smile into the mix for good measure, hoping I wouldn’t just curl up at her feet and beg her to love me … beg her to save me … beg her to tell me I would be with her, or she would wait until I moved back … like I promised myself I would as soon as I reached eighteen.

A face completely devoid of colour apart from blue eyes and the blood red lips … lips I had coveted … lips I wanted to take and smother and never ever let go.

‘Come … sit on the bed with me.’ I turned away again and plonked onto my bed, turning myself onto my side. She just stood there, and stared at me before I saw her leg push down and propel her forward, as if she had been pushed.

It seemed as if it took her forever to get to me, and I watched her every move, albeit surreptitiously. She seemed sluggish … reticent. I wanted this to be all over as soon as possible; get it all out in the open so I could start mending my aching heart once again.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But … if you have ever been in love you will know exactly what I mean. The constant longing I felt inside hurt like buggery (to borrow another expression from my mum’s vast list of expressions). No … I can’t say that now, as it would lose the effect of the agony I was going through. I was … dear reader … trying to save you from how I was feeling, but I think you deserve to know.

As I was saying, if you have ever been in love you know how it feels. Even if it is reciprocated, there is a longing … a yearning deep inside … a fear that at any one moment it could all be taken from you and you would be left gasping like a fish out of water.

And that is how I felt at that exact moment in time. Like a fish out of water. Gasping. Mouth smacking open and closed … fins flaying … everything becoming dim … distant … detached. All I needed was for Ash to untangle the line and throw me back in, save me in some way, but I doubted that was going to happen.

It was Ash who finally spoke … thus untangling the line in my mouth and loosening the hook. ‘When are you going?’ And although the hook was gone, I was still out of the water.

I just shook my head and lifted my face to hers, which was now inches away from mine. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. So I tried again.

‘I’m not sure … About six to eight weeks.’

‘Six weeks! Six … weeks!’ She shot off the bed so quickly it made me fall back. Then she marched over to the other side of the room and stood facing the wall, her shoulders rising and falling rapidly.

Cliff was watching. It reminded me of Donny all those years ago. The feeling inside was exactly the same, but now I knew why I was totally devastated.

It was because now I knew why I didn’t want to leave her, and this time it wasn’t just because she was my best friend.

‘When were you going to tell me?’ Her voice was quiet now, defeated. I just shrugged, and obviously she couldn’t see me, so she asked me again, but this time she turned her head to look at me over her shoulder. And this time her voice was sterner … more forceful … insistent.

‘I only found out last week.’

‘You’ve known for a week and you didn’t say anything?’ The tone of incredulity again, but there was a hint of bitterness harbouring there too. She turned to face me, hands on her hips, nostrils flaring. ‘So when did you think you might get around to telling me, hmm? The night before? On the day? ’ I couldn’t understand why she was so angry. It was so unlike her to react like this. If anyone was going to be angry, it was usually me.

I was stunned, to say the least, which didn’t help with the situation. She wanted answers and she wanted them now.

So, me being me, I tried to answer, but it didn’t come out the way I thought it would. I opened my mouth to speak, and kind of choked around the enormous lump that had formed in my throat. I felt my face crease up and fold into a wrinkled mess, and tears plopped over my lids in a bid to escape the inner torment inside me. Shuddering sobs tore from within, and eased themselves through my teeth to greet the suffocating air of my bedroom.

She was in front of me in a flash, bending before me on one knee … oh I wish. Her eyes had lost the coolness from minutes earlier, and now held the warm tenderness of the girl I loved.

‘Hey … sweetheart. Come on … don’t cry.’ What a beautiful voice … so rich, yet soft. And this of course made my crying escalate. ‘Hey …hey … come here.’ Two strong arms folded around me and then pulled me into a very warm and very full chest. I tried to breath her in, but my crying got in the way. Every time I tried to suck in the scent of her, I shuddered with sobs. It was a perfect opportunity to be close to her … to feel her next to me … to be in her arms, and I wasn’t getting the benefit.

