This a work of original fiction, please don’t use without my permission.
Synopsis: Emily Kearney wakes up after a drunken night with a brutal hangover and no idea where she is. Turns out she is in bed with Sky O’Meara, “the straight woman’s lesbian” and the most beautiful woman Emily has ever seen. If only Emily could remember what happened.
It was the light hitting Emily’s face that woke her. That shouldn’t happen because the window was catty-cornered to her bed and the sunlight should never fall across the pillow the way it was. She tried to open her eyes but that was proving a challenge; someone was having a go at her head with a pneumatic drill, and her thick brain had swollen to the point where it was chaffing against the inside of her skull. There was only one thing that made Emily felt that way: drink. A lot of drink.
It took her a moment to realise that there was something firm and warm behind her. Richie? No, his curtains were wartime black-out, not a speck of light could penetrate them. As Emily’s eyes slowly focused, she noted that the curtains were thin muslin, the sort that would sigh in a soft breeze; very elegant, very romantic. But whose curtains were they, whose bedroom, and more importantly, whose bed?
Emily was reluctant to find out, desperately clinging to the last moments of ignorance. It might not be bliss but it was better than the alternative. However, she needed to face her bed-mate so that she could make the excuses and apologies that were bound to be necessary. With a sigh, she turned over and couldn’t help the gasp that escaped her throat. Lying next to her, face turned towards her, was the most beautiful woman Emily had ever seen.
Short, tousled blonde hair flopped across her forehead, her slightly darker eyelashes were thick and long, curling gently almost to the ridges of her cheekbones. Dark pink, full lips were parted as she breathed deeply, her cheeks slightly flushed. Emily couldn’t help but stare, her hangover completely forgotten. As she watched, the eyelids fluttered open and a pair of unfocused green eyes met hers, a slow, lazy smile breaking out over the woman’s face.
Suddenly embarrassed, Emily sat up, the duvet falling from what she realised was her naked body. She had no idea who this woman was, couldn’t remember if she should remember her name. Shooting a quick glance at the other woman, she noticed that she too was naked, that she was looking at Emily as if they were intimately acquainted. Christ Almighty. Her abrupt panic had sent urgent messages to both her head and her stomach and there was a real danger of her throwing up. She clamped a hand over her mouth and willed everything to settle down. A soft hand slowly rubbed her back, moving up to stroke her shoulders and neck. Emily knew she should pull away but it was soothing, nice.
The woman’s voice was husky, Emily didn’t know if it was because she’d just woken up or if it was always like that. Emily turned to face her, again startled by her beauty; unable to maintain eye contact, she stared down at the sheet, pushing her hair off her face.
“I’m sure everyone says this, but I – I really don’t remember anything about last night”
“Nothing at all?”
“I remember the club and Stacy dancing on the table”
The woman laughed, a lovely rich sound.
“I’m sorry I missed that”
“But I’m afraid I don’t remember you. And I don’t know if we – if we did – I mean, I’m not – ”
She couldn’t go on. As it was, her face was on fire. That soft hand was now on her arm, the touch firm but gentle, forcing Emily to look up and meet sincere green eyes.
“Well, we did have a bit of a kiss and a cuddle”
“A kiss – ?”
The woman gave her a lopsided smile.
“Just a little one”
Emily shook her head, wishing she knew exactly what had gone on the night before. The early part of the evening was quite clear, being in the bar drinking tequila with Bex and her sister Ruth, whose birthday it had been. There were others, including Stacy, who could never hold her liquor and with very little encouragement was up on the table. In her head she probably thought she was a Pussycat Doll, but in reality she was as unsexy as she was uncoordinated. Emily had a flash of memory: thank God I’m not that pissed. She scrubbed her face with her palms. Irony was never wasted on Emily Kearney. Not pissed enough to dance on a table, maybe, but enough to lose a huge chunk of the night before and to end up in bed with a strange woman. Said woman was leaning back against the pillow, trying to appear reassuring but mostly looking relaxed and comfortable in that stunning body of hers. The sight of her compact breasts, topped with rose coloured nipples, of the sweep of belly down to hips and thighs, reminded Emily that she was equally naked. Her voice was more accusatory than she intended.
