By Ciarán Llachlan Leavitt
non-snail mail: llachness at gmail dot com
Reed hated being on location. Hated the utter lack of diversions. Hated the rows of trailers squeezed next to each other in a pricey parody of a trailer park.
Mostly, she hated not being in LA.
It was all she could do to keep from ripping the door off the trailer. Had it not been for the fact that without a door she would have to surrender the last shred of privacy and quiet that existed for her on the lot, she would have. Instead, Reed contented herself with slamming it and violently turning the bolt lock. They had only been here for three days and already she felt as though it had been a lifetime. When the sun wasn't baking them, the rain simmered around them like they were ingredients in a soup.
Her skin had borne the brunt of the damage: the leather of her costume punishing her as it had alternately shrunk back into shape, or had become so heavy with water that it was all she could do to remain standing. She was very glad that she had cut her hair and wasn't wearing a goddamned wig.
Reed snorted to herself. "Some fucking superhero." Though she was secretly pleased Jae considered her one.
Absently, she ran a hand through her hair. A nascent smile took the edge from her mood as the memory of Jae's voice whispered in her mind. Automatically, she reached for her phone, knowing exactly what she needed. Before her smile could fully bloom, Reed remembered that out here at the end of the middle of the back of beyond there was no way to call; not unless she wanted to sit in the production trailer. And while that would suffice for short conversations with her son, or in an emergency, it was in no way what she wanted or needed now.
Resigned to her mood, she moved further into the trailer intent on finding a clean glass and splashing some whiskey into it. She slammed her hand against the wall to trigger the light switch. "Now what have we here?" Three brown paper packages were lined up, from smallest to largest, on the table that was centered in the sitting room portion of the ridiculously opulent trailer. Moving closer and glancing down, she laughed when, in place of Jae's normally haphazard scrawl, she saw the wide, precise lettering on each package: ONE, TWO, THREE.
Curiosity piqued, she picked up the small package labeled ONE, and ran her fingers along its edges. Was it wistfulness, or was there a hint of vanilla clinging to the otherwise plain wrap? She shook her head, feeling more than a little grade-school to have her heart racing and her mind playing tricks on her senses just because Jae had sent something. Three somethings, actually, and she grinned again - three somethings definitely signaled that maybe she wasn't being entirely silly. Jae had proved to be nothing if not imaginative.
Reed suddenly put the package down, unsure if it would be a good idea to even open it. It had taken days to get a sense of equilibrium back after her whirlwind visit to Los Angeles. She had finally settled back into her role, had in fact used a good portion of her own feelings to shade her performance. She trailed one finger across the taped seam of the largest package, realizing as she did so that, in the end, her own need to know would get the better of her and that she could save herself a great deal of introspective angst if she just opened them.
"Heh, what do you know," Reed spoke to the small framed picture of Jae that sat on edge of the workstation on the far side of the room. "A personal growth moment."
She dropped lightly onto the settée, then once again picked up the first package, not stopping to examine it further but simply hooking her finger under one taped flap and ripping. Cigarettes. Dunhills to be precise. Reed sat, stunned. Cigarettes, and the correct brand at that? It was then that she noticed that the pack had already been opened. Reed flicked the pack open and raised an eyebrow when she spotted the rolled scroll of cream-coloured paper that rested where half of the cigarettes should have been.
Unwilling to wait to read it, Reed forebore searching for her lighter and instead removed the note and carefully unfurled it, pleasantly surprised to find that it was not one sheet, but several. The first bore a single line.
Go ahead, find your lighter, but we're going talk about you're little 'addiction' when you get home.
Reed did as she had been bid, and wandered into the small kitchen and removed her lighter from the top of the fridge. She wasn't sure what she found more amusing, that Jae had sent the cigarettes or that the other woman knew that she hadn't actually quit smoking. Either way, it added up to busted. She found herself unexpectedly touched, rather than annoyed, by the chiding tone of the note. A clean glass was located, and Reed poured a generous measure of scotch over the ice she'd absently added.
She waited until she had returned to the settee before actually lighting up, feeling that the spirit, if not the letter, of the game they were playing demanded it. Normally, she would have thrown on a CD, but as she leaned back and drew the smoke deep into her lungs, she decided she was enjoying the quiet for a change. Reed slowly released her indrawn breath and watched the grey wisps of smoke spread out into the room as she exhaled.
Carefully, she set the first note on the table, and began to read the next one.
I thought about giving you a detailed set of instructions - bath, wine and whatnot - but that's not what I really wanted to say. Just a way to delay saying it. So here goes. First, I love you. Actually, first, second, last and always - I love you.