This thought made me cry even harder. Therefore making her more comforting … more loving … more enchanting … and it also made her hold me tighter, pulling me towards her and into her. I could feel my body responding to her touch … feel my face turning towards her throat … feel my lips opening up to kiss her neck … taste her neck …

‘Lou?’ Reality came crashing back, and I tried to pull myself away from her, but she held on tighter, her face pressing against the top of my head.

I mumbled a response into her skin, illicitly enjoying the way my lips felt on her neck, until I felt her body tense around me … and then it went quiet for a minute … a bloody long minute at that.

A cough, which I could feel moving up her chest, and then rapid swallowing. ‘It won’t be the end of us will it? We’ll still see each other won’t we?’ More rapid swallowing, but this time it was from the both of us.

‘Of course we will … I’ll be starting Uni next year in Manchester …’ (I hoped) ‘ … and then we can be just as we are now … ‘ (or closer). ‘And you can come and visit any time …’ (all of the time) ‘Or I could come and stay with you.’ (please)

She gripped me harder, and I returned the gesture. To anybody watching we looked like a pair of star-crossed lovers … but the only audience we had was Cliff … and Madonna, and they didn’t really count.

Ash pulled back and stared into my eyes … long and hard … like she was exacting a promise of sorts from me. It took all the strength I could muster not to just capture her mouth with mine … not to tell her how I was feeling … not to look away in absolute terror that I would do the previous two.

‘Promise?’

‘I promise, Ash. This isn’t the end … just a blip … we’ve survived once before, I’m sure to God we can do it again.’ I swallowed before I lied. ‘And best friends will always be together, right?’

I didn’t just want her as my best friend, but I was still playing the ‘living in her shadow’ phase.

And as I folded myself back into her arms, inhaled her scent, glorified in the feel of her, I truly believed what I had just said.

The innocence of youth, eh? More like the idiocy.

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Chapter Twenty

Time seemed to race ahead leaving me gasping and clutching at the metaphorical stitch in my side, but the pain paled in comparison to how I was feeling when I thought of leaving Ash.

The dates had come through for the move and it was to happen three days after my seventeenth birthday. What a present.

My parents had been on countless trips to Norfolk to view properties and had decided on one in Great Yarmouth of all places. It was okay if you liked funfairs and the seaside … and remember … this is what I thought as a teenager … now I can see the true beauty of the sea. But at the time every thing about Yarmouth seemed hateful, as you can imagine, as Yarmouth would take me away.

Every minute I spent with Ash seemed like a gift in some strange way. I devoured moments, savoured seconds, took snapshots in my head of her to keep in my memory after I was gone … for after I left her. It was a bitter sweet time … half of me was enjoying being with her more than ever, whilst the other half was screaming inside in agony knowing it would all too soon come to an end.

When I told her what day we were moving, I watched her contain her sadness, almost in the same way I had to contain mine. But then it seemed like an idea had spread itself all over her, and her face beamed, which initially I was quite pissed off about. The selfish part of me wanted her to wallow in misery in pretty much the same way I did.

But then she voiced the reason why. She wanted to make sure I would have a birthday I would always remember.

And I can tell you this … it most definitely was.

Now … is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Read on and find out.

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All my belongings were packed up, well except for a few personal things and clothes, and the house had the echoey quality houses have when they are no longer a home.

Jo and I had stuffed most of our things willy-nilly into black bin bags as we couldn’t be arsed to sort through things, and we both wanted to go out that night

It was strange really. I knew Jo absolutely idolised her boyfriend, but she didn’t seem bothered about the fact we would be moving two hundred miles away. I mean … she had been seeing him for nearly a year and she wasn’t even a patch as upset as I was to be leaving Ash. And Ash was (supposedly) just a friend.