The grin was cheeky.
“Now, that was your idea. You insisted you couldn’t sleep in your underwear”
That had an undeniable ring of truth about it, but she wasn’t prepared to give in just yet.
“How come you’re naked as well?”
The grin broadened.
“As I said, you’re an insistent woman”
“And nothing happened?”
“I promise. You were incredibly drunk, I was hardly going to take advantage of you in that state. Your virtue, madam, is intact”
For a moment Emily felt something like a stab in her chest. Was it disappointment? But that made no sense.
“Just a little kiss?”
“Yes, just a little kiss”
“What’s your name?”
“Yes, I remember”
“I’m glad one of us does”
The sun might’ve been shining, but it had no warmth to it. Emily pulled the collar of her coat close around her neck. February was a terrible month, the sting in the tail of winter, another twenty eight days to drag yourself through before spring would start to make its presence known. This early in the month not even the crocuses were pushing through the heavy soil. Emily stopped at the side of the road, waiting for the little man on the pelican crossing to change from red to green, even though there was hardly any traffic. On the other side of the street, the congregation of St. Mary’s was disgorging itself, God and their consciences appeased for another week. Emily sighed and buried her hands in her pockets. No, it wasn’t fair to let her hangover bad mood splash out onto the rest of the world. It was a sunny, albeit cold, Sunday morning and everyone else was going about minding their own business. Emily shouldn’t resent them simply because she’d drunk too much tequila and didn’t remember not having sex with the most beautiful woman she’d ever seen. It wasn’t until a horn sounded and a woman gesticulated from the driver’s seat of a Fiesta that Emily realised the green man was flashing.
It was a relief to slide her key into the lock of the garden flat she shared with Bex. Bex had been her best friend since university, but much as Emily loved her, she ardently hoped that Bex wasn’t in. Unfortunately, good luck wasn’t running Emily’s way. A voice hailed her from the kitchen.
“What time do you call this, Emily Kearney?”
Emily shrugged off her coat and wandered into the room. Bex was standing by the sink filling the kettle; she turned to face Emily, raising an eyebrow.
“And in the clothes you were in last night. Did you get lucky?”
“She claims not”
Damn it, that had slipped out before she had time to stop it. Understandably, Bex fumbled the kettle.
It was a yelp rather than a question, and Emily groaned as she dropped into a chair, laying her forearms on the table and letting her head rest on them.
“Make us a cup of tea”
“Don’t think you’re getting out of it that easily”
“Bex, I want a brew not a hard time”
She was almost dozing off when a mug clunked down in front of her.
“There’s tea, no sleeping. I’m a patient woman but even I have my limits. You disappeared last night without a word”
Emily took a sip of the hot liquid. God, that was better. Sky had offered to make her breakfast, but Emily had wanted to get out as quickly as she could, the humiliation already more than she could bear.
“You could’ve called you know, Em. A text would’ve done. Do you even have your phone on you? Never mind, tell me what happened”
“I got drunk off my arse and I woke up in bed with a very beautiful woman called Sky”
Bex’s brown eyes widened.
“You spent the night with Sky O’Meara?”
“O my God! Sky O’Meara”
The way Bex kept saying Sky’s name was making Emily nervous. She carefully placed her mug on the table.
“What’s the big deal?”
“Sky O’Meara is the straight woman’s lesbian”
There were times when Emily didn’t have a clue what Bex was on about. This was one of them. She knew she was frowning; she could feel the pull of her eyebrows as they tried to meet in the middle of her forehead. Bex grinned at her, evidently enjoying Emily’s lack of comprehension.
“Yeah, she’s the lesbian all straight women would gay up for. Like Shane in the L-word”
“Gay up? Do you ever listen to yourself? And how come you are so au fait with lesbian matters? Something you haven’t told me?”