Reed took a swallow of her drink and settled deeper against a cushion, able to picture Jae's face as she would have looked trying to speak the words: shy, intense, and with a hesitancy that signalled she was about to take a risk.
So much for not delaying, hey? When you open the other packages, pick some place private. Really private. With a working lock. Don't open the third package until, and unless, you're okay with the contents of the second package.
More than just her curiousity was piqued. Reed sat up a little straighter, surprised to find her heart rate had increased and that a warm tightness had begun to settle low in her hips. The next words sent her arousal from mere tendril to flame.
You do like to watch, don't you?
Her mouth had gone dry, and even with the help of the scotch she found it difficult to swallow. A flurry of images roiled through her mind; moments captured like animated photographs underscoring her once whispered words, "I'm really more of a voyeur."
Mechanically she opened the second package, her cigarette forgotten. She opened the slim jewel case and couldn't help but to release a short, sharp laugh. The DVD had been carefully, and, she thought, somewhat unnecessarily, labelled with a full set of copyright notices and admonishments against unauthorized reproduction or viewing.
Not bothering to close the case, Reed stood and made her way to the bedroom, unexpectedly grateful for the redundant entertainment systems in the trailer. Though already behind one locked door, she was taking no chances. The bedroom door also had a lock.
Inside the doorway she stopped, looking between the chair and the bed. What was the correct protocol for watching what could only be an - intimate - recording? Her body didn't need to see what was on the DVD to decide the bed would be better, but Reed couldn't quite slip out of the puritanical sense of incipient sin. She chose neither. Instead, she stood in front of the wide-screen TV and slid the disc into player. The whirring echoed in the quiet room as the laser moved into position over the disc and then fell quiet. Reed reached out to hit the power switch on the TV. Realizing she was trembling, she clenched and then opened her hand, wishing she hadn't discarded her cigarette. The image on the screen resolved itself into an indistinct silhouette that memory named.
"Jacqueline," she breathed in response, unconsciously mirroring the way Jae had signed her note: tasting the name reserved for her and her alone.
Reading the title screen, Reed curved an eyebrow quizzically, vaguely aware that she was feeling a mix of embarassment and delight. Given what she suspected she would see if she chose 'Play Movie', she couldn't for the life of her imagine what she'd find under 'Special Features'. Or, she grinned wickedly, maybe the problem was that she could all too easily imagine footage for that section.
Her delight gave way to chagrin as she realized what she was about to do. It was one thing to surrender to her baser nature in Jae's presence; another still to... to what? Reed dug for the words, unable to capture the uneasiness that had begun to spread through her body the same way the beginnings of arousal had spread only moments earlier. "Lie to others but not to yourself," she breathed.
Reed couldn't deny she wanted to see Jae, wanted to watch the other woman and enjoy whatever her lover had deemed an appropriate gift. More than anything, she needed to lose herself in Jae, and if this was the proffered lifeline out of her loneliness then she'd gladly take it. Reed had never suspected that it could be so hard to get on a plane as it had been the night she left LA. They had been separated before - most of their courtship had taken place over the phone or long distance - but this time had been different. For the very first time she'd understood; Jae would be still there when she returned. Neither one of them was running from this. Not this time.
Reed closed her eyes, summoning up her favourite images of her lover: blonde hair blown awry by the wind as they walked on the beach; the same hair plastered in sweat-soaked strands against Jae's forehead as her body struggled for release; Jae in a chair on the set, staring intently in the camera monitor as she checked a shot; on the stage at the Pediatric Aids Benefit, her guitar a natural extension of her body and her voice cutting straight through to an oblivious heart; a moment of stillness in the depth of night as Jae slept, for once unmoving.
More images followed, and suddenly unable to stand the separation any longer, Reed pressed play.
Jae wasn't in the frame. In fact, very little could be seen. The room had been darkened, and the only sources of light that Reed could see merely glowed.
She was so intent on the details of the room that she jumped slightly when Jae's voice broke the silence.
"Hey." Jae came into the scene as she spoke. "I miss you." The blonde settled onto the end of the bed, and tucked one leg under the other. The white robe was swimming on her small frame and Reed realized that the robe Jae had on was hers. At more than six inches taller than her lover, Reed tended to wear things that dwarfed Jae when, as was often the case, they were appropriated. "And maybe, maybe you're missing me in some of the same ways." The words were followed by a hopeful half-grin that cut right through Reed.
If she weren't already on the high side of arousal, those words and smile would have sent her there instantly.