I actually caught her singing when she was packing. Cliff Richard songs. Her singing was bad enough, but to Cliff? Don’t get me started… And her singing wasn’t that bad … I could be a critic, but I still remember Waterloo

Before I knew it my birthday was here, but I couldn’t get excited about it, as it meant I would be leaving in three days. Ash had called and told me to dress special, as she had booked a table for us for 7:30, but wouldn’t tell me where.

I was surprised no one at home commented I was going out with only Ash on my birthday, and I think it was because they had too much else on their minds to wonder what I was getting up to. And if they had seen me in the bathroom … well … let’s just say I was relieving the tension, so to speak.

God. I needed to. All the upset of moving and my obsessive addiction to my best friend would have driven anyone half mad with desire, and I was no exception.

The shower had become my haven … the hot water an extra sensation for my body to adjust to. All I could think about was the blueness of her eyes … the plumpness of those oh so kissable lips, and it wasn’t just the water that made me wet.

I was flooding … in special places … hot places … secret places. And it wasn’t long before I felt my hand sneaking between those folds and collecting that special wetness on my fingers and smearing it into me.

One solitary gasp ached from my mouth. My fingers were trying to alleviate the tension in my core, but I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, it would take more than my fumblings to quench this thirst, if ever.

I lifted one leg onto the side of the bath and pushed my shoulders against the slippery cold tile for some kind of support. Two fingers were either side of my clit, pushing and pulling the swollen nub upwards and downwards … upwards and downwards. I kept on dipping into the pooling wetness and coating the side of my lips, the sensation agonisingly beautiful. I wanted to push my fingers inside myself … fuck myself … feel the walls closing in to clasp around the solitary finger, but as yet that prize was still intact. I wanted someone more special than me to take it.

I wanted Ash to take it … and take it … and take it.

Water threw itself upon me, suicidal in its journey to the swirling mass circulating around my one foot. Rivulets contorting in the whirlpool, becoming lost in the flow of the movement until freedom and escape were found in the sucking hole of the bath plug. I had visions of being underneath a waterfall in a different place and time; visions of experiencing the same need and fire.

That’s how I was feeling. Like I was being sucked in. The want inside me was sucking me in … making my hand jerk and thrust, pump and thrash against the engorged crux of my longing. My head was tilted back, and wet hair clamoured on the wall, sticking to the tile in insurrection, forgetting to fall backwards … forgetting to stick to my face.

I could feel the orgasm building as I pushed and rocked my hips in an increasing tempo of desire. I knew I was going to cum … I knew I was going to cum … I knew … I was … going … to …cum … cum … cum … cum … cum …

Teeth bit down onto my bottom lip, trying to stop the almost whistled name from tearing from my throat in a plea for her to fuck me … and fuck me … and fuck … me … as I was cumming … thinking she was doing exactly that … pretending it was her fingers pressing into me, onto me, rubbing and eliciting the tiny sparks of an orgasm that blinded me and made me lose all sense of time and reality.

Droplets of water had gathered on my breasts, and I envisioned a perfect mouth opening around an erect nipple. Straight white teeth opened to allow a wet full tongue to snake out a hover over the aching bud. I felt myself lift up, lost in the delicious sense of fantasy, believing she was here with me now. I knew if I leaned forward more she would capture me inside her perfect mouth; knew those hooded blue eyes told me she loved me. And I knew I was going to cum again.

And I did. A wet back slapped against the wall; a wet backside pushed itself up and away, up and away, meeting and greeting frantic fingers. The other hand was busy rolling and flicking a stimulated nipple, alternating between tweaking and pumping the breast.

Until the cumming had passed. And my legs believed they couldn’t hold myself up anymore. My fingers were slick with my juices, and I circled the oversensitive wetness, savouring the delight of a second cumming.

I slipped, effortlessly down the wall and slumped into a heap, whilst water cascaded off the top of my head, shoulders and back. My breath was short and ragged; my throat was dry, and I had difficulty swallowing. My eyes were closed, as I initially savoured the moment, until I let way for the feeling of despair to join with the water and wash over me.