“Me? I’m not the one who spent the night with Sky O’Meara. Is she good? She looks like she’d be dynamite”
Emily let her head flop back onto her arms, her voice muffled.
“She said nothing happened”
“Then it didn’t. She’s very honourable”
“Sounds like you’re in love with her. Did Richie call?”
Bex’s eyes widened again.
“O God, are you going to tell him?”
“There’s nothing to tell”
Bex sat back in her chair, giving her a pointed look.
“Do you know what, you sound disappointed”
“Shut up, Bex”
Ruth Waite was born fifty three weeks before her sister Rebecca, and as children, their money-conscious parents insisted they shared birthday parties. To their adult minds, twelve months was no age gap at all, when in fact it was an aching chasm that over the years filled with bitter resentment and a sibling rivalry that bordered on the homicidal. Consequently, as soon as the girls were old enough to have a say in the matter, they would not countenance any sort of joint event, so the following weekend it was Bex’s turn to celebrate. This meant a party at the garden flat that was essentially a carry on from the previous week, featuring most of the same people, including one Emily had not expected to see. Standing in the doorway behind Ruth was not Ruth’s boyfriend Bob, but Sky O’Meara.
Emily grabbed Bex and yanked her into the kitchen, hissing.
“What’s she doing here?”
Bex was understandably puzzled.
“I asked her”
“She’s an old friend of Ruth’s. I’ve always liked her”
“If she’s such a dear old friend, why have I never heard of her before?”
“She’s only just moved here”
That was an evasive answer but Emily could tell by the expression on Bex’s face she wasn’t going to get anything more out of her, and anyway, the conversation was curtailed by Ruth and Sky walking into the room.
“So this is where you’re hiding, sis”
“Emily had something urgent to berate me about – ow – there’s no need –”
“I swear this place gets more like a play group every time I come round. Sky, you remember my little sister, of course. This is her friend, Emily”
Emily, Sky and Bex had all spoken at the same time. Sky and Bex burst out laughing, but Emily was mortified, her cheeks burning. She attempted to distract attention away from herself.
“Can I get either of you a drink?”
“Here, I brought this. I hope it’s okay”
It was a bottle of Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc. Emily stared at it.
“Sky, this is twenty quid a bottle”
“Consider it a birthday present”
“I’m afraid we can’t offer you anything half as decent”
“It doesn’t matter, I’ll have whatever’s white and open”
Emily’s increasing blush was not helped by Bex’s barely concealed snigger. She buried her head inside the fridge, hoping the chilled air would cool her down. Ah, result. In the door was a bottle of New Zealand white, nowhere near as good as the bottle Sky had brought, but quite nice. She pulled the bottle out, cracking open the top and poured a glass for Sky, completely forgetting for a moment that Bex and Ruth were in the room. Bex raised an eyebrow and took the bottle from her hand.
“Fancy a drink, Ruthie?”
“I thought you’d never ask. Richie not here, Em?”
“He’s away with work”
“O, that’s a shame”
Emily shot a sideways glance at Sky, trying to judge her reaction but her expression was unreadable as she leant against the work top, sipping her wine. Emily tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, a gesture that always gave away how nervous she was.
“Sky – about last week. I’m sorry I ran off like that”
Sky’s smile was gentle and kind.
“It’s okay, I understand”
It was easy to ask Sky to stay over; it had become late without either of them noticing. People had come and gone, milling around an oblivious Emily and Sky on the sofa. Emily was content to chat a little or just sit close. Sky looked good and smelled wonderful. Just before two am, Sky stretched, her leg inadvertently brushing against Emily’s.
“I didn’t realise it was so late, I really should go”
“You don’t have to. You can stay – if you like”
“Is this a sofa bed?”
“Yes, but to be honest, it isn’t very comfortable as either a sofa or a bed. You could – you could come in with me. I mean – my bed is big enough and loads more comfortable and we already know we can share a bed and – ”
She was gabbling, she knew, and had to make a conscious effort to stop, especially when Sky smiled at her like that. Emily’s fingers moved unconsciously to play with her hair.