Jae looked directly into the camera now, and the shot had narrowed, framing her face and making Reed feel as though her whole world had reduced to the one defined by the 25-inch screen in front of her. The light was still dim, but for the first time since hitting play, Reed was able to clearly see the dark circles ringing both her lover's eyes. Concerned, she leaned in. Eyes long practiced at evaluating the differences between camera-inflated body weight and reality flicked over cheek bones grown prominent, over the hint of clavicle at the open neckline and strained for other clues in Jae's swaddled form.
Jae had lost weight. Had, in less than a week, lost enough weight that the effects were noticable. Distracted by concern, Reed missed when Jae began to speak again, tuning back in only when she heard the word, "soul-baring." She reversed a few frames to pick up the beginning.
"You ever notice that for most of our deep, soul-baring conversations, we haven't actually been in the same room?" Again, a bright smile lit the screen.
Unable to help herself, Reed smiled back, wondering what new insight she was about to gain into her lover.
"Oh, and it's a verb."
"Well, Jacqueline, colour me confused." Reed replied, but before she could puzzle over the cryptic comment, Jae stood and dropped the robe, leaving Reed stunned. She'd seen Jae naked plenty of times; had known what the woman's body had looked like before they had even become lovers. This time it was different, and once again, Reed felt her arousal level skyrocket. Under her shirt, she felt her nipples harden, felt the tell-tale tingle and spasm as her kegels contracted in anticipation.
"I love making love with you. But when you get home, we are so going to fuck." Jae was staring directly into the camera. "Do you have any idea what you do to me? I dreamed about you last night - about us. I could feel your hands on my hips as you held me up, felt the alternating streaks of hot and cold as you moved against me, pinning me to a wall."
"Do you know how many times I've wanted to spin you around in the shower, to have you standing? Wanted to lean against you as you came; wanted to feel the muscles in your back quiver against my chest as you struggled to support yourself against the wall with your hands?"
"You have such wonderful hands, Reed. Did you know that? The way you cup my breasts, as though they were shaped just for your palms, your hands." Jae twinned her actions to her words.
Reed watched in silent fascination as Jae pinched and rolled her left nipple. When the blonde's left hand descended toward the warm patch of curls that Reed knew lingered just out of the frame, she pulled her own shirt off and reclined back onto the bed, unsurprised to see that Jae had taken a mirroring position. She could see all of Jae now, and her own hand stopped its lazy exploration as she watched her lover slip first one, then two fingers through her slightly swollen vulva.
"Can you go inside me, Reed? Will you? I can almost feel you, four of your fingers curled against each other sliding in and out, gentle yet sure. Your thumb brushing over my clit in a matching rythym. You drive me insane you know. Even when I have that much of you, I want more. I want to feel all of you in me. I want to trust all of me to you." Under her throaty words, Jae's breathing had grown ragged and Reed knew that the other woman was close, and her own breathing quickened in response.
She had started stroking herself again but held herself back from the edge, wanting to hear what Jae would say next, wanting them to finish together. Jae's next words swept away her fragile control, and she began to slide into the first throes of release. "I want to fill you, to feel you move against me. I want to feel your heat and the clench of your muscles over my hand."
"Oh God, Jae." She moaned in acquiesce, her resolve undone, and let her orgasm rip through her body as her mind conjured up the images to match Jae's words. "God, yes, Jae." Reed heard rather than saw as Jae too let herself climax, and was stunned when the sounds of her lover sent another full set of waves coursing through her body.
She gulped for air, then turned her head so that she was once again looking directly at Jae's image. Where she had expected to see only the flush of arousal and green-flecked eyes lidded slightly by the exhaustion of release, Reed was surprised to see uncertainty flicker across Jae's face before a slow, satisfied smile settled over the familiar features.
"Sweet dreams, sweetheart. I love you." Green eyes held the camera a few beats longer and then the screen faded to black.
Her lips were dry and her heartbeat still thudded in her ears, but she somehow managed to snag the remote. She blinked a couple of times to bring the buttons into focus, and then hit rewind, moving back through the frames to the final few seconds.
"Sweet dreams, sweetheart. I love you."
Jae had never called her that before. No one had.
Her breathing settled down and she managed to pull a corner of the sheets over her cooling body. Reed had a pretty good idea how she was going to erase the uncertainty she had seen on Jae's face, and she was looking forward to rewarding the risk the other woman had taken by sending the movie. Hell, Jae had been willing to swear to get her point across.
Reed smiled and snuggled against the pillow. She was equally sure that whatever was in box three would be help her do just that.
She couldn't wait.
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