Tears spilled over and trickled down my cheeks, blending perfectly with the spray. I felt so alone. So alone. I had experienced something too wonderful and consuming, it seemed hard to comprehend the consuming feeling was really connected with the realisation I would soon be leaving the woman I loved in the matter of days.

I wanted to tell her. Wanted her to know the truth about how I was feeling. But how could I tell her this secret? Being a lesbian is one thing, but being a coward made up who I really was. Being a coward was the only thing stopping me telling her I was a lesbian, if you see what I mean.

I was scared of how she would react. I was scared she would never want to speak to me again. The truth was, I was scared she wouldn’t want me as much as I wanted her … or just want me … full stop.

And there I sat. In the bottom of the bath. Water splashing off me. Curled in a heap, with water splashing off me.

And cried.

And cried.

And cried.

                        *************************************************************

The restaurant was perfect. Italian. My favourite.

Ash looked a vision of beauty and raw sexuality, and I had difficulty tearing my eyes from her. Images of me in the shower filtered into my mind and I could feel the heat travel up into my face flooding it with an incandescent glow.

‘Are you okay?’ I couldn’t even answer, just nodded like a prat. She looked at me a little longer before shaking her head from side to side and pushing her way through the door and into the darkened room that promised the delights of sumptuous food.

As the evening progressed, I was very much aware of two lads from another table desperately trying to get our attention, and I ignored them as best as I could. Ash just grinned at them and mouthed ‘Not interested’, which obviously made them more eager to snare us. It took a firm ‘fuck off’ from me to let them know we weren’t interested, which I delivered as Ash went to the bathroom.

The usual ‘You must be lezzas’ left their mouths, as lads tend to do when they are given the knock back. This time they were right … well … half right, and by the time Ash had returned they had left. And no … I did tell them to fuck off again. I wasn’t going to let two pimply gits try to intimidate me; it was after a chat with the waiter they left like puppies.

Totally satiated (food wise), we left the restaurant and caught a taxi to the Little Jack Horner, a haunt for the underage drinkers. Ash was okay as she was eighteen, but I was a year short.

The place was full of minors, and I felt quite at home there. Ash told me to find a seat and trundled off to the bar to shortly return with a drink nicknamed ‘The Blob’. Mainly because after too many of them that’s how you felt. Like a big fat blob who was good for nothing. It had pretty much everything in it and tasted vile … but I drank it because Ash had picked it for me. And I even drank the second one.

Ash didn’t show any effects of even having a sip of a drink, never mind two of the buggers. I could feel myself beginning to squint when she was talking to me and swore the next drink would definitely be a soft one. Then I nearly lost all my bearings as she got up and sauntered over to the jukebox, and it wasn’t long before I heard the dulcet tones of Alison Moyet ringing through the pub singing Only You … just for me … just for Ash … just for the both of us.

The evening was becoming blurred … especially the line between reality and fantasy. I was beginning to believe I was on a date with the dark haired object of all my desire.

I was beginning to find it difficult to not touch her knee … or her arm when we were talking. She even started to do it to me, especially when she really wanted my attention. I was transfixed, and couldn’t tear my eyes from any part of her anatomy that happened to land on mine.

Everything felt so right … so special. I actually forgot I was leaving in three days. I truly believed that if heaven did exist it was here – with her – lurking in the pools of her blue eyes.

Before I knew it, the bartender was ringing his bell and shouting for last orders. A stab of disappointment raced through me, as I knew this fantasy had to come to an end.

Unhurriedly, I put on my coat and then said I had to use the Ladies.

Once inside the bathroom, I rinsed my face with cold water just to get back the feeling of normalcy once again. Tired green eyes stared back at me from the mirror. Well … not exactly tired … more like disappointed.

‘What did you expect?’ My voice sounded rough and despondent. ‘Flowers and a profession of undying love?’ A snort left my nose and I felt my body slump in the realisation that this was only a birthday night out to Ash. Although it meant a hell of a lot more to me.