“Or I could call you a cab”
“No, I’d like to stay and sleep in your bed, if it’s not putting you out too much”
“It’s not putting me out at all”
It wasn’t. She’d loved the comforting warmth of Sky’s body next to hers on the sofa, having her in bed all night would be bliss.
When Emily came out of the bathroom in her pyjamas, Sky was already in bed, wearing the T-shirt Emily had leant her. It fitted snugly over her shoulders and chest, leaving very little to the imagination. She was already dozing as Emily slipped into bed beside her, and Emily took a moment to look at her before she turned off the light. There was something so open and trusting about Sky, Emily felt the strange stabbing sensation again, only this time she knew it wasn’t disappointment: it was longing. She leant down and kissed her. Just a little kiss, her lips touching Sky’s briefly, just long enough for Emily’s breath to catch and Sky to smile.
“Good night, Sky”
“Good night, Emily”
Sky was asleep the second the words left her mouth. Emily wasn’t so lucky. She lay in the dark, staring at Sky’s outline next to her. Every nerve ending was wide awake and sending complicated messages to every other nerve ending. Emily had not felt like this for years, in fact, the last time she had was when she was a teenager. There was a girl at school called Laura; a Sixth Former, good at sport and wanting to be a PE teacher, she helped coach the younger girls netball and it was on a netball court, on a dreary February afternoon, that Emily became aware of Laura. Not naturally gifted at games, Emily had let her attention wander over towards the main road that bisected the town she grew up in, watching the cars whizzing by rather than the ball whizzing towards her, thwacking her in the side of the face. The impact unceremoniously deposited her on her backside, her games skirt providing little protection against the stinging asphalt. To her chagrin, Emily felt tears welling, but they were more of surprise and humiliation than pain, and were stopped in their tracks when Laura’s warm, slightly rough, hand stroked her cheek.
Emily looked up into concerned blue eyes and was unable to do anything other than nod. The hand grabbed her own and pulled her up off the ground.
“It’ll probably smart for the rest of the day but I don’t think you’ll get a bruise”
All Emily was aware of was the thumb that briefly caressed tingling skin, if it was the stroking or the injury that caused the tingle, she didn’t know and frankly didn’t care. Laura grinned at her before clapping her hands and getting the game underway again. Emily tried to concentrate on the run of play, but she couldn’t take her eyes off Laura, not when she was haring around the court in her replica England football shirt and trackers, shouting encouragement, certainly not afterwards in the changing room when she shared the showers with everyone else. Later, Emily replayed Laura walking into the stall with her, sleek and tautly muscled as a jaguar. Emily was conscious of the hair that had recently started to grow thick and dark between legs, the breasts that still ached sometimes, like they didn’t know what to do with themselves. Laura seemed oblivious to all this. She stood, soaping herself, her hands moving slickly over her own breasts, as if it was the most natural thing in the world; slipping a soapy hand between her thighs, she smiled at Emily. Alone in the dark, Emily let her hands follow the same path as Laura, her eyes clamped shut, her skin of fire.
Shortly after the netball incident, Emily got her first real boyfriend, and in the relief of social acceptability, forgot about Laura, but lying next to Sky she realised that it was through Laura that she’d discovered her body and how it could feel when she touched herself with hot urgency. She knew that if she were to slide her hand down the front of her pyjama bottoms that very moment she would be wet, but touching yourself in front of a woman you barely know was beyond rude. With a heavy sigh she turned her back on Sky and willed herself to sleep.
Emily woke, warm and excited. Sky was lying close behind her, Emily could feel the heat coming off her body. Judging by the change in her breathing, Sky was nearing consciousness, and Emily waited for her to withdraw. Instead, she moved nearer, winding her arm around Emily’s stomach and burying her face in Emily’s hair. When Emily spoke, she released the breath she hadn’t known she was holding.
Emily wriggled a little, stopping when she realised that this pushed her buttocks into Sky’s crotch.
“How many straight women have you slept with?”
“Bex says you’re the straight woman’s lesbian. Like Shane in the L-word”
“Never seen it”
“I hate to break this to you, but I think Rebecca Waite is a better lesbian than you”
Sky’s chuckle was warm air in Emily’s hair.
“I don’t doubt it for one moment”
Emily did. She caught Sky’s hand between both of hers and held it against her chest. They were quiet for a while, Sky’s breath regular on the nape of Emily’s neck. Emily wasn’t sure if Sky had fallen back to sleep, but she cleared her throat anyway.
“It’s my birthday next Saturday”
“No, three in a row is too much for anyone. Anyway, it’s Valentine’s day, they’ll want to do stuff with their boyfriends. I – erm – wondered if you’d like to do something – ”
A sudden thought occurred to Emily, causing an icy lump to form in the pit of her stomach.
“Unless you have a girlfriend you’d rather be with”
“I haven’t got a girlfriend”
The icy lump became happy spring melt.
“Won’t your boyfriend want to do something?”
Emily shook her head. How could she explain to Sky about Richie and their relationship of convenience? Having a boyfriend took the pressure off Emily, the way it always had, and it suited Richie: he got to have sex with a woman who didn’t pester him about marriage and kids. Love didn’t come into it for either of them. In Emily’s case, it wasn’t even about passion.
“What did you have in mind?”
“I thought you might like to come over and have dinner with me. I’m a good cook, I just don’t get much of a chance to do it”
Sky pulled her so that her breasts pressed into Emily’s back. There was that ache again, centred in Emily’s chest, and this time she suspected she knew what it meant but was too scared to think about it.
Candlelight makes everything look better, even the kitchen of the garden flat. It softened the edges, casting a gentle yellow glow over the table; and over Sky’s face, casting her exquisite bone structure into stunning relief. Of course, candlelight also sent out a message that was mixed at best. Sky had said nothing, unlike Bex who had watched Emily lay the table.
“Don’t forget the crystal”
Emily ignored her as she slipped the cloth napkins her mother had given her into the silver rings that had been her grandmother’s. She picked one up, huffing on it and rubbing off a speck with the edge of her T-shirt. It was the shirt she’d leant Sky; she imagined she could still smell Sky on it, even though a week later that was impossible.
“What’s wrong with making it nice?”
“Em, you don’t make this much effort for Richie. Best serviettes, your signature dish. What are you up to?”
Bex put her hand on Emily’s arm and kept it there until Emily finally looked at her.
“Just be careful, babe”
“Careful of what, the straight woman’s lesbian?”
But Bex’s expression was serious.
“I was thinking more of your heart”
Emily had blushed at that but said no more. She needed to have a shower and change before Sky arrived. She needed to get on.
Sky arrived three quarters of an hour later, passing Bex at the door. Bex greeted her warmly enough but shot Emily a pointed look as she left.
“Don’t forget what I said”
Sky was understandably puzzled.
“What was that about?”
“Bex being mysterious, as usual. Come in, let me take your coat”
It was all Emily could do not to bury her face in Sky’s jacket, wanting to chase the other woman’s scent, but she could see Sky watching her so instead hung it on the peg by the door.
“Something smells nice”
Yes, it certainly did, but it was obvious Sky was talking about dinner as she wandered towards the kitchen. Emily let her fingers stroke the soft material for a guilty moment before joining her.
And now Sky was sitting opposite Emily, regarding her with a slightly enigmatic smile that made Emily’s throat tighten and eating almost impossible. She laid her fork down on her plate. Sky’s smile softened.
“Just taking my time”
Sky took pity on her and concentrated on spearing a piece of chicken.
“Can’t say I blame you, this is lovely”
Emily coloured, suddenly very happy.
She was filling Sky’s wine glass when the doorbell rang. Emily frowned, trying hard to ignore it. When the bell went again, Sky looked at her quizzically. Emily sighed, pushing back from the table, intending to get rid of whoever was inconsiderate enough to come round at nine o’clock on a Saturday night. On the doorstep stood a man, a cocky smile on his face.