I reapplied my lipstick, and headed towards the door. I had to snap out of this obsession, somehow, and accept Ash and I were friends and nothing more.

It’s not easy, you know. Having the love of your life waiting on the other side of the door, and knowing you were leaving in three (well two by now) days and not be able to tell her how you feel.

A sigh escaped as I drew the door back, and there she was … resplendent in all her gorgeous glory, leaning with her back on the wall totally casual and relaxed, her smile splitting her face in two.

And I think I fell in love with her all over again.

                        ****************************************************************

I’m sure you can recollect walking down the street when you were worse for wear on the demon drink. So, I don’t have to tell you about the fiasco we had trying to get back to the taxi rank in town. We thought it would be easier to go to the depot instead of waiting for one to turn up.

Erm … wrong.

It was fun, though, to give it some credit. Fun trying to not stagger about. We weren’t blotto, but we definitely knew we had had our fill. Bravely, as pissed people tend to do, we linked arms just to try and steady each other.

This made me far from steady.

The feeling of her next to me … the firmness of her body next to mine made my head swim with absolute longing just to increase the contact.

So I did. I leaned into her, languishing in the nearness of my heart’s deepest wish. I was so caught up in the moment I didn’t realise I was holding her hand … yep … I had looped my arm across her middle and had pulled those slender digits into my own. The sensation of tangling my fingers with hers was tantamount to insanity … I was going crazy for her.

Instead of drawing my hand away like I should have … you know, like I had been burned … I did the complete opposite.

I froze. And stared at her fingers laced in mine.

She stopped talking, and I could feel her breath tapping on the side on my face … short sharp breaths that warmed much more than the skin on my cheek.

It seemed as if it was in slow motion as I lifted my eyes to meet her gaze and was caught in a blueness that had turned nearly violet in the darkness.

I was transfixed. Couldn’t blink. Just stared. And she stared back – unblinking too.

I didn’t even notice I had moved in closer. It must have been the alcohol, although to this day I still believe I was under the influence of Ash and Ash alone … the alcohol had dissipated to a distant memory.

We were inches apart … our breaths were mingling in the cold night’s air … twisting and turning into some unfocused fog … joining … connecting like they needed to melt into one to survive.

I could say I did what I did in a last ditch to claim what my heart yearned for. I could even say I did it just to experience all that was Ash. I even could say I did it to quench the thirst I had for her – just the once – to touch those lips – to kiss those lips. To claim them for my own … just the once.

But … I can’t say any of these things.

Because I didn’t know. Still don’t know why I did it – why I closed that vacuous gap between us and brushed my needy lips against hers.

If it had been just that – a kiss, however brief, then it all would be okay, and maybe I wouldn’t be sat her today writing this. If she hadn’t returned the oh so brief brush of the lips with a kiss that was slightly longer … Once again I wouldn’t be sat here …

But she did.

And I was lost.

Control was a thing of the past … and I was lost.

My hand lifted to her face and cupped her cheek surrendering in the texture. Soft. Supple. Perfect.

I pulled her head down closer to mine and captured her lips, holding them underneath mine … holding them still.

And waited.

I was surprised she couldn’t feel my heart beating wildly in my mouth, as I waited … with my lips locked on hers.

Then … slowly … I felt hers move, reciprocating what I was feeling in a tender kiss. Expectation clung to me, as I moved my lips against hers; my hand pushing back into long thick hair to clutch at the nape and bring her face down into mine.

Pressure was building – the kiss became stronger, finding the will to continue … finding the hope to collect what was rightfully hers. Then … more ardent. Wetness escaped my mouth and blended with hers – the taste was all I had ever dreamed it would be … but better.

Lips parted on a silent command, and I could feel a soft wet tongue escape her mouth and beg entrance to mine.

Permission granted.

Her hands were on my hips and she pulled me into her, increasing the pressure. I slipped my free hand around her waist to aid the connection.