Emily was so surprised to seem him, he managed to slip past her before she realised.
“What are you doing here?”
“Can’t a bloke see his bird on Valentine’s Day?”
She knew that look: he was hoping to get lucky, knowing that usually she would oblige. But not tonight. Emily was on the verge of telling him to get lost when she heard someone clearing their throat. Sky was standing in the kitchen doorway.
“I’ll be heading off, Emily. Thank you for dinner”
“Sky, you don’t need – ”
“It’s Valentine’s, you should – ”
“Please – ”
Sky squeezed Emily’s arm.
“Happy birthday, Emily”
When she’d gone, Emily stood with her back to the door wanting to cry. She let the bitter disappointment transmute into cold anger, directed at Richie.
“Why the hell are you here?”
Richie looked confused for a moment but then gave her what he hoped was a charming, knicker dropping smile.
“Thought I’d surprised you”
“You might’ve called first”
“Wouldn’t be much of a surprise then, would it?”
He presented her with a bunch of slightly wilting forecourt flowers as if they were a fabulous bouquet.
“What else did you get me, de-icer?”
Her sarcasm finally cut through Richie’s confidence, he let his arm drop.
“Is this cos I forgot it’s your birthday?”
“Actually, no, I don’t expect you to remember things like that, although it’s a hard day to forget”
Richie thought a change of subject was advisable.
“Who was that chick? She’s hot”
“Richie – ”
“Not as hot as you obviously”
“Richie, just stop it. Stop it. I’ve had enough. This – this just isn’t working”
“I thought this was what you wanted, no strings”
Emily sighed, rubbing her forehead with the tips of her fingers.
“I did – but not anymore”
Richie didn’t seem upset by the news.
“Fair enough, it was nice while it lasted. Have you met someone? Wait, the chick that just left – ?”
“Richie – I – ”
“I don’t blame you. I meant it when I said she was hot”
“You’re not shocked?”
“No, I’m not even that surprised. It makes sense now I think about it. You never seemed that into it”
“But I – ”
“It’s okay, Em. We had fun, and sometimes you can be incredibly dirty, especially when you’ve had a bit to drink”
He laughed when she thumped his arm, but then he turned serious.
“If she’s what you want, Emily, you should go after her. Come on, I’ll walk you out”
At the end of the road, Emily could see Sky standing with her hands in her pockets, staring at the pavement. Emily felt her stomach flutter, and she left Richie with even saying goodbye.
Sky looked up at the sound of her name, smiling weakly when she saw Emily, but she didn’t move, either towards or away from Emily.
“Gone. I’ve sent him away. Well, we both decided to call it a day”
“Just like that?”
Emily nodded, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. Sky stood, her hands still in her pockets, looking at Emily with solemn green eyes. Suddenly, she pulled a hand out of her pocket.
“I got this for you”
It was a small velvety box. Emily started to tuck another strand but her hand was stilled by Sky, whose fingers proceeded to stroke the hair before placing it gently behind Emily’s pink ear.
“Can – can I open it now?”
“It’s still your birthday, isn’t it?”
Inside the box was a small heart shaped locket sitting on a miniature satin cushion. Emily took it out of the box and let the chain unfurl through her fingers as she raised it to have a better look under the street light. It was incredibly delicate, antique, probably Victorian, the gold front chased with tiny flowers.
“Sky, it’s beautiful”
“Here, let me put it on you”
Emily trembled when Sky stepped behind her, slipping the locket around Emily’s throat so that it rested against her chest. Emily was lulled by the warmth of Sky’s body, and leant back into it.
“Why don’t you come back in?”
Sky slid her arms around Emily’s waist, pulling her in close, resting her nose in her hair. Emily felt the flutter in her stomach and the ache in her chest, and knew them to be happiness. She covered Sky’s hands with her own.
“C’mon, Sky, your dinner’s getting cold”
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