Wetness poured from between my legs, as my heart continued to perform cartwheels around my body, leaving the confines of my mouth. Hips began their methodical rocking against each other …

Ash staggered back slightly, taking me with her. Before I knew it, she was up against the wall with me between her legs. Pushing into her. Kissing her. Claiming her. All my inhibitions were gone.

I nearly came when her hand gripped my backside and pulled me into her, her groan entering my mouth as the kiss deepened into something carnal … sexually primitive.

It was shit or bust … shit or bust.

My hand left her waist and snaked inside her coat, inside her shirt … and hovered for a split second …at the base of her breast. I could feel the heat of it taunting me – begging me to clutch and clasp and pump.

And who am I to refuse.

‘Fuck … Lou … god …’ Her words shot inside my mouth, as I continued to grind and push and kiss her. I was truly lost … truly immersed in all that was her.

If this was a dream then please let me sleep forever.

But this wasn’t a dream. This was me acting out all my fantasies … all my fantasies about my best friend … the friend I loved … was in love with … The friend I never thought would look at me twice.

I needed to taste her, lick her throat – suck her skin – sample the little crevice where her neck met her shoulder …

I craved to nurse her nipple in my mouth, rolling it around my tongue. I yearned to slip my hand between her legs and sample the wetness I hoped would be seeping from her.

It was the scenario of the child in the sweetshop. Everything on display … everything to purchase, but not knowing what to sample first. And like a child I wanted it all … needed it all. My hands were trying to touch all of her but savour each caress … a mammoth feat. I was drowning … seeping … dissolving into her … Her lips were on fire, my libido was out of control … I was losing all sense of reality …

Her hands slipped their way tentatively underneath my jacket – the shirt – the bra – then …

God.

The feel of those fingers caressing my breast, pinching the erect nipple, becoming firmer and firmer and then …

Stop.

And.

Freeze.

Pull away. To be shortly followed by her mouth.

Blue eyes were wide with shock; her lips glistened with my saliva, my hand still on her breast.

‘I can’t … can’t … Lou … I can’t do this.’ Followed by a shove away, leaving me staggering backwards, and disbelief pouring from me.

And she ran … leaving me gasping. She ran … leaving me stunned. She ran … leaving me there …

… standing

… with my broken heart in my hands.

            ************************************************************

Chapter Twenty-One

Didn’t see Ash. Didn’t expect to.

Throughout the last three days, I had gone through all the phases, stages, and rites of passage nobody should ever experience.

Guilt. Anger. Frustration. Apathy. Then all of them again.

I couldn’t tell you how many times I picked up the phone to call her, but chickened out at the last minute. Nor could I tell you how long I stood outside her house plucking up the courage to just knock. What would I say? What could I say, for that matter? So, I just stood there … watching closed curtains.

I felt raw. Exposed. Tumultuous. Depressed. Manic. I felt everything but wanted. The feelings churning through me never stayed constant.

Loneliness prevailed. Who could I tell? No one … not even Jo. Why should I? What good would it do?

On the Saturday morning, after all our things had been loaded in the removal van, I felt the end of an era come upon me. The iron doors clanked shut and echoed the sound of the shutters falling into place in my heart. I physically felt it. Slam. Shutters down. Finito. It was a feeble attempt to block out everything and everyone … almost like an invisible brick wall.

And as my dad laid his hand on my shoulders, in a signal of our departure, I felt the key lock in my chest … like a knife twisting.

‘Time to go, Lou.’ His face showed concern as he gently rubbed my shoulder in some attempt to comfort me. ‘You’ll love it there … you’ll see. It’ll be a new start for all of us.’

I just nodded. Words stuck in my throat. Tears collected in my eyes but stayed unspent.

Although I had my belongings jammed into black bin bags in the back of that van, I left everything behind in Stockport that day.

Everything.

My innocence.

My hope.

My heart – broken and wretched.

But most of all I left behind the only person I knew I would ever love.

Now. That is no way to start a new life is it?

I left my home feeling like a shell – empty … devoid of a future… bereft of a soul.

                        ***********************************************************

part 7

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